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Prescription Drugs: From Costs and Bad Reputation to Civica Rx and Amazon to the Rescue

The prices of medicines prescribed in outpatient settings rose, on average, 10.3% in 2018. Wages increased about 2.6%, and consumer prices, 1.3%, based on the 2019 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey. Segal forecasts that medical cost trends will moderate for 2019, lower than 2018 rates. But to the patient, now feeling like a consumer dealing with high-deductibles and the growing sticker shock of specialty drug prices, a so-called “moderate” trend still feels like a big bite in the household budget. Specifically, specialty drug trend is expected to be 14.3% in 2019, compared with 17.7% in 2018 — still several

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Consumers Don’t Know What They Don’t Know About Healthcare Costs

The saving rate in the U.S. ranks among the lowest in the world, in a country that rates among the richest nations. So imagine how well Americans save for healthcare? “Consumers are not disciplined about saving in general,” with saving for healthcare lagging behind other types of savings, Alegeus observes in the 2018 Alegeus Consumer Health & Financial Fluency Report. Alegeus surveyed 1,400 U.S. healthcare consumers in September 2017 to gauge peoples’ views on healthcare finances, insurance, and levels of fluency. As patients continue to take on more financial responsibility for healthcare spending in the U.S., they are struggling with finances and

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The Health Consumer Seeks Fresh, Free-From and…Turmeric

The impact of health and wellness is on most consumers’ minds, Nielsen’s consumer research has found. Sarah Schmansky, Nielsen’s strategy leader for health, wellness and “fresh,” moderated a panel at the GMDC Health-Beauty-Wellness Conference in Orlando today that brainstormed how consumers are shopping for health. Underneath that “how” is more than the next-best-me-too-product for allergy or acne. It’s about efficacy of the product at the core, but bundled with social responsibility and sustainability, informative packaging, transparency of ingredients, and education that empowers the individual. “Self-care is the driver of growth,” Sarah began the discussion. But these needs under the self-care umbrella

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Consumers Changing the Channel on Where They Shop for Health

Consumers who have long purchased over-the-counter medicines, anti-dandruff shampoo, whitening toothpaste, and cosmetics-with-benefits at food, drug and mass merchant retailers are switching to other places to shop for health, new data from AT Kearney and GMDC have found. The two organizations have collaborated to launch a new  benchmarking study into health-beauty-wellness (HBW) sales, launched this weekend at the GMDC HBW Conference in Orlando. Overall, 2017 to 2018 year-on-year, HBW sales were flat-to-no growth, notwithstanding the consumer and influencer buzz around the categories.       This study uncovered some very important trends underneath the macro numbers that tell a story

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Retail Tomorrow, Today: A Smart Grocery Cart and Digital Samples For Paleo-Eating Moms

In our Amazon-Primed world, the future of retail is not ten years from now; it’s “tomorrow.” So GMDC, the association of retailers and brands who supply them, has formed a program called Retail Tomorrow to turbocharge the supply side with consumers who are already demanding convenience, immediate (or “soon”) gratification, and health where she/he “is.” That’s personalization, and that’s where retail health can and is making a difference in Everyday Peoples’ lives. In our DIY culture, we’re pumping our own petrol, making our own airline and hospitality reservations (from Expedia to Airbnb), trading stocks online, and cooking at home enabled by

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Self-Care is Healthcare for Everyday People

Patients are the new healthcare payors, and as such, taking on the role of health consumers. In fact, health and wellness consumers have existed since a person purchased the first toothpaste, aspirin, heating pad, and moisturizing cream at retail. Or consulted with their neighborhood herbalista, homeopathic practitioner, therapeutic masseuse, or skin aesthetician. Today, the health and wellness consumer can DIY all of these things at home through a huge array of products available in pharmacies, supermarkets, Big Box stores, cosmetic superstores, convenience and dollar stores, and other retail channels – increasingly, online (THINK, of course, of Amazon — more on

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Health Il-Literacy Costs

The complexity of the U.S. healthcare system erodes Americans’ health literacy, Accenture asserts in their report, The Hidden Cost of Healthcare System Complexity.                             And that complexity costs, Accenture calculated, to the tune of nearly $5 billion in administrative cost burden to payors. Accenture developed a healthcare system literacy index to quantify the relationship between peoples’ understanding of how health insurance works and what a lack of understanding can cost the system. The index looks at consumer comprehension of health insurance terms like premium, deductible, copayment, coinsurance, out-of-pocket

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Pharmacies Continue to Earn Consumer-Love

Among industries that consumers frequent, one continues to delight people more than most: pharmacies. J.D. Power’s 2018 ratings on U.S. pharmacies finds that consumers do indeed still love their pharmacies after ten years of rating customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar and mail order channels. “U.S. consumers love their pharmacies,” J.D. Power asserts in its first study finding. In terms of total points across all pharmacies, Wegmans pharmacy was the overall top-ranked Rx retail channel with a total ranking of 906 out of 1,000 points. J.D. Power evaluated four categories of pharmacy: Brick-and-mortar chain drug stores, ranking Good Neighbor Pharmacy number one.

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Going Digital for Health Is a New-Normal for Consumers

Using digital health tech is a new normal for U.S. consumers, including Seniors, found in the 2018 digital health consumer survey from Deloitte. The title of the report, “Consumers are on board with virtual health options,” summarizes the bullish outlook for telehealth. That’s the consumer-demand side of the equation. But the tagline begs the supply side question: “Can the health care system deliver?” For a decade or longer, we’ve noted the slow uptake of telehealth and digital health tools among healthcare providers. But the consumer pressures, along with evidence-based self-service options for health – both for “care” and for wellness,

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The Top Pain Point in the Healthcare Consumer Experience is Money

Beyond the physical and emotional pain that people experience when they become a patient, in the U.S. that person becomes a consumer bearing expenses and financial pain, as well. 98% of Americans rank paying their medical bills is an important pain point in their patient journey, according to Embracing consumerism: Driving customer engagement in the healthcare financial journey, from Experian Health. Experian is best known as the consumer credit reporting agency; Experian Health works with healthcare providers on revenue cycle management, patient identity, and care management, so the company has experience with patient finance and medical expense sticker shock. In the

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Surprise, Surprise: Most Americans Have Faced a “Surprise” Medical Bill

Most Americans have been surprised by a medical bill, a NORC AmeriSpeak survey found. Who’s responsible? Nearly all Americans (86% net responsible) first blame health insurance companies, followed by hospitals (82%). Fewer U.S. patients blamed doctors and pharmacies, although a majority of consumers still put responsibility for surprise healthcare bills on them (71% and 64% net). Most of the surprise bills were for charges associated with a physician’s service or lab test. Most surprise charges were not due to the service being excluded from a health plans provider network. The poll was conducted among 1,002 U.S. adults 18 and over

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Pre-Existing Conditions: A Trans-Party, National Health Priority

Pre-existing conditions impact Americans north, south, east and west, the Kaiser Family Foundation maps. But those maladies aren’t evenly distributed across the U.S.: the highest incidences of people with pre-existing conditions are generally dotted in the eastern half of the U.S., in diverse metropolitan areas. This study looks at non-elderly adults, people between 18 and 64 years of age. That is, working-age U.S. adults who would be prospects for private health insurance coverage, whether through employers or on the individual insurance market. A striking aspect of this map is that one metro that has a higher rate of people with

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The Digital Health Consumer According to Rock Health

Looking for health information online is just part of being a normal, mainstream health consumer, according to the third Rock Health Digital Health Consumer Adoption Survey published this week. By 2017, 8 in 10 U.S. adults were online health information hunters. Six in 10 Americans looked for reviews of healthcare providers online, another new-normal consumer digital health activity. But only one in four people had used wearable technology for health, and one in five had participated in a live video telemedicine encounter. The Rock Health team observes that “the needle has not moved equally across every type of digital health solution.” Thus the

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More U.S. Companies Offering Health Insurance After 8 Years of Decline

After eight years of decline, more U.S. employers offered health insurance to workers in 2017, EBRI reports in its latest Issue Brief. In 2017, 46.9% of U.S. companies offered health insurance to their employees, up by 1.6 percentage points from a low of 45.3% in 2016. For perspective, ten years earlier in 2008, 56.4% of employers offered health insurance, shown in the first bar chart (Figure 1 from the EBRI report). The largest percentage point increase in health plan offer-rates came from the smallest companies, those with less than 10 employees: while 21.7% of those companies offered health insurance in

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Multimorbidity In the US – Obesity As A Key Driver of Health Spending

In the U.S., the growing prevalence of multi-morbidity is contributing to increased mortality and healthcare cost growth in America. Underlying this clinical and economic phenomenon is obesity, which primary care doctors are challenged to deal with as a chronic condition along with typically co-occurring comorbidities of hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. The line chart come from a new study into Multimorbidity Trends in United States Adults, 1988-2014, published in the July-August 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. The authors, affiliated with the West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine, call out that obesity (the pink-red line)

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Disruption Is Healthcare’s New Normal

Googling the words “disruption” and “healthcare” today yielded 33.8 million responses, starting with “Riding the Disruption Wave in Healthcare” from Bain in Forbes, Accenture’s essay on “Big Bang Disruption in Healthcare,” and, “A Cry for Encouraging Disruption” in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst. This last article responded to the question, “Can we successfully deliver better quality care for patients at a lower cost?” asked by François de Brantes, Executive Director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. “Disruption” as a noun and an elephant in our room has been with us in healthcare since the September/October 2000 issue of

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Best Buy Bets on AgingTech in the Expanding Retail Health Ecosystem

With the acquisition of GreatCall, a mature player in the aging-tech space, Best Buy is doubling down on consumer health technology@retail. This week at Best Buy. the electronics retailer,  it’s out with CDs and in with technology for aging at home. The company announced that it would buy GreatCall for $800 million. A snippet from the announcement from Best Buy’s press release is shown in the first diagram, noting that GreatCall’s membership is approaching 1 million subscribers who use mobile phones and connected devices, “providing peace of mind to their loved ones.” Beyond the obvious “falling and I can’t get

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Wealth is Health and Health, Wealth, Fidelity Knows – with Weight a Major Risk Factor

The two top stressors in American life are jobs and finances. “My weight” and my family’s health follow just behind these across the generations. Total Well-Being, a research report from Fidelity Investments, looks at the inter-connections between health and wealth – the combined impact of physical, mental, and fiscal factors on our lives. The first chart summarizes the study’s findings, including the facts that: One-third of people have less than three months of income in the bank for emergency Absenteeism is 29% greater for people who don’t have sufficient emergency funds saved People who are highly stressed tend not to

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Benefit Cost Increases Overwhelm Flat Wages for Most in US: Pew

Today’s financial news reports and the bullish stock market generate headlines saying that the U.S. economy is riding high. President Trump forecasted in late July, “we are now on track to hit an average GDP annual growth of over 3% and it could be substantially over 3%,” Trump said. “Each point, by the way, means approximately $3 trillion and 10 million jobs. Think of that.” Indeed, unemployment is at its lowest rate in decades at 4%. Today, NASDAQ reported that, “the U.S. economy stays strong as the Fed holds steady.” For mainstream working people, though, even with a job in a high employment

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Veterans Are Superheroes, But This Is Beyond Comic – The Tale of Marvel and the VA

It was November 7, 2017, when this image was captured at the close of the NASDAQ bell. At the center of the photo is Dr. David Shulkin, then head of the Veterans Administration. At the far right is Captain America (part of the Marvel Entertainment character portfolio). This is not the first time I’ve mashed up popular culture into a post on health care here on Health Populi. However, this one is different because instead of a constructive convergence between pop culture and health, among the many health care stories I could cover since President Trump moved into the White

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