Today's News and Commentary

About health insurance

A look at people who have persistently high spending on health care: This study from Kaiser draws on three year’s experience with its membership. There are many good lessons from this research, but, in summary, the conclusion was: “Those with persistently high spending, while few in number, are some of the most expensive users of care – the 1.3% of enrollees with high spending in each of three consecutive years (2015-2017) had an average spending in 2017 of almost $88,000, accounting for 19.5% of overall spending that year. The predictability and extent of their spending suggest that any efforts to reduce the total costs of care and improve health system quality must focus heavily on this group of people.” High cost patients had significantly increased expenses for inpatient, outpatient and pharmaceuticals, so case management looking at the entire episodes of care need to be implemented. HIV infection, cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis were, by far, the three costliest conditions.

Senate will not vote on bipartisan health costs bill before leaving for August: The headline says it all.

About the public’s health

Births in the United States, 2018:This annual report from the CDC reveals that birth rates fell to an all-time low in the US. The rates declined for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic women. The teen birth rate also declined ( by 7%) from 2017 to 2018.

New Texas anti-abortion group vies for family planning funds: In a new twist on federal withholding of Title X funds: “A new faith-based, anti-abortion health group in Texas is suing HHS for the right to receive federal family planning funds — another sign such groups are moving aggressively to win some of the backing that long went to organizations like Planned Parenthood.”

About healthcare IT

Fitbits and other wearables may not accurately track heart rates in people of color: “In short: Skin with more melanin blocks green light [used by the sensors in the wearables], making it harder to get an accurate reading. The darker your skin is, the harder it gets.”