KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Consumers Roundup: More Patients Choose High-Deductible Plans; Many Neglect Doctors’ Medication Directions

A number of news outlets explores consumer health issues.

The (Milwaukee) Business Journal: "The number of Americans enrolled in high-deductible health plans has risen to more than 10 million but still represents a small portion of the insurance market, according to a report from insurance group America's Health Insurance Plans. Enrollments in these high-deductible health plans (HDHP), which typically are paired with tax-free health savings accounts or health-reimbursement arrangements, are up about 25 percent from last year, the report said" (5/20).

The New York Times: "While anyone who has ever tried to complete a full course of antibiotics can understand how easy it is to skip, cut down or forget one's medications altogether, bringing the topic up in the exam room feels more like a confession or inquisition than a rational discussion," writes Paula Chen, the Times' "Doctor and Patient" columnist. But, nonadherence has significant consequences. "In one study, as many as half of all patients did not follow their doctors' advice when it came to medications. ... The overall cost of medication nonadherence? More than $170 billion annually in the United States alone," because of higher complications and mortality rates (Chen, 5/20).

The (Terre Haute, Ind.) Tribune-Star: When Dr. Kayur Patel, chief medical officer at Terre Haute Regional Hospital, told a group of seniors "to think back and recollect what kinds of drug co-pays they had 20 to 30 years ago, answers came back such as 'nothing,' or between $1 and $3. Today, those co-pays average between $15 and $25, yet incomes have not increased anywhere near 20-fold. ...  'What's going on cannot exist,' he said, explaining that at the current rate of increases, the cost of health care will exceed individual incomes by 2020. The fact that people cannot possibly spend more on health care than they earn means the system, left un-altered, will collapse, he said" (Boyce, 5/20).

HealthDay News: "Hospital patients receiving treatment for heart disease who decide to discharge themselves before their doctors deem them ready end up costing hospitals more if and when they are readmitted. The finding, set to be reported this week during the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research meeting in Atlanta, comes from work conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland school of Pharmacy" (5/20).

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