HC Statistics

Quantifying patient administrative burden

Previously, I wrote about how the US healthcare system imposes $90 billion of costs on physicians related to drug utilization management. According to a study by Kyle and Frakt (2021), the U.S. healthcare system also imposes a significant burden on patients as well. The authors use the 2019 Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS) to answer …

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Statistics on health care labor

On this Labor Day, below find some interesting statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) on health care wages and employment. From the first graph, one can see that health care practitioners (e.g., physicians, nurse) have much higher wages than average but health care support workers (e.g., ) have …

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2021 Medicare Trustees Report

The 2021 Medicare Trustees Report–formerly known as the “Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund“–had some grim news. Expenditures ($925.8 billion) exceeded revenues ($899.9 billion) in 2020. More worrying, the estimated depletion date for the Medicare (i.e., Hospital Insurance) trust …

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How much is your life worth?

In a previous post, I answered this question from the perspective of government agencies: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the answer is $10 million.  Other agencies place use a somewhat lower number.  The Food and Drug administration pegs the value at $9.5 million and the Department of Agriculture places the value at $8.9 million. However, …

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Are drug prices higher in the US than in other countries?

Conventional wisdom holds that the prices of pharmaceuticals are higher in the US than in other countries. But is that really the case? And if so, by how much? Which price? The question we need to answer is “which price” do you mean? There is the manufacturer wholesale price (i.e., gross price) which is how …

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Highlights from MedPAC’s Spring 2021 Report

Here are a few highlight’s from the March 2021 report on Medicare Payment Policy from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). Leading causes of death The leading cause of death are heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease. Note that these figures are from 2018. MedPAC notes that the 3rd leading cause of death in 2020 …

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Excess deaths due to COVID-19

Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and US Census Bureau, Woolf et al. (2021) find: Between March 1, 2020, and January 2, 2021, the US experienced 2 801 439 deaths, 22.9% more than expected, representing 522 368 excess deaths…The excess death rate was higher among non-Hispanic Black (208.4 deaths per 100 000) than non-Hispanic White …

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US adult life expectancy falling for those without a college degree

That is the finding from a study published by Anne Case and Angus Deaton this week in Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). While COVID-19 has had a clear impact in the last 12 months, in fact figures from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) indicate that American life expectancy peaked in …

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COVID-19 and racial disparities

On the eve of Martin Luther King Day, let us take a quick look at the impact of COVID-19 by race/ethnicity. CDC reports rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. One can see that cases are higher for most minorities (except Asians) relative to Non-Hispanic Whites, but hospitalizations and deaths are much higher for all …

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COVID-19 now a top 3 leading cause of death in US

That is the conclusion from Woolf et al. (2020) in JAMA this past week. The authors examine rates of COVID-19 mortality in the US between March and October 2020 and compare them with other leading causes of death from March to October 2018. We see that COVID-19 is currently the 3rd leading cause of death …

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COVID-19 and Reductions in Cancer Mortality

That is the topic of a commentary I wrote with co-authors Joanna MacEwan and Farzad Ali, titled “Does COVID-19 Threaten the Progress Pharmaceuticals Have Made in Reducing Cancer Mortality Over the Last 20 Years?” An excerpt is below: Cancer mortality rates have fallen significantly over the last 20 years. Between 2000 and 2010, overall age-adjusted …

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Health care spending as a share of GDP rises to 17.7%

In a paper by Martin et al. (2020) in Health Affairs, CMS’s Office of the Actuary (OACT) has its annual health care spending estimates for 2019. They found that health care spending in the US was $3.8 trillion in 2019, and increase of 4.7%. The share of the economy dedicated to health care rose slightly, …

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Why does the US spend so much more on health care than other countries?

If we break down the numbers, it turns out that medical costs–rather than pharmacy cost–are the key drivers of differences in health care spending per capita. This is the findings from Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) study comparing US spending against an average from 9 other countries rich countries (i.e., Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the …

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Comparing health care for older adults across 23 countries

How well do different countries take care of their elderly and near elderly populations? A study by Macinko et al. (2020) provides some useful statistics. Methods Population of interest. Individuals aged 50 and above sampled across 23 high- and middle-income countries. Data. The data come from 2015 or 2016 years for the following data sets: …

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Spending on specialty drugs: 2010-2017

Specialty drugs are often injectibles, biologic drugs, or other drugs that require specialized administration, handling, or ongoing clinical assessment. Specialty drugs are often more expensive than standard pharmaceuticals. As the use of specialty pharmaceuticals has become more common, a paper by Hill, Miller and Ding (2020) aims to quantify how much spending on specialty pharmaceuticals …

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Healthcare spending by age: An international comparison

We all know that health care spending per person in the US is highest among all countries. But are these results consistent across age groups? That is the question posed by Papanicolas et al. (2020). Using 2015 OECD data from the US and 7 other high-income countries (i.e., Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, …

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Quantifying the digital divide

Telemedicine and video-conferencing are helping to bridge the gap in access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic. These approaches, however, only work if patients have access to the technology needed to engage in telemedicine or videoconference visits. A paper by Roberts and Mehrota (2020) uses data from the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) and finds …

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More opioid negative externalities: Pediatric opioid poisoning

Some people use opioids as a recreational drug. If people choose to ruin their own life, that is their problem. Others take opioids when prescribed from physicians and unwittingly become addicted. In either case, there is one scourge that may not fully be appreciated: parents who take opioids risk having their kids go into their …

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Fentanyl tops drug overdose death rates

RAND has an interesting report titled “The Future of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids.” What is truly startling is the rise in deaths due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl in the last 5 years: from 3,000 in 2013 to approximately 30,000 in 2018. In fact, synthetic opioids are now involved in twice as many deaths …

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Health care battle: US vs. England

A new study by Choi et al. (2020) compares the health of individuals aged 55-64 in the US compared to England. They use data from Health and Retirement Study (HRS)–in the US–and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) for 2008-2016. Health is measured across 16 outcomes: 5 self-assessed outcomes, 3 directly measured outcomes, and …

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What explains the decline in COVID deaths despite the rising number of cases?

Take a look at these two graphs. The first gives the number of new COVID-19 cases from John Hopkins University. It is a scary graph. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases The second graph is the number of COVID deaths from IHME. Not nearly as bad. https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america CDC reported death numbers are similar. In fact, the number of deaths in …

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