Americans’ Problems with Overall health Care Prices

As the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on and a great deal of the countrywide wellbeing care discussion has concentrated on healthcare facility capacity, health and fitness treatment employee burnout, COVID-19 vaccination, and other measures to secure general public health and fitness, the higher price of well being care proceeds to be a burden on U.S. households. As KFF polling has found for several several years, health treatment charges aspect into choices about insurance policy protection and treatment looking for, and rank as a prime fiscal stress. This details notice summarizes new KFF polling on the public’s activities with wellness care fees. Most important takeaways include things like:

  • A lot of U.S. adults have issues affording many wellness care and dental charges. These issues are similar to – and in lots of scenarios better than – the shares who have issue affording other home expenses, these as rent, transportation, and food items. In addition, considerable shares of older people more mature than 65 report issues paying out for a variety of features of wellness treatment, specially companies not usually coated by Medicare, these types of as listening to products and services, dental and prescription drug fees.
  • The charge of overall health care normally helps prevent people from finding needed treatment or filling prescriptions. Half of U.S. grownups say they put off or skipped some sort of wellbeing care or dental treatment in the previous calendar year mainly because of the charge. Three in ten (29%) also report not having their medicines as prescribed at some place in the earlier yr simply because of the cost.
  • High wellbeing care charges disproportionately have an effect on uninsured older people, Black and Hispanic grownups, and people with decreased incomes. Larger shares of U.S. grownups in each of these teams report issue affording numerous forms of treatment and delaying or forgoing health care care owing to the expense.
  • However, people who are included by well being insurance policy are not immune to the stress of overall health care expenses. Nearly fifty percent (46%) of insured grownups report difficulty affording their out-of-pocket fees, and one particular in 4 (27%) report problems affording their deductible.
  • Trouble paying medical expenses can have sizeable repercussions for U.S. families. In March 2019, about one particular-fourth of U.S. grownups (26%) noted that they or a household member have experienced complications paying health care bills in the earlier yr, and about 50
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Francis Collins on medical advances, vaccine hesitancy and Americans’ ill health : Shots

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins served for 12 years under three presidents and presided over an expansion of the agency’s budget and efforts to develop new cures to diseases.

Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images


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National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins served for 12 years under three presidents and presided over an expansion of the agency’s budget and efforts to develop new cures to diseases.

Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

It’s Dr. Francis Collins’ last few weeks as director of the National Institutes of Health after 12 years, serving under three presidents.

Collins made his name doing the kind of biomedical research NIH is famous for, especially running The Human Genome Project, which fully sequenced the human genetic code. The focus on biomedicine and cures has helped him grow the agency’s budget to over $40 billion a year and win allies in both political parties.

Still, in a broad sense, Americans’ health hasn’t improved much in those 12 years, especially compared with people in peer countries, and some have argued the agency hasn’t done enough to try to turn these trends around. One recently retired NIH division director has quipped that one way to increase funding for this line of research would be if “out of every $100, $1 would be put into the ‘Hey, how come nobody’s healthy?’ fund.”

In a wide-ranging conversation, Collins answers NPR’s questions as to why — for all the taxpayer dollars going to NIH research — there haven’t been more gains when it comes to Americans’ overall health. He also talks about how tribalism in American culture has fueled vaccine hesitancy, and he advises his successor on how to persevere on research of politically charged topics — like guns and obesity and maternal health — even if powerful lobbies might want that research not to get done.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Selena Simmons-Duffin: After you announced you’d be stepping down from the director role, you told The New York Times that one of your “chief regrets” was the persistence of vaccine hesitancy during the pandemic. How are you thinking about the role NIH could play in understanding this problem?

Francis Collins: I do think we need to understand better how — in the current climate — people make decisions. I don’t think I anticipated the

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The pandemic has driven many Americans to delay health care : Shots

Hospitals in Idaho, like St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, remain full after the summer delta surge pushed many to their limits.

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Hospitals in Idaho, like St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, remain full after the summer delta surge pushed many to their limits.

Kyle Green/AP

Last month, Chelsea Titus, a 40-year-old mother of one in Boise, Idaho, needed surgery to relieve severe pain from endometriosis. But hospitals there are so full of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients that doctors told her she’d have to wait.

Nearly 1 in 5 American households has had to delay care for serious illnesses in the past few months, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Titus, who works for a tech company from the home she shares with her husband, her daughter and a labradoodle named Winston, previously had surgery for endometriosis in which doctors removed her uterus and one ovary. When the condition flared again in September, the pain was severe.

“Sometimes it feels like I am in active labor,” she says.

Endometriosis affects millions of women in the U.S. when tissue that typically grows inside the uterus also grows outside it.

When the initial medication that Titus received didn’t help, she reached out to her on-call doctor.

“He said, ‘If the hospitals weren’t in the situation they were in, I would have you in for surgery today,’ ” she recalls.

The safety net is gone

The situation in Idaho’s hospitals has become dire. The facilities are so full of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients that many can no longer operate normally. Several hospitals have had to ration care.

Chelsea Titus

Chelsea Titus/Boise State Public Radio


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Chelsea Titus

Chelsea Titus/Boise State Public Radio

Jim Souza, chief physician executive at the largest of Boise’s hospitals, St. Luke’s, describes his institution’s typical high standards of care as the net that allows doctors to perform high-wire medical acts every day.

But now, “the net is gone and the people will fall from the wire,” Souza says.

Idaho has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States.

“As cancer clinicians, we’re really frustrated,” says Dr. Dan Zuckerman, medical director for St. Luke’s Cancer Institute.

Zuckerman says his staff has delayed surgery

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Poll: Financial distress worsens for Americans during delta surge : Shots

Americans have fallen way behind.

The rent’s overdue and evictions are looming. Two-thirds of parents say their kids have fallen behind in school. And one in five households say someone in the home has been unable to get medical care for a serious condition.

These are some of the main takeaways from a new national poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Despite billions of dollars in relief money from federal and state governments, “what we have here is a lot of people who are still one step from drowning financially,” says Robert Blendon, emeritus professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard Chan School.

Thirty-eight percent of households across the nation report facing serious financial problems in the past few months. Among Latino, Black and Native American households, more than 50% had serious financial problems, while 29% of white households did. This disparity is echoed in many other poll findings, with the minority families bearing a disproportionate share of the pandemics’ socio-economic impact.

Brittany Mitchell’s family is among those that are struggling. She lives in Gaston, S.C. and she’s a full-time cake decorator at the local Food Lion grocery store — her husband is a butcher. They were weathering the pandemic well enough, until her husband lost his job.

“There was a good two months where we really couldn’t pay rent, we couldn’t pay electric, we couldn’t pay for our internet,” she says. “We were basically borrowing from friends and family members just to make ends meet.”

Mitchell was able to enroll in rental assistance, and she says her landlord was very understanding. Her husband got a new job, but now they’re behind on utility and car payments.

“We’re still struggling real hard just to get through,” she says.

A sharp income divide

The poll showed a sharp income divide, with 59% of those with annual incomes below $50,000 reporting serious financial problems in the past few months, compared with 18% of households with annual incomes of $50,000 or more.

All this, despite the fact that around two-thirds of households report that they have received financial assistance from the government in the past few months during the delta variant surge.

It appears that the funding from COVID-19 relief bills, Blendon says, “did not provide a floor to protect people who are of moderate and low incomes.”

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