The idea of “consumer empowered” healthcare is a myth

SUMMARY: From the prices of medications to the choice of doctors and treatments the idea that people are “consumers of healthcare” is a canard. The fact that we don’t have control is one reason why Gallup reported that so many people are unsatisfied with the state of healthcare in the U.S.

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Seventy-two percent of Americans believe the healthcare system is “in a state of crisis

  • Seventy-two percent of Americans believe the U.S. healthcare system is “in a state of crisis” or “has major problems,” almost the same percentage (71%) who felt that way a few months before the Affordable Care Act was passed seven years ago. (Source: Gallup).
  • The combined percentages saying the nation’s system is in crisis or is having major problems has stayed in a seven-percentage-point range (from 67% to 74%) over the past 10 years.
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The human cost of high insulin prices

  • The global insulin market is dominated by three companies: Eli Lilly, the French company Sanofi and the Danish firm Novo Nordisk.
  • In the past decade alone, U.S. insulin list prices have tripled, according to an analysis of data from IBM Watson Health
  • According to IBM Watson Health data, Sanofi’s popular insulin brand Lantus was $35 a vial when it was introduced in 2001; it’s now $270. Novo Nordisk’s Novolog was priced at $40 in 2001, and as of July 2018, it’s $289.
  • Stories of people rationing insulin and dying as a result continue to appear in the media.
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The media attempts to bring more heat on big pharma

  • According to JAMA “annual health care marketing surged from $17.7 billion in 1997 to at least $29.9 billion in 2016, driven by a rapid spike in spending on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements for prescription drugs. Over this period, DTC spending climbed from $2.1 billion to $9.6 billion.
  • The most rapid increase was in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, which increased from $2.1 billion (11.9%) of total spending in 1997 to $9.6 billion (32.0%) of total spending in 2016. DTC prescription drug advertising increased from $1.3 billion (79 000 ads) to $6 billion (4.6 million ads [including 663 000 TV commercials]), with a shift toward advertising high-cost biologics and cancer immunotherapies.
  • Even if all prescription drugs were free healthcare costs would still be increasing.
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