QUICK READ: Bad headlines lead to clicks which in turn means more advertising revenue but besides scaring readers they are adding to the confusion around health. What’s real and what should they believe and why isn’t pharma helping people find credible health information?
The nation’s leading health insurers are experiencing an embarrassment of profits. Anthem’s net income soared to $2.3 billion for the second quarter, from $1.1 billion in 2019, while UnitedHealth reported net earnings of $6.7 billion, compared to $3.4 billion for the same three months last year.
Although many hospitals have been overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreaks raging from state to state, insurers have shelled out billions of dollars less in medical claims in the last three months because expensive, elective surgeries have been postponed in many places. Moreover, people have steered clear of doctors’ offices and emergency rooms in fear of contagion.
Some lawmakers may try to revive proposals to cap insurers’ profits even more, like one that Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat, has suggested.
Obesity is still killing us.
In the United States, where at least 4.6 million people have been infected and nearly 155,000 have died, the promise of that vaccine is hampered by a vexing epidemic that long preceded Covid-19: obesity.
More than 107 million American adults are obese, and their ability to return safely to work, care for their families and resume daily life could be curtailed if the coronavirus vaccine delivers weak immunity for them.
Obesity has long been known to be a significant risk factor for death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. But scientists in the emerging field of immunometabolism are finding obesity also interferes with the body’s immune response, putting obese people at greater risk of infection from pathogens such as influenza and the novel coronavirus.
Delayed Cancer Diagnosis
While residents have taken to social distancing, cancer does not pause. The delay in diagnosis will likely lead to a presentation at more advanced stages and poorer clinical outcomes. One study suggests a potential increase of 33 890 excessive cancer deaths in the United States. Our findings are consistent with previous research, and they call for urgent planning to address the consequences of delayed diagnoses. Planning may entail more robust digital technology to strengthen clinical telehealth offerings and other patient-clinician interactions, including self-service scheduling across specialties and well-designed collection processes.
Where is pharma?
Lost in all these negative stories is the confusion around health news. Online health seekers are pretty much left to determine which news is credible and I have yet to see one pharma site reminding people not to skip appointments with their doctor for health issues that are bothering them.
Of course, there is no ROI in providing people with health information that can use but it would show that pharma companies are interested in the welfare of people versus profits.