The often ignored reasons for the high cost of healthcare

SUMMARY: Change is coming to healthcare. Its become too profitable, and too many people are seeing raises eaten by rising insurance premiums. Despite all this, we, as a country, continue to ignore the fact that Americans are overeating, don’t exercise and then expect our health problems to go away with a little pill.

According to an editorial in the NY Times “Americans are sick — much sicker than many realize. More than 100 million adults — almost half the entire adult population — have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Cardiovascular disease afflicts about 122 million people and causes roughly 840,000 deaths each year, or about 2,300 deaths each dayThree in four adults are overweight or obese. More Americans are sick, in other words, than are healthy.”

Poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the United States, causing more than half a million deaths per year. Just 10 ten dietary factors are estimated to cause nearly 1,000 deaths every day from heart disease, stroke and diabetes alone. These conditions are dizzyingly expensive. Cardiovascular disease costs $351 billion annually in health care spending and lost productivity, while diabetes costs $327 billion annually. The total economic cost of obesity is estimated at $1.72 trillion per year, or 9.3 percent of gross domestic product.

This should scare you. It means that our healthcare costs are going to continue to rise despite any pricing controls for Rx drugs. It also means that HCP’s, insurance companies and our government in general has not done enough to communicate the dangers of obesity and poor health behaviors.

J&J Pays the Price for Opioids

J&J continues to deny any wrongdoing in the $570 million judgment against them in Oklahoma but it doesn’t really matter. News of the judgement sent J&J stock higher because the fine represents less than 4% of their profits from last year.

Until fines equal total sales or profits big pharma will continue to see risky marketing fines as just another marketing expense.

PBM’s Starting to Fell The Heat?

In an article in Forbes a physician says “while there are certainly other factors that increase drug pricing, such as the lack of competition of generic drugs, fee-for-service care models and an absence of patient consideration at the policymaking level, PBMs have remained a central contributor. The already-complex relationship with PBMs becomes harder to demystify and potentially a cost multiplier because the rebate process is not transparent to physicians or patients”

If PBMs are consistently causing increases in drug prices, delaying treatment, and limiting options for patients, why are they part of our health care system? PBMs were developed with good intentions: to help insurance and pharmaceutical companies provide affordable drugs to patients quickly. Unfortunately, that is not how PBMs operate anymore, which makes me think it’s time we rid our system of these unnecessary middlemen.

Liver disease related to obesity and diabetes rising in U.S.

The only liver disease becoming more widespread in the U.S. is one driven by obesity and diabetes, even as other types of liver disorders linked to drinking or hepatitis are becoming less common, researchers say. 

For the study, researchers examined nationwide health survey data collected in five cycles between 1988 and 2016. Over this period, the proportion of adults with what’s known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) rose from 20% to 28.3%, mirroring increases in rates of obesity and diabetes over the same period.

Our healthcare system is in dire straits but unless we address the root causes of a failed healthcare system and start letting people know that sitting on the couch with an iPad is unhealthy healthcare costs are going to continue to climb and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

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