Cancer Care Out-of-Pocket Costs Keep Rising

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that people with cancer under age 65 are paying more out-of-pocket for their treatments. The study focused on four of the most common cancers including breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer. The study found that as the cost of cancer treatments including surgery, intravenous systemic therapy, and radiation rose, so did the out-of-pocket cost for patients.

Breast cancer care costs for consumers rose 29%, lung cancer treatments increased by 11%, prostate cancer treatments grew by 4% and colon cancer care treatments grew the least and were not statistically significant. The rise in these costs concerns advocates as the use of high-deductible plans and inadequate short-term plans have increased, causing more expenses for patients.

Source: US News & World Report

Cash-Only Pharmacies Saving Consumers Money

Some pharmacies are going to a cash-only model. This means that instead of going through their insurance plans, consumers can pay out-of-pocket, often for much less than they pay for prescriptions with insurance.

The business model isn’t new, but it hasn’t been applied much to health care. These pharmacies are cutting out the pharmacy benefit managers, and the costs associated with taking insurance and getting generic medications straight from the manufacturers with a small markup for the pharmacy. The result can reduce prescription costs significantly. For example, one consumer who takes medication for multiple sclerosis paid $650 per month with insurance. Through a cash-only pharmacy, his cost was $85.

Prescription savings programs such as GoodRX, and Mark Cuban’s CostPlus Pharmacy have similar models all aimed at offering consumers options and savings.

Source: NBC News

Physicians Are Adopting Digital Tools at a Rapid Rate

A study from the AMA determined that over the past six years physicians have increased rates of adopting digital tools including digital therapeutics and telehealth. In 2016 the average number of digital tools by healthcare providers grew from 2.2 to 3.8 in 2022. Telehealth exploded with only 14% of physicians using it in 2016, compared to 80% in 2022. Physicians also started using remote monitoring technology, growing from 12% to 30% in six years. Two in five doctors plan to adopt digital therapeutics in the next year.

Source: Healthcare IT News

Loss of Smell and Long Covid

A recent study by the JAMA Network Open concluded that patients who lost their sense of smell may be more susceptible to showing symptoms of long Covid for a longer period. The health insurance industry is looking to determine what the long-term effects of long Covid will have on payers and employers. It's estimated that 3.5. million people are out of work because of long Covid, and the long-term effects of that on insurance companies, employers, and the state remain to be seen. Studies such as the one from JAMA could help determine how insurance companies will cover long Covid in the future.

The loss of the sense of smell is one of the most common symptoms of Covid. Researchers are tracking whether those who lost their sense of smell also exhibit signs of long Covid including respiratory and heart symptoms, neurological symptoms, and digestive symptoms. A loss of smell may also be an indicator of Alzheimer’s Disease and researchers look to determine if long Covid will follow a similar pathology as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s has a tremendous impact on caregivers, and the patients themselves, and creates a need for long-term care. If long Covid follows suit, it could have similar consequences.

Source: Fierce Healthcare

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