HEALTH

Health coverage debate fuels affordability concerns over chronic disease care

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES — A new survey from the national non-profit Transamerica Center for Health Studies shows that 81% of Americans are aware of the healthcare debates in Washington, and of those, 92% are concerned about those changes and 59%  are very or extremely concerned.

The three biggest fears among Americans include:

  1. Loss of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions (42%);
  2. Reduction in Medicare coverage for seniors (31%); and
  3. No employer mandate to offer healthcare coverage (30%).

The survey also found that more than two-thirds (67%) of Americans reported having at least one chronic health condition, and 19% cited managing a chronic illness/condition (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure) as one of their top two most important health-related priorities right now.

"With such high rates of chronic health conditions, it is not surprising that so many Americans are concerned about losing coverage due to their pre-existing conditions," stated Hector De La Torre, executive director of TCHS. "This concern is reflected by a substantial 56% of Americans who think health insurance should cover people with pre-existing conditions. This strong consensus is counter to the ongoing split over the Affordable Care Act, with 43% having a positive view and 32% having a negative view of the ACA (and 26% neutral on the ACA compared to 51% in 2016)."

When asked about the most important characteristics of the healthcare system, the most common response was "being able to pay for the care I need" (36%). Consistent with previous years, affordability remains a top concern, with nearly one in five (19%) saying they are currently not able to afford routine healthcare expenses (i.e., health insurance co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, etc.). Only about one in 10 Americans (13%) say their access to affordable healthcare coverage has increased in the past one to two years.

Interestingly, the survey found variations in increased access to affordable coverage among racial and generational segments, with Latino adults (19%) more likely than White/Caucasian (12%), Black/African American (11%), and Asian/Pacific Islander (10%) adults to say access to affordable coverage has increased. In addition, millennials (18%) are more likely than generation X (10%) and baby boomers (6%) to say access to affordable coverage has increased.

"Year after year, we have found that affordability is top of mind for Americans and yet few say they are currently saving for healthcare expenses, and a substantial proportion of employed adults are not sure they are taking advantage of the healthcare savings offered by their employer," De La Torre said. "As we approach open enrollment in the Exchanges, employer-based coverage and Medicare, it is crucial that individuals understand their healthcare options and comparison shop so they can make the most informed decisions for their situation."

The survey found that 12% of adults are uninsured, which is down from 15% in 2014. Most commonly, the uninsured say paying their health expenses and the penalty is less expensive than the health coverage options available to them (29%). About one in six (18%) uninsured adults still claim they are unaware of the ACA's insurance mandate for individuals.

Healthcare Consumers in a Time of Uncertainty is an online survey of more than 4,600 Americans, ages 18-64, that was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of TCHS. The deck of survey findings contains more than 160 slides.

 

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HEALTH

CHPA launches DXM age-restriction resource for retailers

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Healthcare Products Association on Wednesday announced a new initiative to support retailers in states that have adopted laws prohibiting the sale of over-the-counter medicines containing the cough suppressant dextromethorphan to minors. The announcement comes on the heels of Nevada’s enactment of a DXM age-restriction law last week.

While millions of Americans use products containing DXM to safely treat their symptoms, according to the 2016 National Institute on Drug Abuse annual Monitoring the Future survey, one in 30 teens abuses OTC cough medicine containing DXM to get high.

“The OTC industry supports these types of laws, and over the years we’ve learned that a combination of public policy and public education is effective at combating teen abuse of OTC cough medicine,” stated Scott Melville, CHPA president and CEO. “Committed state lawmakers such as Nevada State Senator Patricia Farley and retailers across the country have been crucial allies in our abuse prevention efforts.”

In 2012, California became the first state to prohibit sales of DXM-containing products to minors. Since then, governors from Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Nevada and Oregon have all signed similar laws.

“Retailers are essential to the effective implementation of DXM age-restriction laws,” continued Melville. “We hope that our new suite of retailer educational materials will improve retail employees’ understanding of the new law, how to enforce it, and strengthen their sense of responsibility to uphold the age-restriction in their stores.”

As part of the initiative, a new Pharmacists & Retailers page has been added to CHPA’s existing StopMedicineAbuse.org website – a long established website and campaign aimed at engaging parents and community leaders about teen abuse of OTC cough medicine.

On the new page, retailers can download or order free materials, including:

  • Fact Sheet with background on OTC cough medicine abuse, a check list to determine whether a product contains DXM and when to ask for customer identification, as well as a brief list of frequently asked questions;Informational Poster that can be used in employee break rooms;
  • Register Reminder Stickers to provide employees with an easy checklist for reference during checkout; and
  • State-Specific Consumer Handouts (Tear Pad) to share with consumers who purchase products containing DXM to educate them about the sales restriction. The small handouts come in the form of a tear pad for all 14 states where age-restriction legislation has passed (California, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Nevada and Oregon).

“The new law aims to decrease abuse of these medicines by minors, without limiting access for legitimate consumers,” said Nevada Sen. Patricia Farley, sponsor of S.B. 159. “Imposing an age requirement on the sale and purchase of DXM has proven to be effective in other states and I’m proud that Nevada has taken action to protect the health and safety of our youth.”

 

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P&G introduces new Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System and app

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble on Tuesday unveiled its newest innovation in ovulation testing that pairs the accuracy of the Clearblue Ovulation Test, now with the convenience of an app. This new ovulation test system will help women maximize their chances of getting pregnant.

“We want to give women the tools they need to understand their fertility, and with our new Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System and app, women can compare their cycles for a better understanding of their reproductive health, and easily share their data with their partner and healthcare professional if they wish,” stated Fiona Clancy, scientific and medical affairs director, Swiss Precision Diagnostics. “The system adapts and tracks a personal hormone profile, and accurately compares to an ultrasound.”

A recent published study found that only 9% of free apps accurately predict the best days for conception, opening a large window for error. The Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System provides an accurate prediction of ovulation synced to a smartphone, transforming how women can manage their reproductive health. Clearblue Connected Ovulation actually adapts and tracks the user’s personal hormone profile and is the only system that typically identifies four or more best days to get pregnant, two more days than any other ovulation brand on the market. The new Clearblue Connected Ovulation gives women more flexibility and identifies more opportunities to get pregnant.

When it comes to tracking a woman’s cycle, it is not a one-size-fits-all model. The new Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System is more accurate than calendar methods as it accurately identifies personal fertile days using a woman’s hormone data, instead of guessing from a standardized algorithm.

In addition to the science underlying the accuracy of the new system, it now allows women to interact with their fertility data in a way they are already used to doing, through their smartphone.

“Let’s be honest, the whole ‘trying to get pregnant’ thing can be super stressful,” said Brooklyn Decker, actress, entrepreneur, mother and Clearblue partner. “Timing, schedules, peak days…it’s a lot. I wanted to remove as much hassle from the process as I could. I used Clearblue ovulation, on the recommendation of a girlfriend, to help eliminate the guess work. I’m so happy that the new Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System now exists so I can recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand their reproductive health.”

The Clearblue Connected app has many unique benefits that users can take advantage of for a more fun and personalized way to try to conceive:

  • Fertility tracking made easy – digital results automatically sync to user’s smartphone via Bluetooth 5 Technology;
  • Ability to set personalized reminders of when to test – perfect for women’s busy lifestyles;
  • The capability to share daily results with their partner; and
  • Allows users to compare multiple cycles and share this information, if they wish, with a healthcare professional.

“Clearblue continues to be at the forefront of innovation with more than 30 years of ‘firsts’ in the pregnancy and ovulation testing category,” said Ryan Daly, commercial director of the Americas, Swiss Precision Diagnostics. “With increasing consumer expectations for easily accessible information at their fingertips, the Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System still provides clear, accurate digital results, but now gives women the opportunity to store and track their personal fertility data on their phone, with convenient reminders of when to test to help make the process less stressful.”

The Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System is now available at major retailers across the U.S. such as Walmart, Target, Amazon and Meijer.
 

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