Health Care Blog
- Posted byon September 26, 2014 at 9:56 AM EDT
The nations of the world, along with key international organizations, gather at the White House today to advance a Global Health Security Agenda that will help keep the world safe from infectious disease threats.
This meeting is a critical opportunity to increase international commitment and, more importantly, action to stop the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the infectious disease threats to come.
Ebola is a critical issue for the world community. There’s a real risk to the stability and security of societies, as governments are increasingly challenged to not only control Ebola but to provide basic health services and other government functions. The stability of these countries and their economies, as well as those of their neighbors and of others, is at increasing risk.
Ebola is the most recent tragic example of why it is imperative to work together to make the world safer from infectious disease outbreaks. Ebola is precisely the kind of health threat the Global Health Security Agenda could have prevented. We and our partner countries have agreed to work together so that effective prevention, detection, and response mechanisms are present in every country around the world.
- Posted byon September 25, 2014 at 2:35 PM EDT
The Ebola outbreak afflicting West African countries is now an epidemic of unprecedented proportions. President Obama has made combating this terrible disease a top national security priority and today, at the United Nations, he called on the world to join the United States in this effort.
- Posted byon September 24, 2014 at 4:00 PM EDT
A number of recent reports point to one clear conclusion: The Affordable Care Act is working and making health care more affordable, accessible, and of a higher quality for families, seniors, businesses, and taxpayers.
For starters, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust shows that the average premium for employer-provided family health coverage only went up 3% this year. That's tied for the lowest rate on record since the survey began in 1999.
What's more, if premium growth since 2010 had followed the average growth seen from 2000-2010, the average premium for job-based family coverage would have been $1,800 higher in 2014.
- Posted byon September 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM EDT
Today, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report to the President, Combating Antibiotic Resistance. The report was released simultaneously with a National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria as well as with a Presidential Executive Order, emphasizing to the Nation the importance of addressing this growing challenge.
The evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is occurring at an alarming rate and is outpacing the development of new countermeasures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual domestic impact of antibiotic-resistant infections to the U.S. economy has been estimated at $20 billion in excess direct health care costs, with additional costs to society for lost productivity as high as $35 billion per year and 8 million additional days in hospitals. The safety of many modern medical procedures – including cancer chemotherapy, complex surgery, dialysis for renal disease, and organ transplantation – relies on effective antibiotics. These interventions become significantly more dangerous as bacterial resistance rises. Indeed, the World Health Organization recently warned that we risk entering a “post-antibiotic” era unless we act now.
Bacteria and other microbes evolve in response to their environment and inevitably develop mechanisms to resist antibiotics. In his 1945 Nobel Prize address, Alexander Fleming (recipient of the Nobel Prize for his discovery of penicillin) warned that the inappropriate use of antibiotics would cause human infections to become resistant to these drugs. As bacteria evolve resistance to widely used antibiotics, it is crucial to stay one step ahead of the problem. PCAST recommends measures to strengthen antibiotic stewardship, boost surveillance, and facilitate the development of new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines to combat this growing crisis.
- Posted byon September 16, 2014 at 11:19 AM EDT
New data out this morning from the National Center for Health Statistics show that health insurance coverage increased sharply in the first quarter of 2014, reflecting the significant progress made in expanding access to affordable insurance coverage during the first part of the Affordable Care Act’s inaugural open enrollment period.
These first official data on insurance coverage in 2014 do not capture the full scope of the gains in insurance coverage that have occurred so far in 2014 because most of the underlying interviews occurred well before the “March surge” in plan selections on the Health Insurance Marketplace. But when taken together with private survey data showing that coverage continued to expand in the second quarter of 2014, other recent data showing continued slow growth in health care costs, and ongoing improvements in health care quality, the overall picture is clear: the Affordable Care Act is working and well on its way to ensuring that all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care.
Today’s results from NCHS show large coverage gains, with larger gains ahead.
In detail, today’s results from the NCHS’ National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) show that the share of Americans without health insurance averaged 13.1 percent over the first quarter of 2014, down from an average of 14.4 percent during 2013, a reduction corresponding to approximately 4 million people. The 13.1 percent uninsurance rate recorded for the first quarter of 2014 is lower than any annual uninsurance rate recorded by the NHIS since it began using its current design in 1997.
As striking as this reduction is, it dramatically understates the actual gains in insurance coverage so far in 2014. The interviews reflected in today’s results were spread evenly over January, February, and March 2014. As a result, the vast majority of the survey interviews occurred before the surge in Marketplace plan selections that occurred in March; 3.8 million people selected a Marketplace plan after March 1,with many in the last week before the end of open enrollment on March 31. Similarly, these results only partially capture the steady increase in Medicaid enrollment during the first quarter.
- Posted byon September 5, 2014 at 1:02 PM EDT
A new report this week from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had a lot to say about the state of health care costs and what it means for our economy. New estimates show that national health expenditures rose at historically slow rates in 2013 and American businesses and consumers will continue to see slow cost growth over the next few years, even as millions gain health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
This week’s Chart of the Week uses the most up-to-date data to break down what’s going on with health care costs for employers and the Medicare program. Right now, employers’ inflation-adjusted health benefit costs are up just 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, among the lowest rates recorded historically. This slow growth in employer health costs helps businesses create jobs and pay a good wage. At the same time, Medicare spending per beneficiary is actually falling in inflation-adjusted terms, which is helping keep premiums low for beneficiaries and bringing down our deficit.
Take a look at the numbers to see how health care costs for employers and the Medicare program are at near-historic lows:
Get the full story behind these health care numbers from Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers -- then check out what people are saying about why it’s so important to #GetCovered.