2022 Employer Health Benefits Survey

Link: https://www.kff.org/health-costs/report/2022-employer-health-benefits-survey/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

This 24th annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, offer rates, wellness programs, and employer practices. The 2022 survey included 2,188 interviews with non-federal public and private firms.

Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $22,463 this year, with workers on average paying $6,106 toward the cost of their coverage. The average deductible among covered workers in a plan with a general annual deductible is $1,763 for single coverage. Workers at smaller firms contribute on average contribute nearly $2,000 more toward the cost of family coverage than workers at smaller firms. They also face general annual deductibles that are $1,000 higher on average. This year’s report also looks at employers’ experiences and views about mental health and substance use services, telemedicine, and wellness programs.

Publication Date: 27 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Kaiser Family Foundation

Drivers in Decline: A Shortage of Volunteers Complicates Access to Care in Rural America

Link: https://khn.org/news/article/drivers-in-decline-a-shortage-of-volunteers-complicates-access-to-care-in-rural-america/

Excerpt:

Maybach is unpaid, a volunteer among a cadre organized by Faith in Action in Red Wing, a nonprofit that relies on retirees to ferry residents to essential services.

The riders, mostly seniors, are people who don’t have immediate access to transportation, especially in rural areas where public transit options are either limited or nonexistent.

There are several such programs serving rural counties in Minnesota, but, as with other services across the country, their existence has become precarious because the number of volunteer drivers has steadily declined, according to transportation advocates. Volunteers either get to a point where, because of age, they can no longer drive, or the costs associated with their volunteerism are no longer sustainable. For decades, Congress has refused to increase the rate at which the drivers’ expenses can be reimbursed.

Experts say that with public transit in rural areas already insufficient and the long distances that residents in rural communities must travel to access health care, a decimated volunteer driver network would leave seniors with even fewer transportation options and could interrupt their health management. Already, social service organizations that rely on volunteers have begun to restrict their service options and deny ride requests when drivers aren’t available.

….

Volunteers, like Maybach, are eligible for a reimbursement of 14 cents per mile, which generally doesn’t come close to covering the cost of gas and wear and tear on a vehicle. And while the Internal Revenue Service increased the business rate from 58.5 cents per mile to 62.5 cents per mile in June, it did not raise the charitable rate because it is under Congress’ purview and must be set by statute. The charitable rate was last changed in 1997.

Author(s): Christina Saint Louis

Publication Date: 24 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Kaiser Health News

Say What? Hearing Aids Available Over-the-Counter for as Low as $199, and Without a Prescription

Link: https://khn.org/news/article/hearing-aids-over-the-counter-without-prescription/

Excerpt:

Starting Monday, consumers will be able to buy hearing aids directly off store shelves and at dramatically lower prices as a 2017 federal law finally takes effect.

Where for decades it cost thousands of dollars to get a device that could be purchased only with a prescription from an audiologist or other hearing professional, now a new category of over-the-counter aids are selling for hundreds of dollars. Walmart says it will sell a hearing aid for as little as $199.

The over-the-counter aids are intended for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss — a market of tens of millions of people, many of whom have until now avoided getting help because devices were so expensive.

Author(s): Phil Galewitz

Publication Date: 17 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Kaiser Health News

A colonoscopy study has some wondering if they should have the procedure. What you should know

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/10/health/colonoscopy-study-q-and-a-wellness/index.html

Excerpt:

What did this new study show about the effectiveness of colonoscopies?

In this study, about 12,000 people in Sweden, Poland and Norway got colonoscopies. They saw a 31% reduction in their risk of colon cancer and a 50% reduction in their risk of dying from colon cancer compared with people who were not invited to get a colonoscopy.

Was that about what would be expected?

Some US studies have suggested that colonoscopies are even more effective. One study followed nearly 90,000 health care professionals for 22 years. Some of them chose to receive a screening colonoscopy, and some did not. The researchers estimated that screening colonoscopy was associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of getting colon cancer and a 68% reduction in the risk of dying of colon cancer.

Why would there be different success rates in the three European countries compared with the US?

Dominitz says one reason might be that most people in the European study didn’t have sedation when they got their colonoscopies. Only 23% of the patients in the European study received sedation, but virtually everyone having a colonoscopy in the US gets it. Colonoscopies can be uncomfortable, and doctors might, without even realizing it, be less thorough if people are in pain. Thoroughness – getting the scope into the folds and crevices of the colon – is important for finding growths called polyps. The more polyps doctors are able to find, the more they can reduce the person’s risk of being diagnosed with or dying from colon cancer.

Author(s): Elizabeth Cohen

Publication Date: 11 Oct 2022

Publication Site: CNN

What we learned from a massive survey on America’s mental health crisis

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/08/politics/cnn-kff-mental-health-survey-what-matters/index.html

Excerpt:

The vast majority of Americans of all ages, races, generations and backgrounds say the US has a mental health crisis.

Nine in 10 Americans in a new survey from CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation say the country as a whole is facing a crisis on this front and about half of adults say they’ve experienced a severe mental health crisis in their family.

CNN published a series of stories this week based on the poll in conjunction with KFF. Read the main report here. And read this from CNN’s polling team about how the survey was conducted.

There’s also 988 – the three-digit number anyone in crisis can call, but which the survey found few people know about.

Author(s): Zachary B. Wolf

Publication Date: 8 Oct 2022

Publication Site: CNN

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: September 2022

Link: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/poll-finding/kff-covid-19-vaccine-monitor-september-2022/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Overall adult vaccination rates have been relatively steady over the past year. The latest COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds that nearly eight in ten adults (77%) say they have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including about half who say they are fully vaccinated and also received at least one booster dose (47%), about a quarter who have been fully vaccinated but have not gotten a booster (26%), and a small share who are partially vaccinated (3%). Twenty-three percent remain unvaccinated, the vast majority of whom say they will “definitely not” get the COVID-19 vaccine (88% of unvaccinated, or 21% of all adults). For the latest breakdown of self-reported vaccination rates by demographic group, see the Vaccine Monitor Dashboard.

In late August, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of new, updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters that target both the new omicron variants and the original strain of the virus. The bivalent boosters (one by Moderna and one by Pfizer) are now authorized for use by those ages 12 and older who have gotten an initial series of a COVID-19 vaccine, including those who have already received one or more boosters.

Awareness of the new boosters is modest, with about half of adults saying they have heard “a lot” (17%) or “some” (33%) about updated booster, 31% saying they have heard “a little,” and one in five saying they have heard “nothing at all” about the new booster doses.

Older adults and Democrats are somewhat more likely than their counterparts to say they have heard at least “some” about the new boosters, but fewer than a quarter across these groups report hearing “a lot” about the new shots.

Author(s): Grace Sparks Follow @gracesparks on Twitter , Lunna Lopes , Liz Hamel Follow @lizhamel on Twitter , Alex Montero , Marley Presiado , and Mollyann Brodie Follow @Mollybrodie on Twitter

Publication Date: 30 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Kaiser Family Foundation

Public Coverage Increased for All Workers, Private Coverage Declined for Full-Time, Year-Round Workers

Link: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2022/09/private-health-coverage-declines-for-full-time-workers.html

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Between 2020 and 2021, there were changes in health insurance coverage rates for both full-time, year-round workers and those who worked less than full time, year-round. 

The uninsured rate for full-time, year-round workers was 0.6 percentage points higher in 2021 than in 2020. Compared to 2020, a larger share of these workers had public coverage and a smaller share had private coverage, such as employer-based coverage.

Those who worked less than full time, year-round were 1.2 percentage points less likely to be uninsured in 2021 — not because more had private coverage but because a larger share had public health insurance.  

Author(s): Katherine Keisler-Starkey, Laryssa Mykyta and Lisa Bunch

Publication Date: 13 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Census Bureau

Most Americans don’t plan to get a flu shot this season — lots of them say they’ll mask to avoid germs instead

Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/04/fewer-americans-plan-to-get-a-flu-shot-this-season-2022.html

Excerpt:

Only 49% of U.S. adults plan to get their flu shot this flu season, according to a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). Even 1 in 5 of those who are at higher risk for influenza-related complications say they won’t get vaccinated.

People who are more likely to have severe outcomes from a flu infection include those over the age of 65, pregnant people, children younger than five years old, and individuals with underlying conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

….

Most Americans agree. Nearly 70% believe that getting an annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza-related deaths and hospitalizations, the NFID found. And yet many people remain hesitant to get their vaccine.

Instead, more U.S. adults are gravitating towards masking as a form of protection against the flu. A higher percentage of Americans (58%) plan to mask at least sometimes this flu season than intend to get vaccinated.

Author(s): Renée Onque

Publication Date: 4 Oct 2022

Publication Site: CNBC

Embedded Bias: How Medical Records Sow Discrimination

Link: https://khn.org/news/article/electronic-medical-records-doctor-bias-open-notes-treatment-discrimination/

Excerpt:

Narrow or prejudiced thinking is simple to write down and easy to copy and paste over and over. Descriptions such as “difficult” and “disruptive” can become hard to escape. Once so labeled, patients can experience “downstream effects,” said Dr. Hardeep Singh, an expert in misdiagnosis who works at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston. He estimates misdiagnosis affects 12 million patients a year.

Conveying bias can be as simple as a pair of quotation marks. One team of researchers found that Black patients, in particular, were quoted in their records more frequently than other patients when physicians were characterizing their symptoms or health issues. The quotation mark patterns detected by researchers could be a sign of disrespect, used to communicate irony or sarcasm to future clinical readers. Among the types of phrases the researchers spotlighted were colloquial language or statements made in Black or ethnic slang.

“Black patients may be subject to systematic bias in physicians’ perceptions of their credibility,” the authors of the paper wrote.

That’s just one study in an incoming tide focused on the variations in the language that clinicians use to describe patients of different races and genders. In many ways, the research is just catching up to what patients and doctors knew already, that discrimination can be conveyed and furthered by partial accounts.

Author(s): Darius Tahir

Publication Date: 26 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Kaiser Health News

Montana Health Officials Aim to Boost Oversight of Nonprofit Hospitals’ Giving

Link: https://khn.org/news/article/montana-health-oversight-nonprofit-hospitals-giving-charity/

Excerpt:

Montana health officials are proposing to oversee and set standards for the charitable contributions that nonprofit hospitals make in their communities each year to justify their access to millions of dollars in tax exemptions.

The proposal is part of a package of legislation that the state Department of Public Health and Human Services will ask lawmakers to approve when they convene in January. It comes two years after a state audit called on the department to play more of a watchdog role and nine months after a KHN investigation found some of Montana’s wealthiest hospitals lag behind state and national averages in community giving.

….

The IRS requires nonprofit hospitals to tally what they spend to “promote health” to benefit “the community as a whole.” How hospitals count such contributions to justify their tax exemptions is opaque and varies widely. National researchers who study community benefits have called for tightening standards for what counts toward the requirement.

Author(s): Katheryn Houghton

Publication Date: 28 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Kaiser Health News

COVID-19: Audit Cites ‘Distortion, Suppression Of Facts’ In Nursing Home Reporting Under Cuomo

Link: https://dailyvoice.com/new-york/northsalem/news/covid-19-audit-cites-distortion-suppression-of-facts-in-nursing-home-reporting-under-cuomo/828102/

Excerpt:

The state Health Department intentionally “misled the public” regarding the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes under former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, according to a scathing audit from the Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept through New York, the Department of Health was not prepared to respond to the infectious disease outbreaks in nursing homes, according to the audit, which helped lead to the inaccurate virus-related death count in facilities.

Auditors found that health officials undercounted the death toll in nursing homes by at least 4,100 residents and at times more than 50 percent, despite claims from the former governor, who said the state was doing well in protecting seniors.

Author(s): Zak Failla

Publication Date: 17 March 2022

Publication Site: New York Daily Voice

What are the Implications of Long COVID for Employment and Health Coverage?

Link: https://www.kff.org/policy-watch/what-are-the-implications-of-long-covid-for-employment-and-health-coverage/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Preliminary evidence suggests there may be significant implications for employment: Surveys show that among adults with long COVID who worked prior to infection, over half are out of work or working fewer hours (Figure 2). Many conditions associated with long COVID—such as malaise, fatigue, or the inability to concentrate—limit people’s ability to work, even if they have jobs that allow for remote work and other accommodations. Two surveys of people with long COVID who had worked prior to infection showed that between 22% and 27% of those workers were out of work after getting long COVID. In comparison, among all working-age adults in 2019, only 7% were out of work. Given the sheer number of working age adults with long COVID, the employment implications may be profound and are likely to affect more people over time. One study estimates that long COVID already accounts for 15 percent of unfilled jobs.

Author(s): Alice Burns

Publication Date: 1 Aug 2022

Publication Site: KFF