November 7, 2017
Open enrollment numbers up on day one, insurers continue outreach
More than 200,000 Americans chose an exchange health plan on the first day of open enrollment – which is more than twice the number of consumers who signed up on the first day last year. Web traffic to Healthcare.gov was also 33 percent higher than traffic in 2016, with over 1 million people visiting the site. More than a dozen states and Washington, DC run their own exchanges and do not use Healthcare.gov. State exchanges also saw a surprising uptick in enrollment from last year and greater signups than were projected.
Insurers have ramped up localized advertising efforts in an attempt to compensate for huge cuts to the federal government’s budget for open enrollment outreach and advertising. Insurers are deploying various forms of outreach, from running internet and TV ads to dispatching employees and consultants to high traffic areas to help individuals enroll in the field. Insurers believe the advertising is essential to draw in the young, healthy consumers who keep overall member costs down. The advertising is also being used to address confusion among many Americans over the current state of the ACA.
Maine to vote on Medicaid expansion today
Mainers will vote today on a ballot initiative to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the ACA. In the past, Maine’s state legislature has passed legislation to expand Medicaid, only for it to be vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage. If the referendum is approved today, Maine would become the first state to expand Medicaid at the ballot box. Experts believe the expansion would provide coverage for around 80,000 Mainers.
House tax bill would eliminate medical expense deduction
The House tax bill would eliminate a deduction for large medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. Close to 9 million households, or around 6 percent of all tax filers, claim the medical expense deductions. The widely-used benefit is currently utilized for expenses including nursing home care, fertility treatment, hospital transportation expenses, laser vision surgery, dental procedures and bills from out-of-network doctors.
Behavioral economics and patient noncompliance
Research has shown that noncompliance—which is when a patient elects or forgets to take their medication—is accountable for nearly two-thirds of medication-related hospital admissions, and experts believe it can be attributed nearly 100,000 deaths a year. In an attempt to curb this, researchers have been using behavioral economics to encourage patients to take their medication—usually with limited or no success. Strategies have ranged from financial incentives to automatic notifications for family members, but no strategies have had a lasting impact. Difficulties in applying behavioral economics to noncompliance may demonstrate the limitations of such techniques in health care—the complexity of health care makes implementing change through individually targeted incentives challenging, suggesting alternative approaches might be necessary.
The growing value of digital health
Digital health is becoming increasingly popular among health care providers. A new report from QuintilesIMS Institute found that there are nearly 319,000 health apps available and there are 860 trials currently underway across the globe to test health apps for clinical use. Apps focused on health condition management, most often associated with patient care, are growing and now account for 40
% of all apps.
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