Health care coverage increased dramatically in parts of China between 1997 and 2006, a period when government interventions were implemented to improve access to health care, with particularly striking upswings in rural areas, according to new research by Brown University sociologist Susan E. Short and Hongwei Xu of the University of Michigan. The findings appear in the December issue of Health Affairs. Led by Xu, a former Brown graduate student, the study analyzed data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey, which follows households in nine provinces that are home to more than 40 percent of China's population. Xu and Short specifically focused on patterns of coverage among rural and urban residents. Their analysis shows that overall, the percentage of individuals in the sample with insurance increased from 24 percent in 1997 to 28 percent in 2004, then rose sharply to 49 percent in 2006.
Nearly 2 million adults in California, about 8 percent of the population, need mental health treatment, but the majority receive no services or inadequate services, despite a state law mandating that health insurance providers include mental health treatment in their coverage options, a new report by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows. The report, which provides some of the first comprehensive data ever collected on the mental health of California's adult population, found that one in 12 Californians reported symptoms consistent with serious psychological distress and experienced difficulty functioning at home or at work. Over half of these adults reported receiving no treatment for their disorders, and about one-quarter received "inadequate" treatment, defined as less than four visits with a health professional over the past 12 months or using prescription drugs to manage mental health needs.
The United States spends 17.4% of its GDP (gross domestic product) on health care, compared to 9.6% among the rest of the OECD countries, a new OECD report announced today. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) consists of 34 countries, nearly all of which are the richest countries in the world (with the exception of Mexico and Turkey). The authors explained that America is more effective at delivering high costs in health care than quality care. Not only does the USA spend more per head on healthcare - $7, 900 per per person per year - it is also amongst the industrialized countries with the highest number of people with no healthcare cover or inadequate healthcare cover. The report, called "Health at a Glance" reveals that the USA performs extremely well in cancer care.
Premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance increased by 50 percent from 2003 to 2010, and the annual amount that employees pay toward their insurance increased by 63 percent as businesses required employees to contribute a greater share, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report that examines state trends in health insurance costs. The report finds that health insurance costs are outpacing income growth in every state in the country. At the same time, premiums are buying less protective coverage: per-person deductibles doubled for employees working for large as well as small firms over the same time period. According to the report, State Trends in Premiums and Deductibles, 2003-2010: The Need for Action to Address Rising Costs, by 2010, 62 percent of the U.S. population lived in a state where health insurance premiums equaled 20 percent or more of earnings for a middle-income individual under age 65.
The U.S. remains on track to spend twice as much for health care as for food, yet millions are without insurance or uninsured. "Health insurance premiums also continue to rise on average another 9 percent in 2011, " says Merton Bernstein, JD, leading health insurance expert and the Walter D. Coles Professor of Law Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis. "Medical care costs can change direction if policy makers stop whistling past a significant contributor non-benefit costs." Bernstein details the numerous stages of the process for billing medical care services and the processing of these bills by insurers in his current Health Affairs piece, "Pay Attention to Health Insurance Non-Benefit Costs." He estimates, using Best's Insurance data, that about one billion non-Medicare billings are processed yearly.