A new study finds that lung cancer patients treated in hospitals that care for a high percentage of uninsured and Medicaid-insured patients, so-called "high safety-net burden facilities, " were significantly less likely to undergo surgery that was intended to cure the cancer compared to patients treated at low safety-net burden facilities. This difference persisted even after controlling for other factors that significantly decreased the likelihood of curative-intent surgery, such as race, insurance status, stage, and female gender as well as other hospital characteristics. This study is the first to examine the impact of safety-net burden status on access to curative-intent surgery for lung cancer patients nationwide. Researchers led by Katherine S. Virgo, Ph.D., used the National Cancer Database (NCDB) to review the treatment of more than 50, 000 patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer who were treated at American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer accredited facilities throughout the United States.
Data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau on income, poverty and health insurance coverage revealed that 49.9 million Americans are uninsured, a slight increase from 49 million in 2009. According to Alan Baker, interim executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA): "Too many Americans lack health insurance. It's a tragic situation exacerbated by slow economic growth, a high rate of unemployment and a broken health system that is still not meeting the health needs of our nation." One of APHA's deepest concerns is the alarming decline of working Americans who have employer-based health insurance. New data reveals that only 55.3 percent have health coverage through their employer compared with 56.1 percent in 2009. Baker proceeded to say that since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, the United States has made tremendous progress in improving the delivery and financing of its health services.
Imagine this dream scenario: you are a doctor and have a series of subtle, detailed questions about a patient's condition to which the answers will help you correctly diagnose their illness, and/or decide the best treatment. You turn to your "assistant" Watson, in this case not Sherlock's friend but a computer, pose the questions and within seconds, you have the answers, plucked from millions of pages of medical information. Well that dream appears to be a step closer, because health insurer WellPoint Inc and IBM have agreed to create the first commercial applications of the computer giant Watson's "Deep Question Answering (QA) technology". Under the agreement, IBM will develop the base Watson healthcare platform, and WellPoint will develop and launch solutions that run on it to "help improve patient care through the delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based health care for millions of Americans", according to a statement released earlier today.
The estimates of the population without health insurance in the United States remained unchanged in 2010, as compared to 2009, reflecting the counteracting effects of not only the sluggish economic recovery but also the preliminary benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), says Timothy McBride, PhD, leading health economist and associate dean of public health at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. According to estimates released Sept. 13 by the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage without health coverage in 2010 16.3 percent was not statistically different from the rate in 2009. "This number could have been much worse considering the number of people in poverty in the U.S. rose 2.6 million in the last year." McBride says."The one bright spot is that the percentage of people in the 18-24 age group without health insurance dropped by 2 percentage points.
Fast-rising health costs have eaten nearly all the income gains made by a median-income American family of four over the past decade, leaving them with just $95 per month in extra income, after accounting for taxes and price increases, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Had health care costs risen only as fast as the cost of other goods and services in the United States from 1999 to 2009, the same family would have an additional $545 per month to spend in 2009, according to findings published in the September edition of the journal Health Affairs. "Accelerating health care costs are a primary reason that the so many American families feel like they are just treading water financially, " said David Auerbach, the study's lead author and an economist at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.