SingleCare Industry News Round-up 7/8: Retirement Costs, Telemedicine, and Drug Profiteering

Cropped SingleCare logo By | July 8, 2016

Another week means more news in healthcare! Catch up on costs for healthcare during retirement, telemedicine benefits, and an op-ed from an MD on outrageously high prescription prices.

First, read a breakdown of the average American couple’s healthcare costs during retirement. The article recommends that patients invest in long-term care insurance at an early age to curb costs down the line.

  • The Motley Fool | Warning: Healthcare Costs in Retirement May Be Higher Than We Thought
    There’s new data out there suggesting Fidelity may actually be grossly underestimating healthcare costs in retirement. HealthView Services, a provider of healthcare cost-projection software for financial advisors and institutions, released its 2016 report on this very topic, and its data show the average healthy 65-year-old couple retiring this year is expected to spend $288,000 in lifetime healthcare costs. And while HealthView’s numbers span a slightly longer timeframe than Fidelity’s (all projections assume an average life expectancy of 87 for men and 89 for women), that $288,000 doesn’t include typical out-of-pocket costs for services not covered by Medicare, like vision and dental care. When we add in those expenses, the total lifetime cost for a healthy 65-year-old couple today rises to $377,000.

Next, read about the potential benefits of telemedicine, including major savings, increased convenience and better organization of medical records.

  • Financial Times | What’s up, doc? Tell me over my smartphone, please
    In the U.S., one of the world’s most expensive markets for medical care, telemedicine providers estimate that savings can range from $200 to $700 per patient visit. For patients, prices start at $9.99 for a medical question posed to a doctor. […] Roy Schoenberg, chief executive of American Well, a US provider, says his company’s urgent care app has been downloaded 2m times. Some 95 per cent of business is conducted on behalf of employers, health insurers and “marquee”, or exclusive, medical providers. These include the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. They use American Well’s proprietary technology to set up video calls, maintain electronic health records and manage insurance billing, all of which must meet strict patient data protection rules. Companies such as American Well and Teladoc give electronic infrastructure to clients in a similar way to Amazon supplying cloud services.

Finally, find an op-ed written by an M.D. who argues that prescription drug prices are outrageously high due to a lack of competition in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • LA Times | We’re all paying a high price for drug company profiteering
    The pharmaceutical industry has learned to expect such windfall profits because it knows insurance companies can’t say no to unique, patented drugs that have no competitors.  Insurance becomes a lever that releases massive payments to the drug companies. If Gilead had to sell its drugs to individuals using their own dollars, how many $80,000-plus treatments could it sell? […] With other new drugs in the pipeline set to impose Sovaldi-like prices, drug costs will continue to lead the growth of America’s economy-killing healthcare expenditures. In the area of generic drugs, the Food and Drug Administration needs to start regulating pricing practices to protect the public. Reforming the financing of drug development will require more creativity. The government should consider subsidizing research and development to reduce the industry’s risk, in return for oversight on pricing that would allow reasonable returns on investment.

[Main image credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Thinkstock]