SingleCare rounds up the healthcare news and developments that matter, every week. This week, read about the looming costs of a baby boomer population becoming seniors, and more.
Something is always happening in the world of healthcare, so here’s a quick catch-up on industry news this past week. First, an article warning that the next generation of senior citizens will be sicker than their parents, potentially putting a serious strain on the economy.
NPR: Baby Boomers Will Become Sicker Seniors Than Earlier Generations
“There will be about 55 percent more senior citizens who have diabetes than there are today, and about 25 percent more who are obese. Overall, the report says that the next generation of seniors will be 9 percent less likely to say they have good or excellent overall health.” […] “The dramatic increase has serious implications for the long-term health of those individuals and for the finances of our nation,” says Rhonda Randall, a senior adviser to the United Health Foundation and chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions, which sells Medicare Advantage plans. Most of the costs will be borne by Medicare, the government-run health care system for seniors, and by extension, taxpayers.”
Next is a piece showing how mental health conditions are the most costly in healthcare: more than $200 billion/year in the United States is spent addressing mental health-related conditions.
Medscape: Mental Disorders the Most Costly Illness
Everyone bears the brunt of the increased cost of treating mental disorders, Dr Roehrig said. [..] “When all we talk about when we discuss how much we spend on hospital care, physician care, and prescription drugs, we start thinking about how to cut the cost. But as soon as you say we spend a ton of it on mental disorders, or diabetes, or whatever, suddenly the public health community can participate in the discussion. It opens it up to a much broader range of participants,” he said.
Last is an editorial that discusses the rising costs of prescription drugs in the context of policymaking. The article reports on a bill (SB 1010) that addresses this issue by calling on health insurers to include more information about what they are spending on prescription drugs in annual reports.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one-fourth of the consumers who take prescription drugs say they have trouble affording them. […] Politicians have talked about how important it is to rein in drug costs, but there’s no easy way to do so. Federal patent law gives drugmakers a temporary monopoly over the market for their products, which enables them to raise prices without fear of having competitors offer identical versions for less. Having the government cap prices could lead pharmaceutical companies to limit production and shift investments into product lines with larger profit margins. And requiring insurers to cover more of the cost of prescription drugs would almost certainly lead to higher premiums.
[main image credit: dolgachov / Thinkstock]