Trending News Today: Cancer Patients Spend One-Third of Household Income on Care

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Instagram posts may provide insight into a person’s mental health, a new study suggests. The investigators identified participants as depressed or healthy based on whether they received a clinical diagnosis of depression in the past, according to The New York Times. Machine-learning tools were then used to identify patterns in the photos and to create a model that predicts depression by posts. The results of the study showed participants who were depressed used fewer Instagram filters, but when filters were used, they tended to choose darker ones, such as the black and white filter, according to the Times. Healthier users tended to prefer Valencia, which brightens a photo. Additionally, the depressed participants were more likely to post photos containing a face; however, when healthier participants posted face photos, theirs tended to feature more of them on average, the NY Times reported. “People in our sample who were depressed tended to post photos that, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, were bluer, darker, and grayer on average than healthy people,” author Andrew Reece told the NY Times. The authors noted their findings may not be applicable to all Instagram users, but their results do suggest a similar machine-learning model could someday prove useful in conducting or augmenting mental health screenings, the article concluded.

Cancer patients spend approximately one-third of their household income on out-of-pocket health care costs, NPR reported. Findings from a recent study revealed cancer patients spend approximately 11% of their income on out-of-pocket health care costs, excluding insurance premiums. Furthermore, patients become less likely to want to pay their bills as the costs continue to rise. Lead author Dr Yousuf Zafar told NPR, “patients are frustrated. They believe they’ve got insurance. They believe they paid for insurance and that insurance should fully cover their cancer care. We need to do a better job explaining to our patients how much benefit they can get from treatment. But also how much harm they can face, whether that harm is physical toxicity or financial toxicity.” The findings showed some patients are afraid to talk with their physicians about costs for fear they will receive substandard care, according to NPR.

A Philadelphia woman was accused of distributing fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances, and Delaware state police say more arrests are expected as the investigation continues. According to The Washington Post, Annette Scott, 49, stole blank prescription pads from the physician’s office she worked at in the Wilmington-area. After forging the physician’s signature, Scott distributed 23 prescriptions to several individuals. They would then fill the prescriptions using their Medicaid insurance to pay for them, the Post reported.