Trending News Today: Drug Companies Incentivize Most Valuable Patients

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

In August, a new federal law will require all hospitals to notify Medicare patients if they have not formally been admitted, but were instead under observation and why, reported Kaiser Health News. Observation patients are deemed as too sick to leave the hospital, but not sick enough to be admitted. Medicare patients have complained about the lack of being informed and being subjected to paying more than those who were admitted but don’t qualify for Medicare’s nursing home coverage. Under the NOTICE Act, Medicare patients are expected to receive a written form in plain language after 24 hours of observation, but no later than 36 hours. Although there are many in support of this law, there are some physicians, hospital and consumer representatives with concerns on whether the law will help. According to Rep Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who co-sponsored of the law, the act does not require hospitals to explain exactly why the patient is being put under observation instead of being admitted. “I am concerned that the proposed notice fulfills neither the spirit nor the letter of the law,” Doggett said.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that next year, the premiums for the second-lowest silver plan under the Affordable Care Act could increase on average 10% in 14 major metropolitan areas, reported Kaiser Health News. The preliminary analysis of insurer’s plans stated that, overall, the premiums for health coverage could rise in most markets and any declines would likely be rare. “We have tracked these same states as an early indicator of premium changes for the past few years and, while on average they have never been far off from the national average, we don’t know yet whether they are necessarily representative for 2017,” said Cynthia Cox, a co-author of the Kaiser report.

In a recent paper published in PLOS Medicine, Philip Kucab who has hemophilia, detailed how drug companies will go to great lengths to provide outreach such as gifts, scholarships, internships, or drug payment assistance to get to patients with hemophilia, and how these relationships may not be mutually beneficial. Kucab, who is a physician starting his residency, recalled how this relationship was something he once enjoyed when he was younger, but his view has shifted. Hemophilia drugs are expensive and cost nearly half a million dollars each year, reported The Washington Post. In the recent paper, Kucab noted how the relationships between patients and companies can be much more complex. Although these relationships may seem mutually beneficial, it may mask the efforts of creating customer loyalty or sell drugs with higher price tags. “I keep saying to patients and families: Pharmaceutical companies, they do marketing. They don’t do education,” Kucab said. “It seems like education, but it’s all done under a marketing impetus.”