Trending News Today: Installment Loans May Address High Drug Costs

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

Outpatient chemotherapy costs were found to be higher for cancer patients if their oncologist worked for a health care system instead of their own private practice, according to Kaiser Health News. The study analyzed private health insurance claims data from the Health Care Cost Institute and national data about consolidation among physicians and hospitals between 2008 and 2013. The analysis revealed significant consolidation between health care systems and outpatient oncology practices, which researchers linked to a rise in spending on drug-based cancer care. Each 1-percentage-point increase in medical providers affiliated with a hospital or health system was associated with a 34% increase in annual average spending per person on outpatient cancer treatment.

A study in Health Affairs found between 58 and 71% of consumers did not associate health care prices with quality of care, reported Kaiser Health News. Researchers analyzed responses to 4 questions on the relationship between prices and quality from 2010 adults. The new data provides useful information for health care organizations trying to gain a better understanding on how people make choices and developing consumer tools. “If you actually shop for care, and then you believe that price and quality are associated, you’re then going to avoid low-priced care,” lead study author Kathryn Phillips said in the report.

An economist and oncologist have proposed installment loans to help address expensive health care costs and get high-priced drugs into the hands of consumers, reported Kaiser Health News. In a new study, authors related drug loans to mortgages, stating that both can provide consumers with the ability to buy high priced items that require a large up-front payment they normally wouldn’t be able to afford. The proposal would have the loans be financed by a pool of investors who would buy bonds and equities issued by an organization that makes the loans to consumers. However, some health insurance experts disagree with the proposal. “Isn’t this why we have health insurance?” Mark Rukavina, health care consultant said in the report. “Insurance used to protect people from financial ruin for these unpredictable, costly occurrences. Now, with large deductibles, we’ve got coverage for preventive care but not for treatment.”