Trending News Today: Snail Venom Promising as a Non-Opioid Pain Treatment
Top news of the day from across the healthcare landscape.
Although competition in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces is declining, approximately three-quarters of enrollees can pick plans sold by 2 to 3 different insurers, according to The Hill. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that the average number of insurers decreased from 4.3 in 2017 to 3.5 in 2018. The analysis showed that the number of Americans with only 1 insurer offering ACA plans in their state increased from 21% in 2017 to 26% in 2018, but nearly half of enrollees have a choice of plans sold by 3 or more insurers, according to the article.
Many states have recently pursued Medicaid expansion, despite the push by GOP leaders to repeal the ACA and reverse expansion. Findings from a study suggest that medical debt may be a significant reason Americans are interested in Medicaid expansion, as individuals in non-expansion states have the highest debt, according to NPR. The authors found that enrolling nonelderly, low-income adults in Medicaid caused the rate of unpaid medical bills to drop from 47% to 40% over 3 years, according to the article. Since Medicaid involves little out-of-pocket costs, it may help individuals afford the medical care they need, NPR reported.
Brain researchers have been searching for a way to relieve pain without putting patients at risk of addiction, according to NPR. The National Institutes of Health estimate that more than 25 million Americans have chronic pain and millions misuse opioids. Scientists have tried approaches that reduce pain without activating the brain’s pleasure and reward circuits, but they note that snail venom-related options are promising, according to the article. The snail venom is used to paralyze fish and contains a strong painkiller. Since the venom does not affect the brain in the same way that opioids do, it is expected to have a lesser risk of addiction, according to the article.