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Survey: ACA lowers uninsured ranks by 9.5 million

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — At the close of the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period, an estimated 9.5 million fewer U.S. adults were uninsured, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey released last week. The national uninsured rate among working age-adults dropped from 20% in July–September 2013 to 15% in April–June 2014. 
 
Most people with new coverage, either a marketplace plan or Medicaid, said they were optimistic that it would improve their ability to get health care. A majority of those who had used their new plan to get care or fill a prescription said they would not have been able to do so before.
 
The largest gains in coverage were experienced by young adults ages 19 years to 34 years, whose uninsured rate fell from 28% to 18%; Latinos, whose rate declined from 36% to 23%; and low-income adults, whose rate dropped from 35% to 24%. 
 
In states that expanded eligibility for Medicaid, uninsured rates among low-income adults fell substantially. But in states that did not expand Medicaid, uninsured rates for people under the poverty level remained largely unchanged; these rates were double those of states that expanded. A large portion (42%) of new Medicaid enrollees were young adults 19 years to 34 years. This was the largest share of any adult age group.
 
As many as 63% of adults with new coverage through the marketplaces or Medicaid had been uninsured previously.
 
“This is the first survey to look at both coverage trends [and] people’s experiences using their new insurance," said Sara Collins, lead survey researcher and VP healthcare coverage and access for The Commonwealth FUnd. "The findings suggest that the Affordable Care Act is beginning to achieve its central goal — reducing the number of Americans who are uninsured and improving access to health care,” she said. “Adults who are being helped the most are those who historically have had the greatest difficulty affording health insurance and getting the care they need.”
 
The Commonwealth Fund’s Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey interviewed 4,425 working-age adults nationally about their health insurance status, awareness of the marketplaces and enrollment in both private plans and Medicaid. The survey also asked adults with new insurance to report on their views of and experiences with their coverage.
 
Highlights of the report, "Gaining Ground: Americans’ Health Insurance Coverage and Access to Care After the Affordable Care Act’s First Open Enrollment Period," include:
 
  • As many as 43% of adults potentially eligible for coverage had visited the marketplaces by early June 2014, up from 24% in December. Of those, 51% selected a private plan or enrolled in Medicaid;
  • By the beginning of June, 60% of adults with new coverage said they had used their plans to go to a doctor or hospital or fill a prescription. Of those, 62% said they would have not have been able to afford or access this care prior to getting their new insurance;
  • More than half of adults (54%) with new coverage said their plan included all or some of the doctors they wanted. More than three of five adults with new coverage who found primary care doctors were able to get an appointment within two weeks; and
  • 81 percent of those with new coverage were optimistic their insurance would improve their ability to get the care they need. And 58% of adults with new insurance said they were better off now than before they had their coverage.
 
“Health insurance coverage is the critical first step to getting people in the door for needed care,” said Commonwealth Fund president David Blumenthal. “It is clear the Affordable Care Act is already helping improve the lives of millions of Americans. Now we have to make sure that our healthcare system is working smartly and delivering the best care in the most efficient way possible.”
 
Uninsured rates for low-income adults declined most dramatically in the District of Columbia and the 25 states that expanded their Medicaid programs, falling from 28% to 17% among people with incomes under the poverty level. In contrast, uninsured rates for low-income people remained fairly constant in the 25 states that did not expand Medicaid, with more than one-third (36%) remaining uninsured.
 
The report analyzed trends in uninsured rates in the six states with the largest populations. Enrollment rates varied, likely due to states’ efforts, as well as their decisions to expand Medicaid. In California, which pursued an aggressive outreach and enrollment campaign and expanded its Medicaid program, the uninsured rate for all working-age adults fell by half, from 22% prior to open enrollment to 11% by early June 2014. In Texas, which did not expand Medicaid, the uninsured rate for adults at all income levels fell from 34% prior to open enrollment to 22% by early June, while in Florida, which also did not expand Medicaid, the slight decline in the rate, from 30% to 26%, was not statistically significant. The current uninsured rates in Florida and Texas are statistically the same with both states continuing to leave uninsured the largest share of their adult population of the six largest states.
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Report: Patients facing growing challenges accessing orphan drugs

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — Although the pace of approvals for new orphan drugs — medicines that treat relatively rare conditions — have increased in the United States and Europe in recent years, patients are facing growing challenges accessing those drugs, a newly completed study released last week by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development at Tufts University has concluded.
 
During the 14-year period from 2000–13, 86 orphan drugs were approved in the United States, up from 65 during the prior 18-year period 1983–2000, while in Europe 96 orphan drugs were approved from 2000–13, more than double the 44 approved in the earlier period, according to Tufts CSDD.
 
Among the challenges that limit patient access to orphan drugs in the United States, relative to Europe, is higher cost-sharing by patients, which can lead to increased levels of non-compliance, according to Joshua Cohen, assistant professor at Tufts CSDD, who conducted the analysis.
 
“The encouraging news is that more orphan drugs are in development today than ever before, with more getting marketing approval — in 2013 alone, nine orphan drugs were approved in the United States, the most in a single year," he said. "But the high cost of these medicines is leading insurers to reassess their reimbursement policies, which likely will mean more out-of-pocket costs for patients.” 
 
Key findings from the study, reported in the July/August Tufts CSDD Impact Report, include the following:
 
  • Since 1983, 7% more orphan drugs have been approved in the United States than in Europe, and 17% more were approved first in the United States than were approved first in Europe;
  • There are fewer denials of orphan drug coverage by U.S. payers than by European payers; and
  • While U.S. payers often require prior authorization as a condition of reimbursement, European health authorities employ more stringent conditions, such as on-label indication restrictions, step edits and coverage with evidence development.
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P&G rumored to be preparing a re-entry into the incontinence market

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — According to blogger Tom Wilson, co-founder and president of The CareGiver Partnership and former Kimberly-Clark executive, Procter & Gamble may be readying to re-enter the incontinence market as soon as this summer. 
 
"It is strongly rumored that Proctor & Gamble will re-enter the disposable incontinence category, a category they helped create in 1978 along with Kimberly-Clark (Depend and Poise). Their brand was Attends," Wilson wrote, suggesting that P&G will back the re-entry with a $150 million advertising campaign. "Assuming the rumors are true and they begin shipping this summer or early fall with a full line of 24 items (pads and pull on underwear for women in different pack counts), I expect they will target at least 25% of the market," he noted. "A claim 'absorbs in seconds' is all we are aware of at this point. They're also telling trade customers that the launch will be a sustained 3-year commitment."
 
Wilson is basing his premise in part on a June 18 presentation at the Duetsche Bank Global Consumer Conference, where P&G CFO Jon Moeller said that in the next six months P&G will be entering a new category. "He didn't divulge the category, but also eluded to the fact that they will introduce a new and far superior method of addressing a chronic consumer issue. Here is a link to his presentation — see slide 14," Wilson noted. "We think its possible the brand will be announced at their Aug. 1 earnings conference call that is being attended by chairman A. G. Lafely."
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KellyBrezoczky says:
Jul-16-2014 01:43 pm

P&G's entry into this category confirms the growing need for these personal hygiene products. It also echoes the past decade of peer reviewed studies showing both urinary and bowel leakage as real, everyday health and wellness issues for tens of millions of women and men as young as 40. My company recently launched a product for the single largest unaddressed consumer need in the category: accidental bowel leakage (ABL). While there have been pads for urinary leakage and disposable briefs for heavier bowel leakage, there haven’t been any products for light ABL.This is surprising since numerous studies confirm ABL is the single biggest unmet need in the category globally. To learn more, visit: www.ABLinfo.org. Butterfly Body Liners are the first patented product to offer discreet protection for ABL. They are the only personal hygiene product which adheres gently to the skin. Many women tell us the launch of Butterfly is as important as the invention of tampons. Men tell us they are grateful to have not been left out of the conversation. Butterfly’s innovation was recently recognized with the nonwovens industry 2014 INDA Vision Award, as well as an Edison Award. Increased conversation, education and innovative product solutions will lead to increased care and better wellness.

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