Advertisement
The Costs of Chronic Illnesses: Treat or Eat?

The Costs of Chronic Illnesses: Treat or Eat?

Studies have suggested that adults with chronic disease are often unable to meet medication and food needs. “Physicians sometimes recommend or prescribe medications to patients with chronic diseases without considering the costs of these therapies,” says Seth A. Berkowitz, MD. Few studies have explored the relationship between cost-related medication underuse and food insecurity. A Closer Look In a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, Dr. Berkowitz and colleagues examined data from nearly 9,700 adults with chronic illness, looking specifically at groups that most commonly face unmet food and medication needs. About 23% of study participants reported cost-related medication underuse, nearly 19% reported food insecurity, and 11% reported having both of these problems. “Our findings demonstrate that these problems are common,” says Dr. Berkowitz. “One in three chronically ill adults will have trouble affording food, medication, or both.” Adults who reported food insecurity were significantly more likely to indicate that they underused their medications due to costs. Some participants reported skipping their medications entirely so that they could afford to eat. Hispanics and African Americans were more likely than other groups involved in the study to report cost-related medication underuse and food insecurity. People with numerous chronic health problems and those without health insurance were also more likely to report difficulty affording medicine and food. Those receiving Medicaid and those participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Woman, Infants, and Children were less likely to report such difficulties. Many of the study participants who had trouble affording food and medications had incomes that were 100% to 200% above the federal poverty line. It is possible that...
Who Broke The American Healthcare System?

Who Broke The American Healthcare System?

Healthcare is a hot topic in the media these days. Yet, few people are satisfied with the way it is working. Many claim that the American healthcare system is broken. Patients are increasingly frustrated with finding a doctor, getting tests and medications they need, and paying for out-of-pocket expenses. Numerous doctors are disenchanted with their career choice, and burnout is a common complaint. Frequently, doctors are now looking to retire early or for alternate career paths. Treating patients has become unfulfilling for many due to administrative burdens, increasing government regulations, and overbearing insurance over-sight. Doctors fight daily to get procedures and medications covered that their patients need. Most often, the battle is with someone who is not even a doctor or has any clue about the patient. These daily battles become wearing. Additionally, doctors now have to fight on a more abundant basis to get paid for services they provided. Their incomes are stagnant or shrinking while overhead costs are soaring. Increasingly, doctors are selling out their practices and joining large groups and hospitals. “When I go in the exam room and close the door, I face my patient and am again reminded of why I became a doctor: to alleviate suffering.”   Many people look to put blame on doctors for the broken healthcare system. Yet, it has been years since doctors truly had any control over it. More often these days, doctors are treated like pawns and servants, our independence and integrity being worn away and questioned. But, who really is to blame for the broken healthcare system? 1. Commercial insurance companies who have no oversight and...
Recognizing & Treating Caregiver Burden

Recognizing & Treating Caregiver Burden

Research has shown that unpaid family or informal caregivers provide as much as 90% of the in-home long-term care that is needed by adults. A 2009 study estimated that 65.7 million people in the United States served as unpaid family caregivers to an adult or child, two-thirds of whom provided care for an adult aged 50 or older. “The burden of caring for others is increasing because of our aging population, an increase in the number of people living with chronic disease, and a lack of formal support for caregivers,” says Ronald D. Adelman, MD. In addition to providing assistance with basic and instrumental activities of daily living and medical support, caregivers also provide emotional support and comfort. The economic burden of informal caregiving is substantial, with a recent study estimating that the cost of informal dementia caregiving was $56,290 annually per patient. Furthermore, many caregivers have little choice in taking on a caregiving role, and many report feeling ill prepared to take on these responsibilities. “Many caregivers are unaware of the toll that caregiving takes on them, making them more vulnerable to other serious health problems,” Dr. Adelman says. “In addition, caregivers often receive inadequate support from health professionals and frequently feel abandoned and unrecognized by the healthcare system.” Diagnosis & Assessment of Caregiver Burden In a recent issue of JAMA, Dr. Adelman and colleagues reviewed cohort studies and other analyses to provide strategies to diagnose, assess, and intervene for caregiver burden. Several risk factors for caregiver burden were identified, including female sex, low educational attainment, and residing with care recipients. Depression, social isolation, financial stress, a higher...
Get Connected

Get Connected

Get the edge on your colleagues by receiving updates directly from the Physician’s Weekly editors in multiple ways. Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter Subscribe to our RSS Feed Like us on Facebook Check us out on Google+ Follow us on Twitter Join the conversation on...
[ HIDE/SHOW ]