Some Healthcare Detail on costs, smoke, and morphine.

Three healthcare issues that are relevant to today. Things we should be talking about. If you remember Merrill Gooz had a chart up showing healthcare costs have been around 17%. For more than a decade, CMS and CBO consistently overestimated the growth in health care spending, which undermines efforts to spend more on health-related social needs.

Health Care Costs Will Comprise About 20% of US Economy by 2031, JAMA Network, Emily Harris.

The country’s health care spending will grow an average of 5.4% per year between 2022 and 2031, accounting for about $1 out of every $5 spent in the US by the end of the period, according to new projections from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published in Health Affairs. The
agency expects that recent legislative changes, such as the expiration of regulations surrounding the COVID-19 public health emergency and the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s prescription
drug provisions, will drive some of the health expenditure trends.

In addition, estimates suggested that health care spending for physician and clinical services grew more slowly in 2022 than 2021. The researchers noted this may have been because patients avoided medical visits amid high inflation or because the number of available appointments was limited. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services projects the growth of health expenditures for clinicians’ services will
increase to 5.1% in 2023, and then remain relatively stable through 2031. Medicare spending will likely increase faster than private health insurance spending as more US residents age into the program, the
researchers reported.

Most People Experiencing More Days of Heavy Wildfire Smoke | Pulmonary Medicine JAMA Network. Emily Harris.

Exposure to wildfire smoke has increased in the US over the past decade, with more than 87% of the nation’s population experiencing an increase in the number of days of heavy smoke, according to an  analysis of satellite-collected and census data and information about communities’ sociodemographic, economic, and cultural characteristics. On average, the number of person-days of heavy smoke exposure increased 350% between the first and the second 5 years of the study from about 310 million person-days during 2011 to 2015 to about 1.4 billion person-days during 2017 to 2021.

The increases in smoke exposure were highest in areas with the greatest health and social disadvantages, such as communities with large numbers of people who had limited English proficiency, lower levels of education, crowded housing conditions, or who were from racial or ethnic minority groups, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Public Health.

More Than 80% of the World’s Morphine Goes to North America, Europe | Substance Use and Addiction Medicine, JAMA Network, Emily Harris.

The majority of the world’s morphine totally more than 80%, was distributed within North America and Europe in 2021. High-income countries were consuming 63 times as much of the drug as low-income countries. Documented disparities in access to morphine, whose uses include managing moderate to severe pain as well as treating severe breathlessness at the end of life, “must be a cause for concern,” according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.

Barriers that contribute to the disparity include unnecessary restrictions around prescribing and dispensing morphine, the drug’s high cost, and stigma surrounding its use, the report noted. Going forward, the WHO lays out several priorities for improving access to morphine, such as ensuring the drug is affordable as well as expanding use for people with conditions other than cancer or HIV and for those living in long-term care facilities or receiving care at home.