Health News Roundup

Deportation causing shortage of home health aides, taking the risk and skipping health insurance and more in this week’s roundup

health equity

CVS-Aetna wants to be in your neighborhood because ZIP codes powerfully shape people’s health
Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, March 26

Health-policy experts increasingly talk about the effect of ZIP codes on health — an acknowledgment of a growing body of research showing that where and how people live can have a bigger influence on their health than interactions with the medical system or even genetics. That means health insurance has to evolve, away from acting only as a payment system for procedures and drugs when people are ill and toward interventions to help people stay healthy in their everyday lives.


Why some Americans are risking it and skipping health insurance
John Tozzi, Bloomberg, March 26

The cost for many people to buy a health plan—if they don’t get it from a job or the government—is higher than ever. Across America there are thousands of people making the hard decision to go without health insurance, despite the benefits. They’re risking it—betting that they’ve got enough savings, enough of a back-up plan, or enough luck to get them through a twisted knee, a cancer, or a car wreck. Bloomberg is following a dozen of these families this year in an effort to understand the trade-offs when a dollar spent on health insurance can’t be spent on something else. Some are financially comfortable. Others are scraping by.  

federal reform

As immigrants are targeted for deportation, elderly brace to lose caregivers
Melissa Bailey, Kaiser Health News, March 26

Nationwide, 1 million immigrants work in direct care — as CNAs, personal care attendants or home health aides. Immigrants make up 1 in 4 workers and turnover is high, because the work is difficult and wages are low. The country faces a severe shortage in home health aides, with 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day.

health data

Humana reduces ‘unhealthy days’ in Medicare population health effort
Bruce Japsen, Forbes, March 27
Humana’s “Bold Goal” initiative uses measures established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track an individual’s physical and mental “unhealthy days” over a 30-day period in seven communities. “Louisville, Tampa Bay and Broward County, Florida saw increases in unhealthy days, but also experienced slight improvements in clinical outcomes and in Healthy Days in Humana seniors living with conditions such as COPD, diabetes and depression.”

The government wants to free your health data. Will that unleash innovation?
Casey Ross, STAT, March 29 
“Patients should have access and control to share their data with whomever they want,” said Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Verma announced a raft of measures to improve data sharing and allow patients to open their records to third-party researchers with the ability to “develop cures that could save millions of lives.”