Health News Roundup

The “mega-disparity” people ignore, health care costs eating into workers’ budgets, and more in this week’s roundup


Diabetic amputations a ‘shameful metric’ of inadequate care
Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News, April 26
Blacks and Latinos with diabetes are far more likely than non-Hispanic whites to undergo amputations — a drastic procedure that stands as a powerful example of the consequences of being poor, uninsured and cut off from a routine system of quality health care. “Amputations are an unnecessary consequence of this devastating disease,” said Dr. David Armstrong, professor of surgery at Keck School of Medicine of USC. “It’s an epidemic within an epidemic. And it’s a problem that’s totally ignored.” Another expert calls amputations a “mega-disparity” that dwarf nearly every other health disparity by race and ethnicity.


Health insurance deductibles soar, leaving Americans with unaffordable bills
Noam N. Levey, Los Angeles Times, May 2
Soaring deductibles and medical bills are pushing millions of American families to the breaking point. In the last 12 years, annual deductibles in job-based health plans have nearly quadrupled and now average more than $1,300. Yet Americans’ savings are not keeping pace, and more than four in 10 workers enrolled in a high-deductible plan report they don’t have enough savings to cover the deductible. One in six Americans who get insurance through their jobs say they’ve had to make “difficult sacrifices” to pay for health care in the last year, including cutting back on food, moving in with friends or family, or taking extra jobs. One in five say health care costs have eaten up all or most of their savings. Even Americans with chronic conditions such as diabetes use less medical care if they have a high-deductible plan, a new analysis found.

Three kids, a health plan and $15,000 in medical debt: A working family tries to make ends meet


Some immigrants choose between food stamps and a green card
Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, April 25
The Trump administration has proposed allowing legal immigrants’ use of public health programs — such as food stamps or Medicaid — to be taken into account in decisions about whether to grant them a visa or green card. The rule change has not been finalized, but advocates say it is already having an effect. Social-services providers, doctors, and attorneys say their immigrant patients and clients steer clear of even those government programs that won’t count against them, in some cases hurting their health as a result. “I’ll see a mom with a newborn, and sometimes … the mom is having trouble affording formula. I talk about programs that they might be eligible for. More and more, I’m having new parents decline, saying, ‘I’m not gonna sign up,’” said pediatrician Lanre Falusi.


Community health centers advocate for more support for telemedicine
Nicole Leonard, WNPR, May 1
Dr. Suzanne Lagarde and her team at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven see a steady stream of patients most days. People come in for routine wellness checks, or when they’re sick or injured. And sometimes, a primary care physician could use the help of an e-consult. E-consult is a form of telemedicine — it involves a primary care physician using an electronic program to send patient files and pictures to a specialist, like a cardiologist or a dermatologist. That specialist can then make recommendations on treatment or care to the primary care doctor, who then uses that feedback to treat patients without ever having to send them elsewhere.