Younger Americans more likely to lose health insurance during pandemic

Roughly 3 out of 10 younger Americans say their health insurance coverage has been affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey from TransUnion. 

About 33% of Gen Z (defined here as those born during 1995 or after) and 29% of millennials (those born between 1980-1994) had their health insurance impacted by the pandemic, including losing coverage, according to a survey TransUnion Healthcare conducted last month of more than 3,000 people who visited a hospital, health-care clinic, doctor’s office or health-care organization in the last year. 

Only about 12% of baby boomers experienced an impact because of Covid-19.

Beyond losing health-care coverage, about half of Americans say the current state of the economy has affected how they seek medical care, TransUnion’s survey finds. Within that, a higher percentage of Gen Zers and millennials reported a difference. 

Yet overall out-of-pocket cost trends have not changed dramatically, TransUnion finds. The average consumer spent about $485 on emergency room visits and $5,002 on inpatient care this year, which is a decrease of 7% and 5%, respectively, from last year.

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That may be due to fewer Americans seeking care. About 44% of employed Americans have put off medical care during the pandemic, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey released Wednesday. Of those that deferred care, 61% said it was because of Covid-19 fears and 42% cited cost concerns. 

Additionally, 47% of Americans have used virtual care services in place of in-person appointments this year — almost three times more than last year (17%), Wills Towers Watson finds. 

An average telehealth visit costs about $79, compared with about $146 for an office visit, according to a research paper published in May. But while telehealth could increase access and potentially replace an expensive urgent care visit with a virtual assessment, these appointments typically led to additional medical use, the researchers found. Only about 12% of telemedicine visits completely replaced an in-person provider visit, which could increase out-of-pocket costs overall. 

However, many times, telemedicine visits may be provided for free by your employer or your insurer, making it a “smart thing” to look into using before heading into the doctor’s office, says Tracy Watts, a senior consultant with Mercer.

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Long-term problems in younger low-risk COVID-19 patients; flu shot may offer some protection

By Nancy Lapid



a man standing in a room: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in France


© Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in France

(Reuters) – The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Long-term health problems seen in low-risk COVID-19 patients

Young, healthy adults with COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization are still at risk for long-term health problems, Oxford University researchers found. They studied 201 recovering UK patients with an average age of 44, more than 90% of whom did not have risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Only 18% had been sick enough to be hospitalized. At an average of 140 days after their symptoms began, 98% were still fatigued, 92% had heart and lung symptoms, 88% had muscle aches, 87% had breathlessness, 83% headaches, and 73% gastrointestinal symptoms. Organ damage was more common among those who had been hospitalized. But it was not limited to that group as 66% of the patients had impairment of at least one organ. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans showed mild damage to lungs in 33%, heart in 32%, pancreas in 17%, kidneys in 12%, liver in 10% and spleen in 6%. The researchers say their study, posted on Friday on medRxiv ahead of peer review, cannot prove the virus caused these later issues. But it does suggest long-term monitoring of organ function will be necessary even in relatively low-risk patients. (https://bit.ly/2IAR83N)

Flu shot may help protect against COVID-19

Flu vaccines may help the body defend itself against COVID-19, according to a Dutch study that found hospital workers who got a flu shot last winter were less likely to become infected with the new coronavirus. In test tube experiments, the researchers saw that last winter’s flu vaccine could prime healthy cells to respond more effectively not just to the flu, but also to the new coronavirus. When they analyzed COVID-19 rates among staff at their hospital, they found the number of infections was 39% lower among those who had gotten a flu vaccine. “These data, combined with similar recent independent reports, argue for a possible beneficial effect of influenza vaccination against both influenza and COVID-19,” the researchers say. “This could mean that the flu vaccine could offer partial protection against both infections this winter.” They posted their report on medRxiv on Friday ahead of peer review. “We thought it was important to publish these results already because the flu shot is made available to a large group of people,” study leader Mihai Netea of Radboud University Medical Center said in a news release. (https://bit.ly/35bqEgV)

Pandemic increases need for strength training by elderly

Older people “urgently” need to be doing resistance exercises, also known as strength training, during the pandemic, to counteract the effects of physical inactivity and to make sure they retain at least the same level of muscle function they had prior to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, doctors advise. Social distancing measures

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Younger women at higher risk for death after heart attack

Younger women who suffer a heart attack are more likely than men to die in the decade after surgery, a new study finds.

It included more than 400 women and nearly 1,700 men, average age 45, who had a first heart attack between 2000 and 2016.

During an average follow-up of more than 11 years, there were no statistically significant differences between men and women for deaths while in the hospital, or for heart-related deaths.

However, women had a 1.6-fold increased risk of dying from other causes during the follow-up, according to the study published this week in the European Heart Journal.

“Cardiovascular deaths occurred in 73 men and 21 women, 4.4% versus 5.3% respectively, over a median follow-up time of 11.2 years,” said study leader Dr. Ron Blankstein, a preventive cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“However, when excluding deaths that occurred in the hospital, there were 157 deaths in men and 54 deaths in women from all causes during the follow-up period: 9.5% versus 13.5% respectively, which is a significant difference, and a greater proportion of women died from causes other than cardiovascular problems, 8.4% versus 5.4% respectively,” Blankstein said in a journal news release.

The study also found that women were less likely than men to undergo invasive procedures after admission to the hospital with a heart attack, or to be treated with certain medications when they were discharged, such as aspirin, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and statins.

“It’s important to note that overall most heart attacks in people under the age of 50 occur in men. Only 19% of the people in this study were women. However, women who experience a heart attack at a young age often present with similar symptoms as men, are more likely to have diabetes, have lower socioeconomic status and ultimately are more likely to die in the longer term,” Blankstein noted.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on heart attacks.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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