A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that, compared to Americans who live in cities, rural Americans are poorer and more likely to have jobs that don’t offer health insurance. The analysis, which is based on Census Bureau data, found that rural Americans are more likely to fall into what is called the Medicaid “coverage gap”—they have been left without affordable health insurance options because their state chose not to expand Medicaid to more low-income people.
In health care, one of the most common questions asked by doctors, researchers, policymakers, and even patients is, “What works?” The answer lies in measuring and quantifying the quality of the different types of health care services that patients receive. To do this, quality measures are developed, typically through evidence-based research that points to a specific treatment, procedure, or drug as the clinical standard of care for a disease or condition. This research (often in the form of clinical trials) underpins much of what is practiced in medicine, providing critical information that helps the field determine the most effective treatments and approaches to helping patients.
Each month, we will report on selected health care stories and trends that are shaping the direction and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“How much does it cost?” is the first question that consumers ask when comparing health insurance plans. In the coming months, they’ll have an answer as health insurance companies begin announcing premium rates for 2015. The news from this past month is encouraging—proposed rate increases for the individual market in 2015 could be more modest than what we expected to see in some states.