What We're Reading: Part D Premiums; US Healthcare Spending; Consequences of Sudden Inactivity

AJMC Staff

CMS Announces Part D Premiums to Decrease in 2019

For the second year in a row, the average basic premium for a Medicare Part D plan will decline. According to CMS, Part D premiums are expected to fall from $33.59 in 2018 to $32.50 in 2019. In order to increase competition and drive down costs, CMS has introduced some changes, such as allowing for certain generic drugs to be substituted onto formularies more quickly and removing the requirement that certain Part D plans have to meaningfully differ from each other, which has made more plan options available and increased competition.

Visualizing Healthcare Spending in the United States

Healthcare costs in the United States are higher than other developed nations, but the cost isn’t high because Americans buy more healthcare. A series of charts in The Wall Street Journal highlighted what is driving US healthcare spending. Part of the issue is the opacity of the industry—patients don’t pay directly for services, instead the majority of health spending goes to paying for health insurance. The article highlighted the fact that consolidation also contributes to the overall increase in health costs.

The Consequences of Taking a Break From Exercising

Taking a break from exercising can have metabolic consequences that linger for some people even after they return to their normal levels of exercise, according to 2 new studies. The New York Times reported that the studies found that when volunteers reduced their daily step count and sat for more hours over the course of 2 weeks, their blood sugar levels rose and insulin resistance climbed. In addition, volunteers who started healthy began to lose muscle mass. Among volunteers who were older and already overweight, some had to be removed from the study because they “edged into full-blown type 2 diabetes.”
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