Workers and employees are expected to see a growth of 6.5% or higher in health plan costs in 2024; a federal report accuses New Jersey facilities of failing to protect veterans during COVID-19; decreasing numbers of primary care physicians (PCPs) are causing alarming reductions in access.
Health insurance costs are growing at the highest rate in years, with some projecting the largest increase in over 10 years will hit businesses and their workers in 2024, according to The Wall Street Journal. Employer coverage costs are expected to increase by around 6.5% for 2024, according to major benefits consulting firms Mercer and Willis Towers Watson. Such a surge could significantly add to the price tag for employer plans, which presently average more than $14,600 per year per employee; these skyrocketing health insurance costs are among the largest expenses for multiple American companies and a money-suck of families’ finances. Employers are concerned that the hike might indicate a new trajectory, with health costs resuming the quick upward climb of the early 2000s.
Pervasive dysfunction at 2 of New Jersey’s state-run veterans home left them ill-equipped to protect residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and still continues, according to a report issued by the US Justice Department Thursday, reported the Associated Press. The document, at 43 pages, illustrated an unsettling picture of failures at the homes in Menlo Park and Paramus where dozens of deaths happened early in the outbreak. Reasons cited consisted of poor communication, lack of staff competency, and other issues that allowed the virus to run rampant. The facilities are run by the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, each with just over 300 beds.
American physicians have been deserting traditional primary care practice, consisting of internal and family medicine, in high numbers, according to KFF Health News. Those who remain work fewer hours, and fewer medical students are choosing this field. The percentage of physicians in adult primary care has been decreasing for years and is now at around 25%, indicating that many Americans won’t be able to access a family doctor. Presently, more than 100 million Americans don’t have usual primary care access. Studies show that a strong foundation of primary care contributes to better overall health outcomes, greater equity in health care accessibility, and decreased per capita health costs.