What We’re Reading: Period Trackers and Roe v Wade; Medical Debt Burdens; Express Scripts Touts Diabetes Program

Data from menstrual tracking apps may be used against people in certain states if Roe v Wade is overturned; 100 million Americans, including 41% of adults, have health care debt; Express Scripts reported results of its program to lower diabetes-related costs.

How Menstrual Apps Could Treat User Data

The Wall Street Journal published a guide to the privacy implications of menstrual tracking apps if Roe v Wade is overturned. According to the guide, while the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act may protect information shared between health care providers and patients, they do not necessarily protect information submitted to applications. Further, legal experts say prosecutors may be able to use data from menstrual tracking apps against the users in areas where laws criminalize undergoing or aiding in an abortion. The Wall Street Journal suggested users review their app’s privacy policy to better understand how their personal data is being used.

100 Million Americans Are in Health Care Debt

An investigation by Kaiser Health News and NPR found that 100 million Americans have health care debt, including 41% of adults. A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that a quarter of adults in the United States who have health care debt owe more than $5000, and a fifth said they don’t expect to ever be able to pay it off. The poll also showed that more than half of adults reported medical and dental bills as the cause of these high levels of debt in the past 5 years. Most people in debt added that they have put off health care needs due to the cost, and 1 in 7 have been denied access to a hospital, doctor, or other provider due to their unpaid bills.

Program Reduced Diabetes Medication Costs by Half

Express Scripts said its Patient Assurance program for diabetes costs increased adherence and savings for patients, according to a statement. The 2020 program started with insulin and then expanded to include dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists, and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors. Insulin is capped at $25 for a 30-day supply. In 2021, program members with type 2 diabetes improved medication adherence by 2.5% overall, and by 5.7% for those with a household income of less than $50,000. Members also had collective savings of $42.7 million among 220,000 patients. Program members also had their total diabetes-related costs decrease by 50.5% when enrolled.