What We're Reading: Healthcare Poll Results; Undercounting Opioid Deaths; Genome Sequencing Costs

A healthcare tracking poll finds unhappiness aimed at the drug industry for high drug prices while more Americans are warming up to the idea of a national health plan; a study says opioid overdose deaths are undercounted by as much as 35%; whole-genome sequencing may not drive up downstream medical costs, but questions about its use remain.

Healthcare Tracking Poll Finds Unhappiness Aimed at Drug Industry, More Warmth Toward National Health Plan Idea

A poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 72% of Americans think the drug industry has too much influence in Washington, Kaiser Health News reported. In addition, more people are taking to the notion of a national health plan. Overall, 59% said they supported it; that percentage rose to 75% if such a plan was presented as 1 option among others to choose from.

Opioid Overdose Deaths Are Undercounted, Study Says

Standards for how to investigate and report on overdoses vary widely across states and counties, NPR reported, leading to an undercounting of opioid overdose deaths. The country is undercounting opioid-related overdoses by 20% to 35%, according to a recent study in the journal Addiction. Local coroners and medical examiners send data from death certificates to state offices, eventually landing at the CDC, which reported that more than 42,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016. The author of the study said the real number is likely closer to 50,000.

Whole-Genome Sequencing May Not Drive Up Downstream Medical Costs

Will whole-genome sequencing drive up downstream costs? A study reported in STAT indicated that could be a possibility, although questions remain. Healthy volunteers who had genome sequencing incurred slightly higher medical costs of $3670, on average, compared with $2989 for those who had just a basic family medical history. Some issues raised include how providers who are not experienced in genetics or statistics will understand the results without practicing defensive medicine, as well as the nation’s shortage of genetic counselors.