What We're Reading: Uninsured Rate in 2015 Essentially Unchanged

What we're reading, January 7, 2016: the uninsured rate at the end of 2015 was essentially unchanged from the beginning of the year; CMS may start paying for some rehab for drug or alcohol addiction; and follow-up care plans after hospital discharge are often too difficult for patients to understand.

Rates of uninsured in the last 3 months of 2015 were essentially unchanged from the beginning of the year, according to new results from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. In the fourth quarter of 2015, 11.9% adults in the US did not have health insurance, which was up from 11.6% in the third quarter. Despite the fact that the uninsured rate was unchanged over the course of 2015, each quarter the rate was lower than the same quarter a year earlier. The uninsured rate in the fourth quarter of 2014 was 12.9% and in the fourth quarter of 2013 it was 17.1%.

The federal government is considering helping to pay for treatment for drug or alcohol addiction for Medicaid beneficiaries. According to Kaiser Health News, CMS is proposing to cover 15 days of inpatient rehab per month for enrollees in a Medicaid managed care plan. However, experts in Pennsylvania believe the 15 days isn’t nearly enough for many addicted people to get clean and stay clean.

Follow-up care plans for patients leaving the hospital after surgery are too difficult for many people to understand due to low health literacy. While the American Medical Association recommends health information is written at a sixth grade level, a recent study found that of nearly 500 instructions given to patients being discharged, only one-fourth were written so that the patients could understand them, reported Reuters. The study’s authors found that the notes are written for doctors, who understand medical jargon, and patients and families, who need simplified instructions.