Cost Issues: Expensive Patients; Payoff From Delaying Aging; Approving New Treatments

Cost and quality issues in the news include research about the costliest U.S. patients, the potential that delaying aging instead of treating disease could have on extending life, and examining how the U.S. compares to other countries on approving new medical treatments.

Kaiser Health News: Costliest 1 Percent Of Patients Account For 21 Percent Of U.S. Health Spending
A 58-year-old Maryland woman breaks her ankle, develops a blood clot and, unable to find a doctor to monitor her blood-thinning drug, winds up in an emergency room 30 times in six months. ... These patients are among the 1 percent whose ranks no one wants to join: the costly cohort battling multiple chronic illnesses who consumed 21 percent of the nearly $1.3 trillion Americans spent on health care in 2010, at a cost of nearly $88,000 per person. Five percent of patients accounted for 50 percent of all health-care expenditures (Boodman, 10/7).

NPR: Delaying Aging May Have A Bigger Payoff Than Fighting Disease
Curing cancer and eliminating heart disease has been the holy grail of medical research. But there could be even greater benefits if aging itself could be delayed, a study finds. This is not quite as farfetched as it sounds. While the anti-aging "cures" being marketed these days are largely snake oil, in the laboratory scientists have managed to extend the lives of laboratory animals. And they have a better understanding of the mechanisms of biological aging (Jaffe, 10/7).

Reuters: Americans: Don’t Weigh Costs Of New Treatments
Most Americans don't want the government to decide if medical treatments are economical before letting patients use them, a new survey suggests. In some places, such as the UK and Germany, governments do have that power. Before patients can use a new drug, for instance, the government studies how well it works. It also sees what the drug costs compared to other drugs before deciding to make it available (Pittman, 10/7).

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