Doctor Housecalls Blog

Healthcare related news and updates



New Report on Depression and Serotonin

According to an April 21st article on time.com by Alexandra Sifferlin, 1 in 10 Americans are on anti-depressants or SSRIs, even though there is little understanding in the medical community about how these medications actually work.

A new paper in the BMJ published by Bangor University professor of psychiatry David Healy suggests that there is little proof regarding the connection between depression and serotonin, a key point that is often used in marketing SSRIs.

While many members of the psychiatric community continue to support SSRIs for treatment of depression, others like Dr. Victor I. Reus, professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco, agree with Healy. “He’s preaching to the choir at this point,” says Reus.

Reus goes on to explain that it is not necessarily the efficacy of these medications that is the issue.  Rather, it is their overblown marketing and the fact that industry leaders do not understand how and why these drugs work that causes concern.

Additionally, Reus goes on to explain that the drugs have been over-prescribed, especially to people with mild depression.

“You wonder what the real risk benefit ratio is in that population,” he says. “They’ve been oversold.”



Out of Pocket Health Care Costs Increasing

According to an April 22, 2014 article on foxbusiness.com, both providers and consumers experienced a significant increase in health-care costs 2014.  A report released Wednesday by TransUnion HealthCare showed that out-of-pocket health-care costs rose by 11% in 2014, and that consumers have less money to pay for these rising costs despite a slowly improving economy.

The report included anonymous data estimates from thousands of clinics across the country, and was compared to financial data provided by TransUnion.

Increased costs are being passed on to consumers from their employers as insurance costs continue to rise, according to the National Association of Health Underwriters President Tom Harte.  According to Harte, employers shift the cost to their employees in the form of higher deductibles and plan changes in order to offset the average 20% increase in premiums companies are facing.

Other findings in the TransUnion report include evidence that the amount of revolving credit available to consumers to pay for these medical costs is decreasing as well.  According to foxbusiness.com, “For every $100 in health-care costs, consumers had $1,350 in revolving credit to potentially make those payments in the last quarter of 2014. For the same quarter in 2013, consumers had $1,520 in revolving credit for every $100 in health-care costs.”


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