High healthcare costs lead to increased patient stress and ‘financial toxicity’, OSPMHC – State of Reform study finds

A new report out of Office to save money on health care (OSPMHC) was released last week, highlighting the impacts of high healthcare costs on everyday residents.

The report found that people with chronic illnesses in Colorado have a lower quality of life due to costs and identified disparities between racial groups in terms of financial and emotional stress due to health care costs.

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Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, Director of OSPMHC said:

“As a cancer survivor, I know how stressful it can be to navigate the health care system while managing chronic disease. This report highlights the very real emotional, physical and financial hardships that the cost of health care can have on our communities and neighbors. I hope this report will be a call to action for our partners across the state. “

OSPMHC was created by Governor Jared Polis in 2019 to “identify and implement policies that will reduce health care costs while expanding access to quality care in every corner of Colorado.” Led by Primavera, the office will investigate the causes of rising healthcare costs and identify ways to make healthcare more affordable in the state.

Right now, the focus is on reducing costs for people with chronic illnesses, according to the report. The report states that people with chronic health conditions spend more money to manage their health care than people without chronic health conditions due to the increased number of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, outpatient visits and hospitalization. prescription drugs. These costs are in addition to more conditions.

Nationally, people with five or more chronic conditions accumulate $ 18,000 in total health care expenses compared to $ 2,000 for people without chronic illness. This creates financial toxicity for patients, which describes the “adverse impacts of health care costs on quality of life, mental and physical health outcomes, and personal finances.”

The report says OSPMHC plans to elevate financial toxicity issues to create solutions for the 61.5% of Coloradans living with chronic disease who are at risk. The report said:

“There is an urgent need to tackle the underlying drivers of high healthcare costs and reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients, as they impose significant burdens. It is incredibly difficult for Coloradians to navigate a complex and inaccessible health system while managing chronic diseases, with damaging financial and emotional consequences. “

The report also indicates that not all populations are equally affected by the cost of chronic disease management. A survey for this report was conducted in the spring of 2021 to determine the impact of healthcare costs on certain populations across the state.

In the survey, they found that people of color were more likely to have higher rates chronic diseases than the white Colordans. Black, Hispanic / Latix, Asian, and Native American / Native Alaskan Coloradans also experience increased rates of individuals living below the federal poverty line. The report said:

“Discriminatory policies and systemic racism have caused people of color to experience disproportionate rates of poor health outcomes. Ultimately, these health disparities linked to structural inequalities accumulate throughout life, impacting health outcomes and rates of health care utilization later in life. .

The report offers potential opportunities to help Coloradians cope with financial toxicity. OSPMHC recommends improving consumer health education through culturally competent outreach efforts through trusted messengers. This is to ensure that patients have access to accurate information about providers and services in their area.

The OSPMHC also recommends the use of a standardized financial toxicity tool to identify those at risk. The report said:

“[We should be] promote access to services and resources by establishing a centralized and comprehensive approach to the coordination of care as well as the delivery of social and financial services and by creating and implementing a uniform financial toxicity screening tool.

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