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​As cited from CMS.gov, over 2 million people have dropped their health insurance plans originally signed up for during Open Enrollment.

 

High costs are cited as the primary factor as to why so many people have dropped out of Obamacare.However, about 10 million people are still finding success in the Exchanges.

 

From November 1st 2016 to January 31st 2017, the Affordable Care Act Marketplace is open for people to enroll in health insurance plans. Individuals can essentially shop around until they find a plan that meets their needs. If they do not choose a plan, they must pay a fine to the government for opting out of health insurance coverage.

 

During the last Open Enrollment period, 12.2 million individuals selected a plan, but only 10.3 million followed through with paying the first month’s premium. About 1.9 million people dropped their plans before the first payment due to high costs. By the end of the year, 3.1 million people had cancelled the plans they had originally selected. However, although, “Approximately 46 percent of consumers who canceled their coverage prior to paying first month’s premium cited cost as the reason for cancellation… [and] 49 percent of consumers who terminated their plans after paying for at least one month’s premium said they gained other coverage elsewhere (The Health Insurance Exchanges Trends Report 3).”

 

Clearly, the government and the health insurance providers need to find a solution to the high premium costs. Without everyone paying into health insurance, the premiums will just continue to rise. However, the Exchanges is great news for healthcare because for 82% of the people who enrolled last year, health insurance is an accessible reality. 

​The FDA has approved the first gene therapy treatment.  

 

The gene therapy is a way to treat damaged, mutated, or harmful genes that cause diseases. As of December 19th 2017, individuals born with retinal dystrophy now have access to a cure through gene therapy. 

 

By either replacing or controlling the gene that causes the disease, gene therapy can treat inherited diseases that previously had no cure. This is a huge step for those who have retinal dystrophy, “a rare condition that destroys cells in the retina needed for healthy vision,” which causes blindness. A new gene therapy treatment called Luxturna has been proven to restore vision and allows “patients to see things they have never seen before.” 

 

The approval of the treatment is a vastly important step for gene therapy across the health sector, however, the high cost may cause issue. “There is a widespread expectation that it [Luxturna] could cost at least $1 million to treat each patient.”  The enormous cost could render this treatment infeasible for those who need the cure.  Still this is a big milestone, and  Luxturna’s success gives hope to patients who suffer from other incurable diseases. 

Individuals have more knowledge than ever before at their fingertips, and with the development of healthcare apps and technology, the focus is shifting from office visits to individualized care. Although doctors will still be integral, it is evident that people are starting to take charge of their health. “Trust in doctor you," and this article from the Economist even advocates for patients to have greater access to their medical records.

 

Take this common example, you going to a new doctors office and having to transfer over your medical records, you call your old office for the 3rd time only to be told that your records were already sent over. The new doctors office has never received them, and you’re at a loss of what to do. This seems to happen time and time again. Then there is the other situation, where you must restate your entire medical history. You’re legitimately unsure if you’re allergic to any medicines because you were an infant when you were given the majority of your vaccines. You check “no” because you do not know what medicine you would be allergic to if you checked "yes." However, you are kept wondering if you doctor could be missing something. Now imagine, in this new world, all your medical records are linked to your name (social security number, etc.) and you show up at a new doctors office, grant them permission to access your medical history, and voila, you are done and do not have to worry about human error coming into play! This increases efficiency not just for the patient, but also for the medical staff that would otherwise have to process the information, call back and forth between offices for the information, and remember to correctly file the documents once they have been faxed over two hours later. 

 

Why is sharing information between doctors so difficult? In part, because the healthcare industry is slow to pick up on technological advances. “Although health records are increasingly electronic, they are often still trapped in silos. Many contain data that machines cannot read.” Digitizing and greater ease of access to medical records could make sharing information between your dermatologist, primary care doctor, nutritionist, and psychiatrist become the norm. "Many of the 250,000 deaths in America attributable to medical error each year can be traced to poorly co-ordinated care." This new,  holistic approach to medicine would dramatically increase the quality of care provided and could be just what the patient and the healthcare industry needs.

 

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