50 million Americans cannot afford healthcare
The global economic recession has forced millions of American citizens to go without much needed healthcare and prescription medication.
Approximately 60 percent of people living in the US rely on health insurance from their employer, but between 2008 and 2010 15 million people lost their job, with nine million people losing their insurance policies too.
As a result, there are now 50 million people living in the country without access to affordable healthcare.
It has also been estimated that 72 percent of Americans are struggling to cope with medical bills or a healthcare-related debt.
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The report, which has been released by the Commonwealth Fund, also found that 60 percent of those who were uninsured during the recession were unable to find an affordable replacement plan.
Meanwhile, 35 percent of the unemployed were refused policies by health insurers.
Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), people working for companies with 20 or more employees who have the benefit of work-related health insurance can keep their policies for up to 18 months should they lose their job.
However, because unemployed workers must pay the full premium, few people elect to continue their coverage through COBRA.
Sara Collins, the Commonwealth Fund Vice President and co-author of the report, said: “Currently, for a majority of Americans, losing a job also means losing health insurance.
“To make matters worse, once you are unemployed and uninsured, it's nearly impossible to afford COBRA or buy an individual policy,” she added.
“However, when it is fully implemented in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will usher in a new era for the unemployed, who will have a variety of options for comprehensive and affordable health insurance."
NHS trials test that predicts sepsis 3 days in advance
A new test that can predict sepsis before the patient develops symptoms is being trialled at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the south of England.
Clinicians at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital are leading medical trials of the blood test, which they hope will help them save thousands of lives a year.
The test is being developed by government spin-out company Presymptom Health, but the research began over 10 years ago at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This included a study of 4,385 patients and more than 70,000 samples, the largest study of its kind at the time.
From the samples taken, a clinical biobank and database were generated and then mined using machine learning to identify biomarker signatures that could predict the onset of sepsis. The researchers found they were able to provide an early warning of sepsis up to three days ahead of illness with an accuracy of up to 90%.
Unlike most other tests, Presymptom Health identifies the patient’s response to the disease as opposed to detecting the pathogen. This is an important differentiator, as sepsis occurs as a result of the patient's immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury, which can then cause life-threatening organ dysfunction.
Worldwide, an estimated 49 million people a year contract sepsis, while in the UK almost two million patients admitted to hospital each year are thought to be at risk of developing the condition. If Presymptom's test is effective, it could save billions of pounds globally and improve clinical outcomes for millions of sepsis patients.
The initial trials at Queen Alexandra Hospital will last 12 months, with two other sites planned to go live this summer. Up to 600 patients admitted to hospital with respiratory tract infections will be given the option to participate in the trial. The data collected will be independently assessed and used to refine and validate the test, which could be available for broader NHS use within two years.
If successful, this test could also identify sepsis arising from other infections before symptoms appear, which could potentially include future waves of COVID-19 and other pandemics.
Dr Roman Lukaszewski, the lead Dstl scientist behind the innovation, said: “It is incredible to see this test, which we had originally begun to develop to help service personnel survive injury and infection on the front line, is now being used for the wider UK population, including those fighting COVID-19.”