Access to healthcare in childhood has long term effects on health outcomes, but many children in the US are either uninsured or underinsured, meaning they often don’t have access to the care they need. Why is that and what can we do about it?
The Omicron variant doesn’t cause as much severe illness as other variants have, but its “mild” symptoms can still be pretty unpleasant.
The big picture: The way health care professionals and doctors differentiate between “mild” and “severe” illness may not align with a layperson’s understanding of those terms.
“To a health care professional, ‘mild’ means you’re not getting hospitalized,” said Megan Ranney, academic dean at the Brown University School of Public Health.
- But, she said: “Omicron symptoms can range from absolutely no symptoms to a really mild cold to something where you are in bed with shakes and chills, and have a horrible cough and are fatigued and headachy for weeks. Those are all ‘mild.'”
- A “severe,” illness means you’d likely have symptoms such as very low oxygen levels, kidney damage and heart impairment, she said.
What we’re watching: Omicron is causing a lot less severe illness than previous variants, but a “mild” case can still require about a week away from work, especially in front-line jobs.
- And because so many people have gotten infected in such a short time, it’s leaving schools, airlines, and other businesses — including, critically, hospitals — with large numbers of workers out sick simultaneously, The Atlantic reported.
- Then there’s the matter of long COVID. A study published Thursday in Nature Immunology found ongoing, sustained inflammatory responses following even mild-to-moderate COVID-19 cases.
What they’re saying: “It’s going to be a messy few weeks. I don’t think there’s any way around it,” said Joseph Allen, a professor of public health at Harvard, per The Atlantic.
We’ve been having “year ahead” discussions with our health system members over the past few weeks, although it’s been difficult for some to carve out time for planning in the midst of the Omicron surge.
One common theme is that, from a financial perspective, 2022 is expected to be a more difficult year. For many systems, despite the trying COVID situation, the past two years have been financial record-setters. In 2020, systems benefited from a massive infusion of COVID relief funding from the government, and in 2021, they continued to enjoy enhanced reimbursement due to COVID, plus had a resurgence of volume as patients sought care that was previously postponed.
2022 looks to be a more “normal” year—meaning a return to the financial pressures of pre-pandemic times. Those include mounting price compression from payers, an accelerating shift of care from inpatient to outpatient settings, and increasing competition for patients from disruptors and others. At the same time, patient acuity will continue to rise, with patients presenting sicker and with more comorbidities. The cost of caring for those patients will escalate, as the workforce shortage drives labor costs higher and supply chain woes persist.
We’d anticipate a year or more of belt-tightening among many health systems, as they adjust to the post-pandemic environment.