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Atrial fibrillation largely ignored by plans, states

MANAGED CARE April 2011. © MediMedia USA
News & Commentary

Atrial fibrillation largely ignored by plans, states

Despite the aging baby boomer population entering their most risky years for atrial fibrillation, a new report called AF Stat: A Call to Action for Atrial Fibrillation, says most states lack public health programs, initiatives, or quality measures related to the management of this condition. Private insurers, consider yourselves warned.

Patients with atrial fibrillation use more services than patients who don’t have the condition and have greater risk of hospitalization, says Brian Bruen, MS, lead research scientist for the report, who is from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Policy. “It increases the risk of stroke, worsens other heart conditions, and doubles the risk of death,” he says.

“Initiatives from private health plans and insurers were not a focus of our study,” he says, “so it’s not certain that the lack of attention at the state level extends to private health insurers as well, but it’s possible that it does.”

Further, “medical directors and pharmacy directors can provide significant public health benefits and benefits to their own members by raising awareness of the disease among health plan staff, setting up programs to educate more patients about the disease, and supporting further research on the extent and cost of the disease to their health plan,” Bruen says.

States with high private insurance costs for atrial fibrillation

Average cost and average length of stay (days)

*The number of observations (i.e., individual discharge records) with that characteristic is too small to permit disclosure.

Source: GW/Avalere Health analysis of 25 states’ State Inpatient Databases (SID) compiled by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)