Insider News: March 12, 2020

This week we're sharing an infographic on improving employee morale through sports celebrations at work, a study on the differences in increases in public and private health insurance, and a report on the ACA's effect on racial and ethnic health insurance gaps.

Employees at companies that celebrate sports events say they improve morale

Research from staffing firm Robert Half finds 75% of professionals say their company organizes activities to celebrate sporting events like March Madness, and 78% of those respondents feel such festivities improve their on-the-job morale. The survey finds that participating in friendly competitions and themed snack breaks or potlucks were found to be the most impactful activities among workers who reported a boost in morale. Among the findings:

  • The amount of time respondents said they spend discussing non-work topics with colleagues averaged 34.25 minutes per day.
  • More men (86%) than women (67%) at companies that organize sports-related activities feel the gatherings improve on-the-job morale.
  • A separate survey of professionals in 28 U.S. cities found respondents in Phoenix (40.65 minutes), Miami (40.64 minutes) and Nashville (38.41 minutes) spend the most time each day discussing non-work subjects.

Public insurance payments increased more than private payments, study finds

Total healthcare spending in the U.S. increased from an estimated $1.4 trillion in 1996 to an estimated $3.1 trillion in 2016, according to a study. Spending per person was $5,259 annually in 1996 compared with $9,655 20 years later. The study found payments from public payers increased more than private payments during the period examined.

Private insurance accounted for 48% of spending in 2016, followed by public insurance at 42.6% and out-of-pocket payments at 9.4%. Lower back and neck pain and other musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the highest amount of spending in 2016 at an estimated $134.5 billion - 57.2% of which was paid for by private insurance. Spending on diabetes and urogenital and blood disorders followed.

Racial, ethnic health insurance gap narrows but persists under ACA: Study

A University of Michigan study finds that while the ACA has narrowed racial and ethnic gaps in access to health insurance and care, gaps persist 10 years on. The analysis of 19- to 64-year-olds between 2008 and 2017 finds prior to the ACA taking effect in 2010, nearly 25% of blacks and 40% of Hispanics didn't have health insurance, compared with 15% of whites. Between 2013 and 2017, the insurance gap between blacks and whites narrowed by 45%, while the gap between Hispanics and whites narrowed by 35%.

The authors found the gap between whites and blacks closed completely in states that expanded Medicaid. However, more than 27 million adults in the age group studied still lacked health insurance by 2017, including 14% of blacks, 25% of Hispanics and 8.5% of whites.

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