Axios Vitals

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February 15, 2022

Good morning, Vitals readers. Today's newsletter is 880 words or a 3-minute read.

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1 big thing: Health workers eye the exits

Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Some of America's health care workers appear to be considering their job options outside the industry, according to a new Axios/Morning Consult survey.

The big picture: Health care workers aren't immune from the trends driving the Great Resignation across the U.S. workforce.

  • Those caring for COVID-19 patients are more likely than other health care workers to report they've been thinking about heading to another industry.

By the numbers: The proportion of health care workers considering leaving their jobs for another industry has increased steadily since last summer.

  • In July and August, 15% of health care workers considered leaving the health care industry. Just under one in five (19%) of those who cared for COVID-19 patients reported considering it.
  • As Omicron began to hit in November and December, the share of health workers considering leaving the industry increased to 20%, and the number of frontline workers considering leaving the industry hit 23%. That has remained largely steady through January.

Yes, but: Only 6% of health care workers reported actually leaving their jobs between July and August, and just 3% say they've left so far this year.

The big picture: The majority of frontline healthcare workers said they've been able to cope with the stressors of the pandemic (58%).

  • A plurality of workers (44%) felt the worst of the pandemic was behind us, and a majority felt their facilities were equipped to respond to an increase in patients (60%).

What they're saying: The timing of the survey, when Omicron was starting to decline, may be a factor in the sense of resilience reflected, Robin Graziano, Morning Consult's managing director of strategic services, told Axios.

  • However, more than 50% of frontline workers said their mental health had worsened since the start of the pandemic, and about 40% said their physical health had worsened.

2. Many knowingly disagree with scientists

Data: The COVID States Project; Chart: Sara Wise and Baidi Wang/Axios

A third of Americans who believe coronavirus vaccine misinformation are aware that they're in disagreement with scientists and medical experts, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes from a new survey by The COVID States Project.

Why it matters: This suggests that educating people on the science behind vaccines won't be sufficient to change many minds.

By the numbers: The survey found that 16% of Americans believe inaccurate information about the vaccines, and nearly half say they're unsure whether at least one vaccine misinformation statement is true.

  • Around 5% of survey respondents said they believe the COVID vaccines contain microchips, 7% said they use aborted fetal cells, 8% think that they can alter human DNA, and 10% said the vaccines can cause infertility.
  • 46% said they were unsure whether at least one of these claims was true. All have been debunked.

Between the lines: Distrust of scientists isn't only held among those who say they believe one of these four myths.

  • One in five Americans says that even though they know scientists believe a particular vaccine claim is false, they're unsure about whether to believe it.

Read the rest.

3. Evidence against drug copay cards grows

If there is a brand-name drug on this shelf, odds are its maker offers a coupon. Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Drug copay coupons make medications free or very cheap for patients at the pharmacy counter.

  • But they drastically increase the amounts paid by employers, insurers and other workers, according to a new study conducted by a trio of health economists, Axios' Bob Herman writes.

Why it matters: The study adds further evidence to the idea that drug copay cards are a great short-term deal for patients β€” and especially the pharmaceutical companies that promote them β€” but a bad long-term deal for society.

Details: Drug copay cards are banned from federal health care programs, and there could be sizable savings if they were not allowed in private health plans.

  • The researchers estimated the health care system could save $1 billion annually if copay cards were banned β€” and that's just for multiple sclerosis drugs.

What to watch: "Our results suggest that popular policy proposals such as capping cost-sharing, or requiring plans to shift from coinsurance to fixed (and low) copays are likely to lead to" higher drug prices, the economists wrote.

  • "These reforms would likely exacerbate the underlying problem of high prices while addressing a symptom (high patient cost-sharing)."

4. A startup for starting a family

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Gaia, a London-based startup, is debuting a personalized in-vitro fertilization insurance product, Axios' Erin Brodwin reports.

Why it matters: Families undergoing fertility treatments pay what can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in their pursuit of a baby.

Driving the news: Several fertility companies in the U.S. offer risk-sharing models, including Spring Fertility and Shady Grove Fertility.

  • But it's rare to see IVF insurance offered as a stand-alone product, entrepreneurs and industry observers tell Axios.

One bittersweet thing: CEO and founder Nader AlSalim created Gaia after he and his wife went through five rounds of IVF across three different clinics in two countries.

  • The process cost a total of roughly $68,000.
  • And "we're one of the few to have something to show for it β€” a child," AlSalim tells Axios.

For more details, sign up for a free trial to Axios Pro's Health Tech Deals.

5. Tweet du jour

Screenshot: @frankthorp (Twitter)

In a procedural vote Monday, the Senate advanced Robert Califf's nomination to become the next FDA chief by a margin of 49-45.

  • The vote, which came out 49-45, had some additional drama after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., had to change his vote, according to reporters tweeting from the Hill on Monday evening.
  • A final vote is expected today.

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Editor's note:Β The second story in yesterday's Vitals was corrected to show that the "Face the Nation" moderator was Margaret Brennan, not NorahΒ O'Donnell.