STATCAST – Week of May 20, 2019

Three New NCHS Reports Look at Cancer/Heart Disease Mortality Trends, Strategies For Reducing Prescription Drug Costs and Dental Insurance Coverage


Another busy week at NCHS. A new report looked at nearly two decades of trends among the two leading causes of death among middle-aged Americans ages 45-64. Cancer death rates declined continuously from 1999 through 2017, with greater drops in the front and tail ends of this period. Heart disease death rates, on the other hand, declined steadily through 2011 and then reversed and increased through 2017. The increases were greater among women than men, and greatest among non-Hispanic white women. These differing trends in death rates from cancer and heart disease occurred despite the fact that these two causes of death share many common risk factors. A separate study indicated that these two diseases are becoming more interrelated as cancer treatments can contribute to subsequent heart disease for the growing number of cancer survivors.

A second report this week looks at strategies that older Americans are using to bring down the cost of their prescription drugs. The data, from the National Health Interview Survey, shows that among adults age 65 and over who were prescribed medication in the past year, 4.8% did not take their medication as prescribed to reduce the cost of the drugs and 17.7% asked their doctor for a lower-cost medication. Older American women were more likely than older American men to not take their medication as prescribed (5.6% vs. 3.7%)

A third report this week looks at dental insurance coverage in the U.S. among adults age 18-64. The report, also using data from the National Health Interview Survey, revealed that half of adults age 18-64 who had all their teeth had private health coverage with dental coverage in 2014-2017. Among those with this coverage, less than a quarter or 22% did not see a dentist in the past year, and 4.4% had unmet dental needs due to cost in the past year.