Report: Dying in America Harder Than It Has to Be

By Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health News Staff Writer It is time for conversations about death to become a part of life. That is one of the themes of a 500-page report, titled “Dying In America,” released Wednesday by the Institute of Medicine. The report suggests that the first end-of-life conversation could coincide with a cherished American milestone: getting a driver’s license at 16, the first time a person weighs what it means to be an organ donor. Follow-up conversations with a …

Painkiller Death Rate Highest Among Older Adults

The rate of overdose deaths from powerful painkillers has nearly quadrupled since 1999, but new government figures show that since 2006, the rate of increase has finally slowed — except among older adults. According to a newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the rate of fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers is still highest among those ages 45 to 54, with the fastest increase in deaths over the past decade among those 55 to 64. In 2011, …

For Older Couples, Happy Wife Means Happy Life

As country singer Tracy Byrd put it, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” And a new study backs him up. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., found that for older married couples, when the wife is happy with the marriage, the husband is more likely to say he’s happy with his life — even if he’s not quite as satisfied with the union as she is. “I think it comes down to …

Health Costs Inch Up as Obamacare Kicks In

By Jay Hancock, Staff Writer, Kaiser Health News Doctors and hospitals treated more patients and collected more payments in the spring as millions gained insurance coverage under the health law, new figures from the government show. But analysts called the second-quarter increases modest and said there is little evidence to suggest that wider coverage and a recovering economy are pushing health spending growth to the painful levels of a decade ago. >> 8 Things You Need to Know About Medicare …

Pharmacies May Soon Be Able to Take Back Old Drugs

Up to now, getting rid of old or unused prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet has not been easy: Drugs could not be legally returned to pharmacies; flushing them down the toilet or tossing them in the trash was discouraged because of environmental concerns; and taking them to a police station could only be done at a twice-a-year take-back events (the next one is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 27). >>  12 Foods to Beat Diabetes But fears about …

Overall, Obamacare Premiums to Fall in 2015

By Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News In preliminary but encouraging news for consumers and taxpayers, insurance filings show that average premiums will decline slightly next year in 16 major cities for a benchmark Obamacare plan. Prices for a benchmark “silver” or mid-priced plan sold through the health law’s online marketplaces aren’t all moving in the same direction, however, a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) shows. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) In Nashville, the premium …