Have Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Guidelines Been Left on the Shelf?

Screening for osteoporosis among high-risk populations, including post-menopausal women, is essential. Women found to have low bone density due to osteoporosis or osteopenia (a precursor to osteoporosis) can reduce their risk of future bone fracture with lifestyle changes and drug therapies. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women ages 65 years and older undergo bone density testing to screen for osteoporosis, and that some younger women receive targeted screening based on individual risk assessments. In …

We Trust States to Promote College Savings. Why Not Retirement Savings?

One of the most popular ways to save for higher education is through a savings or prepaid tuition plan known as a Section 529 qualified tuition program, or 529 plan. Currently 49 states and the District of Columbia offer 529 plans. Thirty-three states give a state tax break to parents, grandparents or friends who contribute to a 529 account. Through these plans, the funds are managed by private-sector investors. This professional management, combined with a simple enrollment process, has spurred …

The Financial Costs of Family Caregiving: A Stark Reality

Families and close friends are the most important source of support to older people and adults with a chronic, disabling or serious health condition. They already take personal responsibility for providing increasingly complex care to the tune of $470 billion (as of 2013). That figure, representing family caregivers’ unpaid contribution in dollars, roughly equals the combined sales of the four largest U.S. tech companies (Apple, IBM, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft, $469 billion) in 2013. The out-of-pocket hit Caregiving families feel …

State-Facilitated Retirement Plans Will Be Payroll as Usual

More than 30 states are considering creating retirement savings plans for small-business employees who do not have a retirement plan at work, and seven states are already implementing them. These programs would provide the opportunity for millions more workers to save for retirement out of their regular paychecks (i.e., payroll deduction) — the single most effective method for encouraging retirement savings. Payroll deductions into personal retirement accounts are a central feature of several state-facilitated retirement savings programs. What does this …

High Anxiety: Paying for the Costs of Care

My almost 96-year-old mother is one of about half of older adults with disabilities serious enough to need long-term services and supports. She is nearly blind, has dementia and osteoporosis, and suffers from arthritis. Recently she’s begun to experience back pain too. She lived in her home of over 50 years until it was damaged during Hurricane Sandy. For the past four years she has been living in an assisted living facility in New Jersey, in the community she prefers. …

The Cures Law Brings Winds of Change to Electronic Health Records

The recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act will mean welcome changes to electronic health records (EHRs) as we know them. In short, the EHR piece of the Cures Act is good news for consumers. Here’s why. Enabling information flow Tucked into the sweeping medical innovations legislation — which bolsters medical research and revamps new drugs’ approval process  — are provisions to break down barriers preventing EHRs from freely following people as they move between health care providers. Specifically, the law takes …