Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Is Underway; Shop Smart

AARP encourages Americans to review their health insurance options during the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period that started Sunday. Open enrollment (from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31) is an important opportunity for consumers to find a plan that could save them more money, offer better services, or include more of their doctors. Since the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period in 2013, the uninsured rate for pre-Medicare Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 has dropped …

Bitten by a Crocodile? There’s a Code for That

A seismic change in Medicare and the rest of the U.S. health care industry began Oct. 1, when a new system of diagnostic codes — which all health providers must use to get paid — finally went into effect after a decade of controversy. The change is making the industry hold its breath, nervous of how it will play out. Will honest mistakes in coding cause claims to be delayed or, worse, go unpaid? Will some physicians, overwhelmed by the …

Medicare Itemizes Its $103 Billion Drug Bill

The federal government popped the cap off drug spending on April 30, detailing doctor-by-doctor and drug-by-drug how Medicare and its beneficiaries spent $103 billion on pharmaceuticals in 2013. The data show that 14 drugs cost the federal government and Medicare beneficiaries more than $1 billion each, accounting for nearly a quarter of Medicare prescription drug spending in 2013. Most of those drugs are used to treat chronic conditions that plague the elderly, including diabetes, depression, high cholesterol and blood pressure, …

AARP Applauds Fix for Medicare Payments to Doctors

After 17 years of kicking the proverbial can down the road, Congress has come together in bipartisan fashion to repeal and replace Medicare’s flawed formula for reimbursing doctors with an improved payment plan. With President Obama’s April 21 signature of the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), Medicare beneficiaries can finally feel more secure in knowing that they can keep seeing their physicians each year. AARP has advocated for a permanent fix of the old doctor payment formula, called the …

Permanent Fix for Medicare Payments to Doctors Moves to Obama

This post was updated April 21, 2015. President Barack Obama signed into law on April 21 a permanent solution to a problem that has plagued the Medicare system for years. Doctors never knew whether the payments they received for treating Medicare beneficiaries would suddenly drop, making it difficult for them to make long-term business plans and causing some to stop taking Medicare patients altogether. Obama once compared the flawed payment formula to a “guillotine” hanging permanently over doctors’ heads. Approving …

Are Older Adults Being Overtreated for Diabetes?

Older patients are not the same as younger patients. You’d think this was obvious, yet doctors often use a one-size-fits-all approach to prescribing treatment that can put their older patients at risk. The latest example of this: another study showing that patients 65 or older with diabetes may be overtreated by doctors who too aggressively try to control blood sugar levels, regardless of their patients’ other health problems. The new study, by Yale researchers, analyzed a decade of data on 1,288 …