How Medicare Might End Surprise Nursing Care Penalties

By Susan Jaffe for Kaiser Health News Medicare officials have allowed patients at dozens of hospitals participating in pilot projects across the country to be exempted from the controversial requirement that limits nursing home coverage to seniors admitted to a hospital for at least three days. The idea behind these experiments is to find out whether new payment arrangements with the hospitals and other health care providers that drop the three-day rule can reduce costs or keep them the same …

Survey: Most Buyers on Insurance Exchanges Were Uninsured

By Julie Appleby, KHN Staff Writer, Kaiser Health News Nearly 6 in 10 Americans who bought insurance for this year through the health law’s online marketplaces were previously uninsured – most for at least two years, according to a new survey that looks at the experiences of those most affected by the law. That finding is higher than some earlier estimates and counters arguments made by critics of the law that most of those who purchased the new policies were previously insured. The survey also found that consumers …

Retiring Early? Pony Up $51,000 Extra for Health Care, Fidelity Says

Are you and your spouse thinking about retiring early? Doing so can cost you, as a couple, an extra $17,000 a year in medical costs, according to a Fidelity Investments analysis. The Boston-based investment company compared the projected average health care costs of couples retiring this year at age 65 with those of couples retiring as early as age 62 and as late as 67. It assumed they would have Medicare coverage at 65, although the analysis doesn’t include costs for nursing home and …

Groundhog Day for Medicare ‘Doc Fix’

Another year, another last-minute “doc fix” by Congress. Am I the only one starting to feel a little like Bill Murray in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day? On March 31, just one day before Medicare payments to doctors would have been slashed by 24 percent, Congress approved a short-term patch to delay the payment cuts for another year. This is the 17th time in 11 years that Congress has had to delay the Medicare reimbursement cuts created by SGR (the …

How to Keep Track of What Your Doctor Says: Bring Along a Note Taker

By Susan Jaffe, Kaiser Health News. Story produced in collaboration with USA Today It used to be difficult for Edith Couturier, an 85-year-old resident of the District of Columbia, to explain to her adult children on the West Coast all the details of her medical appointments. But now she doesn’t go alone – she takes along a volunteer “medical note-taker.” “There are four ears listening to what the doctor says,” Couturier says. That second set of ears belongs to Sharon Wolozin, …

CVS to Stop Sales of All Tobacco Products

By Michael Felberbaum and Tom Murphy, AP Business Writers CVS, the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain, is kicking the habit of selling tobacco products as it continues to shift its focus toward being more of a health care provider. The company said Wednesday that it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1 in its 7,600 stores nationwide, in a move that it says will help it grow its business that works with doctors, hospitals and others to …