Ending Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments Will Hurt Older Adults

Federal subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), have been critical to ensuring that over 2 million lower-income adults ages 50 to 64 who purchase coverage through health insurance Marketplaces can afford health care.[1] Despite the subsidies’ crucial role, the Administration announced yesterday that it will terminate payments for CSRs. The announcement—which comes less than 3 weeks before millions of Americans who buy insurance on the individual market start shopping for 2018 health coverage— is bad news for older adults and people …

Older Patients Steered Into High-Interest Credit Plans

Consider this: An older patient visits the dentist. The treatment she needs is expensive and not covered by Medicare. So the dentist offers her financing, on the spot, through a credit card plan. She accepts and gets the work done right away. When she gets the first month’s bill, she’s stunned to learn that the financing plan carries an interest rate of 30 percent. That scenario, you might be surprised to learn, appears to be a growing trend in doctor’s …

How to Cut $200 Billion in Health Care Costs

By Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News The U.S. spends $200 billion each year – about 8 percent of the nation’s health care tab – on medical care stemming from improper or unnecessary use of prescription drugs, a new report out Wednesday says. Much of those costs result from unneeded hospitalizations or doctor visits, according to the study by the IMS Health’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics, which provides data and other consulting services to the health care industry. Medical costs are driven …

Medicaid’s Costly ‘Revolving Door’

When Medicaid becomes a revolving door, it ends up both harming patients and increasing costs, a study by two George Washington University researchers finds. “Even short gaps in coverage can lead to delay or avoidance of needed care,” says Leighton Ku, the director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services. “This can result in significant increases in hospitalizations for chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma and mental disorders. These costly …

What Do Hospitals in Your Area Charge? Look It Up

Last week the Obama administration started publishing comparative data on what more than 3,000 hospitals across the nation charge for services – information that has long been hidden from consumers. And the results were pretty shocking. As Modern Healthcare reports, the data show enormous disparities in what hospitals charge for the same treatments – not just from region to region, but even among hospitals in the same metropolitan area. Treatment for kidney and urinary tract infections, for example, typically costs $40,902 …

Is Poverty Among Older Americans Undercounted?

Poverty levels are much higher for older Americans when you factor in how much they need to spend on health care, the Census Bureau has found. While 9 percent or so of all Americans 65 and older were below the official poverty threshold in 2011 ($10,788 for an individual), 15 percent were below an alternative threshold that takes into account spending on health care. The alternative measure also takes into account variations in the cost of living, taxes, whether a …