Among Older African Americans, Depression Continues to Be Under-Detected and Undertreated

The good news is that appropriate treatment can help most older adults with depression. What’s more, Medicare has recently improved its coverage for people with mental disorders. It now covers a free annual depression screening, and beneficiaries no longer have to pay more for outpatient treatment of mental illnesses than they do for physical illnesses. In addition, Medicare’s prescription drug benefit covers essentially all antidepressants used to treat people with depression. Older African Americans’ Depression Is More Likely to Go …

Is Observation Status Substituting for Hospital Readmission?

Since October 2012, the Medicare program has penalized hospitals when too many patients in traditional Medicare are re-hospitalized within a month of discharge. This policy appears to be having unintended consequences for patients in Medicare and in the commercial market. Hospitals with readmission rates above the national average now receive lower payments across-the-board from Medicare; the higher the rate of “excess” readmissions, the greater the penalty. The fines are intended to push hospitals to provide better care for their patients …

New Medicare Program May Be Reducing Hospital Readmissions for Joint Replacement Patients

Lately you may have noticed a growing number of commercials filled with people happily touting the benefits of their new joints. Experts expect such procedures to become increasingly popular as the active boomer population continues to age. However, the commercials typically gloss over the fact that joint replacements do not come without risk: Implant-related complications are common and can lead to unplanned hospital readmissions. While many hospital readmissions are unavoidable, experts believe hospitals can reduce readmissions for certain conditions. Accordingly, …

Medicare Releases Official 2016 Part B Premiums

After months of speculation, Medicare’s standard Part B premiums for 2016 have been officially announced. About 70 percent of beneficiaries will continue to pay the same amount that has been charged for the past three years: $104.90 a month. Others will pay $121.80 a month, or more for higher-income beneficiaries who already pay higher premiums. As previously reported, the double standard arises from a quirk in the law that occurs only when there is no Social Security cost of living …

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 …

Three Big Wins for Retired People in New Budget Act

People of retirement age and their families scored three significant victories in the budget act passed by Congress. 1. We preserved every cent of current Social Security recipients’ benefits. Millions of Social Security recipients were going to have their benefits automatically cut by 20 percent in 2016. That’s been stopped. No current recipient will lose a cent of Social Security benefits. Social Security Calculator: When Should You Claim Your Benefits? » 2. We halted skyrocketing Medicare premiums. Millions of Medicare recipients …