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 …

At Your Fingertips: A Trove of Data on Boomers and Americans 50-Plus

We are a data-driven society. We need data to address the challenges and opportunities facing the 50-plus population. I am pleased to announce that today AARP’s Public Policy Institute launched the AARP DataExplorer, a free website tool that provides a rich collection of data on issues relevant to people age 50 and older. The 50-plus group accounts for a third of the United States’ population, with about 110 million people. People in the baby boom generation make up 80 million …

Medicare Premiums Expected to Rise Steeply for Some, Stay Unchanged for Most

Most Medicare enrollees can expect to pay the same amount for their Medicare Part B coverage (the portion of Medicare that pays for doctors’ services and outpatient care) in 2016 as they do this year ($104.90), according to estimates from the latest Medicare trustees report. But about 1 in 7 enrollees will face a dramatic increase. Most enrollees will see no change In 2016, about 70 percent of Medicare enrollees will be protected from an increase because of a “hold …

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Financial Access to Dental Care among Medicare Beneficiaries: Something to Chew On

Good oral health is a vital part of general health and overall well-being. However, it requires the regular use of dental services. Yet many older adults are unable to afford the care they need to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Moreover, there are significant disparities in financial access to dental services among older adults. In 2014, twice as many older adults of color were unable to afford dental care in the past 12 months than their white counterparts (Chart). Multiple …

Congress Approves Bill Bolstering Medicare Patients’ Hospital Rights

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday night requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care but have not been admitted to the hospital. It’s a distinction that’s easy to miss until patients are hit with big medical bills after a short stay. The vote follows overwhelming approval in the U. S. House of Representatives in March. The legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama, said its House sponsor, …

Celebrating Medicare: Strengthening the Program for the Next 50 Years

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare program into law. Today, we celebrate 50 years of Medicare providing affordable, guaranteed health care to millions of Americans — but we also look toward its future. We must recommit ourselves to keeping this vital lifeline strong for current and future generations. It’s easy to forget what life was like for older Americans before Medicare was enacted. Back in 1965, only about 1 in 4 Americans over age 65 …