Low-Value Health Services Cost Medicare Billions

Medical services that provide little or no health benefit to older Americans cost Medicare at least $1.9 billion a year, according to a landmark new study. Researchers at Harvard University’s department of health care policy found that at least 25 percent of the more than 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries had one or more of 26 tests and procedures that have been shown to provide scant medical value. The study is thought to be the first to measure wasteful spending by …

Medicare Database Reveals Top-Paid Doctors

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Serdar Tumgoren, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) – Medicare paid a tiny group of doctors $3 million or more apiece in 2012. One got nearly $21 million. Those are among the findings of an Associated Press analysis of physician data released Wednesday by the Obama administration, part of a move to open the books on health care financing. Topping Medicare’s list was Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, whose relationship with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), made headlines last year …

What the $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Means for Older Americans

The $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending bill passed by Congress funds federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year, eases the sharp budget cuts known as the sequester and ends the lingering threat of another government shutdown. It also affects a number of programs especially important to older Americans. Here’s how, according to an AARP analysis: Increases spending by $41 million on nutrition programs for older Americans, including Meals on Wheels. This replaces across-the-board spending cuts, called sequestration, that took hold …

What Put the Brakes on Medicare Spending?

The Holy Grail in battles over the federal budget has been how to slow down the runaway train of health care spending. So it surely comes as good news that spending on traditional Medicare has slowed substantially, as a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study shows, and not just because of the broader economic slowdown. For 25 years, spending on traditional Medicare rose, on average, 8 percent a year. Then, from 2007 to 2012, the increase slowed to an average annual …

I’m Taking Away Your Allowance

Q: My husband will not quit spending. He has purchased several vehicles, only to trade them in for less than we owed on them. During our 18-year marriage, we have refinanced our house six times to pay off loans and credit cards. When we refinanced this last time, I refused to pay any of his credit cards or loans off. I would not have even considered refinancing again, but the low rates were appealing. That was 21/2 years ago. I …

The Takeaway: Americans Okay With Their Overspending

It seems a lot of Americans are okay with spending beyond their means from time to time. A new survey conducted by COUNTRY Financial found 52 percent of respondents periodically spend more than they earn in a given month. Yet only 9 percent believe their lifestyle is more than they can afford.