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 …

Can Age Discrimination Kill You?

Age discrimination can be hazardous to your health, a new study by researchers at Florida State University’s College of Medicine has found. What’s more, people who see themselves as targets of age discrimination are likelier to be in poor health than victims of race or sex discrimination, according to the study. “What we found was unexpected and striking,” said the study’s lead author, Angelina Sutin, assistant professor of behavioral sciences and social medicine. >> Sign up for the AARP Health …

Will Obamacare Save Lives?

Fewer people died after Massachusetts introduced mandatory health coverage in 2006, a new Harvard study finds, offering “encouraging evidence” that the country’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) – modeled on the Massachusetts plan – could also save lives, researchers said. The study, published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that Massachusetts’ health-coverage law saved about 320 lives a year during each of its first four years. “Our findings add to a growing body of evidence showing that health insurance makes …

Whatever Happened to ‘In Sickness and in Health’?

Well, this is depressing: A new study finds that an older couple is more likely to divorce if the wife gets seriously ill, but not if the husband does. While the health consequences of divorce are well known, researchers wanted to see how marriage in couples age 50 and older was affected when one spouse developed a serious health condition like cancer, heart disease, lung disease or stroke. They examined 20 years of data on 2,717 marriages from the Health …

More Investors Choosing Target-Date Funds for Retirement Savings

Target-date funds are growing in popularity among investors in workplace retirement plans because they’re so easy to manage. You pick a retirement date, and the mix of investments automatically adjusts to a more conservative allocation as you move closer to that date. No muss, no fuss. If you’re not investing in a TDF, chances are you will be. A new study says that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of all 401(k) savings contributions will go into these funds. TDFs have become …

Adult Day Care Benefits Caregivers, Study Shows

If Mom or Dad has dementia, using adult day services (ADS) just twice a week can reap surprising psychological and physical benefits for family caregivers. Yes, caregivers. According to a new Pennsylvania State University study, ADS can reduce caregivers’ emotional distress and may even protect against illness. It turns out that a hormone in the body produced by the adrenal gland, DHEA-S, gets depleted when you’re under chronic stress – and caregiving is unquestionably stressful.  The study suggests that ADS probably gives …