Is Implantable Device Reform Almost Here?

It’s not always an easy question for a consumer to answer, yet it comes up for more people than you might think. In the case of certain heart defibrillators, for example, consumers with defective devices run the risk that their device will either deliver an unnecessary jolt of electricity—akin to being hit across the chest with a baseball bat—or, worse, simply fail, potentially leading to cardiac arrest and death. Unfortunately, more than a few implantable devices have become defective. An …

Hearing Aid Prices are Coming Down: Is Now the Time to Consider Getting One?

When my parents got into their 80s, sometimes I thought they were arguing because they were shouting. Then I realized they were just having trouble hearing each other. Unfortunately, this went on for some time because they did not have hearing aids. They said hearing aids were too expensive. Expense may soon become less of an issue for would-be purchasers. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first hearing aid for sale over-the-counter (OTC). Allowing OTC sales of …

Regulatory Reform Options for Implantable Devices

In 2011, some widely used implantable heart defibrillators, designed to correct potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms, developed cracked insulation on their high-voltage electrical wires. The result was that in some cases they caused severe shocks, and even deaths. Consumers with the defective implants had to decide whether to undergo dangerous surgery to replace the device or simply monitor it. Until the defective device is replaced, consumers run the risk that it will deliver an unnecessary high-voltage jolt of electricity—described as …

More Price Transparency Needed for Implantable Devices

Implantable devices, such as hip replacements and heart valves, are a central part of medical treatment today. Americans receive about 370,000 cardiac pacemakers and about 1 million total hip and knee replacements per year. Despite how common the use of implantable devices is, little information is publicly available on the prices paid for these devices in the United States. Limited information about prices and performance of many implantable devices has raised concerns that providers, consumers and insurers may be paying …

Time to Let the Sunshine In

By AARP Executive Vice President Debra Whitman, Ph.D. and AARP Director of Health Services Research Leigh Purvis Starting today, AARP members and consumers of all ages will be able to get a better idea of what may be driving their health care provider’s decisions thanks to the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, or Sunshine Act. The Sunshine Act requires drug and medical device manufacturers to publicly report virtually all payments, gifts, and other services provided to health care providers and teaching …

How to Avoid Robocall Scams

At least one of every five phone calls now made is a robocall, and many are the work of scammers. You may hate these automated annoyances, but scammers love them: They’re cheap, far-reaching and hard to trace. No surprise that the Federal Trade Commission receives some 200,000 complaints about these calls each month. Here’s what you need to know: 1. If they’re selling, assume they’re scamming. Fraudsters may tout “free” in their recorded messages, but ask yourself this: Since when …