Medicare and Private Health Plans Agree to Common Standards to Evaluate Doctors: Why This Is Good News for Consumers

For over a year, a multi-stakeholder group composed of Medicare administrators, doctors, private health plan representatives, consumer groups and employers has worked together to figure out a uniform way to rate doctors’ performance. Today, the group announced agreement on a core set of quality measures that Medicare and private health insurance plans will phase in to evaluate doctors. Medicare and many private plans are transitioning to a new way to pay doctors: paying them based on the quality of their work, rather than …

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 …

Everyone Needs a Break Sometimes—Especially Family Caregivers

Respite is one of the most pressing needs of families and friends who take on a caregiving role. The need for caregiver supportive services — including respite care — is only going to rise as the U.S. population ages. Respite care provides temporary relief from the daily stress of caregiving, such as living with and caring for a grandfather with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of respite care is to give the family caregiver time away — to get a …