Tag Archive for 'healthcare'

Retirement Health Costs are Higher than you Think

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the above is largely true no matter how high you think they are.

A good rule of thumb for estimating health costs in retirement is that Medicare will, on average, cover 60%, while the remaining 40% come out of the retiree’s pocket. Unfortunately, according to a lengthy paper published recently by professors at UCLA and Harvard, most would-be retirees habitually underestimate the impact that health care costs will have on their finances, either blithely assuming that Medicare will take a larger share of the burden from them or failing to appreciate just how large that 40% liability is likely to be in terms of real dollars.

So how large is it? Large, at least according to the Urban Institute’s calculations. The median retiree will spend more than $6,000 per year on health care costs alone, while a particularly high spender (or one nearing the end of their life) may be spending as much as $14,000 yearly. This is all without counting any significant end-of-life costs (most retirees spend the majority of their lifetime health-care costs in the last eighteen months of their lives.

Given how large health care costs loom in retirement, it goes without saying that any significant underestimation of their impact can have a staggering effect on your retirement security. This isn’t to say that every retiree needs to budget $15,000 a year for such things, but a careful calculation of retirement expenses is impossible without an accurate understanding of the costs you are likely to face. For these reasons, NewRetirement has always recommended the use of a proper retirement calculator, if only to set realistic boundaries, not guesses, on what your expenses are likely to be, and what level of preparation will be necessary to ensure that you have the capacity to meet them.

Whether you use NewRetirement’s calculator or another source of information, nobody should go into retirement armed only with guesswork.

Learn more about the true costs of retirement with the NewRetirement Retirement Calculator.

Learn more about Supplemental Medicare Insurance at NewRetirement.com.

You Might Want to Reconsider These Common Medical Tests!

The Choosing Wisely campaign, an initiative by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation in partnership with Consumer Reports, kicked off last spring. It is an attempt to alert both doctors and patients to problematic and commonly overused medical tests, procedures and treatments.

As we get older, we may find the need or desire for significant medical testing and procedures.  However, research is showing that some common tests and treatments may not be necessary.  If your doctor is recommending one of the following things to you, it may be wise to question them about why.  Discussing things with your doctor will help keep you  healthy now and as you age.

A few of the tests that Family Physicians recommend you question include:

  • Imaging for Lower Back Pain: Unless red flags are present, physicians recommend waiting six weeks for imaging on low back pain.
  • Antibiotics: Don’t insist on antibiotics for acute mild to moderate sinusitis unless symptoms last for seven or more days or symptoms worsen after some improvement.
  • Osteoporosis X-Rays: Don’t use dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) screening for osteoporosis in women younger than 65 or men younger than 70 with no risk factors.
  • EKGs: Avoid cardiac screening for low risk patients without symptoms.
  • Carotid Artery Stenosis: Don’t screen for carotid artery stenosis unless there are symptoms.
  • Cervical Cancer: Don’t screen women older than 65 years of age for cervical cancer who have had adequate prior screening and are not otherwise at high risk for cervical cancer.

For a full list from the Family Physicians and 50 other medical specialties, you can go to http://www.choosingwisely.org.

Additional Resources:

Do You have the Best Supplemental Medicare Coverage?  Instantly compare rates and services.

Stop Sitting and Other Health News for Older Americans

According to numerous recent studies, sitting is going to reduce your life span!  In people who do a similar amount of physical activity, those who sit less will have a lower risk of dying compared to those who sit more.

Other recent health news:

  • Achy joints?  Eat this: Some research suggests that consuming the following foods could help alleviate osteoarthritis symptoms: strawberries, olive oil, salmon, green tea and leafy greens.
  • The eyes have it! In a recent study of Medicare beneficiaries, those who had cataracts removed were less likely to take a serious fall, experiencing 16 percent fewer hip fractures in the year after the operation.
  • Sleep! Getting good quality sleep can improve your overall health and a new study says it will help elderly people stay out of nursing homes.  If you have sleep problems, consult your doctor.
  • Spice it Up: Supplements containing a compound in curry spice may help prevent diabetes in people at high risk.\

RESOURCES:

 

 

The Decline of Doctors

The New York  Times reports that by 2014, Obama’s new healthcare law is projected to cover more than 300,000 people in the Inland empire, an economically poor area in Southern California. However, the healthcare coverage may not transfer into actual care, as locals speculate that there will be nowhere near the number of doctors necessary.

To this day, the Inland Empire has about 40 primary care doctors and 70 specialists per 100,000 residents — the worst shortage in California. Although patients still get care, the process is often slow and difficult. In Riverside, it has resulted in residents driving long distances to doctors, getting added to already full waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care. As a result of this shortfall, a government council has recommended that a given region have 60 to 80 primary care doctors and 85 to 105 specialists primary care doctors per 100,000 residents.

As the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that in 2015, there will be 62,900 fewer doctors than needed (the number is expected to double by 2025.) Along with the increasing demand of the aging baby boom generation, Medicare officials predict that enrollment will surge to 73.2 million in 2025, up 44 percent from 50.7 million this year.

 

Medi-scary! What to Do When You Can Not Find a Doctor?

Adding to the massive problems of trying to fund medical care as you age is the trend of doctors opting out of Medicare.  Many older people are finding that their doctors are no longer accepting Medicare either because they have opted out of the insurance system or they are not accepting new patients with Medicare coverage.  These doctors say that Medicare reimbursement is too low and paperwork is too big of a hassle.

If you are having a hard time finding a doctor that accepts Medicare, try these options:

  • Start your search early and try to convince your current doctor to continue caring for you.
  • The Medicare.gov web site has listings of doctors and facilities accepting Medicare.
  • Call your local hospital and ask them for referrals.
  • The majority of walk in urgent care facilities accept Medicare. The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine has a search to help you locate local facilities.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Resources from NewRetirement:

 

What Defines Old vs Young?

Wherever the line that defines whether you are ‘old’ or ‘young’ is, the individuals on either side end up looking very differently, in political and economical terms. According to a recent New York Times article, in 2004, older voters began moving right (politically), while younger voters shifted left. This year, polls suggest that Mitt Romney will win a landslide among the over-65 crowd and that President Obama will do likewise among those under 40. The split between the ages goes farther than politics; the two have different views on many of the biggest questions before the country. For example, the young favor gay marriage and school funding more strongly and are also notably less religious, more positive toward immigrants, and  less hostile to Social Security. On the other hand, the older crowd are less tolerant to immigrants and expect more out of Social Security.

Over all, more than 50 percent of federal benefits flow to the 13 percent of the population over 65; a portion of these benefits come from Social Security while a much larger from Medicare. However, contrary to common perception, most Americans do not come close to paying for their own Medicare benefits through payroll taxes. Instead, medicare, in addition to being the largest source of the country’s projected budget deficits, is a transfer program from young to old.

One aspect that both the ‘old’ and ‘young’ can agree upon is that they are more open to change and confident that life in the United States will remain good.

 

If the Politicians were to Fail

A recent New York Times article discusses a new and informative book called Clash, written by Scott Burns and Larry Kotlikoff. The book shows the effects of current policies on young people and offers actual policy solutions for banking, taxes, healthcare, and Social Security. Other than offering advice, Clash informs us what we can do to support ourselves if the politicians fail to do so. This is what a critic has to offer about the book, “[Clash] is so well written that Scott Burns and Laurence Kotlikoff should be considered the Stieg Larssons of economics.” This book should be read by everyone, including politicians, mainly to get informed about the looming crisis and what the people would/should do if they were to fail to take action.

You can purchase the book on Amazon here.

 

Putting the Biological Clock on Hold

Women now have an option of buying insurance for having children; egg freezing. Egg freezing, or Oocyte Cryopreservation enables women to put their biological clock on hold, by controlling their reproductive future by preserving their fertility by freezing their eggs. According to a New York Times article, the procedure is expensive, costing between $8,000 and $18,000. Although this process has no guarantees, many would-be grandparents are willing to take the risk with their daughters by supporting them financially. Jennifer Hayes, 35, has gone through the process of preserving her fertility and blogs about her experiences and explains the basics of egg freezing here, on her website.

With all the benefits of preserving one’s fertility, there come some risks to be taken:

  • Damage to the Oocyte – Intracellular ice may damage and affect the functions of the the female reproductive cell prior to the fertilization process
  • There have been no systematic follow-up studies either of children born from frozen eggs (fewer than 2000 worldwide) or of success rates, especially for women in their late thirties who are the primary users

Healthcare Revolution

Europe is able to have successful and affordable Healthcare, so why can’t we. Well, the answer might be right on the tip of our tongues. We have an obesity rate of 64.5% vs. a 27% and 38% obesity rate for European females and males, respectively. (The European obesity rate is increasing at an alarming rate due to what I believe is due to poorer nutrition, the increase of fast food chains, and to many extents, the McDonaldization of Society, where quality is substituted for quantity). I found a brilliant analysis of the single problem we have with Healthcare and what must be done to change it in this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. The author, Michael Pollan points out that the single biggest problem with Healthcare is not the system itself but America’s food industry, “a second even more powerful industry,” even more powerful than Insurance. The American diet most clearly leads to health problems in the future.  Super size meals, dollar menus, pound burritos, pretty much everything the Fast Food Industry puts on the table is fodder for the Healthcare industry. Even the salads and healthier food they have put on the menu aren’t as healthy as they appear to be. A salad with heavy dressing is over 1000 calories (like a Chipotle Burrito), and most people, because they think salad is healthy will get fries to complement said salad. You can thank the drive thru for that Type 2 diabetes as well as the fact that you have no insurance. And sure, to an lower to average income American eating 3 burgers, fries and a soda for as much as you would pay for a cup of fruit and a bagel is very tempting. What must be done aside from fixing the Healthcare system of its flaws is to tackle the giant food system and the American way of eating. By providing Americans with cost-effective and healthy eating, we will decrease the burden we are putting on the Healthcare system. If we get the health insurance industry involved in the fight over the farm bill, which they certainly will because they see the profits in having a healthy population, then we can see a true step forward for Healthcare Reform and cutting Healthcare costs.  While Pollan believes the fight should be between “Big Food and Big Insurance,” I also believe that the Healthcare Industry will side with Big Food since it throws money their way.   It looks like a we have a battle of the bigs, I hope us little ones just don’t get lost in the fog.

President Obama’s Healthcare Speech Real Time Updates

Get ready, come 8 o’clock Eastern Time, live updates will be rolling through the wires covering President Obama’s Address To Congress.  You’re not gonna want to miss this.  8pm- First Lady Obama enters into the House    8:11- The President Finally Arrives to warm applause   8:16– Speaker of The House Pelosi Announces The President of the United States   8:18 Describes that a recovery is many months away, declares he will not let up until those seeking jobs will find them  8:18 1/2 “Pulled this economy back from the brink,” only Democrats rise in applause  8:19 Issue of Healthcare, Determined to be the last President to take up Healthcare, again Democrats only stand  8:20 A History Lesson on Healthcare by Obama    8:21-8:22 PersonalAmerican stories of Healthcare’s Lapses, “This is wrong.”  Every seat applauses.  8:23-4 We must do something to control costs, “Our Healthcare Problem is Our Deficit Problem” 8:25 Left: Single Payer System (Public Plan) Right: Individualized Healthcare  8:26 4 out of 5 commitees have finished there tasks and there is an 80% agreement 8:27-8 We have also seen scare tactics that have not helped the debate, “The time for bickering is over.”  8:29 Three goals More security to those with insurance, provide those that don’t have it, slow the Healthcare costs for our country 8:30-2 If you have Healthcare, nothing will require you to change.  Against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage if you have a preexisting condition, cannot drop coverage when you get sick, no arbitrary cap, place a limit on out of pocket expenses. If you don’t have Insurance you will have quality affordable coverage.  New Insurance exchange (shop for insurance at competitive prices).  Every seat rises in applause 8:33 This exchange will happen in 4 years.  But right now if you get sick you will be covered.  8:34-7 You are required to have Basic Health Care. (It is clear that Obama has looked at the Massachusetts system and how small businesses have many times been left out.)  8:38 Time to put down some rumors: States rumors of “Death Squads” is a complete lie 8:39 Illegal immigrants will not be covered, no abortions will be funded by the gov’t 8:40 “Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.” 8:41 “I want to hold Insurance Companies accountable” 8:43 “Republicans and Democrats need to work together” 8:44 “If you get affordable coverage then we will give you a choice” Only democrats stand up 8:45 How to pay for this plan, “not a single dime will be added to our deficits.” 8:46 We can find savings within the Healthcare system already 8:47 Medicare “Must be passed down from one generation to the next”8:52 Reforming Medical malpractice laws, Republicans stand up in applause.  8:53 900 Billion dollars over ten years Expect commentary early tomorrow morning



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