Tag Archives: elderly

Learn more about the Affordable Care Act – summary of Medicare reforms

A summary from the White House:

 

*Note: Medicare is for the elderly and Medicaid is for the poor. Most of the controversy and supreme court discussion is around Medicaid, not the below Medicare.

 

Strengthening Medicare

Nearly 50 million older Americans and Americans with disabilities rely on Medicare each year, and the new health care law makes Medicare stronger by adding new benefits, fighting fraud, and improving care for patients. The life of the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended to at least 2024 as a result of reducing waste, fraud, and abuse, and slowing cost growth in Medicare. And, over the next ten years, the law will save the average person in Medicare $4,200. People with Medicare who have the prescription drug costs that hit the so-called donut hole will save an average of over $16,000.

Lower Cost Prescription Drugs: In the past, as many as one in four seniors went without a prescription every year because they couldn’t afford it. To help these seniors, the law provides relief for people in the donut hole – the ones with the highest prescription drug costs. As a first step, in 2010, nearly four million people in the donut hole received a $250 check to help with their costs. In 2011, 3.6 million people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount worth a total of $2.1 billion, or an average of $604 per person, on their brand name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. Seniors will see additional savings on covered brand-name and generic drugs while in the coverage gap until the gap is closed in 2020.

Free Preventive Services: Under the new law, seniors can receive recommended preventive services such as flu shots, diabetes screenings, as well as a new Annual Wellness Visit, free of charge. So far, more than 32.5 million seniors have already received one or more free preventive services, including the new Annual Wellness Visit.

Fighting Fraud: The health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. Thanks in part to these efforts, we recovered $4.1 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2011, the second year recoveries hit this record-breaking level. Total recoveries over the last three years were $10.7 billion. Prosecutions are way up, too: the number of individuals charged with fraud increased from 821 in fiscal year 2008 to 1,430 in fiscal year 2011 – nearly a 75 percent increase.

Improving Care Coordination and Quality: Through the newly established Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, this Administration is testing and supporting innovative new health care models that can reduce costs and strengthen the quality of health care. So far, it has introduced 16 initiatives involving over 50,000 health care providers that will touch the lives of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in all 50 states.

Providing Choices while Lowering Costs: The number of seniors who joined Medicare Advantage plans increased by 17 percent between 2010 and 2012 while the premiums for such plans dropped by 16 percent – and seniors across the nation have a choice of health plans.

 

More from this series:

"It's never too late to improve our health. There's a lot you can do"

“Take a proactive approach to active aging,” she recommended, noting there are simple preventive ways to slow down the progression of chronic health conditions, which in turn will allow people to lead more independent lives and lean less on informal caregivers.

I found a great article on aging called, The self-reliant senior. Among the many points it covers the most important are that depression is a rising problem for those that are aging, and 80% have a chronic health issue.

This is definitely a part of the aging process but there are things that can be done. Quality of life improvements that help not only the parent but the child/caregiver.

Here they are from the We Care – Get Going group of Canada:

Some of the simple things Canadians can do, the booklet points out, include:

  • Get eating. As we age, our bodies change and so should our nutrition. Eat wisely. Plan and prepare healthy meals.
  • Get active. Walking, stretching and keeping your muscles in good condition can help you maintain your independence.
  • Get involved. Give back to the community by volunteering -it’s good for you, those you help, and the community around you.
  • Get happy. Depression and loneliness can be triggered by the death of a partner or close friend, physical illnesses and operations, and even certain medications. That’s why staying socially connected is so important to healthy, active aging.
photo by Jon Rawlinson

“It’s never too late to improve our health. There’s a lot you can do”

“Take a proactive approach to active aging,” she recommended, noting there are simple preventive ways to slow down the progression of chronic health conditions, which in turn will allow people to lead more independent lives and lean less on informal caregivers.

I found a great article on aging called, The self-reliant senior. Among the many points it covers the most important are that depression is a rising problem for those that are aging, and 80% have a chronic health issue.

This is definitely a part of the aging process but there are things that can be done. Quality of life improvements that help not only the parent but the child/caregiver.

Here they are from the We Care – Get Going group of Canada:

Some of the simple things Canadians can do, the booklet points out, include:

  • Get eating. As we age, our bodies change and so should our nutrition. Eat wisely. Plan and prepare healthy meals.
  • Get active. Walking, stretching and keeping your muscles in good condition can help you maintain your independence.
  • Get involved. Give back to the community by volunteering -it’s good for you, those you help, and the community around you.
  • Get happy. Depression and loneliness can be triggered by the death of a partner or close friend, physical illnesses and operations, and even certain medications. That’s why staying socially connected is so important to healthy, active aging.
photo by Jon Rawlinson

U.S. Population Growth at 9% – Economists Need An Ego Check

Despite the slowest decade of population growth since the Great Depression, the USA remains the world’s fastest-growing industrialized nation and the globe’s third-most populous country at a time when some are actually shrinking.

The United States reached 308.7 million in 2010, up 9.7% since 2000 — a slight slowdown that many experts say was caused by the recession and less immigration.

Even so, U.S. growth is the envy of most developed nations.

USA Today are you kidding me? Sometimes being the odd duck out is great but in this case I’m calling B.S.

Before I get to that it’s interesting to note that we are now up 309 million people, that’s a lot. It represents a burgeoning population way beyond what Yvon Chouinard calls ideal cities. These are places where the population is 250,000 to 350,000, “large enough to have all the culture and amenities of a city and still be governable – like Santa Barbara, Auckland, and Florence”.

I’m tempted to agree with him since I grew up in a place of that size. Sometimes the discussion needs to go beyond monetary policy and focus on quality of life. Taking into account food supply, health factors, and environmental concerns.

It’s an interesting line of thinking but let’s get back to the so-called ‘envy’.

It stands to point out that economic theory on GDP growth is grossly over represented in our cultural consciousness. Just look at our latest recession and tell me where all our economists were on that one. They are notorious for promoting ideologies in the face of massive bubbles and even letting themselves become the politicians, city planners, and business people who know everything. It used to be that economists would caveat and asterisk everything they say, now they will read your palm and tell you how to run your household.

I see the same happening in this article from the USA Today. The topic is population growth and how that affects social services. Somehow they are arguing that our growth is the key to fixing our insolvent social services programs like social security and medicare. Like piling on taxpayers will magically cure decades old problems. Even more vexing they claim other countries are envious of us.

Tell that to my grandpa who lives on social services. There is no envy lost on him. The truth is that our society is maturing (albeit very slowly) into the right mixture of government vs personal. All the Tea Party and Libertarians exist for a reason and I think it is because our government programs are off balance. We don’t need the government telling us how to get married or who to love, but we do need the government keeping prisoners and the insane of the street.

When it comes to the elderly I think we have it all wrong. Pushing them out of our society and into ‘homes’ does a double damage to our society. It costs us money and it hurts our communities. If there is one thing our ailing communities need it is more elderly roaming the blocks, raising children, and talking to neighbors. There is so much that they bring to families and neighborhoods it is hard to undervalue, but with our current social services we lock them away like prisoners.

The goods news is that all those ‘envious’ countries in the article will soon be dealing with this “problem of the elderly”. I bet many will miss the boat and make poor choices (like California letting out prisoners) rather than the right ones (like developing cultural programs to promote elderly care).

In the end, we may find that population growth isn’t at all related to social services. That it is a community topic and should be discussed by family leaders, church leaders, and other local members. At the very least I would hope we can keep the economists performing economic judgments and not letting them determine society’s ills through GDP forecasts.