Out-of-Pocket Hits Sick Beneficiaries Hard

More than half of seriously ill Medicare beneficiaries face financial hardships with medical bills, with prescription drug costs the leading problem, according to a study published Monday. All told, 53% of seriously ill Medicare patients said they had major trouble paying their medical bills. More than a third reported using all or most of their savings to pay medical bills; 27% said they were contacted by a collection agency; and 23% were unable to pay for basics such as food, heat and housing.

“Out-of-pocket costs are very concentrated,” said Anne Kyle, lead author of the study. “The sickest population is also getting the biggest bills. Especially if you are sick over time, you are slowly draining your bank account.”

ARTICLE and INFOGRAPHIC

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Medicare: $5,460 Out-of-Pocket Costs

The average person with traditional Medicare coverage paid $5,460 out of her own pocket for health care in 2016, according to a new KFF analysis and interactive tool. This $5,460 includes about $1,000 in out-of-pocket spending for long-term care facility services, averaged across all traditional Medicare beneficiaries. Such services are used by only 5% of beneficiaries in Medicare. For the 95% of beneficiaries living in the community, average out-of-pocket spending on health care was $4,519 in 2016. But some beneficiary cohorts spent substantially more than others.

Beneficiaries who were likely to spend more out of pocket include women, people in older age groups, those who had been hospitalized, people in poorer self-reported health, and those with multiple chronic conditions.

ARTICLE

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Are You Being Out-Hustled?

If there’s one thing that’s 100% within your control, it’s your effort. You control how hard you work. Not your manager. Not anyone else. No one can, or will, stop you from working hard. The effort you make is yours alone. If it isn’t enough, it’s all on you. You control how many hours you work, too. The time you invest in work each day has nothing to do with scheduled hours; it has nothing to do with whether you’re paid hourly, salary or straight commission. You can work as much as you want – or as little. If you’re being out-hustled, it’s because you’re allowing it. If someone’s working harder than you, they’re likely to produce more and better results. Even if they aren’t as smart or as talented or as well-connected as you. There’re very few things in life that’re 100% within your control. Your belief system is one of them. Your attitude is another. And your effort is also one of the few things you can control. 100%.

COLUMN

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Heart-Failure Deaths▲, Life Expectancy▼

Deaths from heart failure, one of the nation’s biggest killers, are surging as the population ages and the health of younger generations worsens. The death rate from the debilitating condition rose 20.7% between 2011 and 2017, and is likely to keep climbing sharply, according to a study published today (Wednesday) in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

The rapid aging of the population, together with high rates of obesity and diabetes in all ages, are pushing both the rate and number of deaths from heart failure higher. Most deaths from heart failure occur in older Americans, but they’re rising in adults under 65, too, the study showed. The findings help explain why a decades-long decline in the death rate from cardiovascular disease has slowed substantially since 2011 and started rising in middle-aged people, helping drive down U.S. life expectancy. The number of Americans who are 65 and over rose nearly 23% between 2011 and 2017 to 50.9 million, and is projected to expand another 44% to 73.1 million by 2030, according to the study, citing Census Bureau data.

ARTICLE based on STUDY

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In-Home Care, LTC: A Lot More Expensive

A new interactive survey by Genworth Financial found the fastest-rising long-term care cost is not for the most skilled care at a nursing home or assisted-living facility, but in-home services. Genworth reported the cost of homemaker services – in which an aide helps with tasks such as cooking, cleaning and running errands – has increased 7.14% in the past 12 months. That’s four times the increase in the median cost of a private room in a nursing home, which rose 1.82%. The cost of a home health aide – who assists someone in eating, getting dressed or taking medication – increased 4.55%.

 

In its 2019 Annual Cost of Care survey, Genworth added a new category for in-home services: skilled nursing care. The median cost is $87.50 per visit. The annual median cost of care in a nursing home is $90,155 for a semiprivate room and $102,200 for a private room. At some point in their senior years, 7 in 10 Americans will need LTC. The problem is many people don’t realize that Medicare doesn’t cover LTC except in limited situations.

SURVEY COSTS TOOL

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