A study published in JAMA Network Open showed that black patients with diabetes had higher 30-day all-cause hospital readmission rates than Hispanic, white and Asian patients. In their study of more than 272,000 Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, researchers also found higher readmission rates among black and Hispanic patients with an annual household income of less than $40,000, compared with white patients at the same income level, and hospital-specific factors also played a role.
Medicare open enrollment begins today and ends on Dec. 7, and over 60 million seniors are expected to switch plans or stay with their existing coverage. Seniors are increasingly opting for Medicare Advantage plans, many of which offer new supplemental benefits such as transportation assistance, home meal delivery and home improvements.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said he expects Congress to pass legislation addressing unexpected out-of-network medical bills by the end of this year. Lawmakers are debating how to settle out-of-network payment disagreements between health insurers and providers, and two ideas under consideration include reimbursing providers through arbitration and using benchmark rates to determine payment.
The percentage of US adults ages 18 to 24 who used e-cigarettes increased from 5.2% in 2017 to 7.6% in 2018, while e-cigarette use was not significantly different among middle-aged and older adults, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers also found rising e-cigarette use among men, former cigarette users, non-Hispanic Asians and those whose family incomes were four or more times above the poverty level.
A number of tech startup companies are using technology to foster face-to-face connections and combat loneliness and social isolation among seniors, including Papa, a Miami-based health care firm that connects aging seniors with college students through a mobile app and other digital tools. Papa has partnered with health insurers such as Aetna, Alignment Healthcare and Priority Health to offer its "grandkids on demand" service to some Medicare Advantage members.
Drugmakers raised wholesale acquisition prices by a median of 25.8% from 2017 through March 2019, according to California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Wholesale prices on generic drugs increased by a median of 37.6%, led by generics for depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Janssen Pharmaceutical, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, announced it had received FDA approval for its direct oral anticoagulant Xarelto, or rivaroxaban, as a preventive treatment for venous thromboembolism in acutely sick hospitalized patients at risk for developing blood clots but at low risk for bleeding. The approval is the eighth indication for Xarelto.
Three common mistakes people make with their 401(k) accounts are paying too much in fees, failing to contribute enough to trigger a full employer match and cashing out the account when leaving a job. There are better options for 401(k) accounts when someone leaves a job, including leaving it alone and rolling it over into an IRA, but taking the money out can lead to penalties and taxes and disrupt long-term retirement fund growth.
Walker County, Ga., Schools Superintendent Damon Raines says he wants to create an Employee Assistance Program, through the district's long-term disability insurance plan, that would offer employees counseling for finances, marital issues, elder care, grief and children with disabilities. Raines says he is focused on intentional wellness this year and he sends self-help tips to educators twice per week.
An October poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed 51% of people supported a Medicare for All model that only allows a single government plan, compared with 53% who supported it last month, while 47% opposed it. The poll, released just before another debate among the top Democrats vying for the party's nomination for president, found 58% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said candidates were not talking enough about issues such as women's health, and more than half said candidates did not talk enough about surprise medical bills and ways to reduce health costs.
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