Senior Living Options & Costs Infographic

As seniors age, they may need help with daily tasks. Helping them decide on appropriate living arrangements is critical to staying safe and healthy. Investing in home modifications and some sort of medical alert system is a cost effective way for seniors to feel safe and secure while living an independent lifestyle, as this infographic suggests. Read More …

The Waiting Room, a feature length documentary


The Waiting Room - Title Text

Certified Nurse Assistant Cynthia Y. Johnson at Highland Hospital in The Waiting Room

Certified Nurse Assistant Cynthia Y. Johnson at Highland Hospital in The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room is like a punch to the gut for people cast off and left out of our U.S. medical care system, what some call the best in the world. When Democrats and Republicans vie for your votes and debate healthcare reform, remember that these are not the people they are talking about. Most don’t even notice the plight of those at the bottom — this ugly underside. But our politicians, and the billionaires who set their agenda, should be made to watch this documentary, because these are the 47 percent they talk about — the people left out of the American Dream. They’re real people.

This character-driven documentary film uses unprecedented access to go behind the doors of Oakland’s Highland Hospital, a safety-net hospital fighting for survival while weathering the storm of a persistent economic downturn. Stretched to the breaking point, Highland is the primary care facility for 250,000 patients of nearly every nationality, race, and religion, with 250 patients – most of them uninsured – crowding its emergency room every day. Using a blend of cinema verité and characters’ voiceover, the film offers a raw, intimate, and often uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers cope with disease, bureaucracy, frustration, hope and hard choices during one typically hectic day.

The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and uninsured small business owners. Steel workers, cab drivers and international asylum seekers crowd the halls. (movie trailer follows)

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How to Avoid Contractor Scams

Modern Health Talk is recognized this month for submitting the most articulate response to an poll on How to Avoid Scams after a Storm, which also applies to home remodeling and modifications for aging in place too.

Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk, wins eLocal's Most Articulate Award

We’re into Hurricane season, and Isaac just slammed into New Orleans, so this reminder about potential scams is timely, especially since local laws often favor builders, remodelers and contractors rather than homeowners (at least in Texas). Here’s some advice when hiring a contractor to fix your home or replace your roof.

 Avoid “storm chasers,” those unscrupulous Read More …

Now the Real Work of Healthcare Reform Begins

Roberts Saves Obamacare: Now the Real Work of Reform BeginsArianna Huffington
By Arianna Huffington

The narrow survival of the Affordable Care Act last week was certainly cause for celebration. But as the jubilation subsides, it’s important to realize that having avoided what would have been a giant step backward doesn’t mean we’ve taken a giant step forward. Because the law as it now stands is only the first step toward health care reform.

On Sunday’s This Week, Vicki Kennedy (Ted Kennedy’s widow) spoke movingly of how “health care reform was the cause” of her husband’s life. “He believed that it was a moral issue,” she said, “that it defined the character of who we were as a society, who we were as a country, and that decent, quality, affordable health care should be a fundamental right and not a privilege.” She went on to say, “Families can go to sleep relaxed and happy knowing that their children who have asthma or diabetes or allergies are covered by insurance and aren’t barred because they have a pre-existing condition.” Read More …

How will you pay your lifetime $4 million healthcare bill?

Your $4 Million Bill and The Anatomy of Health InsuranceThe following infographic shows that a typical 22 year old worker and his employer can expect to pay over $4,000,000 in his lifetime for healthcare and health insurance. That number seemed awfully high, so I created a spreadsheet model to see if I could match it. I did, and here are my assumptions.

  • Starting salary at age 22 = $53,000 ($870,000/year by age 70)
  • Annual salary increase = 6% compounded
  • Percent of income for healthcare = 18%, increasing by 0.3% per year

I assumed a modest salary that increased at 6% compounded each year, but that’s a simplistic view since raises are larger earlier in a career and generally taper off (or even go negative) as you get older. I calculated to age 70 to account for longer lifespans and the likelihood that young people will continue working that long by then.

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The Economic Value of a Good Night’s Sleep

Bruce Meleski, PhD, explains how technology that lets you get restful sleep improves your energy and health.We live such busy lives that we’re stressed out and try to fit too much into each day, ignoring our sleep in hopes of getting more accomplished, but that’s effecting our health, work productivity, and sports performance.

What if I told you that not getting great sleep could easily cost you — an extra $300,000 in medical bills and more than $700,000 in net worth? Not getting great sleep could even cheat you out of some $8 million in lifetime earning capacity? Do I have your attention yet? Read More …

It’s Fall – Time for Talking Turkey about Healthcare…


Medical Economics - follow the Money

We need to talk about healthcare, the role of funding, the need for healthcare teams, and core infrastructure from workplace culture to technology.  Parts of this post began as a comment in Employee Benefit News, a LinkedIn group.  Let’s start with the money.

There’s a pattern here—banks collect a 5% margin on health insurance cash flow.  This is not small potatoes.  Healthcare insurance, mostly self-insured employer costs, was about 33.5 percent of the $2.3 trillion spent on healthcare in 2008, i.e., almost 70 percent of the half of health cost not paid by Medicare and Medicaid (see National Health Expend Data). This annual $770 billion allows the 5% margin to feed some $38 billion into the banking sector’s P&L statement.  And, the annual $770 billion flow is money banks can invest in securities markets, or can lend.


In Snake Bit, I took a different look at annual health insurance evaluation and the danger of getting Snake Bit if we don’t dig into the details, compare plans, and consider our historical and anticipated medical costs.

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Putting Patients at the center of their Health Care

HealthITBuzz logoHere is full text of an article by by by Jodi G. Daniel / JD MPH, Director of the Office of Policy and Planning at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It is provided with full attribution and a link to the original article but without copyright concerns, because I believe it’s important enough to be promoted widely and don’t expect any complaints. If, however, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) asks me to remove it, I will surely do so.

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Health Insurance premiums surge in 2011

rising health care costs are not just a federal budget problemWe all know that health costs are high and rising steadily, but new data now shows that the cost of employee health benefits increased 114% in 10 years while wages only went up 34%. That’s according to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which forms the basis of this article. The average family health care premiums now top $15,000 a year, which is like buying a new Ford Fiesta or Chevy Aveo every year.

The cost increase this year snapped a trend toward more moderate growth, and some have blamed that on “Obamacare,” but most provisions of the Affordable Care Act don’t go into effect until 2014. Kaiser said the changes so far have only had a combined impact of 1-2 percentage points, suggesting that the sluggish economy is responsible for most of the increase this year. The two big changes this year include (1) allowing young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parent’s insurance policies and (2) requiring some plans to cover preventive services at no cost.

cumulative increases in health insurance premiums

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Grandparents play bigger role in child-rearing

Eileen and Doug Flockhart

Eileen and Doug Flockhart laugh as she holds a picture of their seventh grandchild near a wall full of family photos in their home in Exeter, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

According to this Associated Press article by Hope Yen, America is swiftly becoming a granny state.

Less frail and more involved, today’s grandparents are shunning retirement homes and stepping in more than ever to raise grandchildren while young adults struggle in the poor economy.

Census data shows that grandparents make up 1 in 4 adults and are growing at twice the rate of the overall population. They’re projected to make up 1 in 3 adults by 2020.

Not yet frail or disabled, grandparents are increasingly shunning retirement homes to stay close to family. AARP says 90% of them would rather age-in-place in their own home than be forced into institutional care, and that’s the primary audience of Modern Health Talk.

Baby Boomers, also called the “sandwich generation” because their time is split between their grown children and grandchildren on one hand and more senior parents on the other, are relatively affluent and tech-aware. They’re motivated to find solutions that lets them live the lifestyle they want and can generally afford them. That includes home modifications with Universal Design principals that work for any age or ability, digital home technologies that include video chats with remote family and friends, and telehealth solutions for home health care.

Read the AP article for the whole story.

Taking In a Roommate Late in Life can Ease Burdens

Story by Emily Liedel, video produced by Tamir Elterman, Farhod Family and Emily Liedel

In late spring, 81-year-old Anna Novak got up to use the bathroom in the early hours when her feet stopped cooperating with the rest of her body. She fell, hitting her head and left arm against the bathtub. “Antimina!” she yelled.

Antimina Garmley, the 65-year-old retired nurse who has lived with Anna Novak since July 2010, was sleeping in the next room. She jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom. Kevin Novak, about to get ready for work, heard his mother scream, and hurried across the hall.

Anna Novak had broken a finger, dislocated her wrist and gashed her left eyebrow. Her son picked her up off the floor and Garmley bandaged her head before driving her to the hospital. Kevin Novak, a sewage treatment technician, went to work as scheduled. …continued…


Alternative Solutions for Funding Long Term Care

As we age, there’s less need for life insurance and more need for Long Term Care insurance. This guest article describes  converting a life policy into long term care. Some say long term care is only justified if you have enough assets to protect. And can’t we rely on home healthcare instead of expensive institutional care? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Wealth … Care Planning

Driven by crisis, alternative solutions emerge to pay for long term care

Chris Orestis, Life Care Funding Groupby Chris Orestis, Life Care Funding Group

On February 4th, 2011, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a dire warning in a speech before a gathering of top financial policy reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “The two most important driving forces for the federal budget are the aging of the U.S. population and rapidly rising health-care costs,” said Bernanke. He warned that the costs of caring for the rapidly growing population of seniors in the U.S. will be an unsustainable burden for the U.S. budget and a constant impediment to economic recovery. As 10,000 Baby Boomers a day started turning 65 on January 1, 2011; the big three entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, are all in the red and creating havoc for government budgets at the federal and state levels. This has become the number one concern of the Federal Reserve about the U.S. economy.

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