The Healthcare Standard

Here’s What You Should Know About Medicare If You’re Nearing Age 65

After paying into Medicare through payroll withholding for many years, you might think your coverage will be free once you turn 65.

In reality, the national health insurance program comes with a variety of expenses — including premiums, copays and deductibles. High earners pay more and there’s no out-of-pocket maximum.

“I’d say a full third of people we talk to, who are just starting to do their research, are surprised — some are appalled and flabbergasted — that they have to pay anything for Medicare,” said Danielle Roberts, co-founder of insurance firm Boomer Benefits in Fort Worth, Texas.

“The ‘Medicare for all’ conversation might contribute to that, because consumers hear ‘free, free, free’ and assume Medicare is already free,” she said.

Similarly, half of respondents in a recent poll by consumer website said they believe Medicare is free.


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The Healthcare Standard

Mathematics Is Helping Free Up Hospital Beds and Cut Wait Times

The emergency department where I see patients can get pretty crowded. Sometimes, when we run out of rooms, we examine patients in the hallways. It’s harder to deliver comprehensive medical care that way, but the patients need to be treated somewhere.

It seems like the answer to overcrowding in the emergency department should be simple: Build more beds. And many hospitals are. Years ago, when one facility was considering a $10 million expansion of its emergency department, Eugene Litvak, president of the non-profit Institute for Healthcare Optimization, shook his head. “How about you give me $5 million and you do nothing and both of us will benefit,” he recalled telling the hospital’s president.

It was more than an idle challenge, coming from Litvak. He’s done it before.

Litvak specializes in operations management, a branch of applied mathematics that uses statistical techniques to efficiently match resources with variable demand. In the late 1990s, he began looking for ways to apply his professional training to American health care.


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The Healthcare Standard

The Health Benefits of Coffee

The Health Benefits of Coffee – Scientific American Fifty-four percent of American adults are coffee drinkers with the average intake being at least three cups of coffee per day. As you can guess, this adds up: the U.S. spends roughly $40 billion on coffee each year. But the U.S. doesn’t even break the top 20 in a ranking of countries by coffee consumption per capita, coming in only at number 22. Coffee consumption proves highest in the land of the midnight sun: Finland and Norway rank #1 among the top coffee drinking countries in the world, although the Netherlands and Slovenia are not far behind.

There are over 21,000 Starbucks locations alone in the world (with about 12,000 of those being in the U.S.) and our consumption continues to rise. Global demand is expected to increase by an extra 40-50 million bags of coffee over the next decade which is more than Brazil’s entire yearly production. With the current threats to coffee crops that come with climate change, the world could possibly face a severe coffee shortage.

Coffee beans themselves have little to no taste at all. The flavor, the aroma of coffee: it all comes from the roasting process which releases a large number of chemicals from the tiny bean. In fact, the average cup of coffee contains more than 1,000 chemicals. To transfer those delicious chemicals to the hot water in our cup, we run water over those roasted beans. To increase our success, we both grind the beans to increase their surface area (and thus more exposure of those chemicals to the water) and heat the water since higher temperatures (and thus energies) speed up the removal of molecules from a solid.


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The Healthcare Standard

Government Warns Against Marijuana Use For Young People and Pregnant Women

The federal government issued new health advisories on the risks of marijuana use for youth and pregnant women, among other vulnerable groups.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Surgeon General Jerome Adams said at a briefing in Washington Thursday that the government is now looking to expand its work in research, education and prevention efforts surrounding the use of the drug.

And Azar and Adams noted that President Trump donated $100,000 of his presidential paycheck to efforts on the digital side of the department’s plan to combat the marijuana culture.

The new advisory is intended to raise awareness about “the known and potential harms to developing brains, posed by the increasing availability of highly potent marijuana in multiple, concentrated forms.”

While marijuana use has surged in recent years as more states have moved to relax laws on recreational use, health experts warn that pregnant women in particular face increased risks because this demographic uses marijuana more than any other illicit drug, often to try to control nausea from morning sickness.


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The Healthcare Standard

Fitbit Unveils New Health Ventures

On the heels of a lackluster quarter for the wearables developer, Fitbit unveiled what’s in store for next quarter: It’s plunging head-on into new health initiatives, MobiHealthNews reports.

Among the new initiatives are boosted smartwatch health features — including sleep-quality trackers and a voice skill from Amazon’s Alexa that can initiate exercise regimens — as well as a health-focused subscription program, dubbed Fitbit Premium. We have posited that Fitbit should build out its health division to recoup from lagging revenue— and its recent announcement gives us a glimpse into how it’s narrowing in on this space.

Here’s what it means: Fitbit’s new health-focused ventures portend the opportunity for new and expanded relationships with healthcare partners.

The bigger picture: While Fitbit’s health services and new features could propel its health play forward, they could also put it up against new competitors.


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The Healthcare Standard

Harbour BioMed, PPD Pen Cancer and Immunology Drug Development Collab

Biotech Harbour BioMed has teamed up with CRO PPD to work on creating new oncology and immunology meds.

The Shanghai-based biotech Harbour BioMed has been around since 2016, and got off an impressive $85 million series B this time last year. The biotech, helmed by ex-Sanofi executives, is working on a series of drugs, including an HER2-CD3 bispecific antibody and an anti-PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor.

Harbour has ceded a huge head start to leading checkpoint inhibitors such as Keytruda and Opdivo, which are making billions and been around since 2014, but it sees value in owning a PD-L1 antibody for use in combinations.

Its cancer assets, plus an in-licensed anti-FcRn autoimmune drug, are the most advanced internal programs in development at Harbour, but they represent just a slice of its activities. The biotech has used the platforms it gained in the takeover of Harbour Antibodies to kickstart its internal early-stage research activities and land agreements with companies including BeiGene.


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The Healthcare Standard

Intuit Adds Health Insurance Benefits to QBO Payroll

Intuit has added medical, dental and vision benefits capabilities to QuickBooks Online Payroll through an integration with SimplyInsured.

SimplyInsured is an online platform that helps small businesses compare and purchase employee medical, dental and vision insurance plans. Users of QuickBooks Online Payroll can now compare plans side by side to find the one that best fits their business and budget. Once a business owner has chosen a plan, he or she can apply through QuickBooks Online Payroll. Employers can also manage relevant business details, including payroll and health insurance benefits, within QuickBooks.

The move is one step closer to making QuickBooks a one-stop shop for small businesses and their accountants. QuickBooks recently conducted a survey of small business owners and HR professionals, and found that 71 percent of small businesses with 1 to 50 employees already offer their employees some kind of health insurance benefits. Two-thirds of the respondents said offering health insurance is very important for attracting employees and 58 percent said it was very important for retaining employees.

For the 29 percent of small businesses who don’t currently offer health benefits, more than one-third (36 percent) said they had no idea how much offering health insurance for employees would cost, and nearly half (45 percent) said they did not know what steps to take to get group health insurance for their employees. The majority (56 percent), however, said they would be more inclined to purchase health insurance if it were linked to another product, like payroll. Given these findings, QuickBooks aims to encourage more business owners to offer health insurance for their employees, as it’s now easier to navigate and manage.


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The Healthcare Standard

NWT Government on the Receiving End of a Health Privacy Breach Lawsuit

Law firms are moving to file a lawsuit against the Northwest Territories government, holding the government liable for the various health privacy breaches that have occurred over the last decade.

Three law firms – Cooper Regal, Guardian Law, and James H. Brown & Associates – joined forces after discovering they were pursuing similar claims, and the group plans to file a statement of claim with the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories this week. According to Steven Cooper, one of the lawyers involved with the movement, the NWT does not have class action legislation, so they plan to use a representative action.

Cooper also told CBC News that the lawsuit could apply to tens of thousands of people and will resemble a class action. The representative action will cover several breaches, including the theft of a laptop which contained the health data of 80% of NWT residents, as well as an incident in which hundreds of confidential health files were found abandoned within a banker’s box at the Fort Simpson dump.


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The Healthcare Standard

What Happens If You Don’t Pay a Hospital Bill?

As Americans sink under medical expenses, debt collectors go to great—and sometimes strange—lengths to collect.

On March 8, 2011, Joclyn Krevat, an occupational therapist in New York, was sitting at her computer when she received a most unusual LinkedIn request. The wording was the familiar: “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” The sender was familiar, too, but not for the reason Krevat expected. It was from a debt collector.

Karen Pollack, the head of a debt-collections practice called KP Recovery Solutions, had been trying to collect on some medical bills Krevat had recently incurred for a heart transplant. Krevat’s debts, which were reviewed by The Atlantic, made up plot points in the worst kind of American health-care horror story. In December 2009, Krevat, who was 32 at the time, thought she was coming down with the flu. Instead, she was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with giant cell myocarditis, a severe inflammatory heart disease that can lead to heart failure. After seven weeks on life support, a heart became available, and she had a heart transplant. For a year afterward, she wasn’t able to return to work.


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The Healthcare Standard

Helping Children and Adolescents with Mental Health Difficulties

UNLV Medicine’s Mojave CounselingYouth Clinic offers assistance tosome of Nevada’s youngest patients.

Responses to the questions below reflect input from the entire mental health team at the Mojave Counseling Youth Clinic, which is under the direction of Dr. Alison Netski, chair of the UNLV School of Medicine department of psychiatry and behavioral health.

There are many differences to consider when therapeutically assisting children versus adults. Adults are able to express their needs and feelings verbally and voluntarily participate in their care. Children often struggle with describing their feelings, are fearful about sharing their feelings, fears, and aspirations with new people and struggle to understand their actions and challenging events in their lives.

Adults speak for themselves, while children often communicate with their actions or caregivers need to tell part of the story. That’s why it’s so important to empower children in the therapeutic process. Helping children by definition means helping their caregivers, whether they are biological parents, relatives, foster parents, adoptive parents, or group home workers. Caregivers are educated about mental health, and parenting practices that will be best suited for that child’s condition, age, and temperament are encouraged.  When providing therapy for children, the entire family system is engaged in the change process.  Each member of the family impacts every other member; this in turn impacts the entire family system. When the child, or any other member, makes positive change, the entire structure and functioning of the family is improved.


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