- We spend a lot on health care. The U.S. spent about $1,443 a person on health care in 2016. The next highest: Switzerland, which shelled out $939 per person.
- But it’s not because we use it much more often. For the most part, people in the U.S. used health care services about as often as people in other countries.
- Prices for goods, like prescription drugs, seem to play a big part. Take the cholesterol drug Crestor, with a list price of $86 per month in the U.S., but $41 in Germany and $9 in Australia.
- So do labor costs, such as physician salaries. General physicians in the U.S. had the highest salary of any country in the study, making $218,173 on average, compared to $154,126 in Germany, which had the next highest salary.”
“In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America” – The New York Times
“RICHMOND, Va. — Before the first hearings on the morning docket, the line starts to clog the lobby of the John Marshall Courthouse. No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. ‘Put it in your car,’ the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby.
“This courthouse handles every eviction in Richmond, a city with one of the highest eviction rates in the country, according to new data covering dozens of states and compiled by a team led by the Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond.
Two years ago, Mr. Desmond turned eviction into a national topic of conversation with ‘Evicted,’ a book that chronicled how poor families who lost their homes in Milwaukee sank ever deeper into poverty. It became a favorite among civic groups and on college campuses, some here in Richmond. Bill Gates and former President Obama named it among the best books they had read in 2017, and it was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
But for all the attention the problem began to draw, even Mr. Desmond could not say how widespread it was.”
Continue reading this New York Times article, click here.
“A new report finds the U.S. spent nearly twice as much on health care in 2016 as 10 other high-income countries — but by and large, our health outcomes are worse. The U.S. had the highest maternal and infant mortality rates and the lowest life expectancy of the 11 countries included in the study. So what’s driving that difference in spending? A look at the numbers:
A new Kaiser Family Foundation brief and interactive map provide the latest national and state-level estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau of the share of people ages 65 and older who are living in poverty. In 2016, 9.3 percent of seniors, or 4.6 million people, lived in poverty, based on the official poverty threshold of $11,511 in income for an individual age 65 or older. That year 30.4 percent, or 15 million seniors, had income under twice the poverty threshold. Under an alternative measure of poverty, known as the Supplemental Poverty Measure, the analysis shows a larger share and number of seniors living below poverty thresholds. That measure, developed in response to concerns that the official measure does not accurately reflect people’s financial resources or liabilities, takes into account out-of-pocket health care costs, regional variation in housing costs and other factors.
Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure, 14.5 percent of people ages 65 and older, or 7.1 million, were living in poverty in 2016—2.5 million more seniors in poverty than under the official measure. And under this measure, 42.4 percent, or 20.9 million people, had incomes below twice the poverty level—5.9 million more seniors than under the official poverty measure.
SOURCE: Kaiser Family Foundation
There’s a fiction at the heart of the debate over entitlements: The carefully cultivated impression that beneficiaries are simply receiving back their ‘own’ money.”
by Eric Schnurer
“One day in 1984, Kurt Vonnegut called.
“I was ditching my law school classes to work on the presidential campaign of Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate against Ronald Reagan, when one of those formerly-ubiquitous pink telephone messages was delivered to me saying that Vonnegut had called, asking to speak to one of Mondale’s speechwriters.
“All sorts of people called to talk to the speechwriters with all sorts of whacky suggestions; this certainly had to be the most interesting. I stared at the 212 phone number on the pink slip, picked up a phone, and dialed.
“A voice, so gravelly and deep that it seemed to lie at the outer edge of the human auditory range, rasped, ‘Hello.’ I introduced myself. There was a short pause, as if Vonnegut were fixing his gaze on me from the other end of the line, then he spoke.
“It’s the grandparents stealing from the grandchildren.”
Click here to continue reading this provocative and controversial opinion piece at The Atlantic.
by Diane Archer
“The 2018 standard monthly Medicare Part B premium, which covers medical and outpatient care, remains at $134.00, the same as in 2017, for people with incomes of $85,000 or less. But, only about three in ten people with Medicare have been paying that standard premium. Now, millions of other people who have been paying a lower monthly Medicare Part B premium will see a large increase in their premium because their Social Security benefits are increasing 2 percent.
“How Tax Reform Proposals Would Impact America’s Older Adults
“Tax reform is speeding through Congress, and the rapid pace means few people understand what’s in the latest proposals and how they would be affected.
“The legislation, totaling more than $5 trillion over 10 years, has tremendous implications for our nation. Yet, the House passed its bill just two weeks after it was introduced, without a single hearing.
“Below is our effort to provide the most reliable, factual information available about how current versions of the tax proposals would affect older Americans.”
Keep reading this article to find out more about senior programs being threatened by the hastily constructed tax bill.
“We have been working hard to help individuals with a disability and older Pennsylvanians to live where and how they choose, just as any of us would want,” Governor Wolf said. “This new website is a tremendous tool to help you or your loved one make the best and most informed decision about care and services.”
The website is a collaboration between the departments of Aging (PDA) and Human Services (DHS), and serves as an extension of PDA’s Aging and Disability Resource call center. With this online resource the commonwealth is adding to its continuing efforts to help Pennsylvanians locate and get the best use of services at the local level.
“Our capacity to link seniors and their families with community resources is critical to helping them live and age well at home,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “Today’s launch empowers older Pennsylvanians and their caregivers to proactively explore the service options that are available to them as they seek to remain independent and age in place.”
The site features 12 service and support categories, including Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Employment, Finance, Health Care, Housing, In-Home Services, Legal, Meals, Protection from Abuse, Support Groups, and Transportation.
Users can find information about organizations, services, and programs within these categories. One major component to the site is its home care directory, which connects individuals to in-home services available in their county. More than 350 in-home service providers appearing on the searchable directory may offer personal care, assistance with activities of daily living, companionship services, respite care, and/or habilitation services.
“We are committed to serving Pennsylvanians where they want to be – in their homes and communities,” said DHS Acting Secretary Teresa Miller. “This website is a great resource to connect an individual to the services they need to provide a choice in where they live.”
Following the launch of Pennsylvania Link to Community Care, the departments of Aging and Human Services will continue to enhance the website using data and feedback from users, and expand the resources and information provided throughout the site. If you are a provider licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and would like to appear on the home care directory, you may submit your information by navigating to the footer of the site and clicking on “Apply.”
To learn more about the Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website, or to find information on resources available in your county, visit www.carelink.pa.gov.
Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 66 million Americans will increase 2.0 percent in 2018, the Social Security Administration announced recently.
The 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 61 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2018. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 29, 2017. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits) The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $128,700 from $127,200. Of the estimated 175 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2018, about 12 million will pay more because of the increase in the taxable maximum.
Information about Medicare changes for 2018, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
Here is a fact sheet showing the effect of the various automatic adjustments.