Friday March 6, 2015

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Consumer-Driven Health News



High Medical Expenses Haunt Retirees, But Insurance and Creativity Can Save the Day

The fear of not having enough cash in retirement to pay for medical care is very real for millions of Americans. The diagnosis from experts: get as much insurance as you can afford, be creative with tools such as health savings accounts and expect to pay more than you think for health care expenses during retirement.

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The HSA and 401(k): Partners in Investment

More people are beginning to use their health savings accounts in conjunction with their 401(k)s to reduce taxable income and save for retirement. When HSAs were first introduced just over ten years ago, they were seen primarily as accounts that people with high-deductible health plans used for paying their annual qualified medical expenses. Today, peoples’ HSA funds are growing nest eggs—sitting in mutual funds, stocks, and bonds--until they’re needed for during the retirement years--or sooner.

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Even Insured Consumers Get Hit With Unexpectedly Large Medical Bills

Many consumers who take pains to research which doctors and hospitals participate in their plans can still end up with huge bills. Sometimes, that’s because they got incorrect or incomplete information from their insurer or health-care provider. Sometimes, it’s because a physician has multiple offices, and not all are in network. Sometimes, it’s because a participating hospital relies on out-of-network doctors, including emergency room physicians, anesthesiologists and radiologists.

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Here's a First: January Hospital Prices Lower Than a Year Ago

The prices that health insurers paid to acute-care hospitals declined in January compared with the same month a year ago, a first since federal officials began to collect such data. Public sector and private payer efforts to push down costs could explain the drop, experts said.

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CVS Warns New Cholesterol Drugs Could Break the Health Care Bank

CVS Health warned that costs of a potent new class of cholesterol treatments and other specialty drugs in development could eclipse those of expensive new medicines and overwhelm the health care system “if rigid cost control mechanisms are not put in place.” CVS noted that two of the new injectable cholesterol fighters could be approved by mid-2015 and likely each cost $7,000 to $12,000 a year.

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