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November 2017


In the News

Nursing home residents having coffee

Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

How Many Americans Will Need Nursing Home Care and At What Cost?

The average American's lifetime risk of using a nursing home is substantially greater than previously thought, with more than half of individuals needing a nursing home stay during their lifetime, according to a new study. For most people, these stays will be short and relatively affordable. But a small portion of people will have long nursing home stays and similarly skewed out-of-pocket spending, costing $47,000 or more over their lifetime

Insurance—public or private—will completely cover the costs for about four in 10 nursing home residents. Principal researcher Michael Hurd explained, "Medicaid is the most important payer for nursing homes, covering a greater proportion of costs than individuals and families pay out-of-pocket." These findings suggest that as baby boomers age, families, and policymakers may want to consider the likelihood of future needs for nursing home care.

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Featured Research

Challenges to the Sustainability of the U.S. Public Cord Blood System

Doctor inspecting a blood bag

choja/Getty Images

A recent review finds that public umbilical cord blood banks supported by the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) provide benefits that far outweigh their costs, even though use of cord blood stem cells from the banks has been declining relative to transplants using other stem cell sources.

Transplanted stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to provide lifesaving treatment to people with leukemia and other serious disorders, and are the only stem cell source for many individuals who cannot find a donor match. The authors of the study find that there are options for policymakers to help improve the system's sustainability including revising the subsidy structure of the NCBI or changing Medicare reimbursement for stem cells.

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Treating Addiction in Primary Care Settings

A doctor explains treatment to a patient

STEEX/Getty Images

Patients who enrolled in a program that combined substance abuse treatment with primary medical care were more than twice as likely to receive treatment for opioid or alcohol abuse, as compared to peers who received usual primary care services. The patients in the collaborative care model also were significantly more likely to report abstinence from opioids or alcohol six month after beginning care, a key marker to successful recovery.

"This new model of integrating treatment for substance use disorders with a patient's primary medical care could expand access to drug treatment at a lower cost and in a more accessible fashion," said Dr. Katherine E. Watkins, the study's lead author and a senior physician scientist at RAND.

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Savings from a Single-Payer Health System Would Not Be Automatic

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at an event to announce the Medicare for All Act of 2017, photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Jodi Liu, The Hill

“Discussion of single-payer health care systems increased somewhat [recently]...and polls have shown increasing public support for single payer. Yet there is no agreement on how to set up and pay for a single-payer system in the U.S. or how much that system would cost. Advocates assert that a single-payer system would cost less than the status quo, but the savings are not automatic, and how much it would save is far from clear.”

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Four Steps That Could Stabilize the Health Insurance Market

Healthcare professional reviews insurance with a patient, photo by asiseeit/Getty Images

Christine Eibner, The Hill

“Since the Affordable Care Act's major requirements took effect in 2014, insurers have had trouble finding their sea legs in the individual health insurance market, which now provides coverage to about 22 million Americans. Here are four options Congress could consider to stabilize the individual market and ensure that all Americans have access to affordable coverage...”

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Anticipating Harvey's Toll on Health and Health Care

Residents wade through flood waters from tropical storm Harvey, photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Mahshid Abir and Richard Serino, U.S. News & World Report

“With each passing day, challenges to the health of affected communities and the health care systems that serve them are expected to grow… Among the key takeaways from Katrina and Sandy: expect significant health care needs from individuals with chronic diseases, including mental health, and anticipate increased demand for acute care resources in regional emergency departments and hospitals.”

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