Boomers Lag on Preventative Services that Could Help Improve Health

Keeping up with your health as you age can seem difficult. With work, family, bills to pay, and errands to run, you may think that focusing on your health isn’t as important in your middle-aged years, but a recent report shows it’s more important than ever.

Preventative Care in Middle Age

A report by the AARP Public Policy Institute found that most middle-aged adults significantly underuse preventative services that are recommended for their age group and it often leads to detrimental consequences.

Services like mammograms, pap tests, colorectal cancer screenings, and flu shots are suggested to adults during the middle-aged years in their life, but very few actually follow the suggestions and receive these preventative services that could potentially bring an otherwise unknown issue to light.

Currently, 44% of US adults between the ages of 50 and 64 have high blood pressure. In addition to that, 33% of middle-aged adults are obese. These risk factors for diseases such as heart disease and health incidents such as stroke pose serious problems that many people refuse to address. Rather than take part in preventative services and attempt to change their lifestyle for the better, most people simply continue on the path of least resistance and live their unhealthy lifestyle until it causes them more tangible problems.

Few States Keeping Up

Southern states have the highest percentage of risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol. The Northeast, on the other hand, has the highest percentage of preventative services used. Still, even these states didn’t meet the federal targets for usage.

States across the country have target numbers set for the preventative services offered and little to none have actually met the targets proposed by the federal government. Only 5 states met the past year’s colon cancer screening target and Utah is the only state that met the set target for smoking. None of the fifty states met the target for flu vaccinations.

According to the report, anywhere between 25,000 and 40,000 deaths could be prevented annually if middle-aged adults altered their lifestyle to include healthy activities and took advantage of these preventative services.

Healthy Living

Healthy lifestyle factors include quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthful foods, and exercising regularly. Typically, it is the things that unhealthy people take pleasure in like lounging around, eating junk food, and smoking that cause them the most harm in the end.

Making simple lifestyle changes can be extremely effective at lengthening your lifespan and reducing your risk of disease. There’s no doubt that Texans enjoy delicious food, and you don’t have to give that up to be healthy, but moderation is key when it comes to foods that we know aren’t that great for our body. On top of that, getting out of the house and taking a walk, even just for 30 minutes, can make a big difference in your health, as well.

You can access the full report here or read more about how the state of Texas ranks in senior health nationwide.

Low Medicaid Reimbursement Rate Affecting Long Term Care in Texas

recent survey conducted by the Texas Coalition for Long Term Care Business (CLTCB) found that 61.4% of companies with nursing homes as customers have seen a decrease in purchasing from those nursing homes in the past year.

Why Is This Happening?

Nursing homes and other long term care facilities in Texas are currently suffering due to the fact that Texas has the 49th lowest reimbursement rate for Medicaid. The reimbursement rate represents the percentage of total cost that the state government is being compensated for program expenditures by the federal government.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid reimbursement rates were set to increase to at least 100% of Medicare reimbursement rates on January 1, 2013. However, the payments have been delayed for 5 months and the new rates have still not yet been effected.

Consequences of Low Reimbursement Rate

The status of the Medicaid reimbursement rate in Texas means fewer doctors are accepting patients paying with Medicaid. This isn’t because the doctors don’t want to treat them; rather, it is because the doctors and hospitals are actually losing money when they treat patients whose primary form of payment is Medicaid.

When reimbursement rates are low and medical facilities continue to experience a rise in costs, it is simply not feasible to continue business as usual. Operations must be changed to fit the high costs and low reimbursement rates. Usually, in order to avoid dramatically reducing quality of care, the first thing to be cut from the budget is staff.

Financial Woes Becoming A Reality

“A recent statewide survey indicated 72% of nursing homes have already had to reduce staff or freeze benefits,” according to Buddy Parker, a member of CLTCB and representative of First Choice Medical Supply in Garland, Texas.

If the Medicaid reimbursement rate remains low, Long Term Care living facilities in Texas will have to continue slashing costs in order to keep up with the rising prices.

Hilltop Haven, a non-profit nursing home just outside Dallas, Texas, was already forced to shut down in March, due to their inability to “find a sustainable financial model”. Ninety percent of Hilltop Haven’s residents were on Medicaid.

Your Best Option

If you are a Texan and you haven’t considered Long Term Care Insurance, now is the time. A government study estimates that 7 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 will need Long Term Care at some point.

Despite a common misconception, Medicare does NOT cover Long Term Care. In order to qualify for the government subsidized Long Term Care from Medicaid, you must exhaust all of your financial assets. As the recent news in Texas proves, Medicaid may not even be a reliable source of quality care anymore. More facilities are turning towards privately insured business models and cutting the number of Medicaid-eligible patients they accept.

If you live in Texas and have questions about Long Term Care Insurance or are interested in a policy, visit the Texas Long-Term Care Partnership website here.