Bugatti Testing at Least Three Different Concepts for Veyron Successor

Bugatti Testing at Least Three Different Concepts for Veyron Successor Bugatti Testing at Least Three Different Concepts for Veyron Successor
As the final Bugatti Veryons are finding their way to owners, the company is looking ahead to see what will replace it. The Veyron successor has some big shoes to fill as the original car was one of the fastest, most powerful production cars ever released. The company is testing at least three different concepts regarding… more

Twitter chat: What are the care options for older American singles?

What does long term care look like for unmarried Americans in their "golden" years? Photo by ABC Studios

What does long term care look like for unmarried Americans in their “golden” years? Photo by ABC Studios

While the number of single adults is growing in the U.S., the number of Americans over age 65 also is on the rise.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that the number of older Americans increased by 18 percent, or 6.3 million, from 2000 to 2011. This trend is likely to continue, due in part to the aging baby boomer generation. Baby boomers also likely are contributing to the rise in U.S. singles. One in three baby boomers was unmarried as of 2012, the Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University found.

What does long term care look like for unmarried elderly Americans, and what different options are available? How do the needs of older singles differ from their married counterparts? What are the unique challenges faced by this growing demographic? How does marital status impact access to services such as Medicare and Social Security?

We will explore these questions and more in a Twitter chat from 1-2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 2.

Albert Terrillion (@selfmanage_sma) and Ramsey Alwin of the National Council on Aging will join the conversation, along with Eric Klinenberg (@ericklinenberg), a professor of sociology at New York University and author of “Going Solo”, which looks at the impact of the increasing number of people living alone.

Follow the discussion on Twitter and share your thoughts using #NewsHourChats.

The post Twitter chat: What are the care options for older American singles? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

As Medicare open enrollment nears, here’s what we know so far

Stock image of hospital

Stock image of hospital

Medicare beneficiaries who want to make changes to their prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage coverage can do so starting Oct. 15 during the Medicare’s program’s annual open enrollment period. There will be somewhat fewer plans to pick from this year, but in general people will have plenty of options, experts say.

And although premiums aren’t expected to rise markedly overall in 2015 — and in some cases may actually decline — some individual plans have signaled significantly higher rates. Rather than rely on the sticker price of a plan alone, it’s critical that beneficiaries compare the available options in their area to make sure they’re in the plan that covers the drugs and doctors they need at the best price.

The annual open enrollment period is also a once-a-year opportunity to switch to a private Medicare Advantage plan from the traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan or vice versa. Open enrollment ends Dec. 7.

Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released some specifics about 2015 premiums and plans, many details about provider networks, drug formularies and the like won’t be available until later this fall. Here’s what we know so far:

Standalone Prescription Drug Plans

The number of Part D standalone prescription drug plans (PDPs) will drop 14 percent, to 1001 plans. This is the smallest number of offerings since the Medicare Part D program began in 2006.

Even so, “seniors across the country will still have a choice of at least two dozen plans in their area,” says Tricia Neuman, director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

The drug plan consolidations that are driving the reductions in choices will likely shift many beneficiaries into lower cost plans, resulting in an average premium decline of 2 percent, to $38.95, according to an analysis by Avalere Health.

But that overall average premium obscures significant price hikes by some of the biggest plans. The average premium for the WellCare Classic plan, for example, will increase 52 percent in 2015, to $31.46, while the Humana Walmart RxPlan premium will rise 24 percent, to $15.67, according to Avalere.

Insurers are expected to continue to shift more costs to beneficiaries next year. The percentage of PDP plans with no deductible will decline to 42 percent from 47 percent, and,once again, about three quarters of plans won’t offer any coverage in the “donut hole” — the coverage gap in which beneficiaries are responsible for shouldering a greater share of their drug costs.

Underscoring the importance of evaluating plan options, 70 percent of standalone drug plan members will likely see their premiums increase if they stick with the same plans in 2015, said Ross Blair, senior vice president for eHealthMedicare.com, an online vendor.

Seniors, though, have historically not voluntarily switched plans in great numbers during annual enrollment. Between 2006 and 2010, on average only 13 percent did so, according to a 2013 analysis by researchers at Georgetown University, KFF and the University of Chicago.

Medicare Advantage

Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans continues to grow: 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are now in the private plans, which typically are managed care plans that often provide additional benefits such as vision and dental coverage. Concerns that Medicare Advantage plans would disappear in large numbers as the health law gradually reduces their payments to bring them in line with the traditional Medicare program have proven unfounded to date. In 2015, the number of plans will drop by 3 percent, to 2,450, continuing a gradual decline.

“You still have lots of plans and robust selection,” said Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health, a research and consulting firm. Some parts of the country appear to be harder hit by plan reductions than others, including the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, Pearson said.

Medicare Advantage coverage has always been concentrated in health maintenance organizations, and this trend will continue in 2015. The number of HMOs will increase by 1.5 percent, to 1,747, while the number of preferred provider organizations will drop by nearly 9 percent, to 541, according to Avalere. About two-thirds of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are currently in HMOs, while 31 percent are in PPOs.

The average premium will increase by $2.94 to $33.90, but nearly two-thirds of beneficiaries won’t see any premium increase, according to CMS. Like standalone drug plans, however, fewer Medicare Advantage drug plans will offer no deductibles and gap coverage, according to Avalere.

“It’s one example of how plans are tightening up coverage,” and pushing more costs onto consumers, said Pearson.

This article was produced by Kaiser Health News with support from The SCAN Foundation. Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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