weekly blog--one for the ages
A new experimental Alzheimer's disease vaccine showed promising results during recent testing in mice, and researchers are hopeful the vaccine will make it to human trials soon. The vaccine works by prompting the body to produce antibodies that reduce the buildup of amyloid and tau. Both proteins are typically indicative of the degenerative brain disease's presence in the body. According to the Alzheimer's Assocation, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. About 5.7 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's and researchers predict that number will rise to 14 million by 2050. Between 2000 and 2015, deaths related to Alzheimer's disease increased by 123 percent. (Newsweek)
Earlier this week, the Trump administration proposed changes to Medicare’s prescription drug benefit in an effort to lower costs for beneficiaries and modernize the program that covers about 60 million people. The changes focus on private Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug plans offered by private insurers, and would not take place until the year 2020 at the earliest.
One change would give more leeway for insurers to exclude a specific drug in Medicare’s six protected classes of medication. Those classes include antidepressants, drugs to treat psychosis, anti-seizure medications, cancer drugs, medications to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, and HIV-AIDS drugs. The power to exclude a drug gives insurers more leverage to obtain lower prices from drug makers. These proposed changes could run into strong opposition from patient advocacy groups, which derailed a similar effort by the Obama administration. (AP)
Somewhat new to the insurance market: hybrid long-term care plans that feature life-insurance benefits. In this scenario, a policyholder would withdraw funds from the policy when they are needed for long-term care, and the insurance company pays for care when those funds run out. And if the policyholder dies without having needed expensive long-term care, the heirs receive a death benefit. (WSJ)
A key finding from a report recently released by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (Tilda): the quality of life for older people peaks at 68 and then gradually declines until age 80, after which it decreases at a significantly faster rate. The study has tracked 8,000 adults aged 50 and above since 2010. Adults who have the highest levels of social integration, such as large social networks and positive supportive friendships, reported the highest quality of life. The study also found that women were twice as likely to report positive supportive friendships compared with men. (London Times)