Five Health Care Issues the Candidates Aren’t Talking About — But Should Be
The nation in the next few years faces many important decisions about health care — most of which have little to do with the controversial federal health law. Here are five issues candidates should be discussing, but largely are not:
- Out-of-pocket spending. As insurers have shortened their lists of “in network” doctors and hospitals, another out-of-pocket spending problem is becoming more common: The “surprise medical bill.” Those are bills for services provided outside of a patient’s insurance network that the patient did not know was out-of-network when he or she sought care.
- Drugs — more than prices: Rising drug prices at the pharmacy counter have also proved problematic for patients.
- Long-term care. Every day, another 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 and qualify for Medicare. An estimated 70 percent of people who reach that threshold will need some sort of long-term care.
- Medicare. Medicare, which provides health insurance to an estimated 55 million people — 46 million older than age 65 and another 9 million with disabilities, is also in a financial bind.
- Dental care. Research has shown repeatedly that care for the mouth and teeth is inextricably linked to the rest of the body. Oral problems have been linked to conditions as diverse as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Social Security: Where Clinton and Trump Stand
Social Security is one of the most vital issues for older Americans. And, as things now stand, unless the Social Security system is changed, benefits will be cut by 21 percent in 2034, due to solvency issues. The only way to shore up Social Security is by raising taxes, cutting benefits (which could include raising the retirement age) or both. Forbes Magazine has prepared a head-to-head rundown on where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton stand — as best as anyone can tell. Incidentally, Trump’s website makes little mention of Social Security; most of his policy positions come from what he has said in debates or speeches. Clinton’s site has more details about her proposals and she has fleshed them out elsewhere. Both recently gave a pretty good summation of their views to AARP. Two caveats: Trump’s positions sometimes differ from the Republican Party platform, are still unknown or may change if he’s elected. Some of Clinton’s positions have been evolving (her threshold for higher payroll taxes is new, for instance) or are vague.