KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Company Creates Cottages For Aging, Disabled Relatives; Report Examines Rising Costs For Elderly Health Care

The Washington Post: "On Monday, N2Care, a company formed by a Methodist minister in Salem, Va., showed off its first MedCottage, a 12-by-24-foot prototype filled with biometric technology that would allow a family and health-care providers to monitor the condition of an aging or disabled relative. … [T]he Virginia General Assembly this year passed legislation, HB1307, that supersedes local zoning laws and allows families to install such a dwelling on their property with a doctor's order." AARP views local zoning laws as "one of the biggest obstacles to making such dwellings a practical solution to caring for aging family members in what it calls 'accessory dwelling units.'" Detractors have said such dwellings could create neighborhood conflicts and "worry that the setup could lead to cases of neglect involving elderly or disabled occupants of the dwellings" (Kunkle, 7/20).

Senior Journal: "Senior citizens in America are enjoying longer lives, better health and better economic security but the cost of health care for the elderly has risen dramatically, according to Older Americans 2010: Key Indicators of Well-Being, which was released today by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Older Americans 2010, the fifth report prepared by the Forum since 2000, provides an updated, accessible compendium of indicators, drawn from the most reliable official statistics about the well-being of Americans primarily age 65 and older" (7/19).

MedPage Today examines the same report and notes that "the cost of healthcare for people over age 65 has almost doubled in recent years. ... Healthcare costs averaged $15,081 per person in 2006 (after adjusting for inflation) compared with $9,224 in 1992, according to the report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics that examined dozens of health indicators among older people." The report analyzed 37 key indicators while the data come from 15 different government agencies. It "found that the largest component of healthcare costs was hospital and physician spending, following by long-term care facilities, then prescription drug cost, which have increased rapidly, from about $600 in 1992, to over $2,000 in 2004. In 2006, over half of out-of-pocket healthcare spending by people over 65 was on prescription drugs. People over 65 with no chronic health conditions spent an average of $5,186 a year on health care, while older people living with five or more chronic health conditions incurred annual health care costs averaging $25,132" (Walker, 7/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.