KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Medical Care For Elderly: When ‘Can We Do Something?’ Becomes ‘Should We Do Something?’

In a culture that overuses high-tech medicine to extend life, medical professionals and elderly patients are starting to look at end-of-life care differently. “Some people think giving up on treatment is tantamount to suicide,” one doctors says, but in many cases it can be the right choice. In other news, working past age 65 can take a toll on an employee's health.

USA Today: To Treat Or Not? Question Looms For Elderly And Sick
Millions of families in our aging nation face [a] delicate decision about when to use life-extending but potentially-grueling treatment on the elderly and sick — and the medical world is responding. This year for the first time, Medicare began reimbursing doctors for having end-of-life discussions as a separate, billable service. And health experts are increasingly examining the issue, with three recent end-of-life studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association among the growing body of research. (Ungar, 2/17)

The Associated Press: For Some, Desire To Work Past 65 Can Often Be Problematic
Earl Johnston was 12 when he got his first job, a paper route that he quickly expanded by "buying out" additional routes from other, less industrious boys. After high school, he enrolled in a program to become an industrial electrician. Like many people in the prime of their working life Johnston, now 56, always thought he would have plenty set aside for retirement, and if he didn't, he could always work a little longer. "At least up to 65," he thought. What Johnston didn't plan for was the degenerative spinal condition that made being on his feet for a 12-hour shift all but impossible. (Allington, 2/18)

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