Posts Tagged "nutrition"
January 24, 2023
Medicare to Cover 3 New Dental Procedures
“Is it medically necessary for a person to be able to chew?” Dr. Lisa Simon, a physician and dentist at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, asks.
This is a serious question for older Americans in fragile health. I know a 93-year-old man whose teeth problems make it extremely difficult for him to eat meat and many other foods on the dinner table.
Two-thirds of retirees do not have dental insurance, which means they may decide to forgo getting expensive dental care. The importance of dental care to nutrition and health is also an equity issue for older Blacks and low-income retirees, who are more likely to be missing all of their teeth.
Medicare has historically paid for very few dental procedures. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has expanded its existing, limited coverage to include treating patients who have oral infections prior to an organ transplant and patients who need a cardiac procedure or treatment of head and neck cancers.
Simon, who advocates for integrating dental care into overall medical care, argues in the journal Health Affairs that Medicare’s expansion of coverage for medically necessary procedures does not go far enough.
“These provisions are an overly narrow interpretation of what makes a health care service ‘necessary,’ ” Simon writes.
She lists several examples of medically necessary conditions that don’t seem to fit Medicare’s updated definition. They include cancer patients who have oral inflammation during chemotherapy, diabetes patients with periodontal disease, and elderly women being treated for osteoporosis with injections that put them at risk of painful jaw deterioration. …Learn More
September 13, 2022
How Disabilities are Tied to Food Insecurity
People with disabilities have high rates of food insecurity because they earn less or can’t work at all. Add to that their unusually large expenses for health care and assistive equipment like wheelchairs and special computers.
But the roots of food insecurity run deeper than just the financial constraints. Even middle-income people with disabilities are more food insecure, which the USDA defines as either deficiencies in nutrition or not having enough to eat.
Part of the problem is where they tend to live, according to a new Urban Institute study. Counties with unusually large disability populations have fewer places to shop for groceries and an oversupply of fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and small grocery stores with limited shelf space. Snack foods and sweet beverages are abundant in these establishments but the selection of fruits, vegetables and lean meats is limited.
A shortage of stores that sell healthy food is a bigger problem in the cities with the highest disability rates than in similar rural areas, the researchers found. But food deserts – a shortage of options for grocery shopping – are more concentrated in the less populated Southeast and Appalachia, as well as rural pockets in Maine, Michigan and New Mexico. The researchers used two sources of disability data: general disability rates in the U.S. Census, as well as data on people with disabilities severe enough to qualify them for Social Security benefits.
Two rural municipalities dramatically illustrate the difference in access to food establishments between areas with high and low disability rates. One in four residents reported having a disability in Hickman, a city tucked into the southwestern corner of Kentucky. But Hickman has fewer than three establishments that sell food for each 1,000 residents.
At the other extreme, Billings, Montana’s disability rate is half that of Hickman’s and there are 13 food establishments per 1,000 residents. …Learn More
May 2, 2019
Retiring Can Strain Food Budgets
More than 10 percent of the nation’s retirees struggle with hunger.
New research offers one explanation: when people retire and give up a regular paycheck, they sometimes adjust to having less income by reducing their food intake.
After retiring, the men in the study ate 17 percent less protein, which becomes more important as people age. Their total calorie intake also dropped 19 percent, and their Vitamin E consumption fell 16 percent, on average, according to researchers at the University of Michigan and University of Delaware. The retirees also cut back on several other nutrients.
This contradicts previous studies, which had failed to uncover a link between diet and retirement income. Skeptical of the findings, the researchers did an exhaustive study that used various types of analyses and several datasets to follow male heads of households from employment through retirement. They controlled for race, education, household size, and health.
They consistently found, across several data sources, that a drop in income reduces food intake. In fact, the effect was so large that it exceeded the impact of another dramatic financial event: unemployment among working-age people.
Although a small minority of seniors are threatened by hunger, it’s a serious problem. …Learn More