Trending News Today: More Than Half of Seriously Ill Medicare Patients Struggle to Pay Medical Bills

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

A new Health Affairs study found that more than half of seriously ill Medicare enrollees face financial hardships with medical bills, The Associated Press reported. According to the article, the study included Medicare recipients aged 65 years and older, as well as younger beneficiaries who qualified for coverage. Being seriously ill was defined as those with a condition that required 2 or more hospitalizations and visits to 3 or more physicians over the past 3 years. Overall, 53% said they had major trouble paying their medical bills, more than one-third reported using all or most of their savings to pay medical bills, and 30% reported the cost of prescription drugs as their major hardship, the article reported.

Older patients with breast cancer who exercised regularly prior to their diagnosis may have a lower risk of cardiovascular effects from their cancer treatment, Reuters reported. According to the article, researchers analyzed data on 4015 participants in the long-term Women’s Health Initiative study who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, looking at self-reported exercise history for up to 5 years before diagnosis. Compared with women who did not exercise or exercised very little, those who got light to moderate exercise weekly were 20% less likely to experience cardiovascular events in the follow-up period and those who did the greatest amount of moderate-to-vigorous exercise were 37% less likely, the article reported.

Results of a new study indicate that weight counseling for patients with diabetes may be just as effective as conventional medication management for lowering HbA1c, MD Magazine reported. According to the article, the 2-arm clinical trial included more than 200 patients who were randomized to receive either weight management and group medical visits or only group medical visits. Overall, the findings demonstrated that group medical visits combined with weight management was non inferior to conventional medication management of HbA1c and showed advantages in other clinically important outcomes, the article reported.