Feb 20, 2020 - Health

Turning 80 could have unintended consequences on heart health

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Having already turned 80 could be a huge deal for patients who have heart attacks, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported on by STAT.

Details: While 7% of Medicare enrollees who were a few weeks shy of their 80th birthday and who had been admitted to the hospital with heart attacks received bypass surgery, only 5.3% of patients who had just turned 80 did, the study found.

Between the lines: "To arbitrarily — and perhaps, unknowingly — fixate on the threshold at which patients pass from their 70s into their 80s seems like an example of what's called the 'left-digit bias' — our tendency to pay more attention to the digit we read first," STAT writes.

  • The concept is similar to when we think $4.99 is a much better deal than $5.01.

Go deeper: Seniors struggle to afford health care

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Medicare clarifies which procedures hospitals should postpone

Photo: Agence Photographique BSIP via Getty Images

Hospitals and surgery centers should delay less urgent procedures like carpal tunnel surgeries, cataract surgeries, colonoscopies and joint replacements, but they should not postpone more serious care such as cancer treatments, brain surgeries, transplants, trauma care and major heart surgeries, according to new recommendations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Why it matters: Health care providers are delaying elective care to keep beds open and to prevent patients from catching the new coronavirus, but that does not mean patients should be cut off from lifesaving treatments if they need them.

Medicare issues new telehealth flexibility amid coronavirus crisis

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Medicare said yesterday that it will temporarily pay providers for a much broader range of telehealth services.

Why it matters: This will allow seniors — who are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus — to avoid going to hospitals or doctors' offices for routine care that can be provided virtually. This, in turn, reduces their exposure to the virus.

Go deeperArrowMar 18, 2020 - Health

Patients will bear the burden of hospitals' coronavirus preparation

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump administration is urging hospitals to postpone elective surgeries to make room for coronavirus patients — and hospitals do need to free up more beds.

Yes, but: It's worth remembering that "elective" is a broad term, and these decisions — even if they're the right ones — will have real consequences for real patients.

Go deeperArrowMar 19, 2020 - Health