Health Highlights: Sept. 27, 2017

Sharp Rises Seen in Long-Term Care Costs Major U.S. Study Will Examine Precision Medicine

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Sharp Rises Seen in Long-Term Care Costs

Older Americans are facing rapidly rising long-term care costs, a new survey finds.

The Genworth Financial Inc. poll of 15,000 long-term care providers nationwide revealed that the median cost of services such as adult day care and assisted living rose an average of 4.5 percent this year, the Associated Press reported.

That's the second-highest increase since Genworth's first such survey in 2004.

The sharpest rise was in home health aide services. The cost rose 6 percent, to $21.50 an hour. The survey also found that the most expensive option -- care in a private nursing home -- now costs more than $97,000 a year, the AP reported.

Many Americans don't understand or prepare for long-term care costs until they're faced with them, according to Joe Caldwell of the National Council on Aging, which was not involved in the survey.

"People don't like to think about it and talk about it ahead of time, so they kind of put off planning and saving for it financially because they don't think it's going to happen to them," he told the AP.

One-third of Americans aged 40 and older haven't planned for their long-term care, an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey found.

Private health insurance and Medicare provide only limited help with long-term care costs, and people without private insurance may have to shed their assets until they qualify for Medicaid, according to the wire service.

Caldwell also noted that long-term care coverage costs are also increasing. Initial premiums for long-term care coverage can be more than $2,000 a year, depending on a client's age, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a health care research group, the AP reported.


Major U.S. Study Will Examine Precision Medicine

A groundbreaking study that will examine the interaction between people's genes, environments and lifestyles is being launched by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The "All of Us" study will focus on precision medicine, which uses traits unique to each person to predict health and treat disease, the Associated Press reported.

If a current pilot project involving more than 2,500 people is successful, the NIH plans to open enrollment early next year for more than 1 million adults. Participants will undergo DNA tests and provide details on lifestyle factors such as sleep, exercise and diet.

The study, set to run for at least 10 years, seeks to enroll a wide variety of Americans, especially minorities who have been under-represented in scientific research, the AP reported.

"This looks at individual responses to treatment in a way we couldn't do previously with smaller studies," said NIH Director Francis Collins.

He plans to enroll in the study, saying it's a rare opportunity to be part of an important study rather than the scientist conducting research.

"I'm curious about what this might teach me about myself. I'm pretty healthy right now. I'd like to stay that way," Collins told the AP.

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