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U.S. Life Expectancy Falls for Second Straight Year as Drug Overdoses Soar

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Cataldo Ambulance paramedics and firefighters treat a 32-year-old man who was found unresponsive on a sidewalk after overdosing on opioids in Everett, Mass., Aug. 23, 2017.  (Photo Credit: Reuters).

Life expectancy in the United States fell for the second year in a row in 2016 — and it’s clear the epidemic of drug overdoses is to blame, government researchers said Thursday.

Overall life expectancy for a baby born in 2016 fell to 78.6 years, a small decline of 0.1 percent, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) team found. At the same time, mortality from drug overdoses rose by 21 percent.

“This was the first time life expectancy in the U.S. has declined two years in a row since declines in 1962 and 1963,” the NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

“The new report shows the decline in life expectancy occurred despite an overall decline in U.S. mortality,” the statement added.

Life expectancy is affected by mortality rates, but other factors influence mortality rates, including the age of the overall population. So sometimes life expectancy can go down even if mortality also falls.

The number of people who died — not the rate — went up in 2016, however. More than 2.7 million people died in the U.S. that year, with a total of 31,618 more deaths than in 2015.

Drug overdoses accounted for a large proportion of these. The NCHS found that 63,600 people died of drug overdoses in 2016. “The majority of these overdose deaths were unintentional,” the NCHS team, led by Dr. Holly Hedegaard, wrote.

The death rate from drug overdoses rose 18 percent a year from 2014 to 2016, the team reported. In 1999, 6.1 per 100,000 people died from drug overdoses. That rate rose to 19.8 per 100,000 in 2016.

There’s been a big increase in deaths from synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and tramadol. There’s been a somewhat smaller increase in heroin deaths, the team found.

Overdose deaths count as injuries, and unintentional injuries became the third leading cause of death in 2016, after heart disease and cancer. “Chronic lower respiratory diseases, the third leading cause in 2015, became the fourth leading cause in 2016,” the NCHS said.

Men were far more likely to die from drug overdoses than women were, but other reports have found a growing number of opiate overdoses among women.

Still, as in other countries, American men die younger than women.

Male life expectancy fell from 76.3 years in 2015 to 76.1 in 2016, while female life expectancy stayed steady at 81.1, the NCHS said.

If you make it to age 65, you’ll likely live longer than 78 years. People who were 65 years old in 2016 can expect to live another 19 years, the NCHS team projected. It breaks down to almost 21 years more for women and 18 years more for men.

U.S. life expectancy does not stack up well compared to other rich countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development keeps an index of life expectancy and the U.S. falls in between Chile and Turkey in terms of average rates, and far behind Britain, France or Greece.

Iceland, Switzerland and Japan have the longest life expectancies and South Africa has the lowest.

The team also looked at the infant mortality rate, which barely changed in 2016 but which also falls behind the records of other developed countries.

“The 10 leading causes of infant death in 2016 accounted for 67.5 percent of all infant deaths in the United States,” the report reads. They include congenital birth defects, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.

In 2016, 23,161 babies under the age of 1 year died in the U.S, 294 fewer than in 2015.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), The Centers for Disease Control and Health Prevention (CDC) an NBC News contributed to this report.

 

#LeNora Millen          12-21-17

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Lifestyle

Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop

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The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.

As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.

Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.

To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:

  • Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
  • Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
  • Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
  • Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.

Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.

Photo: Getty Images

Source: Discount Tire

 

@LeNoraMillen        01-19-18

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Health Care

Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft: Protecting Seniors From Fraud

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Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.

A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.

That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.

New Medicare Card for 2018. (Video Courtesy of YouTube)

The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure lookup tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.

Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:

Do

  • Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
  • When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
  • Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
  • Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
  • Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
  • Report suspected instances of fraud.
  • Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.

Don’t

  • Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
  • Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
  • Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
  • Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.

Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.

With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.

 

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

@LeNoraMillen       01-19-18

 

 

 

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Business

Amazon Reveals ‘20 Cities’ That Could Be The Home Of Its Next Headquarters

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Amazon has revealed 20 cities that could be the next home of its second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2.

The candidates, selected out of 238 applicants, will move to the next round of Amazon’s selection process, the company said Thursday. Amazon will make a final decision on the site of its next headquarters this year.

The list of candidates includes Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Washington, DC, and Columbus, Ohio.

Amazon said it will work with each city to “dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”

Amazon has promised a $5 billion investment and up to 50,000 high-paying jobs to the city that wins its selection process.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, head of public policy for Amazon. “Through this process, we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Here are all the potential candidates:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • Newark, NJ
  • New York City, NY
  • Northern Virginia, VA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Toronto, ON
  • Washington DC

 

Source: Business Insider

@LeNoraMillen     01-18-18

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