Live Longer, Die Less Expensively

By Scott LaFee

August 10, 2016 5 min read

Eight out of 10 Americans who died in 2014 were on Medicare, which devotes roughly one-quarter of its total budget to expenditures on beneficiaries age 65 and older in their last year of life, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.

A lot of economists have assumed that end-of-life health care was most expensive among the oldest patients, but maybe not. In 2014, Medicare paid more money for seniors in their late 60s and early 70s than for older patients. The average spending on end-of-life care for 90-year-olds was just under $28,000, compared to $43,353 on an average 73-year-old.

That's heartening in a couple of ways. "We might expect to see Medicare spending on end-of-life care continue to fall in the future," Kaiser's Juliette Cubanski told STAT. "That's because life expectancy is on the rise and the proportion of beneficiaries who are the 'oldest-old' will increase."

Watch Your Step, Ladies

The most common injury among American women is one of gravity, literally.

Falling injuries linked to stumbling or tripping are four times more common, according to the Centers for Disease Control, than injuries involving transportation.

The finding is based on a review of medical visits between 2011 and 2014. The CDC noted, in particular, that the injury rate among women ages 45-64 has jumped 32 percent since 2008, though it could not account for why the rate increased so much for that age group.

Body of Knowledge

An adult typically breathes in seven quarts of air each minute.

Get Me That, Stat!

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimate that just 8 percent of Americans will be without health insurance, by 2025, down from 11 percent in 2014.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of playing folk music on a guitar while sitting burns 136 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.2 Big Macs. Rock 'n' roll probably earns you the whole burger.

Doc talk

Crasher: a person who passes out in the emergency room, often not a patient but a family member who is upset over what's going on with a loved one

Phobia of the Week

Epistaxiophobia: fear of nosebleeds

Never Say Diet

The world's speed-eating record for bologna is 2.76 pounds in 6 minutes, held by Don Lerman. Observers says they never sausage a feat. (OK, bad joke, but it could have been wurst.)


"What are the two things they tell you are healthiest to eat? Chicken and fish. You know what you should do? Combine them. Eat a penguin."

Humorist Dave Attell

Medical History

This week in 1865, Joseph Lister became the first surgeon to perform an antiseptic operation using carbolic acid as a disinfectant. Lister had studied Louis Pasteur's germ theory of disease, that infections are caused by bacteria. He knew carbolic acid was used effectively to treat sewage and decided to try it to kill germs in wounds. He poured the antiseptic on bandages, ligatures, instruments and directly on the wound and hands. His first patient to benefit 12-year-old James Greenlees with a broken leg, who healed without complication.


Q: Which country has the lowest mortality rate for breast cancer?

a) Germany

b) United States

c) Canada

d) United Kingdom

A: United States. Breast cancer mortality in Canada is 9 percent higher than in the U.S.; 52 percent higher in Germany and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Sum Body

Depending on how they are labeled, there are 10 to 12 systems in the human body. Eleven are listed here. How many can you name?

1. Cardiovascular

2. Digestive

3. Endocrine

4. Integumentary

5. Lymphatic

6. Muscular

7. Skeletal

8. Nervous

9. Urinary

10. Reproductive

11. Respiratory

Last Words

"Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow."

Inventor, entrepreneur and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' final words, according to his sister. Jobs died Oct. 5, 2011, at the age of 56 from complications caused by cancer.

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