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The Bulletin on Aging & Health

The United States and many other developed countries around the world face looming financial crises in their social security programs. For example, member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are projected to experience a roughly 50% increase in the share of GDP devoted to old age pension expenditures over the next fifty years, from 7.4% of GDP to 10.8% of GDP. (1) The aging of the population is widely recognized as one important cause of...

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The existence of racial disparities in medical treatment and health outcomes is well known. A recent comprehensive study by the Institute of Medicine concludes that "only a handful of the hundreds of studies reviewed here... find no racial and ethnic differences in care." (1) The study notes that racial differences could result from differences in access to care, socioeconomic or geographic factors, or racial differences in preferences of patients or attitudes of providers,...
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a dramatic shift in employer-provided health insurance from traditional fee-for-service plans to managed care plans - by 1999, 91% of covered employees were enrolled in a managed care plan. The Medicaid and Medicare programs, which together account for nearly $500 Billion in annual spending and 75 million beneficiaries, have also moved to adopt managed care - currently, over one-third of the beneficiaries of the two programs are enrolled in...
  Prenatal and maternal smoking has significant detrimental effects on children's health. Prenatal smoking accounts for one in five low birth weight babies and is the most important modifiable risk factor for poor pregnancy outcomes. Even for women who quit smoking during pregnancy, postnatal smoking doubles the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and is a major risk factor for respiratory illness, middle ear problems, and asthma in children. Cigarette excise...

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