What We're Reading: The Middle Class Faces Increasing Burden of Healthcare Costs

What we're reading, August 26, 2016: the middle class is burdened with increasing healthcare costs; how much do voters need to know about presidential candidates' health; and honoring the end-of-life wishes of patients with dementia.

Even with healthcare spending growth slowing, middle class families are shouldering an increasing amount of healthcare costs. According to The Wall Street Journal, healthcare in the United States is becoming a story of 3 different Americas. While the rich can easily afford healthcare and the poor can access public assistance, middle-income families are struggling as they devote 8.9% of their spending to healthcare. As spending on healthcare rises for these households, they are cutting back sharply on discretionary categories like dining out and clothing.

Health has started to become a big topic for the 2016 presidential election as claims circulate about the personal health of the candidates. So how much of a right do voters have to know about the medical histories of presidential candidates? NPR discussed the topic with Rob Darling, MD, a former White House physician, who admitted that while voters have the right to know if there is an illness that could affect a person’s ability to lead, there are gray areas and not everything needs to be divulged. Darling gave the example of President Roosevelt, who kept many aspects of his health a secret during his presidency.

Honoring a patient’s end-of-life wishes may be importance, but doing so can be difficult if the patient has dementia. With neurological disorders, patients may not be able to think clearly or articulate their end-of-life care wishes, but a new project may help, reported STAT. The Conversation Project, along with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, has released a guide for end-of-life conversations for families of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The guide even breaks down the conversation based on a person’s cognitive abilities.