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Under-the-Radar Health Costs and Other Money Facts


Uninsured home care is perhaps the largest under-the-radar health care cost burden that is not being addressed in any cogent way in the on-going health care debate.

— The estimated cost of health-related services delivered by family and friends in just California is $45 billion annually. Uninsured home care is perhaps the largest under-the-radar health care cost burden that is not being addressed in any cogent way in the on-going health care debate.

— Since 1928, the stock market has dropped by 20% roughly every four years. And 30% downdrafts have occurred nine times since then, or about once every decade. And it's going to happen again. That's one more reason why we should have an investment strategy that looks at the long term and why we shouldn't pay too much attention to the daily "noise" coming out of the market.

— In a survey quoted in The Wall Street Journal, about half of retirees had retired earlier than expected. This was due to lay-offs, buy-outs, negative work conditions and, the big wild card for everyone, health. Historically, docs have been immune from all but the health factor in premature retirements. In this age of hospital buy-outs and rapidly growing multispecialty groups however, all of the other factors have now come into play. Be advised and plan accordingly.

— The average fee paid for “executive check-ups” is $2,500, according to the Bloomberg Report. What they do not go into is whether or not these extensive exams have any documented medical or economic value. The accumulating evidence about the lack of the value proposition for the old annual check-up would argue against the utility of this questionable perk.

— Annually, the average person increases his or her savings by $800 when given a projection of how much their current savings program will fall short at retirement, according to the Financial Literary Center. And it is highly likely that this modest increase will not be enough, so that is another reason why all of our plans are works in progress and need to be revisited regularly. If you look at the $.99 smartphone app "Aging Booth" to see how you might appear later in life, you may well be motivated to increase your annual savings even more.

— Diners will spend an additional 16% on eating if they pay with a credit card rather than cash, says a survey in Money magazine — bad for your wallet and bad for your diet. It appears that keeping your weight, and spending, down are two of the benefits of the fast disappearing cash-based life.

— One-fifth of the average car dealer's gross profit comes from the financing that they arrange for car buyers, according to the National Auto Dealers Association. That is almost a trillion dollar annual business, nationally. What is most important about this rising number is that the Consumer Finance Bureau reports that non-compliance with Fair Lending rules is increasing. Women and minorities are simply being charged higher interest rates than others, for example, so caveat emptor.

— Eleven percent of the average physician's career is spent defending unresolved malpractice claims, according to the Center For American Progress. And liability responsibility is yet one more fact of medical practice that docs are not formally trained to prevent or to manage, even though malpractice claims and/or worry about them are hard realities in medical careers.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice