A big gap in Medicare

Dental, vision and hearing care. Plus other recent stories

The newsletter is taking a break this summer, as I’m hard at work on a new book on retirement that must be finished later this year. But I’ll be sending out occasional brief editions with links to my most recent articles for The New York Times, Reuters, Morningstar and other news outlets.

On Medicare and need dental work? Beware a big bill. Medicare coverage for dental, visual and hearing care has moved to the front burner this year as part of a broader discussion about Medicare expansion in Washington. President Biden proposed adding coverage for all three as part of the federal budget he unveiled last month. But adding coverage has been on the to-do list of Medicare advocates and progressive lawmakers for many years. A study published in the journal Health Affairs last year noted that poor oral health was associated with higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and pulmonary infections. Vision loss and hearing loss are associated with a higher risk of falls, depression and cognitive impairment, and hearing loss with higher rates of hospitalization. Via The New York Times.

Social Security rethinks how it handles customer service after COVID-19. When the pandemic struck last year, the Social Security Administration shut down its national network of more than 1,200 offices as it scrambled to protect the public and its employees from the coronavirus. The agency, which served 43 million visitors in those offices in 2019, was forced to meet immense technological and administrative challenges practically overnight as it shifted to an almost completely remote operation.

The agency is slowly bringing back workers in accordance with safety guidelines established by the federal government. But operations are not likely to look the same as they did prepandemic, and a segment of S.S.A. workers may continue working remotely, a significant shift for the agency, which paid benefits to 69 million Americans in 2019. Via The New York Times.

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