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Medicare, escalating out-of-pocket costs & more — 5 health issues the presidential candidates should be addressing

For the last several months, both Democratic and Republican candidates made contrasting opinions on the Affordable Care Act and their replacement plan, according to Kaiser Health News. However, their policy discussions have failed to delve into how they would address the specifics outside of the ACA to reduce healthcare spending.

Here are five health issues the candidates should be highlighting:

1. Drug prices. While candidates have made proposals to address high prescription drug costs, their proposals do not delve into the prices patients pay for prescription drugs. Researchers claim the promise of precision medicine will soon become a reality, posing the question how will the costs of these drugs be spread across society?

2. Out-of-pocket spending. The ACA gave nearly 20 million Americans health insurance. However, more patients are paying high out-of-pocket costs, with many Americans citing healthcare costs as a top financial concern in a recent Gallup survey. While Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have brushed on the topic, their healthcare proposals highlight how they would build on or dismantle the ACA, rather than a tangible plan to ensure coverage is affordable for Americans.

3. Long-term care. Medicare does not pay for many long-term services, with many of its nursing home and home care benefits being temporary. On the other hand, Medicaid paid for more than 50 percent of the nation's estimated $310 billion for long-term care in 2013. However, to qualify for Medicaid, an individual has to fall well below the poverty line or spend a great deal of their savings on healthcare to qualify. Many Americans cannot afford private insurance, and insurance is less prone to cover patients due to escalated costs and enhanced life spans.

4. Medicare. Medicare is expected to increase as baby boomers grow older, and the program currently accounts for 14 percent of all federal spending. However, Medicare spending has slowly decreased, leaving many to ponder whether it is due to a recession or other factors. While the Obama administration maintains the ACA has changed the way Medicare pays providers, Republicans counter House Speaker Paul Ryan's intention to privatize Medicare would put the cost risk on private insurers, rather than the government.

5. Dental care. One in every three adults has untreated tooth decay, according to the CDC. Additionally, more than 100 million Americans lack dental insurance. Dental care is crucial to a person's overall health, and dental care is related to serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

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