Archive for June, 2011

Diet Sodas May Cause You To Gain Weight

June 30th, 2011

According to a recent study, researchers are showing that diet soda has strong correlations to weight gain and other related health problems.  The study was conducted out of the University of Texas Science Center, and they tracked 474 people ranging in age from 65 to 74, for about 10 years.  The results showed that those work drank diet sodas in the study had a 70 percent larger waistline than those who did not drink diet sodas.  And weight gain can lead to many other more serious health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. 

Some critics of the study suggest that the people that were tracked might of already had weight problems and the diet sodas was not the source of their problem.  Over the last 10 years, soda consumption has increased from 25 to 30 percent, and many say those figures will continue to rise.  The only problem is that most consumers still do not know the affects of drinking too much diet soda and what that might do to weight gain.

Overlapping Health Plans Are Very Costly For Taxpayers

June 29th, 2011

Two of the most costly federal programs in the U.S. are Medicare and Medicaid.  Many Americans are reaching the age where they qualify for Medicare, and also, many Americans are taking advantage of Medicaid given the poor economy.  In both programs, participation is rising and the latest numbers are showing that many are enrolled in both programs at the same time.  Almost 10 million Americans are enrolled in both programs and the cost of servicing these individuals is very high.  In both programs, they take up close to a third of their spending but they do not account for nearly that much as a percentage of their enrollment. 

The big drivers in the spending on the Medicare side is related to chronic disease and nursing care.  Both of these segments of health care are very costly and the taxpayers are paying the price for it.  Additionally, many critics of the new health reform laws are worried that enrollment in both these programs will be dramatically increased due to the eligibility requirements becoming more favorable.  Both programs were not designed to work together and serve the same population.  It has been very expensive to do so and taxpayers are worried that it is just going to get worse.

Many Breast Cancer Patients Skip Radiation

June 28th, 2011

Nearly half of the older women in America who have advanced forms of breast cancer do not get radiation treatment.  Studies have shown that radiation decreases the chance of recurrence and also boosts survival rates.  Moreover, those women who do not get the recommended radiation treatment put themselves at a 30 to 40 percent more risk of getting the cancer again.  The study tracked more than 38,000 women who were over the age of 66 for over 10 years.

Many doctors are surprised by the numbers.  Four different organizations recommend getting radiation treatment because of its positive long term affects if successful.  There are side effects from radiation of course such as hair loss and fatigue.  Some patients are also too old and maybe already too weak to take on a strict radiation treatment.  It is demanding on the body and some doctors will not recommend treatment to much older women.  Doctors encourage those with the cancer to do their homework and get second opinions from other oncologists.

Diabetes Rates Double Since 1980

June 27th, 2011

Since 1980, the number of adults with diabetes worldwide has doubled to nearly 350 million.  This is mainly a result from the increased rate of obesity and also the aging population in the world.  The numbers are pretty consistent across all geographies.  As technology continues to encourage less physical movement and people continue to exhibit unhealthy behaviors, we will always have an obesity problem.  Obesity is one of the leading causes of diabetes and it must be addresses sooner than later.

Among the high income countries, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of diabetes and also obesity.  Diabetes is a very serious disease.  People that have diabetes have very high blood sugar that causes all sorts of problems in the human body.  Each year, over 3 million people die from high blood sugar and diabetes.  This is a very large number, and it is still growing.  As of right now, about 1 out of every 10 people have diabetes in the U.S..

Type 2 Diabetes Can Be Reversed For Newly Diagnosed

June 24th, 2011

Researchers out of Newcastle University report that a strict low calorie diet may help reverse Type 2 diabetes for newly diagnosed patients.  The diet has to be at least 8 weeks long and only consist of a 600 calorie intake per day.  The study had very good results.  In fact, it was shown that 7 out of 11 people studied were free of diabetes three months after diagnosis.  In the UK alone, 2.5 million people have Type 2 diabetes and the numbers are growing fast. 

The participants that were researched had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes less than 4 years ago.  Researchers are also saying that those diagnosed more than four years ago may also have a chance to reverse the disease.  A strict diet regimen can help control calorie and fat intake, which will ultimately reduce the chance of the disease lingering with the body.  The study does not show cause and effect, many experts are still trying to figure out why some individuals are more susceptible to the disease while others are not.  A lot has to do with unhealthy food and diet lifestyles but it is not the only factor.

New Study About Autism And Relation To The Brain

June 23rd, 2011

A new study out of the University of California, San Diego, revealed that toddlers with autism have abnormal synchronization in the brain’s communication area.  It shows that in certain parts of the brain, kids with autism have abnormal synchronization between certain parts of the brain than other kids of similar age.  The communication between the left and right brain effects many parts of the kids functions, daily activities, social skills, language, etc., and autistic kids have a different makeup than non-autistic kids. 

Although researchers did not find anything that shows cause and effect, they did see links between the autistic kids and parts of the brain.  The study also showed that teens and adults with autism also have similar issues in the brain.  Their is no sure for autism, but studies like these will help researchers understand more about the disease, both from a mental and physiological standpoint.

Health Law Glitch Makes Medicaid Mistake

June 22nd, 2011

Ever since the health care law passed last year, many critics have been questioning the effects on Medicaid and Medicare.  These two large federal programs cost the government billions of dollars every year and participation will be dramatically increasing starting in 2014.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly 3 million additional people will qualify for Medicaid starting in a little over 2 years.  That is very scary for the U.S. government.  Many are asking how the federal government will manage and pay for the increased participation.  The main reason that more people can qualify for Medicaid will be because of the income eligibility changes.  Starting in 2014, social security benefits will not be counted as income in the eligibility formula for Medicaid.  This will allow many lower income families currently utilizing social security benefits to also qualify for Medicaid. 

The Obama administration plans to address the concerns and possibly make some changes to the health reform laws.  Medicaid is only meant for the lower income families that really need the program to survive.  It is not meant for people in the middle class segment that could probably get by without the government help.  If people start to take advantage of the system like many critics think, then the government will have a very big problem on their hands.

Health Care Reform Will Move Millions More To Medicaid

June 21st, 2011

One of the major goals of the health reform laws passed last year is to provide affordable health insurance to all Americans.  It is estimated that 32 million people will have health insurance as a result of the health care reform.  Moreover, of that 32 million, half are expected to be covered by Medicaid.  Medicaid is a government sponsored program that provides health care to low-income families.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of people will now qualify for Medicaid.  The Affordable Care Act extends coverage to people that make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.  That is a little over $30,000 for a family of four.  In Ohio alone, it is estimated that 1 million will be covered under Medicaid because of the Affordable Care Act and the new health reform laws. 

The federal government will pay 100 percent of all new Medicaid enrollees through 2016.  This will cost the government billions of dollars each year.  The government is able to pay for this because there are huge cuts in other federal programs.  For example, Medicare Advantage programs are having their benefits reduced and qualification standards increased.  This is expected to save about $135 billion over 10 years.  Additionally, consumers and critics of the health reform laws are still wondering how other programs will be paid for by the government.  Many are not sure if more tax increases will be inevitable.

More People With Medicare Receiving Free Preventive Care

June 20th, 2011

Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted more than a year ago, more Americans enrolled in Medicare are taking advantage of the free preventive benefits.  In fact, more than 5 million Americans are taking advantage of thefree services.  The Obama administration is very pleased with these new reports and hopes that many more Americans on Medicare will also use these new added benefits.  Medicare has started advertising campaigns promoting the preventive benefits to hospitals and doctors to make sure the word is out on these new benefits.  The most popular services used by Medicare participants were mammogram screenings, bone density screenings, and prostate cancer screenings. 

Medicare is a key program for older adults and people on disability to receive health care services.  The premiums for their health insurance is substantially lower than traditional health insurance.  Adding the Affordable Care Act provision has made Medicare that much more powerful and many Americans are taking advantage of all the new benefits.

Democrats Give Their Views On Medicare

June 17th, 2011

Many Democrats are saying the best way Republicans can find savings in the federal Medicare program is by using the advantages of the new health care reform laws passed last year. The Affordable Care Act, according to many people, makes health care and health insurance affordable. Additionally, the increased competition within the insurance carrier market makes it affordable in the long run. The new health reform will also make delivery of health care services less expensive for the doctors and providers.

Many Republicans are saying that they can find savings in the Medicare program without cutting benefits. Both parties are obviously seeing this dilemma from two different perspectives. Last year, $500 billion was cut from Medicare and that affected senior benefits. New health reform laws will effect not only medicare, but the overall health care system. Insurance carriers are going to have to work hard to get the trust back from the American people.

Olive Oil Protects Against Stroke

June 16th, 2011

According to a recent study, having large amounts of olive oil may dramatically reduce the risk of stroke in older adults.  Researchers are saying that heavy use of olive oil in cooking and dressings may reduce the chance of stroke by 41 percent on average.  This was a study conducted out of France in which they researched people in three different cities.  The upper third of the participants who consumed olive oil in large amounts showed a 73 percent lower stroke risk.  Many people are questioning if its olive oil by itself that is showing these favorable results.  Scientists do admit that other foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, etc. are usually mixed with olive oils and that might help reduce stroke as well. 

The researchers studied over 7,000 participants, most of which were over 65 years of age.  Many of the people that participated in the study said that they never use olive oil on a daily basis.  This helps solidify some of the results.  Because after consumption, many showed positive results and showed lower risk of stroke.  After the study, most of the critics are still skeptic of the underlying reason olive oil helps reduce stroke and also what foods in combination helped the study.

Enrollment Up In High-Deductible Health Plans

June 15th, 2011

According to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), enrollment in health savings accounts, or HSAs, grew by nearly 14 percent over the past year.  Health savings accounts are usually linked to high-deductible plans and they are set up so people can put aside expected health care expenditures while having an opportunity to save on taxes.  In addition, HSA accounts can be rolled over from year to year if the funds in the accounts are not fully exhausted.  The AHIP has seen dramatic increases over the last 3 years, primarily in the large group segment.  Given the state of the economy, employers are forced to offer plans that are less costly such as high-deductible plans to their employees.  Because the deductibles are generally higher than other more traditional plans, consumers are forced to only visit the doctor when absolutely necessary or they will be paying a lot of money.

As of January 2011, over 11 million Americans are covered under high-deductible plans, which are also eligible for HSA advantages.  As the delivery of health care costs continue to increase, HSAs are an affordable alternative for consumers and many are taking advantage.  The health insurance premiums for HSAs are much less than more traditional health insurance plans.  As the economy continues to struggle, HSAs will continue to be popular in the private health insurance market.

GOP Governors Ask Washington For More Flexibility On Medicaid

June 14th, 2011

Republicans are asking Washington for more flexibility when it comes to administering and managing the Medicaid program.  With the rising cost of health care still out of control, states are saying that the spending on Medicaid is way too high.  According to Governor Robert McDonnell of Virginia, the budget for Medicaid spending used to be 5 percent of the budget 20 years ago, now it is more than 20 percent.  Many Governors are proposing that each state have the authority to take the federal money and spend it as they see fit.  Moreover, they want to take the money as a block grant so they can have full flexibility.

The issue is that each state cannot run deficits, so when spending is out of control each state is forced to make some tough decisions.  For instance, if the cost of delivering health care continues to rise this year, state might have to raise taxes in order to compensate.  Either way, the tax payers will be losing here.  On the one hand, their health insurance premiums will continue to rise.  Or, taxes will be raised which will further decrease household’s income.

Breastfeeding Linked To Lower Risk Of SIDS

June 13th, 2011

According to recent studies on new born babies, those who are breastfed as opposed to given formula, are less likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.  SIDS is characterized by a sudden and unexplained death that usually happens in the crib within the first year of life.  Dr. Fern Hauck from the University of Virginia School of Medicine says that sudden infant death is less likely to happen if the baby is breastfed. 

Researchers have yet to fully figure out what causes SIDS, but they do know that it is more common within the African American segment and male babies.  Risk of SIDS can also be decreased if babies are laid to sleep on their backs as opposed to their sides or stomach.  Because breastfed babies build a better immune system than formula fed babies, they can fight off some of the infections that researchers say may cause sudden infant death syndrome.  Many doctors recommend that babies are breastfed for the first six months of life to help build up their immune system.  The research suggest that over 60 percent of the babies that were breastfed had a lower risk of SIDS than those who were not breastfed.

One Billion Living With Disabilities

June 10th, 2011

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, there are over 1 billion people in the world currently living with some form of a disability.  Governments everywhere are urged to ramp up efforts to assist in anyway possible and try to help manage the ailments.  The World Health Organization also reports that about 20 percent, an estimated 110 million to 190 million people, have significant problems that result in health, educational and other difficulties. 

Many of the poor countries do not have an adequate health care system to help out the people with physical or mental disabilities.  Moreover, those that have disabilities in the United States, many do not have health insurance or do not have the right health insurance plan to help them pay for their necessary medical services.  Many people suggest that governments need to further aid programs to help people gain access to all necessary services they may need.  Many times, people do not have the financial resources they need to help them with their disability.  Programs like Medicare in the US help people that have disabilities live a more normal life.

Judges Have Questions About New Health Law

June 9th, 2011

Three federal judges expressed unease with the new mandate that everyone must have health insurance by 2014.  Many say that forcing people to have health insurance is unconstitutional and that the government should not have a say in the matter.  On Wednesday, three judges in Atlanta questioned that upholding this new health reform law will open the door for the government to make other questionable federal mandates.  Florida has already struck down the law and many want Atlanta to do the same.  By 2014, the mandate says that everyone must have health insurance or they may face fines. 

As the economy continues to struggle, many are still without health insurance.  Currently, there are 50 million uninsured Americans and the government is claiming that the new health reform laws will help everyone in America obtain health insurance.  The one thing that most consumers do not know is how affordable will health insurance be, both now and in the future.  By 2014, health insurance exchanges are required to be up and running in each individual state.  These exchanges are going to be created to give consumers access to affordable individual and small business health insurance.

Study Sees Cuts To Health Plans

June 8th, 2011

A recent report by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. suggests that many employers might drop their employer-sponsored insurance coverage starting in 2014.  The report suggests that employers are not in favor of the law requiring them to enrich their benefits, even starting as early as this year.  And starting in 2014, the government will have more control of what types of plans employers are required to offer.  Additionally, because of the new health reform laws, employers that have over 50 full-time employees will be required to offer insurance or pay a $2,000 per employee – although the first 30 employees are exempt.  This has not deterred employers though of thinking about whether or not they should even offer insurance in a couple of years from now.  In some cases, they are better off not offering coverage to their employees.

The report shows that 30 percent of employers are considering dropping their health insurance coverage in 2014.  This will leave employees to purchase health insurance in the private marketplace.  Also, the health insurance exchanges that each state has to have up and running by 2014 adds another twist.  The government is claiming that many will qualify for subsidies and that will also attract people to just get individual insurance.  According to the research study, many employees would not leave the company if benefits were cut – about 85 percent would stay.  The Obama administration says that this report is not the case and their has been many other research reports that suggest the opposite.

Drug Can Help Reduce Risk Of Breast Cancer

June 7th, 2011

On Saturday, researchers reported that drugs used to help prevent occurrence of breast cancer can actually help prevent it in the first place.  The two drugs, tamoxifen and raloxifene, are approved for breast cancer prevention and should be used more to help stop the cancer from starting.  Doctors have been critical of the drug from the beginning because it had serious side effects like blood clotting.  Researchers have now reported that those serious side effects are overstated and do not pose the risk that most practitioners think. 

The trial was conducted in the United States, Canada, France, and Spain and had over 4,000 participants.  It was discovered that the women who were taking the drugs developed cancer less than 1 percent of the time.  However, those who took the placebo developed breast cancer over 1 percent of the time.  Some doctors, however, state that other side effects like joint and bone pain might stop women from taking the drugs.  Moreover, healthy women do not want to have pain for no reason, especially even before they have cancer.

Cell Phones Pose Possible Cancer Risk

June 6th, 2011

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release last week stating the cell phones can pose possible brain cancer risk and are concerned about the overuse of cell phones by consumers, particularly by young adults and children.  The WHO’s International Agency for Research and Cancer classified the risk caused by cell phones is because of the radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted.

The scientists determined that there was an increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, and this appears to be linked to cell phone use.  A group of individuals was tracked for over 10 years and they found an increased risk for people that used cell phones for more than 30 minutes per day.  In fact, the risk of cancer increased by over 40%.  Scientists are still determining the long term effects of cell phone use and what possible solutions their are to the problem.  Technologies like blue tooth head sets are also being studies to determine their effectiveness.

States Still Setting Up Health Insurance Exchanges

June 3rd, 2011

On Wednesday, Colorado became the eight state to comply with the new federal mandate to set up a health insurance exchange for consumers.  By 2013, all states are required to have the exchange built and approved by the federal government.  By 2014, all exchanges have to be open and officially running.  Like Colorado, California was also one of the first states to build and start the process of a health insurance exchange.  These exchanges are for people to shop and compare health insurance plans, and hopefully find more affordable plans as opposed to getting health insurance through the traditional private market.

Many Republicans are still opposed to the health reform law, saying that the new legislation is unconstitutional.  With every new exchange being set up, there is new debate over the mandate.  Republicans feel that the implementation and ongoing management of the health insurance exchange will be overwhelming for states and it will also fail to keep rates affordable for consumers.  Many critics say that health insurance premiums will actually continue to rise because of the health reform law and that would be against the purpose in the first place.  By 2014, all states will have exchanges up and running, whether they like the idea or not.

How Regulation Keeps Health Care Costs Down

June 2nd, 2011

For most Californians, health insurance premiums are way too expensive and are taking a burden on their financial budget.  The health reform law was passed over a year ago and most critics are skeptic whether or not their will be real savings for consumers.  In California, there are millions of people without health insurance because of high premiums.  The purpose of the new health reform law is to bring affordable health insurance plans to the private market.  Additionally, each state is required to heave a health insurance exchange up and running by 2014 so consumers can have an online health insurance site to compare and shop for affordable plans.

There are a few bills that are being proposed that would allow state regulators to reject excessive rate increases of health insurance premiums.  As the cost of delivering health care to the consumers continue to increase, so does the health insurance premiums.  The Obama administration’s main goal to provide affordable health insurance to all Americans.  In reality, many will not qualify for the health insurance subsidies and the wealthier segments will continue to pay the high cost associated with health insurance.

Harder To Insure Patients Get Cheaper Insurance

June 1st, 2011

Many Americans who have either been denied traditional private health insurance or have been quoted very high premiums because of their health issues not have an alternative option.  Because of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan changes that were announced by the US Department of Health and Human Services, many will have a chance to obtain health insurance in the private marketplace.  Additionally, the enrollment process will become simpler because of the changes made to the insurance program.  Previously, these harder to insure Americans with pre-existing conditions would apply and then wait through the underwriting process to get turned down.  Now, people can get a note from their doctor and submit that with the application in the beginning.  This will help tremendously with the speed of the health insurance process. 

In about 18 states, health insurance premiums are expected to decrease by as much as 40%, according to the American Heart Association.  They report that over half of all uninsured Americans with cardiovascular disease do not have health insurance because the premiums are too high.  The PCIP will make it possible for many Americans to obtain health insurance and hopefully at a cheaper cost.