Archive for July, 2011

Hepatitis Toll In The Millions

July 29th, 2011

According to the World Health Organization, the number of hepatitis cases around the globe is in the millions.  In fact, over 10 million people have hepatitis C and 1.3 million people have hepatitis B.  To make matters even worse, people are not taking a proactive approach to fighting the disease.  Only one out of every five infants are getting the proper vaccinations for hepatitis B at birth.  Experts say that this is at the core of the problem.  Another factor that is driving the rates of hepatitis up is the injecting drug users that are spreading the disease.  It is estimated that 67$ of injecting drug users in the world have been exposed to hepatitis C and 10% to Hepatitis B. 

The only way to stop this rate of infection, experts say, is to educate people on the risks of the disease and what it can do to the body.  Many people who have HIV and are injecting drugs into their body are spreading the disease at a rate too fast for it to slow down.  Governments have to step in and create programs to educate the public.

Nation’s Health Care Tab To Hit $4.6 Trillion In 2020

July 28th, 2011

The government released a report predicting that health care will account for 20 percent of the economy by 2020.  That is $1 out of every $5 dollars spent in the U.S. will be for health care.  That is an alarming number.  Additionally, the government is predicting that the spending will reach $4.6 trillion by 2020.  This large figure translates into about $13,710 for each person in America.  Currently, U.S. expenditures in health care are roughly $2.7 trillion, or about $8,650 per person.

Many predict that the number could be even higher given all the problems with Medicare and the baby boomers getting older and retiring.  The health reform laws will also be taking its toll on the U.S. economy.  Experts predict that the reform laws will add to government spending much more than they have anticipated.  With the economy continuing to struggle, health care and health insurance premiums will continue to rise in the U.S..

McDonald’s To Make Happy Meals More Healthy

July 27th, 2011

McDonald’s has been under a lot of pressure from health advocacy groups and the government to make their menu more healthy for kids.  Child obesity is a big problem in America and all around the globe.  Every year, the percentage of obesity is increasing in America and McDonald’s has decided to do something about it.  The fast food chain will start adding fruit or vegetables to all Happy Meals.  Additionally, McDonald’s said that it is going to make the fries portion smaller in the Happy Meals.

This is a great step in the right direction.  Happy Meals are a very popular meal for kids visiting the fast food chain.  The change from McDonald’s will reduce the calorie intake by about 20%.  Health groups hope that this will encourage other fast food restaurants to follow in their foot steps.  As the economy continues to struggle, parents are always looking for cheaper alternatives for lunch and dinner, at least making it a bit more healthy will benefit everyone.

Early Detection Of Alzheimer’s Disease Is Crucial

July 26th, 2011

Over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and the numbers are expected to grow to 16 million by 2050.  With the number of new cases increasing every year, doctors and researchers are working very hard to find a cure and come up with better early detection strategies.  Their has not been good methods for preventing the disease, but doctors are hopeful that they may be able to find something soon.  Many Americans do not know that Alzheimer’s disease is unfortunately fatal and that no current methods have been shown to slow down the disease. 

Researchers say that the best shot they have at preventing or at least slowing down the disease, is to work with individuals who have a mild case of Alzheimer’s and are not yet full blown.  Doctors say that sometimes Alzheimer’s is taking over the brain 10-20 years before any symptoms are even present.  This is what makes preventing the disease so difficult.  Doctors diagnose the disease years after the patient has it and there are no real ways to stop that problem.  However, their are some alternatives, read more about it here.

Generic Drug Blitz To Lower Prescription Drugs

July 25th, 2011

A generic drug blitz is set to take place over the next year and it will significantly lower the cost of prescription drugs for consumers.  Many drugs that are currently offered as a name brand only, will now be offered as a generic drug because of their patents expiring.  The blitz will bring the top seven of the world’s leading drugs into the marketplace as a generic drug.  This will make the drug much more affordable as generic drugs are historically less expensive than brand name drugs. 

Lipitor, which is taken by over 4 million Americans to fight cholesterol, will be offered as a generic drug.  Also, Plavix, which is a blood thinner and taken by over 1 million Americans, will be offered as a generic drug.  Many doctors are optimistic about this change, because many patients can’t currently afford their drug medication because it is simply way too expensive.  The drug companies know that this will effect millions of Americans and will hopefully make living more healthy for many people.

Researchers Link Height And Cancer

July 22nd, 2011

British researchers have found a link between tall women and cancer.  The study looked at over 1 million women in the UK and it turned out that tall people are at a greater risk to get cancer.  They followed the women for about 10 years, and the results show that the risk of cancer increases by about 16 percent.  And it is not just one particular type of cancer, the research looked at breast cancer, bowel cancer, leukemia and others as well.  When looking at all the different types of cancer, the results were pretty consistent.

The exact reason for the increased risk of getting cancer for tall people is not known.  Some doctors and researchers are thinking that there might be some link between cancer and growth hormones found in taller people.  The study has been done before in other countries, however this study tracked the most subjects for the longest period of time.  The researchers are still trying to find an exact cause for the increased risk.

Risks Of Stopping Daily Aspirin Routine

July 21st, 2011

Many people in the world are on a daily regime of taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks.  For many years, doctors have been recommending aspirin to the higher risk patients and it has been a great way to help prevent heart attacks.  However, recent studies are claiming that if patients stop taking aspirin, then the risk of heart attacks may actually increase.  Researchers found that those patients who stop taking aspirin on a daily basis are 60 percent more likely to get a heart attacks within one year.

Researchers looked at over 40,000 patients over a three year period and studied the effects of those who stop taking aspirin.  The results were very significant.  For those who stop taking aspirin, 876 patients had a heart attack and another 346 died from a heart attack or heart related disease.  This translates into another 4 deaths out of 1,000 patients during any one year.  These numbers are staggering because the risks of stopping usage has never really been addressed on a global scale.

Baby Boomers Obesity Could Raise Medicare Costs

July 20th, 2011

A new poll by Associated finds that baby boomers are more obese than previous generations and that could lead to very high Medicare costs in the future.  Their are many issues when people get older such as Alzheimer’s and cancer, but obesity is a growing concern and people should start to change their lifestyle behaviors now.  The study showed that about a third of the people polled are obese and about another third are considered overweight.  Many baby boomers are leading a sedentary lifestyle and are not exercising as much as they should be.

It is predicted that these unhealthy baby boomers will drive the utilization rates up for health care services.  And that will ultimately lead to higher health insurance and Medicare premiums in the long-run.  Seniors are already currently experiencing higher than usual Medicare costs and they are struggling to make payments.  If something is not done to change these obesity rates, everyone as a result will suffer.

Lifestyle Changes Might Prevent Alzheimer’s

July 19th, 2011

Alzheimer’s affects millions of Americans everyday and the number of new cases is increasing every year.  A new research study is being presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference today and will talk about the significance of this disease and ways to help prevent it.  Researchers have found that small lifestyle changes from an early age can help prevent the disease down the line.  Factors such as smoking, depression and obesity have been linked to Alzheimer’s and reducing these factors can dramatically decrease the chances of getting the disease.  In fact, researchers are saying that reducing these factors could affect up to 3 millions people around the world from getting the disease in the first place.  Obesity has been a problem in America for some time now.  Many states are experiencing increasing trends in their obesity numbers and it does not seem like it will turn anytime soon.  Out of all the states in the United States, Colorado is the healthiest when it comes to obesity rates. 

The research team out of the University of California San Francisco estimates that 14 percent of Alzheimer’s cases are attributable to smoking, and about 13 percent are related to physical inactivity.  Researchers are pointing to the fact that the only way to get these numbers down is early education.  Doctors and parents must take a proactive role from the beginning.

Heavy Teens Need More Health Talks

July 18th, 2011

Doctors and other health care providers miss opportunities to speak to teens and kids about childhood obesity.  Often times, small talks by pediatricians about nutrition and daily exercise can help reduce the risk of obesity down the line.  Currently, the majority of states in the U.S. have a growing trend of obesity.  In some states, there is over a 30% percent prevalence of obesity and the numbers are still getting worse.  When it comes to children, early intervention is the key to stopping bigger problems down the road.

The study out of the University of California, San Francisco looked at telephone results over the last several years.  The research asked over 9,000 teens whether or not their doctors spoke to them about nutrition and exercise.  About 30% said that they have not discussed anything at their last doctors visit.  This is a big issue in the households as families need all the help they can get to distract kids from their everyday lives, and get them to exercise on a daily basis.  Many teens need the encourage from not only their parents, but also their doctors so they know the importance of health living.

Raising Medicare Costs May Be Gaining Traction

July 15th, 2011

As the federal deficit continues to rise, many are still wondering what the long-term solution is to the federal Medicare program.  The new health reform laws and the new proposals circling through Washington are most likely going to increase Medicare costs for seniors in the future.  Many older folks are actually very worried that their medical expenses will get even more expensive after everything gets finalized.  Most seniors that are taking advantage of Medicare currently are making less than $22,000 per year in income, and that is if they are working.  As the economy continues to struggle and the inflation rates continue to rise, the older population are going to suffer big time.

Historically, the government has spent a lot of money on the Medicare program.  Usually consumers did not have to worry about the medicals costs they might have to go through when they got older.  But now, the U.S. government is hurting more than ever and they are transferring some of the burden to the seniors and tax payers.  The health insurance premiums will rise and so will the deductibles.  Many are afraid that getting health care will be too expensive and the out of pocket expenses will send them into bankruptcy.

Millions in U.S. Lack Access To Dentists

July 14th, 2011

According to the Institute of Medicine, fewer than half of Americans see a dentist every year.  And that is not just because they are lazy.  Many live in rural areas and they are too far to visit a dentist on a yearly basis.  The shortage of dentists in these areas is causing many to have health issues relating to their teeth and mouth.  According to the report released by the Institute of Medicine, over 33 million Americans live in rural areas where their is a shortage of dentists, and over 4.6 million children went without seeing a dentist for an entire year because it was too expensive.

The study is suggesting that an additional 9,600 dentists would be needed to serve these rural areas and give them proper treatment.  Moreover, the dental health insurance is either too expensive for most of these families to afford, or the benefits do not cover enough for their dental care.  Many government officials are pulling for dental professional programs to help fund some of these areas to give them proper care.  There are other programs that help with medical care, and most are saying that dental care is just as important.

Health Groups Dislike Proposals

July 13th, 2011

The federal government is trying to finalize the budget and many health groups are taking notice about their ideas on Medicare and Medicaid.  Budget negotiators are trying to cut some parts of the Medicare and Medicaid program and many health care providers see that being a big risk to the industry and their respective business.  As more and more people loss their jobs or fail to land a new job, they will be taking advantage of Medicaid.  Also, Medicare is also on the rise as the baby boomers continues to feed the program.  Doctors and other health care providers rely on Medicare reimbursements everyday.  Many believe that cutting the program will have negative effects on the health care industry. 

The main part of the proposal that addresses Medicare is trying to cut the use of supplemental coverage, which currently accounts for about 25 percent of the volume.  These supplemental coverages are known as Medigap policies and they are becoming more and more popular.  Medicare only covers so much for health care, these Medigap policies add another layer of insurance.  The budget office is saying that the proposed budget will save about $53 billion over the next 10 years.

Smoking During Pregnancy Harmful For Kids

July 12th, 2011

A recent studied suggests that smoking while pregnant can lead to a wide variety of birth defects including deformed limbs, clubfoot, facial disorders and gastrointestinal problems.  The scientists looked at over 172 research papers over the last 50 years and examined the results to see what the causes were of the malformations.  It was discovered that the increased risk of having some type of malformation because of smoking during pregnancy can be as high as 33 percent.  Additionally, it was discovered that the highest risk, gastroschisis, increased to about 50 percent.  This disease is where some intestines protrude through the skin and can be deadly. 

The thought of smoking during pregnancy might seem like an obvious risk to many people.  However, for women under 20, the numbers of smokers are very high.  The results that the scientists found are very real and people should take notice.  Smoking can cause many defects in new borns and the long-term effects can also be very dangerous.  Additionally, second-hand smoke is also dangerous and should be avoided.

Proposed Health Cuts May Limit Access Further

July 11th, 2011

Over 100 million Americans rely on either the Medicare or Medicaid program in the United States, and it might be strained even further going into 2012.  A new government proposal would cut reimbursement rates for doctors who accept Medicare by up to 30 percent by 2012.  Currently, the government and the Republican party are negotiating on the proposal along with the budget to come to some type of middle ground.  It has been a long battle ever since the health reform laws passed last year.  Many critics of the plan say that the reform will not help Americans save money, in fact it will cost them more.  Experts predict that health insurance premiums will rise because of the strain on providers and carriers to follow the new laws and restrictions of the reform. 

On the other side of the table are the Democrats who have been in favor of the new health reform laws.  Many of them predict that it will make health insurance more affordable for all Americans.  Also, the new health insurance exchanges that are required to be up and running by 2014 will help consumers make informative decisions about which health insurance plans is right for them.  Carriers such as Anthem Blue Cross of California and Blue Shield are not sure of the overall effect of the new health reform laws.

Benefits Of Providing Medical Insurance To The Poor

July 8th, 2011

To study the impact of Medicaid and how the new changes of the health reform law will effect the program, a very large study was conducted to find out how the poor respond when given assistance to purchase or obtain health insurance.  The report shows that many individuals who are poor that are given health insurance, actually feel better about themselves, are more financially stable and are less depressed.  Many critics of the Medicaid program believe it encourages people to take advantage of the system and not utilize it for the right reasons.  However, this study suggests that abuse of the Medicaid program is actually less than people have forecasted.

The demographics of the individuals who have health insurancethan those who do not are very different.  People who have health insurance tend to be more educated, more financial stable and more responsible overall.  The individuals who are on Medicaid are starting to not abuse the program as they did in the past.  Many cities are building clinics and expanding emergency rooms because of the high demand of health care.  Their are others factors to consider though.  Many individuals who were once financially stable are not now because of the last five years.  The economy has taken its toll on people and now they are forced to participate in the Medicaid program.  Once the economy picks up again, it will be interesting to see how the program will respond.

Obesity Rises In 16 States

July 7th, 2011

According to a report released on Thursday, more than a dozen states have obesity levels above 30 percent.  That is about 1 in 3 adults are having major problems with their weight and are facing huge risks with weight related health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, etc.  The most unhealthy state is Mississippi with an adult obesity level of 34.4 percent.  The least obese state is Colorado with an obesity level of 19.8 percent.  Meaning, even in the healthiest state in America, 1 in 5 people are fighting obesity.

Looking back at historical trends, obesity levels did not decline in any of the 50 states.  Every state has had increasing levels of obesity for the last 20 years.  The core of the problem lies in the unhealthy behaviors and choices people make on a daily basis.  Additionally, technology like computers, tablets, etc., make it increasingly more difficult to get off the couch.  From a health insurance standpoint, this problem does not help either.  Obesity causes all types of medical issues and that drives up health insurance premiums.

Medicaid Payments Go Under The Knife

July 6th, 2011

Medicaid costs have been rising for years and many states are starting to cut back on the program.  The state budgets are starting very soon and many are reducing payments back to doctors and hospitals for the poor.  Many critics of the proposed cuts say that a large number of doctors and providers of Medicaid might stop participating in the program all together.  This will have a large effect on the poorer population that try to receive care on a daily basis.  Additionally, access to health care will be slower if there are less doctors participating in the Medicaid program.

Their might also be other effects of the Medicaid program issues.  Many employers are nervous that providers will raise rates on the private insurance side to make up for the difference.  This will effect people that have insurance through the private market.  Moreover, employers that provide insurance to their employees now have to take on the additional burden of increased health insurance premiums on their business.

Health Plan Cut Premiums For Consumers With Preexisting Conditions

July 5th, 2011

The health reform laws passed last year created preexisting condition insurance plans so people that already have a preexisting medical condition can obtain health insurance.  Most of these people in the insurance plans got denied health coverage in the individual market.  To get health insurance from the private market, you sometimes have to go through medical underwriting and even get physical exams.  Starting July 1st, those people enrolled in the preexisting insurance plans may get a 40% reduction on their health insurance premiums.  The cut was announced by the Obama administration last week and up to 17 states may experience the highest cuts. 

Many hope that this will encourage people that are not currently insured, to obtain health insurance.  Starting in 2014, individuals will be mandated to have health insurance.  Additionally, no one will be turned down if they have a preexisting condition starting in 2014.  The new health reform laws are intended to make health insurance more affordable for everyone in America.  Currently, health insurance companies such as Anthem Blue Cross of California and Blue Shield of California are still having rate increases on their health insurance plans.

100 Million Plus In Chronic Pain In U.S.

July 1st, 2011

According to a new study by the Institute of Medicine, over 116 million Americans are affected with chronic pain.  Moreover, it costs the U.S. about $635 billion per year.  Experts say that the reason the numbers are so high is because doctors have not been trained on how to treat chronic pain from early on, even starting from medical school.  The problem is very widespread and has become a national issue.  As heath care in the United States continues to get expensive, experts are wondering how they get chronic disease and the management of the disease under control. 

Chronic pain can be both triggered from a mental and physical standpoint.  Factors such as stress, depression, and other emotional factors play a role in causing chronic pain.  The long-term effects of the disease are the most important factor to understand.  Pain that lasts for a long time can affect the nervous system and lead to other health related issues.  The Department of Health and Human Services plans to launch a large campaign around educating the public about chronic disease, how to spot symptoms early on and also on prevention.  Many Americans can benefit from learning more about the disease, especially given the current economic situation leading to more stress in the household.