Archive for August, 2011

Benefits Of Offering Small Business Insurance

August 31st, 2011

Many companies are starting to realize the benefits of offering health insurance to their employees.  However, fighting the costs of insurance will always be a battle for these small companies.  Statistics show that companies of 25 or more employees offer insurance to their staff more than 85 percent of the time.  Quality benefits, especially health insurance, is a great way to retain and attract high quality employees for companies.  Many employees in this tough economy, where wages have not been increased as much as they like, rely on employee benefits to keep them happy at their job.  The other benefit of offering health insurance to your employees is that their is no medical underwriting with group insurance.  Employees do not have to worry about pre-existing conditions or whether they will be approved for health insurance.

There are some qualifications that a company must meet before health insurance carriers will offer them insurance.  For instance, companies have to contribute a certain percentage to the plans and also, a certain amount of people have to participate before the company can offer the insurance.  Group health insurance is often cheaper and has better benefits than individual health insurance.

The Importance Of Deep Sleep To Blood Pressure

August 30th, 2011

A new study suggests that not having enough deep sleep may put pressure on your heart and couldlead to high blood pressure.  Getting a good night’s rest has always been known to be very important to your health.  This study points out that your heart is the most important affect of getting a good sleep.  The study has shown that 20 to 25 percent of healthy middle-aged adults sleep hours consist of stages known as slow-wave sleep.  This stage is very important because it is very restorative and can also help with memory and mental performance. 

As adults get older, they get less slow-wave sleep because their bodies have gotten too much of it throughout their lives.  People tend to sleep less as they get older.  This is why it is so important, even as older adults, to make an effort to get a good night’s rest and let your body reset.

Chocolate Good For The Heart

August 29th, 2011

A new study confirms that chocolate may be good for the heart.  According to a study out of the University of Cambridge, researchers are pointing to the fact that a little piece of chocolate per day will help you have a healthier heart.  Chocolate can lower the risk of heart diseases and stroke according the research.  Although, eating chocolate does have other effects because it is high in sugar and fat.

Previous studies of eating chocolate have also pointed to the fact that it can help reduce high blood pressure and diabetes.  These diseases are also related to having a healthy heart.  The study involved more than 100,000 people and it showed that eating a daily piece of chocolate may lower the risk of heart disease by 37 percent and lower the risk of stroke by 29 percent.

Study: Half Of U.S. Adults Will Be Obese By 2030

August 26th, 2011

According to a new study, the number of obese people in the United States will increase from 99 million in 2008 to 164 million by 2030.  Obesity has long been an issue for people in America.  Many states, including California, are trending faster than others but all are facing the huge dilemma.  The healthiest state, Colorado, still has an obesity rate above 15 percent.  The obesity rate is expected to climb faster for men than it is for women.  In men, the obesity rate is predicted to rise from 32 percent to 50 percent.  And in women, the rate is predicted to rise from 35 percent to about 48 percent.  The only concern is not the health of the unhealthy Americans, but the cost associated with treating the obesity.  Obesity costs the U.S. millions of dollars in health care each year.  Many health related issues such as heart disease and diabetes can be a result from obesity.  And that is very costly from a health care perspective.

It is estimated that the costs will exceed $66 billion by 2030.  Many experts say that these trends are accurate and to reverse the trends would take a total shift in people’s behavior and lifestyle.

Unintended Pregnancies Rise In Low-Income Women

August 25th, 2011

A new study shows that nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.  The study shows that unplanned pregnancies are on the rise with women who make less money.  The findings show that women who make less than the federal poverty line have seen a sharp increase in unplanned pregnancies.  In contrast, women who make a higher income have seen a steady decrease in unplanned pregnancies.

In 2006, the highest rate of lower-income unplanned pregnancies occurred, which the rate was five times greater than the rate for higher-income earners.  The numbers show that out of the over 6 million pregnancies that year, 49 percent were unplanned or unintended.  Additionally, rates for unplanned pregnancies are even higher for minority women and younger women under the age of 24.  A lot of this is because not only do they make less than the average person, but they also have less education as well.

Employers Consider Ending Health Coverage

August 24th, 2011

According to a survey from a large consulting firm, nearly one out of every ten employers might consider dropping health benefits in 2014, when the health insurance exchanges are scheduled to open.  Many companies that have over 25 employees offer health insurance to their employees.  However, as health insurance and health care continue to become more costly, many employers are saying that it is too much for their bottom line.  Employer-sponsored health insurance is still the highest contributor for health insurance companies as far as participation.  Many experts are predicting though that those numbers will drop significantly by 2014.

The health reform laws was enacted last year to give consumers an opportunity to purchase health insurance at an affordable price.  Individuals and small businesses can purchase from the health insurance exchange in 2014, and may also receive government subsidies if they qualify.  The survey shows that some employers will drop the insurance and have their employees get insurance through the exchange.  Companies would rather pay the fine then continue to have the high cost of health insurance on their bottom line.

Study Links Writing Difficulties To ADHD

August 23rd, 2011

Children that have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have a higher chance of developing written language disorders in the future.  Usually, children with ADHD develop learning disabilities as they get older and this comes as no surprise to most experts.  The researchers discovered that kids with ADHD have a five times more chance of developing a writing and language disorder than kids who do not have ADHD. 

The general cause and effect of this linkage has been known for awhile.  However, discovering the exact link is what this study claims to have done for the first time.  ADHD is currently the most common behavioral disorder among children and it is becoming more common everyday.  The studies in the past have shown that on average about 3 to 5 percent of kids in school have ADHD.  Read more about the study here and find out why many experts are finding ways to help educate people on ADHD.

Boomer Demand For Anti-Aging Products

August 22nd, 2011

About 70 million baby boomers are heading into retirement.  Medicare and other government related programs will get a large increase in participation.  Many experts are bracing for large increases to state and federal budgets and spending.  Additionally, many think that taxes will have to increase to help offset the costs of programs like Medicare.  Another effect of the baby boomers if the product and services they demand.  Anti-aging products is one of the products that is very high in demand from this demographic.

The revenues from the anti-aging industry is expected to increase from $80 billion in 2010, to $114 billion by 2015.  As technologies in the health care industry continue to improve, baby boomers are demanding the best products and service.  Their is a lot of culture pressure for these consumers because they comprise of the largest segment and also because of the era they grew up in.  Also, they are still working into retirement and competing for jobs with younger people.

ADHD May Be On The Rise In U.S. Kids

August 19th, 2011

The percentage of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder) over the past ten years has increased from 7 percent to 9 percent.  According to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief, children in lower income households and also children that live in the South or Midwest reported the most prevalence.  Doctors say that environment plays a big role in ADHD, as does genetics to a certain degree.

Experts predict that these numbers will only get higher moving forward.  As video games and other non-interactive technologies dominate children’s lives, the problem will get worse.  Kids that interact less and have less social practice, are the most vulnerable to ADHD.  Their are different degrees of ADHD, and some could just have some of the tendencies but not the full diagnosis.  Many experts claim that only half of the kids labeled with ADHD actually have all the symptoms that fully qualify as ADHD.

Moderate Alcohol Drinking May Cut Alzheimer’s Risk

August 18th, 2011

A new study shows that moderate alcohol drinking may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers took a look at data from more than 365,000 participants over 143 studies and the results were surprising.  The participants were from 19 countries from around the world.  The researchers defined moderate drinking as 1-2 glasses of alcohol a day.

Experts are not exactly sure how drinking can help prevent Alzheimer’s but many are pointing to the fact that their might be some anti-inflammatory effects.  The reason this might be the reason is because inflammation of the brain is believed to be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.  The studied showed a 23% decrease in memory loss when the participants had alcohol consumption.  The decrease was in 14 out of 19 countries.  Wine seemed to make more of as effect than other types of alcohol.  It has been believed for a long time that a glass of wine can be healthy for people.  Many experts are continuing to try to figure out the exact effect of drinking wine and its positive effects on Alzheimer’s disease.

Medicaid Pays Less Than Medicare For Many Drugs

August 17th, 2011

A government report finds that Medicaid gets much better discounts for prescription drugs than Medicare does.  The main factor in the difference in discounts is the way the prices are set.  Medicaid discounts are set by the U.S. government and cannot be negotiated.  In contrast, Medicare prices are negotiated by private health insurance companies and drug companies, and their is not telling how stable the prices can be over time.  Medicare is costing the U.S. government billions of dollars and it is expected to rise drastically over the next ten years.  In fact, by 2021, Medicare outpatient drug benefits is expected to increase from $68 billion to $175 billion.

Consumers that participate in Medicaid and Medicare receive discounts from drug companies in the form of rebates.  And it makes prescription drugs very affordable as compared to getting it without any help.  The inspector general found that rebates reduced spending on the top 100 brand name drugs by 19 percent in Medicare, and by 45 percent in Medicaid.  As drug discounts continue to help consumers enrolled in the programs, the U.S. government has to find a way to decrease spending as it continues to be out of control.

Health Care Ruling Won’t Stand

August 16th, 2011

White House officials say today’s appeal against the requirement for all Americans to have health insurance will not stand.  The Obama administration key to the health reform laws was to require all Americans obtain health insurance by 2014.  The majority of Americans still have health insurance through their employer, however, these numbers are declining quickly.  As the economy continues to struggle and employers are cutting expenses; health insurance is sometimes the first to go.  Today, health insurance premiums are very high and getting health care has never been more expensive.  The issue that the White House officials say is troubling is that those who are not insured are costing tax payers more money.  On the other hand, Republicans remain firm that making everyone get health insurance, even if they choose not to, is unconstitutional. 

Democrats say that the appeals court will not stnad and that the ruling and the case are destined for supreme court.  Many states are already on board to start implementing the health care reform laws.  In California, they have already signed a bill for the health insurance exchange and are getting started with its design.  Other states, are fighting the new laws at the court level, and some are winning the get it appealed.

Autism Risks For Siblings Are Higher Than Thought

August 15th, 2011

A new study suggests that 1 out of every 5 children with autism will also have an older sibling that might develop the disorder.  The findings are much higher than experts have recently known and many researchers are wondering why.  A research team followed 664 infants with at least one older brother or sister for a period of a year.  At the end, 19 percent of the siblings developed autism by the age of three years old.  The previous numbers were around 14 percent for siblings with autism. 

Autism is more common in boys and it also held true for the siblings as well.  Those children who have two or more siblings developed the disorder at an even higher rate, roughly around 32 percent.  Boys especially, their siblings developed the disorder 26 percent of the time, versus 9 percent for girls.  Experts link genetics and environmental factors as possible links to siblings who also get autism.  Children with autism need to get early intervention so they can live a more normal life.  When autistic kids get treated at a later age, it makes behavioral modification that much more difficult.

Antidepressants May Increase Stroke Risk In Women

August 12th, 2011

A study of more than 80,000 of women concluded that a history of depression may increase risk of stroke by as much as 29 percent.  Women who take antidepressants such as Celexa or Prozac may be at a 39 percent higher chance of getting a stroke.  Additionally, women who are depressed tend to take less care of their body and their health.  They tend to have high blood pressure because of stress and are often overweight.  It is difficult to say that the medications themselves increase the risk of stroke.  Most likely, it is a indication that someone is ill and may have a higher chance of getting a stroke. 

Many experts say that those who are depressed should not stop taking the pills until they find a definite correlation and cause for stroke.  That is because there are many other health related issues that might increase the risk of stroke.  Researchers will point out though that overall mental state and physical health is an important factor.  If someone is already overweight and is diagnosed with depression, then their risk will be higher than most.

Music Soothes Anxiety, Pain In Cancer Patients

August 11th, 2011

According to a recent study, singing, playing or even listening to music can help with overall anxiety and make cancer patients more calm and happy.  It has been reported that music-based therapies help with other health related issues as well.  For instance, listening to music may help lower blood pressure, pain levels, and make the person feel in a better mood.  And this is very important for a cancer patient.  Feeling mentally stronger can help the body heal faster and may help the patient recover from cancer.

Over 1,800 adults and children with cancer were studied during their survey.  Those who listened to music reported that they had less pain and that they were just feeling better about themselves.  Studies have shown that improving your mental state during stressful times can tremendously help recovery and improve the quality of life.

Walgreen Set To Sell Insurance

August 10th, 2011

The retail giant, Walgreen, is going to be selling individual health insurance to people starting in the fall.  This is an effort that Walgreen has committed to; they want to be a one-stop-shop for all things health related.  They will be offering health insurance to its customers through a private health insurance exchange.  Many other stores might be following their path as the health reform laws, and more specifically, the health insurance exchanges start to take shape.  Because of the reform laws passed last year, organizations can start to participate in the health insurance exchanges, and even sell like Walgreen wants to do.

Walgreen has a large network of retail stores, so it will reach a lot of people and hopefully sell affordable health insurance.  One thing is for sure, we know that people will have a lot more choices starting in 2014, when all the health insurance exchanges are required to be up in each state.

Government Spending More Than $12 Billion On Hospice Care

August 9th, 2011

Medicare is a big part of government spending, especially in recent years as baby boomers are starting to retire.  Over the last five years or so, Medicare has spent way too much on hospice care.  In fact, Medicare spending on hospice care increased by 53 percent from 2005 to 2009 according to a recent government report.  Recent spending on hospice care is at an all-time high and the future does not seem to be getting any better.  As the baby boomer effect starts to take shape, more and more people will be requiring hospice care in their later years.  Hospice care is medical services and care provided for the elderly at the end of their life.  Hospice care is not intended to find a cure for the patients, instead its main purpose is to provide comfort. 

In 2009, more than 1 million people received hospice care, and that represents a 25 percent increase since 2005.  Unfortunately for Medicare but fortunately for the patients, the hospice care centers get paid more by Medicare the longer the patient stays at their facility.  And that is why the Medicare spending has been out of control and will continue to be.  The benefits that pay on Medicare are driving up government spending to all-time highs.

Understanding Health Care Reform: The Individual Mandate

August 8th, 2011

By 2014, individuals are either required to obtain individual health insurance or they will pay a fine.  This new law is a result of the Affordable Care Act that was enacted by the health reform laws last year.  Each person who currently does not have health insurance will have to get health insurance because of the new mandate.  The Affordable Care Act is easily the most controversial part of the health reform laws.  Many Republicans say that requiring individuals to get health insurance against their will is unconstitutional.  And currently, their are many states that are trying to appeal the new mandate. 

Some states however, have already moved forward and backed the health reform laws.  California has already signed the bill and is going to start setting up their health insurance exchange.  The exchange will be an avenue for consumers to purchase individual health insurance.  Each state must have a health insurance exchange up and running by 2014.  If any state does not have an exchange ready by 2014, the federal government will step in and implement one for them.  Many critics maintain the position that the health reform laws will actually increase the cost of individual health insurance and that the mandate will not help make insurance affordable.  We will have to wait and see what happens.

Medicare Drug Premiums Will Not Increase In 2012

August 5th, 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that Medicare prescription drug plans will not have premium increases in 2012.  This is very good news because their are millions of Americans currently on Medicare and with many more baby boomers expecting to join.  In 2011, the average prescription drug premium for Medicare plans was $30.76, and in 2012 the number is expected to remain around $30.  Many experts are saying that the new health reform laws has taking a vital role in keeping these costs down for consumers.  More specifically, The Affordable Care Act continues to keep health care costs down for Americans while also improving the services available to everyone. 

The HHS has noted that over $17 million people on Medicare have received free preventive services, while almost 1 million people are receiving discounts on their prescription drugs.  Many are expecting that the new health reforms laws will continue to help Americans on Medicare, and also to those who are currently not on Medicare by providing affordable health insurance.

Rates Drop For California Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans

August 4th, 2011

Many Californians rely heavily on safety-net plans and now getting some good news.  Consumers who have a pre-existing condition, can get health insurance through a public program called California Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans and their rates are about to drop.  The federal government pays most of the costs associated with this public program and many are taking advantage of it.  It started last fall because the federal government was recognizing that many Americans were getting denied health insurance coverage from the private market.  Today, many people who apply for health insurance go through either a phone interview or are required to submit further medical records.  It is not easy to qualify for private health insurance because carriers are not willing to take more risk given the poor economy.  Additionally, if someone has a pre-existing condition, they almost always get denied.  That is why the pre-existing insurance plans are so important for so many people

The new health reform laws will help more people obtain health insurance that were not able to before.  By 2014, health insurance carriers will no longer be able to deny coverage to those who have pre-existing conditions.  At least until then, consumers have an option to get health insurance coverage.

HHS OKs Birth Control With No Co-Pay

August 3rd, 2011

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidelines for health insurance companies when it comes to women’s preventive services.  Medical care such as birth control and voluntary sterilization will now be more affordable for women.  The report released today shows that 38 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned.  Making birth control part of the health insurance plans people purchase is vital to help prevent unplanned pregnancies.  Birth control historically is not a very cheap product and many have been reluctant to spend the money.  Now, HHS is proposing that health insurance companies include it in their health insurance plans moving forward.  In addition, the large number of unplanned pregnancies costs the health insurance companies and their members lots of money.  Pregnancy and the birthing process is very costly from a health care perspective, and can run bills over $10,000 for even those who have health insurance.  The U.S. government feels confident that this new initiative will help save everyone money by preventing unwanted pregnancies from happening. 

In 2006, their was 2 million publicly funded births and over 50 percent of them were unintended pregnancies.  That costs the government over $11 billion.  The new proposal will save everyone money.  Health insurance companies are also very happy, as they will save money because of the high costs associated with giving birth.

Exercise Big Help For Heart

August 2nd, 2011

A new study shows that even a little exercise per day helps the heart be healthier.  A study at Harvard University points to the fact that it does not take a lot of exercise to live a healthier life.  As little as 2.5 hours of exercise per week can do the trick.  Researchers stress the fact that exercise can help prevent heart disease and other related health problems.  The body needs the exercise and it does not take that much effort. 

The researchers found that exercising 2.5 hours per week can help reduce the risk of heart disease by 14 percent.  Additionally, they found even those that exercised less than the recommended time had a healthier heart.  The researchers also made a point that exercising more than the minimum is even better.  Exercising 300 minutes per week can help reduce the risk of heart disease by 20 percent.  Heart disease is one of the deadliest killers in America, taking more than 600,000 lives each year.

Can Chewing More Help You Eat Less?

August 1st, 2011

A new study finds that people who chew more before swallowing actually take in less calories and can help reduce their weight.  It is reported that the average person chews their food 15 times before swallowing.  According to the study, chewing up to 40 times can help you actually reduce your weight.  The research study took a look at obese people as well as people of normal weight, and analyzed how they chew their food and whether their were differences in their weight gain.  Additionally, they wanted to find out the effects of their blood sugar intake and other hormones that are important to weight gain.

It was found that more chewing decreases the blood levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite.  And that in turn will tell the brain more frequently that the body is full and not always hungry for food.  The study also showed that increased chewing also leads to higher levels of CCK, another hormone that is believed to reduce the appetite.  The group in the study that chewed 40 times on average had a 12 percent decrease in calorie intake, and that will possibly lead to reduced weight gain.