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Archives for: October 2010

10/29/10

  02:53:19 pm, by MedBen5   , 167 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Milliman Releases 2011 Survey Results

Several months ago, we published prelimary results from Milliman’s 2010 Group Health Insurance Survey. The final results of the survey are now in, and the numbers have changed a bit. Milliman estimates that premium rate increases for January 2011… more »
  12:58:19 pm, by MedBen5   , 155 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Dress Smart This Halloween!

If you’re venturing out to a Halloween party this weekend, it’s really in your best interest not to attach an eye patch with super glue, wear a mask made out of metal mesh, or construct a sheep costume out of cotton balls. At least, if you… more »
  12:33:04 pm, by MedBen5   , 220 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Health Care Reform Has Employers Pondering Their Next Move

Further evidence that, despite sunny projections from White House officials, employers aren’t totally sold on the concept. According to an Associated Press article, A major company has made a change to its health care plan in anticipation of new… more »
  11:46:59 am, by MedBen5   , 204 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Researchers Confident Pancreatic Cancer Can Be Detected Earlier

Pancreatic cancer progesses slowly enough to find it early and cure it, a team of American and British medical researchers announced earlier this week. Using collected tissue samples from both living and deceased patients, doctors are studying… more »

10/28/10

  05:29:25 pm, by MedBen5   , 222 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Long-term Care On Next Year's Health Reform Agenda

An aspect of health care reform that hasn’t received much attention – not yet, anyway – is the the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or “CLASS", Act, which provides an employer-administered public option for… more »
  12:48:16 pm, by MedBen5   , 145 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

2011 Fitness Trends: Boot Camps In, Pilates Out

Want to be in the know about the latest health care trends? Sure, we all do! Boot-camp workouts, strength training and core exercises – push-ups, sit-ups and so on – rank among the top 20 fitness trends for 2011, according to the American… more »
  11:49:04 am, by MedBen5   , 155 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Bayer Settles Lawsuit Following Deceptive Prostate Cancer Claims

Another piece of evidence that it’s important to do your health homework: Pharmaceutical company Bayer has settled complaints by three states that it misrepresented the ability of One-A-Day vitamins to prevent prostate cancer. Illinois,… more »
  11:05:35 am, by MedBen5   , 147 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Uniform Nutrition Labels to Appear on Front of Food Packaging

Trade groups the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association have jointly announced that uniform nutrition labels will begin showing on food products early next year. Calorie content and other health information will appear on the… more »

10/27/10

  04:28:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 129 words,  
Categories: News

Letter to HHC Praises Insurers -- And Warns Against Insurers

Here’s something you don’t see every day… a health insurance watchdog group warning the government not to change federal insurance regulations unanimously approved by state insurers. Following last week’s endorsement of new… more »
  02:02:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 204 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Healthy Lifestyle Choices May Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk

Observing a healthier lifestyle may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 23%, according to a new study summarized on WebMD. Researchers at the Institute for Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark studied the habits of 55,487 men and women aged… more »
  12:38:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 139 words,  
Categories: News

Canadian Parliament Member Calls For Private Health Care System

Keith Martin, a doctor and liberal Parliament Member in British Columbia, Canada, has called for a private system of health care to balance what he feels are deficiencies in the present government-run system. A longtime advocate for changes to the… more »
  10:41:13 am, by MedBen5   , 157 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Beverages Combining Alcohol and Caffeine Under Scrutiny

Energy drinks that offer a mix of alcohol and caffeine have been thrust in the spotlight, following two separate incidents in which college students who drank the beverages ended up in emergency rooms, several with high levels of alcohol poisoning. The… more »

10/26/10

  04:05:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 179 words,  
Categories: News

Health Care Fraud on the Rise

Confusion about health care reform has led to a new wave of health insurance fraud. Most of these schemes are performed by small-scale operators, and are typically pitched at the most vulnerable citizens, especially seniors and unemployed and… more »
  01:57:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 118 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Obese Children Show Signs of Health Disease

Obese children can display the same stiffness in blood vessels typically found in adults with health disease, a new study indicates. Comparing 63 obese children – average age of 13 – with 55 kids of normal weight, Canadian researchers found… more »
  11:09:45 am, by MedBen5   , 163 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

High-Risk Health Pools Receive a Mixed Reception

Kaiser Health News reports that high-risk health pools introduced across the country this summer have met with mixed reviews. Some say that pools, which offer health insurance coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, have allowed them to… more »
  09:40:32 am, by MedBen5   , 129 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Heavy Smoking Greatly Increases Alzheimer's Risk

Just in case you need one more reason to kick the cigarette habit: A new study has determined that heavy smoking during middle age may double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia later in life. Researchers analyzed the health plan data of… more »

10/25/10

  12:16:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 102 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Spanish EBSA Model Notices, PPACA Public Comments Available Online

For employers with a Spanish-speaking workforce, The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has made available the following Affordable Care Act Model Notices in Spanish: Health Coverage for Young Adults… more »
  11:34:51 am, by MedBen5   , 120 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Low Aspirin Dose May Reduce Colon Cancer Risk, Study Says

A new study finds that aspirin taken in small doses may slightly reduce the risk of colon cancer. European researchers, reviewing 20 years of study results involving over 20,000 people, found that people who took baby or regular aspirin pills for six… more »
  11:16:28 am, by MedBen5   , 305 words,  
Categories: News

Health Care Reform, As Seen From Two Sides

Two takes on health care reform that we recently ran across… Maggie Mahar, writing for The Health Care Blog, offers a three-part analysis of how the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) can pay for itself, trim the nation’s… more »
  10:16:07 am, by MedBen5   , 143 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

With Running Shoes, Bigger Cost Doesn't Mean Better Comfort

Pricey running shoes are no promise of better performance or greater comfort, according to a New York Times article. As the popularity of running for exercise and sport has grown, the variety of running shoes has grown with it – as has the cost.… more »

10/22/10

  06:20:47 pm, by MedBen5   , 138 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Insurance Regulators Okay New Federal Spending Rules

State insurance commissioners have approved new regulations that will require insurers to spend 80-85% of premiums on medical care. Beginning next year, insurers that do not this medical loss ratio will be required to pay rebates to policyholders.… more »
  05:30:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 162 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Enjoying "Better" Halloween Candy

Tempted by all that Halloween candy at the office? The Washington Post’s Jennifer LaRue Huget has done a great service for all of us trick-or-treat snackers by providing a rundown of nutritional content in some of the most popular candies. If… more »
  11:02:49 am, by MedBen5   , 177 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

The Debate Continues: Will Employers Drop Coverage in 2014?

Last month, we highlighted an Employee Benefits News article that predicted employers will choose to continue offering health care coverage when federal exchanges are introduced in 2014, citing employee salary adjustments and rising penalty amounts… more »
  10:18:29 am, by MedBen5   , 152 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Diabetes Cases May Triple By 2050

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report projects that as many as 1 in 3 will have diabetes by 2050, according to an article in USA Today. But there’s a small silver lining among the bad news. “There are some positive reasons… more »

10/21/10

  11:36:59 am, by MedBen5   , 180 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Salt Intake Unchanged In The Part 50 Years, Study Says

Good news – we’re not consuming any more salt than we were 50 years ago! Bad news – we’re not consuming any less, either… that is, if we can trust our bodies to tell the truth. A new Harvard report finds U,S, salt intake… more »
  10:58:43 am, by MedBen5   , 140 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Health Care Reform FAQs Available from EBSA

If you’ve got questions about health care reform – and really, who doesn’t? – the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website is a good place to look for answers. The DOL agency Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has… more »
  10:25:31 am, by MedBen5   , 172 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

The Home Health Care Trend

Are house calls making a comeback? Well, kind of. A New England Journal of Medicine article observes a growing “health at home” trend. Sometimes this may involve a physician, nurse or therapist on-site, but it may just as well be a… more »
  09:59:29 am, by MedBen5   , 139 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Want to Sleep Better? Get Healthy

Better health leads to better sleep – and vice versa. So says a WebMD article that examines how sleep changes throughout one’s adult years. As we get older, sleep become less restorative. This is due in part to the natural aging process,… more »

10/20/10

  02:20:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 133 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Fish Oil Doesn't Enhance Baby's IQ, Study Says

Taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy won’t turn your baby into another Einstein, says a study just published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and reported in The New York Times. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a key… more »
  01:39:54 pm, by MedBen5   , 125 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

2011 Cost Trend Comparisons for PPOs, HDHPs

Last week, we posted the results of The Segal Company’s annual cost trends survey, which predicted that preferred provider organizations (PPOs) trend rates for 2011 will reach 10.6%, while high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are expected at 11.2%. We… more »
  01:13:29 pm, by MedBen5   , 149 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

HHS Website Criticized In New Report

Created by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Hospital Compare website was designed to help Medicare patients find the highest quality care for their condition. But a new report argues that the website isn’t necessarily helping… more »
  09:36:37 am, by MedBen5   , 162 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Treadmill or Elliptical -- Which Is Better?

The age-old battle between treadmills and ellipticals is played out in a Yahoo! Health/Reuters article. Specifically, which cardio machine offers a better workout? As the piece makes clear, both have their pros and cons. Treadmills are motorized to… more »

10/19/10

  11:48:33 am, by MedBen5   , 131 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

W-2 Health Care Reporting Postponement Documents Available for Download

Last week, the IRS announced that it has postponed mandatory employer health care reporting on W-2 forms for 2011. It has also released two documents regarding the postponement: a notice explaining the reasoning behind the postponement (or, as the IRS… more »
  11:02:19 am, by MedBen5   , 199 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Ohio Health Care Organizations Team Up to Reduce Costly Hospital Readmissions

The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) recently announced a new initiative to reduce costly avoidable hospital readmissions. The Ohio Health Care Coverage and Quality Council (HCCQC) and the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) have joined forces with the… more »
  10:45:44 am, by MedBen5   , 137 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Obesity Responsible for 17% of Medical Costs, Study Says

The cost of excess poundage is really weighing down the economy these days. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) The Assocated Press reports that nearly 17% of medical costs – roughly $168 billion – are attributable to obesity, according to new… more »
  10:27:57 am, by MedBen5   , 180 words,  
Categories: News

Websites to Further Your Health Care Reform I.Q.

There’s no shortage of information available about health care reform – and, it appears, a growing number of websites to help you understand it, analyze it, and stay on top of the lastest developments. (We make our own humble contribution on… more »
  09:50:32 am, by MedBen5   , 165 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Taking A Stand Against Sitting

Ever consider that you might be more productive if you stood at your work station rather than sit all day? According to The Washington Post, there’s a growing trend in the white-collar world to stay upright while performing daily tasks. A… more »

10/18/10

  12:02:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 117 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Botox OKed as a Migraine Remedy by FDA

Botox has developed a reputation for turning the faces of Hollywood starlets into deer-in-headlights caricatures, but it actually serves a number of useful medical purposes. The FDA already allows the drug to treat such conditions as uncontrolled… more »
  11:43:41 am, by MedBen5   , 307 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Repeal Health Care Reform? Polls Say Yes. And No.

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about health care reform – and if several new polls are to be believed, we’re changing our opinion depending on who’s asking the questions. During the past month, no less than eight polls commissioned… more »
  11:07:46 am, by MedBen5   , 128 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Extend Hospice Care for Terminal Prostate Cancer Victims, Researchers Advise

Research findings by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Jonsson Cancer Center advocate earlier hospice stays for men dying of prostate cancer, citing the importance of maximizing quality of life when quantity can’t be changed. While… more »
  10:18:51 am, by MedBen5   , 121 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Health Plan Management

Do Your Medicare D Homework

A Los Angeles Times article reminds Medicare D (prescription drug program) recipients that with the annual sign-up period approaching, it’s a smart move to start reviewing options. Many plans are available (33 per state, on average) and the… more »

10/15/10

  12:08:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 140 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

District Judge Allows States to Argue Constitutionality of Individual Mandate

A U.S. District Court in Florida has ruled that a 20-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of federally mandated individual health insurance coverage can proceed to trial. A contention that Medicaid expansion is unconstitutional because it… more »
  12:01:34 pm, by MedBen5   , 139 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study: Many Obese People Don't See Themselves as Overweight

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that some severly overweight people develop a sense of denial about their condition. In a study by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in which researchers surveyed over 2,000 obese Dallas residents,… more »
  11:26:11 am, by MedBen5   , 127 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

FDA Will Reverse Approval for Knee Implant Device

The FDA said it was poltically pressured into approving the Menaflex knee implant and will rescind its approval. Dr. Jeffrey E. Shuren, director of the agency’s device center, said, “We are concluding that the science does not support a decision… more »
  11:06:34 am, by MedBen5   , 110 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Four Things to Tell Your Doctor

The EverythingHealth blog – written by Toni Brayer, MD, an Internal medicine physician – recently came up with a list of four things for patients to tell their doctors as a means to improve the lines of communication: What are the… more »

10/14/10

  01:04:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 134 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Child-only Policy Provision for Individual Insurers Modified

Coming on the heels of the W-2 health care cost reporting postpostment, the Obama administration has made another reform provision change. The New York Times reports that individual health insurers will be permitted to increase premiums for child-only… more »
  12:04:35 pm, by MedBen5   , 188 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Report: Food Packaging Should Highlight Calories, Fat and Salt

Weary from picking up food packages to scan the nutrition facts on the side? Well, there’s good news: A new Institute of Medicine report offers guidelines for a uniform nutition rating system that goes right on the front of the box. The IOM… more »
  11:51:03 am, by MedBen5   , 226 words,  
Categories: News

Political Parties Taking Different Approaches to Health Care Reform

As we near the mid-term elections, the candidates are of two minds about health care reform: Democrats would rather not discuss it, while Republicans can’t say enough about it. This campaign season’s political ads (perhaps you’ve seen… more »
  11:38:33 am, by MedBen5   , 109 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Walking Good for the Brain, Researchers Find

A University of Pittsburgh study says that walking is beneficial to the brain as well as the body. Researchers initially reviewed the walking data of 299 dementia-free seniors, and nine years later took brain scans of the participants. After four more… more »

10/13/10

  05:28:07 pm, by MedBen5   , 104 words,  
Categories: Announcements

MedBen Launches New Online Portal for Vision Providers

Great news for MedBen VisionPlus providers: MedBen is currently rolling out a new online portal for its vision benefits plan! Available through our MedBen Access website, providers can use the vision portal to determine patient eligibility and submit… more »
  02:20:15 pm, by MedBen5   , 160 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Terminally Ill Cancer Patients Still Receiving Regular Screenings

Many incurable cancer patients still continue to get screenings even though they cannot change the outcome, according to a report released by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical… more »
  02:06:01 pm, by MedBen5   , 130 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Some States Still Rejecting Federal Health Care Reform

Health care reform is in full swing, but several states have yet to get on board – either because they question the Constitutionality of the legislation, or they already have their own systems in place. While most states have applied for grants to… more »
  02:01:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 172 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Corn Syrup and Sugar Promote Weight Gain Equally, Researchers Find

High-fructose corn syrup gets a pretty bad rap from nutritionists and personal trainers, but at least once group is speaking in its defense: The Corn Refiners Association. (Okay, perhaps that doesn’t come a great shock.) A study supported by the… more »
  01:58:57 pm, by MedBen5   , 93 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

HHS Promotes Personal Wellness Through "Smallstep"

The Department of Health and Human Services have developed a rather nifty website. Called Smallstep, the site contains a wealth of health-related information for adults, teens and children, including health facts, recipes and nutrition advice, and an… more »

10/12/10

  03:47:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 145 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Employer W-2 Health Care Cost Reporting Mandate Postponed

Earlier today, the IRS announced that employer W-2 health care cost reporting will NOT be mandatory for 2011, as originally scheduled. The Treasury Department and the IRS have decided to give employers additional time to make any needed changes to their… more »
  12:58:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 135 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

U.S. Not Keeping Pace in Life Expectancy Rates

Despite greater spending on health care, the United States still lags behind other industrialized countries in regard to longer life expectancy. A Commonwealth Fund study revealed that 15-year survival rates of 45 year-old men and women in the U.S. to… more »
  12:53:54 pm, by MedBen5   , 98 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Microsoft Will Require Employees to Contribute to Health Care Coverage

Even one of the world’s wealthiest companies is not immune to the rapidly-changing conditions in health care. Microsoft has announced that beginning in 2013, workers will be required to contribute to their health care benefits. Currently, about… more »
  10:46:33 am, by MedBen5   , 152 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study: Healthy Habits Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

While the scientific community currently holds varying opinions on the effectiveness of mammograms to detect breast cancer (see yesterday’s MedBen Blog article on the topic here), women can take proactive steps to reduce the risk of developing the… more »
  10:05:15 am, by MedBen5   , 104 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Health Plan Management

Medical Cost Trends Projected to Hold Steady in 2011, Survey Says

Medical benefit plan cost trends in 2011 will remain relatively consistent with the past two years, according to The Segal Company’s annual cost trends survey. The projected trend rates for preferred provider organizations (PPOs) in 2011 are… more »

10/11/10

  11:57:45 am, by MedBen5   , 143 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Health Plan Management

MedBen Posts New Health Reform Documents to Plan Design, Regulatory Blog Areas

MedBen has added the following health care reform documents to the Plan Design section of the MedBen Blog: Sample Required Notice for Grandfathered Plans Sample Required Notice for Non-Grandfathered Plans PPACA Plan Checklist The Plan… more »
  11:17:01 am, by MedBen5   , 108 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Wellness

PBMs Analyzing Prescription Use to Anticipate Health Issues

Express Scripts and other pharmacy benefit managers are experimenting with “data diving” as a way to predict what prescription drug users are likely to skip doses or develop complications down the road. By examining such factors as… more »
  10:53:13 am, by MedBen5   , 147 words,  
Categories: News

McDonald's Among Companies Receiving Gov't Health Care Waivers

When you’re the federal government and you enact sweeping health care reform legislation that will dramatically impact employers across the nation, you presumably understand that some businesses will not tacitly nod their heads “okay”… more »
  10:31:33 am, by MedBen5   , 117 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

All Quiet on the Influenza Front This Year

Last year at this time, you couldn’t read a newspaper or go to a health news blog without seeing the buzz words “swine flu". (Case in point here.) Thankfully, the news is much more positive on the flu front this year. Last week, the Centers… more »
  10:16:56 am, by MedBen5   , 87 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

New Mammography Studies Produce Conflicting Conclusions

Nearly a year since the U.S Preventive Services Task Force recommended new mammography guidelines for women under 50 (and were quickly admonished by the Department of Health and Human Services for doing so), several new studies have been published that… more »

10/08/10

  09:26:32 pm, by MedBen5   , 195 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Health Plan Management

Partners Plan Rollout Continues; Website Launched

MedBen’s recent launch of Partners Community Health Plan has been well-received by employer groups and participating agents alike. Now available as a fully-insured product in Marietta and Zanesville, Ohio, Partners will soon be offered in the… more »

10/07/10

  04:04:12 pm, by MedBen5   , 63 words,  
Categories: Announcements

System Upgrades Postposed

The system upgrades MedBen originally scheduled for the coming weekend have been postponed until next week. Beginning on Friday, October 15 at 6:30 p.m. and continuing through late afternoon on Sunday, October 17, MedBen Access will not be available… more »

10/05/10

  03:51:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 218 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

New Studies Find Americans Still Not Getting Enough Exercise

Two new studies reveal that a vast majority of Americans still favor the sofa over the treadmill: Only 5% of Americans engage in vigorous physical activity on a daily basis, according to research published in the American Journal of Preventive… more »