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Archives for: November 2010

11/30/10

  05:33:55 pm, by MedBen5   , 174 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Reform Bill Will Retain Some PPACA Provisions, Says House GOP Leader

Republicans maintain that they will uphold their promise to “repeal and replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), but that doesn’t mean that they desire to build a new bill entirely from the ground up. House… more »
  11:28:54 am, by MedBen5   , 134 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Simple Solutions To Battle Cold And Flu In The Workplace

Susan Wilson Solovic, writing on the AllBusiness website, cites a study estimating that the flu is directly responsible for “approximately 70 million missed work days and nearly $10 billion in lost business productivity in the U.S. each… more »
  10:53:19 am, by MedBen5   , 146 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Congress Postpones Medicare Cuts (Again)

Congress has approved yet another stopgap measure to delay Medicare payment cuts to doctors – the 423rd such reprieve in the past eight years. (Okay, it’s really only the 10th… it just seems like there’s been a lot more.) Both… more »
  10:12:57 am, by MedBen5   , 203 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study: Vitamin D Is Good For You, But Don't Overdo It

Taking Vitamin D supplements because the Internet told you it was good for you? Well, you may want to back off a bit, because, uh, the Internet is now telling you it may be bad for you. (Sorry about that.) Following a two-year study, The Food and… more »

11/29/10

  05:54:40 pm, by MedBen5   , 142 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Tax Breaks for Employer-Based Health Insurance My Be In Jeopardy

Are tax breaks for employer health care benefits soon to become a thing of the past? An Associated Press article reports that both political parties suggest decreasing or eliminating tax breaks in their budget proposals, in order to reduce the deficit.… more »
  04:32:45 pm, by MedBen5   , 123 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study Finds Secondhand Smoke Kills 600,000 People Yearly

The number of smokers may be way down, but the habit is still hazardous – even to non-smokers. According to The Associated Press, a new UK study concludes that secondhand smoke kills more that 600,000 people worldwide annually. Reviewing data… more »
  03:16:55 pm, by MedBen5   , 182 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

One-Quarter of 2008 Medicaid Rx Expenditures Went Toward Unapproved Drugs: Report

The Pharmalot website blog summarizes a Medicaid report just released by the Office of Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Reviewing 2008 records, the OIG found that approximately 38% of drugs paid for by Medicaid were… more »
  01:59:56 pm, by MedBen5   , 149 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study Suggests Women With Breast Cancer History Should Have MRIs

New research suggests that women with a personal history of breast cancer may benefit from an annual breast MRI screening in addition to a mammogram. A University of Washington Medical School study of MRI effectiveness compared MRI detection rates for… more »

11/23/10

  11:45:12 pm, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Health Care Reform -- State Fixes, Federal Funds

As we noted on this blog after the mid-term elections, it’s our considered opinion that all the campaign promises to repeal health care reform will come to naught. Oh, maybe a couple of freshmen Congresspersons will present a token bill and… more »
  10:36:03 pm, by MedBen5   , 159 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Adults and Kids Still Skimping on Produce Consumption

In spite of everything we know about food pyramids and healthy eating, kids still aren’t getting enough vegetables – and grown-ups aren’t doing much better. A report card released by the non-profit group Produce for Better Health… more »

11/22/10

  07:09:50 pm, by MedBen5   , 146 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Health and Human Services Release Medical Loss Ratio Rules

The Department of Health and Human Services announced today that the medical loss ratio for health insurers has been set at 80% – that is, for every dollar that goes toward an insurance premium, 80 cents must be used to pay for direct medical… more »
  06:20:16 pm, by MedBen5   , 164 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

ER Visits Drop By Half After Toddler Cough Meds Pulled from Shelves

More evidence that it’s wise to use extra caution when giving medicine to your youngest kids: A new study shows that emergency room visits due to bad reactions to children’s cough and cold products have dropped by more than 50% since… more »
  05:33:56 pm, by MedBen5   , 196 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Recess -- Not Just For Kids Anymore!

Remember back in the day when companies offered smoke breaks to their workers? Well, that tradition has all but fallen by the wayside, but we do like the idea of taking a couple of short breathers during the workday. But instead of doing something… more »

11/19/10

  09:59:57 pm, by MedBen5   , 378 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Health Plan Management

MedBen Introduces New Predictive Modeling and Data Analytics Solution

MedBen has selected Sightlines™ Medical Intelligence to identify health care trends and cost drivers, facilitate benefit program design, improve health status, and reduce spending for its employer clients. Verisk Health, a global leader in… more »

11/18/10

  06:38:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 309 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

MedBen Preparing for New HIPAA Standards

MedBen is currently conducting activities in order to meet requirements set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for analysis, testing and implementation of Version 5010 of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act… more »
  06:33:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 260 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

FDA Outlaws Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks

Energy drinks fought the law, and the law won. Yesterday, Phusion Projects, the maker of the popular caffeinated alcoholic beverage Four Loko, announced it was removing caffeine from its products – right about the same time the Food and Drug… more »

11/17/10

  04:20:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 147 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Where You Live May Factor into End-of-Life Care

Geography plays a major role on where terminal cancer patients spend their final days, says a new study by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. Patients in larger cities like Manhattan, Los Angeles and Chicago were more likely to receive aggressive… more »
  03:27:58 pm, by MedBen5   , 190 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

More Bad News for Fish Oil Supplements

Does someone have in for fish oil these days? First we’re told that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish won’t make your babies smarter, then we find out that they don’t slow mental decline in Alzheimer’s disease patients. And now we… more »

11/16/10

  03:47:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 198 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Pharmaceutical Companies Exploring Personalized Medicine

Drug makers are about to get personal… or so says a new report from the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development at Tufts University. A survey of large and small pharmaceutical companies found that all were exploring personalized medicine to… more »
  02:27:43 pm, by MedBen5   , 219 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Deloitte Consumer Pulse Survey Measures Attitudes on Reform

Now that we’ve all had enough time to read the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) cover to cover – what, you STILL haven’t? – The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions decided to survey consumers for their thoughts… more »
  01:59:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 209 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Clearing Up Common Flu Myths

In response to a Consumer Reports survey in which only 30% of respondents felt “very confident” that this year’s flu shot is safe, USA Today talked to vaccine safety experts to address five of the most common flu myths. Myth 1: The… more »

11/15/10

  03:03:37 pm, by MedBen5   , 251 words,  
Categories: Announcements

MedBen Thanksgiving Holiday Hours Announced

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff at MedBen! Our home office will be closed on Thursday, November 25 and Friday, November 26 to observe the Thanksgiving holiday. We will reopen at 8:00 a.m. Monday, November 29, 2010. During this time, please remember… more »
  12:30:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 133 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

CBO Projects Slightly Higher Rx Prices from Health Care Reform

The Pharmalot website reports that based on a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, health care reform will raise prescription drug costs slightly, though not every patient will be affected by the price hike. Provisions in Patient Protection and… more »
  12:05:32 pm, by MedBen5   , 183 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Less Salt As A Teen Reduces Hypertension Risk As An Adult

Practicing healthy habits as a teenager pays dividends as an adult: That’s the conclusion of a study presented at a recent American Health Association (AHA) meeting. Researchers found that by reducing daily salt consumption by 3,000 milligrams,… more »
  11:17:34 am, by MedBen5   , 122 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Does Homeopathic Medicine Really Cure Colds?

In a lengthy post, the blog Science-based Medicine challenges the effectiveness of the popular cold remedy Airborne and similar homeopathic remedies. The author of the post equates homeopathy with “quackery” and claims that Airborne and… more »

11/12/10

  06:01:25 pm, by MedBen5   , 208 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Doctor Pay Cuts, Public Option Among Reform Committee Submissions

The White House-sponsored National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform won’t be making any new friends with the influx of Republican Congressmen soon to arrive – and likely will put off a few Democrats as well. The debt commission… more »
  05:17:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 126 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Flu Shots Okay During Pregnancy, Study Finds

Ladies: If you’ve turned down a flu shot this year because you’re expecting, you may want to rethink your decision. A 20-year study conducted by the U.S. government found little evidence that the vaccines cause complications in pregnant… more »
  04:37:55 pm, by MedBen5   , 141 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Change in Infant Formula May Reduce Diabetes Risk

In the middle of National Diabetes Month comes a bit of promising information: A new study suggests that using predigested infant formula when a mother stops breastfeeding instead of normal formula may aid in the prevention of type 1 diabetes. You can… more »

11/11/10

  10:53:46 am, by MedBen5   , 175 words,  
Categories: Prescription

Dispose of Your Unused Medications Safely

The National Community Pharmacists Association says that about a third of the 4 billion prescriptions filled anually go unused. Consumer Reports offers recommendations for their safe disposal (as reported in The Washington Post). “DON’T… more »
  10:37:54 am, by MedBen5   , 237 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Junk Food: The Key to Better Health?

The Internet is abuzz about a man who subsisted for two months on what CNN has dubbed the “Twinkie diet”. For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate snack fare every three hours – Twinkies,… more »
  09:59:53 am, by MedBen5   , 182 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Big Employers Will Continue to Offer Health Care Coverage, Study Says

Predicting whether or not employers will continue to offer insurance coverage after 2013 is a popular water cooler topic in health care circles. Benefits consulting firm Mercer has gone straight to the source and asked over 2,800 employees which… more »

11/10/10

  06:34:13 pm, by MedBen5   , 177 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Health Plan Management

FSA OTC Purchase Period Winding Down

We’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating as the year winds down: Effective January 1, 2011, flexible spending account (FSA) funds can no longer be used to pay for over-the counter medications without a prescription. This includes such… more »
  06:30:45 pm, by MedBen5   , 165 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Cigarette Packs About to Get Graphic

Cigarette packages will soon receive an extreme makeover. The Food and Drug Administration announced today that cigarette companies will be required to cover roughly half of each package with images and text depicting the dangers of smoking. Similarly,… more »
  06:01:51 pm, by MedBen5   , 165 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Know Your Family Health History

We frequently link to the See First Blog because it’s a good source of common sense thinking about health care issues of the day. And sometimes, it offers sensible personal advice, like in the recent post, “How to Be a Healthcare… more »
  04:49:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 198 words,  
Categories: News

Cheese Creates a Wedge at the Agriculture Department

Talk about your mixed messages… The New York Times has published a story about Dairy Management funding a $12 million marketing campaign for Domino’s Pizza, in conjunction with a new line of pizzas featuring 40% more cheese. The pizza… more »

11/09/10

  06:57:35 pm, by MedBen5   , 183 words,  
Categories: Announcements

MedBen Claims Surveillance Savings Top $16.7 Million

MedBen’s claims survelliance system continues to save clients money. As of October 31, 2010 – just a little over three years since we introduced the service – clients have realized over $16.7 million in cumulative savings. And… more »
  06:38:23 pm, by MedBen5   , 199 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Making Your Worksite Cafeteria the "Meal Deal"

As most of us spend 40+ hours a week at the office, the food we eat there accounts for a sizable portion of our diet. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) website takes note of this fact and offers employer suggestions for providing healthy… more »

11/08/10

  03:55:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 123 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

ODI Revises Age 28 Continuation Rules FAQ

The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) has revised its FAQ regarding the age 28 continuation rules. As we reported on this blog in July, Ohio law requires insurance companies, health insuring corporations and self-funded public employee benefit plans to… more »
  02:06:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Wellness

Raising Diabetes Awareness in November

November is National Diabetes Month – an effort to build awareness about a disease that currently affects 1 in 10 American adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that those who suffer from the diabetes can take steps to manage… more »
  01:08:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 128 words,  
Categories: News

Republicans Hit the Airwaves to Talk Health Care Reform

Congressional Republicans made the TV talk show rounds this weekend, with health care reform as a recurring topic. Kaiser Health News has a summary of major news outlet reports. Generally acknowledging that a repeal of the Patient Protection and… more »
  11:06:39 am, by MedBen5   , 146 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Food Won't Alter Your Disposition

Despite what you’ve heard, or told yourself before grabbing for a chocolate bar, food really doesn’t affect your mood. The Los Angeles Times reports that while certain neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine do trigger brain activity,… more »

11/05/10

  05:52:07 pm, by MedBen5   , 148 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Low Enrollment in High-Risk Pools So Far

High-risk insurance pools are off to a slow start, reports The New York Times. Despite actuarial projections that initial response would quickly deplete the $5 billion appropriation to fund the pools, figures from the Department of Health and Human… more »
  04:49:46 pm, by MedBen5   , 124 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Overweight? Blame Your Friends.

Is it wrong to say obesity is spreading? (Probably, but there it is.) A new Harvard study indicates that the more obese friends you have, the greater the chance that you will become obese as well. “We find that having four obese friends doubled… more »
  04:05:54 pm, by MedBen5   , 168 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Michigan Bans the Sale of Alcohol Energy Drinks

Last month, we posted that energy drinks combining alcohol and caffeine are under review by the Food and Drug Administration, in the wake of several cases in which college students who drank the beverages required medical atttention. But rather than… more »
  03:06:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 200 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Use Your Head When Diagnosing on the Web

Chances are, you’ve used the Internet at least once to learn about a medical condition or diagnose a symptom. And while there’s nothing wrong with doing so, it’s important not to simply take the information at face value. Evan Falchuk,… more »

11/04/10

  02:05:55 pm, by MedBen5   , 316 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

What's Next for the Republicans -- and Health Care Reform?

As the dust settles on another campaign season – farewell, attack ads, you will be missed – one of the big questions is what the Republicans will do about health care reform, now that they own a majority in the House of Representatives and… more »
  12:45:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 119 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Regular Exercise Reduces Chance of Catching a Cold

Is there nothing a good workout can’t make better? The British Journal of Sports Medicine has published a report stating that regular exercise can greatly reduce the frequency and severity of common colds. Researchers studied over 1,000 men and… more »
  12:28:13 pm, by MedBen5   , 82 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Get "Smarter" Medical Information Online

The EverythingHealth blog has brought to our attention a very useful and impressive website. Called Smarter Medical Care, it offers over 65 audio podcasts on a range of topics pertaining to serious illnesses. The podcasts are conducted by doctors and,… more »
  11:40:17 am, by MedBen5   , 161 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Fish Oil Doesn't Slow Alzheimer's, Study Finds

Fish oil just can’t catch a break these days. On the heels of a report that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a key ingredient in fish oil, doesn’t make babies smarter, comes a study that finds DHA also doesn’t delay mental decline in… more »

11/03/10

  09:37:35 pm, by MedBen5   , 169 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Happy Meals in San Francisco May Soon Be Less Happy

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, apparently with plenty of free time on their hands these days, have given preliminary approval to banning free toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals and similar food packages unless they contain no more than 600… more »
  04:44:35 pm, by MedBen5   , 267 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Premium Subsidies in Only Eight Easy Steps

The Health Care Blog, apparently unaware that Halloween was last week, offers something guaranteed to send a chill down the spine of even the heartiest of souls: A step-by-step process for requesting a government premium subsidy. (Insert screeching… more »
  03:52:43 pm, by MedBen5   , 189 words,  
Categories: Wellness

10 Good Reasons Not to Fear the Needle

Nobody likes getting a vaccination shot (at least, nobody we know), but few will dispute its effectiveness. According to said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, “Vaccines have saved more lives,… more »

11/02/10

  05:05:48 pm, by MedBen5   , 156 words,  
Categories: Wellness

When Choosing A Dentist, Consider Convenience, Clarity

Seen your dentist for a checkup lately? What’s that, you say you don’t even HAVE a dentist? Well, before you start imbibing on the candy canes and gingerbread, you really should find a dentist to give your teeth the once-over. When choosing… more »
  03:58:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 174 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Know Your Insurance Commissioners!

Several weeks back, we posted that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners had endorsed regulations establishing a uniform medical loss ratio for health insurers. So who are these mysterious “insurance commissioners", and just where do… more »
  10:43:07 am, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Staying Healthy During the Holdays (And Beyond)

Can the holiday season be here already? (Well, so much for finally getting around to that spring cleaning!) And with the holidays, that can mean only one thing – prolonged, deep and unrelenting aggravation. Okay, maybe the holidays aren’t… more »
  09:36:32 am, by MedBen5   , 128 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Can State Voters Prohibit the PPACA Individual Mandate?

Voters in Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma will decide today whether their states will enforce the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provision requiring people to have health insurance. This comes on the heels of votes in several other… more »

11/01/10

  02:54:01 pm, by MedBen5   , 115 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Health Plan Management

IRS Releases 2011 HSA and HDHP Amounts

The IRS has released the 2011 contribution limitations, deductible minimums and out-of-pocket expenses for health savings accounts (HSAs) with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). The annual HSA contribution limitation is $3,050 for individual… more »
  01:49:33 pm, by MedBen5   , 154 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Alcohol Outranks Illegal Drugs In Overall Damage

A new British study has determined that alcohol is more dangerous than such illegal drugs as heroin and crack cocaine. Researchers evaluated a variety of substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, and ranked them in relation… more »
  12:20:02 pm, by MedBen5   , 240 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Massachusetts Health Care Reform Portends Trouble Ahead

While the question of whether the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will ultimately prove successful will not be settled for years (or decades) to come, health care reform on a smaller level isn’t boding well for a positive outcome.… more »
  10:06:20 am, by MedBen5   , 177 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Individuals More Aware of Their High Blood Pressure

Personal awareness of high blood pressure is on the upswing, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control. Fron the years 1999 to 2008, the percentage of people who knew that they have high blood pressure rose from 69.6% to 80.6%. In the… more »