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Archives for: February 2012

02/29/12

  05:15:08 pm, by MedBen5   , 248 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

House Subcommittee Votes To Repeal Medicare Cost Control Panel

Another provision of health care reform is in danger of getting the boot – but unlike the Supreme Court-bound individual mandate, this one is threatened by the legislative branch. According to the Hill’s Healthwatch, the House Energy and… more »
  01:16:32 pm, by MedBen5   , 195 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Requires Statin Labels To Warn Of Diabetes, Memory Risks

Makers of statins must revise their labels to warn about risks of elevated blood sugar levels – a cause of type 2 diabetes – and memory loss, HealthDay reports. The Food and Drug Administration made the announcement, but also stressed that… more »
  12:37:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 204 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Women More Likely To Ignore Heart Attack Warnings

A recent study of over one million female patients revealed that women having heart attacks are less likely to seek immediate care than men, and more likely to die in the hospital. USA Today reports that many women fail to take advantage of such… more »

02/27/12

  05:09:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: Prescription

Not Following Rx Prescriptions May Harm Patient -- And Others

Some patients fail to stick to the drug regimens prescribed by their doctors. Sometimes it’s due to cost considerations or sides effect, but it may also come down to simple forgetfulness. Terrence Blaschke, MD, professor emeritus of medicine, has… more »
  11:27:58 am, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Flu Bug Hasn't Much Bite This Season

If it seems like less people around your office are taking sick days this year, it may be due to the fact that the flu bug has been hibernating. NPR’s Shots blog reports that in the 29 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… more »
  10:50:13 am, by MedBen5   , 201 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Poll Shows Strong Opposition To Individual Mandate

Is it possible that the Obama administration could strike the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act even it the Supreme Court finds the provision constitutional? If they’ve been tracking the mood of the nation lately, then it could very… more »

02/24/12

  05:02:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 312 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

Prescription Drug Buying "Dos" and "Don'ts"

Despite the greater availabilty of inexpensive generic alternatives, prescription drugs are still an expensive proposition for many people. To help those of us for whom medication is a mainstay of the monthly budget, WebMD offers these “Dos”… more »
  12:38:42 pm, by MedBen5   , 201 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

A Peek At Why Health Spending Differs Geographically

Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog in The Washington Post posted an interesting chart recently, one which offers some insight into the reasons behind differences in health care costs from one region to another. The chart, which is based on research from the… more »
  11:32:36 am, by MedBen5   , 239 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Desserts At Breakfast Can Help Dieters, Researchers Say

Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, it may also be the best opportunity for dieters to lose weight… and you can have ice cream if you want. At least, that’s the conclusion of a study by Tel Aviv University. According… more »

02/23/12

  05:09:21 pm, by MedBen5   , 210 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Anti-fraud Efforts Net Record Returns

The perpetrators of health care wrongdoing have undoubtedly been sleeping a lot less easy of late. In fiscal 2011 alone, the federal government recovered $4.1 billion in fraudulent health care payments – the largest amount ever collected in a… more »
  04:25:20 pm, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Colonoscopy Cuts Risk Of Colon Cancer Death By Half: Study

Direct on the heels of yesterday’s mammogram news comes a report that says colonoscopies can reduce the risk of dying from colon cancer by half. It marks the first time a major study has offered clear evidence of the usefulness of such screenings,… more »
  11:15:06 am, by MedBen5   , 160 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Emergency Care In Ohio Cities Ranks Among Best In Nation

Cincinnati, Dayton and Cleveland, Ohio are among the top ten cities for emergency medicine quality, according a new report. Based on an analysis of 7 million Medicare patient records from 2008 to 2010, researchers determined that patients admitted to… more »
  10:36:01 am, by MedBen5   , 153 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Advisory Committee Favors Approval Of Weight-Loss Drug

A follow-up to a post earlier this week: A advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration recommended approval of the weight-loss drug Qnexa by a vote of 20 to 2, the New York Times reports. The overwhelming support for Qnexa came as something… more »

02/22/12

  05:34:13 pm, by MedBen5   , 218 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Study: Earlier Mammograms Benefit Breast Cancer Patients

A new study suggests that when women in their 40s get breast cancer, their tumors require less intense treatment and recur less if they were first detected through a regular mammogram screening. Nearly 2,000 women diagnosed with first-time breast cancer… more »
  03:58:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 149 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Allows Temporary Importation Of Needed Cancer Drugs

In order to head off critical cancer drug shortages, The Food and Drug Administration is loosening up its rules regarding the importation of unapproved foreign drugs, Bloomberg reports. Detroit-based drugmaker Caraco will temporarily import the drug… more »
  01:02:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 234 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Tax Policy May Delay Individual Mandate Resolution

The Supreme Court will hear challenges to the Affordable Care Act beginning on March 26, and as we approach the date, most of the talk has centered on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. But as reported in USA Today, the justices first have… more »

02/21/12

  03:13:26 pm, by MedBen5   , 229 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Health Plan Management

Greater Generic Acceptance Spurs Rx Spending Declines

Choosing generic drugs over costlier brand-name alternatives has benefited U.S. families in the wallet, The New York Times recently reported. A study by the RAND Corporation revealed that the number of Americans living in a family that spent more than… more »
  12:03:11 pm, by MedBen5   , 257 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

WaPo Opinion: Government Disability Program A "Quagmire"

“Social Security’s disability program is a political quagmire – and a metaphor for why federal spending and budget deficits are so difficult to control,” writes Robert J. Samuelson in a recent Washington Post opinion piece. According… more »
  11:28:10 am, by MedBen5   , 211 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Fructose Intake Matters Less Than Calorie Count, Study Suggests

Based on some recent dietary research, one might speculate that there’s a “calories count” movement afoot. Last month, we saw evidence that fats, carbs and protein matter less in losing weight than calories. And now comes a fructose… more »

02/20/12

  03:42:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 758 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

The ACA 2012 Health Plan "To Do" List

With the second anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act fast approaching, it’s an appropriate time to look forward to what health plans have to do to comply with reform law in 2012. Fortunately, it’s a pretty quiet year from a… more »
  02:03:50 pm, by MedBen5   , 211 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Weight-loss Drug To Undergo Second FDA Review

On Wednesday, a weight-loss drug gets a second chance to impress the Food and Drug Administration. The New York Times reports that a committee of outside advisers to the agency will weight the benefits of the drug, called Qnexa, against concerns that it… more »
  10:59:45 am, by MedBen5   , 262 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

WSJ Op-ed: Health Spending Declined During Last Decade

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, J.D. Kleinke of the American Enterprise Institute argues that better medical care and consumer choice have contributed to slowing the growth rate of national health expenditures over the past decade: “As… more »

02/17/12

  05:09:47 pm, by MedBen5   , 195 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Many Online Drug Sellers Skimp On Critical Info

Here’s a eye-opener for anyone who has thought about bypassing their doctor and buying medications online without a prescription: Most websites that sell Lipitor and other cholesterol pills fail to provide vital information about contraindications… more »
  04:03:26 pm, by MedBen5   , 138 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Tax Credit Spurs Small Businesses To Cover Employees

As part of an effort to encourage more small businesses to provide health care coverage, the Obama administration has expanded the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare tax credit to $14 billion in its proposed fiscal 2013 budget. According to Modern… more »
  03:07:34 pm, by MedBen5   , 237 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Some "No Sweat" Tips To Reduce Perspiration

It’s Friday, and therefore, the perfect time to talk sweat. It’s one of life’s little injustices that some people just tend to perspire more than others. Occasionally, heavy sweating may be caused by a medical condition or medication,… more »

02/16/12

  05:30:01 pm, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Many Baby Boomers Not Getting Eye Exams

Most older members of the U.S. workforce have vision care coverage, but not all of them take full advantage of their benefits, Employee Benefit News reports. A recent Transitions Optical survey found that 79% of baby boomers have enrolled in a group… more »
  04:29:37 pm, by MedBen5   , 177 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Health Plan Management

Birth Control Solution Fails To Address Self-Insurance Question

The birth control compromise offered by the Obama administration quelled – momentarily, at least – a growing political headache. But, as the New York Times notes, it ignored one conspicuous point. To appease religiously-affiliated employers… more »
  03:50:02 pm, by MedBen5   , 197 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Swapping Sugary Soda For Water Helps Weight Loss

Often, making just a small change to your diet can make a big difference if you’re trying to shed a few pounds. Case in point: A new clinical trial found that participants who replaced sugar-sweetened soda with water (or a diet beverage) nearly… more »
  03:00:45 pm, by MedBen5   , 168 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

U.S. Doctors' Group Attempts To Stem Excessive Testing

In an effort to reduce excessive medical testing, the American College of Physicians (ACP) is releasing guidelines to aid physicians in determining whether or not patients should screen for specific disesases. “Excessive testing costs $200… more »

02/15/12

  12:01:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 161 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Pediatricians More Likely To "Fire" Families Who Refuse Vaccines

An interesting article in today’s New York Times: Pediatricians are increasingly “firing” families whose parents refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated. Medical associations don’t recommend such patient bans. But a 2011… more »
  10:13:11 am, by MedBen5   , 258 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Contraceptive Compromise Offered, But Question Of Cost Remains

As we noted here last week, President Obama has proposed a compromise regarding the mandate that religiously-affliated businesses cover contraceptive services. But even if the Catholic Church accepts the work-around, questions and controversy remain.… more »

02/14/12

  03:18:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 172 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Doctors Advise Exercise To A Third Of Patients

Physicians are prescribing more than ever these days – and drugs have nothing to do with it. A new report from the Centers for Disease Contral and Prevention says that one-third of adults who saw a doctor or other health care professionals in 2010… more »

02/10/12

  05:16:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 274 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Department of Labor Releases Final SBC Regulations

On Thursday, the Department of Labor released the Final Regulations describing a plan sponsor’s responsibilities for preparing and distributing the 4-Page Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). The template for the 4-Page (double-sided) Summary has not… more »
  05:07:10 pm, by MedBen5   , 175 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

President Obama Revises Birth Control Coverage Requirement

In response to escalating criticism from political opponents and members of his own party, today President Obama has reversed the requirement that religiously-affilated employers provide birth control coverage to women. The Washington Post reports that… more »
  02:13:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 157 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Growth Rate Of Health Care Spending Slow In 2011

The National Journal reports that health care spending increased just 4.4% from 2010 to 2011, among the slowest rate of growth in the past 50 years. According to a report by the nonprofit Altarum Institute, the $2.70 trillion spending rise… more »
  01:13:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 150 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Trans Fat Levels Fall In Foods -- And Bloodstreams

Remember all that talk a few years back about how bad trans fats are for you, and that food makers should cut back on them? Apparently, someone took it to heart (so to speak). According to the New York Times, a new National Institutes of Health report… more »

02/09/12

  05:02:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 182 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Honesty Not Always The Best Policy, Doctor Survey Reveals

A new study of physician honesty finds that doctors aren’t above the occasional fib, if they feel it serves the best interest of their patients – or themselves. The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports that the Health Affairs survey of… more »

02/08/12

  04:37:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 367 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Health Plan Management

MedBen IS Team Putting Final Touches On HIPAA Updates

Members of the MedBen Information Systems team worked diligently throughout 2011 to see that new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guidelines for electronic transmission of administrative transactions were in place by the original December 31… more »
  01:06:25 pm, by MedBen5   , 207 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Birth Control Mandate Spawns Backlash, Potential Compromise

The Obama administration may attempt to find middle ground with Catholic universities and hospitals in regard to the controversial rule that health insurance plans must cover birth control, Reuters reports. Speaking on MSNBC, presidental adviser David… more »
  11:36:27 am, by MedBen5   , 171 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Pharmacy Group Predicts 3-5% Drug Cost Increase In 2012

Overall drug costs in the U.S. will go up from 3% to 5% in 2012, according to the annual report from The American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. Entitled “Projecting Future Drug Expenditures,” the report analyzes trends for total drug expenditures… more »
  10:20:42 am, by MedBen5   , 173 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Most Americans Enjoy Salt Too Much

Apparently, Americans are just head over heels in love with salt. A new report from the Centers for Disease Contral and Prevention found that 90% of people ages 2 and older eat more than the recommended amount of sodium each day. Of course, many of us… more »

02/07/12

  05:02:16 pm, by MedBen5   , 165 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Individual Mandate Foes Say Congress Overstepped Bounds

The Obama administration had its say about the Affordable Care Act, and now the opposition has chimed in as well. Reuters reports that 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business have presented separate written briefs to the Supreme… more »
  03:37:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 246 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

Doctor Offers Personal Take On Lipitor Vs. Generic Question

Still on the fence about whether to switch from Lipitor to a new generic alternative? Here’s some thoughts from Anthony Komaroff, M.D., the Editor in Chief of Harvard Health Publications – a doctor who puts his medication money where his… more »
  03:17:24 pm, by MedBen5   , 200 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Studies Find Differences In How Doctors Follow Cancer Guidelines

Two new studies reveal serious inconsistencies in how doctors interpret cancer guidelines: The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports that, in a study of over 1,000 primary care doctors, 28.5% surveyed said that they “sometimes” or “almost always”… more »

02/06/12

  05:07:59 pm, by MedBen5   , 257 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Health Plan Management

Partners Expands Community Health Network

As part of an ongoing effort to promote better health, Partners Community Health Plan is currently expanding its community health network. Local businesses, sharing a common dedication to consumer wellness, have generously agreed to provide discounts to… more »
  04:10:54 pm, by MedBen5   , 207 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

House Votes To Repeal Long-Term Care Program

Last week, the House of Representatives voted 267-159 to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Support program, the Associated Press reports. A provision of the Affordable Care Act, the program – known as the CLASS Act – was… more »
  03:16:54 pm, by MedBen5   , 249 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Adult Vaccines Up, But Numbers Still Lag

Many people have a serious aversion to getting a shot in the arm – or any other body part, for that matter. But a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drives home the point (sorry) that other considerations should… more »

02/03/12

  04:26:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 230 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Scientists Sour On Sugar-Sweetened Foods

Does sugar need to come with a warning label, just like cigarettes? Well, maybe things aren’t that drastic, but a new commentary published in Nature calls for much greater regulation of sugar-sweetened foods. According to The Wall Street Journal… more »

02/01/12

  05:11:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 229 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Obese Doctors Less Likely To Talk Weight With Obese Patients

Do you need professional help with your weight problem? Well, if your family doctor also happens to be battling the bulge, you may want to consider getting your counseling elsewhere. WebMD reports doctors of normal weight are more likely to offer advice… more »
  11:56:55 am, by MedBen5   , 195 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

High-Risk Pools Not Affected By Unlimited Coverage Rule

The Affordable Care Act no longer allows health insurers to set lifetime maximums on coverage. But the change doesn’t apply to people in high-risk insurance pools – sicker individuals who would benefit most from unlimited access to medical… more »