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Archives for: March 2012

03/30/12

  04:24:32 pm, by MedBen5   , 334 words,  
Categories: News

Justices Follow Tradition With Health Care Reform Vote

In a city where secrets have a short shelf life, the Supreme Court takes every precaution to ensure that no one in Washington D.C. knows what’s being said behind the chamber door. Today the nine justices are expected to determine the fate of the… more »
  12:32:19 pm, by MedBen5   , 229 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Results Of Pay-for-Performance Hospital Test Fail To Impress

A Medicare experiment to pay hospitals for quality performance, rather than quantity, apparently did not have the desired effect, Kaiser Health News reports. Between 2003 and 2009, the Medicare Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration (HQID)… more »

03/29/12

  05:21:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Unhealthy Lifestyles Impact Cancer Rates

Cancer deaths continue to fall, but obesity and inactivity are keeping overall numbers higher than they should be, WebMD reports. A new joint report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and leading cancer groups concluded that there is a… more »
  03:47:54 pm, by MedBen5   , 203 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

FDA Revises Antidepressant Dosing Recommendations

The Food and Drug Administration has issued new dosing and use recommendations for the popular antidepressant Celexa, Medical Xpress reports. The change comes following concerns that the drug may cause potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms in… more »
  09:29:25 am, by MedBen5   , 221 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Supreme Court Considers Striking Down Health Care Reform Law

The third and final day of Supreme Court health care reform hearings gave rise to a real possibility that not only could the individal mandate be found unconstitutional, the entire Affordable Care Act may be nullified. The Los Angeles Times reports… more »

03/28/12

  09:55:07 am, by MedBen5   , 200 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Transcriptions, Audio Of Health Care Reform Hearings Available

The Supreme Court website has posted transcripts of the oral arguments from Day One and Day Two of the health care reform law hearings (formally, The Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida). While the transcriptions are lengthy,… more »

03/27/12

  05:42:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 243 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Questions & Opinions Fill Day Two Of Reform Hearings

“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked the question to Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. in the early moments of today’s Supreme Court hearings. Verrilli, lawyer for the Obama administration, was… more »
  05:03:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 245 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Weight-Loss Surgery May Successfully Treat Diabetes

New research promises to spur a lot of dialogue about the benefits of weight reduction surgery. The Wall Street Journal reports that studies in the U.S. and Italy found that surgical procedures to reduce the size of the stomach in obese patients proved… more »

03/26/12

  05:02:10 pm, by MedBen5   , 212 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Three Tips To Save On Hospital Stays

Should you require a hospital stay, MedBen offers a variety of tools to keep your hospital costs down – from comprehensive medical management services to a specialized surveillance system that thoroughly reviews your claims for potential savings.… more »
  12:37:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 229 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Tax Question Argued During Day One Of Reform Law Hearings

The first day of Supreme Court health care reform hearings kicked off with an interesting twist – the plantiff and defendent agreed on the issue being argued. According to The Washington Post, private attorney Robert A. Long stressed that because… more »
  11:58:26 am, by MedBen5   , 208 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Popcorn Beats Fruits & Vegetables In Antioxidant Content

Finally, popcorn gets a little love! Well, that’s not entirely correct. Popcorn has long been considered one of the healthier snack foods, so long as it’s air-popped and not slathered in butter. But now scientists report that it also… more »

03/23/12

  04:44:55 pm, by MedBen5   , 119 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Deadline For 2011 FSA/HRA Submissions Fast Approaching

A reminder to MedBen FSA and HRA clients: For most groups, the week of March 25th is the last week to turn in expenses for the 2011 FSA and/or HRA plan year. If you have any outstanding 2011 expenses that you would like to get reimbursed for from your… more »
  02:43:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 351 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

A Health Care Reform FAQ

On this, the second anniverary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, it’s an appropriate time to to look at the impact of health care reform so far, as well as what’s coming down the road. Fortunately, Kaiser Health News has done the… more »
  11:45:50 am, by MedBen5   , 142 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

FDA Considers Expanding Over-the-Counter Drug Options

The Food and Drug Administration is currently conducting a two-day hearing to discuss the possibility of allowing more drugs to be purchased without a prescription, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. At a meeting yesterday, the FDA discussed whether… more »
  10:56:46 am, by MedBen5   , 171 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

House Votes To Eliminate Independent Medicare Panel

By a vote of 223 to 181, the House of Representatives yesterday approved a bill to abolish the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the Affordable Care Act. The purpose of the 15-member board is to recommend Medicare spending cuts, which would… more »

03/22/12

  04:59:40 pm, by MedBen5   , 237 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Test To Predict Heart Attacks May Become A Reality

A simple test could predict whether a heart attack is looming, the Los Angeles Times reports. Using a blood sample, doctors may be able to determine circulating cells that have broken off damaged blood vessel walls – which in turn can form a blood… more »
  03:06:46 pm, by MedBen5   , 233 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

FDA Wins Latest Round In Cigarette Label War

The battle to visually upset smokers is getting as convoluted as the battle to strike down health care reform. Just weeks after a U.S. District Judge found the federal requirement to place graphic images on cigarette labels to be unconstitutional, a… more »
  01:27:19 pm, by MedBen5   , 275 words,  
Categories: Wellness

When Researching Health Advice Online, Tread Cautiously

The Internet can be a great source of medical knowledge. But knowing where to look, and who you can trust, is critical when trying to diagnose symptoms or learn more about a disease. Former law professor Toni Bernhard offers some tips for your online… more »
  11:42:17 am, by MedBen5   , 321 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Legal Experts Predict Health Reform Law Will Stand

We’re just a few days from the battle of the century – President Obama vs. 26 states challenging his Affordable Care Act, going mano a mano in the Supreme Court, with the future of healh care reform hanging in the balance. The outcome of… more »

03/21/12

  04:55:42 pm, by MedBen5   , 231 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Partners Plan Offers High-Quality, Low-Cost Regional Care

Sometimes, expensive health care is just that – expensive health care, no matter where you get it. And lower-cost caregivers can deliver high quality regardless of geography. According to Medical Xpress, a new study conducted by physicians in San… more »
  10:30:18 am, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Aspirin May Reduce Short-Term Cancer Risk

Not only is aspirin lauded for its ability to limit heart attack damage, it is believed that the painkiller can reduce the long-term risk of dying from cancer. Now, new research shows that there may be a short-term advantage as well. Bloomberg reports… more »

03/20/12

  03:27:48 pm, by MedBen5   , 204 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Generic Versions Of Boniva, Lexapro Now Available

As we noted on this blog last July, 2012 looks to be a big year for generic rollouts of popular brand name drugs. WebMD recently reported on two such introductions: The Food and Drug Administration has ruled that three generic drugmakers may now… more »
  02:56:09 pm, by MedBen5   , 331 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Health Care Reform Enters The "Terrible Two's"

The Affordable Care Act turns two years old on March 23, and to mark the occasion, Politico has compiled a list of five things to watch for in year three. Below we offer a “teaser” – you can find the complete answers at Politico… more »
  10:41:49 am, by MedBen5   , 179 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Just 1% Of People Meet Recommended Heart Health Goals

Only about 1 in 100 Americans meets seven heart-healthy targets recommended by the American Heart Association. according to WebMD. The seven behaviors include: Not smoking Being physically active Having normal blood pressure (under 120/80)… more »

03/19/12

  05:00:02 pm, by MedBen5   , 187 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Eye Checkups Can Detect Potential Memory Loss

More proof that we can learn a lot just by looking in someone’s eyes – especially if you look really close. WebMD reports people who have eye damage involving the blood vessels of the retina have a higher risk for memory decline, according… more »
  04:03:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 282 words,  
Categories: News

The Truth Behind Popular Health Care Myths

From John Goodman’s Health Policy Blog: In his new book American Health Economy Illustrated, Christopher Conover of the American Enterprise Institute debunks some widely-held health care myths. Myth: Relative to other countries, the U.S. spends… more »
  11:20:16 am, by MedBen5   , 207 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness, Health Plan Management

TPAs, Pharmaceutical Companies Can Cover Contraceptives, Obama Administration Suggests

In an effort to address the ongoing contraceptive coverage controversy, the Obama administration has announced how religious organizations than insure themselves can remain exempt from paying for birth control, yet still provide free coverage for female… more »
  10:39:03 am, by MedBen5   , 224 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Early Spring Calls For Fast Action Against Allergies

The early onset of Spring weather has certainly been a pleasant surprise. But for allergy sufferers, dealing with sneezing and sniffling sooner than usual means the warm temperatures are a mixed blessing. However, allergy sufferers need not just accept… more »

03/16/12

  04:50:23 pm, by MedBen5   , 240 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Wellness, Discounts, Health Plan Management

MedBen Helps Employers Overcome Cost Challenges

A recent Towers Watson survey of over 500 businesses reveals the wide range of difficulties employers face when trying to keep health care costs in check. As listed on the MedCity News website, the top ten challenges include: Employees’ poor health… more »
  03:24:20 pm, by MedBen5   , 198 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

CBO: Workplace Coverage Losses Likely Between 3-5 MIllion

Could 20 million people lose their employer-sponsored insurance in 2019? Highly unlikely, says a new report from new report from the Congressional Budget Office – but not totally out of the question, either. The 20 million number is a worst-case… more »
  11:48:25 am, by MedBen5   , 192 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Revised Guidelines Recommend Less Frequent Pap Smears

Cancer experts are advising that women get screened for cervical cancer less frequently than doctors currently recommend, NPR reports. Guidelines released by the American Cancer Society and two other medical groups now recommend that women wait until… more »

03/15/12

  09:22:16 pm, by MedBen5   , 292 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

The Individual Mandate Goes On Trial: An Overview

Kaiser Health News offers a handy overview of the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, which the Supreme Court will hear over a three-day span later this month. All told, the justices have scheduled six hours of arguments – the most time… more »
  09:52:25 am, by MedBen5   , 250 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Studies Emphasize Dangers Of Red Meat, Sugary Drinks

Studies that confirm the potential hazards of red meat and sugary drinks hardly qualify as front page news nowadays – but the occasional reminder about their risks doesn’t hurt, either. So with that in mind: Even a small amount of red meat… more »

03/13/12

  04:59:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 306 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

New FSA Maximum Has Consequences For "Plan Year" Groups

Beginning in 2013, the Affordable Care Act will change the maximum amount an employee may contribute to a Health FSA plan on a calendar year basis. But if your Health FSA plan happens to run on a plan year basis, it’s critical to be aware of this… more »
  11:03:40 am, by MedBen5   , 191 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

U.K. Study: All-Metal Hip Replacements Fail More Than Alternatives

More evidence that newer metal-on-metal (MOM) hip replacements may not be as effective as traditional implants: A British study found that all-metal implants require maintenance at a much higher rate than other types, the Associated Press reports.… more »

03/12/12

  05:31:34 pm, by MedBen5   , 184 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Don't Put Off A Colon Cancer Screening

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – and as such, a perfect time to remind adults between the ages of 50 and 75 about the benefits of getting a colonoscopy. According to HealthDay, about 1 in 3 U.S. adults who should get screened… more »
  05:02:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 208 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

340B Drug Program Raises Concerns On Capitol Hill

A program designed to help people who can’t afford prescription medications has recently come under government scrutiny, Pharmalot reports. Created in 1992, the 340B Drug Pricing Program offers discounts to public and non-profit health care… more »
  12:29:32 pm, by MedBen5   , 206 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

State Insurance Exchange Rules Released

The Department of Health and Human Services has released a final rule for the implement of state health insurance exchanges, a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act. The 644-page document outlines details of the insurance marketplaces that will enable… more »

03/09/12

  04:54:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 409 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Contraceptive Coverage Q&A

No doubt you’re aware there’s been a lot of talk about birth control lately. Under the Affordable Care Act, contraceptive coverage must be provided to women at no cost beginning August 1. But while the religious and moral implications of… more »
  10:02:59 am, by MedBen5   , 179 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Health Plan Management

FDA Considering Greater OTC Drug Availability

The Food and Drug Administration may allow popular prescription drugs for high cholesterol, diabetes and other chronic conditions to be sold over the counter. Reuters reports that the agency has sought public comment this week on a plan to make these… more »

03/07/12

  05:26:15 pm, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Slow & Steady Wins The Wellness Race

A new study demonstrates that stick-to-it-tiveness pays big dividends when it comes to employee health. According to Medical Xpress, researchers found that employees who participated in a wellness program spent less on health care, while employers… more »
  04:37:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 202 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Cancer-Causing Chemical Level In Colas Insignificant, FDA Says

A consumer watchdog group’s claim that some popular soft drinks contains a cancerous chemical has brought a rebuttal from the Food and Drug Administation, Reuters reports. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said Coca-Cola,… more »
  11:22:50 am, by MedBen5   , 216 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Docs Who Use Electronic Records Order More Tests, Study Says

Electronic patient records have been the subject of multiple studies, which have borne out the theory that the health information technology (HIT) reduces costs. But new research that focuses on how such information is used paints a very different… more »
  10:04:09 am, by MedBen5   , 293 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

Pay Nothing When Drugs Don't Work?

An interesting opinion piece in the New York Times yesterday. Samuel D. Waksal, founder and chief executive of the biotechnology company Kadmon, believes that patients and insurance companies shouldn’t have to pay for prescription drugs unless… more »

03/06/12

  05:09:57 pm, by MedBen5   , 264 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Don't Lose Sleep Over Daylight Savings Time

If you’ve checked your calendar lately, you may be aware that we’re fast approaching one of the most dreaded days of the year. Sunday, March 11 heralds the return of daylight savings time – which means one less hour of precious… more »

03/05/12

  05:19:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 222 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Study Suggests Many Stent Patients Aren't Told Options

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports that only 10% of coronary stent recipients are given information on alternative treatment options, based on a survey of nearly 500 Medicare patients. The study – which, it should be noted, was based… more »
  03:32:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 175 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Federal Health Care Cost Estimate Raises Eyebrows

New presidential budget numbers that spike the estimated cost of government insurance subsidies has Republicans on Capitol Hill demanding an explanation, the Associated Press reports. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mi.) wants to… more »
  12:52:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 183 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

To Improve Weight Loss Odds, Don't Be A Lone Wolf

If you’re really determined to lose weight, it may aid your cause to hook up with some like-minded people. A recent study suggests that a dedicated team effort helps participants shed at least 5% of their initial body weight, according to WebMD.… more »

03/02/12

  04:55:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 264 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Overcoming Your Dental Anxiety

Does the thought of a dental exam make your teeth chatter? Chances are, your anticipation will far exceed the actual event. But if that knowledge does nothing to calm your fears, WebMD offers a few suggestions, which we summarize here (you can read… more »
  04:19:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 201 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Graphic Images On Cigarette Packs Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

Unpleasant written warnings about the hazards of smoking will not be accompanied by even more unpleasant visual warnings. According to The Wall Street Journal Health Blog, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the federal requirement to place… more »
  01:09:24 pm, by MedBen5   , 273 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Out With The Old Health Rules, In With The New

Sometimes, its seems like the more we learn about better health, the less we know. New research can modify or even negate the wellness information that we’ve taken as gospel for years. Leslie Goldman at Oprah.com recently examined four… more »

03/01/12

  05:05:19 pm, by MedBen5   , 161 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Senate Votes Down Challenge To Birth Control Mandate

By a narrow 51-48 vote – mainly along party lines – the Senate rejected an amendment that would have exempted employers and insurers from covering contraceptive devices if it went against their moral beliefs, NPR reports. Missouri… more »
  04:04:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 218 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Study: Prescription Sleeping Pills May Increase Death Risk

A class of popular prescription sleeping pills may increase the user’s risk of death, according to a new study. WebMD reports that the pills in question, called hypnotics, include such popular drugs as Ambien, Lunesta and Resterol. Using… more »