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Archives for: June 2012

06/29/12

  04:19:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 390 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Media Reacts To Health Care Reform Ruling

The Supreme Court ruling on the health care reform law is still the big news story of the day (or at least until the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes breakup overshadows it). The decision has been scrutinized from a variety of perspectives – judicial,… more »
  03:12:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 152 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

FDA Discourages Use Of All-Metal Hip Implants

Metal-on-metal hip implants were marketed as a longer-lasting alternative to older and ceramic models, but the evidence of late has suggested just the opposite. So it’s not surprising that government health experts have cast a critical collective… more »
  12:35:01 pm, by MedBen5   , 191 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Mammography Rates Have Declined Since Guideline Controversy

Even though the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advisory that women in their 40s refrain from regular breast cancer screenings met with widespread criticism, the recommendation has apparently had an impact. A new Mayo Clinic study determined in… more »

06/28/12

  11:13:44 am, by MedBen5   , 294 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Supreme Court Upholds Majority of ACA

Well, it’s done. The decision we’ve been waiting for (patiently or not) has been made. So what does it really mean now that the United States Supreme Court has found the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional (save for part of the Medicaid Expansion… more »
  10:36:59 am, by MedBen5   , 231 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Approves Prescription Weight Loss Drug

For the first time in over a decade, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a prescription diet pill. Lorcaserin, which will be sold under the name Belviq, was approved for use by obese people (those with a body mass index of 30 or more) and… more »
  10:11:04 am, by MedBen5   , 405 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Ease Up On Medical Tests, Physician Argues

On the KevinMD.com blog, physician Joe Kosterich opines that doctors have, of late, gone overboard with medical tests. “Medicine started treating people who did not actually have symptoms but had risk factors,” he says – factors you… more »

06/27/12

  12:10:04 pm, by MedBen5   , 304 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Employers Face More Changes If Health Care Law Falls

Based on just about everything we’ve read of late – including the opinions of legal experts – the smart money is on the Supreme Court striking down the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act while leaving the rest of it intact.… more »
  11:15:13 am, by MedBen5   , 187 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Pharmacists Stepping Up To Serve Patients Better

As primary care doctors expand the number of patients they accept, and the number of those patients taking medications rises, pharmacists have taken on an increasingly important role. And some drugstore chains, as well as independent pharmacies, are… more »
  10:39:34 am, by MedBen5   , 236 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Type Of Calories Count When Keeping Weight Off, Study Suggests

Ask someone who’s battled a weight problem about the toughest part of dieting, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll say it’s not losing the weight, but keeping it off. For that reason, a new study examined how different types of… more »

06/26/12

  05:01:47 pm, by MedBen5   , 176 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Days Before Decision, Health Care Reform Law Gets Tepid Support

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal have managed to sneak in one final poll about the health care reform law before The Supreme Court puts the matter to rest (for the time being, anyway) later this week. According to MSNBC, the survey shows that 37%… more »
  04:35:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 161 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Test All Adults For Obesity, Task Force Advises

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended that doctors screen all adults for obesity, WebMD reports. Actually, this is not the first time USPSTF has advised this – it made a similar suggestion back in 2003. But the… more »

06/25/12

  02:02:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Supreme Court Will Rule On ACA This Thursday

Say what you will about the Supreme Court, but the justices know a thing or two about heightening the drama. The Court had two high-profile cases to rule on this week: The constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act as well as Arizona’s… more »

06/22/12

  01:26:26 pm, by MedBen5   , 198 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Money Talks, But Other Wellness Incentives Work, Too

Money makes the world go round, they say… and if used right, it makes people get healthy, suggests new research. WebMD reports that the study encouraged adults aged 21 to 60 – all of whom ate poorly and exercised little – to practice… more »
  12:50:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 200 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

If Justices Remove Individual Mandate, Don't Stop There

Business columnist David Lazarus anticipates the fallout if Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act but keeps other provisions intact: “Put simply, by eliminating the individual mandate but leaving in place… more »
  12:22:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 169 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Rx Companies May Back Off On Internet Advertising

The Pharmalot blog reports that drugmakers may spend about $1.58 billion on online advertising this year, nearly a 25% leap from 2011, according to a market research analysis from eMarketer. But while dollars-and-cents spending will continue to go up… more »
  11:29:29 am, by MedBen5   , 169 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

More Young People Developing High Blood Pressure

On the heels of news that childhood obesity has resulted in an increase in diabetes comes a study showing that the number of young people sent to the hospital for high blood pressure that nearly doubled during a recent 10-year period. WebMD reports… more »

06/21/12

  11:55:10 am, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Partners Plan: Community Involvement Means Better Care, Better Cost

Real health care reform can only be accomplished by primary care providers and the local community. That’s the message from the new policy paper “Communities of Solution: The Folsom Report Revisited.” According to Medical Xpress, the… more »
  11:26:53 am, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Movie Tie-In To Children's Drug Raises Concerns

A bit of Marketing 101: Proceed extra-cautiously when promoting children’s medicines. According to The New York Times, the drug company Merck is catching flack because of a marketing campaign for Children’s Claritin using animated… more »
  10:55:47 am, by MedBen5   , 149 words,  
Categories: Announcements

Court Will Overturn Individual Mandate, Legal Insiders Say

The Supreme Court will strike down the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, says a survey of legal experts. USA Today reports that research group Purple Insights asked 56 insiders – 38 former clerks of current Supreme Court… more »
  10:32:36 am, by MedBen5   , 166 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

AMA Says Soda Tax Would Help Reduce Obesity

Reuters reports that the American Medical Association has recommended that government on local, state or federal levels consider imposing a soda tax to aid in the fight against obesity. The physician’s group stopped short of an outright… more »

06/20/12

  02:30:31 pm, by MedBen5   , 235 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

MedBen Claims Accuracy Exceeds The Norm

Medical claims payment accuracy by U.S health insurers has improved in 2012 compared to last year, according to the American Medical Association. The AMA’s National Health Insurer Report Card, which uses data from several larger insurers, says that… more »
  01:04:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 227 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Prescriptions For Young People Decline, Though Some Drugs Go Up

The number of prescriptions dispensed for children and teenagers fell from 2002 to 2010 – but prescriptions for some individual medications saw big increases, WebMD reports. Overall, doctors wrote 7% fewer prescriptions for children and teens… more »
  10:53:00 am, by MedBen5   , 297 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

With Decision Days Away, Health Reform Chatter Grows

With the Supreme Court decision on the fate of the Affordable Care Act expected in just a few days, speculation and commentary is currently running rampant on Internet news sights. Here’s a quick sampling: Self-Interest Meets Mandate (New York… more »
  10:11:14 am, by MedBen5   , 145 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Stay Sun-Safe This Summer

Happy first day of summer! Here in the Midwest, the season has come in full force, with temperatures expect to exceed 90 degrees. Chances are, you’ll want to spend some time outside enjoying the warm weather. But when you do, remember to apply… more »

06/19/12

  01:07:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 184 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Painkiller Restrictions Dropped From Congressional Bill

The New York Times reports that pharmacy and drugstore representatives have successfully lobbied against efforts to impose stricter controls on painkillers and other commonly abused prescription drugs. The new restrictions, had they been passed by… more »
  12:18:42 pm, by MedBen5   , 178 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Obesity Exhausting Global Resources, Researchers Caution

Here’s a rather unsettling fact: Scientists have deduced that that global effect of overweight and obese people is like adding half a billion to the 7 billion humans on the Earth. Using data from the United Nations (UN) and the World Health… more »

06/18/12

  10:51:26 am, by MedBen5   , 231 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

CDC Says Health Reform Will Increase Preventive Care Use

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Affordable Care Act has increased accessibility to preventive care, HealthDay reports (via Medical Xpress). Prior to the passage of the health care reform law, CDC says that only about half… more »
  10:27:25 am, by MedBen5   , 143 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Older People More Likely To Ignore Rx Warning Labels, Study Says

The older a person is, the less likely he or she is to read the warning labels on pill bottles, researchers have found. MedPage Today reports that a study of medication vial reading tendencies determined that only 54% of older participants (ages 51 to… more »
  10:08:54 am, by MedBen5   , 203 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Daily Breakfast Helps Weight, Reduces Diabetes Risk

A new study demonstrates once again that breakfast may be the most important meal of the day. WebMD reports that researchers found that people who start each day with a healthy meal are less likely to have weight issues or develop diabetes. The… more »

06/15/12

  11:25:52 am, by MedBen5   , 642 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Event Timeline for SBC Distribution Requirements

We have previously discussed on this blog the new Summary of Coverage and Benefits (SBC) that are required to be furnished by all health plans after September 21, 2012, either in time for distribution with their materials for their next open enrollment,… more »
  11:03:57 am, by MedBen5   , 255 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Fish Oil Research Roundup

With all the fish oil studies popping up on Internet news sites, one can’t help but wonder if researchers are purposely working 24/7 until every last bit of information about its effects has been gleaned. In the past couple days alone, we’ve… more »
  10:38:09 am, by MedBen5   , 213 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Employers Concerned About Behavioral Health Costs

The unpredictable – and often prolonged – aspects of depression, stress and other types of behavioral health make insuring patients a unique challenge. Add the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act to the mix, and employers are… more »
  09:59:30 am, by MedBen5   , 302 words,  
Categories: News

Celebrate Men's Health Week In Style

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. And Happy Men’s Health Week, too. Haven’t heard of the latter? Created by Congress in 1994 to promote male health, it occurs every year on the week leading up to and including… more »

06/14/12

  12:49:09 pm, by MedBen5   , 203 words,  
Categories: Announcements

Health Care Spending Will Jump In 2014, Fed Forecast Says

If federal projections are to be believed, the slowdown in the growth of health care spending won’t last too much longer. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has forecasted that growth will stay low… more »
  12:01:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Childhood Obesity Epidemic Has Led To Increase In Diabetes

Among the many disturbing aspects of the rising obesity crisis in this country is that more children suffer from weight issues, and the health problems that result from them. Now, researchers say that the number of kids with diabetes has jumped over 20%… more »
  11:08:11 am, by MedBen5   , 334 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Romney's Health Care Reforms Would Focus On State Measures

Republican presidental candidate Mitt Romney has vowed repeatedly to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act… but has been pretty sketchy so far on what the “replace” part would entail. At a stump speech earlier this… more »
  09:29:53 am, by MedBen5   , 189 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Low Supplement Doses Of Vitamin D, Calcium More Risk Than Reward

Taking low doses of vitamin D and calcium supplements do little to prevent broken bones in postmenopausal women, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Reuters reports that the government-backed panel determined that while daily… more »

06/12/12

  05:02:42 pm, by MedBen5   , 189 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

A Healthy Benefits Package Offers A Competitive Edge

A new survey finds that employees who are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits package are nine times more likely to stick with their employer, compared to those workers who are dissatisfied with their package. According to Employee Benefit… more »
  12:55:11 pm, by MedBen5   , 304 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Whatever The Supreme Court Ruling Is, Political Fallout Awaits

For nearly three months, Washington has held its collective breath as the Obama administration, legislators and lobbyists await the Supreme Court’s verdict on the future of health care reform law. Politico recently examined the three main… more »
  11:58:42 am, by MedBen5   , 227 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Even Late In Life, Quitting Smoking Reduces Death Risk

The fact that non-smokers typically live longer that smokers hardly qualifies as news. And it’s fairly well-established that kicking the habit improves life expectancy. But a new study has confirmed that quitting even late in life reduces the risk… more »

06/11/12

  11:07:47 am, by MedBen5   , 242 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

How's Wellness Working Across The Pond?

German wellness programs have, for the most part, been around longer than their American equivalents. So to get some idea of the long-term prospects here, the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund turned its gaze to Europe. And the results are encouraging,… more »
  10:28:51 am, by MedBen5   , 150 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Wellness

Be Careful Of Negative Interactions With OTC Drugs

When you pick up a prescription medication from your local pharmacy, you also receive a reminder from the pharmacist – written, verbal or both – of potential negative interactions with food, beverages and other drugs. But when you buy… more »
  10:08:23 am, by MedBen5   , 176 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Coffee May Slow Onset of Alzheimer's, Study Suggests

Not only does coffee provide a much-needed “get-it-in-gear” on a Monday morning, it may offer long-term benefits to your brain power as well. According to a new study, drinking three cups of coffee a day could delay the onset of… more »
  09:08:58 am, by MedBen5   , 205 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Keeping Kids On Health Plan Popular With Parents, Survey Finds

Even though the Affordable Care Act has met with a mixed response from the public, certain aspects of the law have proven popular – perhaps none more so than the provision allowing parents to keep children on their health care plan until they… more »

06/08/12

  04:15:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 291 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News

MedBen Names Nydegger Vice President and Controller

Ed Nydegger was recently promoted to the position of Vice President by the Board of Directors of Medical Benefits Mutual Life Insurance Co. ("MedBen"), according to Doug Freeman, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the health benefits management company.… more »
  01:20:33 pm, by MedBen5   , 197 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

House Passes Bill Ending FSA Restrictions, Medical Device Tax

The House of Representatives has passed legislation that would end the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule for flexible spending account users. Additionally, the bill would allow FSA and health savings account participants to once again use their funds… more »
  12:30:43 pm, by MedBen5   , 187 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Don't Leave Common Sense At Home When Eating Out

Dining out this weekend? Well, enjoy your meal and be sure to tip appropriately. Oh, and while we’re on the subject… if you want to keep your weight in check, don’t leave healthy eating habits at home. All too often, going to a… more »

06/07/12

  05:36:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 277 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

With Court Decision Looming, Health Care Reform Is A Hot Topic

The ruling from the Supreme Court on the fate of health care reform law may be only weeks or even days away, so it shouldn’t come a surprise that the number of stories on the topic has increased of late: Here’s a sampling: USA Today:… more »
  04:53:07 pm, by MedBen5   , 189 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Before A Colonoscopy, Don't Be Shy About Asking Questions

Bringing up the subject of colon cancer screenings may provoke reactions of disgust, anxiety and questionable humor in equal measure. But there’s no getting around that it’s an important procedure and should not be taken lightly. Key to a… more »

06/06/12

  04:29:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 216 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

IRS Releases Health FSA Contribution Limit Guidelines

The Internal Revenue Service has given businesses that offer health flexible spending accounts a bit of breathing room before they must begin enforcing an annual $2,500 maximum salary reduction contribution. Last week, the IRS offered an implementation… more »
  04:01:35 pm, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Risks Of Daily Aspirin For Heart Disease May Outweigh Benefits

Remember that study we wrote about last week that said taking aspirin reduces your odds of developing skin cancer? Well, because researchers like nothing more than to make other researchers look bad (no, just kidding), a new study suggests that unless… more »
  01:25:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Hospital Safety Score Website A Tough Grader

The non-profit Leapfrog Group has introduced a website that grades hospitals using a system that all us former school kids are familiar with: A’s through F’s. According to NPR, Hospitalsafetyscore.org offers single letter grades for 2,651… more »

06/05/12

  03:37:35 pm, by MedBen5   , 266 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

Get To Know Your Prescription Drugs

If you’ve never used a particular prescription medication, it’s a good idea to get to know it better before taking it. To that end, you should have your physician or pharmacist break the ice a bit. At KevinMD.com, pharmacist Carlene Oleksyn… more »
  01:06:59 pm, by MedBen5   , 294 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

If Health Care Reform Goes Down, Will It Rise Again?

Of all the great unknowns regarding the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the health care reform law, among the greatest is: if the Affordable Care Act is struck down entirely, what happens to the provisions already in effect? In one sense, there is… more »
  12:13:15 pm, by MedBen5   , 228 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Family Doctor Says Primary Care Is "Undervalued"

On the KevinMD.com blog, family physician Mark Ryan goes to bat for his fellow primary caregivers: “[M]y intent is to note how undervalued primary care services are in our current system of healthcare delivery and payment. Primary care… more »
  11:31:56 am, by MedBen5   , 287 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Smart Strategies To Avoid A Heart Attack

Most people have it in their power to avoid a heart attack. But while deaths from coronary heart disease have dropped dramatically in the past decades, cardiovascular disease still remains the leading killer of both men and women. The Wall Street… more »

06/04/12

  11:27:00 am, by MedBen5   , 201 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Untreated Cavities An Ongoing Problem, Report Finds

More than one in every five Americans has untreated cavities, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It appears that we haven’t been able to make any significant strides during the last decade to… more »
  11:04:11 am, by MedBen5   , 164 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Obama Prepping For Round Two Of Health Care Reform Wars?

Despite President Obama’s oft-cited contention that the Supreme Court will uphold his landmark health care reform law, he is leaving the door open to the possibility of having to revisit the issue in a second term, Bloomberg reports. At a… more »
  10:13:20 am, by MedBen5   , 199 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Experimental Breast Cancer Drug Shows Promise

T-DM1 sounds like something out a “Star Wars” movie, but it’s actually an experimental drug that may prove a powerful tool in the fight against breast cancer. CNN reports that T-DM1 is designed to treat women with advanced… more »
  09:40:50 am, by MedBen5   , 152 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Know Your Limits When Working Out

You’ve probably heard that to improve your health, you should exercise a half-hour every day – or even an hour a day if possible. But is there a point where more exercise isn’t necessarily better? Absolutely, says Geralyn Coopersmith,… more »

06/01/12

  05:03:37 pm, by MedBen5   , 141 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

13.5 Million Americans Have HSAs, Study Finds

The number of people covered by high-deductible health plans paired with health savings accounts increased 18.4% in 2012 to 13.5 million, according to a survey by Americas Health Insurance Plans. Large and small group markets account for 7.9 million and… more »
  01:11:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 137 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Ways & Means Committee Approves Repeal Of Medical Device Tax

Yesterday, the House Ways & Means Committee voted 23-11 to repeal a tax on medical devices. Reuters reports that the measure is expected to pass the full Republican-controlled House of Representatives, but not the Democtrat-led Senate. The… more »
  12:25:04 pm, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Health Care Costs Will Rise 7.5% Next Year, Report Predicts

Health care costs are expected to rise 7.5% in 2013, according to management consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers. In its annual report on the nation’s medical cost trend, the company’s Health Research Institute said that it would mark the fourth… more »
  11:36:36 am, by MedBen5   , 331 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Lots Of Feedback On Proposed Big Beverage Ban

The announcement that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a prohibition on big-sized sugery drinks in restaurants, theaters and other venues – though, it should be noted, not convenience and grocery stores – has met been with a swift,… more »