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05/23/12

  05:18:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 211 words,  
Categories: Prescription

Rx Sales Reps Don't Just Provide Freebies, Study Suggests

Accusations that pharmacy sales reps have unduly influenced physicians to prescribe their products has led many doctors to say “no” to pitch meetings – and the free meals, trips and other gifts that often accompany them. But a new study suggests that cutting back on facetime or severing ties from sales reps altogether may have a downside. Blogger Ed Silverman writes:

“After the FDA approved the first-in-class Januvia diabetes pill, for instance, docs who had little interaction with reps took longer to write prescriptions than docs whose access to reps was not as restricted. Meanwhile, physicians who rarely, if ever, saw reps were slowest to change their prescribing habits after negative news emerged about the Avandia diabetes pill and the Vytorin cholesterol drug…

“’These findings emphasize that limiting access to pharmaceutical representatives can have the unintended effect of reducing appropriate responses to negative information about drugs just as much as responses to positive information about innovative drugs,’ the authors wrote in the
Journal of Clinical Hypertension, adding that specialists were more responsive to changes in information than primary care docs. ‘This result has significant clinical implications given that primary care physicians represent the first line of medical treatment for patients in our health care system.’”

Read more at Pharmalot.

05/22/12

  05:30:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 362 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness, Health Plan Management

CDC Report: Life Expectancy And Health Improve, But Obesity A Growing Problem

The Centers for Disease Control recently released its annual state of the union’s health. The federally mandated report serves as a benchmark for the current physical condition of the nation compared to past decades, as well as spending habits and access to health care.

Here are selected highlights from the report, according to WebMD (you can find more on their website):

  • We are living longer. Since 1980, men’s life expectancy rose from 70 to 76, while women’s increased from 77 to 81.
  • Heart disease remains the most common killer for both men and women. It causes about one-quarter of all deaths each year. But over the past 10 years, the number of heart disease deaths has dropped by 32%.
  • Deaths caused by stroke dropped by about a third for both men and women. Cancer deaths are also down – by 15% for men and 11% for women.
  • Nearly half of all adults with high blood pressure don’t have it under control, though this percentage has gone down significantly since the early 1990s. The number of adults with high cholesterol also dropped during this period.
  • Since 1994, obesity has gone up among all age groups. Nearly 20% of school-age children are now obese, while one-fifth of adults over 20 now have a BMI greater than 30 (which is considered obese).
  • Childhood obesity rates go down as parent education goes up: Nearly a quarter of children whose parents have less than a high school education were obese, which is two to three times more than kids whose parents (or heads of household) had finished college.
  • Americans visited a health care provider 1.3 billion times in 2009. That same year, $2.5 trillion dollars was spent on health care. That works out to average of $8,000 per person. Nearly a third of the money was spent on hospitals.
    Prescription drug costs went up more than 5% between 2008 and 2009 for a total of $249.9 billion, more than double what we spent in 2000.
  • Private health insurance covered a third of personal health care expenses in 2009. Consumers covered 14% out of pocket. The rest was paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and others. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) cost less than 1% of the total of all health care costs. Along with Medicaid, CHIP insures 54% of children, up from 28% in 2000.

05/21/12

  05:15:09 pm, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

CHDPs Save Money Now -- And Later

A recent study by RAND Corp determined that a rise in the use of consumer-driven health plans could signficantly reduce U.S. health care costs, The Hill reports.

CDHPs currently account for about 13% of all health care coverage provided by employers, the study says. But if the plans’ market share rose to 50%, health care costs in the United States could drop by $57 billion annually.

The study’s authors did express concern as to whether CDHP savings would only be realized in the short term. But on John Goodman’s Health Policy Blog, Greg Scandlen cites some earlier research:

“First year savings are the least of it. The real value of consumer driven approaches is that trend is reduced and the savings mount up over time. The 2009 study by the American Academy of Actuaries, for one, found that the trend over time for CDHPs ranged from 12% to 17% lower than for traditional plans…

“Importantly these savings do not accrue solely to employers. The study looks at out-of-pocket costs as well as premiums, and concludes that families themselves reduced their costs by over 20%.”

At MedBen, our experience has shown that companies offering CHDPs can maintain long-term savings for employers and employees without sacrificing needed medical services. To learn more, please call Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  12:16:34 pm, by MedBen5   , 226 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

"Take-back" Drug Programs May Be Unnecessary, Study Says

Many communities offer prescription drug “take-back” programs to safely dispose of unused medicines. But a new study suggests that properly tossing the old drugs in the trash is just as effective.

According to WebMD, researchers used a complicated methodology called “comparative life cycle assessment” to estimate the environmental impact of flushing, incinerating, and trashing old medications. They found little difference between burning the drugs – which is what most take-back programs do – and having them end up in the landfill.

Steven J. Skerlos, PhD of the University of Michigan told WebMD that these programs may actually be worse for the environment than throwing drugs in the trash due to the greenhouse gases produced by transporting and burning the medications.

If there are no disposal instructions given on the drug label or patient information sheet, the FDA recommends throwing away some prescriptions by:

  • First mixing them with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds,
  • Placing the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag,
  • And disposing of the bag with other household wastes.

One major exception: expecially harmful medications, including pain relievers and other drugs that are widely abused, like methadone, morphine, OxyContin, and Percocet. These should should be flushed down the toilet or sink to eliminate any chance that a child or pet will find them, the FDA says.

  10:20:06 am, by MedBen5   , 164 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

CDC Proposes Baby Boomers Get Tested For Hepatitis C

The Centers for Disease Control has proposed that all baby boomers get tested for hepatitis C, the Associated Press reports.

In draft recommendations issued on May 18, the government agency stated that anyone born from 1945 to 1965 should get a one-time blood test to see if they have the blood-borne virus, which can destroy one’s liver over multiple decades. Baby boomers account for more that 2 of the 3.2 million Americans infected with the virus.

“The CDC views hepatitis C as an unrecognized health crisis for the country, and we believe the time is now for a bold response,” said Dr. John W. Ward, the CDC’s hepatitis chief. In its proposal, the agency noted that the number of Americans dying from hepatitis C-related diseases nearly doubled from 1999 to 2007.

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants, and a contributing factor in more than 15,000 U.S. deaths annually. CDC officials believe that the testing could spur 800,000 more baby boomers to get treatment and could save more than 120,000 lives.

05/18/12

  04:10:01 pm, by MedBen5   , 423 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News

MedBen Names Freeman Chairman, Harden President

Doug Freeman

Doug Freeman, previously President and Chief Executive Officer of Medical Benefits Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MedBen), was elected Chairman of the Board and CEO of the health benefits management company at a meeting of its Board of Directors on May 17. Kurt Harden, previously Executive Vice President, has been named President, Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer.

Freeman succeeds Art Morrow, who has served on the MedBen Board since 1978 and as its Chairman since 1987. “Under Doug’s leadership, MedBen has grown from an established group health insurer to an innovative benefits manager offering a wide range of services,” said the former Chairman, who will remain on the Board as Secretary and General Counsel.

“These changes are part of a succession plan put in place several years ago and I believe make it clear that MedBen plans to have continued growth and even greater success in the future, “Morrow added. ”The company turns 75 years old next year and we’re all hoping for another 75.”

Prior to becoming Chairman, Freeman served as MedBen’s President and CEO since 1987. “Continuity is critical”, said Freeman. “We want our clients to know we’re here for them for the long run.”

Freeman emphasized that while the titles may have changed, the principal roles really haven’t. “Kurt remains primarily responsible for our product and service offerings, from sale through administration, although he’ll operate with more autonomy. And, of course, our roles will evolve over the next several years.”

Kurt Harden

Harden joined MedBen in May 1991 as Director of Public Affairs, and was named Vice President of External Affairs two years later. In 2002, he was named Senior Vice President, and promoted to Executive Vice President, COO and Treasurer in 2011.

“Kurt joined MedBen at a pivotal time in the company’s history, as we were making the transition from traditional insurance to community-focused health care plans, as well as third party administration,” Freeman said. “His business insight and creative spirit have been vital to everything we have accomplished in the past two decades.”

MedBen presently offers a variety of benefits management offerings, including fully-insured and self-funded options, consumer-driven health plans and worksite wellness programs. The 2010 passage of federal health care reforms will mean new challenges for MedBen, but the company looks forward to facing them.

“We’ve never been a company to rest on our laurels,” Harden said. “So regardless of whatever regulatory changes arise, we’ll continue to operate with an eye on increasing service efficiency while lowering client costs.”

The Newark, Ohio-based company has provided group health benefits management services since 1938.

  01:01:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 140 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Generic Versions Of Plavix Approved By FDA

The Food and Drug Administration has approved generic versions of the popular blood thinner Plavix. The Associated Press reports that seven generic dugmakers have been given permission to sell the drug in the standard 75-milligram dose, while four companies can sell a 300-milligram dose.

Plavix, the world’s second-best-selling medicine, is used by millions of people every day to prevent heart attacks and strokes. The drug prevents platelets in the blood from clumping together.

The patent for Plavix, which is marketed jointly by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi SA, recently expired. To encourage patients to stick with the brand-name version, the two drug companies are offering coupons that give a big discount off the retail price, which is about $200 per month.

Generic Plavix should be available beginning this weekend. Its average price is expected to be about $40 a month without insurance.

  12:21:53 pm, by MedBen5   , 223 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

HHS Sets Deadline For States To File Exchange Proposals

Despite the uncertainly surrounding the future of health care reform, the Obama administration is moving forward. Reuters reports that the Department for Health and Human Services has announced a November 16 deadline for state governments to submit plan outlines for their health insurance exchanges.

The announcement comes at a time where the question is unresolved as to whether or not the Affordable Care Act will still exist in its current form – if, indeed, at all – by November. The Supreme Court could potentially strike down the law this summer.

Even if the ACA survives the judicial process, many states have been slow to develop an exchange, while others have refused outright. As Reuters notes, the main case before the Supreme Court was brought by 26 states that believe the health care reforms exceed the federal government’s constitutional powers.

And of course, there’s the small matter of the November 6 presidential election, which takes place just 10 days ahead of the new filing deadline. Should Mitt Romney win, the deadline likely becomes a moot point: The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has vowed to repeal the health care reform law.

Speaking to reporters, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that all the uncertainty notwithstanding, 34 states – including some that want the ACA overturned – and the District of Columbia have accepted federal grant money to help establish the exchanges.

  10:44:53 am, by MedBen5   , 211 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study Questions Effectiveness Of "Good" Cholesterol

A long-held medical belief – that the more HDL, or “good cholesterol", you have in your blood, the lower your risk of heart disease – has been challenged.

According to The New York Times, new research has found that raising HDL levels may not affect heart disease risk one way or another. The study’s authors, backed by extensive databases of genetic information, determined that people with naturally higher HDL levels have no less heart disease than those whose genes give them slightly lower levels.

Researchers not involved with the study expressed concern about the findings. “I’d say the HDL hypothesis is on the ropes right now,” said Dr. James A. de Lemos, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“The current study tells us that when it comes to HDL we should seriously consider going back to the drawing board, in this case meaning back to the laboratory,” said Dr. Michael Lauer, director of the division of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

But Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, countered that because HDL is complex, it is possible that some types of HDL molecules might in fact protect against heart disease. “I am an optimist,” he said.

05/17/12

  05:23:33 pm, by MedBen5   , 285 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News

MedBen Opens, Dedicates Conference Center

C. Arthur Morrow Conference Center

MedBen formally opened the C. Arthur Morrow Conference Center on Thursday, May 17, 2012. The company’s President and CEO Doug Freeman hosted the event.

“As MedBen has continued to grow, the need for an expanded meeting area has become essential,” Freeman said. “This state-of-the-art conference center offers us an easy way to bring together large numbers of clients, brokers or employees any time the occasion calls for it.”

The conference center was dedicated to Art Morrow, Chairman of the Board for MedBen. Morrow, a practicing attorney and lifetime resident of Licking County, has served on the MedBen Board of Directors since 1978 and as its Chairman since 1987.

Doug Freeman introduces Art Morrow

“Art has been a key to our success during the past quarter century,” Freeman said. “His leadership has had a tremendous impact on our business direction, and MedBen is that much stronger for it. I can think of no person more deserving of this tribute.”

The center will serve as a venue for a variety of events, including sales meetings, employee gatherings and after-hour receptions. It will also function as the primary site for MedBen University, a series of seminars that educate clients about plan design strategies, new benefit technologies, and regulatory matters.

The center contains a large presentation area as well as smaller meeting space. Both rooms feature high-definition video projectors and multi-speaker audio systems. A situational lighting design allows users to brighten and dim specific areas of the presentation area as needed.

In addition, the center has a separate kitchen area, including regular and microwave ovens and a refrigerator, and a coat room. It has a maximum capacity of 170 people.

The center is located at 1821 W. Main Street in Newark, Ohio, next door to the MedBen Home Office.

  10:54:43 am, by MedBen5   , 333 words,  
Categories: Prescription

Test Your OTC IQ

There are more over-the-counter health products available than ever, and trying to figure out which one is best for your ailment can be a real head-scratcher. To raise your OTC intellect a few points, The Wall Street Journal Health Blog offers “The Medicine Cabinet Quiz“. Take a few minutes to check it out, but be forewarned: There may be a few trick answers in the mix.

Here’s the first question… the entire quiz is available at WSJ.com.

1. You have a headache. Should you take:

A. Advil (ibuprofen)
B. Tylenol (acetaminophen)
C. Aspirin

Answer: A, B or C

All of them will relieve a simple headache, but through different means and with different side effects.

Advil and Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen sodium) and aspirin all reduce pain by fighting inflammation, which also makes them particularly useful for combating arthritis, tooth pain, menstrual cramps and muscle sprains. But they can cause stomach bleeding, so people with peptic ulcers, liver, kidney or heart disease should talk to their doctors before taking them. Aspirin has the added benefit of preventing blood clots, which is why taking one daily can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. But aspirin shouldn’t be used by people who have low blood pressure or open wounds, or by children who have the flu or chickenpox due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare neurological disorder.

Tylenol (acetaminophen) works by calming pain signals in the brain. But it can cause liver damage if you regularly have three or more alcoholic drinks a day or take a higher dosage than recommended.

All in all, ibuprofen is arguably the strongest, but aspirin works faster, naproxen lasts longer and acetaminophen is safer if you have stomach problems (and aren’t a heavy drinker). A few brands contain both acetaminophen and aspirin, but don’t mix them on your own and don’t take any of them for more than five days straight, since they can cause “rebound” headaches, in which the body feels withdrawal when they wear off.

  10:38:53 am, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Coffee Drinkers May Live Longer, Study Suggests

If you’re enjoying a piping hot cup o’ joe while you read this, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re adding years to your life.

Maybe.

WebMD reports that a 13-year study of coffee drinkers revealed that people who downed three or more cups a day had about a 10% lower risk of death overall compared to people who drank no coffee. They also showed a reduced risk of dying from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, accidents and injuries, diabetes, and infections, but not from cancer.

Sounds great. But there are a few caveats involved.

First, the researchers based their information on a questionnaire completed by 400,000 AARP members between 1995 and 1996. They continued tracking through 2008, but never asked if participants changed their coffee-drinking habits in the ensuing years. Nor did they inquire how the coffee was prepared. So while the results suggest an association between coffee and longevity, the study can’t say for certain that coffee caused people to live longer.

Second, coffee contains about 1,000 difference compounds. Caffeine is the best known ingedient, but apparently doesn’t influence mortality, because death rates liked to decaf were similar to those associated with caffeinated. More likely, antioxidants and other compounds might be important, the researchers write.

Finally, the researchers did correct for the effects of other risk factors for dying, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. But as many coffee drinkers also indulge in these habits, they may negate the positive effects of the daily dose of java.

05/16/12

  05:07:31 pm, by MedBen5   , 139 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

First In-home HIV Test Passes FDA Panel

Reuters reports that the first over-the-counter, in-home HIV test is one step closer to reality. A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has unanimously recommended that the agency approve the product, known as the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test.

OraQuick uses a mouth swab for the test, which offers results with 20 minutes. But while the advisory panel said the test shows a high degree of effectiveness in the rapid detection of HIV infection, research data has raised concerns that it also produces a disturbing number of false positives.

The panel says the test’s benefits to HIV-positive people under-served by medical care outweighs the risks. However, some panel members did advise that the product carry strongly-worded labeling that warns about potential false results.

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has infected nearly 1.2 million people and increases by 50,000 new cases each year.

  04:16:12 pm, by MedBen5   , 189 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Over 53 Million Americans Could Have Diabetes By 2025, Report Warns

If the diabetes epidemic continues to progress at its current pace, 53 million Americans may have the disease by 2025, a new report states.

According to RedOrbit.com, researchers based their projections for specific states and population subgroups using the most current U.S. Census Bureau forecasts. Should the rate of diabetes (mainly type 2) grow as they predict, it would represent a 64% increase from 2010.

“Diabetes is now a national security issue as it threatens all aspects of our nation’s well-being,” noted Dr. David B. Nash, Editor-in-Chief of Population Health Management, the journal that published the report.

The authors of the report emphasized that if the lessons from the Diabetes 2025 Model are heeded, lifestyle changes can help to slow the growth of the disease, as well as the resultant costs.

“If our health care system were able to persuade 50% of Americans with prediabetes every year to seriously change their lifestyles for the rest of their lives, the result could be about 4.7 million fewer cases of diabetes in 2025 with a cumulative savings of about $300 billion. Yet even if this happened, there would still be 48.4 million Americans living with diabetes,” the authors explained.

05/15/12

  02:57:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 311 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Researchers Test Laxative-free "Virtual" Colonoscopy

While colon cancer can generally be prevented through timely screenings, the unpleasant aspects of pre-test preparations scares many people away. But a new method for performing a “virtual” colonoscopy may persuade those who have so far avoided this important procedure.

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports that in recent years, computed tomographic colonography – known as CT or “virtual” colonoscopy – have eliminated the need for invasive instrument, instead scanning the colon externally. But patients still need to take laxatives for the scanning machines to produce an accurate screening.

So to sidestep the laxative issue, researchers have developed a software program to electronically “cleanse” the bowel. In a study of the program, patients ate a low-fiber diet for several days prior to scanning, and drank a special fluid to “tag” the colon’s contents. This method accurately identified 91% of patients with polyps of 10 mm or larger – those at highest risk of becoming cancerous – but was less accurate for smaller lesions.

“No one should be dying from colon cancer, which is almost completely preventable with screening; and if it were sufficiently easy more people would do it,” said Dr. Michael Zalis, a radiologist and lead author of the study.

Dr. James Aisenberg, a gastroenterologist who wasn’t involved with the study, agreed that the laxative requirement can be a barrier to colorectal screening, and a virtual test is definitely better than nothing. But he added that a laxative-free CTC “will miss a subset of precancerous polyps and thus is unlikely to become the gold standard for colorectal-cancer prevention.”

The American Cancer Society recommends that people with an average risk of developing colon cancer get screened starting at age 50. MedBen Worksite Wellness members can check their compliance with colonoscopies and other critical wellness examinations by visiting the MedBen Access website and clicking on the Wellness Plan link under “My Plan”.

  12:13:25 pm, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

U.S. Consumes Majority Of Painkillers Worldwide

According to the U.K. paper Mail, Americans currently consume 80% of the world’s supply of pain pills – enough drugs to give every single American 64 Percocets or Vicodin.

The article notes that opioid prescriptions have spiked 600% in the past 10 years. Therefore it’s hardly a shock that a growing number of individuals are using the drugs for purposes other than alleviating discomfort. And their abuse leads to 14,800 fatalities a year – more than from heroin and cocaine combined.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that when taken as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain safely and effectively. However, when abused, even a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death.

Of course, even though who follow instructions to the letter will typically develop physical dependence to some degree. This is a normal adaptation to chronic exposure to a drug and is not the same as addiction – but it does highlight the importance of working with your family doctor to ensure a temporary need doesn’t progress into something much worse.

For additional information about pain pills, visit the NIDA website.

  11:25:34 am, by MedBen5   , 226 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Washington State Health Care Reform Offers Cautionary Tale

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) recently released the first of four case studies that demonstrate the consequences of mandating health care reforms in the absence of a personal coverage requirement. It’s a scenario that has already played out on the state level – and one that could potentially occur nationwide if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate.

“When thinking about the impact of potential Supreme Court rulings, there is no substitute for real-world experience. Washington state’s experience demonstrated that passing market reforms without requiring broad participation in the system does not work. The linkage is essential,” said AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni in a press release.

Washington state enacted health care reforms in 1993 that required individuals to buy their own policies while effectively eliminating waiting periods for pre-existing conditions. Within 18 months, the state legislature repealed the individual coverage requirement, so many healthy people dropped out of the program.

According to the press release, the reforms ultimately resulted in “substantial increases in the premiums charged for individually purchased policies; a dramatic reduction in the number of carriers writing policies for individuals in the state from 19 to only two; and a 30 percent increase in the number of uninsured between enactment of the initial reform law and the turn of the new century.”

The Washington case study is available for download at AHIP’s website.

  10:54:07 am, by MedBen5   , 190 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

"Social Jet Lag" Triples Odds Of Excess Weight

Many people have two sets of sleep times – “weekend” and “weekdays". And typically, the former is a few hours longer than the latter.

But while the extra hours of shut-eye on Saturday and Sunday may provide some short-term relief, it’s not a good long-term solution. A new European study suggests that irregular sleep patterns – what the researchers authors refer to as “social jet lag” – triple your odds of being overweight, according to CNN.com.

Social jet lag is “the discrepancy between what our body clock wants us to do and what our social clock wants us to do,” says Till Roenneberg, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Munich’s Institute of Medical Psychology, in Germany. “It almost looks as if people on a Friday evening fly from Paris to New York, and on Monday morning they fly back again.”

The study of 65,000 adults also found that the the body mass index (BMI) of overweight people tended to rise as the gap between their weekday and weekend “time zones” widened. In addition, erratic sleep patterns leave individuals at a greater risk for cancer, diabetes and other diseases.

05/11/12

  05:29:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 286 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Rise In Disease Prevalence Drives Need For Wellness

Rayvelle Stallings, MD, Chief Medical Officer of inVentiv Medical Management

Poor lifestyle choices have led to an increased prevalence of expensive chronic diseases, according to Rayvelle Stallings, MD, Chief Medical Officer of inVentiv Medical Management. At MedBen’s recent Wellness Conference, Dr. Stallings highlighted the growing health crisis in America, and how a coordinated worksite wellness effort can reduce medical costs and foster a healthier workplace.

“Nearly 9 out of 10 medical claims can be traced to lifestyle decisions that individuals make, so clearly there is an opportunity to help people make smart health choices,” Dr. Stallings stated in her presentation. “That’s why over 70% of employers are looking for employee engagement solutions.”

MedBen, in partnership with inVentiv, offers the iHealth Wellness Education Program to employees. Dr. Stallings noted that through focused, interventional coaching for patients with high-risk, modifiable, and traditionally costly diseases, iHealth helps to educate employees and their family members about positive lifestyle changes and appropriate wellness prevention testing. The program also encourages the establishment of “medical home” for every plan member – specifically, their family doctor.

In contrast to other wellness programs that rely on personal health assessments from plan members, iHealth performs an an electronic analysis of medical claims data using the member’s company claims history. By doing so, iHealth detects health patterns that would benefit from specialized nurse coaching, as well as providing members with customized recommendations for certain wellness screening tests.

Dr. Stallings also discussed the positive effects of wellness incentives to members, such as reduced premiums and gym discounts. “Incentives have powerful behavioral effects,” and even small awards can spur greater participation in a wellness program, Dr. Stallings observed.

To learn more about MedBen Worksite Wellness, we invite you to contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  12:57:53 pm, by MedBen5   , 167 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Middle-Age Fitness Reduces Health Costs In Later Life

It comes as no surprise that most people incur higher medical costs in their senior years. But new research suggests a potential way to bring those expenses down by over one-third.

According to HealthDay News, a Dallas, Texas-based study of more than 20,000 people determined that fit middle-aged men and women had, on average, 38% lower medical costs later in life compared to people who failed to stay in shape.

“We found that fitness confers dividends later in life even when other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and obesity are controlled for,” said study author Dr. Justin Bachmann.

Average annual claims for medical costs for the least-fit men, at $5,134, were about 36% higher than the average of $3,277 a year for the most-fit men. The average medical claims of $4,565 for the least-fit women were about 40% higher than the $2,755 average for the most fit.

Levels of fitness were determined by a treadmill test measuring metabolic equivalents (METs), Bachmann said. The higher the METs, the more fit a person is.

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