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08/31/12

  05:16:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 190 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Investigation Finds Better Health Care With Low-Cost Docs

A saavy consumer knows that “expensive” doesn’t necessarily equal “better". And a new Consumer Reports review confirms that goes for health care as well.

As WebMD reports, “Independent investigators compared quality and cost for 18 primary care groups in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. They found that one of the groups with the lowest costs rated highest for quality of care.”

John Santa, MD, who directs the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, says, “There were high-quality groups with lower costs and lower-quality groups with high costs.”

In their research, the investigators used 88 measures of quality of care, including percentage of patients reaching blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes goals. They also took into consideration patient satisfaction, affordability of medical tests and drugs, and the cost of care for short-term and long-term illnesses.

What factors allowed primary care groups to deliver quality care at a fair price?

  • Taking a team approach to health care delivery that includes nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants instead of relying primarily on the doctor.
  • Keeping up with the emerging science and having the ability to quickly adopt new research and guidelines.
  • Keeping the focus on the patient.
  04:57:21 pm, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Prescription-free Online Viagra Mostly Fake, Study Finds

For those men touchy about the subject of sexual dysfunction, the ability to buy Viagra online without a doctor’s prescription is likely an appealing prospect. But a new study warns would-be customers against the idea.

According to MedPage Today, researchers analyzed pills from 22 different websites that came up in searches to “buy Viagra". They found that over three-quarters of the sample were counterfeit and contained only between 30% and 50% of the levels of active ingredient advertised on its label.

The problem of fake drugs has exploded with the growth of the Internet, says research team member Irwin Goldstein, MD, of San Diego Sexual Medicine in California. In 2010, worldwide sales of counterfeit Viagra and other drugs was estimated to be $75 billion. And as one in six American purchased medications online last year, that means 36 millions consumers could have potentially taken fake drugs.

None of the websites required a prescription, and 91 claimed to sell “generic Viagra,” which has not been approved by the FDA. Most of the drugs were shipped from Hong Kong, the U.S., and the U.K., and ranged in price from $3.28 to $33 per tablet.

  04:16:29 pm, by MedBen5   , 180 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Tablet Computers At Bedtime Can Wreck Sleep

If dozing off to the glow of your iPad has become a nightly ritual, you may want to rethink the habit. According to a new study, the bright light emitted from tablet computers may mess up your sleep patterns.

WebMD reports that when a tablet sits close to one’s eyes, the light it produces can suppress melatonin, a hormone that helps control sleep and wake cycles, called circadian rhythms. The researchers found that two hours of tablet usage on their brightest settings slowed melatonin by about 22%.

The study looked specifically at the iPad, iPad 2, and a tablet known as the Asus. As for iPhones and other smaller gadgets, the researchers think they may not emit enough light to affect circadian rhythms.

If you can’t rest without a little tablet time before bed, the researchers suggest these tips:

  • Invest in a filter, which can help reduce the glare.
  • Don’t use the tablet at full brightness, and turn off your bedroom lights as well.
  • Leave some distance between your face and the tablet.
  • Place a time limit on your bedtime tablet use.

08/30/12

  05:15:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 227 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

New Cardio Test Helps Physicians Determine Best Solution

WebMD reports on a new test that measures blood flow through clogged arteries. Called fractional flow reserve (FFR), the technique could potentially help physicians determine if heart patients need angioplasty and stenting to open clogged heart arteries, or if medication alone would be sufficient.

A study of FFR found that when testing revealed a restricted blood flow, the most effective option was stenting. But if the test showed that blood flow wasn’t restricted even if the heart arteries were clogged, medication – lower in cost and less risky – was just as effective.

Researcher Bernard De Bruyne, MD, PhD, of the Cardiovascular Center Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Kliniek in Aalst, Belgium said that the cost of an FFR is low (about $750) and saves hospitals money by decreasing the use of unnecessary stenting.

Another cost-effective strategy, this one geared toward employer health plans: Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care Management, an Accountable Care Solution powered by inVentiv Medical Management and available through MedBen. This comprehensive program promotes safe and integrated care management for patients affected by cardiovascular disease.

Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care Management includes:

  • Review of ordered treatment for alignment with evidence-based care by Cardiologist/Cardiothoracic surgeon
  • Peer-to-peer discussions with Cardiologist/Cardiothoracic surgeon as required
  • Review of claims after intervention to ensure alignment with agreed upon treatment
  • Appeals and negotiations

For more information, call MedBen Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  01:30:10 pm, by MedBen5   , 251 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Ryan Bashes Health Care Reform Law During RNC Speech

With other issues grabbing the headlines in the days leading up to the Republican National Convention, health care reform got lost in the shuffle. But vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) put it back in the spotlight during his RNC speech.

As MedPage Today writes:

“[Ryan], whose plan for changing Medicare into a premium support program has generated much controversy, spent several minutes discussing the topic. With the Obama administration, ‘we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care,’ he said.

“‘Obamacare comes to more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country.’

“From there, Ryan went on to discuss the effect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has on the Medicare program, saying, ‘the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly.’

“‘Even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the healthcare takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money,’ he continued. ‘They needed more… So, they just took it all away from Medicare – $716 billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.’

“Ryan was referring to anticipated savings from the ACA, which come mainly from cuts in reimbursement to hospitals and private insurers.”

Earlier in the evening, Sen. Rand Paul, MD, (R-Ky.) also criticized the health care reform law, calling it “unconstitutional” and a “travesty of justice".

  01:09:35 pm, by MedBen5   , 200 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Minding Calories Won't Increase Lifespan But May Improve Health

If you consume fewer calories in hopes of living longer, a new study won’t make your day. But it may offer enough good news to encourage you to say the course, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Following earlier studies which showed that rats and mice live 15% to 40% longer than is typical for their species when eating 30% to 40% less calories than normal, researchers ran a similar test on rhesus monkeys. They found instead that the monkeys had a similar lifespan as monkeys whose eating was unrestricted. But the diet did offer other benefits, such as reducing cancer risk.

This isn’t the first time that scientists have researched the longevity of primates. A 2009 study of monkeys also tested how calorie reduction affected lifespan, but found that a better diet gave those monkeys a survival edge over monkeys with poorer diets.

Rafael de Cabo, an experimental gerontologist at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore and senior author of the study, said an examination of such factors as food choices and the animals’ genetic makeup might help to determine what accounts for the difference. In doing so, it could offer clues to the ways in which calorie restriction – and aging – work.

08/29/12

  05:54:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 245 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study: Emphasis On PSA Tests Have Increased Cancer Survival

Following a recommendation earlier this year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that doctors abandon prostate cancer screenings for most male adults, defenders of the test have voiced their disagreement. And last week, a new study provided them with some additional support for their defense.

Research conducted at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center in San Antonio determined that as recommendations for geting prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests have increased, men diagnosed and treated for metastatic prostate cancer have lived longer than male cancer patients before the “PSA era".

WebMD reports that the researchers based their conclusions on a data analysis of three larger studies ranging from the mid-1980s through the PSA era, which began in 1990. Men in this later period diagnosed with prostate cancer that had spread to other parts of the body lived about 49 months after diagnosis. compared to 30-33 months before routine PSA testing was performed.

Lead researcher Ian M. Thompson Jr., MD did note that other factors likely played a role in better prostate cancer survival. But “[w]hile not all of these welcome improvements can be attributed strictly to PSA testing, without a doubt it has played a role in extending many lives,” Thompson said in a news release.

MedBen follows American Cancer Society guidelines, which recommend that men at age 50 who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years consult with their primary care physician about getting a screening.

  04:57:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Approves HIV Drug For Daily Use

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a once-a-day pill to treat the virus that causes AIDS, according to AFP (via Yahoo! Health).

The new pill, Stribild, is actually a combination of the previously approved drug Truvada and two new ones, elvitegravir and cobicistat. The single daily dose provides a complete treatment regiment for HIV infection, and double-blind clinical trials have shown that, for most patients, it can bring virus readings down to undetectable levels in about 11 months.

Such effectiveness comes at a considerable financial cost, however. Gilead Sciences, which created Stribild, is charging wholesalers $28,500 a year for the drug. The company did say it would provide discounts to state assistance programs and has created a patient financial-assistance program.

The FDA noted that additional study is needed to determine Stribild’s safety for women and children. Side effects of the drug include weakened bones, kidney problems, and severe liver problems, which could lead to death. Gilead countered that “most adverse effects were mild to moderate” during the studies, and typically led to nausea and diarrhea.

A spokeswoman for Gilead said the pill should be on the market by the end of this week.

08/28/12

  05:10:19 pm, by MedBen5   , 211 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

ACA Offers Few Free Preventive Services For Men

Michelle Andrews looks at the gender benefit gap in the Affordable Care Act. Why does the law greatly expand women’s access to free preventive services – particularly, for sexual and reproductive health – while giving men little by comparison?

In some part, the disparity can be traced to a groundswell movement in Washington D.C. to add women’s preventive services to the law, which in turn arose from the outcry over a Preventive Services Task Force recommendation that regular mammography screening for most women begin at age 50 rather than age 40.

But mainly, women received a much larger complement of no-cost health benefits because of certain biological and societal realities. “Women bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases and preventing pregnancy,” says Deborah Arrindell, vice president for health policy at the American Social Health Association, an advocacy group.

Still, some question whether the law should have required one free contraceptive service for males – vasectomies. “Particularly for older men who are interested in playing a role in pregnancy prevention through sterilization, there are not many low-cost services available, even in a large city,” says David Bell, medical director of the Young Men’s Clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s Family Planning Clinic.

Read more at The Washington Post.

  12:37:26 pm, by MedBen5   , 192 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Midlife Fitness Reduces Risk Of Chronic Disease In Old Age

Keeping fit at midlife may not better your odds of living much longer, but it will increase your chances of avoiding chronic disease, new research suggests.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a study of 18,670 men and women spanning from 1984 to 2010 found that participants with the highest fitness levels at age 50 had just over half the number of chronic conditions – including heart disease, diabetes, lung and colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease – as did those in the lowest fitness category. As fitness improved, incidents of chronic illness decreased.

Of the 2,406 participants who died during the last ten years of the study, those who who had been least fit spent almost twice as much of their final five years with four or more chronic conditions compared to participants who were most fit. Conversely, the fittest participants in midlife spent 34% more time than the least fit with only one or no chronic disease.

Researchers acknowledged that a healthly lifestyle didn’t give individuals a significant increase in lifespan. But rather than endure a lengthy period of gradual decline, death was more likely to come suddenly or following a brief illness, preceded by relative health.

08/24/12

  05:26:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 612 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

MedBen Compliance Experts Examine Health Care Reform At Seminar

Employers and brokers filled the Morrow Conference Center for MedBen’s Health Care Reform Seminar on August 23. Entitled “Upward and Onward", the event focused on what businesses can expect from Affordable Care Act provisions already started as well as rules to be implemented in the coming months.

Annette McNair speaks at the MedBen Health Care Reform Seminar.

Caroline Fraker and Annette McNair – Vice President and Director, respectively, of MedBen’s Compliance Department, were the featured speakers for the seminar. McNair led off the presentation with an explanation of two provisions of the health care reform law that will directly impact employers: women’s health preventive services and Summaries of Benefits and Coverage.

This month saw the formal enforcement of women’s preventive health care services guidelines, adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2011. The services, effective for plan years on or after August 1, 2012, include well women visits, counseling on STDs, sterilization procedures, rental of breastfeeding equipment, and all contraceptives, to name just a few.

McNair noted the religious backlash that arose from the contraception requirement. While the Obama administration has amended the rule so that insurers, not the religious institution, would be responsible for covering birth control, it has yet to find a suitable solution for self-funded employers.

The Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) – a standardized overview that individuals can use to uniformly compare health care plan offerings – affects health plans and employers who self-fund their health care benefits. Plan members must receive an SBC on the first plan year on or after September 23, 2012.

McNair warned that certain formatting rules of the SBC, such as confining benefit descriptions to a single page, may prove difficult for self-funded groups. But MedBen will assist clients throughout the preparation and distribution process.

Full story »

  04:45:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 341 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Candidates' Medicare Plans Fuel Election Year Debate

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Republican Vice Presidential candidate, has a plan to restructure Medicare – and it’s come under criticism from Democrats. The scenario mirrors President Obama’s changes to Medicare under the Affordable Care Act – changes that came under criticism from Republicans.

So just how do these plans work, and are they as bad as their respective opposition make them out to be? Jeff Levine of WebMD Health News looked at both plans, and we summarize his review below. You can find the full Q&A at WebMD.com.

Will Paul Ryan’s budget plan really end Medicare? Not now, but under Ryan’s approach traditional Medicare will be just one option in a newly created competitive marketplace. Everyone aged 55 and older would be grandfathered into traditional Medicare.

How does Paul Ryan’s plan work? Seniors would get a fixed amount of money, called “premium support,” to pay for their health care. One option for that care would include traditional Medicare. Other insurance plans would also bid for Medicare business, offering consumers other options for their coverage.

Would seniors pay more under Ryan’s plan? Experts differ on how premium support would impact the quality and cost of Medicare.

Is it true that $716 billion will be cut from Medicare under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? That all depends on the meaning of the word “cut.” The law does slow the rate of Medicare growth by that amount, primarily by trimming reimbursement rates to medical providers. At the same time, the law encourages innovations that make care more efficient.

Will the health reform law result in less coverage for seniors? In the short run the ACA provides extra benefits. What happens over time depends on how successfully the ACA’s new cost control mechanisms rein in Medicare’s current growth trajectory.

Will health care costs for seniors go up under the health reform law? Even with the cost control measures built into the new law and the increased emphasis on prevention, Medicare’s history suggests program costs and patient premiums will continue to go up over time.

  04:11:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 259 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

West Nile Virus Outbreak Biggest In Over A Decade

The animal and insect kingdoms have kept the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention busy as of late. Earlier this month, the government agency reported on a new strain of “swine” flu, spread from the pigs to humans. And this week, CDC warned of a high threat level for West Nile virus – the largest since 1999, when it was first discovered.

According to the Harvard Health Blog, more than 1,100 cases of human West Nile infection have been reported, about half of them in Texas, and at least 40 people have died from the virus. While the reason for the dramatic increase isn’t fully known, expects think it may be related to the record warm temperatures this past winter and spring. The hot weather sped up the breeding cycle of mosquitoes and allowed the virus to replicate faster.

Most people who get bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus won’t get sick. But those who do develop a severe illness with high fever, confusion, severe headache and/or a stiff neck. No vaccine is currently available to treat the virus.

The Harvard Health Blog also offers tips for preventing infection, including:

  • Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most likely to bite – between dusk and dawn, but especially in the early evening.
  • Wear long pants and shirts with long sleeves to protect you from mosquito bites.
  • Make sure you have window and door screens to keep out mosquitoes.
  • Use insect repellant when you go outside.
  • Check around your home for standing water. Dump out any water where mosquitoes may breed.

08/23/12

  04:58:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 182 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Health Plan Management

Fortysomethings May Spend $1.7 Million On Retirement Health Care Costs

Sobering numbers for anyone currently saving for their golden years: Health care consulting firm HVS Financials estimates that a healthy moderate-income couple of 45-year-olds can expect to spend $1.7 million on health care over their retirement years. That figure includes Medicare premiums, drug costs and the occasional illness, but not funds spent on dental and vision care.

According to Reuters, HVS calculates that a couple retiring at age 66 should have $122,541 set aside (assuming 8% annual returns) just to cover its medical costs. For those couples who have already reached retirement status, Fidelity Investments says they would need an average of $240,000 saved to pay for health care.

And by the way, these are conservative estimates.

Financial experts do note, however, that higher health care costs isn’t necessarily just a matter of how much care someone requires. People who buy a high-end supplemental Medigap insurance policy can potentially pay less out of pocket even if they suffer from chronic illnesses.

Read the Reuters article at Employee Benefit News for additional tips to save for retirement – and how best to manage income when you reach it.

  03:22:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Over Half Of States Have Accepted Insurance Exchange Grants

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that nine additional states have been given grants to develop health insurance exchanges, The Hill’s Healthwatch blog reports.

California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, New York and Vermont join 25 other states that have accepted funds to set up a marketplace for people to compare and purchase health coverage, a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

“Thanks to the healthcare law, Americans will have more health insurance choices and the ability to compare insurance plans,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “We continue to support states as they move forward building an exchange that works for them.”

In spite of the fact that most states have now accepted grants, the Kaiser Family Foundation notes only 16 states have officially created the framework for an exchange. As for those yet to receive funding, many are led by Republican governors who will await the outcome of the November elections before deciding on a course of action.

States are expected to have their exchanges ready by the beginning of 2014; if not, federally-run exchanges will be offered in those states.

08/22/12

  05:36:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Over 40% Of Adults Favor Specialists For General Health Care

Regular checkups from your family doctor are a key to maintaining good health. But a new study reveals that many patients are bypassing general practitioners for specialty care.

According to Reuters Health, researchers found 41% of adults in the U.S. received primary health care from specialist doctors in 2007 – a proportion that remained largely unchanged from the preceding decade.

Patients who forego primary care doctors for specialists tend to see poorer outcomes, said lead author Dr. Minal Kale, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “It’s very well documented that a system that is based on primary care can provide higher quality care.”

Not only does a specialist-focused approach to general care result in reduced quality, it also cost the patient more. As the Reuters article notes, “[a] 2010 study found that primary care doctors earn about $60 per hour, which is much less than the $92 per hour and $85 per hour rates for surgeons and ob-gyns, respectively.”

Kale stressed that specialists serve an important purpose. But a general practitioner is essential for providing comprehensive care and – if necessary – coordinating care among specialists.

  05:13:21 pm, by MedBen5   , 269 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

O'Donnell's Heart Scare Spotlights Need To Know Symptoms

Rosie O’Donnell’s recent health scare has brought the subject of women and heart attacks into the news. The 50-year-old comedienne and former talk show host revealed earlier this week that she underwent artery-opening angioplasty when tests showed an artery was 99% blocked.

As we posted on this blog back in February, chest pains and pressure – the “classic” symptoms experienced by men suffering an attack – are much less likely to show up in females. According to the American Heart Association, more common signs for women include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness and pain in the back or jaw. A sudden onset of fatigure may also be a warning sign.

The Harvard Health Blog notes that, in addition to not recognizing the symptoms, many women consider a heart attack to be a “man’s disease". An eye-opening 2010 AHA survey found that:

  • Only 55% of women surveyed said they would call 911 if they thought they were having a heart attack.
  • 50% of women didn’t know heart disease was the leading cause of death among women.
  • 51% said family or caregiving responsibilities made it difficult or impossible to take steps against heart disease, such as exercise and healthful eating.
  • 32% said they didn’t need to take preventive action since they weren’t at risk for heart disease.
  • 58% said they were trying to prevent heart disease by taking vitamin A, C, or E (none of which has been shown to work against heart disease).

Hopefully, O’Donnell’s experience will serve as a warning to other women to heed the signs – and if they do occur, to call 911 immediately. For additional information, visit the AHA website.

08/21/12

  05:31:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Healthy Teeth Good For The Brain, Study Finds

Need another reason to practice good oral hygiene? Okay, here’s one – a new study suggests that people with healthy teeth and gums have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life.

According to Reuters Health (via the Chicago Tribune), research conducted over an 18-year period found that elderly people who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65% more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.

Annlia Paganini-Hill, who led the study at the University of California, noted that earlier research has shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than a person without Alzheimer’s. Additionally, an unhealthy mouth is linked a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Clearly, there are plenty of smart reasons to make and keep that dental checkup. And we’ll toss in one more – with MedBen Dental, preventive services are covered with no deductible. Plus, while the plan focuses on prevention, it also encourages the use of restorative services when necessary through lower patient costs.

MedBen Dental incorporates affordable coverage, sound dental principles and responsiveness to the needs of your employees, in a plan that stresses regular check-ups and good dental hygiene. To learn more, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  12:59:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 229 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Romney's VP Pick Favors Tax Credits For Health Coverage

Adding Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan to the Republican presidential ticket did more for Mitt Romney than bolster his support in a political swing state – it also provides him with a ready-made proposal that would shake up the health care system.

As reported by Reuters, Ryan has advocated eliminating tax breaks for people who get their health insurance through their employer – a perk he called “the heart of the problem” in a 2010 policy document. Instead, Americans would be offered tax credits to cover their health care costs.

The tax exclusion for employer-provided coverage costs the U.S. Treasury up to $200 billion a year. Under Ryan’s proposal, Americans could purchase insurance through their employers or through an individual policy, but in either case tax-free coverage would be capped at $2,300 for singles and $5,700 for families. The plan would also set up high-risk pools for patients with pre-existing conditions, similar to the Affordable Care Act.

Even backers of the proposal concede that a tax-credit system could raise health care costs for workers. But many conservative policy experts support the idea, believing that greater individual accountability for medical expenses could help curb health cost inflation. Additionally, the system could provide universal access and allow patients to shop for coverage.

Opponents of the policy say that scrapping the tax exclusion would do more harm than good, and would ultimately leave more people uninsured.

  10:40:34 am, by MedBen5   , 194 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Government Panel Expected To Recommend Regular HIV Tests

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will likely recommend the addition of HIV screening to a routine patient checkup, Reuters reports. Currently, the government health panel leaves the decision to test for the presence of the virus up to doctors.

If the task force makes the recommendation, the screening will be covered by insurance at no cost under Affordable Care Act rules.

“This would be one of those major sea changes… moving away from what has been somewhat the segmentation of HIV – either by population, by geography,” said Michael Kharfen, chief of community outreach for the Washington, D.C., Department of Health. “It still will take culture change for medical providers, but this will be a tremendous leap.”

An estimated 1.2 Americans are currently living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Nearly 60,000 new cases are reported each year.

Expanding HIV testing to the general U.S. population could cost upwards of $27 billion over 20 years, based on estimates by Stanford University researchers. They suggested a more cost-effective alternative would be to do a one-time testing of the general population, followed up by annual screenings in areas with a greater prevalence of the disease.

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