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  12:31:23 pm, by MedBen5   , 240 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Affordable Care Act Still Faces Challenges

The law I passed is here to stay,” President Obama told supporters at a campaign stop in Ohio yesterday.

Last week’s Supreme Court action, in which the justices upheld most of the Affordable Care Act, was indeed a definite “win” for the President and his signature legislative achievement. But despite his optimism, the law still faces some challenges in the coming months.

The biggest hurdle is, of course, the upcoming elections. Presumptive Republican presidental candidate Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal the ACA on day one of his administration. And if Romney doesn’t win the office, a Repuplican majority in the Senate and House of Representatives could cause headaches for Obama – though because he has veto power, opposing legislators couldn’t bring down the law by themselves.

Even prior to November 6, however, the health care reform law could face additional legal threats. None of them will rise to the level of the individual mandate kerfuffle, but several of the law’s provisions will be disputed.

According to POLITICO, 23 lawsuits already filed in courts across the country challenge the law’s requirement that religious-affiliated institutions, such as schools and hospitals, provide insurance coverage for birth control and other contraceptives. And in 2010, a lawsuit was filed against the law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board – a Medicare panel that Republicans call a “rationing board”.

So while the law survived a major test, it still has a few more storms to weather. Stay tuned.

  11:33:16 am, by MedBen5   , 127 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Approves First At-Home HIV Test

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first in-home test for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. An advisory panel to the government agency recommended its approval in May.

Sold over-the-counter, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test allows people to self-administer the test in the privacy of their home. Users simply swab their upper and lower gums and obtain results within 20-40 minutes.

The agency stressed that a positive result from the test does not mean the user is definitely infected with HIV, but that they should consult a medical professional for additional testing.

A Medical News Today story on the FDA announcement notes that based on clinical studies, the test produces one false positive out of every 50,000 results and one false negative out of every 12 results.

  10:46:13 am, by MedBen5   , 168 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Don't Get "Bristled" While Grilling This Summer

Grilling season is in high gear. And with all the basting, marinating and seasoning activity going on, it’s easy to overlook the little things… like those stray wire bristles on your grill.

Incidents of individuals accidentally digesting the bristles from grill-cleaning brushes are on the upswing, judging by a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to The Wall Street Journal Health Blog, the agency’s study of a single hospital in Providence, R.I., turned up six cases from March 2011 to June of this year of people swallowing bristles that broke off the brushes during cleaning and got cooked into steaks or burgers. Injuries ranged from punctures in the neck to perforation of the gastrointestinal tract, requiring emergency surgery.

The authors of the report warned grillers to carefully examine their grills before they start cooking. But by all means, continue to clean the grill – it keeps off gunk that can flare up dangerously, and minimizes the the risk of carcinogens from grilling meats.


  05:32:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 230 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Senior Eyesight Improved, But Vision Diseases Rising Overall

A bit of “good vision news – bad vision news": Older Americans have less serious eyesight problems compared to a generation ago, but eye diseases across all age groups have risen at a dramatic rate.

  • A new study published in the journal Ophthalmology found that reports of visual impairments for Americans over age 65 have declined significantly since a generation earlier. According to Medical News Today, seniors who experienced difficulty reading because of poor eyesight dropped 58%, and eyesight problems that stopped them from performing ordinary daily tasks declined by 46%.
  • Meanwhile, eye problems that could potentially cause severe vision loss or blindness have increased across the general U.S. population, a new report from Prevent Blindness America finds. WebMD reports that diabetic retinopathy – damage to the blood vessels in the retina – has skyrocketed 89% in the past 12 years. And age-related macular degeneration has increased 25%.

Together, these studies establish that people can maintain good vision throughout their lifetimes, but only if they’re willing to make the effort – and that starts with proper eye care.

MedBen VisionPlus emphasizes a proactive approach to vision through regular eye exams. Through prevention and early detection of impairments, sight can be improved or, in extreme cases, even saved.

The plan also provides highest quality ophthalmic materials at affordable prices. For additional information, please contact MedBen Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  04:11:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 203 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Long-term Painkiller Users More Likely To Overdose

Long-term use of prescription pain killers greatly increases the risk of death by overdose, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

WebMD reports that the study found the number of people who abused opioid pain relievers for 200 to 365 days in the last year rose by nearly 75% between 2002-03 and 2009-10. In contrast, the overall number of people who used painkillers for less than 200 days and reported abuse or nonmedical use stayed constant over the two research periods.

(The WedMD article notes that “[n]onmedical use or abuse of prescription pain killers is defined as using the drug without a prescription or simply for the experience or feeling it causes.")

The biggest increases in abuse were seen among seen among men and young to middle-aged adults. People 35 to 49 years old saw a 135% increase, while abuse by 26- to 34-year olds was up 81%. Men reported a 105% increase between the two periods.

Based on their findings, researchers say about one million Americans 12 years and older would be classified as chronic prescription drug abusers in 2009-2010.

“These findings underscore the need for concerted public health and public safety action to prevent nonmedical use of these drugs,” wrote researcher Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, MPH.

  10:58:30 am, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Poll Says Americans Want Health Reform Opponents To Move On

Even though Americans are still mixed in their opinions about the Affordable Care Act, most would prefer that the federal goverment take no further measures to halt its progress.

According to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 56% of the public say opponents of the health care reform law should stop trying to block it and focus on other issues. Not surprisingly, opinions varied depending on political slant, with 82% of Democrats saying we should move on, compared to 51% of independents and 26% of Republicans.

As for the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the law, feelings split pretty much down the middle, with 47% approving of the decision and 43% opposing it. But the decision did boost Democratic approval of the ACA; the proportion of Democrats who say they have a “very favorable” view of the law jumped from 31% in May to 47% after the ruling. In contrast, 64% of Republicans hold a “very unfavorable” view.

Finally, the poll revealed that a lot of Americans apparently weren’t too concerned with the court’s action one way or another: Over 40% of those surveyed said they didn’t know a ruling had been made.

  10:08:55 am, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: Wellness

When Temperatures Go Up, Slow Workouts Down

With temperatures nearing – and even reaching – triple digits, outdoor exercisers need to be extra cautious. According to HealthDay News, the American Council on Exercise strongly suggests forgoing outdoor workouts when the thermometer exceeds 90 degrees. But even when the heat isn’t quite so oppressive, take additional steps to be safe.

  • Staying hydrated is essential. Drink plenty of fluids (so much so, that you’re on the verge of feeling bloated) 30 minutes before exercising. Then drink at least six ounces of fluids every 20 minutes during exercise, and top it off with more fluids when you’re done. Water works fine, but for workouts of an hour or more, you may want to choose a sports drink.
  • Cut back at first. Gradually adapt your body to exercising in hot weather over a 10-14 day period. This will reduce your risk for heat injury by lowering your body core temperature.
  • Take it easy. Reduce your intensity level, and favor lightweight, loose clothing. Avoid rubberized sweat suits or any other clothing that is impermeable to water.

A few more guidelines from the American Council on Exercise:

  • Pay attention to factors other than temperature, including humidity.
  • Exercise early in the morning or late in the evening, to beat the hottest temperatures.
  • Listen to your body and take a rest when you need it.


  04:43:13 pm, by MedBen5   , 226 words,  
Categories: Announcements

Happy Independence Day From MedBen!

American flag

The staff of MedBen would like to wish you and your family a fun, relaxing and safe Independence Day!

MedBen will be closed on Wednesday, July 4 in observance of the holiday. We’ll reopen at 8:00 a.m. on July 5.

Hopefully, you won’t have a need for claims or benefits information during the holiday… but should you have a customer service question, we invite you to stop by MedBen Access. This online service is available anytime you need to check the status of a health claim, review benefit coverage for a health service, or determine if you’ve met your deductible, among other tasks.

If you’ve never visited the MedBen Access site, your first order of business will be to authorize MedBen to create an “electronic signature”. To do this, simply:

  1. Go to the MedBen Access home page at
  2. Click on the “First time? Please register here” link located in the Login box.
  3. After reading and accepting our Privacy Policy, type in the employee’s Social Security or Member Number, leaving out any dashes. You will then be asked to enter your personal data and create a User Name and Password. On future visits, just enter these into the Login box – remember, both are case-sensitive – and you will be taken straight to your information page!

Again, our best wishes for a happy holiday!

  04:17:31 pm, by MedBen5   , 168 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Government Panel Recommends Weight Loss Without Drugs

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first prescription weight loss pill in over a decade. But prior to that, another government panel essentially said it was a bad idea.

The Boston Globe reports that the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended that doctors instruct obese patients to diet, exercise and get weight-loss counseling, but did not advise prescribing diet drugs.

“One of the problems with drugs is that the clinical trials just show short-term outcomes,” said Dr. David Grossman, a Seattle pediatrician who led the USPSTF panel that issued the updated recommendations. “Once a person stops taking the drug, we don’t know what happens with long-term weight gain.”

The Pharmalot blog, commenting on the Globe story, notes that the FDA is feeling the pressure from the growing obesity crisis in this country – so its approval last week of the diet drug Belviq could be interpreted as something of a desperation move, especially considering that the medication offers only minimal help in losing weight.

  12:54:02 pm, by MedBen5   , 230 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Chief Justice Initially Sided With Dissenters, Sources Say

Common wisdom expected that the conservative-leaning Supreme Court would most assuredly strike down the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. But as we learned last week, common wisdom whiffed it big-time.

Or did it?

In the sense that the Supreme Court did the opposite of what most legal experts were certain would happen, then yes, they got it wrong. But intially, they were spot-on, as CBS News reports:

“Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.

“Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy - believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law - led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

“‘He was relentless,’ one source said of Kennedy’s efforts. ‘He was very engaged in this.’

“But this time, Roberts held firm. And so the conservatives handed him their own message which, as one justice put it, essentially translated into, ‘You’re on your own.’”

Read more at CBS News.

  12:23:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 275 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Do Those Energy Drinks At The Counter Really Work?

If you’ve been in the vicinity of a convenience store counter lately, you’ve likely noticed a selection of flavored energy drinks – including the best-known brand, 5-hour Energy. It’s marketed as a “pick-me-up” for when you’re feeling run-down. But does it really work as advertised 00 and is it healthy to drink on a regular basis?

The blog Science-Based Medicine recently took a closer look at 5-hour Energy. In addition to containing large doses of niacin, folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, the drink offers an “energy blend” of caffeine and other ingredients. For most people, the contents hold little danger, though the package label recommends that it not be consumed by women who are pregnant or nursing, or by children under 12. It also warns that large amount of caffeine can be harmful to some individuals.

And as for its potency? The lone study uncovered by Science-Based Medicine compared 5-hour Energy to the same mixture without caffeine or other active ("energy") ingredients. Not surprisingly, the mixture containing caffeine proved more effective than the version without caffeine. They could not find a test that determined whether 5-hour Energy works better than caffeine alone… but they do quote a Consumer Reports report that concluded, “5-Hour Energy will probably chase away grogginess at least as well as a cup of coffee. “

So really, whether to use 5-hour Energy or not comes down to personal preference. In its favor, it’s convenient to carry and costs less than a cup of Starbucks coffee. But as the article notes, if you’re feeling tired during the day, it’s better to look for an underlying cause rather than reaching for a temporary fix.


  12:27:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 220 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Rx Pilot Program Hopes To Lower Accidental Overdoses

Indiana and Ohio will be the first two states to test a program designed to make it easier for doctors, pharmacists and emergency departments to access patients’ prescription drug records.

Reuters reports that the Obama administration is launching the pilot program in hopes of reducing the number of overdoses from prescription drugs, currently the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States.

Even though 49 states already allow prescription drug monitoring programs, which collect information from pharmacies and practitioners, the difficulty in navigating through the data has put off potential users. Lack of real-time information is also a concern.

“Part of the problem we have with the prescription drug abuse problem is we are always playing catch-up,” said Marty Allain, a senior director at the Indiana Board of Pharmacy. “We are moving towards early identification of a problem and toward the preventive side of a problem – to keep things from getting worse or to prevent problems for some patients in the first place.”

MedBen maintains its own prescription drug database – albeit one geared toward patient, not provider, use. RxEOB allows members to review personal prescription history, detail and benefit coverage, plus offers lower cost drug alternatives to save you out-of-pocket expense. To make a visit, simply log on to the MedBen Access site and click on “My Rx”.

  11:45:27 am, by MedBen5   , 452 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Some Midwest States Not Far Along With Insurance Exchanges

While the Supreme Court deliberated on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, some state governments opted to hold back on developing health insurance exchanges. So now that we know the justices’ decision, it’s “game on” again – and state governments currently have until November 16 to submit plan outlines for their exchanges, with implementation expected by the beginning of the 2014. If a state fails to comply, the federal govenment will intervene with its own marketplace offerings.

USA Today has compiled a list of where states stand on implementing the health care reform law. Below, we highlight the progress of several Midwest states that MedBen currently serves.

ILLINOIS has received three federal grants to study and start building its health insurance exchange, but the Legislature has failed to pass a law establishing it. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has considered an executive order to do that, but now may pursue a federal-state partnership instead.

INDIANA Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered state agencies to build a framework for a possible exchange, but he has not implemented one pending the Supreme Court ruling. Indiana also has pushed to use its health savings account to help cover an estimated 500,000 who will become eligible for Medicaid in 2014 under the federal health care overhaul, but federal officials denied the request in September, saying it was premature.

KENTUCKY has laid the groundwork for a statewide health insurance exchange, but Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear opted to wait for the Supreme Court ruling before moving doing anything more.

MICHIGAN’S Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has been working to set up a health insurance exchange but has had limited success because House Republicans refuse to let it use $9.8 million in federal planning dollars. Because of looming federal deadlines to have an exchange in place, state officials are planning for a state-run exchange while also talking to federal officials about a possible partnership on a federal exchange where the state handles just some responsibilities, such as customer service.

OHIO has not moved to create a health care exchange but is evaluating its options. It received a $1 million federal exchange planning grant in 2010. Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration has taken advantage of some parts of the new law to expand coordinated care and propose changes to Medicaid eligibility. Democrats have unsuccessfully pushed bills in the Legislature to set up a state-run exchange. But Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who is also Ohio’s insurance director, frequently criticizes the overhaul and says it’s premature to plan for an exchange without further clarification from the federal government.

WEST VIRGINIA has enacted legislation allowing for a state-run health care exchange, but the state has slowed the pace of setting it up to see how the Supreme Court rules.

  10:48:40 am, by MedBen5   , 187 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Coffee Drinking Linked To Reduced Heart Failure, Skin Cancer Risks

If you’re easing into this holiday work week with a cup of coffee, the benefits you get from it may go beyond the customary wake-up jolt. Two new studies suggest that a morning cup o’ joe helps to ward off heart failure and skin cancer.

  • According to WebMD, an analysis has determined that drinking 1-2 cups of coffee daily may reduce your risk of heart failure “Beyond that, any potential benefits seem to decrease and eventually go away,” says researcher Murray Mittleman, MD, DrPH, director of cardiovascular epidemiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

    Mittleman also noted that while the study found a link between coffee intake and heart failure, it did not establish cause and effect.

  • Meanwhile, MedPage Today reports that consuming modest amounts of coffee or other caffeinated bevarges is associated with a significantly lower relative risk of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a common type of skin cancer.

    Based on data from two large cohort studies, people who drank more than three cups of coffee a month showed a 17% reductiion in BCC relative risk compared to those who drank less than one cup per month.


  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, political, financial, medical, and so on.

Below, we offer just a small sampling of media reaction:

Analysis: Why Roberts saved Obama’s healthcare law (Reuters): “Thursday’s extraordinary conclusion to the bitterly fought healthcare battle was quite ordinary in some ways. [Chief Justice John] Roberts hewed to a traditional Supreme Court principle that if the justices can find any constitutional grounds on which to uphold a law, they should do so. The 57-year-old chief justice also followed a stated principle of his own: narrowly deciding cases and trying to preserve the integrity of the judiciary in polarized Washington.”

The healthcare law fight isn’t over (Los Angeles Times): “We have already heard cries for repealing the law in Congress, but the fact is that most of the healthcare industry is resigned to shrugging its shoulders and falling back into line with the political deals it cut with the Obama administration several years ago. The political case for repeal will become much stronger among grass-roots voters – particularly independent ones – outside the Beltway this fall if it is combined with a credible, attractive alternative that offers better solutions to chronic health policy problems.”

Don’t call it a mandate – it’s a tax (SCOTUSblog): “The reality, of course, is that the health insurance industry was never guaranteed a vastly larger pool of premium-payers. The ‘minimum coverage’ provision (that’s the technical name Congress gave what most people have called a mandate) was never to be enforced on its own – that is, the Affordable Care Act has never told people to buy insurance or you go to jail. It was always going to be enforced only by requiring an individual who refused to get health insurance to pay a tax.”

Health Law’s Survival Means More Demand for Fewer Doctors (The Wall Street Journal Health Blog): “The nonprofit Association of American Medical Colleges reckons that, taking into account the new demand, the U.S. will be more than 60,000 doctors short in 2015 – when all those newly covered patients will be in the system – around 90,000 short five years later.”

  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 eye on the devices.

According to the Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration says it can find few good reasons to continue using the all-metal implants. The agency based its conclusion on data that the devices break down early and expose patients to dangerous particles of cobalt, chromium and other metals.

Apparently, the market responded even before the government decided to make its recommendation: Metal hips accounted for about 27% of all hip implants in 2010, way down from 40% just three years earlier. A recall by Johnson & Johnson of 93,000 metal hips in 2010 further tarnished the device’s reputation.

Every year, nearly 400,000 Americans receive a hip replacement to relieve pain and restore affected by arthritis or injury.

  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 recent years, mammography rates across the United States have dropped nearly 6%.

“The 2009 USPSTF guidelines resulted in significant backlash among patients, physicians and other organizations, prompting many medical societies to release opposing guidelines,” study co-author Nilay Shah, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, said in a clinic news release. “We were interested in determining the impact that the recommendations and subsequent public debate had upon utilization of mammography in younger women.”

According to HealthDay News, the researchers based their findings on a national database of 100 health plans, identifying 8 million women between the ages of 40 and 64 years old who had gotten a mammogram between January 2006 and December 2010. They compared the number of screenings that took place before the guidelines were issued to the number after they came out.

The Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society recommend that all women 40 and older have an annual mammogram.


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

Supreme Court Upholds Majority of ACA

Supreme Court

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 provisions)?

It means that, for now, we need to continue working towards full implementation. At least until November! The pending Presidential election will play a substantial part in what happens next. If the Republicans take the White House, Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal and replace the current law with more reasonable reforms, including State-based initiatives and tort reform. In addition, we may see the Republican leadership move to immediately defund the remaining open ACA mandates and pursue state waivers as they work toward full repeal. There is a significant chance of this happening if the Republicans hold their majority in the House and also take back the Senate this November.

We may also see other legal challenges to the law – including one regarding the contraceptive coverage mandate.

Unfortunately, plan sponsors will need to keep moving forward with ACA implementation, including developing and distributing SBCs, covering contraceptives, collecting information for next year’s W-2 reporting, and preparing to pay the PCORI tax. Between now and November, we may see a mad rush from federal agencies as they push to continue their efforts to get as much of the ACA implemented before the election. That means more regulations, more analysis and more comment letters!

No matter what, MedBen’s got your back. As always, we are available to our clients to discuss this landmark decision, answer questions and assist in any way we can. You can read the opinion at the Supreme Court website.

It’s not over yet!

  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 overweight people with a BMI of 27 or more who have at least one weight-related health condition, according to NPR.

“Obesity threatens the overall well-being of patients and is a major public health concern,” Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s drug center, said in a statement. “The approval of this drug, used responsibly in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, provides a treatment option for Americans who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition.”

Observing “a healthy diet and lifestyle” is indeed important, as the drug itself provides relatively small weight loss. Studies found that about half of patients taking Belviq lost only about 5% of their body weight after a year. But with roughly one-third of Americans considered obese, the FDA decided that some additional help, however minor, was warranted.

Notable side effects of the drug include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and constipation. Arena Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Belviq, must monitor the drug’s safety through continued study, as a condition of its approval.

There is no word yet when Belviq will be available in pharmacies, or its cost.

  10:11:04 am, by MedBen5   , 405 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Ease Up On Medical Tests, Physician Argues

On the 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 many not even be aware you have unless you’re tested.

Dr. Kosterich lists his specific concerns about overtesting, summarized below:

  1. Not everything that is found is actually a sign of disease. More tests can mean both more expense but also worry and the risk of complications or side effects.
  2. Our capacity to interpret has exceeded our ability to find. It is likely that every person has a cancer cell somewhere in their body on any given day but they will never manifest as cancers.
  3. The lowering of thresholds brings more people into the “disease” category. Every time normal levels for cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar are lowered a whole new group of people can be reclassified as having a condition and hence a candidate for treatment.
  4. Historically treatment benefits were determined on more severe cases. For example, a person with a blood pressure of 200 gets much more benefit from lowering the pressure than someone with a pressure of 145. Yet both are classed as hypertensive and in equal need of treatment.
  5. The reclassifying of normal body processes as a disease. Menopause (a normal part of life) was a classic example of this. Osteoporosis is another. Bones get “thinner” for many as we age. This is not a disease.
  6. Treatments can do harm. Surgery can have complications and medications have side effects. These can be justified where benefit outweighs risk. The wider we cast the net and the milder and less significant the “abnormalities” the greater the chances of harm outweighing benefit.

Dr. Kosterich makes some good points, and while MedBen does believe strongly in medical testing and proactive care, we also appreciate that the care must be balanced with a dose of common sense – such as prescribing drugs as a means to reduce blood pressure as a short-term fix, while promoting lifestyle changes that keep blood pressure low as a long-term solution.

Dr. Kosterich also notes that the testing trend led to “mass screening programs so people didn’t even need to go to the doctor for testing” – and on this point, we agree 100%. That’s why our Worksite Wellness program emphasizes that testing and all other preventive care should begin with a patient’s family physician.

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