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  01:33:33 pm, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Health Care Spending Reveals A Positive Trend

As this chart from The New York Times shows, health care spending has slowed dramatically over the past ten years. So what’s responsible for this trend?

Certainly, the recession has played a major role, as many people have reduced the frequency in which they seek care. But as the Times notes, some of the slowdown seems to be attributable to changing behavior by consumers and providers of health care – a hopeful indication that the lower rates of growth will continue as the economy improves.

It’s also noteworthy that the slowdown commenced prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. It suggests that some of the reduced growth can be credited to earlier efforts in the private sector to reduce spending, such as consumer-driven health plans and a greater emphasis on generics over brand name drugs.

“The tectonic plates might be beginning to shift,” said Karen Davis, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group in New York. “It’s hard to believe everything that’s been tried over the last decade to slow spending wouldn’t be making a difference.”

  12:44:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 218 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Court Decision Could Give Health Exchanges Headaches

One of the weightier questions that would arise if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate: What becomes of state health exchanges?

Should the justices find the requirement that most Americans buy insurance to be unconstitutional, the state-run insurance marketplaces, expected to be operational in 2014, would find themselves in a quandry. Lacking the mandate, the exchanges would likely experience adverse selection: More unhealthy people would pay into the system than healthy ones, resulting in higher premiums – which, in turn, would further drive healthy people away.

As for states that have yet to begin building exchanges, Politico notes that they may face a dilemma as well. If the Court doesn’t also strike down the rules preventing insurers from charging more or denying coverage to sicker people, local insurance companies would put pressure on those states to pass mandates. Massachusetts has had such an enforcement in place since 2006.

Other options may also be explored, such as allowing people to enroll in health insurance only during certain times of the year, or penalizing uninsured people when they seek care at taxpayer expense. Or, as Anthony Wright of Health Access California suggests, create a system that automatically enrolled people unless they opt out of coverage.

The mandate “isn’t the only solution to the issue of adverse selection,” Wright said.


  05:09:50 pm, by MedBen5   , 135 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

IRS Releases HSA Inflation Adjustments For 2013

On Friday, the IRS released the cost-of-living adjustments affecting health savings accounts (HSAs) for calendar year 2013. The HSA contribution limits and high-deductible health plan (HDHP) out-of-pocket maximums will both increase. The HDHP minimum required deductibles, which did not change in 2012, will also go up next year.

  • HSA Contribution Limits – The 2013 annual HSA contribution limit for individuals with self-only HDHP coverage is $3,250, and the limit for individuals with family HDHP coverage is $6,450.
  • HDHP Minimum Required Deductibles – The 2013 minimum annual deductible for self-only HDHP coverage increases to $1,250; for family HDHP coverage, $2,500.
  • HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum – The 2013 maximum limit on out-of-pocket expenses for self-only HDHP coverage is $6,250, and the limit for family HDHP coverage is $12,500.

MedBen clients with questions regarding these adjustments are welcome to contact Director of Administrative Services Sharon A. Mills at (800) 423-3151, Ext. 438.

  04:55:11 pm, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

The "Other" Costs Of Obesity

As we noted here a few weeks ago, the nationwide obesity epidemic adds almost $190 billion a year to U.S. medical costs – acounting for over 20% of total U.S. health spending. But as Sharon Begley of Reuters details, medical expenses tell only one part of the story.

To accomodate America’s expanding waistlines, businesses, governments and individuals have to spend money for wider seats – on wheelchairs and in sports stadiums and bus stops. Moreover, as more people have joined the ranks of the extremely overweight, productivity has suffered: Obesity-related absenteeism costs employers as much as $6.4 billion a year.

And it doesn’t stop there. Belgey writes:

“Some costs of obesity reflect basic physics. It requires twice as much energy to move 250 pounds than 125 pounds. As a result, a vehicle burns more gasoline carrying heavier passengers than lighter ones.

“‘Growing obesity rates increase fuel consumption,’ said engineer Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois. How much? An additional 938 million gallons of gasoline each year due to overweight and obesity in the United States, or 0.8 percent, he calculated. That’s $4 billion extra.”

Read more at Yahoo! Health.


  06:11:07 pm, by MedBen5   , 413 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News

MedBen Hospital & Wellness Conference Covers Variety Of Subjects

MedBen President and CEO Doug Freeman

On Thursday, April 26, MedBen clients and other guests filled the new MedBen Conference Center for the 10th Annual Hospital Roundtable. For the first time, MedBen also held its yearly Wellness Conference on the same day, for the convenience of clients who regularly attend both events.

The event marked the “unoffical” debut of the conference center, located next door to our home office in Newark, Ohio. MedBen will officially open the site with a ceremony in mid-May.

As in previous years, the roundtable gave health care clients an opportunity to look at their health plan costs and utilization as benchmarked against MedBen’s growing block of Midwest hospital plans. Following introductory remarks by MedBen President and CEO Doug Freeman, Executive Vice President and COO Kurt Harden discussed key hospital cost and utilization data, compared against MedBen’s hospital and self-funded business blocks, as well as national cost norms.

Brian Fargus, MedBen’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, offered an overview of MedBen hospital client case studies that highlighted cost-saving benefit changes, including a coinsurance-only plan. He also gave a walk-through of Verisk Sightlines, a resource used by MedBen that provides detailed information of where health care dollars are being spent, and why.

Pam Davis, who recently joined MedBen as a Regional Sales Manager, concluded the Hospital Roundtable portion of the even with an examination of “The Discount Game” – the ways some health insurance carriers make promises of provider network discounts while shifting attention away from the real customer costs.

MedBen Conference Center

Leading off the Wellness Conference, Gastroenterologist Shakil A. Karim, D.O. of Licking Memorial Health Systems explained the importance of colonoscopies for early detection of colon cancer. The disease is among the most preventable cancers, yet 1 in 3 U.S. adults who should get screened have not yet done so.

Following Dr, Karim was Rayvelle Stallings, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of inVentiv Medical Management, who discussed the physical and financial value of worksite wellness programs. She noted that poor lifestyle choices have lead to expanding prevalence in expensive chronic diseases, which is why over 7 in 10 employers are seeking wellness solutions.

Concluding the conference, guests heard from MedBen clients Park National Corporation and Fisher-Titus Medical Center, represented by Jill Evans and Phil Annarino, respectively. Both companies have successully implemented wellness programs, and Jill and Phil explained the methods their employers used to build and maintain employee interest through incentives and communication.

Next week, we’ll further highlight several of the guest speakers and their presentation topics.

  04:00:12 pm, by MedBen5   , 183 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Appendicitis Study Reveals Wide Price Disparity

A few weeks back, we posted a piece here about the differences in preventive care costs from one provider to another. Recent research also demonstrates a similarly wide disparity in hospital charges.

According to HealthDay, a California study of the costs of treating acute appendicitis in 2009 found charges as low as $1,500 and as high as $180,000. The median charge that year was nearly $34,000, based on the review of 19,000 patients aged 18 to 59, most of whom had an appendectomy and were hospitalized three days or less.

The researchers said the disparity is typical of price variations across the United States. Also, while about two-thirds of the differences could be attributed to patient level and hospital factors, including length of stay, severity of illness and hospital type, 32% remains unexplained.

A spokeswoman for the American Hospital Association said each patient’s course of care is different. And, “the costs also reflect more than the cost of serving an individual patient,” said Marie Watteau, the association’s director of media relations. “They reflect the costs of maintaining essential health care services for their community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

  11:08:29 am, by MedBen5   , 240 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Change To OTC Rules Debated By House Subcommittee

On April 25, politicians and health industry representatives argued the impact of limitations on the use of consumer-driven health plans for the purchase of over-the-counter drugs on consumers, physicians and employers.

As noted on the Tax-News website, prior to 2011 FSA and HRA participants could use account funds to buy OTC funds without a prescription. A provision in the Affordable Care Act eliminated that benefit, save for insulin purchases – which means taxpayers must now purchase non-prescribed OTC medications with after-tax dollars.

The change has, not surprisingly, been unpopular with consumers, and has resulted in extra paperwork for doctors.

At the hearing by the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Oversight of the Committee on Ways and Means, Chairman Charles W. Boustany (R-La.) said that the CDHP limitations negatively affect medication access and affordability. “Too often in Washington, officials make decisions about health care policy based on abstract theories and budgetary scores,” Boustany said.

Paul Van de Water, a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, testified that the limitations made sense “both as tax policy and as health policy, and repealing any of them would be unwise”. He also claimed that CDHPs “encourage the overconsumption of health care".

In response, Scott Melville, President and CEO of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), countered that as millions of people rely on OTCs for relieve from mild ailments, eligibility of these medicines under CDHPS offers “significant value to the American consumer”.


  10:28:36 am, by MedBen5   , 266 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Cancer Screenings: When To Test, And When Not

Getting a cancer screening is vital to better health. Also vital: Not getting a cancer screening.

Confusing? Well, let’s elaborate on those seemingly contradictory statements. A benchmark of smart preventive care is getting appropropriate cancer tests per the age guidelines recommended by the American Cancer Society and other medical groups – age 40 and up for mammograms, 50 and up for colonoscopies, and so forth.

However, it’s also important to consider the warnings in cases where a screening could do more harm than good. Case in point: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men 75 and older no longer be given a routine prostate cancer screening. But many men in that age group continue to be tested for the disease.

As The New York Times reports: “The test is notoriously unreliable in older men, who often have elevated P.S.A. scores as a result of natural aging or an enlarged prostate. And even when cancer is found as a result of a P.S.A. test in older men, it typically is so slow-growing that it will never cause harm.”

MedBen currently follows the American Cancer Society recommendation that screening should begin at age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer. But the ACS website also notes that “[b]ecause prostate cancer often grows slowly, men without symptoms of prostate cancer who do not have a 10-year life expectancy should not be offered testing since they are not likely to benefit.” The best advice is that men first speak with their doctor about the procedure’s risks as well as its benefits.

  09:10:55 am, by MedBen5   , 173 words,  
Categories: News

Many People Ignore Prescription Drug Instructions, Study Finds

New research reveals that only about one out of three Americans correctly follow doctor’s orders when taking prescription drugs, according to The Wall Street Journal Health Blog.

Demonstrating true fortitude in the name of medical progress, Quest Diagnostics analyzed nearly 76,000 urine samples in 2011, then matched the results with physicians’ records of the drugs prescribed for each patient. They found that 63% of patients on prescription drugs failed to adhere to their doctor’s instructions.

Of the two-thirds that strayed, about 40% weren’t taking the prescribed drugs to begin with – either the prescription went unfilled or unused, treatments were skipped, or the medications were diverted to illegal sales channels. The other 60% of misusers were taking drugs not prescribed to the patient – typically painkillers, sedatives or amphetamines.

Results of misuse were consistent across income levels, gender and the level of health coverage, said Jon R. Cohen, Quest’s chief medical officer, speaking to the Health Blog. The study does note that some patients were tested specifically because their doctors suspected misuse, while others were randomly selected.


  05:10:13 pm, by MedBen5   , 428 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

SBC Requirements for Health FSAs

As we’ve noted in earlier blog posts, the Affordable Care Act has imposed a significant new disclosure requirement: the Uniform Summary of Coverage document. Known as a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), the document must contain a standardized overview that individuals can use to uniformly compare health care plan offerings. MedBen is in the process of preparing these for clients.

The federal government has issued final regulations and related guidance implementing this requirement. Included in these regulations are explanations of how consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) fit into the SBC model. Below, we examine what types of health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are excepted from the requirements.

A health FSA is excepted – that is, a SBC does not need to be provided – if these two conditions are met:

1. Maximum Benefits Condition – The maximum benefit payable from the health FSA does not exceed the greater of:

  • Two times the employee’s salary reduction election; or
  • The amount of the employee’s salary reduction for the year plus $500.

Put another way:

  • If the employer contribution is $500 or less, the Maximum Benefit Condition HAS been met. But if the employer contributed more than $500 and the employee contributed $500 or less (i.e., employer $600, employee $400), the condition HAS NOT been met.
  • If the maximum benefit payable for employee and employer is a one-for-one match – for example, if the employee can contribute up to $600, and the employer matches that $600 – the Maximum Benefit Condition HAS been met. But if the employer contributed $700 – a contribution in excess of a one-to-one match – the condition HAS NOT been met.

A health FSA funded solely by employee contributions would, by definition, satisfy this condition.

2. Availability Condition – Other non-excepted group health plan coverage (e.g., major medical coverage) must be made available to the same class of participants by reason of their employment. (The regulations do not define “class of participants”, but at this time we presume that they refer to distinctions in coverage availability between, say, full-time employees eligible for both major medical and health FSA participation, and part-time employees eligible only for the health FSA.)

If a non-excepted health FSA is integrated with other major medical coverage, information about it can be included in the appropriate spaces on the major medical SBC for deductibles, co-payments, co-insurance, and benefits otherwise not covered by the major medical coverage. But if a stand-alone health FSA doesn’t satisfy the two conditions, a separate SBC must be provided.

MedBen clients with questions about health FSAs in relation to the SBC document can call Sharon A. Mills, Director of Administrative Services, at (800) 423-3151, Ext. 438.


  04:43:21 pm, by MedBen5   , 183 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

HHS Updates Listing of Counties for “Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services”

Earlier this month, Health and Human Services (HHS) released its 2012 listing of United States counties in which non-grandfathered self-funded health plans and fully-insured policies must provide certain plan notices, including appeals and external review documents, EOBs, and the new SBC document, in a “culturally and linguistically” appropriate manner. Simply put, this means that these documents must be translated into one of four specific languages (Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog and Navaho) if that language is the predominant non-English language spoken by more than 10% of the residents in that county (based on U.S. Census Bureau data).

How do you know which languages are predominantly spoken by more than 10% of the population in any county? HHS has posted the listing of which counties meet or exceed the 10% threshold at

If you’re a MedBen client who has plan participants in any of the counties listed, please let us know and we will help you find resources for getting the required plan documents translated. Clients with additional questions may contact MedBen Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at (800) 851-0907.

  02:44:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 182 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

FDA Responds To Criticisms Of Drug Tracking Efforts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has responded to criticisms that it fails to track the safety of drugs after they are approved. According to Reuters, the agency said this weekend that it spends an equal amount of effort and resources on surveilling a drug post-approval as it does prior to authorization.

Before 2008, the FDA could not force drugmakers to revise labels or perform additional tests after approval of a medication. But Congress gave the agency more power to oversee drugs after approval – and since 2008, it says it has required companies to do 385 post-market studies, and change their labels 65 times.

The criticism of the FDA was due largely to the agency’s slow response to reports of side effects in the painkiller Vioxx and other drugs. To be more proactive in such matters, in 2008 it launched Sentinel, a computer tracking system that searches databases for potential side effects in approved medications.

“We think we’ve really balanced this,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told reporters attending the Association of Healthcare Journalist meeting in Atlanta.

  12:17:46 pm, by MedBen5   , 142 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Romney's Reform Proposal Would Emphasize Individual Coverage

“Repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act has been a mantra for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. But the presumptive GOP candidate has his own ideas for health care reform on a nationwide scale.

The Los Angeles Times reports that while Romney’s proposal has yet to be fully fleshed out, its main selling point is giving Americans a tax break to buy their own health plan – thus emphasizing individual coverage over employer-based plans.

Conservative health care experts say that giving people a greater role in choosing their coverage would encourage greater competition, thus reducing costs. Critics of the proposal and independent analysts counter that it would likely leave a larger number of Americans without insurance.

According to the Times article, Romney’s proposal would also give companies strong incentives to stop providing coverage to employees, as well as overhaul Medicare and Medicaid programs.


  05:00:34 pm, by MedBen5   , 333 words,  
Categories: Announcements

MedBen Adds Davis to Sales and Marketing Team

Pam Davis

MedBen is pleased to announce the addition of a new associate to its Sales and Marketing team. Pamela Davis will serve as Regional Sales Manager in Southeastern Ohio and West Virginia, assisting her region’s broker network with the sales of all MedBen product lines.

As a health care industry veteran with 25 years experience, Pam brings a wealth of employee benefits knowledge to her position – and not just in sales. She is also well-versed in the daily workings of PPOs and utilization review services, in addition to marketing, group administration and human resources.

Even though Pam has just joined the MedBen team, you may already be familiar with her and her work. In her previous job with Quality Care Partners, a prominent Southeastern Ohio physician-hospital organization, she provided consultative services for self-funded employers and insurance brokers in Southeastern Ohio for over 15 years.

In her prior position, Pam also teamed directly with MedBen and its agent network on numerous occasions, meeting with clients to provide useful plan performance analyses. As a result, she has established relationships with many of the people she’ll be working with on our behalf. And she will continue to function as a partner to QCP in the areas she serves.

Speaking of partners… among Pam’s primary responsibilities will be to oversee the continued growth of Partners Community Health Plan. Offered in conjunction with MedBen and local hospitals, this unique product has found popularity throughout Southeastern Ohio since its introduction in 2010. Pam will work with brokers and hospitals to raise awareness of Partners in its current regions and assist with its expansion into new territories.

Pam also has an extensive understanding of self-funded health plans, and will be responsible for sales efforts in that area. Additionally, she will represent MedBen’s full line of products, including dental, vision, consumer-driven health plans and worksite wellness programs.

Pam is a graduate of Muskingum Area Technical College (Zane State). She resides in Nashport, Ohio with her husband, Mike, and their two sons.

  04:57:03 pm, by MedBen5   , 210 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Does Provider Emphasis On Well-Being Reduce Health Care Costs?

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal that ties (tangentally, anyway) into yesterday’s Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute post: Instead of focusing only on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other indicators of one’s health, health care providers are encouraged to talk with patients about how their health affects their quality of life.

From the article:

“[Health care providers] are pushing for programs where nurses or trained counselors meet with people and ask personal questions like: Is your condition inhibiting your life? Is it making you less happy? Does it make it hard to cope day to day? Then the counselors offer advice about managing those problems and follow up regularly.

“The logic is simple. People are more likely to manage their condition properly when they have more accessible, personal goals, like being able to do more at work or keep up with their kids, instead of focusing only on comparatively abstract targets like blood-sugar levels. And that, in turn, leads to much better health. Numerous studies show that when people have a higher sense of well-being, they have fewer hospitalizations and emergency-room visits, miss fewer days of work and use less medication. They’re also more productive at work and more engaged in the community.”

Read more at the WSJ website.

  04:17:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 147 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Daily Exercise May Help Smokers Kick The Habit

Nicotine gum and patches may or may not aid cigarette smokers in kicking the habit, but a major study suggests that exercise may be an effective route to quitting once and for all.

According to NPR, researchers in Taiwan tracked the health and habits of 434,190 people in Taiwan from 1996 to 2008. They found that smokers who exercised for as little as 15 minutes a day were 55% more likely to quit than inactive people. And by staying active, ex-smokers were 43% less likely to relapse later.

Not only did a daily workout help smokers give up cigarettes, it also counteracted the negative effects of the habit. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day increased the life of ex-smokers by 5.6 years, while reducing their risk of death by 43%.

And even smokers who haven’t successfully quit benefit from keeping active. The study found that a daily 30-minute walk increased their life expectancy by 3.7 years.


  05:07:13 pm, by MedBen5   , 458 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

New Employer Tax to Fund Patient-Centered Outcomes Research

Last week, the Internal Revenue Service released its pre-Federal Register draft of proposed rules on how self-funded plan sponsors and insurance carriers will pay the federal government to support the Patient-Centered Research Outcomes Institute. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) amended the Internal Revenue Code to create the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Trust Fund and the taxes collected will fund the Trust between 2012 and 2019. The Institute is tasked with conducting research to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of certain medical treatments, services and supplies, as well as reviewing strategies to treat, diagnose and manage illness and injury.

Unlike the discussions during the Supreme Court hearings as to whether the fee charged for not purchasing coverage under the ACA’s Individual Mandate is really a “tax” or a “penalty”, the IRS considers this Trust Fund payment a “tax” and treats it as such under the proposed regulations. You might also have heard this tax called the “Comparative Effectiveness Fee”.

The proposed regulations are based on comments received after the IRS released Notice 2011-35 in June, 2011 regarding implementation of the tax. The Trust Fund tax remains in effect for plan/policy years beginning after September 30, 2012 and continues through the 2018 plan/policy year. The proposed regulations require that the first payments be made in July, 2013 and require submission of IRS Form 720 (Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return) along with the payment. For the Trust Fund Tax payments only, Form 720 must be filed annually – although Form 720 may need to be filed by a company quarterly for other purposes.

Full story »


  05:31:55 pm, by MedBen5   , 195 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Eye Screening May Reveal Onset of Parkinson's

Considering that vision exams can detect diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and even potential memory loss, it would not be hyperbole to say that our eyes can serve as a treasure trove of medical information. MedPage Today reports on still another condition that a more advanced eye screening may uncover: Parkinson’s disease.

According to a study of 112 Parkinson’s patients, including newly diagnosed cases not yet on medication, all tested showed constant small rhythmic movements of their eyes when attempting to fix their gaze on an object. By comparison, the same instability was seen in just two of 60 age-matched controls.

Co-researcher Mark S. Baron, MD, of the VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va. says that while specialty equipment is needed to measure the eye tremors, the screening could be nearly 100% accurate.

Studies like this demonstrate the usefulness of regular eye checkups. That’s why MedBen VisionPlus promotes regular exams and early detection and treatment of visual impairments. Our group vision plan also provide the highest quality glasses and contact lenses at extremely affordable prices.

To learn more about MedBen’s vision care programs, contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  04:11:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 189 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Labor Department Updates Online Employer Health Benefit Advisor

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released an updated version of its Health Benefits Advisor for Employers. This online resource outlines the federal laws that can affect health benefit coverage provided by group health plans. The Advisor explains the legislation, statutes and regulations in Parts 6 and 7 of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). These laws include:

  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)
  • Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act (Newborns’ Act)
  • Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA)
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
  • Michelle’s Law

You may access the updated Health Benefits Advisor for Employers from the DOL web site at

The Health Benefits Advisor for Employers is one of a series of elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors developed by DOL to help employers and employees understand federal employment laws and resources. To access all of the elaws advisors, visit the elaws Web site at


  04:47:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 144 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study: Obesity Accounts For One-Fifth Of U.S. Health Spending

Carrying around excess weight is a financial burden in addition to a physical one, a new study says.

According to HealthDay News, researchers from Cornell University found that an obese person’s medical costs are $2,741 a year higher (in 2005 dollars) than if they were not obese. That additional money adds up to $190.2 billion a year nationally – nearly 21% of total U.S. health spending.

The study’s numbers far exceed previous estimates that put the cost of obesity at $85.7 billion a year. “Historically, we’ve been underestimating the benefit of preventing and reducing obesity,” study author John Cawley said in a university news release.

“Obesity raises the risk of cancer, stroke, heart attack and diabetes,” Cawley said. “For any type of surgery, there are complications [for the obese] with anesthesia, with healing. Obesity raises the costs of treating almost any medical condition. It adds up very quickly.”

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