Finding the Right Health Plan, Online – WSJ.com – “Under the Affordable Care Act, just about everyone must apply for health insurance by March 31 or possibly pay a penalty. As the deadline nears, there are new tools consumers can turn to that might make finding the right plan easier and cheaper. “
Elderly profit from group meetings and home visits | Reuters – “Group meetings and preventive home visits helped octogenarians maintain their health, independence and a positive outlook, according to a first-of-its-kind study in Sweden…. It found that the health of people 80 years and older who attended group meetings or were visited at home by healthcare workers was only half as likely to deteriorate over two years as the health of older adults without the meetings or the visits.”
Brazil’s New Diet Guide Gets Thumbs Up – “Some nutrition experts in the U.S. are praising new Brazilian dietary guidelines for taking a “food-based” approach to healthy eating, rather than focusing on individual nutrients. Brazilians should “prepare meals from staple and fresh foods,” “eat in company whenever possible,” and “be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products” — just a few of the 10 basic tenets listed in the document, which is currently in draft form and open for comments.”
Q. My doctor added on a charge for a “chronic disease management” appointment on top of my annual physical because I have thyroid disease and arthritis. The doctor’s office explained that my visit was more complicated than a routine physical. I’m not sure I buy that.
In my case, it only cost a $20 copay, but I was surprised that it was billed that way, and it could be a surprise for someone without the excellent coverage that I have. Can they do that?
A. They may be able to do so. Under the health law, most health plans have to cover recommended preventive health care services without requiring consumers to pay anything out-of-pocket. The only exception is for plans that have maintained grandfathered status under the law. Continue reading →
Periodically Washington State Department of Health issues an update on disciplinary actions taken against health care providers, including suspensions and revocations of licenses, certifications, or registrations of providers in the state.
The department also suspends the credentials of people who have been prohibited from practicing in other states.
Information about health care providers is also on the agency’s website. Continue reading →
Medicare Advantage plans could see payment reductions of 1.9 percent next year under proposed rates announced Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Insurers, who have led a fierce lobbying campaign against payment reductions, have said the combination of the health law’s lower payment rates, new fees on health plans and other factors, including automatic federalspending cuts known as “sequestration,” mean that Medicare Advantage plans will see their Medicare payment rates drop by 6 percent – or even more — in 2015. Continue reading →
Washington Regulators Set Stricter Limits on Pot Production – “OLYMPIA, Wash.(Reuters) – Washington state marijuana regulators moved on Wednesday to curtail the size and number of pot farms it will allow to serve the state’s nascent recreational cannabis market, citing the need to prevent excess supply from illicitly leaving the state.”
FDA to Revamp Approval Path for OTC Drugs – WSJ.com – “WASHINGTON—The Food and Drug Administration plans to overhaul the way it approves over-the-counter medical products, a move that will change how tens of thousands of medicines and personal care items reach U.S. store shelves. The products—from pain relievers to sunscreens to antifungal medicines—have for decades been approved through a time-consuming process that hampers manufacturers’ abilities to later modify their ingredients.”
U.S. government seeks to cut Medicare payments to insurers | Reuters – “The U.S. government on Friday proposed a cut in payments to private health insurers for 2015 Medicare Advantage plans, a move Republican lawmakers said would hurt benefits for the elderly and disabled. The proposal, released in a document by a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, appeared to cut payments by more than the 6 to 7 percent the insurance industry had expected, one Wall Street analyst said.”
CLARENDON, Ark. — In this sleepy Mississippi River Delta town in eastern Arkansas, the community health center that opened in 2012 stands out among the downtown’s mostly abandoned buildings constructed over a half century earlier.
The 15,000 square-foot brick building with its two-story lobby and green awnings was paid for through a $2.8 million grant from the Affordable Care Act — a federal investment designed to ensure the nonprofit clinic could treat hundreds of additional patients, many of whom would gain health coverage under Obamacare.
Now, though, Mid-Delta Health Systems is worried it won’t have enough money to maintain services to low-income patients because of how the state is expanding Medicaid. Continue reading →
Getting Painkillers From Multiple Providers Poses Health Risks, Study Shows – The Almagest – “Researchers at Harvard Medical School say that more than a third of patients receive prescription painkillers under Medicare’s Part D program from more than one doctor. The investigators found that over 30% people had prescription from multiple providers, with 23.1 per cent from two providers, 9.5 per cent from three providers, and 7.9 per cent from even four or more providers.”
Life-Jacket Laws Spur Use, Could Prevent Drownings – UW study finds | Reuters – “When legally mandated, however, boaters were two to three times more likely to wear life jackets, the study found. Life vest use was 80 percent among children six to 12 years old, 89 percent among children five and younger and nearly 97 percent among jet skiers. “In other words, they listen to the law,” Quan said. The study also found that teenagers were more likely to put on life jackets if an adult on the boat wore one. Adolescents were twice as likely to wear life jackets as adult boaters – a finding Quan attributes to the teens having to wear life jackets when they were younger.”
Testosterone therapy for low T carries risk: endocrinologists | Reuters – “Older men considering taking testosterone for low libido, fatigue, irritability or muscle loss should be made aware of the heart-related risks of testosterone therapy, according to a statement from the Endocrine Society. Drug companies tout testosterone as a near panacea for such conditions. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved testosterone products only for hypogonadism, when the testicles do not produce enough testosterone.”
New findings published today by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that youth obesity dropped significantly in low-income school districts that were part of a King County-focused obesity prevention initiative.
The CDC report shows a 17 percent decline in youth obesity in King County (from 9.5 percent to 7.9 percent) after Public Health – Seattle & King County partnered with schools and community organizations to implement a two-year Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) obesity prevention initiative ending in 2012. Continue reading →
The flu hit younger- and middle-age adults hard this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday.
While the elderly tend to be most vulnerable to influenza, a large majority of those hospitalized with the flu this season, 61%, were people age 18-64 — a big jump from what was seen during the past three flu seasons in which people from this age group made up only about 35 percent of hospitalizations.
Influenza deaths this season are following a similar pattern, with people 25 years to 64 years of age accounting for about 60 percent of flu deaths compared with 18 percent, 30 percent, and 47 percent for the three previous seasons. Continue reading →
Extra weight may add to elderly fall risk | Reuters – “Compared to the healthy-weight group, the obese participants in the study were more likely to be sedentary for eight or more hours a day, to walk less, to have problems walking and to believe that nothing could be done to prevent falls. “