суббота, 18 декабря 2010 г.

Women's Health Insurance Linked to Education

It appears that among women, the less education you have the more likely you are not to have health insurance. That is the finding of a policy brief that emerged from a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Health Policy Research that evaluated women’s health insurance.
Researchers used data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) as the basis for their evaluation. Their analysis revealed that during 2007, nearly 2.5 million women in California between the ages of 18 and 64 had no health insurance. Overall, women who did not have a high school diploma were nearly four times more likely to be uninsured as women who had a college degree. That is, 42 percent of women without a college degree had no insurance compared with 11 percent of those with a degree.
Women who were most likely to be uninsured were Latinas (35 percent) and American Indian/Alaska Natives (26 percent), single without children (28 percent), single mothers (27 percent), and those with a very low income (42 percent).
Women who had a college education were also more likely to have their health insurance through their employer: 75 percent had such coverage, compared with 49 percent of women with a high school diploma and 23 percent who did not graduate from high school.
In another, earlier study conducted by the Urban Institute and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, researchers analyzed women’s (ages 18 to 64) health insurance coverage by state for the entire nation. They found that overall, 62.6 percent had coverage through an employer, 5.9 percent got coverage through an individual plan, 10.2 percent were on Medicaid, 3.2 percent were getting other public assistance, and 18.1 percent had no health insurance. Massachusetts had the lowest rate of uninsured women—5.6 percent—while Texas had the highest at 29.2 percent. The study did not look at education.
In the UCLA study, Roberta Wyn, lead author of the brief and a women’s health expert, noted that “health insurance coverage and education are clearly linked.” She also pointed out that since the 2007 CHIS was conducted, the decline in the economy likely made their numbers worse. The fact that with the health reform passage, young women will be able to get coverage on their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26 will help some women, although it remains to be seen how many will be able to take advantage of this option.

вторник, 14 декабря 2010 г.

Health care in an Obama world: what we know so far

We know the name of the 44th President of the United States: Barack Obama. As the next President's supporter Oprah Winfrey is known to ask, "What do you know for sure?" When it comes to health care and health insurance coverage, there are a few things we know about a President Obama.
First and foremost, addressing challenges in U.S. health care will require a multi-pronged strategy which brings stakeholders together. The key health-aches to address will be:
  • Covering the uninsured
  • Stemming rising health care costs
  • Wiring the health information infrastructure and getting electronic health records into medical practice
  • Funding what works, and de-funding what doesn't
  • Ensuring an innovative health discovery and commercialization environment.
This is not a one-man job, and Senator Obama knows that. He has surrounded himself with a cadre of experts who understand these Big Hairy Health Issues and are on the forefront of solutions. He has, thus far, made smart choices in his campaign staff and advisers. This is the concept known as "judgement."
Some of the names mentioned to head up health cabinet and key office posts are very sound. To head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Peter Orszag of the Congressional Budget Office has been talking passionately about health care and the Medicare Trust Fund for several years. Read his approach to health care costs here in Health Populi as the CBO dissected health care costs.
In addition, the Obama team has worked with David Cutler of Harvard, a health economist who writes papers with Dr. Mark McClellan, and author of the 2003 seminal paper, "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?" which tied together health with the food industry, calorie consumption, and time required to prepare meals; and, Dan Mendelson of Avalere Health, a well-respected beltway consulting firm deep into health care.
There are several interesting contenders to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, including Howard Dean, the head of the Democratic National Committee, former governor of Vermont, and a physician; Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority leader wrote Critical: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis, and a supporter of universal health plans; Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who has actively reformed insurance in her state; and, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who understands the life science industry and universal health coverage.
Health and safety are key issues for the next President to address, and the FDA needs to get smarter about its role in ensuring safe Food and Drugs. Some of the names mentioned for FDA Commissioner are more controversial than those rumored for the other senior health posts. One is Steve Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, who has been involved with clinical trials and very visible recently with drug safety and recalls and one of TIME Magazine's most influential people in 2007.
In addition, several advisers to Obama on FDA issues have been Harvard professor David Blumenthal who has helped shape Obama's health plans and is part of the Kennedy health camp; Robert Califf of Duke Medicine, who has worked on FDA reorganization plans; Dora Hughes, an MD/MPH and advisor to both Kennedy and Obama on health issues; Bruce Psaty of the University of Washington, who is health safety guru; and, Susan Wood from George Washington University, who left the FDA when the Agency failed to move the morning-after pill to over-the-counter status and now researches environmental and occupational health.
Jane's Hot Points: While the economy may preclude accomplishing major reforms for the first two years of an Obama presidency, some major issues can be tackled and planned-for. We've missed sound longer-term planning in these agencies, and in the larger health reform discussion. In particular, wrestling with Medicare's financial sustainability will be crucial as we lurch toward the expected implosion of the Medicare Trust Fund in 2017. Peter Orszag's visibility in health cost speech-making have placed him in a central expert role for dealing with this.
The health economists have a big role to play in sorting out how to pay for performance and migrate the U.S. toward evidence-based medicine and payment. Getting primary care into its rightful place at the nexus of the citizen and the health system will be part of a larger move toward managing costs and optimizing health outcomes.
In this statement in the October 9, 2008, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Modern Health Care for All Americans, Obama sets out his health priorities. He says:
"My health care plan has three central tenets. First, all Americans should have access to the benefits of modern medicine. Once and for all, we must ensure that this great country lives up to its ideals and ensures all Americans access to high-quality, affordable health care. Second, we must eliminate the waste that plagues our medical system — layers of bureaucracy that serve no purpose, duplicative tests and procedures that are performed because the right information is not readily available, and doctors providing unnecessary care for fear of being sued. Third, we need a public health infrastructure that works with our medical system to prevent disease and improve health."

среда, 8 декабря 2010 г.

Proposal Includes Health Insurance Mandate For Ohio State Residents

The Ohio State Medical Association on Thursday released a proposal that would require all state residents to purchase health insurance, either with individual funds or government subsidies, the Dayton Daily News reports.
The proposal also calls for the state to focus on wellness and prevention, rather than treating illnesses, and to improve the quality and transparency of care so that patients can have access to reliable quality and cost information. In addition, the proposal calls for the state to create a self-sustaining health care financing system with a dedicated source of funding, so that health care would not compete with other state programs.
The goal of the proposal is to improve the state's health care system. Association President Craig Anderson said,"I think we're at a critical point at the state and national level,"adding, "We think it's time to take action" (Hershey, Dayton Daily News, 9/21).

четверг, 25 ноября 2010 г.

NJ Health Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions Goes Into Effect

August marks the month that federally funded health insurance plans make their debut in New Jersey. Individuals living in this state can now take advantage of National Health Insurance Act that was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Also know as Patient Protection and Affordability Act or Obamacare.

NJ Health Insurance Requirements

There are several requirements you must me to qualify and use of the $141 million dollar healthcare benefit. Main requirement is you must be a New Jersey residents with plan defined pre-existing conditions who has not had health insurance for the last six (6) months.
New Jersey Protect plan is a high-risk pool plan. Many states have high risk pool plans, that allow individuals who do not qualify for fully underwriter insurance to apply for and become insured based on the pre-existing conditions, coverage’s and plans the insurance was on in the past. Typically these plans are very expensive, because the carriers who underwrite them know the expenses are going to be much greater when you do not have any low-risk individuals to spread the losses across.
Basically what we have is the old system, called something new, but portions of the expenses being picked up by Obamacare, ant that portion is $141 million dollars.
New Jersey is one of the few states that bans heath insurance providers from refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions such as cancer, high cholesterol HIV-AIDS or hypertension making it a state many carriers will not do business in, and also making the base rates for all plans more than the national average. So even if you are health, you will pay more than your health counterpart in other states, thus making you pay even more than your fair share.
Many people wonder when the FREE HEALTH CARE is going to kick in, and by the looks of the early adopters it seems it will not be FREE to most. It may cost less each month, because the government is paying to subsidized the premium but they will get the money from somewhere to pay for it.
We also here that individuals without health insurance will be fined if they done have it, but the fine is less than a few months premium in most cases so will it really have any impact at all?
Somehow the insurance is going to get paid for on any health care plan, and with the cost of medical expenses rising and the lack of expense control it seems we are just putting a $141 million dollar band aide over a much larger problem. How do we fix the problem, Americans need to take some control of their own health care by understanding all the expenses, sharing in a portion of those expenses and in-charge of controlling the costs like every other consumer product on the market.

четверг, 18 ноября 2010 г.

Using plants against soils contaminated with arsenic

Two essential genes that control the accumulation and detoxification of arsenic in plant cells have been identified. This discovery is the fruit of an international collaboration involving laboratories in Switzerland, South Korea and the United States, with the participation of members of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Plant Survival. The results presented are a promising basis for reducing the accumulation of arsenic in crops from regions in Asia that are polluted by this toxic metalloid, as well as for the cleanup of soils contaminated by heavy metals. The findings are published this week in the prestigious journal PNAS. The sinking of tubewells in Southeast Asia as well as mining in regions such as China, Thailand, and the United States, are the cause that arsenic concentrations in water often exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) limit of 10 μg/L, the value above which health problems start to occur. Tens of millions of people are exposed to this risk by drinking contaminated water or by ingesting cereal crops cultivated in polluted soils. A long lasting exposure to this highly toxic metalloid could affect the gastrointestinal transit, the kidneys, the liver, the lungs, the skin and increases the risk of cancer. In Bangladesh, it is estimated that 25 million people drink water that contains more than 50 μg/L of arsenic and that two million of them risk of dying from cancer caused by this toxic substance.
Plants offer a way for toxic metals to enter the food chain. We know, for example, that arsenic is stored within rice grains, which, in regions polluted with this toxic metalloid, constitutes a danger for the population whose diet depends to a great extent on this cereal.
Arsenic or cadmium in soils is transported to plant cells and stored in compartments called vacuoles. Within the cell, the translocation of arsenic and its storage in vacuoles is ensured by a category of peptides – the phytochelatins – that bind to the toxic metalloid, and are transported into the vacuole for detoxification, similar to hooking up a trailer to a truck. In terms of the process, it is the "truck and trailer" complex that is stored in the vacuole.
"By identifying the genes responsible for the vacuolar phytochelatin transport and storage, we have found the missing link that the scientific community searched for the past 25 years", explains Enrico Martinoia, a professor in plant physiology at the University of Zurich. The experiments carried out on the model plant Arabidopsis can easily be adapted to other plants such as rice.
Enrico Martinoia is one of the directors of this research that includes the Korean professor Youngsook Lee from the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and Julian Schroeder, biology professor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Along with Stefan Hörtensteiner, also from the University of Zurich, and Doris Rentsch from the University of Bern, he is one of the three members of the NCCR Plant Survival who participated in this study which was published in PNAS.
Controlling these genes will make it possible to develop plants capable of preventing the transfer of toxic metals and metalloids from the roots to the leaves and grains thereby limiting the entry of arsenic into the food chain. "By focusing on these genes, states Youngsook Lee, we could avoid the accumulation of these heavy metals in edible portions of the plant such as grains or fruits."
At the same time, researchers have discovered a way to produce plants capable of accumulating a greater amount of toxic metals which consequently can be used to clean up contaminated soils. These plants would then be burned in blast furnaces in order to eliminate the toxic elements.