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Benefits in the News > By Subject >

Health plan costs - disease management


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Innovation in Health Benefits
"[E]ntrepreneurs have created nearly 100 companies focused on consumer-driven innovations in the fields of telemedicine, education, model innovation, process improvement, and wellness.... These offerings, and many others, are leading the way in improving many outdated health care systems and processes, while also uncovering long-term solutions to the failures of legacy benefit approaches for consumers." (Willis Towers Watson)
PET Scans Show Many Alzheimer's Patients May Not Actually Have the Disease
"The findings could change the way doctors treat people in these hard-to-diagnose groups and save money being spent on inappropriate medication.... Among 4,000 people tested so far ... [researchers found] that just 54.3 percent of MCI patients and 70.5 percent of dementia patients had the plaques." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)
What Are the Current Costs and Outcomes Related to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders?
"This collection of charts (updated July 31, 2017) explores trends in the prevalence, outcomes, costs, and access to care associated with mental health and substance abuse disorders in the United States and comparably wealthy countries." (The Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation)
Digital Diabetes Solutions
"With employers footing a major part of the nation's massive diabetes-driven $300 billion medical bill, new digitally based workplace programs are showing progress in managing those costs and improving employees' lives." (Human Resource Executive Online)
Digital Diabetes Solutions in Action: An Opportunity Study (PDF)
24 pages. "Employers who are considering adding a digital component to their diabetes management tool kit have questions about the value of doing so, how to make it as meaningful as possible and what challenges they might face if they try to implement it.... [This article describes] an organization that has implemented a digital diabetes tool for an employee population, highlighting experiences and lessons that would be valuable to other employers." (Northeast Business Group on Health [NEBGH])
Cycling to Work Can Cut Cancer and Heart Disease
"[D]uring the course of the study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%. The cyclists clocked an average of 30 miles per week, but the further they cycled the greater the health boon." (BBC News)
Can New Type 2 Diabetes Treatments Reduce Benefit Plan Costs?
"A recent study by McMaster University scientists revealed that it may be possible to reverse Type 2 diabetes in some patients, and this condition, thought to be permanent, may actually be curable.... As insurers have implemented patient assistance programs for certain medical conditions for high-cost drugs, wouldn't it be natural to expand the program to include coaching for Type 2 diabetes? In theory, plan sponsors could provide a higher level of coverage for the drugs required for treatment of employees participating in the program." (Conduent)
Anxiety Disorders: Why They Matter and What Employers Can Do
"Anxiety disorders lead to an average of 4.6 work days lost to disability per month and 18.1 work days lost to disability per 3 months, as well as an average of 5.5 work days of reduced productivity per month ... [F]or every $1 invested in treating depression and anxiety, there is a $4 return for the economy. While scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety would cost $147 billion over the next 15 years, it would yield a 5% improvement in workforce participation -- representing a $399 billion return on investment[.]" (Partnership for Workplace Mental Health)
Among Low-Income Respondents With Diabetes, High-Deductible Versus No-Deductible Insurance Sharply Reduces Medical Service Use
"Compared with privately insured respondents with diabetes with [no deductible], privately insured lower-income respondents with diabetes with [a low deductible ($1,000/$2,400)] report significant decreases in service use for primary care, checkups, and specialty visits (27%, 39%, and 77% lower, respectively), and respondents with [a high deductible (>$1,000/$2,400) ] decrease use by 42%, 65%, and 86%, respectively." (Diabetes Care)
Spending on U.S. Health Care, 1996-2013
"From 1996 through 2013, $30.1 trillion of personal health care spending was disaggregated by 155 conditions, age and sex group, and type of care. Among these 155 conditions, diabetes had the highest health care spending in 2013, with an estimated $101.4 billion ... in spending, including 57.6% ... spent on pharmaceuticals and 23.5% ... spent on ambulatory care.... Spending on low back and neck pain and on diabetes increased the most over the 18 years, by an estimated $57.2 billion ... spending on emergency care and retail pharmaceuticals increased at the fastest rates[.]" (The JAMA Network)
Mental Health Parity Update (PDF)
"The White House Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force recently released its final report recommending that agencies' future budgets include funding to expand MHPAEA compliance audit capacity. It also identified a need for more guidance on what group health plans and issuers are required to disclose regarding their mental health and substance use disorder benefits." (Xerox HR Services)
#WeAreNotWaiting: Diabetics Are Hacking Their Health Because Traditional Systems Have Failed Them
"Diabetics have been waiting for years for better technology to manage their condition. Some got tired of waiting and hacked together an open source hardware and software solution.... The movement was born from frustration, particularly among the parents of young children with type 1 diabetes, at the pace at which technology that could potentially revolutionise their lives was being developed. Diabetes may be a relatively common and well-known condition, but managing it on a day-to-day basis is anything but easy." (TechRepublic)
High Value Cancer Care: Guidance for Employers (PDF)
28 pages. "[H]ow can benefits professionals provide help when it comes to steering employees toward high-value care? How can they sort through the proliferation of cancer care benefits and programs available to hone in on those with the most value and/or can amplify the value of what they currently provide? And how can they move toward paying for value instead of volume?" (Northeast Business Group on Health [NEBGH])
Telemedicine May Help Promote Eye Exam Access for People with Diabetes
"A nationwide telemedicine diabetic screening program could help prevent diabetic retinopathy, the top cause of new-onset blindness in the United States.... Only 3% of the 97 patients surveyed had heard of telemedicine, but once it was explained, 69% believed telemedicine could be more convenient than traditional exams with a specialist." (American Journal of Managed Care)
Insurance Status Affects Outcomes for Patients With Cancer
"Patients with Medicaid or without insurance were more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage, received less-than-optimal treatment, and had shorter survival times.... Medicaid patients were less likely to receive surgical treatment [and] these same patients, as well as those without insurance, were less likely to receive adjuvant radiotherapy. Patients who were uninsured or had Medicaid are also more likely to present with larger tumors compared with patients with other insurance." (American Journal of Managed Care)
Cancer Tops Stop-Loss Reimbursements
"Sun Life paid out $618 million in stop-loss reimbursements between 2012 and 2015 -- 26.6% of total stop-loss claims -- for cancers ... Cancer claims reimbursement rose to 28% of total stop-loss claims reimbursements in 2015 from 24.3% in 2012 ... 45% of the 20 highest cost intravenous medications in 2015 were used to treat cancer." (Benefit Revolution)
Sixth Circuit Again Says Michigan Tax Not Preempted by ERISA
"The court's analysis holds state tax laws in a privileged status vis-a-vis the preemption analysis.... The Sixth Circuit had relatively little trouble finding that the Michigan tax did not 'directly regulate' primary administrative functions of the affected ERISA plans. Instead, the administrative burdens resulting from the Michigan tax regime were found to be ancillary to the state tax function." [Self-Insurance Inst. of America v. Snyder, No. 12-2264 (6th Cir. July 1, 2016)] (Morgan Lewis)
What Are the Current Costs and Outcomes Related to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders?
"The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that about 43.6 million adults (18.1%) in the United States had any mental illness in the past year (including mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders, but excluding developmental and substance use disorders). Mental illness was more prevalent among women (21.8%) than men (14.1%), and occurred among about a fifth of adults ages 18 to 25, as well as a fifth of adults ages 26 to 49." (Kaiser Family Foundation)
Resources for Improving Cancer Care for Employees at Your Organization
"[Six resources are described, including:] [1] Learn about applicable workplace laws; ideas for workplace accommodations; how to support caregivers; making a workplace transition or return to work plan; and more.... [2] [E]mployer strategies for cancer treatment and prevention ... with information on SPD guidance, vendor contracting and plan reporting.... [3] [H]ow the ADA limits an employer's ability to ask questions related to cancer and other disabilities. It includes the limits of conducting medical examinations at three stages: pre-offer, post-offer, and during employment." (The Alliance)
Digital Diabetes Prevention and Management Solutions (PDF)
"Employers indicate that diabetes will continue to be one of their top concerns well into the future.... A spate of new digital tools in the diabetes space promises to help employers improve the effectiveness of their offerings, and employers have indicated significant interest in exploring them. However, they also say they are overwhelmed by the number and diversity of these new tools and need help evaluating which ones might be worth exploring for their employee populations." (Northeast Business Group on Health [NEBGH])
Majority of California Adults Have Pre-Diabetes or Diabetes
"46 percent of California adults -- 13 million people -- have prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes, while another 9 percent have already been diagnosed with diabetes. Since diabetes is more commonly seen among older adults, the study's finding that 33 percent of adults ages 18 to 39 have prediabetes is of particular concern[.]" (Marin Independent Journal)
Blue Cross Coverage of Genetic Testing for Some Cancers Raises Debate Over Expensive Screenings
"Pennsylvania-based Independence Blue Cross' announcement that it will cover a complex type of genetic testing for some cancer patients thrusts the insurer into an ongoing debate about how to handle an increasing array of these expensive tests.... While the hope is the results will help patients and their doctors pinpoint the best treatments based on genetic differences, there may not be any such drug regimens yet available. It's also unclear whether the information the tests provide make any difference in a patient's treatment and prognosis." (Healthcare Payer News)
Task Force Urges Doctors to Screen All Adults for Depression
"All adults, including pregnant women and new mothers, should be screened for depression as a routine part of health care, a government advisory group recommended Tuesday.... The second part of the recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is more difficult -- ensuring systems are in place to properly diagnose and treat people identified through screening." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)
Genetic Testing May Be Coming to Your Office
"Though employers tout genetic tests as a perk for their workforce, health advocates raise concerns about privacy and the potential for illegal discrimination based on employees' genetic information. They add that workers may fear their genetic information will end up in the boss's hands." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)
Paying for Better Health and Well-being in Diabetes Care
"Globally, over 380 million people are estimated to have Type 2 diabetes, and nearly half are undiagnosed. One approach to changing this trend is to better align health care payments with prevention and chronic disease management.... [M]aking feasible changes to the way health care is paid for can better support the needed workforce structures, care management systems, and care coordination tools to assist patients and their clinicians in managing diabetes and diabetes risk factors." (The Brookings Institution)
New Health Plans Offer Discounts for Diabetes Care
"Offered by Aetna in four regions next year, the gold-level plans are tailored for the needs of people with diabetes. They feature $10 copays for the specialists diabetics need such as endocrinologists, ophthalmologists and podiatrists, and offer free blood sugar test strips, glucose monitors and other diabetic supplies. A care management program with online tools and coaching helps people manage their condition day-to-day. The plans also offer financial incentives, including a $50 gift card for getting an A1c blood test twice a year to measure blood sugar levels and a $25 card for hooking up a glucometer or biometric tracker to the Aetna site." (Kaiser Health News)
Employers Reveal ACA's Impact in Sixth Annual Survey
"Three in five survey respondents believe that the law has had a negative impact on their organization.... The biggest ACA challenge for most organizations is administration issues, even more so than cost, followed by plan design and communication concerns. Over 92% of respondents stated that they are closely following Supreme Court cases related to ACA." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP])
A Long Road Ahead: Achieving True Parity in Mental Health and Substance Use Care (PDF)
24 pages. "[A] significant number of mental health professionals included in networks of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) included in health insurance exchanges may not actually be available to plan participants.... [O]nly 14% of the psychiatrists listed in QHPs in the Maryland exchange were actually accepting new patients and available for an appointment within 45 days.... [M]any practicing psychiatrists do not accept health insurance, confining their clientele to people with the resources to pay out of pocket." (National Alliance on Mental Illness [NAMI])
Engaging Health Care Consumers: The Lowe's Experience
"In the early 2000s, to assist employees in managing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and other medical conditions and reduce overall health care costs, Lowe's became an early adopter of a disease management program managed by a health plan.... Lowe's quickly learned that third-party credibility was one of the most important things that mattered to employees, especially when it came to something as personal as health care. In retrospect, the results of Lowe's early disease management program aren't surprising." (Health Affairs)
[Opinion] Why the Health Care System Should Stop Trying to Help Everyone Live Longer
"Atul Gawande's current best-seller, Being Mortal, has touched a nerve regarding our medical system's very poor handling of aging, life-altering illnesses, hospice, and palliative care. The book raises the question of why the U.S. health system prizes the length of a patient's life over the quality of that life in a person's final years." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)
Taking an Unconventional Approach to Wellness Planning
"In tracing the wellness success story of Elkay Manufacturing -- whose wellness program saw a 76% reduction in major health issues among staff most likely to incur substantial health care costs, not to mention a projected increase in 2015 health care premiums limited to just 1.8% -- some of the secret may lie in the unconventional approach taken by the company's wellness champion." (Employee Benefit News)
Designation of Obesity as a Disease: Implications for Health Plan Sponsors
"To some extent, the designation of obesity as a disease will increase plans' immediate costs. However, over the long term, covering obesity treatments is likely to save plans money by avoiding serious and costly chronic diseases and conditions for which obesity is a major risk factor.... Ultimately, prudent plan sponsors will get ahead of this issue and structure benefit coverage to support effective weight-reduction and management programs in a manner that reduces wasteful spending and holds providers and patients accountable for taking action to best manage this disease." (Sibson Consulting)
Implications for Plan Sponsors of Obesity's Designation as a Disease (PDF)
"Ultimately, prudent plan sponsors will get ahead of this issue and structure benefit coverage to support effective weight reduction and management programs in a manner that reduces wasteful spending and holds providers and patients accountable for taking action to best manage this disease.... An organizational culture that supports health improvement, empathy and respect toward others will go a long way toward helping individuals develop and maintain new positive health habits. The potential savings are substantial." (Segal Consulting)
Insurer Begins Huge Palliative Care Program
"[Cambia Health Solutions, which includes Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield,] is going to start paying for things not typically reimbursed by other insurance companies including home health aides and advanced care planning counseling. One of the larger initiatives is training physicians and caregivers in how to have appropriate conversations about end-of-life care." (Kaiser Health News)
Class Action Complaint Alleges UnitedHealthcare Violated Federal Mental Health Parity Law
"According to the plaintiffs, UnitedHealthcare's internal policies effectively provided that coverage would be denied for residential treatment if a lower level of treatment would be safe, regardless of whether it would be similarly effective. Further, they contended that the internal guidelines focused on 'acute changes' in claimants' circumstances and failed to properly account for 'chronically severe impairments.'" (Bloomberg BNA)
HSA-Eligible High Deductible Health Plans: Updating the Definition of Prevention (PDF)
"This report addresses the strict definition of prevention that an HDHP must follow for it to include a pre-tax health savings account (HSA), and how this restriction limits the effectiveness of current plans. A potential solution -- allowing HSA-eligible HDHPs to provide first-dollar coverage for targeted, evidence-based, secondary preventive services that prevent chronic disease progression and related complications -- can improve patient-centered outcomes, add efficiency to medical spending, and enhance HDHP attractiveness." (Center for Value-Based Insurance Design, University of Michigan)
[Opinion] Health Insurance Saves Lives -- That Means It Improves Health, Too
"Past investigations of how health insurance impacts health offered conflicting results, but have also faced limits to external validity. Policy changes tend to only impact one payer (Medicare, Medicaid, VA) or population (elderly, children, HIV+ patients) at a time -- these are the vagaries of reality. Massachusetts expanded coverage in a much broader sense: the state extended Medicaid eligibility to those under 100% FPL and subsidized the individual market coverage for residents below 300% FPL." (The Incidental Economist)
What TPAs Need to Know About Disease Management Programs
"75% of our healthcare dollars goes to the treatment of chronic diseases ... [M]ore employers are taking a closer look at workplace wellness programs that include disease management services... [D]isease management services can be carried out in different ways depending on the capabilities of the vendor and needs of the employer group. Programs may be software-based or managed by healthcare professionals. [Listed] are some elements of disease management programs TPAs offer[.]" (Healthcare Trends Institute)
Mississippi Pins Hopes on Telehealth to Curb Diabetes Epidemic, Lower Costs
"Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is hoping to better control his state's diabetes epidemic with a new telehealth initiative, launching a public-private partnership to treat at-risk patients in underserved areas." (Healthcare Payer News)
[Guidance Overview] Agencies Issue Final Mental Health Parity Regs (PDF)
"[P]rior to the issuance of the final regulations, many plans considered intermediate care to be outside the six classifications and, therefore, not subject to the parity obligation.... The Departments rejected the idea of incorporating a mathematical parity analysis for [nonquantitative treatment limitations (NQTLs)] similar to that used for financial requirements and quantitative treatment limitations. The subjective nature of the NQTL parity analysis will create a challenge for plans trying to demonstrate compliance in the event of litigation." (Buck Consultants)
[Opinion] The Buck Stops Here: Taking Responsibility for Healthcare Costs
"A few years ago, I was obese, inactive and feeling entitled to keep my bad habits at any cost. The price I paid was type 2 diabetes ... The estimated cost of diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. My thinking changed after I went to work in the group employee benefits industry.... I began a medically supervised diet, joined a gym and lost 60 pounds. My health and welfare costs decreased along with my blood glucose levels. I felt my jaw drop when my annual prescription costs plummeted by a third." (Corporate Synergies Group, Inc.)
California Orders Insurers to Cover Speech, Occupational Therapy
"[California's] HMO regulator [has] issued 'cease and desist' orders ... against Health Net, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California for denying members medically necessary speech and occupational therapy.... Some of the treatment denials -- but not all -- relate to autism, a contentious issue for health plans. Plans have traditionally considered applied behavioral therapy, which includes intensive speech and occupational therapy, educational rather than medical -- and refused to pay for it. That changed July 1, 2012, when state law mandated coverage." (The Business Journals)
[Guidance Overview] Final Regs Issued on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits Parity Under ACA
"In conjunction with the final regulations, the EBSA issued [FAQs] about the ACA and mental health parity implementation. The FAQs address, among other issues, plans that are exempt from the MHPAEA.... The FAQs also explain that the MHPAEA provides that the criteria for medical necessity determinations with respect to mental health or substance use disorder benefits must be made available by the plan administrator or the health insurance issuer to any current or potential participant, beneficiary, or contracting provider upon request." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)
Lacking Rules, Insurers Balk at Paying for Intensive Psychiatric Care
"Mental health accounts for a small part of total health care spending -- by one estimate, $113 billion annually, or less than 6 percent of the $2.6 trillion overall health care bill. But pressure is intensifying on insurers under the [ACA], which includes mental heath care as an essential benefit ... Insurers are concerned about the potential for new costs, while patient advocates worry that mental health will be neglected." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)
Social Networks May Have Role in Containing Healthcare Costs
"The [Crohnology.com] online community ... is one of the most closely watched experiments in digital health. It lets patients ... track symptoms, trade information on different diets and remedies, and generally care for themselves. The site is at the vanguard of the growing 'e-patient' movement that is letting patients take control over their health decisions -- and behavior -- in ways that could fundamentally change the economics of health care. Investors are particularly interested in the role 'peer-to-peer' social networks could play in the $3 trillion U.S. health-care market." (MIT Technology Review)
The Expanding Ranks of the Disabled
"New guidelines from the American Medical Association consider obesity to be a disease, which means the majority of working Americans could now be classified as disabled. That may make HR departments responsible for their employees in a whole new way.... While there currently is no federal law prohibiting discrimination against obese individuals, the AMA's recent announcement could bring about legislative changes that could affect the way employers deal with overweight employees. Some experts also fear that companies might face more disability-related lawsuits as a result." (Human Resource Executive Online)
Stop the Presses: A Disease Management Program Worked!
"However, the nonprofit Iowa Chronic Care Consortium (ICCC) apparently can execute a [disease management] program. They reduced total diabetes events by 6% in the rural counties they targeted. This success supports a hypothesis that in rural (presumably underserved) areas, disease management fulfills a critical clinical gap: it provides enough basic support that otherwise would not be provided even to those who actively seek it to reduce near-term complications and exacerbations." (The Health Care Blog)
20 'Episodes' Drive Employer Health Costs
"[D]uring the five year period, employer healthcare costs increased by an average of 4.3 percent per year, driven by spending on preventive health services; osteoarthritis (except spine); multiple sclerosis; childbirth (Cesarean section); and complications of surgical and medical care. The majority of spending growth was driven by an increase in the cost per case, primarily attributable to medical and surgical procedures." (InsuranceNewsNet.com)
Scientists Warn of Overwhelming Costs of Mental Illness
"Publishing a study that put the estimated costs of brain disorders in Britain alone at more than 112 billion pounds ($172 billion) a year, [leading neuroscientists] said mental illness research needed to attract the same funding levels as illnesses such as cancer and heart diseases to be able to reduce the burden. 'No group of chronic diseases costs the world more than brain disorders,' said Barbara Sahakian, a professor at Cambridge University[.]" (Reuters)
Putting Off Retirement May Help Stave Off Alzheimer's
"As Americans increasingly delay retirement, a new French study indicates this scenario may have a silver lining: a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Researchers analyzing health and insurance records of more than 429,000 self-employed workers found a 3 percent reduction in dementia risk for each extra year at the age of retirement. Workers evaluated had been retired for an average of more than 12 years, and 2.65 percent of the group had dementia." (U.S.News & World Report)
[Opinion] The Affordable Care Act and the Death of Personal Responsibility
"[T]he ACA's philosophical foundation ignores the power that individuals have to impact their personal health trajectory, and it compels Americans to accept lifelong roles as patients in a system that many of them not only don't want any part of but that they distrust and don't understand. It is exactly the opposite result that something called 'health' reform should have produced." (The Health Care Blog)
Mental Health Access May Be Adversely Affected in States Choosing Federally-Run Exchanges
"Adults who weren't receiving mental healthcare but needed it in the past year cited cost about half the time as the reason for not obtaining help ... Health insurance not covering enough treatments was cited 8.3% of the time and not covering any treatment 6.7% of the time[.]" (MedPage Today)
Most U.S. Health Spending Is Exploding, But Not for Mental Health
"Mental health spending, both public and private, was about $150 billion in 2009, more than double its level in inflation-adjusted terms in 1986 ... But the overall economy also about doubled during that time. As a result, direct mental health spending has remained roughly 1 percent of the economy since 1986, while total health spending climbed from about 10 percent of gross domestic product in 1986 to nearly 17 percent in 2009." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)
Study Says the Uninsured Are Healthier
"Compared with those already enrolled in Medicaid, uninsured adults were less likely to be obese and sedentary and less likely to report a physical, mental, or emotional limitation. They also were less likely to have several chronic conditions." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)
Losing Weight Doesn't Reduce Heart Attack Deaths
"Weight loss is recommended for overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes on the basis of short-term studies, but long-term effects on cardiovascular disease remain unknown. [This study] examined whether an intensive lifestyle intervention for weight loss would decrease cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among such patients.... The trial was stopped early on the basis of a futility analysis when the median follow-up was 9.6 years.... An intensive lifestyle intervention focusing on weight loss did not reduce the rate of cardiovascular events in overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes." (New England Journal of Medicine)
National Report Card on Medication Adherence (PDF)
"The score can range from 0 (non-adherence on all nine [measured] behaviors) to 100 (perfect adherence). The average score is 79 (C+).... [J]ust 24 percent earn an A grade for being completely adherent. An additional 24 percent [report] one non-adherent behavior out of nine (a grade of B). Twenty percent earn a grade of C and 16 percent a D for being somewhat non-adherent, with two or three such behaviors in the past year, respectively. The remaining 15 percent -- one in seven adults with chronic conditions -- are largely non-adherent, with four or more such behaviors, an F grade." (National Community Pharmacists Association)
That Employee Who Smokes Costs the Boss $5,800 a Year
"Smoking is expensive, and not just for the person buying the cigs. Employers are taking hard looks at the cost of employing smokers as they try to cut health insurance costs, with some refusing to hire people who say they smoke.... Researchers now say they're got much tighter focus on the number: $5,800 per smoker per year. And the biggest chunk of that comes not in health care costs, but in work lost during all those smoke breaks." (National Public Radio)
Who Is at Greatest Risk for Receiving Poor-Quality Health Care?
"Overall, participants received 54.9 percent of recommended care.... Women had higher overall scores than men (56.6 percent vs. 52.3 percent), and participants below the age of 31 years had higher scores than those over the age of 64 years (57.5 percent vs. 52.1 percent). Blacks (57.6 percent) and Hispanics (57.5 percent) had slightly higher scores than whites (54.1 percent). Those with annual household incomes over $50,000 had higher scores than those with incomes of less than $15,000 (56.6 percent vs. 53.1 percent)." (New England Journal of Medicine)
Living in America Takes Toll on Immigrants' Health
"A growing body of mortality research on immigrants has shown that the longer they live in this country, the worse their rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.... Why does life in the United States -- despite its sophisticated health care system and high per capita wages -- lead to worse health? New research is showing that the immigrant advantage wears off with the adoption of American behaviors -- smoking, drinking, high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)
California Counties Still Not Prepared to Offer Expanded Mental Health Care
"When the final phase of the new federal health care law starts in January of next year, more California residents than ever before will be able to seek help for problems ranging from depression, anxiety, and addiction to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But mental health providers in the state's Central Valley are unprepared for an influx of thousands of patients. State and county officials remain in the planning phases, even though new patients will be able to access these services in less than nine months." (HealthyCal)

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