Entries in Health Care (57)


Health Workers Found More Likely to Use Alternative Remedies

Comstock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) – A new report suggests that three-quarters of all U.S. health-care workers use alternative medicine in their regimen, according to HealthDay.

Doctors and hospital employees were found to be overall more inclined to use remedies like yoga, acupuncture, and herbal therapy in their own lives than the general public.

Lori Knutson of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing in Minneapolis conducted the study with information from the National Health Interview Survey.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hawaii Is the Happiest State in the Nation, Survey Finds

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- If Hawaii’s sunshine and beautiful beaches aren’t enough to get you to travel to The Aloha State, perhaps the happiness of its citizens will do the trick.

Hawaii is the happiest state in the nation in 2011, according to a new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. America's 50th state ranked number one, followed by North Dakota and Alaska.  At the bottom of the list is West Virginia.

The Well-Being Index score is an average of several factors, including job satisfaction, physical health, emotional health, access to health care and community satisfaction.  Scores are calculated on an ascending scale of 0 to 100.  The Well-Being Index is based on surveys of more than 177,000 Americans conducted between January and June 2011.

Here are the 50 U.S. states in order of their well-being scores:

Hawaii: 71.1
North Dakota: 70.5
Alaska: 69.4
Nebraska: 68.4
Minnesota: 68.3
Colorado: 68.3
Utah: 68.1
New Hampshire: 67.9
Iowa: 67.9
Kansas: 67.8
Vermont: 67.8
Maryland: 67.8
Massachusetts: 67.7
South Dakota: 67.6
Virginia: 67.6
California: 67.5
Washington: 67.2
Oregon: 67.2
Montana: 67.1
Connecticut: 66.9
Arizona: 66.9
New Mexico: 66.8
Idaho: 66.7
Wisconsin: 66.6
Maine: 66.6
Texas: 66.6
New Jersey: 66.5
Wyoming: 66.5
North Carolina: 66.5
Rhode Island: 66.2
Illinois: 66.2
Georgia: 66.2
Delaware: 66.0
Nevada: 65.9
Pennsylvania: 65.8
Michigan: 65.8
South Carolina: 65.7
Florida: 65.4
New York: 65.2
Missouri: 65.1
Alabama: 65.1
Indiana: 64.9
Arkansas: 64.9
Oklahoma: 64.8
Tennessee: 64.7
Louisiana: 64.6
Ohio: 64.4
Mississippi: 63.6
Kentucky: 63.0
West Virginia: 62.4

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


High Court Hands Down Landmark Ruling for Insurance Companies

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of insurers Thursday in a case that promises to impact the legal landscape of medical damage civil suits.

In Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, the court voted 6-1 in favor of restricting whether an injured party can recover full medical costs billed by doctors and hospitals. The court ruled an accident victim can only recoup the discounted figures the victim's insurer negotiates with health care providers.

Rebecca Howell, injured when a Hamilton Meats truck made an illegal turn and slammed into her car, was seeking the full $190,000 in hospital fees billed to the insurer. However, the court overruled a previous decision in the case that limited her to the $60,000 the hospitals agreed to bill to her insurer.

While the decision is being hailed as a victory for insurance companies and business groups, it is seen as a devastating ruling to consumer rights and personal injury lawyers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Announces New Guidelines for Women's Health Care

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House announced new guidelines for women's health care Monday to ensure women receive a wide range of preventive care including contraception, domestic violence screenings, and breastfeeding support at no additional cost.

“The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today. “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.”

The new guidelines were developed by the independent Institute of Medicine which conducted a scientific review and provided recommendations on the specific preventive measures needed to keep women healthy.

Starting Aug. 1, 2012, new health insurance plans will be required to cover women’s preventive care without charging a co-pay or deductible. The new guidelines require health insurers to provide FDA-approved birth control, including emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill, HIV screenings, and well-women visits, among other services.

The guidelines also include an amendment that allows religious institutions that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Health Law Could Require Coverage of ‘Full Range’ of Birth Control

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A report released Tuesday and requested by the government recommends that the “full range” of birth control methods, including the “morning after pill” known as Plan B as well as oral contraceptives, should be offered to “all women with reproductive capacity” at no cost under the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human Services requested the study to determine which preventative services are vital to women’s health and well-being and should be added to the co-pay free list.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will make a decision by Aug. 1 on whether or not to include the recommendations.  They would go into effect one year after Sebelius makes her decision.

“This report is historic,” Sebelius said in a statement Tuesday. “Before today, guidelines regarding women’s health and preventive care did not exist.”

Planned Parenthood lauded the report in a statement.

“Millions of women, especially young women, struggle every day to afford prescription birth control,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “Today’s recommendation brings us a step closer to ensuring that all newly insured women under the health care reform law will have access to prescription birth control without out-of-pocket expenses.  This would be a tremendous stride forward for women’s health in this country.”

But social conservative groups said it would lead to government-sponsored abortion.

The Family Research Council, a Christian advocacy group, said including Plan B in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance coverage “essentially would mandate coverage for abortion.”

The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates for abortion rights,  estimated that unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers about $11 billion per year because two-thirds of them are funded by public insurance such as Medicaid.

Other services recommended by the committee include STD and HIV counseling, gestational diabetes screening for pregnant women, counseling and equipment to promote breast feeding, screening and counseling to help prevent domestic violence, yearly preventative care visits, and human papillomavirus testing for women older than 30 to help prevent cervical cancer.

The study particularly focused on women because reproductive and gender-specific conditions lead to women using more preventative care than men on average. Therefore, women face higher out-of-pocket costs, the report noted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Where Are the Nation's Best Hospitals?

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Need help researching hospitals in your area? You might find some help from U.S. News and World Report, which released its 22nd annual ranking of the nation's best hospitals on Tuesday.

Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Massachusetts General Hospital took the top "Honor Roll" hospitals, which were ranked near the top in six or more specialty areas.

Here are the top 10:

  1. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
  2. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  3. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
  4. Cleveland Clinic
  5. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
  6. New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, N.Y.
  7. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco
  8. Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
  9. Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
  10. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Johns Hopkins Hospital stayed in the top spot from last year's rankings and Massachusetts General Hospital beat out Mayo Clinic to take the silver this year.

The rankings were based on death rates, patient safety, and other objective data. Physicians' opinions of the best hospitals for the toughest medical cases were also factored into the results.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Proves Medicaid Helps Recipients

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- A study released Thursday proves that being insured through Medicaid benefits low-income people physically, financially, and psychologically -- and that deep cuts proposed at both the state and federal levels could limit beneficial services.

The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, is the first to use a randomly selected group of Medicaid participants, making it the most accurate data available on the program's effects, said MIT economist Amy Finkelstein, the lead author of the report.

The random sample study was made possible by a 2008 Medicaid lottery implemented in Oregon as a way to fairly choose the 10,000 Oregonians the state could afford to cover by the program.  Budget restraints prevented Oregon from accepting all 90,000 applicants.

"The situation in Oregon provided us an opportunity to bring the gold standard of research [random sampling] to important social science and public policy questions," Finkelstein said.

The study found that people enrolled in Medicaid were 25 percent more likely to report their health was very good or excellent, 10 percent less likely to be depressed, and 25 percent less likely to have unpaid medical bills sent to a collection agency than their uninsured counterparts.

"The results are even more positive than we anticipated," wrote Sherry Glied, the Health and Human Services assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, in a White House blog post Thursday.

Insured people also used more preventative medical services.

The probability that Medicaid recipients had their blood cholesterol checked increased 20 percent and insured women were 60 percent more likely to have a mammogram.

Insured people were 30 percent more likely to be admitted to the hospital, 15 percent more likely to use prescription drugs, and 21 percent more likely to go to a clinic or see a doctor.

"The single core finding of the study is that having Medicaid matters," Finkelstein said.

But with steep cuts proposed to the program at both the state and federal levels, those benefits may be short-lived.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


What Drives Variation in Medicaid Spending?

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Although there’ve been many studies assessing the geographic variability of Medicare coverage costs, only a few have looked at inter-state variability in Medicaid spending and the factors contributing to the differences.  For example, in 2007 the average cost per beneficiary in the U.S. was $5,163, but New York spent almost $8,500 while California only $3,186.  Researchers at the University of California-San Diego sought to find out what is contributing to these differences?
The authors found that the states in the mid-Atlantic region -- New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania -- have the most expensive regional care, while states in the South central region -- Alabama, Arkansas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas have the least expensive.  The top 10 highest-spending states spent $1,650 above the national average per beneficiary compared to the 10 lowest-spending states which spent $1,161 below the national average, according to the study's findings reported in Health Affairs.

Turns out that the biggest contributing factor to the differences in expenditures is the volume of services delivered.  But other factors mattered as well.  The authors found that higher numbers of hospital beds and specialists increased hospital admissions (and therefore costs), while higher numbers of primary care physicians reduced admissions and thereby lowered costs.  

The lead author states that this finding “suggests that there s a great deal of room for innovation in Medicaid.  By increasing access to primary care and experimenting with team-based delivery models and low-cost providers, states may be able to improve quality while reducing Medicaid spending.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Medical Motive Behind the $1 Bank Robbery

Medioimages/Photodisc(GASTON COUNTY, N.C.) -- James Verone said he hoped his $1 bank robbery would earn him a three-year jail sentence, during which he could undergo surgery on his back and his foot and have a painful lump on his chest diagnosed and treated. After that, the 59-year-old from Gastonia, N.C., would move to Myrtle Beach to collect his social security, he told local reporters.

But the charge Verone faces for the June 9 heist, larceny from a person, is unlikely to keep him behind bars for more than 12 months. He is being held in Gaston County Jail, where he has already been seen by several nurses, on a $2,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court June 28. And if his sentence is too short, Verone said he plans to rob again.

The robbery followed three years of hardship for Verone, who after losing his job of 17 years as a Coca-Cola deliveryman tried desperately to land steady work, according to reports. But after short stints as a truck driver and a part time convenience store clerk, Verone was once again jobless, forced to live off savings and food stamps.

Without health insurance, Verone tolerated chronic back aches and a pain in his left foot that made him limp. But when he noticed a lump on his chest, he knew he had to do something.

"The pain was beyond the tolerance that I could accept," he told the Gaston Gazette. "I kind of hit a brick wall with everything."

Verone said he "exercised all the alternatives" before planning to rob the Gastonia bank, which he chose at random, for a dollar, according to reports. As the day approached, Verone paid his last month's rent, donated his furniture and moved into a Hampton Inn. And on the morning of June 9, before hailing a cab to the bank, he mailed a letter to the Gaston Gazette.

"When you receive this a bank robbery will have been committed by me. This robbery is being committed by me for one dollar," he wrote, wanting people to understand that the motive for his crime was medical, not monetary. "I am of sound mind but not so much sound body."

At 1 p.m., Verone handed a bank teller a note demanding a single dollar and claiming to have a gun. The teller who received his perplexing request made a frantic 911 call, and was later taken to Gaston Memorial Hospital for high blood pressure, according to local reports. Verone is said to be sorry for causing her any pain.

Verone, in contrast, waited calmly on a sofa in the bank's lobby for police to arrive.

"I didn't have any fears," Verone told local reporters. "If you don't have your health you don't have anything."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Most Medicare Patients Not Taking Advantage of Free Care

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is trying to boost awareness of the free benefits of Medicare now that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Monday released a report showing that only one in six Americans take advantage of free check-ups offered each year.  

Preventative benefits are now available at no charge to Medicare patients due to the Affordable Care Act.  Part of these preventative benefits allows those on Medicare to take part in an Annual Wellness visit, breast and prostate cancer screenings and bone density screenings, but CMS says people are not taking the free care, likely due to a lack of information.  Now, CMS has launched a public outreach campaign called "Share the News, Share the Health" to inform physicians and patients about the available services.

"The Obama Administration is committed to helping increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life," CMS administrator Donald Berwick, M.D., said Monday. "…With the new free Annual Wellness Visits and free preventative care, people with Medicare have the tools to take common sense steps to take control of their health."

CMS says these services offered without cost-sharing can help save Americans an estimated two-thirds of the $2 trillion spent on treating long-term illnesses by taking steps to prevent them altogether.  

"Share the News, Share the Health," which will include online ads and community events all over the U.S.. will run throughout the summer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio