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Wednesday
Nov102010

Adults Without Health Insurance Almost Tops 50 Million

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The economic recession has swelled the ranks of Americans without health insurance due to laid-off workers losing their employer-provided coverage.

According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 49.9 million people ages 18 to 64 had no medical coverage for at least part of the past 12 months.  That’s about 26.2 percent of the adult population.

In 2008, 46 million Americans went without health insurance for a portion of the year.

Moreover, when children 17 and under are factored in, the number of Americans uninsured for at least part of a year span numbered 59.1 million.

Nearly everyone over age 64 has universal coverage, thanks to Medicare.

Going without insurance means that people skip doctor’s visits for treatable illnesses.  Older adults, who ignore their health, are sicker when they reach 65, thus requiring more doctors’ visits.  That further taxes Medicare, which already faces serious problems staying solvent.

On a brighter note, public programs such as Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program have reduced the number of children without medical insurance from ten million two years ago to 8.7 million currently.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov102010

Russia Tops List of Countries with Most Smokers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- A new survey says that Russians are the world's biggest smokers.  A World Health Organization study released on Tuesday says that Russia has almost 44 million adult smokers, or 40 percent of the population.  The study also finds that 60 percent of men smoke and 22 percent of women light up.

The study surveyed 14 countries that "bear the highest burden of tobacco use."  Those include countries like Brazil, China and Egypt.

It was done with the help of the Russian health ministry.  An estimated 400,000 to 500,000 smokers die every year in Russia, accounting for almost 20 percent of the mortality rate.

Cigarettes are very cheap in Russia, costing under a dollar per pack.  The study showed that the average smoker has 17 cigarettes a day and spends about $20 on cigarettes a month.

The Russian government has tried to clamp down on tobacco sales.  It has put warning labels on cigarette packs, and hopes to ban advertising and phase out smoking in public places.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

More Families Focused on Health in 2010

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(CHICAGO) – A new nationwide survey suggests that positive changes have been made among Americans in family eating behavior and physical activity.

The survey, released Tuesday by the American Dietetic Association Foundation, found that eating and purchasing patterns in families in 2010 better reflect those related to healthier weight in children compared to a similar study done in 2003.

Physical activity among families also improved. The survey noted a 93-percent increase from 2003 in the number of children who are physically active with their parents at least three days a week.

While that number represented a significant increase, it remains below the national recommendations for physical activity.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

Could ‘An Apple a Day’ Decrease Risk of Heart Disease?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- More than one in three adults in the United States have one or more types of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.  Now University of Michigan Health System researchers say that adding apples or apple products (such as apple sauce, cider or juice) to one’s diet may lower the risk of developing heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S.

“When rodents prone to obesity were given a higher fat diet -- similar to a ‘typical American’ diet -- and fed a freeze dried powder made from whole apples (roughly equivalent to two medium-sized apples per day), the results showed a heart health benefit that went beyond cholesterol reduction alone,” Dr. Mitch Seymour, a lead researcher on the study, explained at this week’s American Dietetic Association (ADA) Annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition in Boston.

The research team speculates that a reduction in oxidative stress may be a key factor in the perceived improvement of heart health including blood pressure reduction and increased heart function.  Researchers say the antioxidant properties of apples appear to reduce oxidative stress, and consequently, also reduce overall heart damage.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

AARP, Consumer Reports Health Launch Online Prescription Drug Comparison Tool

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- AARP and Consumer Reports Health teamed up Tuesday for the launch of a new online tool for drug comparison.  The AARP Drug Savings Tool, meant to ease the prescription drug decision-making process, allows users to compare the effectiveness, price and safety of drugs listed in the Consumer Reports Health database of about 500 drugs in 26 different drug classes.

“We know that consumers want trustworthy, independent information on prescription drugs so they can make informed decisions about what is best for their health and the health of their family,” said Cheryl Matheis, AARP senior vice president for health strategy. “This tool will be especially valuable to our membership and will help all users better manage their prescriptions.”

The site also provides users with online guides to facilitate conversation with their health care providers related to various prescription drug topics.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

Early Education Can Help Prevent Preterm Birth

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) – Women who are pregnant should discuss their risk of preterm birth by the 12th week of pregnancy, according to a commentary published in the November issue of Ob. Gyn. News.

The commentary stemmed from a study by the March of Dimes and BabyCenter that found that more than two-thirds of new or expectant mothers had not discussed the risks and consequences of preterm birth with their healthcare provider.

Preterm birth, or birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of newborn death. It can also lead to serious health challenges such as learning disabilities and cerebral palsy.

The commentary suggested that early detection can help prevent premature birth.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

Michigan First State to Ban 'Four Loko' Drink, Others May Follow

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- More states may follow Michigan's lead in banning the popular alcoholic energy drink Four Loko after reports that dozens of college students have been hospitalized after drinking too much Four Loko. Michigan's liquor control commission banned the retail sale of all alcoholic energy drinks statewide, including Four Loko, saying the drinks "present a threat to the public health and safety."

Commonly known among college students as "blackout in a can," one can of the fruity liquor malt combines 12 percent alcohol with a kick of caffeine sized to an average cup of coffee. The contrasting effects of consuming alcohol and stimulants conceal the effects of the alcohol.

Many college campuses sent notices to students warning about the potential dangers of alcoholic energy drinks, and some campuses, such as the University of Rhode Island, have banned the drink. But now, advocates in New York and Oregon are pushing for a statewide sales ban.

The Food and Drug Administration is already investigating caffeinated alcoholic drinks, including Four Loko, and is asking for justification for putting caffeine in the beverages. Attorneys general in New York and New Jersey have also called for federal investigations following incidents involving college students in those states.

The Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania (MBDA) Tuesday also asked its members statewide to stop sale of and remove Four Loko from store shelves due to health and safety concerns.

“Until the safety questions and other concerns about Four Loko are resolved, MBDA is asking its members not to sell this item," David Shipula, MBDA President, wrote in a letter to more than 600 beer distributors. "We hope all other licensee trade associations will carefully consider this issue and advise their members also to halt sales."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

Controversial Findings on U.S. Kidney Dialysis Programs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An investigation of kidney dialysis programs in the United States finds taxpayers spend more than $20 billion a year to care for kidney dialysis patients yet one in four of the 100,000 patients who starts the process every year will die within a year. 

ProPublica's look at the process finds that even when you consider differences in patients, studies suggest thousands of lives could be saved if the U.S. system functioned like ones in Italy, France or Japan.  The investigation found at clinics from coast to coast, patients routinely receive treatment under unsanitary conditions and regulators have few tools and little will to enforce quality standards. 

ProPublica claims the government has withheld critical data about clinics' performance.  The online site points out that the two corporate chains that dominate the dialysis-care system in the U.S. are consistently profitable, together raking in about $2 billion in operating profits a year.

ProPublica bills itself as an independent non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, stories with what it calls "moral force."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

How to Make Wise Choices About 2011 Benefits

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It is health care benefits enrollment time for many workers and experts say it's more important than ever to look carefully at your policy.

Mellody Hobson, ABC News financial contributor and president of Ariel Investments, shared some tips to keep health care costs down.

Here are Hobson's top things to keep in mind when choosing your 2011 benefits:

1. Review Your Policy: According to Hobson, it's important to keep track of changes to your policy.

"You have to understand the changes that are occurring in your health plan," she said.

One study found that one in every nine employers expects to raise their co-pay amount by more than 15 percent.

While choosing the plan with the lowest premium is acceptable if you're in good shape and not anticipating any major surgeries, Hobson said your out-of-pocket costs may be much higher and might negate the savings you had in premiums.

2. Look at Premium Options: It's important to consider the level of health coverage.

Many plans now cover only 80 percent of those costs. Plans that cover more may cost you more in premium, so Hobson suggests that make sure you compare your premium versus what your average out-of-pocket costs will be with each plan.

3. Prescription Drugs Costs: The cost of prescription drugs is also another factor to consider when choosing a plan. Many plans are requiring prescription co-pays instead of a flat fee co-pay.

For example, for one drug you may pay 30 percent of the cost while another drug may cost you 50 percent.

Hobson said when you are comparing plans, consider what drugs you use and see if your total prescription co-pay amount exceeds any premium savings you get with the plan.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov092010

Kids Working on Getting Slim, Reversing Nationwide Trend

Photo Courtesy - WJRT-TV Detroit(FLINT, Mich.) -- It's unfair and unpleasant, but often unavoidable.  The overwieght kids get picked on more often than the kids who are not perceived as chubby or out of shape.  One of them in Flint, Michigan has had enough and is taking matters into his own hands.

Eleven-year-old Justin Dennie tells WJRT-TV in Detroit he is over being overweight.  "I'm just sick of being your stereotypical overweight nerd."  He stands five-foot-six inches tall and weighs 266 pounds, about 130 pounds overweight.  He realized all by himself that he was in trouble when a video game he was playing registered a nearly 60-pound weight gain in about a five-month period.

One of the big changes he is making, with the help of his mother, who also struggles with her weight, is healthier breakfasts before school, packed lunches and trips to the gym. 

Justin is not alone.  The National Health and Nutriction Examination Survey recently found nearly 40 percent of calories taken in by children up to age 18 come from foods sure to pack on weight -- sugary drinks, cakes, cookies, ice cream, pizza. 

Justin says its not just about dropping pounds.  He wants people to know him for the person he is, not, as he says, "the dorky, computer kid that doesn't really talk to many people, that just sits on the computer, plays video games."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio