Tag Archives: Health Care

Congress To Consider 'Keep The IRS Off Your Health Care Act Of 2013' This Week

By Kelly Phillips Erb, Contributor

Ever since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 was made law, there have been those in Congress trying to figure out how to get rid of it. The House amendment to the Senate bill – the one that actually counted – just squeaked by with a final vote of 219-212 just two days before the President signed the bill on March 23, 2010. Those numbers made the law feel vulnerable. But was it really? …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Crack Babies Grew Up OK; It's Poverty That's the Real Problem

By Bruce Watson

Filed under: ,

AlamyA low-birth weight baby born to a woman who used crack cocaine during her pregnancy sleeps inside a hospital incubator.

In the 1980s, the crack baby epidemic was hard to ignore. Television show after television show, article after article proclaimed that children born to addicts of the increasingly prevalent “crack” cocaine were all-but-guaranteed to have birth defects, including extremely low IQs and severe emotional problems. This “lost generation,” commentators emphasized, would be incapable of forming relationships or reaching full emotional maturity. They would be, in the words of Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, condemned to “a life of certain suffering, of probable deviance, of permanent inferiority.”

A little over 20 years later, Krauthammer’s predictions have proven almost embarrassingly inaccurate. Last week, the findings of a 24-year-long study of crack babies revealed that parental use of the drug had little or no direct effect on the children. In the process of investigating the babies, however, researchers discovered another environmental problem that did, in fact, lead to problems with depression, anxiety, cognitive functioning, and a host of other issues: poverty.

In 1989, Dr. Hallam Hurt, chair of the neonatology department at Philadelphia’s Albert Einstein Medical Center, began tracking 224 near-term or full-term children who were born to crack addicts. In the ensuing years, her longitudinal study followed the children, finding that, overall, their IQs were about the same as a control group of children of non-addicted mothers. Further, the children in Hurt’s study had comparable outcomes when it came to educational and emotional development.

That having been said, Hurt’s study found that children raised in poverty — regardless of whether or not their mothers were addicted to crack — tended to have lower IQs and lower school readiness than those who weren’t raised in poverty.

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A big part of the problem, she argues, is environmental: Of the children in her study, “81 percent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 percent had heard gunshots; 35 percent had seen someone get shot; and 19 percent had seen a dead body outside.” The children themselves acknowledged the effect of these events: “Those children who reported a high exposure to violence were likelier to show signs of depression and anxiety and to have lower self-esteem.”

In other words, while prenatal crack abuse may not have a major effect on children, the societal conditions in crack-ravaged communities most certainly do. As Hurt emphasized, “Given what we learned, we are invested in better understanding the effects of poverty. How can early effects be detected? Which developing systems are affected? And most important, how can findings inform interventions for our children?” Or, to put it another way, now that we understand that poverty is more dangerous for children than crack, what can we do to protect our children from its effects?<p style="clear: both;padding: 8px 0 0 0;height: 2px;font-size: 1px;border: …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Brookings Analysts Say New Medicare Rule Sets Dangerous Precedent By Undermining Doctors

By Matthew Herper

This guest post was written by Dr. Kavita Patel and John Rother. Patel is managing director for clinical transformation and delivery at the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution and a practicing primary care internist. She also served in the Obama Administration as director of policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement in the White House. Rother is the President and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care, a coalition of major businesses, labor unions, insurers, providers, state based benefit programs, and consumers promoting an affordable, sustainable, and fair health system. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President for Policy, Strategy, and International Affairs at AARP. …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Health

States Rejecting Medicaid Expansion Face Fallout

By The Associated Press

Filed under: , , , ,

Danny Johnston/APArkansas House Majority Leader Rep. Bruce Westerman signals his intention to speak against a Medicaid funding bill in the House chamber at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark.

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR

WASHINGTON — Rejecting the Medicaid expansion in the federal health care law could have unexpected consequences for states where Republican lawmakers remain steadfastly opposed to what they scorn as “Obamacare.”

It could mean exposing businesses to Internal Revenue Service penalties and leaving low-income citizens unable to afford coverage even as legal immigrants get financial aid for their premiums. For the poorest people, it could virtually guarantee that they will remain uninsured and dependent on the emergency room at local hospitals that already face federal cutbacks.

Concern about such consequences helped forge a deal in Arkansas last week. The Republican-controlled Legislature endorsed a plan by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to accept additional Medicaid money under the federal law, but to use the new dollars to buy private insurance for eligible residents.

One of the main arguments for the private option was that it would help businesses avoid tax penalties.

The Obama administration hasn’t signed off on the Arkansas deal, and it’s unclear how many other states will use it as a model. But it reflects a pragmatic streak in American politics that’s still the exception in the polarized health care debate.

“The biggest lesson out of Arkansas is not so much the exact structure of what they are doing,” said Alan Weil, executive director of the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy. “Part of it is just a message of creativity, that they can look at it and say, ‘How can we do this in a way that works for us?'”

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About half the nearly 30 million uninsured people expected to gain coverage under President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul would do so through Medicaid. Its expansion would cover low-income people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $15,860 for an individual.

Middle-class people who don’t have coverage at their jobs will be able to purchase private insurance in new state markets, helped by new federal tax credits. The big push to sign up the uninsured starts this fall, and coverage takes effect Jan. 1.

As originally written, the Affordable Care Act required states to accept the Medicaid expansion as a condition of staying in the program. Last summer’s Supreme Court decision gave each state the right to decide. While that pleased many governors, it also created complications by opening the door to unintended consequences.

So far, 20 mostly blue states, plus the District of Columbia, have accepted the expansion.

Thirteen GOP-led states have declined. They say Medicaid already is too costly, and they don’t trust Washington to keep its promise of generous funding for

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/22/medicaid-expansion/

athenahealth Selects Mashery to Advance Openness and Innovation in Health Care

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

Filed under:

athenahealth Selects Mashery to Advance Openness and Innovation in Health Care

API toolkit will make it easy for developers to create web and mobile apps and improve the way patient care is coordinated, delivered and reimbursed

WATERTOWN, Mass. & SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– athenahealth, Inc. (NAS: ATHN) , a leading provider of cloud-based services for electronic health record (EHR), practice management, and care coordination, today announced the Company is working with Mashery to provide new web-services-based APIs (application programming interfaces) for the health care IT developer community. These new offerings strengthen partner access to athenahealth’s More Disruption Please (MDP) program, an initiative that brings together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, developers, academics, and others who believe in breeding innovation and stoking disruption as a means to overcome the staid and broken processes within health care.

Through its work with Mashery, the world’s leading provider of API management technology and services, athenahealth is unleashing turn-key connectivity to its cloud-based platform of HIT services and to its existing network of about 40,000 providers nationwide. This massive, open API initiative offers innovators an onramp to develop best-of-breed, HIPAA-compliant health care applications that can be easily introduced and integrated within health care provider workflows.

“With Mashery, we are yet again putting a stake in the cloud; we’re lowering the point of entry for the best and brightest across the technology community to plug into our network, to engage our captive audience of tens of thousands of providers, and to innovate on their behalf. Come! Help us disrupt and improve health care,” said Jonathan Bush, CEO and chairman, athenahealth. “athenahealth is building a cloud-based, information backbone—similar to what Amazon.com is for consumers, our platform will serve as a one-stop shop for providers seeking solutions to help them meet clinical and business goals. Unlike traditional HIT vendors that operate in closed silos and are unwilling to connect beyond their existing client base, we are all about openness.”

Kyle Armbrester, director of Business Development and head of More Disruption Please at athenahealth, added: “We are modernizing health care IT in a big way with Mashery by streamlining connectivity to our platform, and allowing the developer community to plug in and innovate. We’re providing the data and knowledge from our cloud-based network, a captive audience for developers to innovate for, and an online sandbox to do it all in. The bottom line is that there’s not enough innovation in health care; by

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/11/athenahealth-selects-mashery-to-advance-openness-a/

Sodexo Selects Constellation to Provide Energy Procurement and Energy Management Services for U.S. C

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

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Sodexo Selects Constellation to Provide Energy Procurement and Energy Management Services for U.S. Customers

Strategic collaboration offers integrated approach to purchasing competitive electricity and natural gas supply

GAITHERSBURG, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Sodexo, Inc. has selectedConstellation as its preferred competitive energy supplier for U.S. customers, as part of Sodexo’s Energy and Construction Services. In addition to electricity and natural gas supply through Constellation, Sodexo customers will have access to expanded energy products and services, including energy efficiency, load response, renewable energy certificates and onsite solar generation.

“Energy is typically among the top five operating costs for our customers, and we are committed to delivering integrated services that enhance their performance and improve quality of life,” said Randy Michael, senior director, energy management services, Sodexo. “We recognize that client energy management needs are diverse, and that they face pricing volatility within the energy markets. Through our collaboration with Constellation we will provide them with a more effective approach to buying and managing energy.”

Through Constellation, Sodexo customers may choose from a range of purchasing options for their competitive energy supply — from simple fixed price and index arrangements to a variety of blended solutions. Customers also have direct access to market intelligence and tools that help mitigate energy market risk.

“Constellation looks forward to working with Sodexo to meet customer procurement goals as well as developing and implementing strategiesto better manage their overall energy use,” said Michael Wajsgras, director, channel development, Constellation. “An effective energy management strategy, aligned with budget and operating objectives, helps customers succeed.”

Operating in communities throughout North America, Sodexo is present at more than 6,000 sites and provides specialization in more than 100 types of services, from technical facilities and equipment management, to reception, concierge and cleaning, maintenance, safety and foodservice. It also delivers a combination of On-site Services, Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services to companies, hospitals, schools, individuals and communities serving more than 15 million consumers daily.

For more information about energy procurement through Constellation, call 1-855-SodexoE or email energysolutions.usa@sodexo.com. A brief video about energy solutions through Sodexo and Constellation is also available online.

About Sodexo in North America

Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com), leading Quality of Life services company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On-site Services in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

This Week in Health Care

By Max Macaluso, Ph.D., Brenton Flynn, and David Williamson, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

From the impact of Obamacare to cutting edge research, from biotech buyouts to big pharma court battles, the Motley Fool‘s health-care team sits down each week to discuss the most fascinating developments across the health-care industry, and their implications for long-term investors. In this week’s edition, the team talks about big pharma patent disputes, stocks that have both popped and plummeted, and companies our analysts will be watching in the coming days.

The Motley Fool‘s chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for this year. Find out which stock it is in the brand-new free report: “The Motley Fool’s Top Stock for 2013.” Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

The article This Week in Health Care originally appeared on Fool.com.


Brenton Flynn has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Williamson owns shares of Pfizer. Max Macaluso, Ph.D. has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of Costco Wholesale and Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Read | <a target=_blank href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/05/this-week-in-health-care/" …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Walgreen Clinics Target Chronic Illnesses in Care Expansion

By The Associated Press

Filed under: , , ,

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

By TOM MURPHY

Walgreen has expanded the reach of its drugstore clinics beyond treating ankle sprains and sinus infections to handling chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure.

Walgreen Co. (WAG), based in Deerfield, Ill., said Thursday that most of its 370 in-store Take Care Clinics now will diagnosis, treat and monitor patients with some chronic conditions that are typically handled by doctors.

Drugstore clinics, which are run by nurse practitioners or physician assistants, have grown popular in recent years as a convenient way for patients to get immunizations, physicals and treatment for relatively minor illnesses when their regular doctor is unavailable. But the clinics have been broadening their scope of care: Walgreen’s decision follows a move by CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS) a few years ago to handle chronic conditions at most of its 640 MinuteClinics.

Drugstores say they don’t aim to replace doctors, but rather to provide more people with access to health care and work with physicians as part of a team treating patients. But the move to provide more complex care has drawn concern from doctors who say that can disrupt their relationships with patients and lead to fragmented care.

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Dr. Jeffrey J. Cain is president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, one of the nation’s largest medical organizations. He said doctors know their patients, and that makes them better suited for doing things like helping a patient with diabetes develop an exercise plan or learn how to eat better.

He also said that transferring records or test results between health care providers can be difficult if computer systems don’t communicate well. That can lead to test duplications.

“It’s not about telling somebody what they have to do, it’s helping them make choices in their life to move toward a healthier lifestyle,” he said.

Dr. Alan E. London, chief medical officer for the Take Care Clinics, said that the clinics can help coordinate a patient’s care. If a patient has a doctor and a treatment plan for a condition such as high cholesterol, the patient can use the clinics for blood tests and then have the results sent back to the doctor.

But nearly half of the patients who receive treatment at Walgreen clinics don’t have a primary care doctor, London said. In those cases, the clinics will diagnose a chronic illness, get the patient started on some medication and then help them connect with a doctor.

“We’re filling a niche for patients who need access,” London said. “When we uncover gaps in care and we’re capable of closing those gaps, it’s the right thing to do.”

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Permalink | <a target=_blank href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/forward/20529868/" title="Send this …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Why Long-Term-Care Insurance Premiums Are Soaring

By Dan Caplinger

Filed under: , , , ,

Alamy

With nearly 70 percent of Americans aged 65 or older expected to need long-term medical care at some point, millions of Americans have turned to long-term-care insurance to help them cover its high costs.

But rate hikes on long-term-care premiums are coming, meaning many of those who prudently planned for their long-term-care needs may not be able to afford to keep their coverage.

The largest public pension fund in the country, the California Public Employees’ Pension Fund, runs one of the biggest long-term-care benefit programs in the country. But CalPERS now expects it will need to raise premiums by 85 percent within the next two years. Private insurance companies are seeing many of the same issues, with CNA Financial (CNA) and Manulife Financial (MFC) both having sought or gotten approval from the California Insurance Department to raise their long-term-care premiums by 40 percent to 45 percent.

What’s Behind the Increases?

Insurance companies have faced a triple-whammy that has hit them especially hard in recent years.

Low interest rates and weak investment returns have hampered their ability to build up the loss reserves they need in order to pay out claims. And with long-term-care insurance often extending for decades, the assumptions that insurance companies make about what returns they’ll be able to earn are even more important than on other types of policies, such as homeowners’ insurance.

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At the same time, health-care costs have continued to rise. The same factors that are making it problematic for the federal government to ensure Medicare’s continued stability are hitting long-term-care insurance providers. Private insurers face the added handicap of having a smaller pool of available revenue and financial reserves to draw from.

Finally, insurance companies made poor assumptions about policyholder behavior, overestimating the number of people who would let their insurance policies lapse over the years. Ironically, that suggests that insurance companies did their jobs too well, convincing their customers of just how important long-term-care coverage is for their financial prospects in retirement.

Combine those three factors together, and it’s no wonder why insurance companies are feeling burned.

Several companies, including MetLife (MET) and Prudential (PRU), have decided simply to stop selling long-term-care policies. They have likely found the challenges of getting regulators to approve the big premium increases that would be necessary to make them economically viable outweigh the potential profits from offering the coverage.

Looking at Your Limited Options

The worst thing about the rate increases is that long-term-care policyholders are essentially stuck without good alternatives.

Given the low priority that most insurance companies have given to offering long-term-care insurance, it’s tough to shop around for better deals. If your health has gotten worse since you opened your policy, you may not even be able to get long-term-care coverage from …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

What We Learn Can Learn From 'Negative' Clinical Trials

By Henry I. Miller, Contributor

Ben Goldacre is an angry doctor.  Mainly, he’s angry at the pharmaceutical industry.  In his book, “Bad Pharma,” published last year, and in a February New York Times op-ed (“Health Care’s Trick Coin”), Goldacre argues that “the whole edifice of medicine is broken” because the evidence on which it is based is routinely distorted by the developers of brand-name drugs. …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Why CVS Charges $133 More Than Costco for Generic Lipitor

By CNNMoney

Filed under: , , , ,

Jb Reed, Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Emily Jane Fox

CVS (CVS) charges $150 for a monthly prescription of the generic version of the cholesterol drug Lipitor. The same drug goes for $17 at Costco.

That’s according to a recent Consumer Reports nationwide survey that sent secret shoppers to 200 pharmacies that carry five blockbuster drugs: Lipitor, Lexapro, Plavix, Actos and Singulair, all of which lost their patents in the last two years.

Shoppers found they could be paying as much as $749, or 447%, more for a generic prescription drug in one year at the highest-priced pharmacy, compared with the lowest.

The priciest places to pick up these prescriptions were CVS, Target (TGT) and Rite Aid (RAD). The least expensive were Costco (COST) and Sam’s Club, while Walmart (WMT), and Walgreen’s (WAG) fell in the middle.

So what’s behind the huge discrepancy?

Lisa Gill, a Consumer Reports editor who focuses on prescription drugs, said the difference stems primarily from what sells at the stores.

“At places like CVS or Rite Aid, the pharmacy is their major source of revenue and profit,” she said. “Costco and Sam’s Club are using the low drug prices to pull people in stores who will spend money on other things.”

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Consumers are often willing to pay higher prices at a drug store because many of them are conveniently located, open 24 hours a day and have drive-through windows, according to Gill.

But for most people, it can be worth the extra hassle. This is especially true for those who take medication long-term, since they will get better deals at the warehouse clubs, or big box stores, Gill said.

Carolyn Castel, a spokeswoman for CVS, said that pricing surveys like this are too small to draw “meaningful conclusions about which pharmacies offer the best overall value.” She also noted that they don’t take into account the discount and third-party insurance programs that pharmacies use to lower prices.

A Target spokeswoman said it offers a number of ways for customers to save on drug prices, like rewards and discount programs.

Consumer Reports‘ Gill said these programs are helpful, but they’re not doing enough to lower costs.

It’s no secret that the cost of drugs can be prohibitive, especially at a time when incomes are stagnating. Consumer Reports found in a separate national telephone survey that Americans who regularly took prescription drugs, spent $758 out of pocket in 2012, or 12% more than the previous year.

Gill said that one way for people to save is by refilling prescriptions every 90 days instead of each month, since most pharmacies provide discounts on three-month supplies.

To get the best price, she said, people …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

United States Ranks as 19th Best Country for Retirees

By Business Insider

Filed under: , , ,

(Alamy)

By MANDI WOODRUFF

For retirees hoping to live long and prosper in their golden years, the U.S. is only the 19th best place to be, according to a new index by the NGAM Durable Portfolio Research Center.

The humbling report, called the Natixis Global Retirement Index, places Western European countries far ahead of the U.S. in areas like health, finances, quality of life, and material well-being.

“The message is clear: You will be called on to finance more of your retirement,” John Hailer, NGAM‘s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“Citizens of other industrialized nations can rely on strong social safety nets in old age, at least for now. In the U.S., we encourage workers to plan, save and invest, and promote policies that help them meet their future needs.”

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Norway ranked the best out of 150 nations studied, followed by Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Austria.

The U.S. was also overshadowed by its neighbor to the North, Canada (No. 13), Japan (No. 15), and came in just one spot ahead of the United Kingdom (No. 20).

Here’s where the U.S. falls behind:

A costly health care system. Although the U.S. spends more on health care per capita than any other country in the world, consumers are still left to cover a big portion of those costs on their own. For retirees, those costs only increase with age. On average, a 65-year-old couple will shell out more than $250,000 for out-of-pocket health care spending needs, according to U.S. News and World Report. Nearly all the high-ranking countries in the NGAM index have universal health care systems in place.

Aging boomers. Americans are living longer than ever, but federally-sponsored social programs that so many older consumers rely on today may not be able to sustain future retirees. According to NGAM, the number of people aged 65 or older is on track to triple by 2050. There’s no telling how long Social Security will last as a viable income option, and as it stands, more than half of married couples and 74 percent of unmarried persons receive 50 percent or more of their income from Social Security. It’s more vital than ever for consumers to re-estimate how much they’ll need to support themselves in retirement.

Retirement savings deficit. It should come as no surprise that more consumers are relying on social programs to supplement their income in old age. The Great Recession played its roll in pummeling nest eggs for millions of workers, but U.S. workers aren’t exactly known for their savvy savings strategy to begin with. More than 53 percent of American workers 30 and older are on a path that will leave them unprepared for retirement, according to a recent U.S. Senate Report. And as it stands, only one-third of eligible workers …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

White House Seeks Marketing Medicine for Health Care Overhaul

By The Associated Press

Health Care Overhaul Demonstrator

Filed under: , , ,

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR

WASHINGTON — How do you convince millions of average Americans that one of the most complex and controversial programs devised by government may actually be a good deal for them?

With the nation still split over President Barack Obama‘s health care law, the administration has turned to the science of mass marketing for help in understanding the lives of uninsured people, hoping to craft winning pitches for a surprisingly varied group in society.

The law‘s supporters will have to make the sale in the run-up to an election — the 2014 midterms. Already Republicans are hoping for an “Obamacare” flop that helps them gain control of the Senate, while Democrats are eager for the public to finally embrace the Affordable Care Act, bringing political deliverance.

It turns out America’s more than 48 million uninsured people are no monolithic mass. A marketing analysis posted online by the federal Health and Human Services Department reveals six distinct groups, three of which appear critical to the success or failure of the program.

They’re the “Healthy & Young,” comprising 48 percent of the uninsured, the “Sick, Active & Worried,” (29 percent of the uninsured), and the “Passive & Unengaged” (15 percent).

The Healthy & Young take good health for granted, are tech-savvy, and have “low motivation to enroll.” The Sick, Active & Worried are mostly Generation X and baby boomers, active seekers of health care information and worried about costs. The Passive & Unengaged group is mostly 49 and older, “lives for today,” and doesn’t understand much about health insurance.

The challenge for the administration is obvious: signing up lots of the Healthy & Young, as well as the Passive & Unengaged, to offset the higher costs of covering the Sick, Active & Worried.

Uninsured middle-class Americans will be able to sign up for subsidized private health plans through new insurance markets in their states starting Oct.1. Low-income uninsured people will be steered to safety net programs like Medicaid.

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“The goal here is to get as many people enrolled as possible,” Gary Cohen, the HHS official overseeing the rollout of the law, told insurers at a recent industry conference. Partly for that reason the first open enrollment period will continue until March 31, 2014.

Coverage under the law takes effect Jan. 1. That’s also when the legal requirement that most Americans carry health insurance goes into force. Insurance companies will be barred from turning the sick away or charging them more.

The new law is mainly geared to the uninsured and to people who buy coverage directly from insurance companies. Most Americans in employer plans are not expected to see major changes.

Administration officials say they see an opportunity to change the national debate about health care. They want to get away from shouting matches …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Medical Credit Cards Can Cause Heartburn

By Kiplinger

Filed under: , ,

Alamy

You already trust your health care providers with your physical well-being. Should you also trust them with your financial health?

That’s the question consumers are facing as a growing group of health care providers give patients the option to charge their treatment costs on so-called medical credit cards. These cards, offered by major financial-services firms such as Citigroup, GE Capital and Wells Fargo, are designed for consumers paying out of pocket for dental, vision, audiology and other treatments not covered by patients’ insurance. These cards also can cover veterinary costs for your pet.

Many patients sign up for these cards in their health care provider’s office. The cards typically offer “deferred interest” payment options that promise consumers will avoid paying interest as long as they pay the full balance within a certain time frame, often six months to two years. Most regular credit cards assess interest charges much sooner.

Such cards may sound like the perfect solution for seniors slapped with, say, a $3,000 dental bill that Medicare or private insurance won’t cover. But consumer advocates and state attorneys general are raising a host of concerns.

Among potential problems are confusing features of the deferred-interest payment options that can cause consumers to rack up huge interest charges. In some cases, there’s also the potential for consumers to be charged upfront for treatments they never receive. And paying promptly with plastic may mean that patients lose the opportunity to negotiate prices with health care providers-a move that could save them much more money than a zero-interest payment plan.

Patient advocates also question whether such products should be promoted in a doctor’s office. Often, in a health care setting, “you’re dealing with people in the most vulnerable state,” says Mark Rukavina, principal at consulting firm Community Health Advisors, in Chestnut Hill, Mass. “Most people go into a health care provider with pain and concern, and they’re not there to make a financial-services decision.”

Medical credit cards have gained steam as health care costs spiral higher and many patients find themselves paying a greater share of costs out of pocket. The cards attract health care providers because they can encourage more patients to move forward with treatments and offer immediate payment for services. GE Capital’s CareCredit card, for example, is now accepted by roughly 160,000 providers, up from fewer than 150,000 in 2011. Providers pay a fee to offer the cards. A 2010 investigation by New York‘s attorney general found that CareCredit paid providers rebates based on the amount consumers charged on the cards. CareCredit spokesperson Cristy Williams says “there’s no longer any type of rebate program.”

Untangling the No-Interest Option

Many patients, meanwhile, are attracted by the cards promising no interest charges when balances are paid in full within a specific time frame. These plans typically require minimum monthly payments. If consumers don’t …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Yes, Health Care is a Right — An Individual Right

By Avik Roy, Contributor

Many moons ago, I served a term as chairman of the Conservative Party of the Yale Political Union, a parliamentary debating society. On March 26, the Union invited me back to keynote a debate on the topic, “Resolved, That Health Care is a Right.” What follows is an edited excerpt of my remarks, in which I argue that health care is indeed a right—but not in the way that most progressives think. …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Tim Scronce Settles Dispute with PCTEL

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

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Tim Scronce Settles Dispute with PCTEL

BLOOMINGDALE, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– PCTEL, Inc. (NAS: PCTI) , a leader in simplifying wireless and site solutions for private and public networks, announced today that its Board of Directors has accepted a settlement offer from Tim Scronce. The settlement relates to matters surrounding PCTEL‘s recent acquisition of certain TelWorx Entities assets. The details of the settlement are disclosed in PCTEL‘s 8-K filing made earlier today.

PCTEL continues to seek restitution from Scronce’s advisors. The company will continue to cooperate with the SEC‘s investigation of this matter.

Marty Singer, PCTEL‘s Chairman and CEO, said, “We are turning our attention now to accelerating synergies between our Lexington and Bloomingdale operations and developing our kitting, tower and enclosure businesses.”

About PCTEL

PCTEL, Inc. (NAS: PCTI) , develops antenna, scanning receiver, and engineered site solutions and services for public and private networks. PCTEL RF Solutions specializes in the design, optimization and testing of today’s wireless communication networks. The company’s SeeGull® scanning receivers, SeeHawk® visualization tool, and Clarify® system, measure and analyze wireless signals for efficient cellular network planning, deployment, and optimization. PCTEL develops and supports scanning receivers for LTE, TD-LTE, EV-DO, CDMA, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, GSM, and WiMAX networks. PCTEL Secure, which is part of RF Solutions, focuses on Android mobile platform security.

PCTEL Connected Solutions™ simplifies network deployment for wireless, data and communications applications for private network, public safety, and government customers. PCTEL Connected Solutions develops and delivers high-value YAGI, Land Mobile Radio, WiFi, GPS, In-Tunnel, Subway, and broadband antennas (parabolic and flat panel) through its MAXRAD®, Bluewave™ and Wi-Sys™ product lines. PCTEL also designs specialized towers, enclosures, fiber optic panels, and fiber jumper cables to deliver custom engineered site solutions. The company’s vertical markets include SCADA, Health Care, Smart Grid, Positive Train Control, Precision Agriculture, Indoor Wireless, Telemetry, Off-loading, and Wireless Backhaul. PCTEL‘s products are sold worldwide through direct and indirect channels. For more information, please visit the company’s web sites www.pctel.com, www.antenna.com, www.rfsolutions.pctel.com, www.connectedsolutions.pctel.com, www.towerworx.com, or www.pctelsecure.com.

PCTEL Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains “forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Specifically, the statements regarding PCTEL seeking restitution from Scronce’s advisors and acceleration of synergies between …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Young Immigrants Fight for a Place, and for Access to Health Care

By Rob Waters, Contributor

My family got some bad news last week. My 21-year-old niece, Caitlin, a student at the University of Texas, learned that she’d had a relapse of the leukemia that struck a year ago and forced her to undergo months of intensive chemotherapy. She endured that experience with pluck and grace and the leukemia went into remission. Then, last week, two months into a semester of study abroad in Spain, she learned her cancer had returned. …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Did This Wall Street Bank Get It Wrong on Health Care?

By Keith Speights, The Motley Fool

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Did Morgan Stanley get it wrong on health care? The big investment firm recently published its “20 for 2016” report highlighting stocks that it thinks will perform the best over the next few years. Since health care makes up more than 17% of the gross domestic product of the U.S., you might expect that three or four stocks from the sector would be in this top 20 list. That wasn’t the case. Only one health-care stock made the Morgan Stanley ranking: Gilead Sciences .  

Why weren’t there more health-care companies? The biggest reason is that Morgan Stanley wasn’t trying to balance its stock picks by industry representation. The company stated that its focus was on “sustainability — of competitive advantages, business model, pricing power, cost efficiency, and growth.”

That approach sounds reasonable. And Gilead was a great pick based on those criteria. However, I still suspect that health care was underrepresented. Here are three companies that probably should have made Morgan Stanley‘s list.

If we’re looking for a sustainable business model, pharmacy benefits management, or PBM, stands out as a great one. With the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projecting that annual prescription drug spending will increase nearly 75% by 2021, the demand for services to help control these costs should grow. As the largest PBM in the country, Express Scripts sits in the catbird seat for this flourishing industry.

Express Scripts‘ size gives it several competitive advantages. The company can use its heavy purchasing volume to negotiate better deals with pharmaceutical companies than smaller rivals can. Express Scripts‘ economies of scale allow it to drive down costs, particularly in process-intensive areas such as mail-order drug delivery. The company also benefits significantly from its accumulation of data garnered by processing 29% of retail pharmacy prescriptions. This data allows it to develop more effective programs to control drug costs for its customers.

What about growth? Express Scripts‘ revenue more than doubled over the past year and increased by nearly 50% over the last three years. Granted, much of that growth stemmed from the company’s 2012 acquisition of Medco. However, Express Scripts also grew its bottom line by 4% and 5% over the past year and last three years, respectively, even with the big costs of the Medco deal. Those numbers are better than several of the companies included on Morgan Stanley‘s top 20 list.

Morgan Stanley picked a great biotech with Gilead. However, they omitted another impressive player in the industry — Celgene. When it comes to growth, Celgene actually looks better in several metrics. The company’s revenue jumped nearly 28% over the last three years compared to Gilead’s 11% growth. Celgene’s earnings per share likewise soared by 28% during this period, while Gilead increased earnings per share by 5%.

Celgene’s primary drug, Revlimid, targets multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS, both of which are bone marrow diseases. Revlimid is the top-selling drug for those indications and continues to experience solid …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

New Webinar Educates Physicians on Home Health Benefits and Eligibility

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

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New Webinar Educates Physicians on Home Health Benefits and Eligibility

Amedisys and Antidote Education Company provide continuing education credits for doctors to learn more about how home health care improves outcomes and saves money

BATON ROUGE, La.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Amedisys, Inc. (NAS: AMED) and Antidote Education Company have teamed up to present “Health Care at Home” – a webinar that will provide insights on the benefits of home health care and the eligibility requirements necessary for a patient to receive clinical services in the comfort of home.

This webinar offers continuing education credits and will educate on the benefits of home health care in preventing unnecessary re-hospitalizations, reducing health care spending and improving patient outcomes.

Amedisys Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Fleming and Chief Clinical Officer Kate Jones present the webinar, moderated by Chief Medical Director Kevin Henning. For more information, access the course at Antidote’s website at http://www.antidotecme.com/homehealth. You can also learn more about the benefits of home health care at this blog post.

About Amedisys

Amedisys, Inc. (NAS: AMED) is a leading health care at home company delivering personalized home health and hospice care to more than 360,000 patients each year. Amedisys is focused on delivering the care that is best for our patients, whether that is home-based recovery and rehabilitation after an operation or injury, care focused on empowering them to manage a chronic disease, palliative care for those with a terminal illness, or hospice care at the end of life. The Company’s state-of-the-art advanced chronic care management programs and leading-edge technology enables it to deliver quality care based upon the latest evidence-based best practices. Amedisys is a recognized innovator, being one of the first in the industry to equip its clinicians with point-of-care laptop technology and referring physicians with an internet portal that enables real-time coordination of patient care seamlessly. Amedisys also has the industry’s first-ever nationwide Care Transitions program, designed to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions through patient and caregiver health coaching and care coordination, which starts in the hospital and continues throughout completion of the patient’s home health plan of care. For more information about the Company, please visit: http://www.amedisys.com.

Save Money, Stay Healthy: 5 Cheap Things to Help Your Health

By Bruce Watson

Cold and Flu Season

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(Alamy)

Spring’s on its way in, but — if the DailyFinance offices are any indication — we’re not out of the woods yet. For the past few weeks, several writers at AOL’s New York headquarters have been fighting off the last of our winter colds and desperately trying to stay healthy with immune systems that have been ravaged by the last few months of wintry chill.

It’s actually not all that surprising that a cold epidemic seems to be sweeping through New York. With seasonal changes on its way, freezing weather is alternating with periodic bursts of pollen-clogged sunny days, creating a mix that manages to devastate both those with allergies and those who are hovering on the edge of illness. To make things worse, the shift back to daylight savings time translates into a lot of people who are waking up in the dark and trying to deal with circadian rhythms that are now out of whack.

But don’t worry — help is on the way. I’ve put together a list of five items, all of which cost less than five bucks, that can help you get over the last of the winter blahs.

Good luck and keep your fingers crossed for spring!

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance