Weekly Article Roundup | 11.18.11

All the news you need from this past week.

Too little exercise, too much TV tied to depression
(Reuters) – Older women who got more exercise and less television time were the least likely to be diagnosed with depression, according to a US study of thousands of women — with physical activity having the biggest impact. …

Worker’s health premiums rose 63% in 7 years, study says
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
U.S. workers’ health insurance premiums rose 63 percent from 2003 to 2010 as employers shifted more of the burden of rising medical costs to individuals and families, a study showed. The total cost of insuring a family through employer- sponsored health plans rose 50 percent over the same period, reaching an average of $13,871 a year by 2010, according to the Commonwealth Fund study, based on annual …

Sugary drinks expand women’s waists
Doctors have warned people for years that too many sodas or sugary drinks can cause weight gain. But now a new study finds two or more sugary beverages a day can expand a woman’s waistline, even if she doesn’t  gain weight. And that can be dangerous to a woman’s health.

Why Walk? Why Not?
Huffington Post
The Surgeon General says fewer than one-third of Americans get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day, a scary statistic at a time when 68 percent of adult Americans are overweight or obese. While it may seem intimidating to step into a …

Whatever Court Rules, Major Changes in Health Care Likely to Last
New York Times
And a combination of the law and economic pressures has forced major institutions to wrestle with the relentless rise in health care costs. From Colorado to Maryland, hospitals are scrambling to buy hospitals. Doctors are leaving small private …

What Supreme Court ruling could mean for healthcare
Some consumer groups argue a repeal of the individual mandate would lead to higher insurance premiums for Americans as a whole, as those without coverage would continue to use the emergency room as their only healthcare, shifting costs onto the insured …

Views About Personal Healthcare Costs Largely Unchanged
For the last five years, satisfaction with personal healthcare costs has varied only slightly, between 57% and 62%. Americans’ relatively high level of satisfaction with the total cost of their personal healthcare contrasts with their low satisfaction, …

Weekly Article Roundup | 11.11.11

All the news you need from this past week.

Sick in US more likely to skip care than elsewhere
Baltimore Sun
Americans who have a chronic illness or serious health problems are more likely to struggle to pay their medical bills or have problems getting needed care than adults with similar problems in other high-income countries, a survey released on Wednesday found.

Consumer reports: lower-back pain can often be relieved by exercise
The Washington Post
Even if you’re active and healthy, there’s a good chance you’ll be troubled by lower-back pain at some point. In a given year, 10 to 15 percent of adults experience significant lower-back pain. Most of these events subside without any treatment within a month or two. And even when it persists, a minimalist approach, including some form of regular exercise, may be all you need to manage it and prevent future disabling episodes.

More evidence obesity tied to colon cancer: study
Older adults who are heavy, especially around the middle, seem to have a higher risk of developing colon cancer than their thinner peers — and exercise may lower the incidence of the disease, especially for women, a European study said.

Employer-Based Health Insurance Continues to Trend Down
This percentage has been steadily declining since Gallup and Healthways started tracking Americans’ health insurance sources in 2008. At least 45% of Americans got their health insurance from an employer in every month in 2010, compared with more than …

5 tips for maximizing employee health care
Fox Business
These days, stretching your employee health care benefits can save you bundles of money as employers trim benefits and charge higher out-of-pocket expenses. In 2010, 54 percent of large companies offered at least one high-deductible plan to employees, according to a RAND Corporation study. Cost-conscious employers are also launching more free preventive care services, including …

Weekly Article Roundup | 11.04.11

All the news you need from this past week.

Company Health Plans Raising Costs for Smokers, Obese
Insurance Journal
It also gave workers a mandate: quit smoking, curb obesity, or you’ll be paying higher healthcare costs in 2013. It doesn’t yet know by how much, but one thing’s for certain – the unhealthy will pay more. The credit union, which has more than 500 …

Wellness programs adapted for workers comp
Business Insurance
Large, cutting-edge employers are introducing their workers compensation and nonoccupational disability claimants to wellness programs originally launched to reduce illnesses treated through their standard health care plans.

Profiting by playing games
Human Resource Executive
The use of gamification to drive increased productivity or learning is catching on, as employers find that game-playing is successful in driving desired behavior — especially with generations that grew up using social networks and online games.

Know your audience: Critical stats about health, finances, benefits, more
As you put together your open enrollment content, you need to think about your audience — your employees. How much exercise are they doing? Where do they get information? What’s important to them? To help you frame these conversations, here are some important statistics covering health…

Gender Gap: The Risks of Heart Disease for Women
Wall Street Journal
For women, the toll from a heart attack can be worse than it is for men, researchers increasingly are finding. Among smokers, for example, women who had a heart attack were about two times as likely as men to suffer a complication such as a blocked artery within six months, a recent study found. Other data …

Trust for America’s Health Releases Healthier Americans for a …
PR Newswire
“Workplace wellness and community prevention programs are a win-win way to make a real difference in improving our health and bottom line all at once. …

Majority of American workers not engaged in their jobs
Seventy-one percent of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive. That leaves nearly one-third of American workers who are “engaged,” or involved in and enthusiastic…

Weekly Article Roundup | 10.28.11

All the news you need from this past week.

Perks with a payoff
Wall Street Journal
Still, some company-funded perks are proving resilient, particularly those that are seen as providing value to the company, not just the staff. Companies and experts say that when used properly, benefits can be important tools in boosting productivity, as well as retaining top employees.

Some exercise is good, more is better
Higher levels of physical activity were linked to reduced mortality, whether in job, daily living, leisure or active transportation, Austria researchers said.

Study: Most employers to continue coverage under health reform
California Healthline
Most employers will continue to offer health coverage to their workers after the federal health reform law is fully implemented, according to a study by the Urban Institute, CQ HealthBeat reports….However, the study found that employers that drop coverage will risk losing highly skilled workers who …

Want to show employees your appreciation? Provide good benefits.
…Other workplace initiatives that are catching employees’ attention are wellness programs. Nearly a third of employees say they take advantage of their employer’s wellness program up substantially from 23% last year.  Looking specifically at disease management programs, 26% of employees surveyed…

Yoga, stretching may ease chronic back pain
People who suffer from chronic back pain may find some relief in yoga or intensive stretching, but neither form of exercise appears to be more effective than the other, a new study suggests.

Workplaces Feel The Impact of Obesity
Even as they’ve slashed other benefits in the recession, large companies, at least, have kept their gym subsidies and wellness programs, and others are adding them. Dor says companies see promoting wellness as a financial imperative. …

Worker Costs Rise. Don’t expect salaries to
Wall Street Journal
…The trouble is, this means employers are paying more for workers without actually paying their workers more. Higher benefit costs eat into profits without directly raising a company’s output in the way hiring more workers would. In fact, this can actually discourage hiring. And the more that companies have to…

Weekly Article Roundup | 10.20.11

All the news you need from this past week.

Ailing and overweight Americans cost billions in productivity
Full-time U.S. workers who have chronic health troubles or are overweight cost more than $153 billion in lost productivity each year from absenteeism, according to a Gallup-Healthways study released on Monday.

Mindless eating habits that cause weight gain
U.S. News & World Report
Basic bad habits like eating while standing or dumping creamer in your coffee can hurt your waistline in a big way… The good news: Bad habits are meant to be broken. Here’s how to overcome some common mindless eating behaviors.

Obama administration pulls part of healthcare reform law
The Obama administration is pulling the plug on a long-term, home-care program included in the 2010 healthcare reform law that Republicans have derided as a budget trick. U.S. health officials said on Friday that after 19 months of analysis, they could not come up with a model for the so-called CLASS Act that keeps it voluntary and budget-neutral.

Prevention vs. Treatment and the Perverse Incentives Inflating the Costs of …
Huffington Post
This perverse incentive set is a foundational reason why American healthcare costs more, is less equitable, and produces worse outcomes than almost any other health system in a comparable country. Unfortunately, while the Affordable Care Act tips its …

Obama health care law headed to Supreme Court
USA Today
It now looks like the Supreme Court’s opening action on the Obama-sponsored health care law could be just weeks away. The administration and challengers to the new law have — on their own — accelerated filings to the court and are submitting preliminary arguments ahead of formal deadlines that had…

Weekly Article Roundup | 10.14.11

All the news you need from this past week.

More Americans Now Normal Weight Than Overweight
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses respondents’ self-reports of their height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI) scores. Individual BMI …

Exercise may offer drug-free migraine prevention
Regular aerobic exercise worked just as well as relaxation therapy or the antiepileptic drug topiramate in preventing migraine headaches in a Swedish trial.

Healthcare Costs Increase — But at a Declining Rate
Human Resource Executive Online
Three recent surveys find that employer healthcare costs are moderating, but one worrisome speculation is that the declining costs are due to employees being too strapped for cash to pay for medical care — as companies continue to shift costs by …

CDC: Heart disease prevalence down
The prevalence of heart disease in the United States is declining, though rates vary widely depending on gender, race, education and geography, according to new figures released by the government. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the prevalence of coronary heart disease decreased from 6.7% to 6.0% from 2006 to 2010.

Weekly Article Roundup | 10.7.11

All the news you need from this past week.

Corporate wellness begins with the CEO, expert says
MLive.com (Michigan)/Business Review
Getting employees to adopt healthy lifestyles begins with the CEO setting the example, says Bob Van Eck, vice president of clinical improvement at Priority Health in Grand Rapids, Mich. He writes in an opinion column that CEOs should exercise…

Study: Heart attack risk drops for men who get vigorous exercise
Vigorous physical activity such as running and playing basketball for three or more hours weekly can reduce the risk of heart attack for men by 22%, Harvard University researchers reported. The study in the journal Medicine& Science in Sports & Exercise found…

Flu shots should be a company priority, wellness experts say
Companies should encourage and help employees to get a preventive flu shot, wellness experts say. National Business Group on Health data show indirect business costs associated with influenza are more than $76 million a year….

These boots were made for walkin’
Gulf Breeze News
Legendary late entertainer Elvis Presley used to tell his audiences to never criticize their fellow man until they’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Based on all the miles that Oriole Beach Elementary School Counselor Barbara Reeves has registered during her 22 years…

Health insurance incentives drive wellness participation
GoLocalProv.com (Providence, R.I.)
Health insurance premium discounts or health savings account contributions are two ways companies can increase wellness program participation and both are legal as long as they are voluntary and comply with basic standards…


Weekly Article Roundup | 9.30.11

All the news you need from this past week.

CDC: 20% of workers still smoke but wellness policies help
HealthDay News
The CDC reported about 20% of U.S. workers smoke, with variations by
industry and jobs, income level, education level and age. Employers that cover
smoking-cessation program costs and establish smoke-free workplace policies…

How Exercise Can Strengthen the Brain
New York Times (blog)
Can exercise make the brain more fit? That absorbing question inspired a new study at the University of South Carolina during which scientists assembled mice and assigned half to run for an hour a day on little treadmills, while the rest lounged…

Family health insurance up 9 percent in 2010, now over $15000 per year
Healthcare Payer News
Health insurance premiums for families covered through their employers rose an average
of 9 percent in 2010 and the average price for a family policy now exceeds $15000 per year according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation…

CDC awards $9 million for workplace health
The Hill (blog)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday awarded $9 million to promote workplace health programs across the nation…



Weekly Article Roundup | 09.22.11

All the news you need from this past week.

Chronic disease to cost $47 trillion by 2030: WEF
The global economic impact of the five leading chronic diseases — cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and respiratory disease — could reach $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to a study by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Employee benefits: Rising costs will eat into your paycheck
In a study of employee benefits trends, insurance giant MetLife found that 61 percent of employees value voluntary benefits as a way to obtain perks that meet their personal needs. Firms still can be creative with their benefits dollars. …

Healthcare Cost Institute to provide data from four private sector insurers
Healthcare IT News
WASHINGTON – A new health research initiative called the Health Care Cost Institute was launched Tuesday, providing researchers and policymakers access to medical claims data from four major insurers and the federal government in order to offer new …

Survey: Employer healthcare costs on track for lowest hike since 1997
The Hill (blog)
By Julian Pecquet – 09/21/11 10:46 AM ET Employers’ healthcare costs in 2012 are on track to see their lowest increase since 1997, according to preliminary results from a Mercer survey. The findings are good news for cash-strapped workers, …

Meddock strives to improve the health of those who serve
Employee Benefit News
The program also provides Meddock and the benefits team with valid data on which it can build more wellness programming. The program has proven to be OhioHealth’s most popular wellness benefit, with 63% of employees participating.

How employee freedom delivers better business
The payoff shows up in increased innovation and productivity, low turnover, low sickness rates, and high employee satisfaction. In a world warring for increasingly sparse talent, a strong employer image is also not to be underestimated. “It means you can attract and attain some amazing people”, says Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google. “People who are exceptional and motivated, and who are…

Weekly Article Roundup | 09.16.11

All the news you need from this past week.

Creative employee benefits
Ochsner Health Systems in Louisiana offers reductions of up to $2,000 from health-care premiums, depending how much employees exercise. The company is one of more than 120 employers that hire Virgin HealthMiles, owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, to monitor employees’ daily exercise.

Thomson Reuters Study: Hospital employees are less healthy and accrue higher healthcare costs than general workforce
Healthcare spending is 10 percent higher for hospital employees than it is for the general employee population, according to a study released today by the Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters.

Americans turned to public health insurance in 2010
“It’s the only aspect of health reform that you can possibly point to,” said Elise Gould, director of health policy research at the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute think tank in Washington. “(The numbers) would be worse without health reform, …

Obama plan to begin taxing health insurance stirs opposition
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
The proposal, tucked deep inside the 155-page jobs legislation Obama submitted to Congress on Sept. 12, would make health plans provided by employers partially taxable for couples earning more than $250,000 a year and individuals earning more than $200,000.

Diabetes “massive challenge” as cases hit 366 million
The number of people living with diabetes has soared to 366 million, and the disease kills one person every seven seconds, posing a “massive challenge” to healthcare systems worldwide, experts said on Tuesday. The vast majority of those with the disease have Type 2 — the kind linked to poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise — and the problem is spreading as people in the developing world adopt more Western lifestyles.