Rate of Rising Health Care Slows
Health care costs in Illinois and nationally are still rising at double-digit levels, but they've risen at a slower rate than a year-ago, based on a survey prepared by Bannockburn-based financial services company GCG Financial Inc.
The Chicago Sun Times
reports that 252 companies in the Chicago area employing nearly 200,000 workers with projected 2005 health care costs of $1.75 billion were surveyed.
Chicago area employers' major health care related concerns are how to better manage ever increasing costs, how to offer benefits that help them attract and retain employees and how to communicate better to help employees understand and accept plan changes, said David Levitz GCG executive vice president.
Buckle Up America Week, 2005
May 23−29, 2005, is Buckle Up America Week.
Buckle Up America is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) campaign to promote safety belt and child safety seat use. Drivers and passengers can cut their risk of dying in a crash by half simply by buckling up.
In 2003, safety belts saved the lives of an estimated 14,903 people over 4 years of age, and child safety seats saved the lives of 401 children ages 4 years and younger (NHTSA 2005). Many more lives could be saved if all motor vehicle occupants were properly restrained.
In support of the campaign, law enforcement agencies across the nation will participate in the Click or Ticket mobilization by conducting intensive, high-visibility enforcement of safety belt and child safety seat laws.
Breast Cancer Survival Linked to Exercise
An interesting article posted in the Sun-Sentinel
talks about a new study that suggests women who exercise even a minimal amount after being treated for breast cancer are more likely to survive the disease than those who don't.
Women who walked as little as one hour a week - or engaged in an equivalent exercise - increased their chances of living, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both Harvard Medical School-affiliated institutions.
Published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, the study builds on earlier research that linked physical activity with a lower risk of getting breast cancer.
Youth Strength Training: Is It OK?
You've heard coaches and other parents talk about strength training, but you wonder — is strength training really good for a child?
The answer is yes. Strength training exercises that are supervised, safe and age-appropriate offer many bonuses to young athletes.
Strength training for kids — not to be confused with weightlifting, bodybuilding or powerlifting — is a carefully designed program of exercises to increase muscle strength and endurance
Strength training benefits older preteens more than younger kids, according to Dr. Edward Laskowski MD., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and co-director of Mayo Clinic's Sports Medicine Center.
"It's certainly not necessary for 5- or 6-year-olds to be lifting weights," Dr. Laskowski says. "At that age, kids should be learning body awareness and body control, balance, running, jumping and throwing — movement skills we used to learn in P.E. class."
Because technique and proper form are so important, don't let your child begin strength training until he or she is mature enough to accept directions. A good rule of thumb is if your child is old enough to participate in organized sports, such as hockey, soccer or gymnastics, he or she is ready for some form of strength training.
For more information on this topic, click on Fitness and Sports
Swimming Safety Tips
An afternoon at the pool or beach is a great way to escape summer heat. Understanding the risks of being around water and following some basic safety rules greatly reduces your chance of injury or drowning.
Click on swimming tips
to keep you and the young swimmers in your life safe in the water.
Keeping Kids Active: Ideas For Parents
Children seem to become more sedentary every year, watching television and playing video games instead of biking to the playground or playing kickball in the backyard with their friends.
Kids need regular exercise to build strong bones and muscles. Exercise also helps children sleep well at night and stay alert during the day.
"There are a lot of reasons why children are less active today, but the biggest culprit is the television set, followed closely by video games and computers," Dr. Laskowski says. "These activities encourage a sedentary lifestyle."
For ideas on how to keep your kids active, click on Mayo Clinic
Don't Think About It Just Do It: Exercise Study
When faced with the prospect of exercising, adults should just do it; those who think about it first may end up talking themselves out of it, new study findings suggest.
Most sport psychologists think the old pep talk works in any setting," Dr. Sandra O'Brien Cousins told Reuters Health. "Elite athletes still use this notion in motivating themselves for races, but for everyday folks, apparently you don't want to ruminate about your plan, just do it."
Thinking about it can undermine your resolve," added Cousins, a physical education and recreation professor at the University of Alberta in Canada.
For more information on this study, click on Reuters Health
Workers' Unhealthy Habits Could Cost Them
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, employers are looking for ways to reward employees who take better care of themselves. Some employers are beginning to charge lower health insurance premiums to people who exercise, have annual physicals, don't smoke and let their employers monitor their health.
The new trend toward offering financial incentives could improve participation in company-sponsored programs and drastically cut costs, said Dee Eddington, director of the Health Management Research Center at the University of Michigan.
One way to keep insurance inflation in check is to keep employees healthy. But traditional employer-sponsored plans encouraging exercise, nonsmoking and healthy eating habits have fallen flat. Adding a financial incentive may be the answer.
Quick Tips - When Getting a Prescription
Understanding the importance your medication plays in your treatment will help you get the most benefit from your prescription.
It is important to take an active role in your health care by working with your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist to learn as much as possible about your prescription. For the list of quick tips, click on AHRQ publication
Bill to Help Small Business Provide Coverage
Legistration has been introduced to offset the health care expenses of small businesses. Senator Jim Demint, from South Carolina is backing the bill that would give businesses a tax break if they offer Health Savings Accounts.
The way they're set up," DeMint added," is employers generally make the largest contributions. The employers who have been doing this for the last year are seeing that it already is saving them money."
Vicki Agler of the National Federation of Independent Business says health care remains the number one concern of small business owners. "My experience with most small businesses is they really do want to provide insurance for their employees," she said, "and it is almost strictly a bottom line aspect if they do not. HSAs, I believe, are virtually going to be the wave of the future for the small businesses."
Healthy Aging For Older Adults
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, by 2030, the number of older Americans will have more than doubled to 70 Million, or one in every five Americans.
Although the risk of disease and disability clearly increases with advancing age, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
Much of the illness, disability, and death associated with chronic disease is avoidable through known prevention measures. Key measures include practicing a healthy lifestyle (e.g., regular physical activity, healthy eating, and avoiding tobacco use) and the use of early detection practices (e.g., screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, diabetes and its complications, and depression.
Ways For Parents And Kids To Get Heart Healthy Together
The American Heart Association promotes "Heart Power"! Heart Power means, "Eat healthy stuff..move around enough...and live tobacco free!"
Give your children the "Heart Power" by encouraging them to lead active lifestyles, develop healthy eating habits and to stay tobacco free.
For facts on children and heart disease, click on American Heart Association
Walking For Health
Walking makes you feel good! Strong scientific evidence supports the benefits of walking. Some benefits can include, reduced body fat, lower blood pressure, enhance mental well being, increase bone density, flexibility and co-ordination.
This form of fitness, can be done with children or older family members, costs you nothing, and can fit in with any lifestyle, income bracket, culture or domestic circumstance.
Read the attached article on Walking for Health
, and make note of the tips on improving your health by putting one foot in front of the other.
Incentives For Healthy Employees
An article published in USA Today
talks about King County, which includes Seattle, who has decided to manage its ongoing budget crisis by leveraging the healthy habits of its employees to keep insurance costs down.
King County is offering its 13,000 employees the opportunity to lower their healthcare premiums by running laps and forgoing french fries.
Here's how the plan will work: All county employees will be given the choice — participate or don't. Those who ignore the program will see their co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance rates rise to the most expensive of three pricing tiers.
AHIP Finds More Than A Million Have HSAs
A study by the America's Health Insurance Plans shows that more than a million people are opting for health saving accounts in conjunction with a high deductible health insurance plan.
Advocates of HSAs promise cheaper, better-quality health care. High-deductible health plans mark just the beginning in a change to a consumer-driven health care economy.
Regina Herzlinger, a professor at Harvard Business School, says HSAs will do for health care benefits what 401(k) plans did for pension plans in the 1980s.
Pregnancy Management Programs
When disease management programs first appeared in the early 1990's, they typically covered two diseases, heart disease and asthma.
Although pregnancy management is relatively rare, some employers are beginning to include prenatal care into the disease management programs that they offer to workers to ward off the risk of premature births and costly hospitalizations. The goal of these programs is to have productive and healthy employees and cut medical expenses for employers.
Pregnancy management programs usually offer services like counseling from 24/7 on-call nurses, a nutritional risk assessment, an environmental risk assessment, guidelines for proper weight gain and dietary intake, and education regarding labor, delivery and infant feeding. For more information on this topic go to Benefit News.com
Cost of Health Care Benefits
According to a 2004 National survey of Employee -Sponsored Health Plans, which Mercer Human Resource Consulting released in April, the latest increase in employer health benefit cost is the lowest since 1999.
An even lower increase is likely for 2005 and is grounds for “cautious optimism,” noted the report. Employers predict a 10 percent cost increase to their medical plan under their current vendors, but only a 6.6 percent overall cost increase if they alter their plan through design changes, dropping a plan or negotiating with or changing vendors.
It is important for employers to review their current plans and make sure these plans are meeting their employees needs. For more information on this topic go to website: Society for Human Resource Management
Uninsured Young Adults
According to the CommonWealth Fund Publication, young adults (ages 19 to 29) are the largest and fastest growing segment of the U.S. population without health care coverage.
Often dropped from their parents policies or public insurance programs at age 19 young adults are left to find insurance on their own.
Although young adults in general are pretty healthy, not having coverage leaves young adults and their families at risk for out of pocket costs in the event of a severe illness or injury.
To find out more about this topic click on: BenefitsLink Newsletter
All In the Eyes
Routine eye exams provide an opportunity for spotting systemic health problems. Eye exams can be used to spot symptoms of diseases like diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, lupus, AIDS, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Grave's disease.
Kirk Rothrock, president of CompBenefits, a Roswell, Ga.-based dental and vision insurance provider, agrees: "Dental and vision exams, which identify symptoms of illness, can facilitate earlier diagnosis and treatment, contributing to better health outcomes and lower long-term costs of care.
Employers that offer and encourage utilization of dental and vision benefits on a voluntary basis can actually reap this value at no cost to themselves." For more information on this article go to Benefitnews.com
Living Healthy LifeStyles
Most of us know what we need to do to live a healthly lifestyle, but we have a hard time incorporating these things into our daily lifestyle.
According to the April 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, those who don't smoke, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, exercise regularly and maintain a normal weight account for only 3 percent of the adult population in the United States.
Our culture promotes a sedentary lifestyle and we are bombareded with advertisements about junk food that we should eat. We need to figure out how to get people to change their lifestyle. Easier said then done. For more information on living healthy lifestyles go to Health Day News
Smoking Cessation Programs
According to the Wall Street Journal, employers traditionally have not included smoking-cessation programs in their health plans.
A new study by researchers from Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research and America's Health Insurance Plans shows that offering these programs to employees can result in health care cost savings for employers.
Employers may want to follow the lead of Medicare by re-examining their decision not to cover smoking-cessation programs for their employees. See attached article at the Kaiser Permanente website