Women’s Health Insurance Linked to Education

It appears that to each women, the less schooling you be enduring the more tenable you are not to set up vigorousness warranty. That is the decree of a procedure in summary that emerged from a workroom conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Robustness Procedure Analyse that evaluated women’s form indemnity. Researchers toughened observations from the 2007 California Constitution Assessment Study (CHIS) as the bottom for their estimation. Their critique revealed that during 2007, around 2.5 million women in California between the ages of 18 and 64 had no vigour indemnification. Blanket, women who did not give birth to a inebriated group diploma were virtually four times more right to be uninsured as women who had a college magnitude. That is, 42 percent of women without a college inchmeal had no security compared with 11 percent of those with a measure.

Women who were most probable to be uninsured were Latinas (35 percent) and American Indian/Alaska Natives (26 percent), individual without children (28 percent), unmarried mothers (27 percent), and those with a sheer low revenues (42 percent). Women who had a college course of study were also more suitable to possess their haleness indemnity in every way their corporation: 75 percent had such coverage, compared with 49 percent of women with a apex school diploma and 23 percent who did not graduate from piercing day-school.

In another, earlier about conducted by the Urban Set up and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, researchers analyzed women’s (ages 18 to 64) constitution insurance coverage by stately for the entire nation. They start that overall, 62.6 percent had coverage under the aegis an employer, 5.9 percent got coverage totally an individual plan, 10.2 percent were on Medicaid, 3.2 percent were getting other non-exclusive assistance, and 18.1 percent had no fitness insurance. Massachusetts had the lowest fee of uninsured women—5.6 percent—while Texas had the highest at 29.2 percent. The ruminate on did not look at education. In the UCLA analyse, Roberta Wyn, lead litt?rateur of the brief and a women’s fitness expert, noted that “salubriousness insurance coverage and teaching are clearly linked.” She also unmistakeable out that since the 2007 CHIS was conducted, the slant downwards in the economy likely made their numbers worse. The event that with the vigorousness reform passage, adolescent women will be clever to get coverage on their

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What Are The Massachusetts Health Insurance Law Challenges

Massachusetts’ health insurance law will not be sustainable over the next five to 10 years unless the state takes significant steps to reduce health care spending growth, government and industry officials say, the New York Times reports. Architects of the 2006 law said that it would not have been feasible to include heavy cost control measures in the legislation. According to the Times, “Now those stakeholders and the state government have a huge investment to protect. But the task of cost-cutting remains difficult in a state with a long tradition of heavy spending on health care.”

Spending on health insurance programs in the state is expected to increase by 42%, or $595 million, this year, compared with 2006, and nearly 60% of the newly insured are covered by public health insurance programs. Since the law took effect, about 432,000 people have obtained coverage, leaving about 2.6% of the state’s population uninsured — about one-sixth the national average.

According to the Times, “With Washington watching, the state’s leaders are again blazing new trails.” Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and a state commission are considering a new payment method for physicians and hospitals that would reward prevention and effective control of chronic diseases, rather than the current fee-for-service model. Changes being considered include reimbursing providers for episodes of care rather than for each visit and bundling payments to groups of providers who would collectively be responsible for a patient’s health. The commission is expected to recommend such payment changes to the state Legislature this spring.

Health care policy experts say that if Massachusetts is successful in eliminating the fee-for-service model, “it would be as audacious an achievement as universal coverage.” However, the state faces a number of challenges in altering the payment system, including getting CMS approval for changes to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Some health care policy experts say that even if combined with other cost saving measures, changes in the payment system will not be enough to curb spending, the Times reports. They say that to achieve substantial reductions, state and federal governments would have to limit health care spending, which could result in the rationing of care. The Times notes that because Massachusetts requires nearly all of its residents to obtain health insurance, the state cannot cut health care costs by restricting eligibility for public health insurance programs.

Meanwhile, the state’s largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, recently introduced a new payment method that provides physicians a flat fee for each patient — making adjustments for age, gender and health — with additional payments for high standards of care. Company officials say that the new plans will cut premium growth by half over five years and expect that such flat rates will comprise 15% of the BCBS’ business by June (Sack, New York Times, 3/16).

Commonwealth Care Premiums
In related news, Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Health Insurance Connecter Authority board on Thursday voted unanimously to keep premium levels for state-subsidized health insurance plans flat for the year beginning July 1, and to decrease premiums for some plans, the AP/Boston Herald reports (AP/Boston Herald, 3/12). The authority oversees Commonwealth Care, which offers subsidized plans for state residents with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level who do not qualify for Medicaid and have no access to employer-sponsored coverage. About 165,000 residents are covered through the program, and the authority covers the full premiums for about 70% of those beneficiaries.

As a result of the Thursday vote, the lowest-priced plans will see no increase in monthly premiums, while premiums for the higher-priced plans will decrease (McConville, Boston Herald, 3/13). The board also voted unanimously to accept a bid from Commonwealth Family Plan, a joint venture of Centene and Caritas Christi Health Care Network, to offer coverage through Commonwealth Care (Lazar, Boston Globe, 3/13). The addition of this plan brings the total number participating in the program to five.

John Kingsdale, the authority’s executive director, said, “This is a home run. We have succeeded in simultaneously lowering costs and increasing access” (Boston Herald, 3/13). State Secretary of Administration and Finance Leslie Kirwan said her staff recommended the decision because of the “severe economic environment.” State officials said they were able to keep premiums flat without reducing benefits or shifting costs because of a new competitive bidding process that allows insurers to share in the cost savings they would provide to the state (Lazar, Boston Globe, 3/12).

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Hospitals Can be Dangerous to Your Health

As America becomes more modernized, we would like to think hospitals are a place for healing and safety however, researchers from Harvard Medical School performed a six year study only to find that hospital errors continue.

A majority of the harm and damage was not life threatening, however the study found that a projected 15,000 Medicare patients die monthly as a result of hospital care.

Lead author Dr. Christopher Landrigan who studied the data of more than 2,300 patient admissions records from 10 North Carolina hospitals between 2002 to 2007 said the results likely reflect what’s happening nationwide.

“What has been done right is that regulatory agencies have begun prioritizing patient safety,” said Landrigan, an assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine at Harvard Medical School. “But these efforts have largely been a patchwork of unconnected efforts and so far have not been as strong as they can be.”

Slightly more than half of the errors were avoidable, Landrigan said. “These harms are still very common, and there’s no evidence that they’re improving,” he said. “The problem is that the methods that have been best proven to improve care have not been implemented across the nation.”

The problem is it can be very difficult to change “long-established” work practices. “In order to change the way we do things, we have to work effectively as teams, and to become a good team is difficult in healthcare because that’s not how it’s set up, that’s not how we train our doctors,” said Lucian Leape, a health policy analyst at Harvard University and adviser for the recent study.

Authors believe the taking steps like limiting the hours for which medical residents are allowed to work in a single shift as well as computerizing patient records and drug prescription orders could help along with implementation of surgical checklists in order to prevent infections.

The authors concluded, “In a study of 10 North Carolina hospitals, we found that harms remain common, with little evidence of widespread improvement. Further efforts are needed to translate effective safety interventions into routine practice and to monitor health care safety over time.”

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Fluoride in Black Tea May Pose Health Risks

If you are a huge fan of black tea, you may be consuming more fluoride than is healthful. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia found that individuals who drink large amounts of black tea may be getting much higher concentrations of fluoride than previously believed.

Dr. Gary Whitford, Regents Professor of oral biology in the School of Dentistry, notes that the increased risk appears to be associated with people who drink one or more gallons of black tea daily for a prolonged period of time. Previous studies have indicated that black tea contains 1 to 5 milligrams of fluoride per liter, but new research indicates that one liter may contain as much as 9 milligrams. People who ingest about 20 milligrams daily for more than 10 years face a significant risk to bone health.

The Fluoride Action Network website notes several other risks associated with ingestion of fluoride. According to the National Research Council (NRC), animal studies have shown that fluoride can damage the brain, resulting in dementia-like effects in mice at the same concentration used to fluoridate water (1 ppm). Studies in humans have shown that 1.8 ppm in children can have a negative impact on IQ.

The NRC also notes that fluoride in drinking water may reduce thyroid function in people who have low iodine intake. Individuals who have kidney disease are highly susceptible to fluoride toxicity, largely because they have a reduced ability to eliminate it from the body. Therefore the toxin can accumulate in the bones and cause or exacerbate a painful bone disease called renal osteodystrophy.

Fluoride is added to drinking water to help prevent dental cavities, and the average person gets about 2 to 3 milligrams daily from water as well as toothpaste and food. Thus Whitford points out that “the additional fluoride from drinking two to four cups of tea a day won’t harm anyone; it’s the very heavy tea drinkers who could get in trouble.”

Whitford discovered that the method used to identify the levels of fluoride in black tea was not accurate because it does not account for the amount that combines with aluminum to form aluminum fluoride, which is not detectable using the conventional testing method. Tea leaves accumulate large concentrations of fluoride and aluminum, and when the teas are brewed, some of these minerals leach into the beverage.

Whitford used another testing method called diffusion, which breaks the bond between aluminum and fluoride. This allows all the fluoride in tea samples to be extracted and measured. When he used this approach using seven brands of black tea purchased in stores, he found that the amount of fluoride was 1.4 to 3.3 times greater than that detected using the traditional method.

Black tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, which provide many health benefits. Studies show black tea is good for your heart, can reduce the risk of clogged arteries, help boost the immune system and fight viruses, reduce the risk of cancer, assist with weight loss, and lower cholesterol levels.

Most people should not encounter any health risks associated with fluoride from drinking moderate amounts of black tea. Individuals who are concerned about the amount of fluoride they may be ingesting from their drinking water or from other sources (e.g., certain foods, wine, seafood, toothpaste) can get more information from the “The Fluoride Glut” at the Fluoride Action Network.

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Wake up, Mom — study shows gender differences in sleep interruptions

Working mothers are two-and-a-half times as likely as working fathers to interrupt their sleep to take care of others. That is the finding of a University of Michigan study providing the first known nationally representative data documenting substantial gender differences in getting up at night, mainly with babies and small children.

And women are not only more likely to get up at night to care for others, their sleep interruptions last longer—an average of 44 minutes for women, compared to about 30 minutes for men.

“Interrupted sleep is a burden borne disproportionately by women,” said sociologist Sarah Burgard, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). “And this burden may not only affect the health and well-being of women, but also contribute to continuing gender inequality in earnings and career advancement.”

The study, forthcoming in the peer-reviewed journal Social Forces, was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Aging, and the Sloan Foundation.

For the study, Burgard analyzed time-diary data from approximately 20,000 working parents from 2003 to 2007, drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Time Use Survey.

The gender gap in sleep interruptions was greatest during the prime childbearing and child-rearing years of the twenties and thirties, she found.

Among dual-career couples with a child under the age of one, 32 percent of women reported sleep interruptions to take care of the baby, compared with just 11 percent of men. The proportion reporting interrupted sleep declined with the age of the child, with 10 percent of working mothers and 2 percent of working fathers with children ages 1 to 2 reporting sleep interruptions, and just 3 percent of working mothers and 1 percent of working fathers with children ages 3 to 5.

“What is really surprising,” Burgard said, “is that gender differences in night-time caregiving remain even after adjusting for the employment status, income and education levels of each parent. Among parents of infants who are the sole breadwinner in a couple, for example, 28 percent of women who are the sole breadwinner report getting up at night to take care of their children, compared to just 4 percent of men who are the only earner in the couple.”

In related research, Burgard and colleagues found that women get slightly more sleep compared to men. But getting about 15 minutes more total sleep a day may or may not compensate for the greater sleep interruptions women face.

“Women face greater fragmentation and lower quality of sleep at a crucial stage in their careers,” Burgard said. “The prime childbearing years are also the time when earnings trajectories are being established, and career advancement opportunities could well be foregone if women reduce their paid work time or see their workplace performance affected because of exhaustion. As a result, sleep interruption may represent an under-recognized ‘motherhood penalty’ that influences life chances and well-being.”

The findings also have implications for public health interventions to improve sleep. “Generally, these interventions target individual behaviors, such as the use of alcohol, caffeine or tobacco,” said Burgard. “Or they focus on nightly routines that help people to relax and fall asleep or stay asleep more successfully.

“But for parents of young children, the best approach might be discussions and negotiations about whose turn it is to get up with the baby tonight.”

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