Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CDC Study Projects 40 Percent of Americans Will Get Diabetes

Forty percent of Americans born between 2000 and 2011 will develop diabetes in their lifetimes, a sharp increase compared to previous generations, according to a study led by researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in The Lancet.  The study found that the risk is even higher for certain populations, including 45 percent of Black men and more than half of all Hispanics and Black women.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How To Make Sense Of Health Insurance Alphabet Soup

The lines that distinguish HMOs, PPOs, EPOs and POS plans from one another have blurred, making it hard to know what you're buying by name alone, assuming you're one of the few people who know what an EPO is in the first place.

"Now, there's a lot of gray out there," says Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

Ideally, the plan name provides a shorthand way to determine the sort of access members have to hospitals and doctors, including cost-sharing for such treatment. But since there are of plan types and state standards vary, individual insurers often have leeway to market similar plans under different names.
In general:

  • Health maintenance organizations cover only care provided by doctors and hospitals inside the HMO's network. HMOs often require people to get a referral from their primary care physician in order to see a specialist.
  • Preferred provider organizations, or PPOs, cover care provided both inside and outside the plan's network. Patients typically pay a higher percentage of the cost for out-of-network care.
  • Exclusive provider organizations are a lot like HMOs: They generally don't cover care outside the plan's provider network. People in EPOs, however, may not need a referral to see a specialist.
  • Point of Service, or POS, plans vary, but they're often a sort of . Patients may need a referral to see a specialist, but they may also have coverage for out-of-network care, though with higher cost sharing.

Although insurers identify plans by type in the coverage summaries they're required to provide under the health law, one PPO may offer very different out-of-network coverage than another. 

"You have PPOs with really high cost sharing for out-of-network services, which from a consumer perspective seem a lot like HMOs," says Corlette. Some plans labeled as PPOs don't offer out-of-network services at all. On the other hand, some HMOs have an out-of-network option that makes them seem similar to PPOs.

Higher premiums didn't necessarily correlate with better out-of-network coverage, says , vice president at Avalere Health, a research and consulting firm.

Since you can't rely on plan type to provide clear guidance on out-of-network coverage, there are three basic questions to investigate when evaluating a plan, says Pearson:

  1. Is there out-of-network coverage?
  2. Does that out-of-network spending accrue toward your out-of-pocket maximum? Legally it doesn't have to, but some plans include it.
  3. Do you need a primary care physician gatekeeper?

That's only the beginning. Once you figure out whether a plan covers out-of-network care, it can be difficult to find out whether your doctor is even in that plan. You can check with you doctor's office, but sometimes they don't know.

You can also look at provider directories to see who is and isn't in a plan's network, however, that information frequently proved inadequate or inaccurate during the last open enrollment period. But understanding the alphabet soup of plan types is an important first step.
Read more at Kaiser Health News at

Monday, August 18, 2014

More than 50% of hospitals are using electronic health records

Adopting EHRs is the first step in a long and complex journey to an IT-enabled health care system in which technology is effectively leveraged to address ongoing cost and quality challenges.A doctor seeking information on a computer, two nurses are in the background.
Read the story >

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CDC: Children Eating More Fruit

Total fruit consumption increased by 12 percent among children ages 2-18 between 2003 and 2010, though vegetable consumption remained unchanged, according to a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys; researchers concluded that no demographic group within this age range is meeting the Healthy People 2020 target for vegetables, while only children ages 2-5 are meeting the goal for fruit.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Healthy Resources for Walking & Biking to School

Even though the Safe Routes to School movement has gained
On the Movemomentum nationwide, many communities still face challenges implementing these programs. Four new publications from ChangeLab Solutions are now available to help districts, parents, and active transportation advocates develop policies for walking or bicycling to school.
On the Move and Get Out & Get Moving are geared toward rural areas that face unique challenges around implementing Safe Routes to School programs. On the Move breaks down approaches and tools of particular interest to rural school districts, including highlights of the online Safe Routes to School Policy Workbook tool.Get Out & Get Moving explores the legal implications of remote drop-off programs, and includes a cost-benefit worksheet for assessing risk.
Get Out & Get MovingIncorporating Safe Routes to School into Local School Wellness Policies and Model General Plan Language Supporting Safe Routes to Schools provide model language that communities can adapt to their specific needs.
These publications—in conjunction with the Safe Routes to School Policy Workbook and our other Safe Routes to School resources—can help create environments that will improve health outcomes for children. For more information on implementing Safe Routes to School policies in your community, please contact us.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Interval Training While Walking Helps Control Blood Sugar

Lots of high-performance athletes use interval training to maximize their fitness. From runners to cyclists to boot-camp fanatics the strategy involves alternating between periods of high intensity and lower intensity aerobic training.

Now, a study published in the journal finds that may help the millions of people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes who are trying to control their blood sugar.
Varying speed while walking may make the activity much more effective.
Taking an hour-long walk each day outdoors or on a treadmill. As part of the study, researchers enrolled about 30 volunteers with Type 2 diabetes who were in their late 50s and early 60s.
The volunteers were divided into groups. One group was instructed to walk three minutes briskly, followed by three minutes at a more restful pace, and repeat that process for an hour.
Another group walked at a continuous pace for the same amount of time.
A third group, a control group, kept up their normal routines, which didn't include daily exercise.
"What we expected to see ... was that both exercising groups would have an improvement in their glucose [or blood sugar] control," says study author , an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen who studies how exercise affects glycemic control.
But that's not what happened.
The interval walkers did improve. Their glucose disposal — the ability to move sugar out of the circulating blood stream and into parts of the body where it can be used as fuel — improved by 20 percent compared to the non-exercising group. And their hemoglobin , a longer-term measure of blood sugar, dipped slightly too.
But the steady paced walkers saw no improvement at all.
"This was somewhat surprising considering, that they were doing one hour of exercising a day for four months" says Solomon.
So what explains the benefits of interval walking? It's not exactly clear, but there's a leading theory.
"It's this switch between the intensities that we think is critical here," says Solomon. "You're able to work hard, and then rest hard ... rather than just walking at a fixed pace."  And during the high-intensity bursts, your muscles need more fuel in the form of glucose.
"It makes sense that intervals would help people with blood sugar control," says , a professor of preventative medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. He explains that our muscles are the No.1 consumer of blood sugar in our bodies.
So, when we do things, such as short bursts of high-impact aerobic activity , "you're pulling excess sugar out of the blood, which results in healtier blood sugar levels," Church says.
This study is small, but the findings match other research on intervals, which find benefits that seem to go beyond better blood sugar.
"There are a number of studies that have shown that when you increase the intensity [of aerobic exercise] in the form of doing intervals, there's additional benefits beyond just the calories burned," Solomon says.
There are still unanswered questions, he adds, such as can interval walking cut the risk of strokes or other health problems that are associated with diabetes?
"We really need to understand how this has an impact on the long-term health of these patients with diabetes," Solomon says.

npr health blog 

Funding Opportunity: Capacity Building Grant for Native Communities

The Notah Begay III Foundation's Native Strong: Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures has announced a new Capacity Building Grant Opportunity.  "The purpose of Native Strong and the Capacity Building Grant is to address childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes in Native communities. These grants {up to $20,000} support Community Health Assessments to better understand the root causes of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes resulting in strategies and an action plan to address this issue, and/or Community Planning and Capacity Building to create a community-driven action plan to address childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes."  Deadline for applications is Friday, September 12th.  An informational webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, August 13, 1:00  2:00 (EDT).