Category Archives: healthcare

Why Your Stitches Cost $1,500 [Infographic]

You keep hearing about rising health costs in America, but are other nations receiving the same bad news?  Check out this informative infographic from Medical Billing and Coding to learn how our healthcare costs compare to other wealthy nations:

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How One Woman Tackled Medical Overbilling of $24K

It is one thing to know that medical overbilling is a huge problem in healthcare, and it’s another to experience the problem firsthand.  With eight out of ten medical bills containing errors, many of us have faced this issue.  If we were fortunate, we had a mild bill that didn’t significantly impact our wallet.  Some of us, however, haven’t been so lucky;  Beverly Weintraub among them.

In a recent healthcare horror story titled, “The Anatomy of a Ripoff” in NY Daily News, Weintraub explains how she dealt with a $22,214.92 medical bill when her son had to visit the emergency room after choking on a piece of turkey.

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5 Tips to Making and Keeping Your New Years Resolutions

This is a guest post by Jacob Sattelmair, co-founder at Wellframe. His work and research lie at the intersection of health(care), technology, data science and consumer engagement. Jacob blogs at Unbiased Estimate and tweets from @jakesatt

Around the holidays I speak with a lot of people who are generally aware that they should (exercise more | eat better | lose weight), and look to the new year as a ripe opportunity to improve their health. But despite their general motivation, they’re often uncertain about what their goals are, and how to go about achieving them.

I can recall a younger version of myself, when asked, enthusiastically lecturing people about the myriad benefits of (exercising more | eating better | losing weight), often followed by a pep talk that vaguely resembled a Nike commercial monologue.

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How to Use Cake Health to Set Reminders

It’s a simple concept:  Every six months you should schedule a teeth cleaning.

You know that you need to, and as you brush your teeth in the mirror each morning, you remind yourself to put “teeth cleaning” at the top of your to-do list.  Days go by and yet again you forget, and suddenly those days turn into months, and the months, into years.  Then one day and 200 Snicker bars later, a sharp pain radiates through your tooth.  You’ve got a cavity.  And you’re surprised.

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Web 2.0 Summit Wrap Up

They say all good things must come to an end, and sadly, Web 2.0 Summit is no different.  After three days jam packed with stellar presentations around the latest tech trends and some major league-networking, we’re back in the office with #w2s withdrawls, but feeling incredibly grateful.

This year Cake Health was invited to participate in the Innovation Gallery at the summit; providing us easy access to the best of the best in technology.  We had the opportunity to show off our product to Web 2.0 attendees and press, discuss our plans to change the health care industry one insurance plan at a time, and received useful feedback from many.  Thanks to all of those who took the time to stop by our booth, and to UBM TechWeb & O’Reilly for allowing us to participate in this great event.

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Young Adults Struggle to Get Needed Care

A recent study has reported that the number of U.S. families struggling to pay medical bills and debt is growing; so much in fact that last year 45% of young adults ages 19-29 struggled to get the health care they needed.  This means around 5/10 youth were unable to fill a prescription, go to the doctor when they were sick, or skipped a test, treatment or follow-up visit when needed.

Exhibit ES-3. The Number of Adults Without Insurance, Forgoing Health Care Because of Cost, and Paying Large Shares of Their Income on Health Care Has Increased 2001-2010

Adults ages 19–64

2001

2005

2010

In the past 12 months:
Uninsured any time during the year

24%

38 million

28%

48 million

28%

52 million

Any bill problem or medical debt*

____

34%

58 million

40%

73 million

Any cost-related access problem*

29%

47 million

37%

64 million

41%

75 million

Spent 10% or more of household income on premiums*

11%

10 million

14%

14 million

15%

14 million

Spent 10% or more of household income on premiums and total out-of-pocket costs*

21%

31 million

23%

35 million

32%

49 million

Any of the above

____

62%

107 million

67%

123 million

**http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Fund%20Report/2011/Mar/1486_Collins_help_on_the_horizon_2010_biennial_survey_report_FINAL_v2.pdf

According to the 2010 Commonwealth Fund’s Biennial Health Insurance Survey, these medical bill problems are leading to further issues such as youth not being able to pay for necessities such as food, heat, rent, incurring credit card debt or even declaring bankruptcy.

“Of those with medical bill problems or medical debt, one-third had to deplete their savings to pay their bills and one in five had to take on credit card debt,” the study reports.

Luckily, however, there’s still hope; under the Affordable Care Act thousands of young adults have made the decision to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 25.  And it’s only getting better for this demographic; in 2012, college health plans will have to follow most of the same rules that private individual market health plans now face under the Affordable Care Act, meaning no more lifetime coverage limits and rescission and phasing out annual limits.  In addition, 2014 will bring extended Medicaid coverage to all adults with incomes below 133% of the poverty level, reaching an estimated 7.2 million young adults without health insurance.

Finally, in the upcoming years state health insurance exchanges will help low income young adults afford health care by offering comprehensive private health insurance with will include maternity benefits and subsidies.

“In 2014 nearly all young adults will have access to the comprehensive and affordable health insurance they need, allowing them to pursue their life and career goals without the worry that one serious illness or accident could derail their future plans,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis.

With these mandates it is safe to say that this burdened demographic will face less difficulty in the near future.

*TWEETABLES*

**Shout out to Brittney Roberts for guessing the correct percentage (around 50%) of young adults unable to afford needed care via our Facebook questionnaire**

An Issue That Continues To Grow

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”  -Tony Robbins

In 2011, the issue of obesity is only growing larger, along with those affected by the disease.  In fact, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health has just reported that in the last 15 years, adult obesity rates have nearly doubled in 17 states. 

“Two decades ago, not a single state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. Now they all do,” the report states.

Take away the emotional and physical toll that this disease is playing on its’ victims, there is no denying the financial problems that it is bringing to health care.

“[We] need to be addressing those environmental and those policy factors, but at the same time, [we] need to be motivating the country,” Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health states.

An issue that was once low on the priority list, is on its way up, and fast.  So what’s the solution, many have wondered?  Well, the first step is for us to realize that there is no easy solution.  The recent report agrees that we need a wide-net of solutions, including “boosting physical activity in schools, encouraging adults to get out and exercise, broadening access to affordable healthy foods and use of “pricing strategies” to encourage Americans to make better food choices.”

Above all, our society must learn how to take control of our own health.  We are the ones who choose Mad Men over spin class and Big Macs over spinach.  If we refuse to change these daily habits that are negatively impacting our own life, we will soon be left without one.

If you suffer from the above condition or a chronic illness, let us help you manage your costs so that you can focus on what’s important: your health.

*TWEETABLES*

To read the full report, visit http://healthyamericans.org/reports/obesity2011/

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Genes, Music, Food, and Alzheimer’s Disease

In the wake of the news on Sunday that 5 genes have been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, there was a great program on KQED’s Forum today about Alzheimer’s: the progress being made towards a cure, the meds available today, caring for people with Alzheimers, and prevention.  Turns out that progress is slow, and a cure may never be found. The biological processes that lead to Alzheimer’s actually begin in the brain around 20 years before symptoms start showing. The FDA-approved medications are expensive and only slightly effective at best (the non-approved ones, not at all).  Being a caretaker for a loved one with AD causes high levels of stress that, in turn, can rapidly deteriorate health and lead to depression.

Which leads us to prevention.  Alzheimer’s is not, strictly speaking, a genetic disease; diagnosis is sporadic, largely unrelated to parents and relatives, but certain genes do appear to increase the risk and likelihood of the disease’s onset, as do behavior and environment earlier in life. It’s highly correlated with cholesterol levels and heart disease.  And, as usual, most of this comes down to nutrition and diet.

First, mental retention and cognizance versus deterioration are highly linked to Omega 3 Fatty Acids.  This means you should probably up your intake of guacamole and salmon.  Saturated fats and the buildup of visceral fat is highly correlated with decreased memory capacity  –  keep the sour cream OUT of the guacamole. Likewise, high sugar intake and insulin levels, simple carbohydrates etc. degrade amyloid in the brain. Regular exercise and increasing blood flow stave off dementia.

Other tidbits from the radio session:

- No, cooking with aluminum is not linked to Alzheimer’s.  Instead, reread that part about foodstuffs.

- Music, Art, and other sensory therapy seems to bring back memories and increase cognitive abilities.

- Researchers have not yet determined what the abnormalities are in those 5 genes linked to Alzheihmer’s.

Listen here:
http://www.kqed.org/assets/flash/kqedplayer.swf

You’ve Got Coverage

All new plans from September 23, 2010 and onward must cover a list of preventive services AND…without charging a copay, coinsurance, or deductible.  But how many people have a new plan since then?  Chances are you have a “grandfathered” in plan that may not provide these benefits without a cost to you.  To see the full list of services you could be getting under a new plan, Healthcare.gov has set up a page here.

Supposedly, adding preventive services to coverage would only increase premium prices by around 1.5%, or around $4 per person, if you can make sense of the mind bogglingly complex analysis that actuaries and consultants prepared for the government.  Of course we’re too smart not to notice the recent examples of extreme volatility that has occurred as a result of this and other measures to include more coverage.

A few of the covered services are a bit controversial, such as whether or not insurance should cover contraceptives for women, as The New York Times reported.  Since half of pregnancies in the US are unplanned, some argue that it should be part of preventive services to remove the cost barrier to birth control.  Others argue that pregnancy is not a disease, it is a choice and should not be covered.  These costs may be contributing to the rise in your premiums.

What do you think?  Do you think all insurance plans, existing or new, should include these preventive services?  Or are you concerned about the rising cost of premiums?  And do you think that contraceptives or family planning should be covered?

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