All Articles Tagged "healthcare"
It makes sense. If your employees are in good health, then corporate health care costs go down. According to a new study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), workplace health promotion programs have the potential to reduce average worker health costs by 18 percent — and even more for older workers,
But wellness programs only succeed if the employees participate, says elite personal trainer Michael Levy, president of Online Rewards, who has created wellness and behavior change programs for clients including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Lend Lease, State Farm, and a number of public agencies. Wellness programs encourage healthy living.
According to Levy, 79 percent of large U.S. companies now offer wellness programs. “Fidelity Investments released February 27 the results of new survey research showing that U.S. employers have doubled their spending on wellness incentives in the last four years. They plan to spend an average of $521 per employee on wellness-based incentives,” Levy tells us.
But there are things businesses—including small businesses—can do to increase participation. “With the right incentives, participation in health reimbursement arrangements and biometric screenings can be as high as 80 percent,” explains Levy. “Gift cards, travel vouchers, electronics and other prizes can be more powerful motivators than a premium contribution notation on a pay stub.”
“Women have a much higher propensity than men to participate in activities associated with employee incentive and recognition programs, in some cases a 60-40 ratio,” Levy added.
Some programs work better than others. “To achieve the best results, programs must feature three key components,” Levy explained to us. “First and foremost, they must be incentive-based. Second, the programs must be based on achievable, frequently reached objectives, accompanied by frequently delivered rewards. Third, the programs must include an experiential web site, an online component that enables the employer to articulate goals, keep people engaged and track progress.”
According to Levy, the best way to entice employee participation is by offering fun and tangible. “Rewards should be distributed on a monthly, not an annual basis. Wellness programs encourage healthy living on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It’s not an annual strategy,” Levy points out. “The incentive program website enables employees to celebrate success. It also facilitates the [mechanics] of healthy living objectives. Together, these elements foster greater engagement and lead to the ultimate goal — positively changing behavior.”
According to the ACOEM study,total medical care expenses per person for all working age adults would be reduced by about $650, or approximately 18 percent. The possible savings increased with age: up to 28 percent for older working adults and retirees. And of course, healthy living is its own reward. Corporate wellness programs are a win-win for everyone.
Author, professor and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry joined a panel on Saturday for The New Yorker Festival’s discussion of “The Fifty-one Percent,” the effort to win the female vote. Touching on topics including women’s health, “the war on women,” and the speeches delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama and Ann Romney, the conversation veered into economic territory when it turned to healthcare and discrimination.
Also on the panel: Kelly Ann Conway, an author and GOP pollster who worked for Newt Gingrich’s unsuccessful campaign for president; Margaret Hoover, an author and former adviser George W. Bush; and Cecile Richardson, the president of Planned Parenthood and former staffer to Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The panel was moderated by The New Yorker‘s executive editor Dorothy Wickenden.
Let’s start by pointing out that Kelly Ann Conway spent the entire time sighing at just about everything that came out of Cecile Richardson’s mouth, and made little comments under her breath when she disagreed with something one of the other panelists said. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t know her stuff, or that she didn’t make some perfectly fine comments. But it didn’t make her likeable at all. It was downright rude and frustrating for the audience to watch her time and time again dismiss her fellow panelists. Not cool Kelly Ann Conway.
But moving on. Most of the discussion revolved about women’s health and the role it’s been playing in politics over recent months. According to Conway, this idea of “women’s issues” is wrongheaded (“You don’t hear people talking about ‘men’s issues.’”) and the focus on women’s health issues, like birth control coverage, myopic. She said that, in her experience, there are other issues of greater importance to female voters.
“There is no issue more central… than the ability to control your own fertility,” said Harris-Perry. “You can’t separate economic and health care issues.” Both she and Richardson emphasized the significance of birth control to career, relationship and other life decisions. In this, we would have to agree.
The topic of money and lifestyle also came up when an audience member took to the microphone with her assertion that, as a lesbian, she isn’t a social issue; that the system is discriminatory in a number of ways, among them in an economic way. Because she can’t marry her partner in many places across the U.S., she can’t take advantage of the financial benefits that a marriage affords, which lowers her economic stability.
To this, Harris-Perry added a compelling argument: that without real change, discrimination will continue because “people are willing to pay a premium to discriminate.” For example, people will pay more money to stay away from those they consider unsavory. And bus companies during the civil rights movement went bankrupt to keep from integrating.
In other words, if someone doesn’t want you around, they’ll do everything in their power to keep you away.
On a much more upbeat note, there was the belief across the entire panel that, if President Obama is re-elected, there will be a number of women and men, including people of color, ready to run in 2016. We hope both of those things happen.
Feel free to take to the comments with your thoughts about women’s health as a political issue. Is it something you’ll be taking into consideration when you go to the ballot box in November?
Health insurance is a necessary expense. But it doesn’t have to be quite as expensive as a lot of workers make it out to be.
Research from the Aflac WorkForces Report shows that 56 percent of workers waste as much as $750 per year on health benefits. Among the problems, 47 percent of workers say they rarely, if ever, exceed the deductible and only 16 percent choose the right amount for their flexible spending accounts.
Experts recommend that workers pay closer attention to what they’re signing up for. We’ll go a step further and recommend that you take full advantage of the help that your HR exec and the health insurance company itself is offering. Let them walk you through the options step by step until you fully understand what you’re purchasing. Don’t guess.
It’s also important that you keep an eye out for the changes that are happening in the health insurance industry. We have the Affordable Healthcare Act that will be going into effect and already there’s talk about the impact on small businesses and the options that will be available to more Americans. Moreover, there have been a wave of changes in the health insurance industry that may lead to changes in policies and coverage. Make sure you stay on top of those shifts. It may put more money in your pocket.
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In this exclusive opinion piece, actor Gabrielle Union issues an impassioned and very personal plea to spare the Affordable Care Act, now under attack by politicians.
I am going to do something that most people in my position don’t do often – tell you my age. I am 39 years old. I am at an age where I realize that life isn’t always fair and that unlike fairy tales, life doesn’t always have a happy ending.
Nearly two years ago, I lost a close girlfriend to cancer. Diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at 32 years old, I remember thinking this wasn’t part of the plan. We were too young to worry about getting sick. In fact, we were supposed to be invincible.
For the complete story, visit HelloBeautiful.com.
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Occupation: Founder & CEO of DocPons Inc.
Favorite Read: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Recent Read: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
2012′s Ultimate Goal: Revolutionizing Healthcare in America
Quote Governing Your Mission: “Every spirit that inhabits a human body can have access to affordable care with DocPons Coupons”
Twitter handle: @docponsceo
We continue my Behind the Click series with a remarkable start-up founder. Meet Susan Nicholas, MD MBA of the high tech start-up DocPons Inc. It is fitting that I add Susan to the profile series of colleagues particularly at this time given that she is beautifully blending healthcare and technology; and of course healthcare is at the top of our minds given the debate regarding President Obama’s healthcare agenda. The Supreme Court decision will affect us all and depending which way the chips fall, start-ups such as DocPons may have greater and greater relevancy. DocPons offers an online platform for purchasing quality outpatient healthcare services in America. Read on to learn about how Susan began this endeavor. No doubt, her story and outlook will inspire you!
LDC: So, Susan, tell our readers where you attended college and obtained your MD/MBA.
SN: I attended college in my hometown of Morgantown, WV. I obtained a bachelors in Biology from West Virginia University. I earned my MD degree from the University of Iowa and my MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta. My post graduate medical training was toward a career in Cardiothoracic Surgery where I did a clinical fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University. I did my MBA with a concentration in private equity finance.
LDC: What led to your interest in pursuing this particular educational route?
SN: As a young girl, I had always thought that I wanted to be a doctor so going to medical school was second nature. I went to business school more than a decade later during my career transition from practicing Cardiothoracic Surgery to becoming an entrepreneur.
LDC: So obviously you are applying it well to your start up. What gave you the idea to create this venture?
SN: I got the idea to start DocPons™ while co-instructing a physician entrepreneur event in Atlanta in late January 2011. A healthcare provider in the audience spoke anecdotally about placing an offer on Groupon® that generated both revenues for his business and recurrent patient volume during the most recent economic recession. I thought at that time “Now what would I call my company that created revenue and patient volume for all types of healthcare providers” that was both targeted and sensitive to the unique nature of the healthcare industry. I came up with the name DocPons, a play in Doctor Coupons. I purchased the domain name the following day and was incorporated two weeks later.
LDC: How is it funded?
SN: To date, the company has been funded by friends and family, essentially “bootstrapped”. However, I have been promoting the company around the country and the world over the past several months. DocPons was featured as one of the nine most innovative start-up healthcare companies in the world at the Doctor 2.0 conference in Paris, France in June of 2011. In addition, DocPons is a member company of both the Start-up America initiative and Start-up Health in NYC. Most recently, DocPons was featured in Silicon Valley at the Women 2.0 Pitch Competition in February 2012 and won the prize for the “Product Most Likely to Change the World”. Despite the early recognition and accomplishments of DocPons, raising the next financing round has proved challenging. The playing field is not level when it comes to women led start-ups receiving venture funding. At the end of the day, I hope DocPons changes this antiquated paradigm once and for all.
LDC: What suggestions do you have for other women of color looking to fund start ups, by the way?
SN: Though every individual path is unique, I would suggest applying for everything that you think you can even remotely quality for. Casting a broad net is essential. There are several women-only initiatives addressing the inequalities women entrepreneurs and CEO’s face. These resources are a good start. At the very least, women led initiatives can level the field when gender is the issue. Racial bias, however can be yet another obstacle that many investors and potential partners have to overcome. Attitude changes, like paradigm shifts take time. I would suggest pushing through the glass ceiling inch by inch, never giving up and always believing in yourself.
LDC: During the funding process and overall journey, have you encountered any situations that you have felt were race/gender based that were negative? If so, how did you overcome them?
SN: Of course. However, when I feel that gender or race has played a role in a decision that was not in my favor, I recognize it and move forward. Dwelling to long on gender and racial bias issues is draining and at times downright depressing. I manage to get up the next day and start anew. I cannot dwell there. I just think that somewhere out there the perfect investor and strategic partners are waiting for me. I just keep it moving, as they say.
We’re no more than two days into National Minority Health Month and already a grim report has surfaced.
New research presented Sunday shows that black women are at a higher risk of contracting and dying from cervical cancer than white women. In addition, the study revealed black women have a much harder time getting rid of HPV than their white counterparts, according to researchers at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. All 326 white and 113 black students were given Pap tests and HPV exams every six months throughout their years in school.
Until now, many doctors thought less access to screenings and follow-up health care were the reasons why there was such a racial disparity in surviving the disease. However, the study involving young college-age women suggests that the reason might be biological.
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The Obama administration has made birth control a lot more affordable for most people. Starting August 1, most healthcare plans will be required to cover the entire cost of birth control without charging a copay or deductible.
The decision comes after static from right-winged Republicans and several religious-affiliated organizations, naturally.
But even religiously affiliated hospitals and universities will have to abide by the plan by August 1, 2013.
Get the rest of the details on this story at Eurweb.com.
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(Daily Finance) — Marci found a lump in her breast in April of last year. She went to the doctor the next day. ”The first doctor I saw told me that it was not life threatening, probably a cyst, and that I am too young to worry. I was 33 at the time,” recalls Marci. But when she went for her annual gynecologist visit in late May, that doctor examined her breast and sent her for an ultrasound and mammogram. Those lead to a biopsy of the lump and lymph nodes, both of which came back positive. In June, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Marci had worked in the finance industry for 15 years. “I ‘thought’ I had insurance which was provided by my company,” she says. However, after her biopsy, she realized her insurance had a cap of $10,000 a year. “Who reads the small print on that sort of stuff in an 18-page addendum?” asks Marci. “Before I had my first treatment, I was over the maximum benefit.” She went uninsured for two months until she got coverage through the Ohio High Risk Pool. ”Thank God for some health care reform. In those two months, I paid $8,000 out of pocket and about $3,000 so far this year. I pay monthly on a $20,000 bill through my treatment center,” says Marci, who lives in Columbus, Ohio.
(Daily Finance) — When times get tough, teeth just aren’t on the top of the “take care of this now” list. And that’s nothing to smile about. The 2011 Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility conducted for Brighter.com by Empirica Research in conjunction with Dr. David Neal, professor at the University of Southern California, shows that approximately 50% of Americans lack dental insurance, and in 2010, dental premiums increased at a higher rate than medical insurance premiums. ”The recession and high unemployment rates have put more of the burden of dental care on the shoulders of already strained budgets,” says Jake Winebaum, founder and CEO of Brighter.com.
by Cynthia Wright
A recent study of employers by Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the cost of health insurance has surged again in the US this year. The surge has caused those with shaky faith in the Obama administration to doubt that healthcare legislation will curb insurance costs for the country.
When it came to insurance premiums for families in 2011, health benefits jumped to $15,073, a 9% increase from a year ago. Kaiser’s chief executive Dave Altman commented that the year’s increase further devastates the workers and employers already struggling through the current economy.
While the survey does show some early impact of the law, there is no evidence to support the rise in cost. At the same time, maybe it shouldn’t be taken as that much of a surprise, since healthcare costs have doubled within the past decade.
Kaiser representative also commented that it has also started to see the changes in preventative care benefits, with many companies enrolling young adults into their corporate health plans. However, some believe that the increase of insurance-covered adults may be due to the fact that adults up to the age of 26 can still be covered under their parent’s plan.
Of course, the critics commenting believe that this is the evidence needed to prove that the Obama administration’s healthcare law would be an inevitable failure.
At the same time, critics of the industry argue that the issue is not about the Obama administration’s healthcare plan but more about insurers raising premiums, especially since they benefited for years on low medical utilization rates. Meaning that, during the course of the economic downturn, insurers deterred millions of people from seeking treatment or procedures that they [the insurers] deemed less “important.”
The Obama administration also weighed in on the study by stating that healthcare insurers set premiums higher last year, due to the anticipation of higher medical costs across the board. Nancy-Ann DeParle, President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff revealed that premium prices would start to decline once more provisions in the law were released. She also noted that healthcare costs were declining in some instances before lambasting the healthcare insurers for their greed when it came to turning a profit.
This comes as the Obama administration made public that it will seek U.S. Supreme Court consideration of the health-care overhaul in a move that may lead to a ruling in the middle of the 2012 presidential race.
Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.