Average annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage shot up 9 percent in the past year, to more than $15,000, according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.
On average, U.S. workers now pay more than $4,000 each year towards health coverage, and the increase has far outpaced growth in workers' wages, the 2011 employer health benefits survey found.
"This year's 9 percent increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery," said Drew Altman, Kaiser President and CEO, in a news release issued Tuesday.
Premiums increased 2.1 percent faster than workers' pay, and 3.2 percent faster than general inflation, the researchers found. Overall, family premiums have surged 113 percent since 2001 — significantly more than the 34 percent growth in wages and 27 percent for inflation.
In the wake of the 2010 health reform law affecting employer coverage, the survey also estimated 2.3 million uninsured young adults up to the age of 26 were added to their parents' employer-sponsored family health plans.
"The law is helping millions of young adults to obtain health coverage. In
The white coats and medical scrubs worn by hospital staff may harbor hazardous bacteria, a new study finds.
Researchers in Israel swabbed nurses' and physicians' uniforms and found potentially dangerous bacteria on more than 60 percent of the clothing items.
The team, from the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, analyzed swab samples collected from three parts — sleeve ends, pockets and abdominal area — of the uniforms of 75 registered nurses and 60 doctors.
Potentially dangerous bacteria were found on 60 percent of the doctors' uniforms and 65 percent of the nurses' uniforms. Especially dangerous drug-resistant bacteria were found in 21 of the samples from nurses' uniforms and six samples from doctors' uniforms. Eight of the samples had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is becoming tough to fight using conventional antibiotics.
The bacteria on the uniforms may not pose a direct risk of disease transmission, but the findings suggest that many hospital patients are in close proximity to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, the researchers said.
"It is important to put these study results into perspective," Russell
As you head to the beach this Labor Day weekend, imagine how it would feel to be stuck in a wheelchair instead of playing in the sand, strolling along the waterline, or surfing in the waves.
Thanks to Jesse Billauer’s Life Rolls On organization, many of the approximately 12,000 people who suffer devastating spinal cord injuries each year won’t have to wonder. The non-profit improves the lives of people with spinal cord injuries through stimulating sports action programs that help them surf, skate, and ski again.
Billauer, 32, who has been paralyzed from the waist down for 15 years, founded Life Rolls On after experiencing the positive and powerful emotional and physical effects of returning to surfing after his accident.
Jesse’s Life-Altering Accident
Billauer went out one morning in 1996 to ride the waves at Zuma Beach in Malibu, Calif. “I took off on a wave and fell, and I ended up hitting my head on a shallow sandbar and noticed my whole body went limp,” Billauer says in the premiere episode of Everyday Health, a new television show about extraordinary everyday Americans who are helping others lead
I have never had any abnormal female issues, so I was surprised when I felt really itchy in that area not that long ago. I immediately took a bath and cleaned myself well, but the itchiness did not go away. I was curious what was going on, so I went online to do some research. After looking at other symptoms of abnormal vaginal discharge, I realized that was the culprit. Thankfully, I also found the answer while I was doing my research. I discovered Crystal X, which is a natural remedy to certain female problems.
Some of the other signs that this was abnormal discharge included the color and consistency of the discharge. Rather than being a mild and light white color, it was creamy and bordered on being yellowish. There was also a slightly strong odor that I had never had before. I wasn't extremely concerned because I did read while it is an infection, it can be quickly remedied if handled the proper way. ...continue reading →
Congratulations to the Old Line State: Maryland has emerged as the state with the best brain health in the 2011 America's Brain Health Index. Developed by National Center for Creative Aging, the index ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 21 brain health indicators including diet, physical health, mental health, and social well-being. This is the second time the index has been calculated; the first one appeared in 2009.
In the 2011 report, Maryland edged out the District of Columbia, which slipped to No. 2 from its first-place 2009 ranking. Maryland took top honors because it experienced a decrease in Alzheimer's disease-related deaths, and because residents consume a high amount of fish, a natural source of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid that is tied to brain and eye health. Residents of Washington, DC, came in second due to its high proportion of active readers - more than any of the 50 states.
The Brain Health Index was created by health experts including Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and creator of the RealAge concept, and
For some people, slicing a raw onion is no big deal, but for others, it causes a stinging reaction that results in tears and mild discomfort.
What’s to blame for this teary reaction? Enzymes in the onion that release a pungent gas when you slice into it, and when the gas comes into contact with your eyes, it forms sulfuric acid, which is responsible for that telltale stinging sensation. "The more pungent the onion is, the more likely it will make you tear up," says Irwin Goldman, PhD, department chair and professor of horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
That means that yellow onions popular in cooking are the biggest culprits, and sweet, mild Vidalia onions are the least likely to trigger tears. Luckily, onions are the only type of vegetable that cause this crying reaction, because of their unique sulfur compounds.
So why do onions make you well up, but don't seem to make your partner weepy at all? Dr. Goldman says it's probably due to the individual chemistry of your eyes: Some people have little or no reaction
More thorough donor screening and more advanced organ testing to help protect transplant patients from infectious diseases are recommended in a draft of an updated organ transplant guideline released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The goal of the new guideline is to reduce infections such as HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Screening is already done for HIV, but HBV and HCV should be added to the screening process, the CDC said.
From 2007 to 2010, the CDC was involved in more than 200 investigations of suspected, unexpected transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C through transplants. In some of the confirmed cases, the transplant recipient died due to the infection.
The existing guideline was created in 1994. Other major proposed changes to the guideline include updated and more sensitive tests for donor organs, and a revised set of donor risk factors that can help doctors get a better idea of possible problems with donors' organs.
The new draft guideline focuses on organ safety because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Move over, gourmet meal. Apparently cold hard cash and a shiny new sports car are drool-worthy, too.
That's the conclusion of new research that examined how people react when faced with the prospect of non-edible consumption.
The bottom-line: people salivate when they desire material objects, according to the study, published online recently in the Journal of Consumer Research.
"Merely being exposed to the concept of money has been shown to have dramatic effects on behavior, and it has even been argued that money can be conceptualized as a drug," doing much the same thing as other stimulants in driving human behavior, noted study author David Gal of Northwestern University in a journal press release.
In fact, "in multiple languages, the terms hunger and salivation are used metaphorically to describe desire for non-food items," he noted.
In the study, Gal first had study participants view photos of money while holding cotton dental rolls in their mouths. While gazing, some of the participants were instructed to "feel" powerful, while others were told to believe that they lacked power.
Primary care and specialist physicians use different criteria when deciding to refer a patient to another doctor, a new study finds.
The web-based survey of 616 physicians found that after clinical expertise, primary care doctors consider issues such as patient access or doctor-to-doctor communication, while specialists tend to base their decisions on their other patients' experiences with the intended doctor.
Two-thirds of referrals by primary care physicians and half of referrals by specialists were made within their professional network.
The study by researchers at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was published online Sept. 16 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Most previous research into the patient referral process has focused on primary care physicians as the sole source for referrals. But this study shows that specialist physicians also influence the mix of physicians patients see, the researchers said.
"This study is the first to explore differences in the referral decisions between primary care and specialist physicians. Our findings suggest that interventions to influence referral practices will need to be tailored by specialty," they
Public health experts often focus immunization awareness efforts toward protecting children, and with good reason: Facing a potentially bewildering schedule of vaccinations for their young ones, parents usually need all the help they can get.
But vaccinations aren't just kid stuff.
Medical science is creating an increasing number of immunizations targeted at adults, to help them avoid life-threatening diseases in middle-age and opportunistic infections when they're older.
"Immunization is a life-long issue that we need to pay a lot of attention to," said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
Some adult vaccinations are very well-known, like the annual shot that aims to prevent the spread of influenza.
"You need an influenza shot every year," Benjamin said. "Part of that is because the virus changes every year, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot."
The flu vaccine is the least challenging of adult vaccines to promote because just about everyone can and should get one, with very few exceptions, said Dr. Carolyn B. Bridges, associate director for adult immunizations at the Immunization Services Division of the U.S. Centers
Mehmet Oz, MD, the Columbia University thoracic surgeon who gained fame first in books and more recently with his syndicated television show, has run afoul of the Food and Drug Administration with his report about levels of arsenic in popular brands of apple juice.
The FDA called the report "irresponsible and misleading" and another TV doc, ABC's Richard Besser, MD, accused Oz of fear-mongering.
In a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, Oz reported that five brands of apple juice — Minute Maid, Apple & Eve, Mott's, Juicy Juice, and Gerber — all contained some level of arsenic and suggested that this was a cause for concern.
The show used an independent laboratory, EMSL Analytical, to test dozens of samples from three U.S. cities to compare the level of arsenic in the juices to the Environmental Protection Agency's safe standard for drinking water, less than 10 parts per billion.
At least one sample for four of the five brands — excluding Minute Maid — came in above that threshold. The highest level measured was in Gerber apple juice, at 36 ppb.
For most women, growing out their fingernails is a frustratingly long process. But for Christine Walton, it’s a source of pride. The Las Vegas singer known as “The Dutchess” just took home the Guinness World Record for longest fingernails.
The achievement is just one of the records celebrated in the brand new 2012 edition of Guinness Book of World Records, which released this week. "Guinness World Records 2012 celebrates a diverse range of extraordinary records, but certainly our human body records remain some of the most loved and talked about,” editor-in-chief Craig Glenday said in a press release.
Walton’s left hand’s fingernails add up to 10 feet, 2 inches, while her right nails are 9 feet, 7 inches long. To grow them out, she shunned fingernail clippers, saying she hasn’t cut them in 18 years. However, don’t think those crazy-long nails prevent her from living a normal life. She still braids her hair, cooks, and drives. One thing that is off-limits, though, is form-fitting tops.
"I'll see the cutest shirts, and they'll have these skinny arms and I know that my nails would just rip straight through them,” Walton says on GuinnessWorldRecords.com.
A record 49.9 million Americans were without health insurance during 2010, up almost 2 percent from the 49.0 million uninsured in 2009, the Census Bureau reported.
The percentage of the population without insurance rose 0.2 percentage points, from 16.1 percent to 16.3 percent, the agency said.
Results from the agency's 2010 Current Population Survey also found increases in the number of Americans living below the poverty level (46.2 million versus 43.6 million in 2009) as well as declines in inflation-adjusted median household income. The proportion of the population with private health insurance overall also declined, as did the proportion with insurance provided by employers.
In a statement, the Census Bureau indicated that these trends were outgrowths of the recent recession, even though the economy was officially in recovery during 2010.
The agency noted that the first years after previous recessions were also typically marked by increases in poverty rates and declining income and health coverage.
Regionally, the biggest increase in being uninsured occurred in the Northeast, jumping 0.6 percentage points from the previous year, to 12.4 percent. But the 2010 rate was
There's no denying that public bathrooms can be germ-ridden places. According to a study presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting, scientists who studied samples taken from a variety of public restrooms found that the sheer number of illness-causing bacteria present was too big to measure in many cases. So it's only natural to worry about what may be lurking on even the cleanest-looking toilet seats — forget about the ones that appear wet or dirty.
No wonder that 60 percent of Americans say they won’t sit down to use a public toilet, according to the Web site of Sani-Seat, a company that makes those nifty gizmos that automatically wrap the seat in a fresh plastic cover after each use.
But experts say our fear of sitting on the average toilet seat (one that isn't visibly soiled) is overblown.
There's no question that germs can inhabit the seat, says Philip Tierno, MD, director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at New York University Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City. "The bulk of the organisms
Many patients mistakenly believe that medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are foolproof and free of harmful side effects, a new study finds.
But when informed of safety concerns about a drug, they tend to make a safer choice.
"There are important gaps in what people know about approved drugs, and a lot of misconceptions," said study co-author Dr. Steven Woloshin, co-director of the Outcomes Group at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt.
"Until they are given good information, people may be exposing themselves to drugs that may confer less benefit than they think they are getting, or more harm than they think they are being exposed to," added Woloshin, who is also with the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Hanover, N.H.
Far from a foolproof seal of safety and benefit, FDA-approved drugs often run into trouble after they show up in pharmacies and medicine cabinets, he and his colleague Dr. Lisa M. Schwartz report in the Sept. 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
One driver of this dynamic is the 1992 Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), which
Sean Callan, a stone mason in New York City, was working just seven blocks from the World Trade Center when he heard the explosion of the first plane hitting the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001.
He and other workers dropped their tools and raced toward the sound. Callan soon found himself in the South Tower, steering fleeing workers from the crippled building hit by the second plane. When the structure started to groan and creak, he ran for the exit, feeling rubble and debris — some of it human bodies — raining down on him as the tower collapsed.
For the next 31 days Callan volunteered at what became Ground Zero, the site where nearly 2,800 people were killed. And over a two-year period, he spent a total of 19 months at "The Pit," slicing steel, cutting concrete, hauling away debris in buckets — and inhaling volumes of toxic dust.
In 2003, Callan was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer normally associated with exposure to asbestos. Two men working alongside him at Ground Zero were also diagnosed with the cancer. Both have died.
An uncommon, but potentially fatal, tick-borne illness may be creeping into the U.S. blood supply and doctors need to develop a way to spot it, researchers report.
Babesiosis is a parasitic infection that is transmitted through a tick bite or during a blood transfusion. Symptoms range from mild flu-like symptoms to severe difficulty with breathing, organ damage and death. People with compromised immune systems are most at risk for fatal babesiosis infection.
The first tick-borne case of babesiosis was documented in Massachusetts in 1969, and the first known transfusion-related infection occurred in 1979. Since then, there have been 159 transfusion-associated babesiosis cases reported in the United States, according to a study published in the Sept. 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
There is no approved screening test for blood donors, and many people have no symptoms so they don't even realize they are infected when they donate blood.
Study author Dr. Barbara Herwaldt, a medical epidemiologist at U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the threat "uncommon, but important."
Transfusion-related cases know no boundaries. "Most tick-borne cases of babesiosis
Steven Soderbergh’s new thriller, Contagion, boasts plenty of big names — Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, and Laurence Fishburne, to name a few — but the real star of the film isn’t on the cast list and doesn’t speak a single line of dialogue.
In fact, Contagion’s main “character” isn’t a traditional one at all; rather, it’s a lethal flu-like virus that triggers a global panic as it threatens to wipe out millions of people worldwide. Moviegoers have seen similar threats in films like 1995’s Outbreak and 2002’s 28 Days Later, but this one — which is grounded in science, not science fiction — may be the scariest yet.
Could ‘Contagion’ Really Happen?
In short, yes.
Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Burns went to great lengths to make the movie “ultrarealistic.” Operating on the belief that truth is stranger than fiction, they sought advice from various experts and public officials, all of whom, according to Burns, said that a real global pandemic was “not a matter of if, but when.”
America knows Jillian Michaels best as the tough-as-nails trainer on The Biggest Loser and the health and fitness expert who has helped millions lose weight through her popular online program, books and DVDs. Now, Jillian’s taking on a new challenge as the newest co-host of the Emmy-winning daytime talk show The Doctors five days a week, starting Sept. 13. She joins pediatrician Jim Sears, MD, ER physician Travis Stork, MD, OB/GYN Lisa Masterson, MD, cosmetic surgeon Drew Ordon, MD, and psychologist Wendy Walsh, PhD, on the show, which provides frank health discussions and information in front of a live studio audience.
In addition to her gig on The Doctors, Jillian will also serve as a special correspondent on Dr. Phil, dishing advice on nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness.
Everyday Health sat down with Jillian to discuss her new role, the topics she can’t wait to tackle, her dream guest, and more.
Everyday Health: After 10 seasons on The Biggest Loser and a season of Losing It With Jillian Michaels, why did you want to be a host on The Doctors, and why now?
Jillian Michaels: I love primetime TV, but it isn't very informative. It's really tough to tell people
When it comes to aggressive courtship strategies, sexist men and women seem to be perfect for each other, new research suggests.
U.S. researchers conducted two surveys: One included 363 college students at a large Midwestern university, and the other was a national Internet poll of 850 adults.
The male and female participants were asked about their sexist attitudes toward women and whether they were willing to engage in uncommitted or short-term sex. Men were also asked how often they used assertive strategies to initiate relationships and women were asked if, and to what degree, they found these types of advances desirable.
The researchers found that men who favored casual sex were more likely to use aggressive courtship strategies, while women who were also open to casual sex were more likely to respond to such approaches.
The surveys also revealed that men with negative, sexist attitudes toward women were more likely to use assertive strategies, and women with sexist attitudes toward other women were more likely to respond to these overtures.
The findings were published recently in the online edition of the journal Sex Roles.
You’ve been looking forward to this vacation for months. You started packing weeks ago, spent days mapping out family activities, and arrived at the airport hours before departure. So now that you’re finally en route, why does it feel like you’ll never get there?
According to researchers (as well as frequent business travelers and wanderlusters), your reason for traveling doesn’t matter: The outward journey always seems to take longer than the trek back home.
What’s going on? A recent study from Tilburg University in the Netherlands found this “return trip effect” all boils down to our expectations. Before you head out on that initial voyage (Paris, here we come!), you tend to underestimate the time it will take, says researcher Niels van de Ven, PhD, an assistant professor of social psychology. Chalk it up to pre-trip excitement, but when you lowball your travel time, the journey ends up feeling a whole lot longer.
And it has an effect on the trip home, too. “Based on that feeling, the traveller expects the return journey to be long as well, and this then turns
Drunk and drugged drivers make the Labor Day weekend one of the most dangerous times to be on the road in the United States, so federal and local officials are conducting a crackdown on impaired drivers.
Through Monday, Sept. 5, police in every state will be out in full force looking for impaired drivers, officials said Monday at an event hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In 2009, nearly 11,000 people in the United States died in crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders who were at or above the legal alcohol limit.
Sept. 2 is the second most deadly day of the year on U.S. roads, noted Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
"To keep our friends and neighbors safe, our partners in law enforcement will be out in force looking for drunk and drugged drivers," he said in a GHSA news release.
State efforts that are part of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" crackdown include:
A holiday weekend "Maximum Enforcement" campaign in which 80 percent of available California Highway Patrol officers will be