healthcare

As health insurance open season heats up for businesses, many employees will discover that participating in their company's wellness program includes rolling up their sleeves for blood tests.

Across the country, half of large employers offering health benefits have wellness programs that ask workers to submit to medical tests, often dubbed "biometrics," that can involve a trip to a doctor's office, lab or workplace health fair.

Take a look at the latest obesity data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and you can see that the country's obesity epidemic is far from over.

Even in Colorado, the state with the lowest rate, 21.3 percent of its population is obese. Arkansas tops the list with 35.9 percent.

Health care costs continue to rise, and workers are shouldering more of the burden.

The big reason? Skyrocketing deductibles.

More companies are adding deductibles to the insurance plans they offer their employees. And for those who already had to pay deductibles, the out-of-pocket outlays are growing.

Federal funding for Planned Parenthood will clearly be a flashpoint when Congress returns this week from its summer break.

But the fate of many other health programs, from the National Institutes of Health to efforts to reduce teen pregnancy, hang in the balance as well, as lawmakers decide whether and how to fund the government after the current fiscal year expires Sept. 30.

About 25 to 30 percent of people prescribed statins dump them within a year. I flunked Lipitor after a few wretched months.

Statins are prescribed to lower cholesterol in people who show risk factors for cardiovascular disease or diabetes, or who already have them. Side effects can include muscle weakness, diabetes onset and, rarely, permanent muscle damage. These risks are higher in women, with age, and with certain heart and blood pressure drugs.

Most women 40 and older believe they should have mammograms every year to screen for breast cancer, the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics health poll finds.

Remember so-called death panels?

When Congress debated the Affordable Care Act in 2009, the legislation included a provision that would have allowed Medicare to reimburse doctors when they meet with patients to talk about end-of-life care.

But then Sarah Palin loudly argued that such payments would lead to care being withheld from the elderly and disabled.

Her assertions greatly distressed Dr. Pamelyn Close, a palliative care specialist in Los Angeles.

murrayhospital.org

The American Cancer Society predicts nearly 235,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year. The key word is "invasive" says Murray Calloway County Hospital Wellness Works Coordinator Melissa Ross, because this form of breast cancer can be prevented with routine mammograms. She speaks with Kate Lochte on Sounds Good about their new breast cancer prevention awareness campaign at the hospital.

County Health Rankings / CountyHealthRankings.org

A new study finds several counties in our region among the healthiest in Kentucky, but the commonwealth compares poorly to national averages.

jfcherry / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

A new website may help patients determine the cost of their next medical procedure. The non-profit Health Care Cost Institute recently launched guroo.com, an online price transparency tool that uses cost information from some of the country’s biggest insurers.

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