|Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category|
The data from the final Centers for Disease Control report on deaths in 2006 has concluded its analysis of the mortality patterns in 2006. The data suggest a decline in the age-adjusted death rate to a record historical low, thus increasing life expectancy from 2005 to 2006.
The results show that there were 2,426,264 deaths in the US at an age-adjusted death rate of 776.5 deaths per 100,000 standard populations, a decrease of 2.8% from 2005 and a record low historical figure. Life expectancy at birth rose 0.3 years from 77.4 years in 2005 to a record 77.7 years in 2006. Infant mortality rate in 2006 was 6.69 deaths per 1,000 live births. Age-specific death rates increased for those aged 25-34 years, but decreased for: 5-14 years, 35-44 years, 45-54 years and beyond. The 15 leading causes of death in 2006 remained the same as in 2005 with heart disease and cancer continuing to be the leading and second-leading causes of death, together accounting for almost half of all deaths.
President Intends to Submit UN Treaty for Ratification
Published Monday, August 17th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
Recently, President Obama announced his intentions to sign and submit to the Senate for ratification an international human rights treaty. In the past the US has ratified only three of 26 international human rights treaties, given reluctance from some in Congress. The treaty in question is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and it has been signed by 141 nations including Yemen and Sudan, ratified by 60 countries. Historically, the US created the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, yet as the UN contemplated a treaty for the disabled in 2001, Bush-era diplomats declared disability a domestic issue.
In the US, there are 37.8 million disabled; the greatest group facing disability is the group 16-64 years of age followed closely by the group 65 and over. Many believe that by signing the Disability Teaty, the US will put its reputation and influence behind it, and thus more will adhear to its provisions. Worldwide, there are 650 million people living with a disability; 85% live in developing nations.
The conclusion of a study conducted by Wolters Kluwer Health suggests that fewer Americans are filling their drug prescriptions. In the beginning of 2008, patients neglected to fill 6.8% of non-generic prescriptions, a 22% increase from 2007. The reason cited by the report was the increase in patients’ out of pocket costs and co-pays. Plus, since 1999 health insurance premiums have risen 120%, compared to the cumulative inflation of 44%. Further, in 2008, employer health insurance premiums increased by 5.0 percent – two times the rate of inflation—to $12,700 for an employer health plan for a family of four and $4,700 for single coverage.
Higher consumer prescription costs and insurance refusal to pay for some non-generic drugs have left many with the decision to drop their prescription drug treatments. A study by the Oregon Health and Science University found that a slight $2 to $3 co-payment reduced Medicaid patients prescription drug use by 17%. Also, a study by Integrated Benefits Institute regarding arthritis suffers in 17 organizations found that with higher co-pays for medicines—as much as $18,000 a year for arthritis medicine—led many to abandon their drug use, costing their employers $17.2 million in lost business productivity.
Progress Halting on Sexual Health and Reproduction of Teens and Young Adults
Published Thursday, July 30th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the period of improvement in sexual and reproductive health of U.S. teens and young adults has flattened and may be worsening. The data is reported in the “Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10-24 Years – United States, 2002-2007” and comes from various sources in order to get a clear picture of the trends. Some of the findings include the majority of the new diagnoses of HIV infection among adolescents and young adults occurred among those aged 20-24 years and among males. Furthermore, about 1 million adolescents and young adults aged 10-24 years were reported to have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis in 2006.
This report also details that the progress seen in later years has halted, such as teen birth rates increasing in 2006 and 2007 following large declines from 1991-2005. Also, syphilis cases among teens and young adults aged 15-19 and 20-24 years have increased in both males and females in recent years. Rates of AIDS cases among males aged 15-24 years increased during 1997-2006 (AIDS data reflects people with HIV who have already progressed to AIDS.) Additionally, rates of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses among young adults were highest among non-Hispanic black youth across all age groups.
Many Adults Lack Vaccinations That Could Save Their Lives
Published Monday, July 27th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
A survey of adult vaccinations completed by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases reported that diseases which are easily preventable by adult vaccines kill more Americans, over 50,000 adults, each year than car wrecks, breast cancer, or AIDS. The surveys show that generally Americans are unaware or misinformed about the dangers and vaccines available for diseases like the flu, Hepatitis B, Pneumococcal disease, Meningitis, Shingles, Human Papillomavirus, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough). One of the major problems is that Universal Coverage of vaccines stops at age 19. Plus, many adults think that vaccines are just for children, or they are concerned with vaccine safety. The CDC states that vaccines are among the safest medical products available. The result is that of the vaccines for adults are used no greater than 32% by high risk Americans baring the flu shot and tetanus shots.
Over the years of successful campaigns, the CDC has reported that over 95% of children have been vaccinated for various diseases. The CDC states that lack of awareness, resources and knowledge about adult vaccines, infrastructure, and access to health care are causes for low vaccination percentages among adults. The average annual health care expenditures per American has nearly tripled since 1990 to approximately $3,000 per annum. To compound the problem, nearly 15.3% of the population does not have health care insurance, which makes preventative care “unimportant” to some who believe they cannot afford non-emergency medicine.
A report called “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009” has been issued by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The report looks at a variety of trends in issues affecting children and teens, such as preterm births, exposure to tobacco, and drug use. Established by the Clinton Administration in April 1997, the forum now comprises 22 Federal agencies as well as private research organizations, collecting and reporting on a large number of issues. The Forum also calls attention to needs for new data about trends affecting children and teens. Each report has highlighted critical data gaps and challenges Federal statistical agencies to do better. In recent years, the forum has focused on areas such as disability, the mental health of children, and environmental quality.
Some of the findings include tobacco exposure, which after successful campaigns is down 50% in 2008 from its peak years of 1996 and 1997. 3% of 8th graders, 6% of 10th graders, 12% of 12th graders reported using cigarettes in 2008. Also, in 2008, only a quarter of High School students drank alcohol heavily as opposed to one-third in 1998. Illicit drug use is down considerably in 2008, as opposed to its peak in 1996/1997, including Cocaine. Currently, illicit drug use reduced to 8% of 8th graders, 16% of 10th graders, and 22% of 12th graders.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued a report stating that obesity is still growing since last year’s reports of 25.6% adult obesity. The report suggests we have grown to 26.1% adult obesity in 2008. Topping the scale is Mississippi, which registered at 32.8%; Colorado weighed in at 18.5% obese, the only state to remain under 20%. The CDC report comes as a study calls for senior citizens to participate in progressive resistance training. Beyond the obvious need for us all to be more active, senior citizens who exercise build up muscle mass that is typically lost as they age. The clinical review saw a moderate to large improvement in doing simple to complex daily activities, in addition to less pain and osteoarthritis symptoms that also plague the obese.
In the 16 years that the CDC has tracked the obesity levels there has been a steady increase of 47.7% to 67.1% in adolescents and adults. The level of activity vary as much as 10 percentage points between major race groups as 50% of White and Non-Hispanics exercising, 40% black, and 43% Hispanic. Likewise, age groups follow the same pattern as 60% of 18-29 year olds, 47% of 30-74 year olds and 40% of 75 and older workout.
Last week, the President hosted a town hall meeting with TV network ABC called “Prescription for America” in the East Room of the White House. There were 164 people: doctors, businessmen, patients, Republicans, Democrats, and independents. The President stressed access to health care and talked about a Medicare-like system that would allow patients to choose doctors and hospitals. Second, the President stated that nearly a third of what we spend on Health Care is unnecessary and that we should focus on strengthening primary care and coordination between doctors, specialist and patients. Finally, one of the obstacles is the reform’s costs, already projected to run between $1 and 2 trillion over the next 10 years.
Access for all Americans is an issue not just for the 15.3% of the population who are uninsured as of 2007. Access can also mean the number of hospitals, which as of 2006 came to 5756 in 2006, down from 6965 in 1980. Demand has given to a meteoric rise in consumer expenditures for public and private health care, which as of 2007 reached a combined price tag of $2.32 trillion. Averaged cost per patient per stay has increased to $8,793; even without hospital visits the average American annually spends nearly $3,000 on health care expenditures. The group who visits the ER most is the group 15-44 years old; this group is most likely to be uninsured.
Obama Orders Benefit Extention to Federal Same-Sex Partners
Published Friday, June 19th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
In a move, “the first step” that partially confirmed a campaign promise, President Obama directed administrative agencies to extend family sick-leave policies such as visitation or dependent-care rights to same-sex partners, but not health benefits. The new policy now allows for federal employees to use sick leave to care for same-sex partners and their children, plus partners can be added to a government insurance program that pays for long-term care. The Administration has pledged to work for a law that would extend full health benefits to same-sex partners and children. The President explained that to act unilaterally will not cement lasting change in benefits. He hopes to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and replace it with a law enacted by Congress that would fulfill his promise and make it lasting.
The percentage of workers who have access to benefits never equals 100%; in fact the Unions are the only group to achieve 92% covered by any kind of medical plan. Unions also have high percentages for drug care coverage at 87% and vision coverage at 57%. Non-union workers fared worse, with 68% covered by medical, 61% with drug care, and 26% with visual. Between white collar and blue collar workers, there is only 1-3 percentage points difference in coverage.
Congress has successfully — after a decade of political wrangling — passed a bill that gives the FDA wide powers to regulate the tobacco industry’s manufacture, marketing and selling of cigarettes. This bill overcame the Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that said that the agency did not have the right to regulate the industry on its own. The bill highlights: bars the use of terms like “lite” and “low tar”, bans all flavorings except menthol, sets new restrictions on advertising, requires larger warning labels, allows the FDA to lower the level of nicotine but not to zero, and bans sponsorship of sporting events or entertainment events. This bill neither raise taxes on cigarettes nor bans them. Also, this year 16 states are considering raising cigarette taxes to cover the near $47.4 billion shortfall that will exist at the end of FY2009.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking attributes to about 400,000 deaths per year in the US; nearly 25% of the US adult population smokes. The number of youth and adult smokers has dropped over the last several decades, yet it has leveled off in recent years. Updated information on the survival rate from cancer has risen slowly yet steadily to top 67.5% for whites and 57.5% for blacks. Studies suggest that reasons for the gap range from biological differences to sociological factors.