A report from the United Health Foundation ranked Massachusetts, Hawaii and Vermont as the healthiest US states based on factors such as health care provider availability and obesity rates, while Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi were ranked the least healthy. The report, America's Health Rankings, also found that the country's premature mortality rates rose by 3% since 2015 driven partly by deaths due to drug overdose and cardiovascular disease, which increased by 7% and 2%, respectively.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she has received reassurance from Vice President Mike Pence that bills providing funding for reinsurance and cost-sharing reduction payments will be included in a government spending bill that will be considered before year's end. Collins agreed earlier this month to support a tax bill that included a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's mandate that individuals purchase health insurance after receiving commitment from Senate GOP leaders that they would work for passage of bills designed to shore up insurance markets.
The CMS announced that 4.68 million people chose Affordable Care Act plans through the federal exchange in the first six weeks of open enrollment this year, with over 1 million Americans signing up in the week ending Dec. 9, up from 823,000 in the previous week. Open enrollment ends Dec. 15 for most states, and overall signups are expected to fall short of last year's total HealthCare.gov enrollment of 9.2 million due to the shorter enrollment period.
International real estate firm Keller Williams will be offering a special price on Fitbit wearable activity monitors to more than 157,000 US employees as part of the company's wellness program. Agents will also be offered a discount on Fitbits to give as appreciation gifts when closing a deal.
A study in the journal Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews showed that 20% of type 2 diabetes patients ages 45 and younger had early signs of kidney damage, while 7% had eye problems. Danish researchers evaluated more than 5,000 diabetes patients and found that having diabetes at a young age increases a person's risk of developing life-threatening cardiovascular diseases, blindness or kidney failure.
Drug manufacturers set their prices as high as they think the market will bear, regardless of what other industry players are doing, says Pharmaceutical Care Association President and CEO Mark Merritt. "The bottom line is that the original list price of a drug is solely determined and controlled by the drug company -- not the market -- and it drives the entire pricing process," Merritt said to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.
House Republicans introduced bills that would delay the Affordable Care Act's excise tax on certain health insurance plans, another tax on all commercial health plans, and taxes on medical devices and over-the-counter drugs and would also retroactively revoke a penalty on certain employers that do not offer ACA-compliant health plans to employees.
The FDA has approved 41 novel drugs this year, compared with 22 in 2016, but 12 big drugmakers' returns on research and development investment was 3.2%, according to Deloitte.
Consumers can save money on dental care by subscribing to a dental insurance plan, joining a dental discount plan, shopping for a dentist and questioning whether some treatments like X-rays are necessary, writes Lauren Friedman. Following good oral hygiene practices prevents expensive problems, and many community health centers and dental schools offer discounts, Friedman writes.
Plaque reduction was nearly equivalent in hospitalized stroke survivors whose teeth were cleaned using a power toothbrush with chlorhexidine gel or a conventional toothbrush with a commercial toothpaste, researchers reported in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation. Because the results were so similar, the researchers recommend using the simplest, least expensive dental care option.
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