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America’s Health Insurance Plans, pointing out to the earlier report by CMS about the growing expenses of nation’s health care, said in a release that the rising cost of health insurance premiums are not necessarily responsible for the natio’s growing health care costs. The statement says that the cost of health insurance plan administration, in fact, has declined from last year.

Earlier this morning CMS released a report, discussing the factors that are expected to influence the growth of the cost of health care untill 2019. AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) took the opportunity to immediately making its voice heard saying You see, it’s not the health insurance plan administration, it’s the rise in medical cost. The statement came this afternoon by the CEO of AHIP Karen Ignagni.

CMS found that health care’s share of the economy grew 1.1 percentage points in 2009. This is the largest one-year increase in GDP share since the federal government began keeping track in 1960. The report found two primary drivers of the growth of health care cost. Those are the medical prices and utilization. They saw a projected increase in spending by 3.2 percent and 1.5 percent in 2009, respectively. Other key findings include:

“Rising health care costs are crushing our economy and adding a burden on working families and employers across the country. The new CMS data confirm that rising health care costs are driven by increases in underlying medical costs, not health plan administrative costs. In fact, the proportion of health insurance premiums that go towards administrative costs is declining as overall health care costs continue to soar. Without a national, long-term strategy to address the rapid growth in underlying medical costs, health care spending will continue to grow far faster than the economy as a whole, crowding out other important domestic priorities, such as education, energy, and deficit reduction,” Ignani said in a written statement.

Here are other highlights of the report

* “Hospital spending growth is projected to have accelerated from 4.5 percent in 2008 to 5.9 percent in 2009, as spending reached $760.6 billion.”

* “Spending growth for physician and clinical services is expected to have accelerated to 6.3 percent in 2009, up from 5.0 percent in 2008, with expenditures having reached $527.6 billion.”

* “Prescription drug spending is expected to have grown 5.2 percent in 2009, an acceleration of 2.0 percentage points from 2008, and to have reached $246.3 billion.”

AHIP says that CMS’s report is consistent with the national data. It shows that the cost of medical and health care services is growing, which in turn hardly makes health insurance affordable for anyone. This data, consistent with CMS’s numbers, is is collected and received from health insurance plans.


n Michigan, a tax credit could help out-of-work residents pay for health insurance. If eligible the Health Coverage Tax Credit would pay up to 80 percent of health care costs.

The IRS is not usually known for its kindness; and certainly not for its help in health insurance matters. However, Michigan residents are fortunate in this respect. The tax credit applies to the more than 40,000 Michigan residents who were laid off due to foreign competition, or had their pensions cut off and were then forced to purchase health insurance.

Michiganians must have health insurance coverage for the credit to assist. The IRS has spent a significant amount in order to help alleviate the cost of buying health insurance. The credit makes coverage affordable and not out of reach for many such as those who face foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Pensions were also reduced for many this year as the government took over pension plans through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. This makes the little known credit even more helpful to those who were expecting a heftier pension.

The IRS is currently trying to publicize the Health Coverage Tax Credit as part of Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which was made to draw America out from the depths of recession.

The tax credit is available to anyone who is certified under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act and for those whose pension was overtaken by the government. Many Delphi employees have already signed up for the credit. They can receive coverage for nearly $15,000 in premiums.

Two recent studies show how a mother’s love can help offspring cope with stress later in life.

The findings from researchers at Douglas Mental Health University Institute highlight the importance of a mother’s touch and nurturing during infancy that later helps adult offspring cope with stress.

Claire-Dominique Walker, Douglas research scientist and study senior author explains, “For example, we have shown that, in rodent models, maternal high-fat feeding during the prenatal and lactational period blunts stress responsiveness in neonatal pups. In addition, we demonstrated that maternal licking of pups also blunted adult sensitivity to stress.” To put it in other words, they were less vulnerable to stressful situations.

The researchers say the studies are important and show that a mother’s care can improve health outcomes for infants through non-invasive and easily implemented interventions.

A new finding from Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience shows young men and women cope with stressful situations better and have more self-esteem with higher levels of caring and love from mother’s during infancy.

Jens Pruessner, Douglas research scientist and senior author of the study. “However, while the low hormonal stress levels in the high maternal care group were associated with high self-esteem, subjects in the low maternal care group exhibited low self-esteem.”

According to the study authors, “In our own previous studies, we have shown how variations in early-life parental care influence the development of the hippocampus and modify the cortisol awakening response.”

The study measured the effect of a mother’s care on cortisol, heart rate and perceived stress among 63 healthy adults. The findings showed adults who received high levels of maternal care had lower cortisol levels, while those in low level groups had :increased levels of depression and anxiety and decreased self-esteem…”

The way a mother interacts with her baby can have long-term effects on the brain related to self-esteem and response to stress later in life, highlighted in two recent studies. High levels of nurturing and love during infancy are important for mental health during adulthood.

While approximately 45 million Americans do not have health insurance, about 2.5 times that number do not have dental health insurance. If you are among the latter group, you may be eligible for free or low-cost dental care.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a part of the National Institutes of Health, more than 131 million children and adults in the United States do not have dental health insurance. Fortunately, some of these individuals may qualify for one or more of several different programs offered by both public and private entities.

For example, although the NIDCR does not provide financial assistance for people who need dental care, they do sometimes seek volunteers who have specific dental, oral, or craniofacial conditions to participate in clinical trials. These are federally funded studies in which participants typically receive free or low-cost dental treatment for the particular condition being studied. A list of NIDCR clinical trials can be accessed through the NIDCR website.

Dental schools are another source of low-cost dental care for people who do not have dental health insurance. These teaching facilities usually have clinics where dental students can get hands-on experience by treating patients. Going to a dentist is a stressful experience for many people, but be assured that licensed dentists supervise the students while they work. See a list of dental schools in the United States to determine if there is one near you. You can also call your state dental society for more information.

Dentistry from the Heart is a national nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to provide much-needed dental care for people who do not dental health insurance or who are underinsured. The organization was founded in 2001 by Dr. Vincent Monticciolo, a dentist in New Port Richey, Florida. Every year, dozens of dental offices and clinics across the country host a day of free dental care. Since 2001, Dentistry from the Heart participants have donated $2.5 million worth of dental care and helped more than 10,000 people. Twenty-nine states had free dental days in 2008. A list of free dental events can be seen on the Dentistry from the Heart website.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administers three federally funded programs. Medicare is a health insurance program for people age 65 years and older or for people with specific disabilities. Medicaid is a state-run program that provides medical benefits to eligible individuals and families. Medicare does not cover most dental care, while Medicaid offers more, although they are limited in many cases. A program called SCHIP (State Children Health Insurance Program) provides dental coverage to children up to age 19 who do not have health insurance. Information about all of these programs can be accessed at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Although these dental care programs will not cover everyone who does not have dental health insurance, they are viable options for many who may desperately need dental treatment. Another option is the National Association of Free Clinics. This nonprofit’s website lists more than 400 free clinics across the United States, some of which offer dental services.

Mexican migrants working in the United States may soon have their own affordable health insurance program. According to Mexico’s Health Department, it is launching a pilot program designed to encourage migrants who work in the states to sign up for the Mexican government’s Seguro Popular health insurance plan.

Seguro Popular was instituted in Mexico in 2003 as a nationwide effort to provide health insurance for the poor. According to results of a study by researchers at Harvard University, in collaboration with researchers in Mexico, the popular health insurance program has been successful in reducing high health care costs for the country’s poor households.

This newest effort by Mexico’s Health Department is an attempt to provide health insurance coverage for all Mexicans by the year 2012, according to a statement made by the department. The effort will begin Colorado and be offered in other states over time. Currently there are approximately 12 million Mexicans living in the United States.

Seguro Popular was established to provide health care coverage to 50 million Mexicans who cannot otherwise afford health insurance. Participation in the program is voluntary, is free to the poor, and provides them with access to health clinics, regular and preventive medical care, drugs, and money to pay for all of these services. The program’s main goal is to reduce catastrophic health expenses, defined as those that exceed 33 percent of a household’s yearly disposable income.

The Harvard study notes that Mexico’s health insurance program covers approximately the same number of people as are currently uninsured in the United States. According to Gary King, lead author of the Harvard study and director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard, Seguro Popular may offer some insights for other countries on how to implement a health insurance program for the poor.

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