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wellness digest—week of april 25

May 2, 2011

in wellness digest

a digest of last week’s news that caught my eye and interest:

1. under health law, colonoscopies are free—but it doesn’t always work that way

some of my clients already cover preventive care for free, and i can tell you: this is a major problem. it’s very complicated to explain and requires dedicated communication with many examples. it’s not a once-and-done type of communication either. companies need to start thinking about their communication approaches on this subject today.

“For years, doctors have urged patients over the age of 50 to get colonoscopies to check for colorectal cancer, which kills 50,000 Americans a year. Their efforts were boosted last year by the federal health care law, which requires that key preventive services, including colonoscopies, be provided to patients at no out-of-pocket cost.

“But there’s a wrinkle in the highly touted benefit. If doctors find and remove a polyp, which can be cancerous, some private insurers and Medicare hit the patient with a surprise: charges that could run several hundred dollars.

“That’s because once the doctor takes action, the colonoscopy morphs from a preventive test into a treatment procedure.”

2. survey: text messaging preferred for health alerts

a new survey digs into what consumers are looking for in a health app and tabulates how many users drop an app and why. mobihealthnews’ brian dolan examines the results and puts them in perspective.

“While tracking data might be exciting, a large portion of survey takers wanted to use apps to find out info on drugs (42.2 percent) or disease (26.5 percent). Also promising was the finding that 39.8 percent of survey takers would use a health app multiple times a day. For health reminders or alerts, most respondents prefer receiving a text (41.1 percent) or a notice through the smartphone app (20.3 percent) rather than receiving a phone call (1.3 percent) to be reminded about taking medication or perform some other health related task.

“The CHIC stats could make for interesting fodder but they are based on a small online survey.”

3. the future of your health care

CNNmoney rounds up six big changes headed our way and explains what it means to us. it’s an excellent example of how to break concepts down into WIIFM—what’s in it for me.

“Employers, insurers, and the Medicare system are desperately trying to squeeze out savings without throwing away the good things modern medicine can do. This isn’t just about health care reform; a lot of what you’ll see in the coming years was in the works before that bill passed, and will likely continue even if courts or Congress pare back the law.

“Much is already happening, or will force you to make decisions as soon as the next open-enrollment season.”

4. the heavy burden of childhood obesity

this five-part series on childhood obesity in washington, DC looks at the challenges of childhood and teen obesity from different angles. this issue concerns companies because of the medical costs associated with it, of course. as this series explores, there’s an emotional toll to consider, too.

“In this five-part series, WAMU’s Kavitha Cardoza looks at the latest research, speaks with doctors treating an increasing number of overweight children, and hears from the sources themselves: children and families facing social stigma, health complications and the challenges of making changes.”

(hat tip: corporate wellness)

5. “organic” foods pack on the pounds

a study found that people eat more when foods are labeled “organic.” consumers consider the food to have a “health halo.” it’s like when people gorged themselves on those very untasty snackwell’s because they were low calorie. remember?! (i thought snackwell’s were long gone. apparently, they’ve been resurrected.)

eating well is a mystery to many. that’s why we now have food rules. companies can step in and offer help, from space for company gardens to onsite farmers’ markets and onsite cooking lessons. thank goodness, jamie oliver’s on it.

“So while the jury’s still out on whether organic foods universally have more micronutrients, the study suggests that organic foods have a discernable “health halo,” which means consumers might think they can eat more organic foods—even if cookies and potato chips are neither healthy nor nutritious—because of some perceived health benefit.”

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