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wellness digest—week of may 2

May 9, 2011

in wellness digest

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

1. seinfeld on the web, portion controlled

this has nothing to do with health. this is about narrowing choice, something i think employers—74% of whom offer 19 or more health programs—could stand to consider.

“Burger King now has a burger where you decide how many patties. How disgusting is that? That’s the problem right there. That’s the cultural moment that I am repudiating here.”

2. are georgia’s anti-obesity ads unfair to fat kids?

i’m dissecting this health awareness campaign later this week, so let’s leave it at a quote for now.

“‘Chubby kids may not outlive their parents,’ reads one of the signs. Reads another, ‘Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did.’

“The ads won praise for their attention-grabbing tactics. But they also have outraged parents, activists and academics who feel the result is more stigma for an already beleaguered group of children.

“The Georgia Children’s Health Alliance, which created the ads, said they were necessary to jar parents of obese kids out of a state of denial that their children had a problem.”

3. is my county healthier than yours?

this article explains why the county health rankings, a joint project from the university of wisconsin and the robert wood johnson foundation, matter.

“Learning that population health differs simply by geography can be galling. And that’s the point. The County Health Rankings counteract the fatalism and randomness that many people ascribe to getting sick. Say you find that your county sits at the bottom of your state’s list. You might want to know, ‘Why should my family, my coworkers and my neighbors be sicker or more vulnerable to getting sick than people who live elsewhere?’ It feels unfair to you, and it is embarrassing to your local lawmaker, and so it becomes a call to action to improve health in your community.”

4. new labels will soon help consumers choose health plans

sample labels intended to make it easier to understand treatment and plan costs are making it through the system (you can vote and submit comments). these labels are a product of the new health care law requirements. some employers provide this information today, also citing national averages. and a new company, castlight health, wants to make it possible to shop for health care as we do for travel. i’m not sure whether the irony of these easier-to-use labels running “two pages long” was intended.

“For the first time, consumers shopping for a health policy will be able to get a good idea of how much of the costs different plans will cover for three medical conditions: maternity care, treatment for diabetes and breast cancer. And because buying insurance is more complicated than buying a can of soup, the proposed insurance labels are two pages long.”

5. frequent business travel tough on the heart, study finds

a new study finds that higher-frequency business travelers are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and worrying biometrics, even though all participants used their company’s wellness program. these results won’t shock anyone who’s traveled, but they should suggest carving out business travelers for special treatment. that’s why a client and i are discussing specific health promotion strategies for their sales force.

“Compared to ‘light’ travelers (who traveled 1 to 6 days a month) those who traveled 20 or more days a month had a higher body mass index (27.5 vs. about 26); a lower level of ‘good’ high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol; and higher diastolic blood pressure (76.2 vs. 74.6 mmHG).”

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Elizabeth May 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

Fran,
The label article was very interesting. Going to post it on my LI group as well. I wonder how helpful they will be? It would serve as a way to compare plans…but will folks understand the numbers are based on national averages, rather than their “real” local costs? No doubt buying health care is a complicated task…and I’m all about simplifying…but it’s tough to do. Love the irony of the two- page “summary”…thanks!

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fran May 10, 2011 at 9:04 am

at two pages long, i think they’ve already lost the battle.

f

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