Monday, November 28, 2011

Supreme Court To Review Healthcare Reforms

West face of the United States Supreme Court b...
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The issue of health insurance seems to always be in the news in America, especially in the last couple of years as a result of the reforms which were passed last year.

The system is vastly different to the one in the UK, with almost all Americans required to have a health insurance policy or they will be fined through the tax system. The Supreme Court is set to rule next year on the recent reforms to ascertain if they are in line with the US constitution.

It has been a source of constant debate, with the majority of candidates in the recent presidential debates condemning the new laws, in particular the penalty aspect.

The conservative argument in favour of the reforms is that most responsible adults, in particular those with families, will get a health insurance policy. Either they will be covered though a business health insurance policy at their job or they will purchase it themselves. The cost of care is far too expensive for those who do not have insurance therefore the costs are outweighed by the benefits.

There are some people who will not be able to obtain a policy, perhaps those with high risk factors or pre-existing conditions, because the cost will be too high. Even some healthy individuals may find the cost of a policy too high. These are the people set to gain the most from healthcare reform, by either getting access to much more affordable health insurance or by being exempt from the penalties.

It will be interesting to monitor this situation in the coming months. It really makes the healthcare system in the UK seems far less complex. 

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Primary Care Trusts Banning Approved Medication

Some medications approved by the NHS are being banned by some health trusts as they are too expensive. Medicines blacklisted include treatments for asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, cancer and heart disease despite being approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

An investigation carried out by GP newspaper found that round 25% of trusts have banned the use of Nice medications. A freedom of information request found that 33 of the 71 primary care trusts had a blacklist, with 18 of those including medications on the Nice list.

If a doctor deems a drug approved by Nice to be clinically appropriate then according to the NHS constitution the patient has the right to receive it. The care trust lists contains medications which are classed as “not prescribable” or not effective enough.

The Department of Health say there is no excuse for PCT’s to be denying patients access to medication if their doctor thinks it is necessary.

Those not wishing to be at the mercy of the NHS have been looking at private health insurance, with the sector continuing to perform well. While there is often a cap on the amount companies will spend on medications they are far more flexible when it comes to prescribing certain medications. 

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Online clinic on prostate disease

Do you know all you should about the risks of prostate disease?

Running from 25th November until 1st December - TalkHealth in conjunction with prostate Action, AXA PPP healthcare, and NHS Choices - are running an online clinic on prostate disease, where a team of experts will be on hand with advice on everything prostate related - from prevention of prostate disease, to managing prostate conditions.

The online clinic is easy to use, so why not head across and find out more about this important subject. Prostate disease is actually a lot more common than many of us realise, so if you'd like information, advice or guidance - head on over. If you're a concerned partner and the man in your life is too shy to discuss the subject - no problem - just log in and find out more on his behalf!

More info here -

Thursday, November 10, 2011

US Health Insurance Debate Goes On

It's interesting watching all the debate about the healthcare reforms in the USA and seeing just how difficult some people find it to get health insurance. Some have to work 7 days a week at different jobs just to get cover for their family, which really makes you appreciate the free NHS care available for everyone in the UK. Health insurance gets you the best quality care, but those not in a position to buy a policy still have access to healthcare.

Strangely, some people seem to see the problem as a lack of effort from other citizens (image from here)
It's not an ideal scenario, so those fortunate enough to have good jobs which provide medical insurance can really consider themselves lucky. The rest will just have to find a way to work within the system for the time being.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cancer Diagnosis Times Fall

The NHS has managed to significantly reduce cancer diagnosis times across the UK, according to official figures.

At the turn of the millennium it took on average 96 days from the first GP visit to diagnose bowel cancer, while now it is only 75 days. Oesophageal cancerdiagnosis times were also reduced from 59 to 48 days. Several other cancers showed a slight drop, but none as significant as bowel and oesophageal cancers.

Researchers trying to find the main causes of the improvement have highlighted the nationwide rollout of guidance in 2005 which helped doctors decide where a patient should be referred for treatment.

The Department of Health has invested £450m to improve its cancer strategy and improve diagnosis times, aiming to close the gap on the best healthcare systems when it comes to survival rates. 

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Finding The Right Health Insurance Policy

Doing the proper research is important when searching for a health insurance policy. It is a complicated market, but by considering as many of the important factors as possible you should be able to find the ideal coverage.

First you should consider the level of cover you require. Standard inclusions are usually the cost or any stays in hospital and any fees which may be incurred through visits to consultants. You should also be covered for any surgery required providing it is not for a pre existing condition. Beyond these standard inclusions many policies can be highly customised and there are many options available. 

To help you determine exactly what you would like covered by your policy it is a good idea to make a list of the things you would like to incorporate. If you need glasses or contact lenses it might be a good idea to include an optical care component. This could reimburse you for a set percentage of the cost of eye tests, frames or lenses. 

For women considering having children in the near future a maternity care component may be a worthwhile investment. Many insurers also offer a dentistry option which will refund some or all of the cost of any dental work you may require. If you can put together a list of things you really want it will be easier to reject any other potential additions to the policy when it is time to purchase. 

If you have a particular doctor or specialist you like to visit you should check if they are included in the insurers preferred treatment network. The more expensive policies will allow you to make use of a far wider range of doctors and facilities, but you will certainly pay for the privilege. You should enquire about the treatment network to ensure there are good facilities close to where you live. Should you require longer term care it will be far better to be closer to home than at the other side of the country. 

The last thing to consider is how much you can afford to pay. Once you have outlined your needs you need to find one which bests matches them as well as your budget. Many employers will offer a group health insurance plan which could save you money, so it's worth checking to see if your place of work provides this. If you start getting quotes which are too expensive you may need to reconsider which elements are really essential and remove some of those which you do not need. 

There is an overwhelming amount of information available at times, so it is important to take your time and make sure you understand everything before committing to a policy. There are services available that will evaluate your needs and find you the best policy available, so if you are lacking time or are not confident about doing your own research it can be worthwhile looking into these services.  

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NHS Breached Personal Data 806 times in the Last Three Years

Recent figures from privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch have shown that 806 separate incidents, involving patient medical records being compromised, have taken place at 152 NHS trusts between July 2008 and July 2011.
The group had access to the majority of NHS organisations in the UK and found several breaches of confidentiality including 23 incidents where patient information was posted on social networks, 129 separate incidents where employees were looking up at the details of colleagues and relatives; moreover on 57 occasions confidential information was lost or stolen by staff.
Surely these findings are likely to tarnish the NHS reputation and erode patient’s confidence; as Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This research highlights how the NHS is simply not doing enough to ensure that confidential information is protected”