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HHS mandates clear insurance language

The Obama administration will require health insurance plans to publish their coverage information using simple terms and consumer-friendly labels. New rules mandated by the health system reform law and recently finalized by the Dept. of Health and Human Services would help employers and beneficiaries compare and select health plans more easily, health officials said. Insurers would use templates, similar to nutrition labels used on food products, designed by the administration to detail cost-sharing and coverage limitation information. "Consumers, for the first time, will really be able to clearly comprehend the sometimes confusing language insurance plans often use in marketing," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "This will give them a new edge in deciding which plan will best suit their needs and those of their families or employees." Insurers must use new forms that detail coverage beginning Sept. 23. Information will include examples of coverage that highlight the cos ...

Adult vaccination rate still too low

Not enough adults are receiving recommended vaccinations, and there has been little progress increasing coverage in recent years, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. Significant improvement is needed to stem the negative health consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases among adults, said the Feb. 3 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. "We can't give up," said Sandra Fryhofer, MD, American College of Physicians' liaison to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. "Vaccinations are vital to our nation's health, and they save health care dollars over the long term." At least 45,000 American adults die each year of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. By comparison, fewer than 1,000 Americans die of childhood diseases that are vaccine-preventable, the CDC says. The report examined 2010 data on six vaccines: pneumococcal, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, herpes zoster, human papillomavirus and tetanus antigen-containing ...

Doctors urged to educate patients about sodium consumption

Primary care physicians should talk to patients about ways to lower their sodium intake by about a quarter teaspoon of salt each day, says a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official. Such a reduction would prevent thousands of deaths from cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke a year and save billions in health care dollars, said Mary E. Cogswell, DrPH, a senior scientist in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. To achieve that goal, she encourages doctors to educate patients on the amount of sodium they need each day and the importance of checking sodium content on nutrition labels. She also recommends that physicians talk to patients about items that have high sodium levels. Ten types of food account for 44% of the dietary sodium that Americans consume each day, according to a study published in the Feb. 10 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Rep ...