Posts Tagged ‘cost critical illness insurance’

Video Explains How To Compare Critical Illness Insurance Policies

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

To educate American consumers about critical illness insurance protection a relatively new form of insurance, the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance launched a new educational program.

Citical illness insurance has only recently become available in the United States, ecplains Jesse Slome, executive director of the Los Angeles-based trade group.  The protection pays a lump sum cash payment upon diagnosis of cancer, a heart attack or stroke. 

“There were 1.5 million new cancer cases in the U.S. over the past 12 months,” Slome explains.  “Illnesses are the leading reason millions of Americans have declared bankruptcy which doesn’t have to happen if you understand your options and plan ahead.”

The Association has produced a nine minute online presentation that briefly explains what critical illness insurance protects and provides tips on what to look for in a policy.  “Consumers have no idea how to compare coverage offered to them on an individual basis or through their employer,” Slome notes.  “We wanted to share five very simple things to look for that will help them make better decisions.”

For example Slome explains, critical illness insurance offered by an employer may actually cost more than equal protection purchased on an individual basis.  “There is no reason to pay more than you need to,” Slome advises. 

The presentation can be viewed for free at http://my.brainshark.com/Guide-For-Consumers-Considering-Critical-Illness-Insurance-565325792

Weekend Stroke Victims Receive More Aggressive Treatment

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

January 13, 2010.  Stroke victims brought to a hospital on a weekend are more likely to receive the powerful clot-dissolving drug tPA than those who arrive on a weekday.

Researchers conducted the study following a report showing that aggressive treatment for heart attacks was more likely to be given during the week rather than the weekend.

The heart attack study sent researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina.Kazley searching through the records of almost 79,000 people admitted to Virginia hospitals between 1998 and 2006 with ischemic strokes, in which a clot blocks a brain blood vessel.

The research team found that relatively few patients received tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which works quickly to break up clots. In fact, only 543 of the 58,378 people admitted on weekdays got the drug, compared to 229 of the 20,279 admitted on weekends. The numbers show that the weekend stroke victims were 20 percent more likely to be given tPA than weekday arrivals.

The findings published in the January issue of the Archives of Neurology explained that because there are fewer elective procedures on weekends, patients have better access to expertise and better access to diagnostic technology such as CT [computed tomography] scanners. They are also more likely to present at an earlier time, since they are less likely to have to battle traffic to get to the hospital.

Despite the higher level of tPA treatment on weekends, no statistical significance in the death rates of the two groups was seen in the study. Only about one percent of patients who got the treatment, and at those low numbers it is very difficult to find a significant difference.

“It is vital for all adults to understand the symptoms of a stroke vital to getting treatment quickly,” explains jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness insurance.   Stroke symptoms can include a sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, vision trouble, dizziness and headache.

Radiation From CT Scans May Cause Cancer Risk

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Research findings reveal that Americans who are overexposed to radiation from diagnostic tests, especially from a specialized kind of X-ray called a computed tomography, or CT, scan have an increased liability for incurring cancer.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, about 70 million CT scans were done on Americans in 2007, up from 3 million in 1980.  A chest CT scan exposes the patient to more than 100 times the radiation dose of a chest X-ray.

Medical researchers at the National Cancer Institute developed a computer model to estimate the impact of scans.  They estimated the scans done in 2007 will cause 29,000 cancers. A third of the projected cancers will occur in people who were ages 35 to 54 when they got their CT, two-thirds will occur in women and 15 percent will arise from scans done in children or teens. 

The researchers estimated there will be an extra 2,000 excess breast cancers just from CT scans done in 2007.  They found radiation dosage varied widely between different types of CT studies, from a median or midpoint of 2 millisieverts for a routine head CT scan to 31 millisieverts for a scan of the abdomen and pelvis, which often involves taking multiple images of the same organ. 

By comparison, the average American is exposed to about 3 millisieverts of radiation a year from ground radon or flying in an airplane — a level not considered a risk to health.

Pregnancy-Produced Hormone May Prevent Breast Cancer

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Researchers at the Center for Immunology and Microbial Diseases and in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Albany Medical College, N.Y., report that the protein, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), may serve as a viable, well-tolerated agent for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer.  AFP is a protein normally produced by the liver and yolk sac of a fetus. 

Hormones produced during pregnancy, such as estrogen, all induce AFP, which directly inhibits the growth of breast cancer, noted one of the researchers.  Medical experts explain that the body can produce a natural defense system against breast cancer.  They note this can be developed into a drug that can be used to protect women from breast cancer. 

Recent studies have shown that hormones released during pregnancy, such as estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin, reduce a women’s risk for breast cancer.   Nearly 700,000 women will be diagnosed with cancer this year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Breast cancer affects about 26 percent of female cancer victims.

Researchers’  results showed that treatment with estrogen plus progesterone, estrogen alone or human chorionic gonadotropin reduced the incidence of mammary cancers in rats.   The researchers noted that each of these treatments elevated the serum level of AFP and that AFP directly inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells growing in culture.  While none of these treatments prevented mammary tumors in 100 percent of the rats, it appears to delay mammary tumor formation and prevent breast cancer development in approximately 30 to 50 percent of the rats.

Vigorous Exercise Associated With Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

October 8, 2009.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there’s good news for post-menopausal women.  Engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise may result in a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Nearly 700,000 American women are diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  About one quarter (26%) have breast cancer recognized as the most common cancer affecting U.S. women,

Researchers writing the open access journal BMC Cancer investigated the link between breast cancer and exercise.  According to the international team of researchers headed by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, this new study is one of the first prospective investigations to look at the importance of various intensities of exercise at different stages in an individual’s life. 

Over 110,000 post menopausal women were asked to rate their level of physical activity at ages 15-18, 19-29, 35-39, and in the past 10 years. It was found, over 6.6 years of follow up, that women who engaged in more than 7 hours per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise for the last ten years were 16% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who were inactive. 

No link was observed between breast cancer risk and physical activity in women who were active at a younger age.  The findings could help inform the mechanisms of the physical activity-breast cancer relationship.

New Test Assesses Individual Breast Cancer Risk

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

October 7, 2009.  Some 692,000 American women are diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  About one quarter (26%) have breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a new report notes that analyzing individual breast tissue for specific structural characteristics may more precisely determine a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer.

Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers report that the more acini a woman has and the larger her breast lobules, the higher the chance she will get breast cancer.  Acini, the medical experts note, refers to a cluster of cells that in this instance are the sacs that produce milk.

Currently, factors such as family history of breast cancer, number of pregnancies and age at first pregnancy are helpful in predicting how often breast cancer will arise in a larger population. But, reserachers note, these same tools are poor indicators of individual risk.

Other than family history and genetics, the best tool experts have to predict individual breast cancer risk is the Gail model, which takes into account age and number of previous biopsies, as well as family history and pregnancy history.   But, the authors of the report note that the Gail model is “only slightly better than chance alone.

Breast cancer originates in the breast lobules. The lobules are supposed to disappear as a woman ages, reducing her breast cancer risk, but this doesn’t always happen.  The researchers tissue from women with breast cancer (as well as earlier tissue samples taken before they developed the cancer).  The more acini per lobule a woman had and the larger the lobule, the higher her risk for developing breast cancer, the researchers found.   This new technique proved more accurate than the Gail model.

Mini-Stroke Precedes 1 In 8 Strokes

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

For the study published in the Sept. 29 issue of Neurology, researchers found that, of the 16,409 people diagnosed with stroke over a four-year period, 2,032 — or 12.4 percent of them — had a TIA in the weeks before the stroke.

As a result, the medical experts concluded that a TIA does not have enough predictive power to warrant intensive preventive measures.

A TIA, which some refer to as a mini-stroke, occurs when a clot briefly blocks a brain artery. Symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke — sudden onset of weakness or numbness in an arm or leg, loss of vision or double vision, speech difficulty, dizziness, loss of balance — but they go away, often in a few minutes. Many people ignore the symptoms, but they are clear signs of possible trouble.

 

Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center. But he disagrees with the Canadian report’s  interpretation of the predictive importance of TIAs.  “They predict 10 to 15 percent of strokes,” Goldstein said. “This is not a small number, so it is an opportunity to prevent stroke that you don’t want to miss when it happens.”

Some medical experts noted that better predictive tools are available.  Many prefers carotid ultrasound, an inexpensive way to listen to blood flow in the main artery to the brain.

SOURCES: Daniel G. Hackam, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, neurology, clinical pharmacology and epidemiology/biostatistics, Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre, Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., director, Duke Stroke Center, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; Sept. 29, 2009, Neurology

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Vitamin D Proves Heart Healthy

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

An estimated 800,000 Americans will have a first heart attack this year and the combined financial cost of heart attacks and strokes is over $225 billion.  Most personal bankruptcies today are directly tied to medical and healthcare costs.

A new study by researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and Massachusetts General Hospital studied the association between vitamin D levels in the blood and the death rates of those 65 and older.  

Researchers found that older adults with insufficient levels of vitamin D die from heart disease at greater rates that those with adequate levels of the vitamin.  The results are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

It’s likely that more than one-third of older adults now have vitamin D levels associated with higher risks of death and few have levels associated with optimum survival noted the lead author on the study. 

The study noted that older adults are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency often because their skin has less exposure to the sun as a result of less time spent outdoors as well as the body’s reduced ability to make vitamin D.

The study analyzed data from the National Center for Health Statistics that was of the 24 million older adults in the United States. Compared to those with optimal vitamin D status, those with low vitamin D levels were 3 times more likely to die from heart disease and 2.5 times more likely to die from any cause.

“Vitamin D has health effects that go beyond strong bones,” one of the researchers explained. “It’s likely that it makes a vital contribution to good health.”

Overdiagnosis Of Prostate Cancer In Men Likely

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Over 1 million additional men were likely to have been incorrectly diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

Researchers indicated that over the past two decades, the introduction of prostate-antigen screening, or PSA, has resulted in the overdiagnosis reported in a new study published online by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

 The report notes that overdiagnosis has been associated with early diagnosis in prostate cancer, but there have been no previous national estimates of its magnitude.  Nearly 800,000 American men are diagnosed with cancer each year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  Prostate cancer accounts for 10 percent of all cancer-related deaths.

 

Using data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, researchers at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice examined age-specific prostate cancer incidence rates in American men diagnosed and treated in each year after 1986.   The PSA screening was introduced in 1987.

 

According to the study, an additional 1.3 million men were diagnosed.  These they note would otherwise have never been diagnosed absent screening, and more than 1 million have been treated since 1986.

 

The increased diagnosis has been most dramatic among younger men.  The diagnosis for prostate cancer has more than tripled since 1986 in men aged 50-59 (from 58.4 to 212.7 per 100, 000) and more than a sevenfold increase in men under age 50 (from 1.3 to 9.4 per 100,000).

Cut Salt For Better Health

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

If Americans cut their salt intake to recommended levels, they’d have far fewer cases of high blood pressure, and save billions of dollars in critical illness health care costs.

High sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure and its complications including heart and kidney disease.  Scientists with the Institute of Medicine recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. The average American, however, consumers about 1,000 mg more than that, according to the authors of the study appearing in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Researchers estimate that if the average sodium intake fell to the recommended level there would be 11 million fewer cases of high blood pressure each year.   According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance estimmates some 70 million American adults have high blood pressure.  The costs of treating high blood pressure and related heart disease and strokes would fall by $18 billion.

While reducing sodium intake sounds simple, it is actually fairly difficult for individuals to do, the researchers noted.  That’s because so much of the sodium Americans consume comes not from their own salt shakers, but from packaged foods and meals eaten out.

SOURCE: American Journal of Health Promotion, September/October.

Obesity, Alcohol, Smoking Increase Risk Of Second Breast Cancer

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Survivors of breast cancer have a significantly higher risk of developing a second breast cancer than women in the general population have of developing a first breast cancer.   Breast cancer now has a greater than 90 percent five-year survival rate in the United States, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the industry trade group.

Considering the large and ever-growing number of survivors, scientists noted that little is known about lifestyle factors may make survivors more vulnerable to a second cancer.

A just published study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center finds that obesity, alcohol use and smoking all significantly increase the risk of second breast cancer among breast cancer survivors.

The researchers found that obese women had a 50 percent increased risk, women who consumed at least one alcoholic drink per day had a 90 percent increased risk, and women who were current smokers had a 120 percent increased risk of developing a second breast cancer.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that obesity, alcohol consumption (consuming at least seven drinks a week) and current smoking may be important risk factors for second breast tumors. The research also suggests that current smokers who imbibe at least seven drinks a week may be at particularly high risk of second breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute funded the research that was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Coffee Linked To Heart And Stroke Risk

Friday, September 4th, 2009

People who drink lots of coffee but who don’t follow a Mediterranean-style diet are more likely to have atrial fibrillation, according to a new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Barcelona.

Researchers studied patients who’d been recently diagnosed with the common heart arrhythmia to supply information about their dietary habits, including caffeine consumption. Their diets were compared with those of people without atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation means the heart’s two upper chambers quiver instead of beating regularly, leading to heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue and an increase in the risk of stroke.

According to the scientists, daily coffee intake was divided into four categories: none, low (one cup per-day), medium (two to three cups a day), and heavy (more than three cups).

The individuals participating in the study were cross-ranked according to their adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, olive oil, fruits and vegetables and includes little red meat.

The report notes that individuals with atrial fibrillation were less likely to follow the Mediterranean diet than those without the heart condition. Those with atrial fibrillation also consumed more red meat and full-fat dairy products.

The heaviest coffee drinkers were also more likely to have atrial fibrillation than those who drank less, the study found.

SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, Aug. 30, 2009

Strokes Occurring At Younger Ages

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Strokes are no longer an affliction of old age, a new study finds.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis found that people in the working ages of life are having strokes with greater regularity than ever before. 

While more people under the age of 65 are suffering strokes, rehabilitation is often not offered to younger people with mild stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  Heart attacks, cancer and strokes are the three major critical illnesses affecting Americans.

The study examined data on nearly 8,000 people treated for stroke between 1999 and 2008. Researchers found that 45 percent were under 65 and 27 percent were under the age of 55. This differs drastically from data from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which states that 66 percent of all strokes occur in people over 65, the report in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy reports.

Most of the strokes among those under 65 were mild.  Individuals typically do not have outward signs of impairment and therefore are discharged with little or no rehabilitation.  The report noted that these individuals have trouble reintegrating back into complex activities of everyday life such as employment.

About 71 percent of patients who had a mild to moderate stroke were discharged directly home, discharged with home services only, or discharged with outpatient services only.   Follow-up with stroke victims revealed that 46 percent of those with a mild stroke said they were working slower, 42 percent said they were not able to do their job as well, 31 percent said they were not able to stay organized and 52 percent said they had problems concentrating.

SOURCES: Timothy J. Wolf, O.T.D., M.S.CI., O.T.R/L, instructor, occupational therapy and neurology and investigator for the Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Group, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.; Richard Isaacson, M.D., assistant professor, neurology and medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; September/October 2009, American Journal of Occupational Therapy