Meditation Reduces Stress, Healthcare Costs

Monday, September 19th, 2011
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Open wide and say…

Ommm?

That’s what doctors might be saying to their patients given the results of a new Canadian study that shows the health benefits of Transcendental Meditation (TM.) The study, which used people who consistently incurred the highest healthcare costs, found that the group that practiced the age-old technique for five years decreased their healthcare costs by nearly one third, or 28 percent, while the non-practicing group showed no significant decrease in healthcare payments. Chronic stress is the number one factor contributing to high medical expenses, and TM is known to play a significant part in reducing stress.

It turns out meditation could be just what the doctor ordered for the 81 million Americans who were uninsured or underinsured in 2010, a number that has increased by 80 percent since 2003. Despite having insurance, these people suffer from financial stress due to higher than usual premiums and limited access. And lower income families aren’t the only victims; in 2010, one out of six middle class families earning between $40,000 and $60,000 a year were underinsured. The PPACA could provide relief, according to the study, not only for the underinsured, but for the uninsured.

Illustrating the impact that diabetes is having on not only the U.S. healthcare system, but on a global scale, the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) released the following findings: 366 million people are suffering from diabetes worldwide; 4.6 million people died from the disease in 2011; and healthcare spending on diabetes reached $ 465 billion. The IDF delivered the grim news a week ahead of the UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which will be the second of its kind to focus on a global disease issue. It will target the four most prominent NCDs: cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, and aim toward agreeing on a global strategy to address them. The first UN Summit related to health was the HIV/AIDS meeting in 2001, which led to the creation of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

These stories and more in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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