Medicare to Cover Screening and Counseling for Obesity

Monday, December 5th, 2011
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Over 30 percent of both men and women in the Medicare population are estimated to be obese, and obesity is directly and indirectly associated with many chronic diseases. To address this problem, CMS recently announced that it will now cover screening and counseling for eligible beneficiaries who are obese, or are at risk for obesity. Face-to-face counseling sessions can last for up to 12 months if participants adhere to program guidelines and are successful in losing weight.

Thirty-day readmission rates have become a publicly reported quality performance measure for congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI.) However, little has been known regarding the factors associated with 30-day readmissions after PCI. Researchers from Saint Marys Hospital, which is part of Mayo Clinic, identified nearly 16,000 PCI hospitalizations (elective or for acute coronary syndromes) from January 1998 through June 2008 and found that, within 30 days after discharge, about 10 percent of patients were readmitted, and nearly 1 percent resulted in death within days after discharge.

The mHealth application market is expected to exceed $40 million annually by 2016. Much of that growth will be triggered by the ability of mobile handsets to easily connect to wearable devices that enable new functionality and accuracy. Researchers predict that home monitoring systems for aging users will be among the populations to reap the benefits of this trend.

Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums increased by 50 percent in the last eight years, and per-person deductibles doubled across the country. But this increase in costs didn’t mean that health coverage increased as well; instead, people were generally asked to pay more for less, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s recent report on state trends in premiums and deductibles. If trends continue at this rate, the average premium for family coverage will rise 72 percent by 2020, to nearly $24,000, researchers say.

And lastly, what was the biggest challenge for your organization in 2011, and how have you addressed this challenge? Let us know, by participating in our Healthcare Trends for 2012 e-survey, which is open for just a few more days. You’ll receive a free executive summary of the compiled results, and your responses will be kept strictly confidential. One respondent will win a training DVD of the 2012 Healthcare Trends and Forecasts webinar recorded on November 2, 2011.

You can find these stories and more in this week’s issue of Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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