Daily Archives: November 17, 2009

In Reversal, Panel Urges Mammograms at 50, Not 40

What a crock of crap, I really can’t believe this. So many women in their 40’s get breast cancer and now some group with ties to doctors and insurance companies say it is ok not to have mammograms until your 50! How many women would be dead right now if they waited until 50 to have an examination:

Most women should start regular breast cancer screening at age 50, not 40, according to new guidelines released Monday by an influential group that provides guidance to doctors, insurance companies and policy makers.

The new recommendations, which do not apply to a small group of women with unusual risk factors for breast cancer, reverse longstanding guidelines and are aimed at reducing harm from overtreatment, the group says. It also says women age 50 to 74 should have mammograms less frequently — every two years, rather than every year. And it said doctors should stop teaching women to examine their breasts on a regular basis.

Just seven years ago, the same group, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, with different members, recommended that women have mammograms every one to two years starting at age 40. It found too little evidence to take a stand on breast self-examinations.

The task force is an independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care appointed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Its new guidelines, which are different from those of some professional and advocacy organizations, are published online in The Annals of Internal Medicine They are likely to touch off yet another round of controversy over the benefits of screening for breast cancer.

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Filed under Breast Cancer, mammograms, NY Times

NJPP Monday Minute: 11/16/09 House bill would provide a safety net for those losing health insurance

Over the last seven years, New Jersey employers dropped insurance coverage for workers at a rate faster than the national average, according to economist Elise Gould in her new report Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Erosion Continues. The nearly seven percent drop (from 75.6 percent to 68.7 percent) is the 14th largest percentage decline in the nation.

“No demographic or socioeconomic group has been spared from the erosion of employer sponsored insurance over the 2000s,” states Gould, Director of Health Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute. “Workers across the wage distribution, in small and large firms alike, and even those working full time and in white-collar jobs have experienced losses.”

Although all income groups across the country have experienced some loss of benefits over this time period, lower income households have been the hardest hit: the coverage rate for the bottom 40 percent of income earners dropped by about ten percentage points, while for the top 40 percent it declined by three percentage points.

In New Jersey, children covered under a parent’s insurance experienced the greatest decline. That number fell to 67.1 percent in 2007-2008 from 76.2 percent in 2000-2001, a 9.1 percentage point drop. Fortunately, many of these children were able to obtain health coverage because of recent improvements in Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare that expanded outreach and eliminated some barriers to the programs.

Unfortunately, adults without children are not eligible for NJ FamilyCare, no matter how poor they are. In addition, only parents with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($44,100 for a family of four) are eligible to receive NJ FamilyCare benefits for themselves, although children in the same size family are eligible when parents earn up to 350 percent of the federal poverty level ($77,175). Even though most are employed, about half of all New Jersey’s low-income non-elderly adults do not have insurance, compared to a quarter of low-income children who are uninsured. These adults must usually purchase health insurance on the private market, but often cannot afford the high cost.

These are some of the reasons why national health reform is critical for New Jersey. Many small businesses want to provide insurance to attract qualified employees, but the cost is often prohibitive. The health reform bill that passed in the House (HR 3962) would address these problems in several ways by:

  • Requiring large employers to provide health coverage or pay a fee
  • Limiting how much insurance companies can increase premiums each year
  • Providing health insurance subsidies to low and middle-income households, including childless adults
  • Establishing a public insurance option in every state which would create more choice and competition
  • Providing tax credits to small employers as an incentive for them not to drop coverage

People’s health should not depend on who they work for or how much money they make. Individuals should have more opportunities for affordable coverage, but large businesses must also share in the responsibility to effectively and equitably provide coverage to their employees as detailed in the House bill.

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Filed under health care reform, Monday Minute, NJPP