Stories tagged health care

The annual cost of treating adult cases of diabetes in the United States nearly doubled between 2001 and 2007.

"Just because a drug is new or exploits a new mechanism does not mean that it adds clinically to treating particular diseases," said co-author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. "And even if a new drug does have a benefit, it's important to consider whether that benefit is in proportion to the increased cost."

Read more about Randall Stafford's article in the Oct. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine: Costlier new diabetes drugs do not necessarily produce better outcomes

Coming on the heals of a very successful effort to charge higher health insurance premiums to state worker who smoke (and thus leading them to quit), the state of Alabama is taking things to the next level. It's given state workers notice that they will pay higher insurance rates if they're overweight, don't get a regular check-up and don't show progress in lowering their weight. Read the full details here.


Mothers Index: Data from study by Save the ChildrenCourtesy

10 million children die from lack of health care every year

An alarming number of countries are failing to provide the most basic health care that would save children's lives.

"Use of existing, low-cost tools and knowledge could save more than 6 million of the 9.7 million children who die yearly from easily preventable or curable causes."
"They include antibiotics that cost less than $0.30 to treat pneumonia, the top killer of children under 5, and oral rehydration therapy — a simple solution of salt, sugar and potassium — for diarrhea, the second top killer." Yahoo News

Best and worst places to be a mother

In a report titled "State of the World's Mothers 2008 Report", the well-being of mothers and children in 146 countries were compared. The rankings were based upon over a dozen variables such as:

  • risk of mother or baby dying during childbirth
  • access to safe water
  • risk of child dying under age 5
  • female life expectancy

United States ranks 27th

Sweden, Norway and Iceland top the ranking in terms of well-being for mothers and children. Eight out of 10 bottom-ranked countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, where four out of five mothers are likely to lose a child in their lifetime,

  • One child in four does not reach age 5 in Afghanistan, Angola, Niger, and Sierra Leone. In Sweden 1 in 333 dies before age 5.
  • Death of mothers in pregnancy or childbirth in Afganistan is 1 in 8; In Ireland the odds are 1 in more than 47,000.
  • Women in Swaziland usually die before 30 wheresa in Japan they can expect to live until 86.

Learn more
Executive summary of report (pdf)
State of the World's Mothers report
Save the Children Home page


Providing health care for all is no easy task.: Photo by Neimster at

There’s been a lot of talk about the American health care system of late. And there’s going to be a lot more talk in the months ahead, as it becomes a campaign issue in the 2008 Presidential election. Gregory Mankiw, a professor of economics at Harvard, has crunched the numbers on health care, and found that some of the issues aren’t quite what they seem.

Lower life expectancy

Demographically and economically, the United States and Canada are fairly similar. Yet Americans, on average, die about two-and-a-half years sooner than our neighbors to the north. So health care in the US must be worse, right?

Not necessarily. Mankiw found that Americans, especially younger ones, are far more likely to die in an accident or a homicide than a similar Canadian. Take that away, and the difference virtually disappears. As Mankiw states, “Maybe these differences have lessons for traffic laws and gun control, but they teach us nothing about our system of health care.”

Infant mortality

In America, a higher percentage of babies die during infancy than in other countries. Ironically, this is not a sign that American health care is worse, but rather, that it is better.

In many countries, low-weight babies who are born not breathing are considered stillborn—doctors do not try to save them. American doctors do. In fact, America has the best rate of success with low-weight babies, simply because we are willing to take on these high-risk cases. But high risk also means high failure rate: despite the doctors’ best efforts, many of these babies die anyway, raising our infant mortality rate. In other countries, the baby is not counted as ever having been alive at all, making their rate appear low.

Also, Mankiw notes that low birth weight is associated with teen pregnancy, and America has a higher teen pregnancy rate than many other countries. While there are steps we can take to reduce that phenomenon, overhauling the way we pay for health care is not going to have any effect on teenagers’ behavior.

Millions of uninsured

Many politicians have noted that some 47 million Americans – nearly one in six – has no health insurance. Some of these people want health insurance, but can’t afford it, or can’t get it through their jobs. This is a real problem.

However, Mankiw notes that this 47 million includes a lot of other groups. Millions of poor people are already eligible for Medicaid, but have simply never enrolled. Millions more have been offered health insurance through their jobs, but declined. We could reduce the 47 million substantially, without changing a thing, just by getting these folks to sign up.

Mankiw notes that a large number of uninsured are illegal immigrants. Getting these people covered is a matter of immigration reform, not health care reform.

So, when you hear politicians throwing numbers around in the health care debate, remember: the story behind the numbers is often a lot different than the sound bites make it appear.

Meanwhile, here’s a possible solution to providing health care to the uninsured.


Americans with diabetes nears 21 million and is growing 5% per year.

One out of every eight U.S. federal health care dollars is spent treating people with diabetes. A report by Medco Health Solutions Inc. issued last month found that the growing diabetes epidemic and more aggressive treatment could result in soaring costs to treat the disease over the next three years.

An analysis of Medco's 2007 Drug Trend Report found that, by 2009, spending just on medicines to treat diabetes could soar 60 percent to 68 percent from 2006 levels. The sales of diabetes drugs in the United States reached $9.88 billion in 2005, according to data from IMS Health Inc. Yahoo News

Diabetes is deadly.

Over the next 30 years, diabetes is expected to claim the lives of 62 million Americans. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in heart disease, stroke, vision loss, amputation of extremities and kidney disease.

Obesity blamed.

Using data from an ongoing federal health survey of U.S. adults, researchers found that, on average, obese 18-year-old men had a 50.1-percent lifetime risk of developing diabetes, while obese women had a 57.3-percent risk. Diabetes Care, June 2007.

Overweight? Do something.

If we are going to stem the growing burden of diabetes, we must improve our prevention efforts. You can start by reading about diabetes(World Health Organization fact sheet).