Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Companies Take New Approach to Worker Health Coverage
Two large U.S. companies are making major changes in the way
they provide health benefits to their workers.
Sears Holdings Corp. and Darden Restaurants, owner of Red
Lobster, will give employees a fixed sum of money and allow them to
select their medical coverage and insurer from an online
Wall Street Journalreported.
The change isn't designed to make workers pay a higher share of
health coverage costs, but is instead meant to give them more
control over their health benefits, the companies said.
"It's a fundamental change the employer is saying, 'Here's a pot of money, go shop,' " Paul Fronstin, director of health research at the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute, told the WSJ.
The concern for workers is that "the money may not be sufficient
and it may not keep up with premium inflation," Fronstin noted.
The new approach to worker health coverage will be closely
watched by businesses around the country, the newspaper
U.S. Army Holds Suicide Prevention Day
The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to set aside their usual
duties Thursday and spend the day on suicide prevention
The goal is to make sure that troops know what behavioral health
programs are available to them and to help them overcome the
embarrassment that many feel when seeking help for mental health
The stand-down directive comes as the military struggles with an
increase in the number of suicides. In the first seven months of
this year, the Army recorded 116 suicides among active-duty
soldiers. If that pace continues through to the end of the year,
there would be a total of nearly 200 suicides in 2012, compared
with 167 last year.
"The Army has decided that this issue is so important to us that we're going to devote an entire day ... that was otherwise devoted to something else and say, 'That's not as important as this,' " the Army's top enlisted man, Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler, said at a news conference Wednesday, the APreported.
Exceptions to the stand-down directive include troops on combat
operations in Afghanistan and those on medical duties in Army
hospitals. Their suicide prevention training will be scheduled at
Customers Less Satisfied With Mail-Order Pharmacies: Survey
U.S. consumers are growing increasingly dissatisfied with
mail-order pharmacies, which now rank significantly lower in
customer satisfaction than traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies,
according to a new survey.
The 2012 U.S. Pharmacy Study included more than 12,700 pharmacy
customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription
during the three months prior to the survey conducted in July and
August. They were asked to rate their satisfaction with the
pharmacies on a 1,000-point scale.
Overall satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies averaged 792,
which is 14 points lower than in 2011 and 22 points lower than the
average overall satisfaction with traditional pharmacies, according
to the J.D. Power and Associates' study.
It's the second consecutive year of significant declines in
customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies. On the other
hand, overall satisfaction with traditional pharmacies has held
steady in recent years, with an score of 814 this year and 818 in
2011, the survey found.