- According to Western Australia’s biggest private health fund HBF — which increased its premiums by almost 6% this year — the number of its customers with top hospital cover halved in the past 5 years. Private Healthcare Australia (PHA) has warned that the figure was only going to get worse.
- There has been a spike in flu outbreaks in NSW nursing homes and health authorities are warning visitors who are sick to steer clear. More than 50 aged care facilities have had outbreaks in the past week alone, taking the total number of outbreaks this year in such facilities to around 140.
- A new study has shown that obese people aren’t able to regulate the way body fat is stored or burned because a “switch” in their brain stays on all the time. The brain’s ability to sense insulin and co-ordinate feeding with burning energy is controlled by a switch-like mechanism, researchers from the Metabolic Disease and Obesity Program at Monash University say.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 2nd of August 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto. Health New
Do you have private health insurance? Are you considering cancelling or downgrading it because you can’t afford it? If you are, you’re not alone. According to Western Australia’s biggest private health fund HBF — which increased its premiums by almost six per cent this year — the number of its customers with top hospital cover halved in the past five years. The body representing health insurance providers nationally, Private Healthcare Australia or PHA, warned that figure was only going to get worse. PHA’s chief executive Rachel David said private cover was forecast to become too expensive for many existing policy holders over the next five to six years. She said that if premium rises occur at the same level they have over the last decade, about a fifth of people on our modelling are going to have serious issues with continuing to afford their private health insurance. Private cover has already become too much of a luxury for sixty four-year-old talkback radio caller Tony in Perth.
Tony told ABC Radio Perth he had been looking for permanent work for two years and had been eating into his savings. “I’ve been with private medical insurance for thirty years,” he said. “Last year I downgraded it from top hospital to base, and at three hundred dollars I just can’t afford it anymore so I’m going to be binning it.” HBF executive Sasha Pendal said the industry had a responsibility to keep costs down.”What we can’t influence however are the prices set, for example, by private hospitals, by private specialists,” she said. Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said it would be misleading to blame doctors.
“Because the moment a doctor charges one cent above the schedule that the insurer in their wisdom agrees to pay, they go all the way back to seventy five percent of the fee, so they actually pay less for those patients,” he said.
There has been a spike in flu outbreaks in New South Wales nursing homes and health authorities are warning visitors who are sick to steer clear. More than fifty aged care facilities have had outbreaks in the past week alone, taking the total number of outbreaks this year in such facilities to around one hundred forty. Vicky Sheppeard from New South Wales Health said it could affect many nursing home residents because they are so frail. “The attack rate in aged care homes can be up to twenty five per cent higher,” Doctor Sheppeard said.
Doctor Sheppeard also said that high levels of both influenza A and B strains were circulating in the community and older people were more susceptible to severe infection from the influenza A strain.
She said that with this particular influenza A strain that’s circulating we know that older people don’t have a good level of immunity to it and each year more than eight hundred people die in New South Wales from complications associated with influenza and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.
The State Opposition said there had been more than eighteen thousand confirmed influenza cases in New South Wales so far this year, making it the worst seven months on record. Doctor Sheppeard confirmed there were record numbers of influenza cases but said much of it was due to increased use of a more sensitive test which meant influenza was diagnosed more rapidly.
Obese people aren’t able to regulate the way body fat is stored or burned because a “switch” in their brain stays on all the time, a new study has shown. In most cases specialised fat cells called adipocytes are switched back-and-forth from brown, which are energy burning, to white, which store energy.
The study, published on Wednesday in Cell Metabolism, showed that after a meal the brain responds to insulin when sugars spike, by sending signals to promote the browning of fat to expend energy. Then, after a fast, the brain instructs these browned cells to convert back to white adipocytes, again storing energy.
The brain’s ability to sense insulin and co-ordinate feeding with burning energy is controlled by a switch-like mechanism, researchers from the Metabolic Disease and Obesity Program at Monash University say. Lead researcher Professor Tony Tiganis said that what happens in the context of obesity is that the switch stays on all the time – it doesn’t turn on off during feeding.
And as a consequence, browning is turned off all the time and energy expenditure is decreased all the time, so when you eat, you don’t see a commensurate increase in energy expenditure – and that promotes weight gain. Researchers are now exploring the possibility of inhibiting the switch to aid weight loss, but they say any therapy is “a long way off”.