The Health News – 09 November 2015

Overview:
• An online survey launched by Federal Health Minister Susan Ley coincides with figures that show 500,000 Australians who prepaid their health insurance premiums for two years to avoid Labor’s means test were now downgrading their cover with many buying “junk” policies of little benefit.

• The New England Journal of Medicine published a case study about a HIV-positive Colombian man who had tumours, the cells were definitely cancer-like, but were not human. The man’s weakened immune system made him particularly susceptible to the tapeworm’s cancer cells, according to scientists and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which helped diagnose the man.

• The fifth annual National Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey has found Australians are faring worse than they were when the survey began, with higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety being reported. Flinders University senior social work lecturer Dr Mubarak Rahamathulla said FOMO was opening the door to more concerning feelings, like anxiety and depression.

News on Health Professional Radio.  Today is the 9th November 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.  Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-08/government-launches-online-consultation-private-health-insurance/6922022

Half a million Australians dropped or downgraded their private health insurance in the last financial year, causing “alarm” for the Federal Health Minister who says consumers are not getting value for money from their policies.

Sussan Ley has launched an online survey that asks voters if premiums should be charged according to a person’s smoking status, age, gender or “health risk factors”.

“We’re not afraid of asking those tough questions,” Mr Ley said.

“It’s important that we get people’s thoughts but I do want to say that I’m really about incentives not exclusions.”

However, Labor and the Greens have raised doubts over the Government’s plan to potentially take smoking into account, saying it could lead to other risk factors being considered.

Ms Ley reassured people that existing consumers would not be slugged on the grounds they were unaware of the risks of activities like smoking when they were younger.

“I see this very much as the future, the future of the next generation and we know that encouraging prevention is just a whole lot better than insuring against disease when it strikes even though no-one knows when that might happen,” Ms Ley said.

Ms Ley said Australians were paying too much for policies that did not deliver value.

The consultation will run for four weeks, asking consumers for their views on what services should be covered by policies and how they can deliver better value for money.

The survey launch coincides with figures that show 500,000 Australians who prepaid their health insurance premiums for two years to avoid Labor’s means test were now downgrading their cover with many buying “junk” policies of little benefit.

The APRA figures showed the number of non-exclusionary — also known as “all inclusive” — private health insurance policies with hospital cover fell by 500,471 to 3.5 million in 2014-15.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-07/man-catches-cancer-from-tapeworm-parasite/6918154

The idea of having a parasite is unsettling enough, but the case of a tapeworm that gave its human host cancer takes it to a whole new level.

The New England Journal of Medicine …published a case study about a HIV-positive Colombian man who had tumours that yielded puzzling biopsy results: the cells were definitely cancer-like, but the cells were not human.

Three years of tests finally revealed the man had been infected by a tapeworm that had contracted cancer, which had then spread around the man’s body.

The man’s weakened immune system made him particularly susceptible to the tapeworm’s cancer cells, according to scientists and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which helped diagnose the man.

“We were amazed when we found this new type of disease — tapeworms growing inside a person essentially getting cancer that spreads to the person, causing tumours,” study lead author Dr Atis Muehlenbachs said.

“We think this type of event is rare. However, this tapeworm is found worldwide and millions of people globally suffer from conditions like HIV that weaken their immune system.

“So there may be more cases that are unrecognised. It’s definitely an area that deserves more study.”

Unfortunately, the man died just 72 hours after the doctors reached their diagnosis.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-08/wellbeing-survey-finds-teens-feeling-left-out-on-social-media/6921780

The fear of missing out (or FOMO) generated by high levels of social media use can lead to depression and anxiety, according to a new report looking at the way social media impacts wellbeing.

The fifth annual National Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey has found Australians are faring worse than they were when the survey began, with higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety being reported.

One in two teenagers feels they are “missing out” on the seemingly perfect lives that others portray through social media, the survey by Australian Psychology Society found.

Teens also feel they are having less “rewarding” experiences than their friends.

Other key findings included teens worrying about friends having fun without them and feeling anxious if they did not know what their friends were doing.

This year was the first time the study explored the impact of social media on behaviour and wellbeing.

Flinders University senior social work lecturer Dr Mubarak Rahamathulla said FOMO was opening the door to more concerning feelings, like anxiety and depression.

“FOMO is a real thing — my research and research all over the world is repeatedly indicating that it is a fact,” he said.

“There is a very strong positive correlation between the hours spent on digital technology and higher stress and depression.” [he said]

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