The Health News – 16 November 2015

Overview:
• Health Minister Sussan Ley has released an issues paper on private health insurance reform. Health insurers could be asked to provide better value for money for rural and regional customers.

• Residents in Western Australia’s Goldfields are being warned to get vaccinated after a recent increase in mumps cases. Since March there has been 300 cases of mumps. The WA Country Health Service said the Goldfields cases were linked to outbreaks elsewhere in the state, which began in the Kimberley in March.

• A new study has identified the workplace as a major cause of psychological and physical ill-health. From long hours to economic insecurity, our jobs could literally be killing us. So what practices lead to a healthy workplace?

News on Health Professional Radio.  Today is the 16th November 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.  Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-13/health-insurers-probed-over-value-for-money/6939030

Health insurers could be asked to provide better value for money for rural and regional customers, as the Federal Government looks likely to revamp the private health insurance rebate.

Health Minister Sussan Ley has released an issues paper on private health insurance reform.

Already 20,000 people have responded to the Government’s online survey about private health insurance.

The Government will hold a series of meetings with doctors, hospitals and private health insurance companies starting …[this] week.

It appears the Government may look at reducing regulation of the health insurance sector as a way of reducing costs.

Ms Ley said consumers were angry and confused and that simply shopping around was no longer enough to get the best value for money.

Among the issues on the table:

  • Whether private health insurers continue to offer policies where services are excluded
  • Whether value for money for rural and regional patients can be improved
  • Whether patients with private health insurance should still be treated in public hospitals

Another option under consideration could be to offer private health insurance for hospital services such as chemotherapy, radiation treatment and kidney dialysis.

The language in the issues paper makes it clear the Government wants to consider a range of options.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-13/goldfields-residents-warned-of-spike-in-mumps-cases/6939162

Residents in Western Australia’s Goldfields are being warned to get vaccinated after a recent increase in mumps cases.

Since March there have been 300 cases of mumps in WA, with 10 per cent being in the Goldfields.

The WA Country Health Service said the Goldfields cases were linked to outbreaks elsewhere in the state, which began in the Kimberley in March.

Goldfields public health physician Clare Huppatz said the cases had been predominantly in Aboriginal people and those aged between eight and 40.

“Because mumps is a virus, antibiotics don’t help.

“So there’s no specific treatment but people should see their GP quickly so that they can get a proper diagnosis because the most important thing we can do to stop this outbreak is to make sure people who have mumps are isolated and don’t spread it.”

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/healthreport/workplace-stress-unhealthy-secondhand-smoke-pfeffer/6927786

A new study has identified the workplace as a major cause of psychological and physical ill-health. From long hours to economic insecurity, our jobs could literally be killing us. So what practices lead to a healthy workplace?

If you’ve ever felt that stress at work was killing you, an American study has some bad news: you may actually be right.

Jeffrey Pfeffer, from the Stanford University School of Business, says this isn’t exactly news: ‘There have been tremendous amounts of epidemiological research on individual workplace stressors and their effects on health outcomes over the years.’

That background literature shows some clear links: people facing economic insecurity are likely to drink, smoke … and exercise less.

Pfeffer and his colleagues began to consider the workplace as the crucible for stress in everyday life, and considered the implications for business, health and policymakers.

‘People spend a lot of their time at work, and work is where our lot of stress happens,’ says Pfeffer.

‘We believe that if you’re really serious about fixing population health, you need to look at the workplace.’

Pfeffer and his colleagues estimate the number of excess deaths attributable to poor company management in the US to be as high as 120,000 per year. In the US, some 5 to 8 per cent of annual healthcare expenditure…might be attributable to how companies manage their workforce.

This study, a combined effort of the Stanford and Harvard business schools, looked at the psychological and physical impacts of workplace stressors. In Pfeffer’s words: ‘The exposures we talk about are as harmful to health as second-hand smoke.’

One radical idea for reducing workplace stress is providing autonomy to workers, an approach Pfeffer believes is already working well in tech industries.

He also has advice for workers themselves …: ‘Worry about work hours. If you’ve worked a full day, by six o’clock in the evening, you should be exhausted anyway, so go home.