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Adherence to HIV therapy may cut healthcare costs, study finds

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Increased adherence of HIV therapy may be cost-effective, according to a new study.

Researchers studied 6,833 HIV-infected adults in a South African HIV cohort who started antiretroviral therapy between Aug. 6, 2000, and April 20, 2006. The purpose of the study was to determine the effect of antiretroviral therapy adherence on direct healthcare costs among adults in a resource-limited setting.

The study, led by Jean Nachega, M.D., Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues found high antiretroviral therapy adherence was associated with lower mean monthly direct healthcare costs, particularly reduced hospitalization costs. Although medication costs were higher for patients who took their drugs as prescribed, overall average monthly costs for those with the best adherence were $63 a month lower than for those with the worst adherence rates.

The findings were published in the Jan. 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. 

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Wegmans buyer notes spike in household cleaning supplies sales

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. A sluggish economy has provided a boost to sales of household cleaning supplies, noted Wegmans buyer Tom Gavin through a press release issued Monday.

The tendency of many families to go “out” less and stay “in” as the economy recovers may have prompted a fresh look around the house, he said, “Cleaning products of all kinds have been selling briskly at Wegmans stores in the past year,” Gavin added. “Maybe with folks spending a little more time at home, they’re noticing things that escaped attention before.”

Recent innovations in cleaning products — especially “green” cleaning products — have also boosted sales, Gavin commented, as customers discover new items that do the work as well or better than before, while also being gentler upon the environment. Some products carry brand names that have been around for generations, such as Clorox and its “Green Works” laundry and household cleaners made from plant-based ingredients and minerals. Other “green” brands are newer on the scene, such as Mrs. Meyers or Method’s lines of household and laundry products.

At the heart of the green cleaning boom is microfibers, now used in dozens of cleaning tools, Gavin suggested. “The growth in microfiber products has been truly impressive. … We’ve seen a double-digit increase in sales in the last year.”

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URAC launches Consumer Education Initiative

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON The nation’s leading healthcare accreditation and education organization has launched a Consumer Education Initiative, designed to teach consumers about health insurance and identifies ways they can make more informed decisions about their health care.

URAC developed a toolkit late last month that features republished materials – originally developed by the American Institutes for Research with funding from the California HealthCare Foundation – that have been recreated into several multi-media tools consumers can use to make better healthcare decisions, assume more “ownership” over their health care, and increase their ability to take on new behaviors to improve their health and the quality of care they receive.

“Many consumers need help navigating through the healthcare maze. Often they do not understand what their healthcare plan covers and how to ask the right questions to get the best plan for their individual needs,” said Alan Spielman, URAC president and CEO. “Knowing when to select an HMO versus a PPO versus a CDHP plan can be difficult. Our initiative empowers consumers to take responsibility and play an active role in their health by breaking down the complex selection process into more understandable components.”

To supplement the toolkit, URAC has also developed a free consumer eLearning course, “Understanding Your Health Insurance.” The course covers key areas including defining health insurance concepts; identifying the impact of rising healthcare costs; comparing the different types of health insurance plans; and defining important elements of health insurance, including prescription coverage, case management and wellness.

For additional information about URAC’s Consumer Education Initiative and to download the Health Care Communications Toolkit, please visit www.urac.org/consumers/.

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