HEALTH

NYT article: FSA changes shed light on old eligibility problems

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK A New York Times report published Tuesday illustrated exactly how far apart the rubber is from the road when it comes to incentivizing preventive healthcare practices and the implementation of the new rules associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Even as common over-the-counter remedies soon will require a prescription in order to be eligible for reimbursement under flexible spending account arrangements, tried and true preventive healthcare practices, such as breast-feeding, are not and in fact have never been considered eligible for FSA reimbursement, the report noted. “With all the changes the healthcare overhaul will bring in the coming years, it nonetheless will leave those regulations intact when new rules for flexible spending accounts go into effect in January,” the report read.

Breast pumps are not considered eligible FSA expenditures despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics made a direct appeal to the Internal Revenue Service to define such products as breast pumps as a device used for medical care. In May 2009, the IRS determined that breast pumps do not diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease. However, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the manufacture of breast pumps as medical devices, and there are numerous studies that establish the preventive health benefits for children consuming their mother’s breast milk.

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Walgreens continues vitamin D giveaway program with Aetna, United Way

BY Allison Cerra

COLUMBIA , S.C. (May 27) One of the nation’s largest drug store chains has teamed up with a healthcare benefits company and a community solutions provider to raise awareness of the need for adequate vitamin D intake.

Walgreens, Aetna and United Way of the Midlands are continuing their efforts through a vitamin D giveaway program extension, which initially was kicked off earlier this year. The vitamin D awareness efforts will donate more than 25,000 samples, the companies said.

“We are pleased to continue our participation in this program to drive awareness around a health concern that’s seldom discussed in many communities,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens market VP. “Our goal is for more people to be informed that supporting a proper diet and healthy lifestyle with a vitamin D supplement is a simple step that can have long-term health benefits.”

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Study: Fish oil may aid dental health

BY Michael Johnsen

ST. LOUIS, Mo. Supplementing with fish oils could help improve gum health, according to research published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health found that dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids like fish oil, known to have anti-inflammatory properties, shows promise for the effective treatment and prevention of periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease.

"We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are inversely associated with periodontitis in the U.S. population," said researcher Asghar Naqvi. "To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. Thus, a dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis. Given the evidence indicating a role for n-3 fatty acids in other chronic inflammatory conditions, it is possible that treating periodontitis with n-3 fatty acids could have the added benefit of preventing other chronic diseases associated with inflammation, including stroke as well."

 

The study involved more than 9,000 adults who participated in NHANES between 1999 and 2004 who had received dental examinations. Dietary DHA, EPA and LNA intake were estimated from 24-hour food recall interviews, and data regarding supplementary use of PUFAs were captured as well. The NHANES study also collected extensive demographic, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic data, allowing the researchers to take other factors into consideration that might obscure the results.

 

 

The prevalence of periodontitis in the study sample was 8.2%. There was an approximately 20% reduction in periodontitis prevalence in those subjects who consumed the highest amount of dietary DHA. The reduction correlated with EPA was smaller, while the correlation to LNA was not statistically significant.

 

 

Foods that contain significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats include fatty fish like salmon, as well as peanut butter, margarine and nuts.

 

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