Charging Smokers and Obese More for Health Insurance

A report out today underscores the growing practice among employer-sponsored health benefits providers and the for-profit insurance industry of charging higher premiums to smokers and the obese.  While this seems to make sense on its face – that people with unhealthy lifestyles should pay more into the system as they are likely to be needing to take more out of it – this blogger worries that the unregulated, non-standardized practices could open up many Americans to unfair and even abusive relationships with their health insurers and/or their employers.  Read the article here for details and then sound off in the comments on whether you think this idea is disturbing or imaginitive.

From Humble Beginnings

Every recent report on the economy tells the same story with regard to the employment outlook.  For many industries, the outlook remains bleak.  Yet, throughout the devastating recession we still endure, the Medical industry continues to show solid, unwavering growth.  The imminent retirement of the Baby Boomer generation pretty much guarantees that those in the medical field will continue to be in high demand.This is a likely reason why you’ve decided to pursue a career in medical billing and coding at the Allen School Online.  But do you ever allow yourself to dream a little bigger?  The basis of understanding you’ll gain through your training here and subsequent immersion into the offices of doctors, surgeons and hospitals could act as a springboard for an even more intensive career in medicine.  Now, it’s not for everyone to aspire to rise up through the ranks from billing specialist to nurse, to nurse practitioner to eventually a medical doctor.  Nonetheless, it is not outside the realm of possibility.  It is likely that some of our Allen School Online grads will feel compelled to use their training as a springboard into full on medical careers.  I know many of you are probably thinking, “well, that couldn’t be me” and “my grades were never strong enough to get into med school”.  To you I say, consider Naomi’s story.Naomi (that’s her in the pic above) is currently enrolled in med school and studying to become a doctor.  But, she didn’t start out with that as her career plan in high school or even in college.  Yet, at her blog, www.get-into-medicalschool.com she shares her story and tips on how through hard work, perseverance and unshakable belief in yourself, you too could achieve what may seem like an impossible dream.  Even as most of you may not be driven to become doctors, I still recommend checking out her blog and gaining some inspiration from her story and her drive to succeed.  It almost certainly mirrors your own!  And for those of you who may be interested to learn what’s involved in taking this bold step in the future, Naomi’s “how to take the MCAT” page is chock full of great info.

Food & Wine’s Best Burgers in the US

In-N-Out Burger, "Animal Style"

This blog periodically covers the topic of fast food and its impact on culture, wellness and society.  I have also written several times about my personal favorite, In-N-Out Burger, the west coast chain that haunts my dreams as an east coast denizen.  Well, Food & Wine magazine publushed its annual list of the best burgers in the US and In-N-Out was at the top of the list!  For us here in the NYC area, the list includes several contenders from the Big Apple.  Minella’s Tavern, the Spotted Pig and Shake Shak all made the list.  As did Peter Luger’s, the legendary steakhouse in Williamsburg.  But if I am going to Luger’s I am eating steak, not burgers.  Where is your favorite burger place?

Spam King Released From Prison

Robert Soloway, King of Spam

Just when you thought it was safe to open your email box again…  You probably don’t know Robert Soloway, but it is a certainty that your email box has been the victim of his decade-long, spam spree.  This fellow made a fortune using techniques of questionable legality to flood your inbox with offers for Viagra, porn, Christian singles and counterfeit Prada bags.  In 2007, the law finally caught up to him and he served nearly 4 years for his transgressions.  As online students, you’re probably grateful that he’s been punished for wasting so much of your time cleaning out the spam.  He’s paid his debt to society now though and has sworn off his old, evil ways.  But just in case, a condition of his release from prison requires his emails to be monitored by law enforcement.  Gone are his Mercedes Benzes, Gucci shoes and all his ill-gotten gains.  He now works in a copy shop for $10/ hr.  Maybe Mr. Soloway, you’re interested in a more lucrative new career in Medical Billing and Coding?  You can study it online!

Rising Food Costs Will Affect Public Health

Up for the seventh month in a row, the closely watched Food and Agriculture Oganisation Food Price Index on Thursday touched its highest since records began in 1990, and topped the peak of 224.1 in June 2008, during the food crisis of 2007/08.  Several factors contribute to this rise in costs.  We now use food stocks such as corn to make ethanol to burn in our cars.  The logic of using food to make fuel is dubious at best.  The other major factor has been a year fraught with severe weather phenomena from floods, to droughts to frosts which have all decimated crops in many parts of the agricultural producing world.With the price of food skyrocketing, people all over the world will struggle with less food in terms of both quantity and quality.  The effects of a global population eating less (and less nutritious) food and more of their diets being comprised of filler and processed ingredients will have a definite impact on health.

“Liquid Biopsy” One Step Closer to Reality

Graphic Courtesy of Massachusetts General via AP

File under, “awesome emerging medical technologies”: Johnson & Johnson’s prototype blood test for cancer is being fast tracked to the market.  This ingenious new technology is a blood test so sensitive that it can detect even a single cancer cell from a sample taken from a patient.  Performed simply in a doctor’s office, this blood test promises to be a boon in the early detection of breast, prostate, colon and lung cancer.Dr. Daniel Haber, one of the test’s inventors and chief of Massachusetts General’s cancer center says, “This is like a liquid biopsy” that avoids painful tissue sampling and may give a better way to monitor patients than periodic imaging scans.

Encore Careers

In an article by Chris Kyle for Yahoo! Education, medical assistant and medical manager are two of the five top “encore” careers.  That is, fields for people wishing to retrain and re-enter the workforce, perhaps after losing a job in an industry hard hit by the recession.  The relative safety and immunity from economic downturn enjoyed by the medical field played a large part in vaulting these two jobs to the top of this particular list.  Click here to read all the details!

Top 20 Industries Where Jobs Are Returning

Well, no one here will likely be surprised, but according to US News & World Report the healthcare field is near the top of the list of industries where jobs are returning fastest.  According to their article linked here:“Healthcare. There was barely a recession in healthcare–employment has been rising consistently in almost every specialty. This is one of the few fields in which there are more jobs today than before the recession began. A lot more, in fact.Jobs gained in 2010: 204,000Change since 2007: 738,000 jobs gainedMining, warehousing and oil extraction also made the list.  But aren’t you glad to be in healthcare rather than digging, lifting or drilling?