- AMA Report Card Rates Insurers
- Bone Density Screens Can Be Done Every Five Years: Study
- Marijuana May Harm Fetal Brain
- FDA Wants New Warnings for Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug: Report
- Naltrexone May Help Problem Gamblers: Study
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
AMA Report Card Rates Insurers
A report card that compares how quickly and accurately health insurers pay doctors was released Monday by the American Medical Association. The report card, based on an analysis of three million claims, compares Medicare and seven national commercial insurers, the Associated Press reported.
About 98 percent of medical services billed were paid by Medicare at the contracted rate, compared with 71 percent for Aetna and 62 percent for United Healthcare, which had the lowest rate of contract compliance.
Doctors and their billing services share responsibility for prompt payment, United Healthcare spokesman Gregory Thompson told AP.
"Data show there is often a significant lag time between when services are provided and physician claims are submitted," he said.
The aim of the report card is to lower claims processing costs and help doctors negotiate contracts with insurance companies, the AP reported. A reduction in wasteful administration costs (estimated at $210 billion a year) will help patients, said Dr. William Dolan, an AMA board member.
Bone Density Screens Can Be Done Every Five Years: Study
Screening for bone loss in older adults can be done as infrequently as every five years, according to Canadian researchers who looked at 9,423 people, ages 25 to 85.
They found that women ages 50 to 54 had the most pronounced bone loss of all the participants -- 1.3 percent. The researchers said this decrease is within the margin of error of most bone density screening machines, which means that amount of bone loss is not as significant as previously believed, CBC News reported.
"The extent of bone loss that we observed suggests that repeat measurements of bone density could be delayed to intervals of up to five years in the absence of other risk factors," the researchers wrote.
Their findings was published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Marijuana May Harm Fetal Brain
Smoking marijuana while pregnant may harm the developing brain of a fetus, say researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
In tests on mice, the researchers found that marijuana can affect molecules essential to a signaling process that plays a role in normal brain development. The researchers also found that certain prescription drugs, including some used to treat obesity, can have a similar effect, BBC News reported.
"Our findings highlight that the integrity of this signaling system should be maintained and not disrupted if the brain is to develop normally," said Professor Tibor Harkany. "Anything that disrupts this process ... could ultimately affect the brain's functionality."
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Previous research has suggested that children born to women who used marijuana while pregnant experienced problems with physical activity, BBC News reported.
FDA Wants New Warnings for Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug: Report
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants an updated label for Amgen Inc.'s Enebrel to include warnings that the rheumatoid arthritis drug can be deadly when taken by children, and that the drug can cause serious infections in adults, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
In documents posted on its Web site, the FDA said infections, malignancies and neurological problems have been reported among children who have used the drug. These problems are similar to those experienced by some adults, the newspaper reported.
Enebrel is used to treat RA in adults and children and the skin disorder psoriasis in adults. While the drug's use in children is thought to be limited, the FDA said the number of life-threatening pediatric reactions disclosed to the agency's adverse event reporting database was "concerning," the Journal said.