Health Buzz: Diabetes Rising Among Americans

U.S. News ranks biggest health insurance companies; a guide to health insurance lingo.


CDC: 26 Million American Adults Have Diabetes

Approximately 26 million American adults over age 20 have diabetes,compared to 23.6 million in 2008—a 9 percent jump, according to estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In total, more than 100 million Americans now have diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes arises when the body has trouble producing or using the hormone insulin, which leads to the buildup of sugar in the blood. Diabetics are at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, and amputations. At least 90 percent of those affected have type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity and inactivity. About 79 million Americans, meanwhile, have prediabetes, which means their blood sugar is elevated but does not meet the threshold for a diabetes diagnosis. Most people with prediabetes develop full-blown diabetes within 10 years, unless they lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight, Bloomberg reports. "These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes manage the disease," Ann Albright, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, said in an agency statement. On a positive note, she said the findings also suggest that people with diabetes are living longer than ever before.

U.S. News Ranks Biggest Health Insurance Companies

Which are the largest health insurance companies in the United States? U.S. News has posted new information identifying more than 500 of the biggest health insurers state by state, and the top 25 nationally. Contact information is also included. Those who need to purchase health coverage on their own will find new help in 8 Keys to Picking the Best Health Insurance Policy. And the impact on consumers of the Affordable Care Act is laid out in What Health Reform Means for You.

Health insurance has its own language, writes U.S. News's Megan Johnson. The Affordable Care Act has added new terms to its vocabulary and changed the definitions of some old ones:

Annual limit: A yearly cap on the dollar amount or types of benefits. Above the cap, you pay the full cost of care for the rest of the year. The health reform law now prohibits most employer and individual plans from imposing a yearly cap below $750,000. The cap will rise to $1.25 million as of September 23 of this year.

Catastrophic coverage: Pays for care above a high deductible (below), generally several thousand dollars or more. Most services below the deductible are not covered, but the law requires policies issued after September 23, 2010, to pay for certain preventive services, such as immunizations and screening for high blood pressure and depression.

Coinsurance: How much you have to pay for care after meeting your deductible (below). A plan may pay 75 or 80 percent of the bill for services. The remainder is your coinsurance.

Copay: A set fee you pay each time you receive care—$25 whenever you visit the doctor, for example. Your plan pays the rest.

Deductible: How much you have to pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in. [Read more: Health Insurance Definitions: What the Terms Mean.]

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