Federal Judge Upholds Part of Healthcare Coverage Law
The provision of President Barack Obama's healthcare law that requires Americans to get coverage is constitutional, a Michigan federal judge ruled on Thursday. At issue was whether Congress could require Americans to purchase a commercial product like health insurance under the Constitution's Commerce Clause, the New York Times reports. Since the decision not to purchase health insurance would affect interstate commerce, U.S. District Judge George Steeh ruled, Congress can lawfully require the purchase. "The minimum coverage provision, which addresses economic decisions regarding healthcare services that everyone eventually, and inevitably, will need, is a reasonable means of effectuating Congress's goal," Steeh wrote in handing down his decision. The conservative group Thomas More Law Center had brought the challenge to the courts the day Obama signed the health care bill into law; a senior trial counsel for the group indicated to the New York Times that the center would appeal the decision. Meanwhile, judges in Florida and Virginia will soon hear and rule on similar issues. The final word, though, may eventually come from the Supreme Court.
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Obese Workers Cost U.S. Employers Billions
Obesity has cost employers billions of dollars. A new study from Duke University shows U.S. employers lose $73.1 billion a year due to obesity-related medical costs, decreased productivity related to health problems and more absences from work by obese workers, HealthDay reports. Lost productivity hit employers hardest, according to the study released Friday in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study author advises employers to emphasize the importance of healthy living with weight-loss incentive programs.
In September, U.S. News's Angela Haupt reported on another study revealing the annual costs associated with being obese—$4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man. Being overweight, meanwhile, costs $524 for women and $432 for men. One possible reason the costs are higher for a woman? Past research suggests larger women earn less than skinnier women, while men's wages don't vary based on their weight, the study authors say. [Read more: The Cost of Being Obese: More Expensive for Women Than Men.]
Survey: Most Doctors Getting Flu Vaccine; Officials Urge Nearly All to Follow Suit
A survey suggests most U.S. doctors plan to get the flu vaccine this year, pleasing public health experts, Reuters reports. Still, experts say it's not enough for doctors to get vaccinated; all health care professionals need to follow suit. "To all nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and others—please, get vaccinated and recommend the vaccine to your patients," William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases told Reuters. The report comes from an online survey of 400 doctors; 95 percent of them said they planned to get vaccinated, according to the survey. The vaccine protects against three flu strains, including H1N1. Government officials encourage nearly all Americans (those older than 6 months) to get a flu shot to prepare for what officials believe will be a relatively typical flu season. Pregnant women, young children and those with diabetes and heart disease should definitely make a point to get the vaccine, according to the CDC.
In August, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute reported that the flu vaccine should be an important consideration when parents prepare to send their kids back to school. Shute writes: The goal is to reduce the risk of flu for very young children, who are more likely to become seriously ill, and to make it less likely that school-age children will be spreading the virus to others in the family. [Read more: 5 Easy Ways Parents Can Make Back-to-School time Safe and Healthy.]
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