Health Buzz: Healthcare Law Constitutional, Appeals Court Rules

How to pick the best health insurance policy; what makes a healthy diet?

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Healthcare Law Backed 2-1 By Panel of Judges

A key component of President Barack Obama's healthcare law—that all Americans must get health insurance or face a penalty— is constitutional, a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 Tuesday. The judges dismissed a lawsuit from the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian legal group, which claimed the requirement infringes on the religious freedom of "those who choose not to have insurance because they rely on God to protect them from harm," the Associated Press reports. In his opinion, Judge Laurence Silberman wrote that while the law encroaches on individual liberty, the goal of universal healthcare supersedes it. "The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems," the judge wrote. The battle over the law is far from over. Because courts across the country have ruled differently on various challenges to the law, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have to weigh in.

8 Keys to Picking the Best Individual Health Insurance Policy

Choosing the right health insurance coverage is hard enough with employer plans, but at least questions can be addressed to somebody on staff who knows more than you do and won't steer you to the most expensive plan. When you shop for coverage on your own, the choices are far more complicated. Most employers only offer one or two health plans as options. On the individual insurance market, you're likely to face dozens. And you're on your own, U.S. News reported in January.

Grappling with the details of so many different individual policies can lead to a strong urge to pick the next one that sounds halfway reasonable. But halfway isn't good enough. Hang in there, keeping the following eight basics in mind to help cut through the fog of numbers and unfamiliar terms:

1. Your "must-haves." You can't foresee a sudden injury or illness, but you can anticipate some medical needs. Not all policies provide maternity coverage, for example, but it's an obvious must-have if you're starting a family. [Read more: 8 Keys to Picking the Best Individual Health Insurance Policy.]

What Makes a Healthy Diet?

Weight lost doesn't always equal health gained. That new diet that took inches off your waistline could be harming your health if it locks out or severely restricts entire food groups, like carbs, or relies on supplements with little scientific backing, or clamps down on calories to an extreme.

"People are so desperate to lose weight that it's really weight loss at any cost," says Madelyn Fernstrom, founding director of the UPMC-University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center and author of The Real You Diet. And when that desperation sets in, says Fernstrom, "normal thinking goes out the window." Who cares if the forbidden-foods list is longer than War and Peace? Pounds are coming off. You're happy. But your body might not be. [Read more: What Makes a Healthy Diet?]

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