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Study: One in eight get surprise bills after colonoscopy

Oct. 12 (UPI) — Nearly one in eight people with private health insurance receive a “surprise” bill for out-of-network expenses after undergoing an elective colonoscopy, an analysis published Monday by Annals of Internal Medicine found.

The average amount of these charges was more than $400, the researchers said.

A colonoscopy is used to screen for colon cancer — a disease that affects 150,000 people per year in the United States — through the insertion of a colonoscope, a 4-foot-long flexible tube outfitted with a camera, into the bowel, according to the American Cancer Society.

Currently, the society recommends that adults undergo their first colonoscopy at around age 45 as part of routine cancer screening.

For this study, researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan reviewed 1.1 million claims from a large national insurer to estimate the prevalence, amount and source of out-of-network claims for people with private health insurance who underwent elective colonoscopies between 2012 and 2017.

All of the endoscopists — the specialists who performed the procedures — and facilities used by participants included in the analysis were in-network.

Among the evaluated insurance claims, 12% of cases received out-of-network claims, with an average surprise bill of $418, the researchers said.

The bills often came because of the use of out-of-network anesthesiologists and out-of-network pathologists, the researchers said.

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Patients getting slammed by surprise costs related to COVID-19

COVID-19 can do more than torment patients physically. It also clobbers some financially.

Even though many insurers and the U.S. government have offered to pick up or waive costs tied to the virus, holes remain for big bills to slip through and surprise patients.

People who weren’t able to get a test showing they had the virus and those who receive care outside their insurance network are particularly vulnerable. Who provides the coverage and how hard a patient fights to lower a bill also can matter.

There are no good estimates for how many patients have been hit with big bills because of the coronavirus. But the pandemic that arrived earlier this year exposed well-known gaps in a system that mixes private insurers, government programs and different levels of coverage.

“There are in our system, unfortunately, lots of times when people are going to fall through the cracks,” said Sabrina Corlette, co-director of Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

More than 7 million people have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the virus started spreading earlier this year in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.


Alarming spike of COVID-19 cases across the U…

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The vast majority of those patients will incur few medical costs as they wait for their body to fight off mild symptoms. But patients who visit emergency rooms or wind up hospitalized may be vulnerable financially.

No test, no coverage

Melissa Szymanski spent five hours in a Hartford, Connecticut, emergency room in late March and wound up with bills totaling about $3,200.

The problem: The 30-year-old elementary school teacher couldn’t get a test even though she was fighting a fever and her doctor wanted a chest X-ray. At the time, the hospital was limiting tests, and she didn’t qualify.

Szymanski was never diagnosed with COVID-19 at the hospital and her insurer, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, said she would have to pay the high deductible on her plan before coverage started.

The bill left her flabbergasted.

“I was surprised that I got a bill because it just so clearly seemed to be COVID,” said Szymanski, who also shared her story with the nonprofit Patient Rights Advocate.

Szymanski later got a blood test that showed she had the virus, and she’s working to reduce the bill.

Medicaid picked up all costs

Mary Lynn Fager also got sick in late March from a suspected COVID-19 case, and she has not received a single bill. Fager spent four days in a hospital on oxygen and has had several doctor appointments.

She eventually asked someone at the hospital about the cost, and they said she shouldn’t receive any bills. Fager had lost her job in March and qualified for New York’s Medicaid coverage program. She said it picked up all the costs.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Even when I couldn’t breathe, that was in the back of my mind the whole time I was there. I was thinking about the hospital bills.”

Separately, the federal government has

Researchers gave homeless people money and what they did with it might surprise you

A nonprofit organization led a study that explores what might happen if people who are homeless are given financial support and the results may surprise you.

Foundations for Social Change, a Canadian charitable organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia, teamed up with the University of British Columbia for a social program, called the New Leaf Project. Researchers gave 7,500 Canadian dollars (approximately $5,717.27) via direct transfer to 50 people who had recently become homeless. The people were free to use the money as they saw fit with no restrictions.

To the surprise of the researchers, most of the recipients used the cash to turn their lives around. “Preliminary results show that on average, those receiving the direct cash payment moved into stable housing faster, maintained a level of financial security and stability over 12 months of follow-up, and increased their spending on food, clothing and rent,” said Foundations for Social Change in a press release Tuesday.

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“By empowering individuals to meet their own needs and move into housing faster, the 50 cash transfer recipients freed up space in shelters and saved the shelter system $8,100 (Canadian dollars) per person over the course of the year (for a total savings of $405,000).”

The results fly in the face of what many of us believe about people who are homeless — that if given money, they will spend it on alcohol and drugs.

Dr. Jiaying Zhao, the principal investigator of the study and a professor at UBC, told TODAY that she hopes the study will change perspectives and influence government policies. Zhao said she was approached by Claire Williams, the CEO of Foundations for Social Change, in 2016 about the unique project that would focus on direct giving.

“I had been looking at poverty reduction for a while,” said Zhao. “We came up with this approach: if the money were unconditional, would it reduce homelessness in Vancouver?”

The study marked the first time a cash lump sum was used in such a manner. Zhao explained that the amount was chosen because it’s the total of an annual welfare check in Vancouver.

“That’s how we decided on the number,” she said. “We want to change policy going forward and get better support for people who enter homelessness.”

The study told the recipients it was up to them how to spend the cash.

“We followed the people for a year,” she said. “The results are surprising. I did not expect people could move out of the shelter that quickly. I didn’t expect the improvements in food security. These are encouraging results.”

Zhao said that when it comes to people who are homeless, the focus is often on stereotypes. “The common assumption is they’ll use it on alcohol and drugs,” she said. “And we actually saw a 49 percent reduction in spending in those areas. That was super encouraging to see.”

Even more exciting was that some

Trump Makes a ‘Little Surprise Visit’ Outside Walter Reed on Day 3 of His Coronavirus Hospitalization

ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump temporarily left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to wave at his supporters on Sunday, which was day 3 of his coronavirus hospitalization.

Possibly concerned about optics and taking publicity matters into his own hands, Trump, who was wearing a black face mask, was driven by his presidential motorcade in front of the D.C. hospital. Waving his bare hand from one of the black SUVs, Trump, 74, greeted the crowds of people who were waving “Make America Great Again” flags and posters.

Minutes prior to Sunday’s unannounced car ride, Trump tweeted another video from the hospital. “We’re getting great reports from the doctors. This is an incredible hospital, Walter Reed. The work they do is absolutely amazing. I want to thank them all, the nurses, doctors. I’ve also got to meet some of the soldiers and what a group,” he began.

“I also think we’re going to pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots we have out on the street and they’ve been out there for a long time. They have Trump flags and they love our country, so I’m not telling anybody but you, but I’m about to make a little surprise visit,” he said.

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Speaking about his coronavirus diagnosis, which he publicly revealed early Friday morning, the president, who was given three drugs — dexamethasone, Regeneron’s antibody treatment and remdesivir — during his stay so far, said: “It’s been a very interesting journey.”

“I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school, this is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-book-school. And I get it,” Trump said. “I understand it. It’s a very interesting thing, I’ll be letting you know about it.”

After his short drive, Trump returned to his presidential suite. “President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed,” said Judd Deere, the president’s deputy assistant.

After Trump’s drive-by greeting, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the president’s “first positive test” was after attending a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday.

RELATED: Trump’s Doctor Admits to Omitting Details of President’s Condition: ‘Was Trying to Reflect Upbeat Attitude’

Earlier in the day, Trump’s team of

Is Subway Healthy? Court Ruling About Chain’s Bread Contains Surprise Findings

If you have been eating Subway thinking it’s a healthier fast-food option, then you may need to change your thinking, as the sandwich chain has come under fire in an Irish court ruling which says the bread their famous footlongs are made on cannot be defined as such thanks to the amounts of sugar in it.

According to The Guardian, the Irish Supreme Court rules that under Ireland’s Value-Added Tax Act of 1972, the amount of sugar in the chain’s bread us also unable to be defined as a Staple food due to the amount of sugar, which is five times the amount that qualifies it as a staple food under the act, which gives staple foods VAT exemption.

The Value-Added Tax states that the sugar allowed in a bread product cannot be more than 2% of the total weight of flour in the dough, but all of the bread options in Subway’s chain contain about 10% sugar content, ABC Affiliate WFTS reports.

The ruling came from an appeal by franchisee Bookfinders Ltd.

“The argument depends on the acceptance of the prior contention that the Subway heated sandwich contains ‘bread’ as defined, and therefore can be said to be food for the purposes of the Second Schedule rather than confectionary. Since that argument has been rejected, this subsidiary argument must fail,” the ruling stated.

The ruling does not affect how the bread or sandwiches are classified anywhere else, including the United States, but it could be a small setback since the company has made their name on claims of making sandwiches that were healthier alternatives to traditional fast food, and even used former spokesman Jared Fogle in tons of commercials and advertisements, where he claimed to have lost 245 pounds by combining a diet of the sandwiches and exercise. He remained as the spokesperson until 2015 when the company parted ways with him after he was convicted of possession of child pornography and traveling to pay for sex with minors.

According to information that can be downloaded from the company’s website, bread including the Italian White, 9-Grain Wheat, Italian Herb and Cheese and Sourdough all contain 3g of sugar in a 6” serving. When a sandwich increases to Footlong size, those numbers are doubled to 6g of sugar per sandwich. The 9-grain Honey Oat and Roasted Garlic Bread also contain 5g and 4 g respectively in a 6” sandwich.

As for the sandwiches themselves, the company still prides itself on having “Fresh Fit” options, which include the Black Forest Ham, Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, Turkey Breast and Veggie Delite Sandwiches. Still, when prepared standard and served on 9-grain wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cucumbers, the Black Forest Ham, for example, still contains 260 calories, 4g fat and 8g sugar.

Subway Sandwich A Subway sandwich is seen in a restaurant.  Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Exactly What Jillian Michaels Keeps In Her Fridge To Fuel Her Fitness (It May Surprise You)

Jillian Michaels’ Fridge Is Filled With Cheese And Supplements | Fridge Tours

  • Jillian Michaels shared a full fridge tour with WH, detailing the foods she can’t live without
  • Packed full of different foods, some of her staples are slightly more surprising than others
  • Michaels has always said it’s about moderation when it comes to her diet, stating that no foods are off limits but there are ‘common sense’ choices to be made

Outside of being a former WH cover star, global fitness icon, mum of two, Jillian Michaels is also a… cheese addict? Go figure.

Showing us around her fridge, Michaels dished on her favourite breakfast combos, why she chooses plant-based milk, and why exactly she has such an enviable supply of cheese. Oh, and why an entire shelf is dedicated to supplements – some for her, some for her kids and some for her dogs.

Kicking off with her go-to beverages Michaels shares her penchant for a strong cup of morning brew.

‘I am a caffeine addict, it allows me to focus more, it improves my athletic performance,’ she says. ‘The key with coffee is that you want it to be organic because coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed edible crops in the world.’ Fortunately for Michaels, one of her investments is in Lucky Jack coffee, an organic brand she drinks two strong cups of daily.

After that, it’s onto her shaker of pre-blended supplements and oat milk – a new preference developed during (and due to) quarantine.

‘To be honest I usually drink coconut milk but with quarantine you can’t find stuff anywhere,’ Michaels explains, going onto share that she doesn’t drink regular milk to minimise the amount of animal products in her diet.

Then, comes the supplement shelf and buckle up, because it’s a lot. Packed full of collagen, greens powder, krill oil, and probiotics, Michaels admits that this is the one area of her health that she goes ‘absolutely off the rails.’

Pulling out product after product of health-fortifying supplements, she says what’s on display is only a fraction of what she takes on the reg.

For snacks, Michaels doubles down on hummus and veggies, organic cottage cheese and various carbohydrates – whole grain bread, gluten-free pumpkin waffles and cinnamon-raisin bagels.

‘I’m not carb-free and carbs are not the devil. I have carbs all the time. Whether it’s toast, sandwiches, pumpkin waffles, fruit, apples, or cinnamon raisin bagels that I have with organic cream cheese for breakfast,’ she says, gesturing to her toned abdominals as a marker of carbohydrates being a necessity to building lean muscle.

Finally, we must ask ‘how much does Jillian Michaels love cheese?’ Well, let us count the ways types. Stocked in her fridge we have:

  1. organic gouda,
  2. organic pepper jack