Jars of kombucha are left to ferment on shelves on a metal rack. Homemade kombucha has become a popular alternative to the expensive store-bought kind. Pam Susemiehl/Getty Images You probably already know about probiotic-filled health foods like yogurt, tempeh and sauerkraut. The latest trend in the gut-friendly diet wave is kombucha, a sweetened beverage that is made from steeped tea and sugar, then mixed with yeast strains and bacteria and then fermented. People buy it in the supermarket or health food store or make their own. Kombucha (pronounced kom-BOOCH-a) is hardly a new thing, since the tea has been brewed in many parts of the world (starting with China) for centuries. But the beverage is knocking on the door of mainstream success as health foodies in North America tout its dizzying array of purported benefits for illnesses as diverse as high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease. There's just one problem – for every die-hard kombucha drinker there seems to be … [Read more...] about Does Kombucha Really Have Health Benefits?
The government encourages small businesses to provide health insurance through a tax credit. AlexRaths/iStockphoto/ThinkStock One of the many aims of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was to make health coverage more accessible to a wide range of people. Employees of small businesses are often uninsured or underinsured because their employers, for financial or other reasons, don't provide health coverage. So a small business health care tax credit program was created as part of the ACA to encourage more small-business owners to buy health insurance for their workers. To be eligible for the tax credit, a business can have the equivalent of no more than 25 full-time employees. ("Equivalent" means that part-time employees count as a fraction of a full-time employee. A business could have up to 50 half-time employees and still qualify for the program.) The average yearly salary of the full-time employees must be no more than $50,000, and the employer must be responsible for at least … [Read more...] about How the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Works
The Health Care Tax Credit made health insurance more affordable for some groups, until it expired to make way for the Affordable Care Act. Wavebreakmedia Ltd/ThinkStock The Health Care Tax Credit (HCTC) was a federal program in existence from 2002 to 2013 that assisted people who had lost their jobs or were forced to take pay cuts "due to the effects of international trade" [source: Department of Labor]. The HCTC was created as a part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act of 2002 (otherwise known as the Trade Act of 2002). The program was expanded and extended a number of times until it finally expired on Jan. 1, 2014, to make way for the tax credits offered by the Affordable Care Act. The last year to claim the HCTC was 2013. The HCTC paid 72.5 percent of the health care premiums for those who qualified for the program. To be eligible for the HCTC, you had to receive government assistance through a Trade Adjustment Assistance program or the Pension Benefit Guaranty … [Read more...] about How the Health Care Tax Credits Worked
Health savings accounts are a great addition to a high deductible health plan. AlexRaths/iStock/Thinkstock Employer-sponsored health insurance used to be the gold standard for health care coverage in the United States. Your employer paid the majority of the monthly premium and you — and notably, your family — received world-class health care at a relatively low cost. But an unsettling trend has surfaced in recent years: Deductibles have been going up — way up. As with any type of insurance, the deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your coverage kicks in. In 2009, the average deductible for employer-sponsored health insurance was $826 per worker. In 2014, the average deductible was $1,217, an increase of 47 percent in just five years [source: Kaiser Family Foundation]. One reason for the dramatic increase in deductibles can be attributed to the popularity of high deductible health plans (HDHPs). With health insurance, the higher the … [Read more...] about How Health Savings Accounts Work
Dr. Nigel Verasami visits diabetic patient Saviana Santorelli, 83 at her home via a program called Independence at Home. It's part of the federal government's efforts to test new ways of improving the delivery of health services to seniors who are at risk for fragmented care, which leads to excessive use of emergency rooms and hospitals. Viviane Moos/Corbis via Getty Images At first glance, the numbers seem ridiculous, even in a forum where numbers routinely look ridiculous. Somewhere around half of the money spent on health care in the U.S. is spent on just 5 percent of the population, according to a 2016 report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Indeed, 22.8 percent of health care spending goes to just 1 percent of the population. These statistics have been this way for years. That might, at first blush, seem out of whack, that so much of the more than $3 trillion Americans spend on healthcare flows to so few. But when you take a closer at those 5 percent doing … [Read more...] about Why Just 5% of Americans Account for 50% of U.S. Health Care Spending