Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Social Security Disability, High Cholesterol, High Blood pressure and rewarding healthy behavior

If you've ever been an adjudicator for social security disability and SSI cases (in other words, a disability examiner or a disability judge), you've no doubt seen hundreds, if not thousands of initial claims for which high cholesterol and high blood pressure were cited as impairments. Both hypercholesterolemia and hypertension, of course, are strong risk factors for cardiovascular disease. And the unfortunate thing about them both is that they can be controlled far better than they are in many patients. And the sooner the better, particularly in the case of hypertension since high blood pressure levels, left unchecked, can eventually lead to renal (kidney) failure and can contribute to the incidence of heart attack and stroke.

The health insurance company, UnitedHealth, has apparently wised up to the fact that rewarding an individual for engaging in behavior that keeps high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels in check is cheaper than paying for an insured person's hospital stays later. This is how that realization has been addressed: workers who are on a UnitedHealth insurance plan, offered through an employer, can submit themselves for evaluation, on an annual basis, to see if they meet certain target goals in the areas of 1. blood pressure, 2. cholesterol, 3. smoking (do they smoke or not), and 4. body weight in comparison to height. By meeting these target goals, an insured individual or family can have their deductible substantially lowered.

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Other Posts:
How to apply for SSI benefits
Disability appeals
Disability denied