Health Highlights: March 20, 2012

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

CDC Warns Olympics-Bound Americans About Measles Risk

Americans traveling to the Summer Olympics in London and the Euro 2012 soccer cup in Poland and Ukraine need to be up-to-date on their measles vaccinations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The measles virus is much more prevalent in Europe and caused 26,000 illnesses and 8 deaths last year, USA Today reported.

The Olympics begin July 27 and the Euro 2012 soccer cup on June 8.

"Disease knows no borders," said Rebecca Martin, director of the CDC's Global Immunization Division, USA Today reported. "We are concerned about Americans coming back from the Olympics this summer and unknowingly infecting others."

Most measles cases in the U.S. are imported by American travelers who have not been vaccinated.


Women Still Have Higher Health Insurance Rates

The same health insurance coverage still costs women more than men in most states, even though the new federal health care law will prohibit such "gender rating" starting in 2014.

In states that have not banned gender rating, more than 90 percent of the best-selling health plans charge women more than men, according to a National Women's Law Center report to be issued this week, The New York Times reported.

Only 14 states have moved to limit or ban gender rating in the individual insurance market.

Insurers say women's premiums are higher because they're more likely to visit doctors, to take prescription medicines, to get regular checkups and to have certain chronic illnesses, The Times reported.

But this explanation is "highly questionable" because disparities between women's and men's rates can vary greatly in the same state, according to Marcia D. Greenberger, a president of the National Women's Law Center.

"In Arkansas, for example, one health plan charges 25-year-old women 81 percent more than men, while a similar plan in the same state charges women only 10 percent more," she told The Times.


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