News with clear eyes. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

ScreenCancer Inc. says it increased the cancer screening rate for a group of 116 employees and spouses to 85%, from 59%, by calling up and offering help with arranging screenings.

ScreenCancer, Bedford, Mass., a cancer screening management firm, is reporting those figures in a pilot it conducted for a government employer in Wayne County, Ohio.

The study covered efforts to increase screening rates for colorectal, cervical, prostate and breast cancer in employees and spouses ages 50 and older.

In addition to arranging screenings, the telephone counselors talked to the health plan enrollees about the importance of the tests and called later to see if the enrollees had actually had the tests.

The first calls took about 10 to 15 minutes, the company says.

After 3 months, 65% of the non-compliant individuals had completed all recommended cancer screenings, the company says.

Suggestion: If plans really want patients to get preventive care, it might be better to call up enrollees and offer checkups when checkups are actually available, or get doctors to post calendars showing when appointments are available on the Web. The typical approach to scheduling routine care is just not working.

WHY ARE THEY UNINSURED?

A researcher at the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), Washington, says the percentage of employed uninsured people who said they were uninsured because they were not offered coverage by their employers fell between December 1995 April 2010.

The EBRI analysis excludes workers with insurance from other sources, such as employment-based coverage as a dependent, those who purchased coverage directly from an insurer, and those covered by public sources of coverage.

Most workers workers who were uninsured reported that they did not have coverage because of cost, the EBRI researcher says.

The percentage citing cost as a reason for not having coverage rose to 89% in 2010, from 73% in 1995. The percentage of workers reporting that they were not offered employment-based health benefits fell to about 23% in April 2010, from about 40% before 2003.

DON DRAPER, M.D., TO THE RESCUE

The American Medical Association (AMA), Chicago, has unveiled its new patient-physician relationship TV ad.

The ad shows the legs of patients of all ages dangling over physicians’ exam tables, and states that, “When you see your doctor, you don’t face any medical issue alone. You do it together.”

The ad will be running on cable and broadcast television through November.

The ad says nothing about why the doctors helping patients with their medical issues won’t get the billing people to call back about billing issues. Maybe patients are alone when facing billing issues.

MORE DUCK

Aflac Inc., Columbus, Ga. (NYSE: AFL), is putting a 35-foot Aflac Duck “balloonicle” (balloon-vehicle hybrid) in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade., and Macy’s will be selling plush ducks in 670 stores this holiday season to raise money for programs that help children with cancer.