15 March 2011

Advances Made With Cancer Infertility

New Hope For Men Deemed Sterile Due to Childhood Cancer Treatments

New research shows a painstaking surgical technique can help some men deemed infertile because of childhood cancer treatment to become fathers after all.

Many of the cancer treatments that can save lives also leave survivors infertile. Young men can bank sperm if they're told in time, but many aren't. And experiments to find options for children diagnosed before puberty are only now beginning.

Researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center pioneered an option a decade ago for men deemed sterile for a number of reasons.

Now they have long-term data showing the technique can work in some childhood cancer survivors whose only other options would have been adoption or using donor sperm.

Surgeons essentially perform tiny biopsies of testicular tissue to hunt any pockets of hidden sperm, which then are used in standard in vitro fertilization to attempt a partner's pregnancy.

In cancer survivors, they were able to extract small amounts of sperm from more than a third of the men - 27 of 73. Doctors then attempted injecting the sperm into a partner's eggs in hopes of pregnancy. The result: 20 children were born, including five pairs of twins, the researchers reported Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Being able to find what are essentially stray sperm cells is dramatic but doesn't mean the technique will help everyone.

The new study found that the best chance for sperm retrieval was among men who'd been treated for testicular cancer, while survivors of sarcoma had the lowest chance. That's because of varying treatments for different types of cancer.

Sperm is made in tiny tubes inside the testicles, which can be seen under an operating-room microscope. Flat tubes probably contain no sperm, while larger ones are removed to see if they do.

The surgery costs about $10,000 to $12,000, in addition to the costs of IVF, he said. It's already offered at various medical centers around the country.

03 March 2011

Compensation for BCBS CEO jumped to $2.75 million in 2010

Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO of Michigan operations, Dan Loepp, earned a total of $2.75 million in compensation for 2010, according to the BCBS' financial report, filed with the state Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. His earnings marked an increase of 56 percent from $1.76 million in 2009.

Those figures, however, are on the deceptive side because Loepp, along with other senior executives of the company, took a 5% base pay cut in 2009. The CEO also voluntarily reduced his performance-based compensation by $340,000, said vice president of corporate communications Andy Hetzel.

"It looks like a $1 million increase, but he really got a $660,000" pay increase after the 2009 reductions, Hetzel added.

Loepp's total compensation in 2010 includes his base salary of $1.27 million and performance incentives totaling $1.27 million. The value of Loepp's non-cash earnings amounted to roughly $207,000, which includes life and automobile insurance benefits.

Compared to other BCBS plan CEOs, Loepp's compensation ranked at the lower end, Hetzel said. When viewed from a per-member perspective, his total compensation was in fact the second-lowest. On total compensation, Loepp ranked 18th highest on the list of CEOs, added Hetzel.

The insurance giant also reported its financials to OFIR based on statutory accounting principles (SAP).

In 2010, BCBS claimed to have earned $205.3 million in net income for 2010. In 2009, its net income was $12.6 million.

The accounting methods of SAP differ from that of GAAP or "generally accepted accounting principles," which was the financial statement the provider reported earlier in the week.

A primary reason SAP and GAAP figures are different is that OFIR is mostly interested in BCBS' insured business, which includes sales from HMO (health maintenance organization) and (PPO) preferred provider organization products. An overwhelming majority of the Blue's business stems from large, self-insured employer accounts.

For example, BCBS specializes in offering insurance packages for broad scope of employers, such as Detroit doctors and their staff members, large commercial manufacturing and production companies, and even vehicle logistics providers that offer express services for freight, automobile transport, and highly complex car shipping.

As a result, the total revenue in 2010 for BCBS was $6.57 billion, compared with $6.98 billion the previous year, according to SAP reporting. When company factors in its self-insured market based on GAAP financial reporting, its revenue plummeted to $19.2 billion in 2010, 11 percent lower than the $21.6 billion in 2009.