Fly a kite, play tag, get off the couch … you probably have seen or heard Kaiser Permanente's Thrive ads, which call on its health-insurance subscribers to take up healthy activities they enjoy.

While there's no way to know for sure if the ads are related to Kaiser Permanente's number of members in Colorado, the health-insurance provider also has the highest number of Medicare Advantage patients enrolled in Boulder County of any of the major health-insurance companies, according to a survey prepared for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Folks who are 65 or older can buy Medicare Advantage plans – usually paying about $200 or more per month for the additional coverage, which can include prescription drug coverage, dental and vision.

A Medicare Advantage plan is administered by a private health-insurance provider as opposed to the traditional Medicare program available to all seniors. Some 6,844 people in Boulder County have a Kaiser Medicare Advantage plan, according to the survey, which compiled data through August 2012.

"People love our Medicare plan. We take such good care of our members," said Amy Whited, a Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman in Denver, when told about the federal survey data.

Locally, Kaiser patients can access health services at Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, as well as the Rock Creek Clinic, which is attached to the hospital, Whited said.

In Boulder County, United Healthcare of Colorado Inc./Secure Horizons had the next highest number of Medicare Advantage enrollees at 3,026 people. United was closely followed by Rocky Mountain Health Plan, with 1,103 people, and Humana Insurance Co., with 995 people. Aetna Health Inc. was next with 504 people, followed by smaller insurance plans with fewer than 100 people enrolled.

Across the state, United Healthcare of Colorado Inc./Secure Horizons had the most Medicare Advantage enrollees, according to the survey, or 83,201 people. Kaiser came in second with 78,536 people.


AspirinWorks

Rolling back 15 years from the birthday when you become eligible for Medicare …

If you are over 50, dear reader, a doctor may tell you to take an aspirin every day to keep your blood thin and help prevent heart attacks.

Thousands of people across the United States take an aspirin or a baby aspirin daily, according to Bill Critchfield, chief financial officer at Corgenix Medical Corp. (OTCBB: CONX.OB) in Broomfield.

They may think they're avoiding heart attacks. But as it turns out, 15 percent to 25 percent of all Americans are resistant to the beneficial effects of aspirin, according to Corgenix.

You can find out if you're that 1-in-4 person by taking the company's AspirinWorks test, which measures a person's receptivity to aspirin's general beneficial effects.

Sales of the tests have helped the company double overall sales in the last two years, Critchfield said. It is sold to laboratories in kits that can measure results from 40 to 60 patients.

"We feel like we're on the cusp of some really big things," Critchfield said. "We're really on a nice track, and this is the only one like it in the world."

In the company's year-end report, Corgenix said it plans to be profitable in its fiscal year 2013.


'Frequent flyers'

Here's some hospital emergency room visit information from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

It's important to hospitals (and to you, too, if you care about health-insurance costs) because Medicaid at the beginning of October started penalizing hospitals in terms of reimbursements if they went over a set number of readmissions in a 30-day period.

The new American College of Emergency Physicians study shows that "frequent flyers" – those folks who go to the emergency room a lot rather than to a doctor – actually don't have higher rates of nonurgent visits than the rest of us.

Such emergency room patients often have mental illness, especially psychiatric episodes, according to the new study. Politically, the emergency room visit patients have been castigated as health-care system abusers who don't pay for health insurance and drive up costs for others.

The industry doctor group also said frequent users are more likely to be insured by Medicare or Medicaid and to be chronically ill.

"If one certainty emerges here, it is that patients with mental illnesses and psychiatric emergencies are coming to the ER because other resources are simply not available to them," said Andy Sama, president of the doctor group, which is based in Dallas.

So-called "frequent flyer" emergency room patients are responsible for anywhere from 11.5 percent to 39.7 percent of all ER visits, according to the survey.

Beth Potter can be reached at 303-630-1944 or email bpotter@bcbr.com.