A son’s anguish
Have you ever read the comic strip Dilbert?
Created by Scott Adams, it is a wonderfully humorous and satirical cartoon about a white-collared worker, Dilbert, who exists in a world of partitioned office cubicles and micromanaging bosses. It’s very funny.
But this morning I ran across Scott Adams’s blog and read his very angry, very painful, very un-funny post about his dying father.
I hope my father dies soon.
My father, age 86, is on the final approach to the long dirt nap (to use his own phrase). His mind is 98% gone, and all he has
… Continue reading
Affordable coverage by January 1?
This week I have to make a final decision about a new health insurance plan for my family.
Yes, I’ve been dawdling. Partly because I wanted to wait and see how my state’s health exchange would work (there were several glitches, so I’m glad I waited) and whether the administration might “fix” or delay parts of the law, as it did when it suggested insurance companies could extend canceled policies through 2014 ( my state has refused to play).
And, to be honest, I’m procrastinating because I’m angry about losing my current policy, about paying … Continue reading
Glitchy exchanges improve…kind of
The big news this past weekend, other than Black Friday deals and mayhem, was the much-anticipated announcement that by the end of the day Saturday, Nov. 30, the federal health exchange, healthcare.gov, would—finally—be working as it was supposed to.
Well, is it? That depends.
Most of the media report that the website is “improving” and working better than it did on October 1. That’s a pretty low bar. The official Health and Human Services exchange website, hhs.gov, states:
The site is better today than it was on Oct. 1. We are on track
… Continue reading
No, it’s not a new main dish like the turducken or tofurkey.
A churkendoose is the imaginary barnyard creature created for a children’s story by Ben Ross Berenberg in 1946. A definite oddball, it’s part chicken, turkey, duck and goose.
Sadly out of print, The Churkendoose was a popular Golden Book and 45-rpm record that delighted several generations of children and their parents. Beautifully orchestrated, the 9-minute recording (1947) features Ray Bolger (the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz) singing the title role:
I have a head like a chicken and legs like a duck; instead
… Continue reading
Oh, my aching head!
Headaches must be one of the most common health complaints. They affect all age groups, and have any number of underlying causes. Still, most headaches are a minor annoyance at most, and go away with minimal treatment.
But judging by the amount of money spent on over-the-counter pain relievers and headache medications (about half a billion dollars a year), we must be a country in a lot of pain!
The vast majority (90%) of headaches are the tension-type, or stress, headaches.
Luckily, tension-type headaches can be treated easily with inexpensive over-the-counter medications or simple home … Continue reading
The blockbuster drug
My husband has had mildly elevated cholesterol for years. At several points in time, his doctor has recommended that he start taking one of the cholesterol-lowering drugs, like Lipitor (atorvastatin), the best-selling prescription drug of all time. In 2006, Lipitor sales peaked at $13.7 billion—that’s just one year!
Because my husband has no other risk factors for heart disease—he is not overweight, he doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t have high blood pressure (if anything, it’s low), he has no family history of heart attacks, and he eats a low-saturated fat diet and exercises regularly—I have always … Continue reading
Switching doctors will become more common
My family is one of those that has lost our current insurance plan. And in researching new plans, I’ve found that individual market plans, both on and off the health care exchange, have significantly smaller provider networks.
Our current doctors and hospitals are not “in network” for any of the new plans, so we will have to change.
I understand why the insurance companies need to do this. To keep premiums and out-of-pocket costs even remotely affordable (I still think they are way too high), more expensive doctors and medical centers have to be … Continue reading
A sleeping giant awakens
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, it’s probably pretty clear to you that I am not a fan of Obamacare.
I want affordable health insurance, and affordable, accessible, stable and uniform health care for everyone. But for many reasons, I have never thought Obamacare would get us there.
Over the last year I have posted about sticker shock, subsidies, narrow networks, high deductibles and cancelled policies.
I expected the worst, and for the most part I have not been disappointed.
Although, with all honesty, I did not foresee … Continue reading
Buy healthy food and skip the vitamins
Last week two news stories caught my attention.
First, medical experts have (once again) come out saying that the evidence does not support taking supplemental vitamins to reduce your risk of heart disease or cancer.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the government panel that provides guidelines to the public on such things as preventive care and screening tests, has recently updated its recommendations for vitamin and mineral supplements.
Looking at a large number of smaller studies (what’s called a meta-analysis), the researchers at the Kaiser Permamente Center for Health … Continue reading
The canary in the coal mine
Late last week I read the troubling story about a recent polio outbreak in Syria. Although polio, thanks to the vaccine, has been almost eradicated in most parts of the world, it is still present in several middle eastern countries.
Because of political unrest and the huge numbers of refugees fleeing to Europe, world public health officials worry about more widespread outbreaks of this crippling, and deadly, disease.
Outbreaks of highly contagious, but preventable, diseases have become more common because of the anti-vaccination movement. And as these like-minded individuals tend to settle … Continue reading