Obamacare premium increases for 2017

Up, up and away!

Does anyone’s income go up as fast as their health insurance premium? I wish.

11.6%. That’s how much more my current health insurance provider wants to charge for my bronze high-deductible health plan in 2017.

And although 11.6% seems like a lot to me, another company in my state is requesting a 19.9% average increase on all its plans, with a 28% increase on its gold plan!

So far, the rate increases that have been made public in other states are all pretty high, averaging well into the double digits. So at least I’m not … Continue reading

“Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”

gwyneth paltrowDon’t take health advice from celebrities

I just finished reading a thoughtful, informative and thoroughly entertaining book that examines how our celebrity-crazy culture affects our healthcare and lifestyle choices.

In “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”, author Timothy Caulfield makes it his quest to “analyze and debunk the messages and promises” behind celebrities’ overhyped and oversold health, diet and beauty products.

Indeed, celebrity culture has emerged as one of the most significant and influential sources of pseudoscientific blather….The popularity of juicing, cleanses, detox diets, weird exercise routines, and a boatload of beauty and antiaging products and practices can be

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Be informed – Poison control number

poison control numberA rising number of childhood poisonings

I don’t know much about e-cigarettes and vaping, but a recent study alarmed me. More kids are being poisoned because of them.

These devices use liquid nicotine, which can either be swallowed or absorbed into children’s skin. A small dose of nicotine can make a child sick; a large dose can kill.

Very small children are at the most risk.

Another type of accidental poisoning is also on the rise—prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone.

Related post: First aid for poisoning

Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever … Continue reading

Healthy food choices – Dining Decisions

healthy food choicesEven toddlers seem to be playing with smartphone and tablet apps, so why not make it educational as well as fun?

Obesity among children is still a major public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) hopes their new app, Dining Decisions, will help teach young children how to make healthy food choices.

The app was just released last month, and it’s only available for iPhones and iPads, so I haven’t been able to try it out yet. Hopefully it will be available in an Android version soon! I want to play.  🙂

Related post: Healthy kids Continue reading

Is that charity walk worthwhile?

charity walkWhere does the money go?

Although they’re months away, I’ve already received emails about registering for a couple charity walks that I have supported in the past.

I haven’t walked for a couple of years, and I probably won’t this year. Not that I don’t support giving to charity, but it has seemed to me that these charity walk events get bigger every year, and I can’t help but wonder how much money is actually getting to the researchers or the advertised patient-support programs.

Probably less than I’d like.

I just read an article by Karuna Jaggar, the executive director … Continue reading

Healthcare journalist Peggy Girshman writes her own eulogy

I’ve been a fan of Peggy Girshman’s science and healthcare writing for a long time, so it was with great sadness that I read about her death in March at the young age of 61.

But in tribute to her award-winning journalism career, which included long stints at both NPR and Kaiser Health News, she actually wrote her own eulogy!

She wanted to share a few simple lessons she had learned from her years on the job of reporting healthcare-related stories. Because they resonate with my own view that we need more health and less medicine, I wanted … Continue reading

National Stroke Awareness Month

It’s Stroke Awareness Month!

May is  National Stroke Awareness Month, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) want you to be aware of the most common stroke symptoms, and know what to do if you see them.

The five most common symptoms, which tend to come on suddenly, are:

  1. Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially when on just one side of the body;
  2. Confusion, including having trouble speaking or understanding;
  3. Trouble seeing, in one or both eyes;
  4. Dizziness, having trouble walking or balancing;
  5. Headache, especially pain
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“End of the Line” for medical guidelines

Knowledge is king

That’s the take home message from Professor (of pharmacy) James McCormack’s latest parody video, End of the Line, which takes a whack at healthcare’s increasingly pervasive and rigid medical guidelines.

 

If followed to the letter, these guidelines (often based on research funded by drug companies) would have everyone diagnosed with a disease and taking one or more medications. Medical guidelines may be great for the drug business, but not so much for individualized, patient-centric care and shared decision-making.

Chronic disease state guidelines (blood pressure/lipids/glucose/bone density) do not provide clinicians with

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Rx for health: Community supported agriculture

community supported agricultureA new kind of prescription: fresh vegetables

I’ve always loved the quote by Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

I’ve said many times in this blog that I’m disturbed by our healthcare system’s increasing dependence on prescription drugs. It’s not only expensive, but long-term use of drugs causes other problems down the road.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see a local news story about a physician who is rejecting the current trend.

Dr. Kris Knox is prescribing community supported agriculture (CSA) in lieu of or in addition to pharmaceuticals for patients with chronic disease

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Can telemedicine save you money?

telemedicineTime is money

Maybe you have affordable health insurance and a doctor you like.

But have you ever had the experience of calling for an appointment for a sore throat, a bladder infection, back pain, or some other minor ailment and being told that the doctor’s next available appointment is in six weeks?

Or you get a same-day appointment, but then have to take time off work, drive to the clinic, perhaps pay for parking, and then wait to be seen by the doctor. For a five-minute appointment.

It’s frustrating, sure, but it’s also costly when you consider the time … Continue reading

Home remedies for allergy eyes

allergy eyesSpring and allergy eyes

I love the sunny days of early spring when the trees are in flower…but then my allergies kick in.

I don’t mind the runny nose and sneezing so much. I can use my neti pot to keep the pollen out of my nose.

But I’ve had a harder time treating the allergy eyes—the itchy, red, watery, ugly eyes that are the byproduct of all that seasonal pollen floating in the air.

Another name for allergy eyes is allergic conjunctivitis.

Try some simple treatments

I can’t avoid spring flowers, but I’ve finally (after many years of suffering) … Continue reading

Hospital safety tips

hospital safetyHospital safety and medical mistakes

A friend forwarded an email to me. It was from a retirement blog he subscribes to, and this particular post was about what the writer, a doctor as well as a blogger, considers “The deadliest place you’re likely to visit this year…”

He’s talking about hospitals. And he’s not being overly dramatic, either.

He knows what many of us in health care know: hospitals can be dangerous to your health. One of my best friends is a physician. We have a pact that if either one of us has to go into the hospital, the … Continue reading

Choose paper towels over air hand dryers

I just came back from vacation. Between airports, restaurants and public attractions, I washed my hands in a lot of public restrooms. I noticed that more places, especially newer ones, have installed high-tech hand dryers rather than paper towel dispensers. Some have both.

I usually use a paper towel because it’s faster and I can use it on the handle of the restroom as I’m leaving.

But I’ve never really considered if there’s a health difference between the two ways to dry your hands. Apparently, there is.

recent study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology compared how many germs … Continue reading

Exercise for brain health

brainThe wellness blog in the New York Times had an article about brain health that has strengthened my resolve to exercise every day.

Walk, Jog or Dance: It’s All Good For the Aging Brain

It turns out that regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even gardening may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

The author is referring to a recently published study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study looked at 10 years’ worth of lifestyle data, including exercise levels, on 900 men and women over the age of 65. Over the course of those 10 years, the … Continue reading

Be informed – Shared decision-making

Shared decision-making makes better informed patients, and better informed patients use less health care.

…as many as 20% of patients who participate in shared decision making choose less invasive surgical options and more conservative treatment than do patients who do not use decision aids.

Which lowers health care costs.

…a 2012 study…showed that providing decision aids to patients eligible for hip and knee replacements substantially reduced both surgery rates and costs — with up to 38% fewer surgeries and savings of 12 to 21% over 6 months.

[It’s] estimated that implementing shared decision making for just 11 procedures would

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