I just returned from an errand to the bank where I saw a huge cardboard advertisement for a pink-ribboned Susan G. Komen credit card. That reminded me that October (or Pinktober) is all about Think Pink and breast cancer awareness.
But be aware that there are less-than-worthy charities and lots of for-profit merchandising, too. This post from last October has excellent links to help you know if a charity deserves your money. FN
Profiting from breast cancer?
I know October is all about the color pink and supporting breast cancer, but don’t be too hasty giving your money away, … Continue reading
And maybe win a prize!
Have you or a family member been the victim of crazy medical expenses? Or are you a healthcare provider who has witnessed again and again unreasonable and unfair healthcare costs?
Have you just been waiting for the chance to share your experience with a wider audience?
If so, then the healthcare advocacy group, Costs of Care, wants you to submit your story to its annual Story Contest.
Your story should be 750 words or less, and it should “focus on experiences that illustrate the challenges or opportunities to make healthcare more affordable.” (Check out… Continue reading
The shrinking drug formulary
Insurance companies have several ways to cut their costs.
We are all familiar with higher premiums, higher co-pays, increased deductibles, and narrower provider networks. These will all be apparent when we look at our policies for 2017.
A lesser-known strategy is to remove high-cost drugs from the drug formulary—the list of medications that insurance will cover.
Insurance companies typically work with a pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM, which acts as the middleman to negotiate drug prices with drugmakers.
Exploding drug costs
The Affordable Care Act made it mandatory that health insurance plans offer prescription drug … Continue reading
Pulse Point saves a life!
A recent news story here in Seattle caught my eye: Off-duty doctor gets Pulse Point app alert, saves man’s life
Douglas Stine was driving with co-workers along Aurora Ave. on Monday when he started gasping for air and lost consciousness, the result of a heart condition.
The other workers called 911, but help arrived minutes before the paramedics.
Dr. Matt Gittinger, a UW medicine physician at Harborview, happened to be at his dining room table catching up on work when he saw an alert on his phone.
“I was out of my front door within
… Continue reading
The FDA wants your input!
Add your comment here: Use of the Term “Healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products
Do you remember a couple years ago when the maker of a particular brand of granola bars was told by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cease and desist from using the term “healthy” to describe their product?
The problem with those particular granola bars was their high saturated fat content. They were made with nuts, peanuts, peanut butter. coconut and dark chocolate—foods generally considered to be healthy and “good fats,” but fats nonetheless.
This caused a lot … Continue reading
I first posted about Life Line screenings two years ago. I’m re-posting today as this post still gets a lot of traffic and I wanted to reopen the comments.
I just received an invitation in the mail!
Not to a party or a wedding or anything fun, but to a Life Line Screening event being held at a local church. The letter says they’re holding a spot for me on this particular date, but I must call NOW to confirm and register, because spaces are LIMITED!
“These aren’t just routine medical procedures—they can help save your life”
Oh, … Continue reading
I just finished reading a really gripping and emotional story—Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by journalist Susannah Cahalan. (Soon to be a movie!)
As a twenty-something cub reporter in New York, Ms. Cahalan began experiencing strange, seemingly unconnected symptoms, such as forgetfulness, paranoia and the sensation that bugs were crawling on one side of her body.
The details of her weeks’ long medical journey—which she had to piece together from medical records, her parents’ journals, and the recollections of friends, doctors and nurses because she couldn’t remember most of it—are a pretty frightening look at today’s fragmented … Continue reading
I think it was a mistake to allow prescription drug commercials on TV. In my humble opinion, at least.
But I’m not alone in disliking these commercials, or direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads, as they’re called.
The news website Vox recently released a video that explains more about how DTC ads came to be ever present on our TVs. They attempt to be fair and present both sides of the debate, but it seems to me they lean negative. What do you think?
One of my objections to DTC ads is that these multi-billion dollar campaigns are … Continue reading
Kids need flu shots!
Pediatricians recommend all children over the age of 6 months get a yearly flu shot.
In previous years, a nasal spray version of the flu vaccine, FluMist, has been available to parents who wanted to avoid subjecting their children to another needle jab.
But for the last 3 years FluMist has not been nearly as effective as the standard flu shot. So for the 2016-2017 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) are recommending against FluMist for flu prevention.
For the 2016-2017 flu season, the Advisory Committee on
… Continue reading
Triclosan isn’t effective
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began drafting guidelines for the use of the popular antibacterial, triclosan, about 40 years ago.
Two years ago they announced they were ready to implement some much-needed oversight of this chemical. They asked the manufacturers of soaps and body washes to provide more evidence of both its effectiveness and safety.
Well, those companies came up short. Last week the FDA made its final decision to ban triclosan and some other chemicals used in “antibacterial” soaps.
Manufacturers haven’t shown that these ingredients are any more effective than plain
… Continue reading
Kids and vaccines
It’s that time of year when the days shorten, stores advertise trendy back-to-school clothes, and parents scramble to make appointments with their kids’ pediatricians for sport physicals and immunizations.
At least, I hope they do.
I am a fervent believer in vaccinations, even though I live in the state (Washington) with–sadly–the highest “opt out” rate in the country.
In 1998 a medical journal published a paper by (now debunked and disgraced) scientist Andrew Wakefield. He implied a link between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism. Since then, many parents have feared vaccinating their … Continue reading
Wow. Talk about timing.
I just posted a few weeks ago about my dread of renewing my EpiPen prescription because of its cost—over $700 without insurance, and still over $600 with my insurance!
It seems other healthcare advocates, the media, Congress and even the presidential nominees are at last realizing how insane it is to charge that much for literally a few cents worth of epinephrine.
EpiPens are not even new to the market, like so many other high-priced drugs. It’s been around for a long time, so Mylan pharmaceuticals can’t claim it’s trying to recoup R&D costs. In fact, … Continue reading
Prevnar 13: As seen on TV
I was watching TV the other evening and, as usual, was forced to sit through multiple back-to-back prescription drug commercials.
One that caught my attention was for Prevnar 13, which is one of the pneumonia vaccines. (13 because it protects against 13 strains of streptococcus pneumonia.)
The commercial stated Prevnar 13 was for adults aged 50 and older.
That statement’s true, but needs some clarification.
Yes, Pfizer did get FDA approval a few years ago to market Prevnar 13 to adults over the age of 50. Previously, the vaccine was only used for … Continue reading
Bad advice to whiten your teeth
I have a lot of fun on Pinterest and have been collecting different “pins” of home remedies for all sorts of minor afflictions. Some are commonly used, such as aloe for sunburn, but others can be pretty far out there, such as human breast milk to treat pink eye.
One by one, I research these remedies, and I am creating a “board” on my Pinterest page dedicated to the frugal home treatments I think have some benefit.
Mostly these home remedies do not have a great deal—if any—research to support their claims. University … Continue reading
Heard on the golf course
I don’t want to reinforce the cliché that all doctors play golf, but my husband (not a doctor) plays with a lot of them.
Recently he shared with me a couple of conversations he’s had with his MD golf buddies about the cost of healthcare, specifically prescription medications.
A few weeks ago I posted about how much it costs to buy an EpiPen—over $700 for a pack of two, if you don’t have insurance. Even with insurance, it can cost well over $500.
My husband mentioned this to a friend, a urologist, during a … Continue reading