Two things in the media caught my attention last week.
First was a pretty funny bit of pseudo-investigative journalism on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Titled “The Pharmaceutical Drug Epidemic”, it showed correspondent Michael Che probing for answers to this country’s very real (and unfunny) epidemic of prescription narcotic (oxycontin, percocet, vicodin) abuse and overdose deaths.
Yes, he puts a humorous spin on the story, but in true Daily Show style he also hits a few … Continue reading
Investigating the high costs of health care
Over the last year, Elisabeth Rosenthal, a journalist and science editor for The New York Times, has written a brilliant series of articles titled Paying Till it Hurts:
In her series on the costs of health care, Elisabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times examines the price of medical care in the United States, interviewing patients, physicians, economists, and hospital and industry officials. In each installment, readers were invited to share their perspectives on managing costs and treatment.
I’ve been reading the series, and the truly shocking charging and billing practices she … Continue reading
It’s not that simple
Last night on the local news I watched a story about health care costs. The reporter, a consumer affairs specialist, talked about the expanding trend in health care of high-deductible medical insurance plans. Under the ACA, family annual deductibles can reach up to $12,700 (increasing to $12,900 for 2015); whatever your deductible, you pay your medical bills out of pocket until that deductible is met.
The uninsured, of course, just pay out of pocket.
Related post: Health insurance basics, part 1
The reporter encouraged us to
…take some time to research, and see what the
… Continue reading
What is health tourism and why Puerto Rico?
I read the other day that Puerto Rico wants to jump into the medical tourism ring and compete with those countries where it is already pretty well established, such as Mexico and Costa Rica.
Medical tourism, as the name implies, is traveling to another country to receive more affordable medical care.
[Puerto Rico’s] administration says that it commissioned a market study from which it deduces that medical costs on the island are between 40 percent and 60 percent lower than in the mainland U.S.
Such a move, if successful, could be a … Continue reading
The debate continues
Aargh! Last month the media picked up on three studies in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) about the association between how much salt we eat and our health.
Unfortunately, the studies didn’t do much to clear up the confusion surrounding how much salt we should be getting in our diets. In fact, popular reporting on the subject did little other than stir up more fear over what we eat.
The world has an increasingly high taste for salty foods — a taste that new research suggests leads to to 1.65 million excess deaths annually.
… Continue reading
Because it doesn’t help everyone
There is nothing I like more than cleaning clutter out of drawers, closets, shelves and…my medicine cabinet.
Over the last year, as I’ve been researching for my blog, I’ve eliminated multivitamins, calcium supplements, vitamin D supplements and niacin. Now it’s time to give that unopened bottle of baby aspirin the heave-ho.
My husband bought it a few of years ago on the advice of his physician. At that time, many doctors were recommending a daily baby or low-dose aspirin to patients that had some risk of heart attack or stroke, usually those … Continue reading
It’s not that contagious
For the last couple of weeks, the terrible outbreaks of the Ebola virus have been all over the news. Especially since two victims, American health care workers in Africa, were brought back to the US for treatment.
Headlines such as “CDC issues highest level alert amid Ebola outbreak” and “Ebola called ‘clear and present danger'” stir fear in Americans. But if you read the entire articles (and not everyone takes time to do that), you discover the danger is limited to certain countries in Western Africa.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from tweeting his … Continue reading
Less invasive but riskier?
In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety alert about the use of power morcellators in laparoscopic procedures to remove uterine fibroids (or the entire uterus).
A morcellator works by grinding or shredding tissue into small bits so that it can easily be “vacuumed” out through a very small incision. A laparoscope, a device with a tiny camera that allows the surgeon to “see” inside the abdomen, is also used.
Laparoscopic procedures are very popular for all kinds of abdominal surgeries not only because the incisions are much smaller, but because the patient … Continue reading
Latest niacin news
In yet another instance of “we thought this drug was useful until we actually tested it and found out it wasn’t”, researchers are warning us that niacin should no longer be used to manage cholesterol levels.
A popular supplement before statins were introduced, niacin has been prescribed by doctors for decades. And it’s still being used by patients who don’t want or can’t tolerate statins.
There are two reasons why niacin should not be used.
- Niacin raises the good cholesterol or HDLs, but evidence has shown that a higher HDL level due to niacin therapy is
… Continue reading
Don’t avoid all sun exposure
Vitamin D just won’t get out of the news. I posted about it a couple of weeks ago, and here I am commenting again on something else I read.
Actually, a friend sent me a link to a health care blog that referred to a recently-published study out of Sweden. Swedish melanoma researchers followed almost 30,000 women (I’m not sure why just women) for 20 years and concluded:
We found that all-cause mortality was inversely related to sun exposure habits. The mortality rate amongst avoiders of sun exposure was approximately twofold higher compared
… Continue reading