Yesterday, the IRS finally began processing 2012 tax returns.
In 2014, if and when you apply for individual health insurance through one of the state-run exchanges, it will be important to know your 2012 income. Why? Because that figure will determine whether or not you will be eligible for a federal tax credit to help cover the cost of premiums.
In a previous post, I explained how the federal subsidies will work. In short, individuals and families earning up to 400% of federal poverty level (FPL) will be eligible, and the savings could be substantial—over $10,000 a year in some … Continue reading
Do you suffer from chronically dry, red, itchy eyes? The eye drops you use might actually be making your eyes look and feel worse.
Like so many over-the-counter (OTC) products, there are dozens of eye drops from which to choose. How do you know which is best?
As always, ignore the front of the package and read the ingredients.
Oxymetazoline HCl and naphazoline HCl are decongestants. Drops that advertise “decreased redness”, such as Visine, contain a decongestant that constricts the small blood vessels in the eye. It works temporarily, but has a “rebound” effect; that is, the redness gets worse … Continue reading
On March 1, if Congress and the president do not reach some kind of fiscal accord, mandatory cuts to federal programs—sequestration—will take effect.
One of the many victims of such massive spending cuts will be the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the medical research arm of the Department of Health and Human Services. According to its director, Francis Collins, MD, the NIH, in a “profound and devastating blow,” will lose 6.4% of its budget.
Their loss, however, could be the drug industry’s gain.
In his book Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, John Abramson, MD, … Continue reading
Have you ever heard of a company called ResMed? If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and have been prescribed a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, you probably have.
Or, if you follow the stock market, you might recognize ResMed as one of its rising stars. Rising because, according to its website, ResMed ‘s revenues and profits have grown every quarter since it was formed in 1989. In 2012, ResMed reported revenues of approximately $1.4 billion.
What is the secret to ResMed’s amazing success? Our country’s poor health.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the common condition in which … Continue reading
Starting in 2014, one of the signature features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be implemented: No adult with a pre-existing condition can be denied health insurance.
But it seems from recent news reports that both the administration and the nation’s health insurance carriers are getting a little nervous about exactly how much that will cost and whether sufficient funds will be available.
In theory, the individual mandate ensures that enough healthy young people buy insurance to keep premiums affordable and provide enough money to cover the care of the already sick. But no one knows with any certainty … Continue reading
Flu season hit hard this year, and the normal, if unwelcome, after effect of many viral upper respiratory infections is a lingering cough.
A recent review of the medical literature found that, on average, a cough will last 17.8 days! Fortunately, most coughs are self limiting; that is, they will get better without special treatment, such as antibiotics.
If you have a question about when to seek medical attention for a cough, visit FamilyDoctor.org ‘Check Your Symptoms’.
For home treatment, however, the drugstore shelves are filled with a dizzying array of cough products. Which one, if any, is best?
Before … Continue reading
I read with concern yesterday that one of the victims of the recent fiscal cliff deal was the program funding the creation of new non-profit health insurance carriers. Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, CO-OPs for short, were meant to provide some much-needed competition to the private carriers on the health insurance exchanges and keep premiums more affordable.
At least, that was the theory.
But now Congress has sliced the program’s budget from $6 billion to $2.4 billion. And the money is in the form of loans, not grants. Besides the many other challenges facing these start-ups, they have a very … Continue reading
Wash your nose?
I wrote in a previous post that frequent hand washing is your best defense against a cold virus; but what about washing your nose? The inside of your nose, to be exact.
You just need a neti pot.
The neti pot is an inexpensive device for saline nasal irrigation, which is a fancy term for nose washing.
A neti pot is easy to use
How do I use a neti pot? It’s very simple. I fill the pot—which resembles a small tea pot or Aladdin’s lamp—with warm saline (salt) solution. Leaning over a sink, I place the … Continue reading
I shook my head in wonder last night when I read this article: FDA requires lower doses for Ambien, other sleep meds
Doses for women, at least, will be cut in half.
Different bodies metabolize drugs at different rates. Apparently, studies have shown that the morning level of zolpidem (Ambien) remains high enough in some patients, especially women, that their driving skills are impaired.
According to the article, “the FDA has received a number of reports of car accidents connected to zolpidem over the years.”
I couldn’t help but think of the recent news, and my recent post, about… Continue reading
It appears that the 2012-13 flu season is especially severe and has not yet reached its peak, which is when the maximum number of cases have been reported and we start to see a downward trend.
In early November, I posted about the advantages, health-wise and financial, of getting a flu shot.
It’s still not too late, and there is ample vaccine available.
FYI, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to reach its full effectiveness.
FN… Continue reading