Why are EpiPens so expensive?

epipensEpiPens – lifesaving but costly

I’m allergic to bee stings, so I keep an EpiPen handy when I’m working out in my garden this time of year.

But my EpiPens are more than 3 years old now, and it’s time to invest in a new set.

Why do I say invest? Because EpiPens are incredibly expensive!

Related post: First aid for bee stings

I didn’t know that three years ago when I bought them. At that time, my health insurance did not include coverage for prescription medications (all ACA-compliant plans must now), so I paid the full price out of … Continue reading

How accurate is your Fitbit?

fitbitIt’s OK for steps, but not much else

I was feeling really good about myself the other day when I came home after finishing a 6,000 step walk that burned—according to the Fitbit Zip in my pocket—720 calories.

Woo!

I boasted about this to my husband, who immediately burst my pride bubble by saying, “There is no way you burned that many calories in a 40-minute walk. Think about it.”

He was right. I knew in the back of my mind that 720 calories was just too high. Have you ever run on a treadmill for 15 minutes and felt … 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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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

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

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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Save money – When to call an ambulance

I recently read an article about a man who was taken to the ER in an ambulance for a sprained wrist.

And then he was astounded when the ambulance company charged him $250!

“If I wanted to go to the emergency room, I could have taken a cab costing less than $10,” he said.

Or Uber. Or a friend. He learned the expensive way that ambulances are costly—$250 is actually on the cheap end—and should not be used without good cause.

Ambulance costs can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to well over $2,000, depending on the length … Continue reading

FDA warns about imported supplements

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just released this consumer education video about supplements and dietary aids:

I’ve written many, many posts on the dangers of trusting supplement manufacturers to tell you the truth about their products. Not to mention buying supplements (aka nutriceuticals or herbal remedies) is often just a waste of money.

Although the video focuses on imported supplements, the same warning can apply to domestically-manufactured products.

Related posts:

The FDA consumer safety webpage on this topic is an … Continue reading

Vitamin D doesn’t help knee arthritis

A few years ago vitamin D was being touted as the latest and greatest miracle supplement. Low vitamin D levels were linked to all kinds of conditions—autoimmune diseases, heart disease, chronic pain, osteoporosis, some cancers, and more—so doctors started prescribing high-dose supplements.

Or people just bought vitamin D supplements at the store and dosed themselves. Sometimes way over the recommended upper limit of 4,000 IU/day.

Multiple research studies, however, have found little help from vitamin D supplements in treating or preventing most of these conditions.

Most recently is a well-done study out of Australia, published in last week’s Journal of Continue reading

5 tips to save money on prescription drugs

save money on prescription drugsOne of the driving forces behind rising health care costs is the increasingly high cost of prescription drugs.

And because 60% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, that adds up to a lot of money.

Insurance companies are trying to rein in costs by having tiered copayments (higher for brand names) or limiting the selection of drugs on their formularies (the list of drugs your insurance will cover).

This post gives you some suggestions to save money, and some resources that might be helpful.

But first, ask yourself and your physician if a prescription drug is really … Continue reading

Home remedies for lice

home remedies for lice I just learned that my state, Washington, is one of several that is experiencing an outbreak of “super-lice”, or lice that are resistant to the traditional pyrethrum-based treatments (Rid contains pyrethrin; Nix contains permethrin).

Super-lice aside, the common louse has been increasingly resistant to the standard over-the-counter products for many years. Which begs the question: Why are Nix and Rid still the recommended first line of treatment by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)??

Probably because there are few other tested and FDA-approved methods.

So what should parents do? Let’s look at the options.

There are basically three ways … Continue reading

“It’s Just Life”

The United States isn’t the only country that is burdened with too much medicine (and subsequent out-of-control health care costs).

I belong to a network of health care professionals around the world who are having a dialogue about overscreening, overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and what to do about it.

A physician from Spain shared this amusing YouTube video, “Así es la Vida” (It’s Just Life):

The subtitles are in English, but I had to translate for myself the words on the “prescription” box of medicine given to each patient:

No little pill can solve the reality Continue reading

Do “brain games” prevent dementia?

I like playing the brain games of Lumosity online and on my phone.

I like puzzles and words games in general, and Lumosity offers a fun and convenient way to play and keep track of my improvement in a variety of challenges.

I’ve never paid the costly $15 a month subscription, because I’ve never bought into the idea that playing these “brain games”—Lumosity calls it “brain training”—by themselves is enough to prevent dementia as I age.

But many people, apparently, were influenced by Lumosity’s advertising.

Two weeks ago, the creators of Lumosity settled a $50 million lawsuit with the Federal Continue reading

My New Year’s resolutions

I don’t know about you, but 2015 has zipped by for me. My big loss, of course, was the death of my father in July. But otherwise it’s been a very healthy year for me (never had to see my doctor!) and while researching for my blog I learned lots of new ways to stay healthy and use our health care system more effectively (or warily).

Here’s a round up of some of my favorite posts and what health tips I’ll take with me into 2016 as I resolve to:

Move!

One of the most compelling posts, I think, was … Continue reading