Newer drugs are not necessarily better drugs
A few days ago at the gym, I was leafing through an issue of Health magazine.
What caught my eye was not the article about preventing stress injuries, or the recipe for a zingy, low-fat curry, but rather the pages devoted to ads for prescription drugs. Drugs to treat psoriasis, hepatitis C, dry eyes, depression, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, and overactive bladder, to name but a few.
Each ad took three pages. After doing a little mental math, I discovered the ads for these new prescription drugs made up more than 30% of the … Continue reading
Cholesterol and diet
A few months ago I posted about my husband’s dilemma with his cholesterol, specifically his low-density (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol level.
His physician advised a statin, but my husband is understandably reluctant to start taking a daily pill for the next 30+ years.
Because he has no other heart disease risk factors, such as being overweight, a smoker, high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease, he and his physician made a plan to re-check his cholesterol level in 6 months.
A date which is rapidly approaching.
He’s exercising more and being more careful … Continue reading
One cream to treat them all
Over the weekend, I discovered I had a minor case of athlete’s foot. I’m no athlete, but note to self: wear flip-flops when taking a shower at the gym!
I couldn’t find a tube of antifungal cream in my medicine cabinet—it’s been years since anyone in my family has needed it—so I went out to buy one.
A large number of options confronted me. As always, I thought to myself, “How do ordinary consumers decide which of these fifty tubes of antifungal creams they need?”
Most manufacturers market the creams (or ointments, powders or … Continue reading
The allure of whiter teeth
I’ve never whitened my teeth, and usually I’m happy with that. But sometimes I get the niggling idea that I would look younger and more sparkling if only my teeth were whiter. My life would be so much better!
Not true, of course, but we all have those unhelpful thoughts now and then, don’t we?
Having your teeth whitened professionally, by a dentist, is the safest way to go and offers the best result. However, it can be expensive.
There are many over-the-counter teeth bleaching sets available for a fraction of the cost—although still pricey, … Continue reading
This guest post is from a good friend of mine. She’s not in the healthcare industry, but she is one of the most savvy healthcare consumers I know. When she was telling me about some of her recent dealings with providers and insurance, I immediately asked her to write up her experiences to share with my readers!
I don’t willingly part with my money, especially when I see a healthcare provider.
I question unnecessary tests, and I don’t want the office staff to be cavalier about spending my money. I expect the office to be familiar with my insurance plan, … Continue reading
And save money, too
With both Thanksgiving and Black Friday over and done, the holiday season is in full swing!
But so is the cold-and-flu season :/
Want to stay healthy and save some money? Here are some of my favorite cold-prevention, money-saving posts.
… Continue reading
My goal for 2017? Use as little healthcare as possible
How will healthcare change under a new president and political party?
That’s a question I can’t answer. As I wrote in my last post, both candidates had multiple-point plans to tweak/improve/repeal/replace the Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA or Obamacare.
But I don’t know what will change or when.
What I know for sure is that for 2017 my premiums will be 20% more expensive, my co-insurance and co-pays will be higher, and my current primary care doctor will no longer be in-network.
I can and will shop around … Continue reading
I’m going with an overdiagnosis theme this week.
Here’s the latest healthcare parody video from pharmacy professor James McCormack, as he continues his much-appreciated effort to raise awareness of overscreening, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment in this country.
As usual, this video is full of supporting statistics and excerpts from leading healthcare journals, so take time to pause the video and really understand the information being shared.
As I said in a previous post, overdiagnosis and the resulting unnecessary treatments cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year.
Equally bad, if not worse, I think, is … Continue reading
The EpiShell will protect your investment
I recently saw a news story about a local family that came up with a brilliant invention—the EpiShell.
What is the EpiShell? It’s a small insulated tube that provides climate control for your EpiPens.
Why is this a great idea? Like most medications, epinephrine is best kept at room temperature. Temperature extremes speed up deterioration of the product.
Anyone who needs an EpiPen is counseled to carry it with them at all times. If a child has a life-threatening allergy, that means having multiple EpiPens for school, daycare, a backpack, the family car, … 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
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
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
And save money!
If you’re interested in how much a kidney stone costs, read this blog post from the Costs of Care website. The author of the post gives an accounting of her physician visits, diagnostic tests and medications:
- At least 5 sets of blood work, with CBC and chemical profiles, parathyroid studies
- Several urine tests, including urinalysis and urine culture, and two 24 hour urine tests (a third 24 hour urine test was recommended but I declined)
- 2 CT scans
- 1 MRI
- 4 specialist visits, 2 primary care visits, 2 ER visits (involving IVs, pain meds, lab studies)
… Continue reading
The other day a family member asked for my advice on treating heartburn. It’s a common problem and fortunately there are many lifestyle changes and simple products to try before spending money on doctors’ appointments and prescription medications.
For the occasional case of heartburn following a large meal, or eating too late at night, or being more stressed than usual, try a herbal product or one of the inexpensive over-the-counter antacids.
- Chamomile has a mild healing and protective effect on the digestive tract. Choose a good-quality tea bag and enjoy a cup after a meal.
- Peppermint also has
… Continue reading
I recently found out about an intriguing non-profit—RIP Medical Debt.
I’ve posted many times about the high cost of healthcare, even for those of us with health insurance. Medical debt is still a leading cause of personal bankruptcies in this country.
What if those debts could just disappear?
For a lucky few, they can.
RIP Medical Debt, Inc., was founded in mid-2014 by two former collections industry executives, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton. Having worked for decades in the medical field, the two were acutely aware of the number of Americans who shoulder the burden
… Continue reading