Taxpayers footing the bill
I watched this on my local news the other night: Runaway drug price hikes squeeze Washington’s budget.
Our state is one that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so I knew we were spending a lot. But I had no idea now much. Through the first 9 months of 2016, my state has spent $1.1 billion on prescription drugs.
Not total medical care. Just prescription drugs.
And Washington is not the only state facing a fiscal nightmare because of skyrocketing drug costs.
Almost half of that spending is for the really high-priced specialty … 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
What’s in your medicine cabinet?
I admit it.
I have a few old pill bottles stashed in a kitchen cupboard. These are mostly leftover pain meds dating back several years to when my son had his wisdom teeth removed, or my husband had his thyroid taken out.
I need to get rid of them.
Luckily, this Saturday, October 22, from 10 am to 2 pm, is the semi-annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
On Saturday, local law enforcement agencies will partner with the DEA to act as drop-off sites for unused … 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
The right medication at the right dose
The journal Pediatrics recently published a study that showed about 85% of parents make mistakes when measuring out doses of liquid over-the-counter medications.
That reminded me of this short video from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio talking about medication errors made by parents or other caregivers.
Using over 10 years of data from the National Poison Center, researchers found that children under the age of 6 are exposed to a medication error every 8 minutes: too much, too little, or the wrong drug altogether.
Most often, they found … 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
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
Healthcare Not Fair is a satirical YouTube video series created by a real-life physician, Dr. Waqas Khan, to highlight problems within our broken healthcare system.
Their latest video takes a stab at electronic health records, EHR—or, as they call it, Electronic Hell Records!
Other videos by Healthcare Not Fair:
I just saw my primary care physician a few weeks ago, and I can relate to the fictional patient’s experience in the video. Receptionists really do keep their eyes glued to their computer screens!
My physician isn’t that bad, … Continue reading
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and the online news site Vox recently sought to open Americans’ eyes as to how much more we pay for healthcare compared to other countries.
America’s healthcare prices are out of control. These 11 charts prove it.
I can’t copy their charts, but basically they are bar graphs. The bar that shows how much patients in the US pay for similar drugs and services towers over the others like a skyscraper over a neighborhood of single-family homes. Like this:
Vox got its information from the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP)… Continue reading
The FDA issues a warning
In my last post about treating heartburn, I mentioned Pepto-Bismol as one of several inexpensive and readily available over-the-counter treatments.
I also said that anyone who is allergic or sensitive to aspirin should not use Pepto-Bismol because it contains salicylic acid, or aspirin.
Aspirin is a blood thinner and can cause bleeding in the stomach. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a consumer warning that anyone sensitive to aspirin, or anyone taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, should consider other options to treat heartburn.
Read the label and
… 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
EpiPens – 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