Weekly rounds July 26, 2013

I’m not saying it’s cronyism…

The Los Angeles Times reported that the health insurance giant WellPoint, which operates health plans in several states, including California, posted a strong 2nd-quarter profit jump of 24%.

Carl McDonald, a health care analyst, was quoted:

“Earnings from WellPoint’s government business more than doubled sequentially in the second quarter, aided by the California Medicaid business, favorable Medicare prescription drug plan, seasonality, and what was likely another strong quarter of Medicare Advantage results.”

Interestingly, as I pointed out in a post last January, a former WellPoint vice-president, Elizabeth Fowler, worked closely with Senator Max … Continue reading

Now arriving: Measles

measlesTravelers beware

Last week a small child flew on an overseas flight from China to Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle.

A few days later, the child was diagnosed with the measles. Local public health officials were notified, and they began the task of contacting anyone who might have been exposed to the virus while on the plane or in the airport.

Because measles is easily spread by coughing or sneezing, all passengers on that plane, and many in the airport, were exposed. Anyone who had been previously vaccinated was at low risk of contracting the highly-contagious disease. 

But people … Continue reading

Weekly rounds June 21, 2013

June 17-21, 2013The HPV vaccine works

Positive news was reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases: Since vaccination for the human papillomavirus (HPV) was introduced in 2006, the rate of HPV infection has dropped by 56%.

The study looked at infection rates in girls age 14 to 19. HPV can lead to cervical cancer or throat cancer later in life, but only about 30% of teen girls and boys are being vaccinated.

This report will hopefully result in a much-needed boost in the numbers of kids receiving the vaccine. Visit the CDC website for more information about the vaccine.

No one

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Weekly rounds June 7, 2013

Don’t want hepatitis A? Get vaccinated!

At last report there were 61 cases of hepatitis A resulting from contaminated frozen berries sold at Costco in several states. Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver, and the virus is usually passed along from an infected person through contaminated food.

The CDC recommends the hepatitis A vaccine for all children, and for adults who might be at higher risk, such as those who travel frequently. But the vaccine is available (requires 2 doses) to anyone who wants to be protected. Bonus: the vaccine is covered under Obamacare’s preventive care services mandate.… Continue reading

First aid for puncture wounds

puncture woundWhen an object breaks through the skin, the injury is called a puncture wound. Stepping on a tack is a minor puncture wound; being stabbed or shot are more deadly examples.

Luckily, most of us don’t need to worry about being shot or stabbed.

But puncture wounds are not uncommon (your mother taught you not to run with sharp, pointy objects, didn’t she?), and there are a couple special things to remember when treating them.

Typically, first aid for puncture wounds is similar to that for cuts and scrapes. Clean the wound well with soap and water, and bandage … Continue reading

A taxing question

Before I left on vacation a week ago, one of the popular health-related news stories was that in a rare show of bipartisan support, Congress was set to approve a 75¢-per-shot tax on the flu vaccine. Critics of both government and vaccines in general jumped on this congressional tidbit, although for different reasons.

The more conservative media decried the tax, saying it was unnecessary and simply a sneaky way for Washington to grab money to fund our ever-increasing national debt.

Anti-vaccine activists saw the tax, which funds the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, as proof that vaccines are … Continue reading

Flu update

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

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It’s not too late to get a flu shot!

A leading health headline today indicates that the 2012-13 flu season is off to an early and strong start.

Flu cases always peak at some point during the season, usually in January or February, but sometimes as late as March and sometimes, apparently like this year, as early as November.

However, it’s not too late to get your flu shot. Despite the early start, flu season will continue into March and April.

Also, this year’s vaccine is well-matched to the reported influenza virus, which means the vaccine is even more likely to protect you.

FN

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Don’t be driftwood!

Get a Flu Shot

With the continuous remodeling of healthcare and health insurance, it seems as if there is little I can do other than ride the waves of change like so much flotsam and jetsam.

But I don’t want to be beach debris. I want a more active role in my health care and that is why I get a flu shot every fall and insist that my family members do, too.

Vaccination against the seasonal flu—inexpensive, safe and effective

Starting as early as September, flu shots are available almost everywhere. You do not even need a doctor’s appointment; … Continue reading