Good morning! And a great morning it is. Yes, one of my eyes still doesn't work right. And yes, I had a tooth pulled and an implant implanted yesterday. So I have plenty to bitch and moan about. But I just heard that we won an insurance appeal to get a man a stem cell transplant. The insurance company's doctor had recommended "observation," which was nothing short of a death sentence. I pulled out all the stops -- and WE WON!!! There is NO BETTER FEELING than the way you feel when you save a life. I don't care how much my eye hurts or my mouth hurts -- as long as I can do this work, nothing else really matters.
And so here's today's news -- as if that weren't enough!
A focus on quality of life reduces health care spending. Getting well isn't all about blood tests and CT scans. No matter how sick you are on paper, quality of life can matter more. Our friends at the University of Michigan Center for Managing Chronic Disease are behind this one -- so obvious, but overlooked by mainstream medicine.
Another conservative scholar says health reform is constitutional and should be upheld. Let's hope the Court reads that column. Meanwhile, a key piece of health reform is the provision of tax credits or subsidies to help people buy insurance. However, you won't be able to get a subsidy if you are offered employer sponsored insurance unless that insurance is "unaffordable" by federal standards. But the federal standards only look at the cost of covering the employee, not the employee's whole family, which may well be far more expensive. This rule could exclude people from having the option of buying insurance through their state's Exchange with the help of subsidies, and many advocates -- including us -- don't think that's what Congress intended.
According to the NY Times, a bunch of lawyers are finding violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the old architecture of NY City, and then they're going out and looking for a client in whose name they can bring a lawsuit. That's not the way it's supposed to work -- you're supposed to have a client come to you for help. But maybe it's a good thing that they're identifying problems that need fixing. What do you think? Scrupulous public service or ambulance chasing?
Out of network care comes at a very high -- and complicated -- price. Our friends at FAIR Health can help you to predict what an out of network service is going to cost you, but insurers are doing all they can to try to keep us in network. For those of us with unusual medical circumstances, who really need to go out of network for our health, it's going to hit your wallet hard.
The feds have nailed two insurers -- Assurant and Bedford Park (which I've never heard of before) -- for unreasonable premium rate hikes. The federal government does not have the authority to stop these rate hikes from taking place, but they do have the authority to report that they are unreasonable -- and hopefully, the state insurance departments will do their job and take a very hard look at these rate increases.
Teenage prescription drug deaths are climbing. This stuff is so hard. When legislators react to a statistic like this by tightening up controls on narcotics, chronic pain patients suffer terribly. Where to draw the line? So far, we have no really good answer to this question.
Gay men have been barred from donating blood for years due to HIV/AIDS. But should we reconsider that, allowing low-risk (i.e., monogamous) gay men to donate?
The FDA is tangling with medical app makers. Stepping into a regulatory void, the FDA takes are harder look at these apps to ensure that they are legit. Except that people who create apps for mobile phones and tablets aren't really used to working with the FDA -- and visa versa. It will take some getting used to.
With the focus on health care costs, some advocate against all the tests we have done, some of which don't help promote health outcomes. And when the doctor owns the lab, more biopsies for prostate cancer are tested.
Eating disorders are being treated faster and better. Clearly, this is positive, but it only tells half the story. Try getting your insurer to pay for treatment long enough for you to really kick the problem.
A new study shows that Enbrel is not more effective in treating back pain than more standard (and less expensive) therapies.
There's a rise in retractions of medical journal articles, and this is worrisome since clinicians and insurers make decisions based on published medical literature.
Sex ed is on the rise on college campuses to bridge the gap between bedroom and classroom.
Does exercise make you over eat? Or does it suppress your appetite? The answer is less clear than I thought it was. And here are a bunch of myths about exercise -- are they true? And what about indoor walking -- is it good for you?
Red meat not only increases the risk of disease, but it also increases the risk of death.
A lovely piece about helping a friend die, slowly. I'd like to think I'll have friends like this around me when the time comes.
And that's this morning's news. Have a GREAT day! Jennifer