Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

More news about the consequences of states refusing to set up health insurance Exchanges -- the feds are doing it for them, and that may mean the feds have more say over insurance matters than they normally would.  I wonder when the states will realize that the Exchanges are good for consumers and admit that at least this one piece of health reform is a really positive step.

Here's an interesting little wrinkle.  The health reform law requires that kids up to age 26 be kept on their parents' policy.  However, because dependent policies are not covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, those policies may not cover maternity care.  Hmmm.

Texas Governor Rick Perry says Texas won't participate in the Medicaid expansion -- but he wants to end the Texas Women's Health Program in order to de-fund Planned Parenthood -- and he says this won't hurt women because they'll be covered by -- you guessed it -- the Medicaid expansion!  Hmmm.

Does your doctor take the time for wellness measures?  Make sure you're up to date on immunizations, provide counseling about preventive care, talk about diet, exercise?  You're entitled to these services now for free.  So Consumer's Reports says you should insist on them.

HCA --  a large hospital chain -- has discovered that it has been performing unnecessary procedures, including cardiac catheterizations, to the tune of millions of dollars.  It appears to be more than just a couple of rogue doctors.  The company discovered it and didn't tell anybody, but the US Attorney's Office in Miami is looking into it.  This appears to have happened in Florida hospitals, although HCA has hospitals in many states.  Even worse, they settled a fraud case with the federal government in 2000 and were supposed to take measures to make sure things like this never happened again.  I can't imagine finding out I'd had such an invasive test done unnecessarily.  Wow.

Is there a racial divide in end of life decisionmaking?  African-Americans are more likely to pursue aggressive treatment and refuse DNR orders.  Partly due to strong religious faith, partly due to lack of trust in the medical system -- but when everything is explained to them in a caring and informative way, they are able to cross that racial divide and choose DNR orders more often. 

Bacteria are becoming antibiotic-resistant.  There may come a day, sooner than later, when we don't have drugs to fight super-infections.  Having had MRSA (drug resistant staph) several times, this doesn't seem that implausible.

The CDC says the graphic anti-smoking ads are working.  Calls to the CDC's smoking-cessation hotline doubled in the 12 weeks they ran the ads. 

A treatment for drug-resistant depression: repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.  Some patients swear by it, but it's not covered by most insurance, so be prepared to pony up.

That's it for this morning.  Have a great day!  Jennifer

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