4 Times You Should Question Your Doctor


4 Times You Should Question Your Doctor

Doctors are some of the most educated and celebrated people in modern society, and for good reason. They go to school for decades to learn the complexities of the human body and are able to heal the sick.

But even though they are experts on medicine, you, the patient, are the expert on… you. You know your body best – what’s normal and what’s not.

In addition, physicians are usually not experts on the cost of medicine. Medical billing and insurance are fields in and of themselves that require a different set of skills.

So if a visit to your doctor leaves you uneasy, ask for an explanation. Here are four valid reasons to question your doctor:

1. You’re told you need a costly imaging exam.

Imaging exams are among the most overused procedures in medicine, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 30 to 50 percent of them are not medically necessary. The overuse of these exams has consequences you might want to consider before agreeing to an X-ray, MRI or other imaging procedure.

First, there’s the risk of radiation exposure. While many imaging exams are one-time diagnostics, the overuse of ionizing radiation has nonetheless been called into question by the FDA. This type of radiation is used in CT scans and fluoroscopy, but not ultrasounds or MRIs, and there is reason to believe it may elevate cancer risk.

Even if the imaging exam in question isn’t one of these high-risk types, these procedures are almost always expensive. Base charges start around $200 for ultrasounds at the least expensive hospitals in the country, but run about $1,000 on average, according to 2013 Medicare data. Those prices are before insurance, but you’ll still be responsible for most of the cost if you haven’t yet met your deductible.

The third consequence of unnecessary exams is the unneeded exposure to the medical industry. The more procedures you undergo, the higher the chance for error. Errors include costly billing or coding mistakes, but they also include medication errors and accidental injuries, which can happen for even routine imaging exams. In 2009, there were 170,000 reported medical errors in the U.S., and nearly a third of all injuries each year are due to medical error.

You can find out whether you need an imaging exam that might cost you more than just a thousand bucks. First, ask your doctor if the test is absolutely necessary. If she gives you an unclear answer, ask if there are any alternative tests that might work. Get a second opinion if you’re still unsure.

2. You’re given a life-altering diagnosis.

While getting a second opinion on a diagnosis rarely results in a different opinion, you should always obtain one if you’re skeptical. The chances that a second doctor will disagree with your original doctor hover around 1 to 5 percent. Even so, a second opinion on a costly surgery or medication regimen often gives patients the confidence they need to proceed. This is especially important for diseases such as cancer and autoimmune disorders, which can be painful and costly to treat.

Second opinions are always in the patient’s best interest, so if your doctor is discouraging one, he or she may have ulterior motives. Even though they are in the minority, many doctors get kickbacks from drug companies or medical imaging facilities to refer patients. If a second doctor says you don’t need any of the items your regular physician suggests, consider a new regular physician.

Ideally, your doctor will provide you with referrals to specialists in his field, and most doctors are happy to do this. Like other professionals, they often talk to colleagues to get a better scope of their work.

When doctors have a patient in common, it benefits all parties for them to discuss your health. Two heads are better than one, as the saying goes. If your original doctor was incorrect about your diagnosis, the second can provide insight as to why, so the mistake won’t be repeated. Like many fields, practicing medicine requires continual learning to be done well, and great doctors know this.

3. You’re assured of something outside their control – like cost.

As smart as they are, most doctors know little of the ins and outs of insurance policies. They have high-stress, important jobs that often leave them with little down time. That’s all the more reason to take with a grain of salt anything your doctor says to assure you that you’ll be covered by health insurance.

Surveys evaluating physicians’ understanding of treatment costs and insurance show they would like to understand more. Even so, the current knowledge of costs of care and health insurance is low among physicians. Less than a quarter can guess their hospitals’ charge for 15 common procedures within 25 percent of the true price.

If you’re assured that you’ll be able to afford something, or cost is downplayed, you should consider the possibility that your doctor is disconnected from health costs. Whenever possible, double-check prices and insurance coverage with billing personnel before agreeing to a test or procedure. It’s their job to know costs and health insurance information, not your physician’s.

4. You’re uncomfortable.

Open communication and confidence are key to the doctor-patient relationship, so question anything that undermines that rapport. Great doctors listen to concerns, ask enough questions to solve patient problems and are honest and sincere. Research has shown that when doctors are attentive and empathetic, outcomes are better for their patients.

A doctor who’s rude, doesn’t listen or makes you uncomfortable isn’t on your side. Most doctors care about their patients and want to do their job well. If your doctor ever makes you feel uncomfortable, it may be time to find a new one.

Europeans consume far less sugar than Americans, and yet health officials there recognize a growing health epidemic.


If you have ever visited Europe, then you may recall that most of the foods produced and sold there are generally far less sweet than foods produced and sold in the U.S. And yet, despite this difference, Van der Velpen still sees a major public health epidemic brewing in his country as a result of sugar consumption — how much worse must the situation be here in the U.S., where public health officials generally avoid tagging sugar as a major factor in declining public health?
“Sugar is actually a form of addiction,” adds Van der Velpen. “It’s just as hard to get rid of the urge for sweet foods as of smoking. Thereby diets only work temporarily. Addiction therapy is better … Health insurers should have to finance addiction therapy for their obese clients.”

It is important to note that Amsterdam has long tolerated the presence and use of other typically restricted substances such as cannabis, a plant that government authorities the world over have long referred to as a “drug,” within its borders. Cannabis, of course, does not harm the body and is not a public health threat, thus Amsterdam’s relaxed approach to its availability within the city. Sugar, on the other hand, is an actual threat, and Van der Velpen hopes others will learn this truth and take action.

Sources
http://www.telegraph.co.uk

10 Top Ways to Stay Active as a Family.


Story at-a-glance

·         Most families, adults and kids alike, are not getting enough physical activity

·         Combining family time with fitness is an easy way to increase physical activity and its associated health benefits

·         Scavenger hunts, family Olympics, water days, mileage goals and even doing chores together are examples of ways to stay active as a family

family-olympics

Despite the seemingly infinite benefits that physical activity has for your health, most people are not very active. The latest statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that just over 20 percent of adults are meeting recommended physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity!1

In case you’re wondering, those guidelines recommend at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity activity, or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week, plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.

This trend extends to kids, too – only one in three US kids are physically active every day.2

It’s clear that many families also feel there aren’t enough hours in a day to spend quality time together, between work, school and other obligations, so it makes perfect sense to make your family time active time as much as possible. This way, you’re spending time together while also boosting your fitness and modeling a healthy lifestyle for your kids.

10 Top Ways to Stay Active as a Family

Going to the gym is fine for adults, but when kids are involved you’ve got to get more creative … and more fun!

1. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of challenges (find an orange leaf, get a neighbor’s signature, snap a photo of a playground, etc.), split your family into teams, set a time limit and then head off (on foot or on bike) to see who can complete the most items.

2. Have a Water Day

Tossing water balloons, splashing in a kiddie pool and running through a sprinkler in the backyard are fun ways to stay cool and active on a hot summer day.

3. Set ‘Mileage’ Goals for the Weekend

Decide as a family how many steps, or how many miles, you want to travel over the weekend, then have fun trying to reach the goal. You can use pedometers to measure steps taken while running errands, going on hikes, playing tag and more, and can challenge the family to increase your goal each weekend.

4. Wash the Car

Washing the car uses key core muscles and can be a fun, bonding experience, especially if you take time to cool off with the hose, too.

5. Family Olympics

Get together with a group of families and compete in events like hula-hoops, 50-yard dash, relay race, basketball shoot, and an obstacle course. You can even make it an annual event!

6. Family Fitness Classes

If you like a more structured routine, try a fitness class designed for families, like stroller workouts, mom/dad and baby workouts or family yoga.

7. Do Chores Together

Vacuuming, washing windows, weeding the garden, raking leaves and even doing laundry work your muscles and burn calories while teaching your kids the value of responsibility. Make chores fun by setting a time limit and turning up the music while you work together as a family.

8. Plan Seasonal Outdoor Activities

Swimming, biking, canoeing and hiking are great in the summer, while sledding, ice skating, building a snowman or skiing are fun – and great for your fitness goals – in the winter.

9. Play Together

Tag, hide-and-go-seek, hop scotch, doing cartwheels and dancing in the kitchen are so much fun you won’t even realize it’s exercise in disguise.

10. Try Out Family Sports

A backyard game of softball or volleyball, shooting hoops or taking a trip to a golf course give you quality time as a family while staying active.

 

You Can Even Stay Active on Your Family Vacation!

Whether you’re going to grandma’s house for the weekend, planning a trip abroad or even having a “staycation,” family getaways are another opportunity to fit in fun activities that promote fitness. While on vacation, try:

Walking tours

Museums, zoos and theme parks (lots of walking!)

Collecting seashells

Jogging or walking on the beach

Using the hotel gym or doing bodyweight exercises in your hotel room (this will be mostly for mom and dad)

Power walking in the airport terminal

Snorkeling, hiking, beach volleyball and other outdoor activities

Exploring new locales by foot or bicycle

 

What Will Your Kids Gain by Staying Active?

Leading a physically active lifestyle is a good habit to instill in your child from an early age because although it’s never too late to start exercising, the sooner you do it, the better. Keeping kids active is a superb way to increase learning, focus and even test results.   As many of you reading this have likely experienced, if your mind is feeling cluttered or you’re having a mid-afternoon slump, a brisk walk or a quick workout can give you a renewed sense of clarity and focus. This is certainly true for kids and teenagers, too. There are a multitude of short- and long-term health benefits your child can gain from regular physical activity, including:

 

Reduced risk of diabetes and pre-diabetes

Improved sleep and mood

Stronger bones

Reduced restlessness or hyperactivity; helps decrease symptoms of ADHD

Improved immune system function

Decreased risk of suicide in teens

Weight loss

Increased energy levels

What Will YOU Gain by Staying Active?

The benefits that kids receive extend to adults as well, although as you age you’ll begin to reap the benefits of a lifetime of exercise in the form of better mobility, muscle mass and brain power. One of the primary benefits of exercise is that it normalizes your insulin and leptin levels, with the secondary benefits of weight loss and normalization of blood sugars. These basic factors in turn cascade outward, creating a ripple effect of positive health benefits, which include:

 

Improving your brainpower and boosting your IQ

Lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer

Building strong bones

Lowering your blood pressure

Curing insomnia

Losing weight

Relieving pain

Balancing your mood and fighting depression

Increasing your energy levels

Acquiring fewer colds

Lowering your risk of diabetes and reversing pre-diabetes

Slowing down your aging process

Limiting Screen Time is a Key Part of Staying Active

Once you’ve committed to staying active as a family, you may notice that the time you all spend sitting in front of a computer or the television naturally decrease, and this is a very good thing. More than two hours a day of screen time is associated with increased emotional and behavioral difficulties, regardless of the time spent exercising. According to one study:3

·Children who spent more than two hours a day watching TV or using a computer were 61 and 59 percent more likely to experience high levels of psychological difficulties, respectively

·Children who spent more than two hours a day watching TV, and also failed to meet physical activity guidelines, were 70 percent more likely to experience high levels of psychological difficulties

·This risk increased to 81 percent for children who used a computer for more than two hours a day while also failing to meet recommended exercise guidelines

So remember that it is imperative to limit your child’s TV, computer, and video game time in addition to encouraging your child to spend more time doing various forms of physical activity.

Source: mercola.com

 

 

 

For Some, Another Costly Delay in Implementing Part of the Affordable Care Act.


The Obama administration has deferred for a year putting into place a provision of the Affordable Care Act that limits an individual’s annual out-of-pocket expenditures to $6350.

Some patients will have to pay up to $6350 for physician and hospital services, plus another $6350 for prescription drugs — and possibly more, according to the New York Times.

Why the delay? The Times explains that separate computer billing systems for drugs and services within some organizations cannot communicate. One unnamed administration source told the newspaper: “We had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers, which told us that their computer systems were not set up to aggregate all of a person’s out-of-pocket costs. They asked for more time to comply.”

In addition, last month the administration announced a delay in the requirement that large employers offer health insurance to full-time employees.

Source: New York Times

Suboptimal access to primary healthcare among street-based sex workers in southwest Switzerland.


Abstract

Objectives Street-based sex workers (SSWs) in Lausanne, Switzerland, are poorly characterised. We set out to quantify potential vulnerability factors in this population and to examine SSW healthcare use and unmet healthcare requirements.

Methods We conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey among SSWs working in Lausanne’s red light district between 1 February and 31 July 2010, examining SSW socio-demographic characteristics and factors related to their healthcare.

Results We interviewed 50 SSWs (76% of those approached). A fifth conducted their interviews in French, the official language in Lausanne. 48 participants (96%) were migrants, of whom 33/48 (69%) held no residence permit. 22/50 (44%) had been educated beyond obligatory schooling. 28/50 (56%) had no health insurance. 18/50 (36%) had been victims of physical violence. While 36/50 (72%) had seen a doctor during the preceding 12 months, only 15/50 (30%) were aware of a free clinic for individuals without health insurance. Those unaware of free services consulted emergency departments or doctors outside Switzerland. Gynaecology, primary healthcare and dental services were most often listed as needed. Two individuals (of 50, 4%) disclosed positive HIV status; of the others, 24/48 (50%) had never had an HIV test.

Conclusions This vulnerable population comprises SSWs who, whether through mobility, insufficient education or language barriers, are unaware of services they are entitled to. With half the participants reporting no HIV testing, there is a need to enhance awareness of available facilities as well as to increase provision and uptake of HIV testing.

Source: PMJ. BMJ

Health Benefits of Kiwi.


What’s in a Name?

The kiwi, originally called the Chinese gooseberry and later the “sunny peach”, was renamed the kiwi by New Zealand natives after their national bird. There are over 400 varieties of this fuzzy fruit, which grows off of vines on a trellis, much like grapes are cultivated.

 

 KIWI BENEFITS! 


People are attracted to kiwi fruit because of its brilliant green color and exotic taste. But, the real uniqueness of kiwi fruit comes from its health benefits. Read the kiwi’s fourteen health benefits:.

1. Helps Your Digestions with Enzymes

Raw kiwi contains actinidain, a protein-dissolving enzyme that can help digest a meal much like the papain in papaya or bromelain in pineapple.

2. Helps Manage Blood Pressure

Kiwi’s high level of potassium helps keep our electrolytes in balance by counteracting the effects of sodium.

3. Protects from DNA Damage

A study showed that the unique combination of antioxidants in Kiwi fruit helps protect the cell DNA from oxidative damage. Some experts conclude this can help prevent cancer.

4. Boosts Your Immunity

Kiwi’s high vitamin C content along with other antioxidant compounds has been proven to boost the immune system.

5. Smart Carb for Weight Loss

Kiwi’s low glycemic index and high fiber content means it will not create a strong insulin rush like other fruit with high sugar contents — so the body will not respond by storing fat.

6. Improves Digestive Health

Kiwis are a great source of fiber. This prevents constipation and other intestinal problems.

7. Helps Clean Out Toxins

The fuzzy fiber of Kiwi helps bind and move toxins from your intestinal tract.

8. Helps Fight Heart Disease

Eating 2-3 kiwis a day has been shown to reduce the potential of blood clotting by 18% and reduce triglycerides by 15%. Many individuals take aspirin to reduce blood clotting, but this causes many side effects including inflammation and intestinal bleeding. Kiwi fruit has the same anti-clotting benefits with no side effects, just additional health benefits!

9. Suitable For Diabetics

Kiwi is in the ‘low’ category for glycemic index, meaning it does not raise your blood sugar quickly. It has a glycemic load of 4 which means it is safe for diabetics.

10. Protects Against Macular Degeneration and Other Eye Problems

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. A study on over 110,000 men and women showed that eating 3 or more serving of fruit per day decreased macular degeneration by 36%. This is thought to be associated with the kiwi’s high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin — both of which are natural chemicals found in the human eye. Although both fruits and vegetables were studied, this same effect was not shown for vegetables.

11. Create Alkaline Balance

Kiwi is in the ‘most alkaline’ category for fruits, meaning it has a rich supply of minerals to replace the excess of acidic foods most individuals consume. A few of the benefits of a properly acid/alkaline balanced body are: youthful skin, deeper sleep, abundant physical energy, fewer colds, less arthritis, and reduced osteoporosis.

12. Great for the Skin

Kiwis are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant known to protect skin from degeneration.

13. Exotic Taste and Look for Food Variety

Kiwis look and taste great. Kids often love them because they are so different from most fruits.

For nutritional balance it is always good to eat a variety of foods. Each food has its own unique qualities and powers. The trouble with most people’s diet is that we eat such a limited number of foods. It increases our chances of not getting enough of important nutrients.

14. Naturally Organic

Kiwi fruit is on the list of foods that are generally safe from a lot of pesticide residues. For 2012 it came in with the top 10 safest foods. While it is always good to support organic when you can as a matter of principle, it’s also good to know whether there is a big danger if organic is not available or viable for you.

 

Selecting, Storing, and Eating a Kiwi

 

How do I choose a kiwi?

-Look for a fruit that is plump and fragrant with no visible bruising or wrinkles and a slightly firm feel

What if I chose a fruit that isn’t yet ripe?

-Kiwis ripen quickly when placed in either a paper or plastic bag with a banana. However, once they are ripened, store them away from other fruit or they will decompose more quickly!

How long are kiwis good for once I buy them?

-Ripe kiwi fruit can last in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Can I eat the skin?

You can, but wash carefully to remove unwanted pesticides! Rub it a bit to minimize the fuzz. The skin actually provides more fiber to your sweet snack. If you’re not fond of the fuzzy exterior, simply “sloop” it out by slicing the kiwi in half horizontally and spooning out each end to enjoy.

The Kiwi Craze
Kiwi fruit can be enjoyed in smoothies, sprinkled into your morning yogurt, mixed into fruit salad, or eaten plain. For a few more creative ideas to incorporate kiwis into your daily meals, check out the ideas below:

-Make a “fruit pizza” out of graham crackers and a creamy topping (peanut butter, honey, ricotta cheese- the possibilities are endless!) and sprinkle chopped kiwi on top.

 

-Involve your kids and make fruit kabobs with kiwi as the star (Make sure to use blunt end skewers so the little ones don’t hurt themselves!).-

 

-Incorporate kiwi into a citrusy jam, jelly, or chutney.

 

-Rub on meat for an all-natural meat tenderizer- the kiwi contains enzymes that aid in breaking down protein.

 

Source: http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com

 

The “Oregon Experiment” at 2 Years.


A lottery for Medicaid enrollment simulates a randomized trial.

In 2008, Oregon modestly expanded its Medicaid program through a lottery. From a list of 90,000 names on a Medicaid waiting list, 30,000 were drawn randomly; ultimately, about 10,000 of the lottery “winners” applied for state Medicaid services and were enrolled. Eligibility was based on age (19–64) and financial need (income, <100% of the federal poverty level; assets,

Researchers compared selected 2-year outcomes for about 6000 people who acquired Medicaid coverage through the lottery and for 6000 controls (people who entered the lottery but weren’t selected). Data were acquired by questionnaires and by limited cardiovascular risk assessments. The following statistically significant outcomes were noted in the Medicaid group, compared with controls:

  • Lower prevalence of positive depression screens (21% vs. 30%)
  • Better self-reported health-related quality of life
  • Fewer financial hardships due to medical expenses
  • Better access to medical care
  • More Pap smears and mammograms completed
  • More outpatient visits but not hospital admissions

Mean blood pressure, lipid levels, and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels were similar in the two groups.

Comment: One month ago, I saw an uninsured 45-year-old woman who had noted an enlarging breast mass for 9 months. She had not sought medical attention because “it wasn’t the cost of the mammogram or biopsy that concerned me . . . it was the cost of what would happen next if I have cancer.” Unfortunately, a biopsy showed breast cancer.

This case exemplifies a key reason for medical insurance — it enables people to access medical care when they need it, without fear of financial ruin. By that standard, the Oregon experiment is a success for Medicaid expansion. The lack of difference in cardiovascular risk factors is not important, given the short follow-up and the relatively normal values: Mean blood pressure, total cholesterol levels, and HbA1c in both groups were about 120/75 mm Hg, 200 mg/dL, and 5.3%, respectively.

 

Source:Journal Watch General Medicine