The INs and OUTs of a Hospital Stay

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – NewsusaInfographic – It’s estimated that 18.4 million Americans have had an overnight hospital stay. And, whether you stay multiple nights or just a few hours in the ER, the medical expenses can add up quickly. While major medical insurance may cover most of your stay, oftentimes there are still out-of-pocket costs that fall on patients and their families. Voluntary hospital insurance can help ease the financial burden of a hospital stay. Read below for additional information about what a hospital stay can cost you and how hospital insurance can help. For more information, visit

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Know Your Drug Costs Before You Leave the Doctor’s Office

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Have you ever suffered from sticker shock at the pharmacy? You arrive with a prescription from your doctor, but you are told that the medication is not covered and could cost you several hundred dollars. Health insurance and prescription drug coverage is a complex puzzle, and many consumers find themselves at a loss to understand what is or isn’t covered and why.
However, some companies are trying to make the process easier. In particular, services to educate doctors and patients about drug benefits right in the doctor’s office can help avoid unpleasant surprises at the pharmacy.
One example is a new drug benefit service available from Humana’s IntelligentRx service, available to physicians through DrFirst’s electronic prescription system. It provides doctors with details about their Humana patients’ drug coverage, pricing and pharmacy options on the spot in the exam room. Doctors and patients can discuss and review drug costs and options as the prescription is being written.
According to William Fleming, president of Humana Pharmacy, the ability to help doctors make informed prescribing decisions in the exam room can help improve clinical outcomes by improving patients’ access and adherence to their medications.
“Real-time information provided by the IntelligentRx service is a perfect example of how we can help doctors proactively deliver better care more affordably to their patients,” Fleming said. “This is a big step forward in closing the gaps in the health care system, using transparency and technology to create a better health care experience,” he added.
Here’s how it works: A doctor chooses a medication, and the DrFirst’s myBenefitCheck interface connects with Humana’s IntelligentRX service. The doctor sees information specific to his or her patient about drug costs and coverage, information about drug allergies and even alternative therapies.
Such programs could have a significant impact on health care costs, which are a known barrier to medication adherence. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 125,000 deaths in the United States each year result from individuals not taking medications as prescribed.
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Updating Workplace Ergonomics for Today’s Economy

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – We’ve heard a lot about “workplace ergonomics” in recent years, but with the economy changing — more people are working from home, whether by choice or their employers’ decisions to “go virtual,” — maybe it’s time to acknowledge the obvious: It’s just as easy to injure yourself no matter where you physically work.
Think about it: When it comes to a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries caused by stress to the joints from repetitive tasks, overuse of muscles and poor posture, what’s the difference if you’re slumping in front of an office computer or a home laptop? Or lifting heavy cartons onto the back of a delivery truck or your closet shelf?
As the Society for Human Resource Management advises: “Employees who work from home or travel for work should be taught to assess their ad-hoc workplaces for ergonomic risks.”
If you are hurting, doctors of chiropractic — who have a minimum of seven years of higher education — focus on structure and function. They care for pain syndromes with a drug-free approach that includes spinal manipulation and exercises to help stretch out and strengthen core muscles. Meanwhile, here’s a few tips to follow:
* Invest in a good chair, mind your posture, and learn proper lifting and stretching techniques.
* Keep your eyes at the same height as the computer monitor — without leaning forward — to help avoid headaches and neck pain.
* Take frequent stretching micro-breaks and stay hydrated with water.
“Back injuries are the most prevalent occupational injury, and studies have shown chiropractic patients have consistently better outcomes,” says the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress’ Dr. Gerard Clum, DC.
To learn more or to find a local chiropractor, visit

Anatomy of Today’s Health Insurance Consumer

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – NewsusaInfographic – American workers are facing higher health care costs, changes to insurance plans and more complicated benefits decisions than ever before. And, they’re looking for their employer’s help to navigate those choices. Employees need to do their homework to understand their insurance options and make benefits choices that minimize their financial risk. For more information, visit

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Maximize Your Medicare: Research the Right Plan

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Choosing a health plan is an important decision, and some simple research can help you get the most for your money.
Medicare enrollment this year runs from October 15 through December 7. As you investigate your options, keep these key Medicare components in mind:
* Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B). Original Medicare includes both hospital insurance and medical insurance. Individuals can add a Medicare Supplement plan — sometimes called a Medigap plan — to cover some or all medical charges not included in Original Medicare (including most 20 percent co-insurance charges). However, prescription drugs are not covered, and you will need to choose a stand-alone drug plan through Medicare Part D.
* Medicare Advantage Plans (Medicare Part C). Medicare Advantage plans are offered through Medicare-approved private companies. These plans include prescription drug coverage along with hospital and medical coverage. In addition, Medical Advantage plans may include benefits such as dental coverage, fitness memberships, and special services for individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Visit to learn the details of an differences among the plans.
* Prescription Drug Plans (Medicare Part D). Anyone enrolled in an Original Medicare plan must sign up for a stand-alone prescription drug plan for coverage of medications.
“Before choosing a Medicare plan, do some homework” says Alan Wheatley, president of Humana’s Retail Segment.”Ask your doctor about your potential health needs for the coming year, such as surgeries, non-surgical procedures, and additions or changes to medications. Think about your personal health goals and plans. For example, are you looking to join a gym to get in better shape for an active vacation?”
Next, visit and compare important plan details:
* Premiums (how much it costs to buy a health plan)
* Deductibles and copays (how much it costs to use the plan)
* Out-of-pocket maximum costs (the most you would have to pay in the event of a serious health crisis)
Wheatley says offers other valuable tools, including a five-star system rating the quality of different plans, and a list of doctors and networks included in each plan. “ also serves as a starting point to visit Medicare Advantage plan websites for further information,” he says.
Education is the key to making the most of your Medicare coverage. Whether you choose to stick with your plan or switch, some easy research and comparisons can give you peace of mind with your current choice or the tools to change it.
To learn more, please visit

Online Resource Helps Patients Through Their Rehab Journeys

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Not many things in life are certain, but odds are you will unfortunately face at least one health event that requires hospitalization and, following that, rehabilitation.
While hospitals provide an array of helpful rehab services, most people prefer to get well in the comfort of their own homes. Although beneficial in the recovery process, home care can also have its own distinct obstacles. Couple that with a patient’s fears and struggles of what’s to come in the weeks and months ahead, and it can create a perfect storm for both patients and caregivers.
To help, the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN), a nearly 6,000-member worldwide organization, has created ReSTART Recovery, an online resource that provides information for those who are (or will be) in rehab for everything from strokes to joint replacements to head injuries, and for those who will be caring for them.
When you consider that recent studies cite as many as 75 million Americans suffer from some type of disability, a website such as ReSTART Recovery can make a huge impact on understanding what patients will inevitably experience while on their road to wellness.
The goal, according to ARN, is to get patients who have a disability to a point that they are, once again, as self-sufficient as possible and able to live a full life.
“My clients have been through acute rehab and are back in their communities,” Susan Wirt, a former president of ARN, told The American Nurse in an interview. “I figure out how they can be well and healthy despite their chronic conditions,” she said.
Indeed, rehabilitation nurses effectively manage complex health care issues; collaborate with other professionals and disciplines such as occupational or speech therapists; provide patients and caregivers with needed education; set patients’ goals that maximize independence; and establish plans of care that maintain optimal wellness, according to the ARN.
“Advocacy is also a huge role for us,” Michelle Camica, MSN, CRRN, and former president of ARN, told The American Nurse in the same interview. “We serve as the patient’s advocate when addressing issues with other members of the health care team and sometimes with a patient’s own family. We always want to make sure patients are getting the right care in the right place at the right time,” she said.
For more information, please visit

Dry Eye: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Grittiness, burning, irritation, redness, itching, tearing — if these symptoms sound familiar, you could be one of the estimated 10 million Americans who suffer from dry eye.
Dry eye is a condition where tears lack sufficient moisture and lubrication, which are necessary to maintain good eye health and clear vision. Tears not only wash away dust, but also soothe the eyes, provide oxygen and nutrients to the cornea and help defend against eye infections by removing harmful bacteria. This condition has a multitude of causes, but generally stems from the following factors:
* Age: As Americans age, eyes naturally become drier. Typically, people older than 65 experience some dry eye symptoms;
* Gender: Women are more likely to develop dry eye due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, from using oral contraceptives and following menopause;
* Medications: Decongestants, antihistamines and antidepressants can reduce tear production and increase the likelihood for dry eye;
* Medical Conditions: Health issues associated with arthritis, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome and thyroid problems can lead to dry eye symptoms;
* Environment: Dry climates and exposure to wind and smoke may trigger dry eye;
* Eyewear/Surgery: Contact lenses may cause dry eye or make eyes less comfortable if they are dry, and some eye surgeries may lead to a temporary decrease in tear production; and
* Cosmetics: When the lid margin is coated with heavy makeup, it can block the openings of the oily glands, which help lubricate the eye.
Nutrition plays a big role in health, including vision, and dry eye and nutrition are closely linked. Studies have pointed to a simple and effective treatment for dry eye — eating more of the right fish. Salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and other cold-water fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can help reduce inflammation, enhance tear production, and support the eye’s oily outer layer by increasing oil that flows from the glands at the end of the eyelids (called the meibomian glands). If fish doesn’t sound appealing, nutritional supplements can also be incorporated into a diet to help ease the symptoms of dry eyes.
Artificial tear drops, ointments and capsules can also be used to help stimulate or maintain tear production and guard against future tear loss. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends consulting an eye doctor to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. The AOA also recommends adults have annual eye exams. To find an optometrist in your area, or for additional information on how best to cope with dry eyes, please visit

Chiropractors Offer Advice to Those With Diabetes

If current trends are to be believed, 1 in 5 Americans will have diabetes by 2025 — and 1 in 3 a generation later.

So says the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which calls the figures “alarming.” But when you think about today’s lifestyles — too often sedentary, with unhealthy diets — is it really all that surprising? ChirobetesC

“We simply cannot sustain this trajectory,” says the agency’s Dr. Ann Allbright.

Certainly genetics also play a part in explaining why 29.1 million Americans already suffer from the disease. It’s characterized by the body’s inability to produce (or properly use) the hormone insulin that’s needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy.

Leading Cancer Experts Help Patients Decide Best Treatment Options

(NewsUSA) – There are few words uttered by a doctor that have more of an emotional impact than "You have cancer." At that point, the most precious commodity that one has to hold on to is time. It can be time-consuming and difficult to know whom to consult, or how to move forward, let alone which treatment option is best.Now, however, some patients, many from overseas, have the option of leaving that work to experts. CANCER PANELS, the brainchild of Jim Martell, whose involvement in the field started when a friend was diagnosed with cancer, offers a service that no other entity in the world provides. It is able, within weeks, to bring together, in one room, leading cancer experts to discuss an individual case for 3 to 4 hours. These unique in-person panels are chaired by Dr. David Sidransky, considered a world-leading cancer authority in the field of molecular diagnostics, targeted therapies and individualized patient treatments.The panelists, usually seven to twelve, come from some of the world’s leading cancer centers such as: Sloan-Kettering, M.D. Anderson, Johns Hopkins, Mayo, Dana-Farber, Harvard, UCSF, Duke and others. They share their knowledge in an effort to come up with the best consensus treatment recommendation to the patient’s treating physician.Discussion focuses on various treatment and research approaches, both conventional and novel, advanced chemotherapeutic drugs and biologics. In addition, many attendees are also principal investigators in leading clinical trials so those options are also available. Instead of a collection of divergent opinions, a consensus treatment recommendation is reached. The panel thus maximizes options available and greatly improves the patient’s ability to obtain the most appropriate treatment at an earlier stage.These panels are totally different from tumor board panels, which every cancer hospital holds on a weekly basis to review their cases. There, they usually have only experts from that particular institution who spend little time on one case as they have many to review. CANCER PANELS, on the other hand, flies in the best experts in the world to sit together and discuss only one case for hours, with treatment recommendations independent of any treatment bias from any cancer institution.The goal of a panel is to gain time and quality of life for the patient. Medicine is currently advancing by the minute and it is a realistic hope that within this extra time that a panel could provide, the next life-saving treatment on the horizon may become available. In addition to having their own innovative treatments identified, patients who hold these panels create an opportunity to help those who are less privileged to benefit from life-saving options that would otherwise never have become known to them. Benefits of a single panel are manifold and reach beyond the individual patient.For more information, visit

Nonprofit Seeks to Bring Attention to Preventing Sports Injuries

PlayHurtCIt’s considered a “silent epidemic” and it’s threatening our nation’s youth.

We’re talking about sports-related injuries. Every day nearly 8,000 young athletes sustain injuries bad enough to send them to an emergency room, and, if that’s not upsetting enough, take a look at these statistics from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• In the past year alone, 48 youths died due to sports injuries.
• About 30,000 high school athletes are hospitalized every year.
• Concussions account for 90 percent of high schoolers’ 300,000 annual head injuries.