Author Archives: LocalHealthGuide

Washington launches small business health exchange

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Ron Wanger, owner of Royal Ridges Retreat in Yacolt, talks about signing up for health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder Business.

From Washington Healthplandfinder:

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced the statewide launch of Washington Healthplanfinder Business, a customer-friendly, online marketplace that allows employers in Washington with up to 50 employees to compare health plans, decide their contribution level and manage payment – all in one place. 

The marketplace was available through Kaiser Health Plan of the Northwest in Clark and Cowlitz counties in 2014, but will now be available statewide for the first time through Moda Health Inc. Small employers can choose from a total of 23 different health plans.

“We are thrilled to launch our statewide offering for small businesses in Washington this year,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “With the addition of Moda Health, we’re confident that employers will be able to find a Qualified Health Plan that’s right for their employees and their budget.”

Washington Healthplanfinder Business benefits small employers by:

  • Simplifying choices: Washington Healthplanfinder Business provides side-by-side comparisons of state-certified health plans, including their benefits, premiums and quality. All plans cover essential health benefits such as visits to the doctor and emergency room, prescriptions, and preventative care. In addition, plans are offered in three “metal tiers” based on the costs covered.
  • Expanding employee options: Business can offer employees a variety of health plans, and their employees can choose the plan that fit their needs and their budget.  Washington Healthplanfinder Business is the only place where employers can provide a “metal level” choice in health plans.
  • Preserving employer control: Washington Healthplanfinder Business gives employers a secure location to determine their own level of contribution toward their employees’ coverage and make a single monthly payment rather than payments to multiple plans. Consolidated billing will also be available so employers can avoid the hassle of contracting with multiple insurers.
  • Lowering Costs: Businesses can save money by spreading insurers’ administrative costs across more employers. In addition, Washington Healthplanfinder Businessprovides exclusive access to a 50 percent tax credit for health premiums for eligible employers.

Continue reading

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Life from above? First-responder of the future could be a drone

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Developed by Delft TU (Delpht University of Technology, The Netherlands):

Each year nearly a million people in Europe suffer from a cardiac arrest. A mere 8% survives due to slow response times of emergency services. The ambulance-drone is capable of saving lives with an integrated defibrillator.

The goal is to improve existing emergency infrastructure with a network of drones. This new type of drones can go over 100 km/h and reaches its destination within 1 minute, which increases chance of survival from 8% to 80%! T

his drone folds up and becomes a toolbox for all kind of emergency supplies. Future implementations will also serve other use cases such as drowning, diabetes, respiratory issues and traumas. – From Delpht TU

Editors note: In a real case of cardiac arrest, bystanders should have started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately and looked to see if there was an automated external defibrillator (AED) in the building.

  • To learn more about CPR visit the Red Cross’ CPR pages where you can learn about classes in our area. 
  • To learn more about AEDs go to King County’s “Shockingly Simple” webpage.
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Mixing medications and supplements can be dangerous – FDA

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A Consumer Update from the FDA

supplementsWhen you take prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, do you take also a vitamin, mineral, or other dietary supplements? Have you considered whether there is any danger in mixing medications and dietary supplements?

There could be, says Robert Mozersky, a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Some dietary supplements may increase the effect of your medication, and other dietary supplements may decrease it,” he says.

“Natural does not always mean safe.”

Certain dietary supplements can change absorption, metabolism, or excretion of a medication and therefore affect its potency.

“You may be getting either too much or too little of a medication you need,” Mozersky warns.

Consequently, combining dietary supplements and medications could have dangerous and even life-threatening effects. For example, drugs for HIV/AIDS, heart disease, depression, treatments for organ transplants, and birth control pills are less effective when taken with St. John’s Wort, an herbal supplement. Depending on the medication involved, the results can be serious. Continue reading

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Hepatitis C patients may not qualify for pricey drugs unless illness is advanced

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Twenty-dollar bill in a pill bottleBy Michelle Andrews
KHN / October 28, 2014

In the past year, new hepatitis C drugs that promise higher cure rates and fewer side effects have given hope to millions who are living with the disease.

But many patients whose livers aren’t yet significantly damaged by the viral infection face a vexing reality: They’re not sick enough to qualify for the drugs that could prevent them from getting sicker.

An estimated 3 million people have hepatitis C. Faced with a cost per patient of roughly $95,000 or more for a 12-week course of treatment, many public and private insurers are restricting access to those who already have serious liver damage.

Many baby boomers who have hepatitis C contracted it years ago from blood transfusions at a time when blood was not screened for the virus.

Other strategies that limit access include restricting who can prescribe the drugs or requiring early proof the drug is working before continuing with treatment.

In addition, many state Medicaid programs require that patients be drug and alcohol free for a period of months before they can get the hepatitis C drugs. Continue reading

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Website helps you support retailers that don’t sell cigarettes

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Cigarette thumbThe Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which supports the supported Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has launched a new mobile-friendly website, shoptobaccofree.org, that will allow shoppers to take their business to retailers that don’t sell tobacco products.

Plug in your ZIP code, city or state, and you’ll get a handy interactive map showing where to find tobacco-free shops and stores in your area.

Shoptobaccofree.org

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Seattle-area nurse monitored for possible Ebola infection | Local News | The Seattle Times

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The number of cases with Ebola, shown here, could double by the end of the month. There is a one in five chance it will reach the U.S. in that same time, researchers predict. Photo:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A Seattle-area nurse being monitored for possible Ebola infection has shown no sign of the disease and is voluntarily restricting her movements to minimize the risk to others, health officials say.

Editors note: Even if a person has contracted Ebola, they are not contagious if they do not have symptoms.

via Seattle-area nurse monitored for possible Ebola infection | Local News | The Seattle Times.

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What would happen if you ended the Obamacare subsidies? The individual mandate?

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Question MarkWhat would happen if you ended the tax credits that subsidize premiums for health insurance purchased on the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act?

Or ended the requirement that everyone buy insurance or pay a fine — the much maligned individual mandate?

The RAND Corporation, a non-partisan research organization, looked at how various tweaks to Obamacare would likely play out.

Some of their key findings:

Eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) tax credits would cause large declines in enrollment and substantial increases in premiums.

Without the ACA’s premium support, premiums rise by nearly 45 percent, and enrollment falls by nearly 70 percent.

Without the ACA’s individual mandate, the number of people enrolled in the individual market falls by more than 20 percent, and premiums rise by about 7 percent.

To learn more read their study: Assessing Alternative Modifications to the Affordable Care Act

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Paul Allen boosts his donations to fight Ebola to $100 million, creates donation website

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Paul Allen

Paul Allen

Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist Paul G. Allen today increased his commitment to efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to at least $100 million and called on the global community to join the cause.

“The Ebola virus is unlike any health crisis we have ever experienced and needs a response unlike anything we have ever seen,” Allen said. “To effectively contain this outbreak and prevent it from becoming a global epidemic, we must pool our efforts to raise the funds, coordinate the resources and develop the creative solutions needed to combat this problem. I am committed to doing my part in tackling this crisis.”

To help individuals contribute to the effort, Allen has created crowd-sourcing website — TackleEbola.com.

The donation platform is designed to coordinate and optimize individual global giving, Allen said

Donations of all sizes will go to funding the solutions required to treat, contain and prevent the spread of Ebola.

Donors will be able to select the need that they are most interested in funding and 100 percent of that contribution will be applied to that need.

The site also offers a way for donors to view the impact of their combined contributions with updates on progress towards goals.

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Free online site to help parents with children coping with ADD/ADHD

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In the U.S., one in five children struggles with a learning and/or attention issue. That’s 15 million kids ages 3–20, and many of their issues go undiagnosed.

The adults in their lives often have a hard time understanding their issues due to misconceptions and a lack of information and resources.

As a result, these children often face both academic and social challenges.

However, with the right strategies and support, they can succeed in the classroom—and outside of it, too.

This campaign stems from the idea that parents can sense when their children are struggling but may not know why. Or what to do.

By demonstrating the realities that children with learning and attention issues face daily, the campaign aims to increase the number of parents who are actively helping and seeking help for their kids.

Parents are encouraged to visit Understood.org, a comprehensive free online resource that empowers parents through personalized support, daily access to experts and specially designed tools to help the millions of children with learning and attention issues go from simply coping to truly thriving.

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Whoa! Before you give the kid the keys to the car . . .

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You’ve been protecting your kids their whole lives. So don’t just hand them the keys to a two-ton machine with no rules… Talk it out. Tell your teenagers they have to agree to 5 rules to drive:

  1. No cell phones,
  2. No extra passengers,
  3. No speeding,
  4. No alcohol, and
  5. Buckle-up.

Set the rules before they hit the road.

Learn more here.

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US to fund $840 million initiative to improve patient care and lower costs

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All interested clinicians are invited to participate in the initiative.

stethoscope doctor's bag chest x-rayUS Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced an initiative that will fund successful applicants who work directly with medical providers to rethink and redesign their practices, moving from systems driven by quantity of care to ones focused on patients’ health outcomes, and coordinated health care systems.

These applicants could include group practices, health care systems, medical provider associations and others.

This effort will help clinicians develop strategies to share, adapt and further improve the quality of care they provide, while holding down costs.

Strategies could include:

  • Giving doctors better access to patient information, such as information on prescription drug use to help patients take their medications properly;
  • Expanding the number of ways patients are able communicate with the team of clinicians taking care of them;
  • Improving the coordination of patient care by primary care providers, specialists, and the broader medical community; and
  • Using electronic health records on a daily basis to examine data on quality and efficiency.

To learn more about the the initiative go here.

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Washington state emerges as a leader as interest in palliative care rises – Puget Sound Business Journal

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Dr. Randy Curtis

Two years ago this month, the University of Washington founded its Palliative Care Center of Excellence to provide greater support to people with serious illnesses. The start of that center coincided with an increase in the use of palliative care around the country.

via Washington state emerges as a leader as interest in palliative care rises – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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