Health Care

How to Eat Right, Office Lunch Edition

Keep almonds by your computer. What if I don’t like almonds? Also, they’re expensive. STOP TELLING ME TO EAT ALMONDS, unless you feel like subsidizing my almonds, and/or dipping them in chocolate for me.

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The Cost of Things At My Annual Physical

Yesterday I went to the doctor for my annual physical, another random practice I found on Zocdoc since my insurance is always changing or not existing and, well, I’ve only gotten an annual physical one other time in my life.

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The Real Cost of Prescription Drugs

Last night, I left the office around 8:30 so I could make it to a pharmacy before it closed and pick up some prescriptions. The young woman behind the counter asked me for my name, and then her eyes got wide for a few seconds before she said:

“Your copays are insane!”

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Upselling at the Dentist’s Office

On a recent weekend, I learned that one of my friends had just begun dating a dentist, and later, at a party we all happened to be at, my friend L. wondered aloud if it would be rude to ask him questions she had about her fillings.

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The Cost of Getting Hit By a Car

Those of you who follow my Twitter and Tumblr already know that I got hit by a car on Saturday.

(You also already know that I’m fine, so we’ll just get that out of the way.)

I was walking through a crosswalk in Capitol Hill, and the car hit me in the middle of the crosswalk as it came to a full stop. I was surprised more than anything else, because I saw that the car was slowing down as it approached the crosswalk, which is an everyday sort of thing, and then it drove into the crosswalk and hit me, which is not at all an everyday thing.

Because I was surprised, and because I knew as soon as I picked myself up off the ground that I was not seriously hurt, I didn’t think to get the driver’s insurance, license plates, or contact information. To be fair, the driver didn’t offer it. She got out of the car, asked me if I was okay, I said I was, I started to walk away, some bystanders shouted “get her insurance!” and I turned around and she was driving off.

This meant that later, when I went to the clinic to confirm I was, in fact, okay, I paid the $90 against my deductible myself.

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Tales From EggBanxx’s Let’s ‘Chill’ Ladies’ Nights

Perhaps, after trying my whole life to get straight A’s and excel and do everything perfectly, I don’t want to feel like there’s a “right” way to do my fertility.

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Life and Health at 75

Ezekiel Emanuel, the director at the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has a provocative piece in The Atlantic this month called “Why I Hope to Die at 75.”

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Why Can’t Every Doctor Take Every Insurance?

When I showed up at my doctor’s office in Manhattan on Monday, I was flustered and exhausted; I had already been to deepest Brooklyn and back (the end of the 2,5 line) to take Babygirl to her new pediatrician’s office. We hadn’t wanted to switch but had to because her old pediatrician, who we loved, doesn’t take her current insurance, which is called Health First Child Plus or something, who knows, they’re all combinations of nice-sounding but meaningless abstract words. Red Star Red Sword sounds like a funny name for an insurance company, doesn’t it, but is that any different, really, than Blue Cross Blue Shield? We’re just used to the latter.

I ranted a bit to my doctor, and her eyes flamed with indignation. “It’s ridiculous!” she said. “I would write about it if I were a writer, but I’m not, so you’ll have to, but everyone says the patient’s relationship with the doctor is a key part of health care. When you have to switch doctors just because you switch plans, everyone loses.”

I certainly lost. Though the new people were fine, I missed our old pediatrician, who had been seeing Babygirl since she was days old, knows her well, and is a brisk ten minute walk from our house. Going to a new place – a much larger, busier practice a much greater distance away — made Babygirl squirrelly, and it cost both Ben and me our morning. It required redundancies, like typing old info into a different computer and answering the same questions over and over, and introduced the possibility of errors with each transcription.

Why can’t doctors offices and hospital accept any accredited, official health insurance? That would solve the horrifying “Out of Network” problem. That’s how it works for cars, right? It’s not as if you can get hit by an SUV making a left turn and then find out that oops your insurance somehow doesn’t take theirs. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to why our old pediatrician accepts one Obamacare policy but not another, or why the hospital closest to us accepts only these six and not those seven.

Seriously, what’s stopping government from mandating that every health provider must accept every legitimate insurance? Paperwork? Admin fees? Or is there a bigger problem I’m not seeing?

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Out-of-Network Horror Stories

I want to share this article about surprise medical bills with you but it fills me with so much anxiety I don’t even know where to begin.

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Is 75 Enough?

If you’d like mortality mansplained, this pedantic fellow in the Atlantic does an excellent job. (“Mortality: You’re Doing It Wrong.”) In the process of declaring that 75 is a perfect age to die, the author also declares himself against euthanasia / “death with dignity” movements for some reason and adds that he will have a memorial service before his death because wow is he a control freak. Yet, as the Dude would put it, the author is not wrong — at least not in his main point, that he won’t make any effort to extend his life past 75; he’s just kind of an asshole.

The good news is that we have made major strides in reducing mortality from strokes. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of deaths from stroke declined by more than 20 percent. The bad news is that many of the roughly 6.8 million Americans who have survived a stroke suffer from paralysis or an inability to speak. And many of the estimated 13 million more Americans who have survived a “silent” stroke suffer from more-subtle brain dysfunction such as aberrations in thought processes, mood regulation, and cognitive functioning. Worse, it is projected that over the next 15 years there will be a 50 percent increase in the number of Americans suffering from stroke-induced disabilities. Unfortunately, the same phenomenon is repeated with many other diseases.

So American immortals may live longer than their parents, but they are likely to be more incapacitated. Does that sound very desirable? Not to me.

He makes sound arguments for why trying to extend life past a certain point simply for the sake of it is silly and not cost-effective, especially when quality of life deteriorates and all we have to look forward to is that “second childishness, and mere oblivion” stage. (Which can be a serious financial and emotional burden on our children/care-givers.) I’m kind of convinced. But ask me again when I’ve reached his age: if I have also attained his level of success and feeling of supreme self-satisfaction, perhaps I too will be ready to Let It Go.

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Canadian Health Care Awesomeness: Is It As Awesome As It Seems?

We’re all jealous of the Canadian health care system, unless we’re Canadian ourselves, in which case we spend our time eating poutine and watching hockey and politely marveling at the idiocy of Americans. But is the universal, public, accessible, single-payer health care that folks north of the border enjoy REALLY as great as it seems? Jacobin investigates:

The two largest holes in Canada’s health care system are the lack of universal coverage for dental care and the inadequate defraying of optical and prescription drug costs. As of 2012, an estimated one in five Canadians — disproportionately women, the unemployed, and freelancers — did not have the supplementary private health insurance that foots the bill for these services.

Uh. 20% of Canadians might have to pay for some dental and vision out of pocket, and these are your biggest problems? Here is the world’s tiniest violin, and here is me smashing it with a hammer made out of solidified resentment.

Universal health care is not just being eroded via underfunding. The federal government has been unwilling to enforce the Canada Health Act, which makes funding contingent on meeting certain standards. The lax regulatory environment has led to a proliferation of private clinics across Canada and inequitable access to some medical services.

OK now we’re getting somewhere. Maybe. It’s still hard for me to get worked up over the kinks in what seems like, overall, still a vastly preferable system to the one we’re stuck with down here, but pain is relative. And it does suck that abortions are hard to come by on Prince Edward Island.

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