"Welcome to Cigna," said the letter, dated May 16, on behalf of my new employer, the Kaiser Family Foundation. The letter also said the insurer was placing me on a one-year waiting period for any pre-existing conditions.
Seriously? Wasn't the health law supposed to end that?
"We have reviewed the evidence of prior creditable coverage provided by you and/or your prior carrier and have determined that you have 0 days of creditable coverage," the letter said.
Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much for office visits and other patient evaluations in 2010, according to a report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.
But in its reply to the findings, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs Medicare, said it doesn't plan to review the billings of doctors who almost always charge for the most expensive visits because it isn't cost-effective to do so.
But when doctors' time is up, they are different from the rest of us. They "go gently" rather than opt for aggressive end-of-life treatments, as one physician wrote a few years ago. They have seen the suffering of their patients at the end of life and want no part of it.
The attacks near the University of California, Santa Barbara, are renewing focus on programs aimed at requiring treatment for people who are mentally ill as a way to prevent mass shootings and other violence.
In California, a 2002 law allows authorities to require outpatient mental health care for people who have been refusing it. Proponents argue that this kind of intervention could prevent violent acts.
But counties within the state have been slow to adopt the legislation, and mental health professionals are divided over its effects.
Heroin was once the scourge of the urban poor, but today the typical user is a young, white suburbanite, a study finds. And the path to addiction usually starts with prescription painkillers.
A survey of 9,000 patients at treatment centers around the country found that 90 percent of heroin users were white men and women. Most were relatively young — their average age was 23. And three-quarters said they first started not with heroin but with prescription opioids like OxyContin.
One of the toughest money decisions Americans face as they age is whether to buy long-term care insurance. Many people don't realize that Medicare usually doesn't cover long-term care, yet lengthy assisted-living or nursing home stays can decimate even the best-laid retirement plan.
Long-term care insurance is a complex product that requires a long-term commitment if you're buying it. So how can you tell if this insurance is right for you?
Children are increasingly anxious, stressed out and overly worried. Part of that has to do with increased pressures to excel in school, sports and extracurricular activities. But part of it has a lot to do with parents.
Like other mental and physical health problems, anxiety can be inherited. And some children are more vulnerable because of the way their anxious parents "parent."
Many Americans say their jobs are stressful — we complain of too much to do in too little time, demanding bosses or difficult colleagues. But researcher Sarah Damaske wanted to know, objectively, is being at work any harder than being at home?
Diabetes increases a woman's risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke much more than it does for men, and scientists are trying to figure out why.
Women with diabetes were almost three times more likely to develop heart disease than women without the disease, a relative risk that's 44 percent higher than it is for men. That's despite the fact that men are more likely to have heart disease than women overall.
Since heart disease already is the number one killer of women, and the number of people with diabetes has been rising rapidly, this is not good news.
The number of women getting double mastectomies after a breast cancer diagnosis has been rising in the past 10 years, even though most of them don't face a higher risk of getting cancer in the other breast.
That has cancer doctors troubled, because for those women having the other breast removed doesn't reduce their risk of getting breast cancer again or increase their odds of survival. And they don't know why women are making this choice.
Another month, another apocalyptic news report of some weird substance that kids are abusing in pursuit of a high.
The most recent example is "beezin'," which supposedly involves smearing Burt's Bee's lip balm on one's eyelids. The tingling allegedly heightens the sensation of being drunk or high, according to the Oklahoma Fox News affiliate that first declared this a "viral trend."
If you were a bear and wanted to make a go of it in the frozen North (think polar bear, of course), what would you need to survive?
White fur would help, to help you sneak up on prey. Also plenty of body fat to stay warm. And you'd need great stamina to swim many miles from one ice floe to the next.
And there's another important trait, researchers reported Thursday: Polar bears have genes that help them live on a diet that's overloaded with fat — without suffering the sorts of human diseases that typically come with a diet of that sort.
In the future, Earth's atmosphere is likely to include a whole lot more carbon dioxide. And many have been puzzling over what that may mean for the future of food crops. Now, scientists are reporting that some of the world's most important crops contain fewer crucial nutrients when they grow in such an environment.
Three out of four physicians believe that fellow doctors prescribe an unnecessary test or procedure at least once a week, a survey released Thursday finds.
The most frequent reasons that physicians order extraneous — and costly --medical care are fears of being sued, impulses to be extra careful and desires to reassure themselves about their assessments of patients, the survey said.
Scientists reported Thursday they had figured out a way to make primitive human sperm out of skin cells, an advance that could someday help infertile men have children.
"I probably get 200 emails a year from people who are infertile, and very often the heading on the emails is: Can you help me?" says Renee Reijo Pera of Montana State University, who led the research when she was at Stanford University.
Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:41 am
Not so long ago, the workings of the digestive system were of interest only to gastroenterologists and 10-year-old boys. But the gut is now chic, with its microbiome playing a huge role in human health, and passing gas deemed a sign of healthy gut microbes.