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Health Care Reform – Why Are People So Worked Up?

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Why are Americans so worked up about health care reform? Statements such as “don’t touch my Medicare” or “everyone should have access to state of the art health care irrespective of cost” are in my opinion uninformed and visceral responses that indicate a poor understanding of our health care system’s history, its current and future resources and the funding challenges that America faces going forward. While we all wonder how the health care system has reached what some refer to as a crisis stage. Let’s try to take some of the emotion out of the debate by briefly examining how health care in this country emerged and how that has formed our thinking and culture about health care. With that as a foundation let’s look at the pros and cons of the Obama administration health care reform proposals and let’s look at the concepts put forth by the Republicans?

Access to state of the art health care services is something we can all agree would be a good thing for this country. Experiencing a serious illness is one of life’s major challenges and to face it without the means to pay for it is positively frightening. But as we shall see, once we know the facts, we will find that achieving this goal will not be easy without our individual contribution.

These are the themes I will touch on to try to make some sense out of what is happening to American health care and the steps we can personally take to make things better.

  • A recent history of American health care – what has driven the costs so high?
  • Key elements of the Obama health care plan
  • The Republican view of health care – free market competition
  • Universal access to state of the art health care – a worthy goal but not easy to achieve
  • what can we do?

First, let’s get a little historical perspective on American health care. This is not intended to be an exhausted look into that history but it will give us an appreciation of how the health care system and our expectations for it developed. What drove costs higher and higher?

To begin, let’s turn to the American civil war. In that war, dated tactics and the carnage inflicted by modern weapons of the era combined to cause ghastly results. Not generally known is that most of the deaths on both sides of that war were not the result of actual combat but to what happened after a battlefield wound was inflicted. To begin with, evacuation of the wounded moved at a snail’s pace and this caused severe delays in treating the wounded. Secondly, many wounds were subjected to wound care, related surgeries and/or amputations of the affected limbs and this often resulted in the onset of massive infection. So you might survive a battle wound only to die at the hands of medical care providers who although well-intentioned, their interventions were often quite lethal. High death tolls can also be ascribed to everyday sicknesses and diseases in a time when no antibiotics existed. In total something like 600,000 deaths occurred from all causes, over 2% of the U.S. population at the time!

Let’s skip to the first half of the 20th century for some additional perspective and to bring us up to more modern times. After the civil war there were steady improvements in American medicine in both the understanding and treatment of certain diseases, new surgical techniques and in physician education and training. But for the most part the best that doctors could offer their patients was a “wait and see” approach. Medicine could handle bone fractures and increasingly attempt risky surgeries (now largely performed in sterile surgical environments) but medicines were not yet available to handle serious illnesses. The majority of deaths remained the result of untreatable conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, scarlet fever and measles and/or related complications. Doctors were increasingly aware of heart and vascular conditions, and cancer but they had almost nothing with which to treat these conditions.

This very basic review of American medical history helps us to understand that until quite recently (around the 1950’s) we had virtually no technologies with which to treat serious or even minor ailments. Here is a critical point we need to understand; “nothing to treat you with means that visits to the doctor if at all were relegated to emergencies so in such a scenario costs are curtailed. The simple fact is that there was little for doctors to offer and therefore virtually nothing to drive health care spending. A second factor holding down costs was that medical treatments that were provided were paid for out-of-pocket, meaning by way of an individuals personal resources. There was no such thing as health insurance and certainly not health insurance paid by an employer. Except for the very destitute who were lucky to find their way into a charity hospital, health care costs were the responsibility of the individual.

What does health care insurance have to do with health care costs? Its impact on health care costs has been, and remains to this day, absolutely enormous. When health insurance for individuals and families emerged as a means for corporations to escape wage freezes and to attract and retain employees after World War II, almost overnight a great pool of money became available to pay for health care. Money, as a result of the availability of billions of dollars from health insurance pools, encouraged an innovative America to increase medical research efforts. More Americans became insured not only through private, employer sponsored health insurance but through increased government funding that created Medicare and Medicaid (1965). In addition funding became available for expanded veterans health care benefits. Finding a cure for almost anything has consequently become very lucrative. This is also the primary reason for the vast array of treatments we have available today.

I do not wish to convey that medical innovations are a bad thing. Think of the tens of millions of lives that have been saved, extended, enhanced and made more productive as a result. But with a funding source grown to its current magnitude (hundreds of billions of dollars annually) upward pressure on health care costs are inevitable. Doctor’s offer and most of us demand and get access to the latest available health care technology in the form of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostic tools and surgical procedures. So the result is that there is more health care to spend our money on and until very recently most of us were insured and the costs were largely covered by a third-party (government, employers). Add an insatiable and unrealistic public demand for access and treatment and we have the “perfect storm” for higher and higher health care costs. And by and large the storm is only intensifying.

At this point, let’s turn to the key questions that will lead us into a review and hopefully a better understanding of the health care reform proposals in the news today. Is the current trajectory of U.S. health care spending sustainable? Can America maintain its world competitiveness when 16%, heading for 20% of our gross national product is being spent on health care? What are the other industrialized countries spending on health care and is it even close to these numbers? When we add politics and an election year to the debate, information to help us answer these questions become critical. We need to spend some effort in understanding health care and sorting out how we think about it. Properly armed we can more intelligently determine whether certain health care proposals might solve or worsen some of these problems. What can be done about the challenges? How can we as individuals contribute to the solutions?

The Obama health care plan is complex for sure – I have never seen a health care plan that isn’t. But through a variety of programs his plan attempts to deal with a) increasing the number of American that are covered by adequate insurance (almost 50 million are not), and b) managing costs in such a manner that quality and our access to health care is not adversely affected. Republicans seek to achieve these same basic and broad goals, but their approach is proposed as being more market driven than government driven. Let’s look at what the Obama plan does to accomplish the two objectives above. Remember, by the way, that his plan was passed by congress, and begins to seriously kick-in starting in 2014. So this is the direction we are currently taking as we attempt to reform health care.

  1. Through insurance exchanges and an expansion of Medicaid,the Obama plan dramatically expands the number of Americans that will be covered by health insurance.
  2. To cover the cost of this expansion the plan requires everyone to have health insurance with a penalty to be paid if we don’t comply. It will purportedly send money to the states to cover those individuals added to state-based Medicaid programs.
  3. To cover the added costs there were a number of new taxes introduced, one being a 2.5% tax on new medical technologies and another increases taxes on interest and dividend income for wealthier Americans.
  4. The Obama plan also uses concepts such as evidence-based medicine, accountable care organizations, comparative effectiveness research and reduced reimbursement to health care providers (doctors and hospitals) to control costs.

The insurance mandate covered by points 1 and 2 above is a worthy goal and most industrialized countries outside of the U.S. provide “free” (paid for by rather high individual and corporate taxes) health care to most if not all of their citizens. It is important to note, however, that there are a number of restrictions for which many Americans would be culturally unprepared. Here is the primary controversial aspect of the Obama plan, the insurance mandate. The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided to hear arguments as to the constitutionality of the health insurance mandate as a result of a petition by 26 states attorney’s general that congress exceeded its authority under the commerce clause of the U.S. constitution by passing this element of the plan. The problem is that if the Supreme Court should rule against the mandate, it is generally believed that the Obama plan as we know it is doomed. This is because its major goal of providing health insurance to all would be severely limited if not terminated altogether by such a decision.

As you would guess, the taxes covered by point 3 above are rather unpopular with those entities and individuals that have to pay them. Medical device companies, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors and insurance companies all had to “give up” something that would either create new revenue or would reduce costs within their spheres of control. As an example, Stryker Corporation, a large medical device company, recently announced at least a 1,000 employee reduction in part to cover these new fees. This is being experienced by other medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies as well. The reduction in good paying jobs in these sectors and in the hospital sector may rise as former cost structures will have to be dealt with in order to accommodate the reduced rate of reimbursement to hospitals. Over the next ten years some estimates put the cost reductions to hospitals and physicians at half a trillion dollars and this will flow directly to and affect the companies that supply hospitals and doctors with the latest medical technologies. None of this is to say that efficiencies will not be realized by these changes or that other jobs will in turn be created but this will represent painful change for a while. It helps us to understand that health care reform does have an effect both positive and negative.

Finally, the Obama plan seeks to change the way medical decisions are made. While clinical and basic research underpins almost everything done in medicine today, doctors are creatures of habit like the rest of us and their training and day-to-day experiences dictate to a great extent how they go about diagnosing and treating our conditions. Enter the concept of evidence-based medicine and comparative effectiveness research. Both of these seek to develop and utilize data bases from electronic health records and other sources to give better and more timely information and feedback to physicians as to the outcomes and costs of the treatments they are providing. There is great waste in health care today, estimated at perhaps a third of an over 2 trillion dollar health care spend annually. Imagine the savings that are possible from a reduction in unnecessary test and procedures that do not compare favorably with health care interventions that are better documented as effective. Now the Republicans and others don’t generally like these ideas as they tend to characterize them as “big government control” of your and my health care. But to be fair, regardless of their political persuasions, most people who understand health care at all, know that better data for the purposes described above will be crucial to getting health care efficiencies, patient safety and costs headed in the right direction.

A brief review of how Republicans and more conservative individuals think about health care reform. I believe they would agree that costs must come under control and that more, not fewer Americans should have access to health care regardless of their ability to pay. But the main difference is that these folks see market forces and competition as the way to creating the cost reductions and efficiencies we need. There are a number of ideas with regard to driving more competition among health insurance companies and health care providers (doctors and hospitals) so that the consumer would begin to drive cost down by the choices we make. This works in many sectors of our economy but this formula has shown that improvements are illusive when applied to health care. Primarily the problem is that health care choices are difficult even for those who understand it and are connected. The general population, however, is not so informed and besides we have all been brought up to “go to the doctor” when we feel it is necessary and we also have a cultural heritage that has engendered within most of us the feeling that health care is something that is just there and there really isn’t any reason not to access it for whatever the reason and worse we all feel that there is nothing we can do to affect its costs to insure its availability to those with serious problems.

OK, this article was not intended to be an exhaustive study as I needed to keep it short in an attempt to hold my audience’s attention and to leave some room for discussing what we can do contribute mightily to solving some of the problems. First we must understand that the dollars available for health care are not limitless. Any changes that are put in place to provide better insurance coverage and access to care will cost more. And somehow we have to find the revenues to pay for these changes. At the same time we have to pay less for medical treatments and procedures and do something to restrict the availability of unproven or poorly documented treatments as we are the highest cost health care system in the world and don’t necessarily have the best results in terms of longevity or avoiding chronic diseases much earlier than necessary.

I believe that we need a revolutionary change in the way we think about health care, its availability, its costs and who pays for it. And if you think I am about to say we should arbitrarily and drastically reduce spending on health care you would be wrong. Here it is fellow citizens – health care spending needs to be preserved and protected for those who need it. And to free up these dollars those of us who don’t need it or can delay it or avoid it need to act. First, we need to convince our politicians that this country needs sustained public education with regard to the value of preventive health strategies. This should be a top priority and it has worked to reduce the number of U.S. smokers for example. If prevention were to take hold, it is reasonable to assume that those needing health care for the myriad of life style engendered chronic diseases would decrease dramatically. Millions of Americans are experiencing these diseases far earlier than in decades past and much of this is due to poor life style choices. This change alone would free up plenty of money to handle the health care costs of those in dire need of treatment, whether due to an acute emergency or chronic condition.

Let’s go deeper on the first issue. Most of us refuse do something about implementing basic wellness strategies into our daily lives. We don’t exercise but we offer a lot of excuses. We don’t eat right but we offer a lot of excuses. We smoke and/or we drink alcohol to excess and we offer a lot of excuses as to why we can’t do anything about managing these known to be destructive personal health habits. We don’t take advantage of preventive health check-ups that look at blood pressure, cholesterol readings and body weight but we offer a lot of excuses. In short we neglect these things and the result is that we succumb much earlier than necessary to chronic diseases like heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. We wind up accessing doctors for these and more routine matters because “health care is there” and somehow we think we have no responsibility for reducing our demand on it.

It is difficult for us to listen to these truths but easy to blame the sick. Maybe they should take better care of themselves! Well, that might be true or maybe they have a genetic condition and they have become among the unfortunate through absolutely no fault of their own. But the point is that you and I can implement personalized preventive disease measures as a way of dramatically improving health care access for others while reducing its costs. It is far better to be productive by doing something we can control then shifting the blame.

There are a huge number of free web sites available that can steer us to a more healthful life style. A soon as you can, “Google” “preventive health care strategies”, look up your local hospital’s web site and you will find more than enough help to get you started. Finally, there is a lot to think about here and I have tried to outline the challenges but also the very powerful effect we could have on preserving the best of America’s health care system now and into the future. I am anxious to hear from you and until then – take charge and increase your chances for good health while making sure that health care is there when we need it.

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A Patient Guide To Get Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma

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How To Get Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma

 Even though medical marijuana is legal in many states, there are set laws on how to obtain it legally. Read along to learn how to get medical marijuana in Oklahoma.

On May 18, 2021, the Gov. of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, House Bill 2272 into law. The law changed a few things in the medical marijuana sector in Oklahoma. The changes that took effect were meant to address the following concerns in the medical cannabis sector:

  • How foreigners should operate cannabis businesses in Oklahoma. 
  • How the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) should conduct compliance checks online 
  • Inspections to confirm if the licenses were operating actively or not

Since these changes are meant to remove a couple of bad actors in the Oklahoma medical marijuana sector, it is clear that the Oklahoma medical sector is taking the right path. The law was also put in place to ensure that all competitors get a fair deal regardless of where they came from. 

The Previous Version of the Act 

An earlier version of the law that the House passed in March. Looking carefully at how it was drafted, it was pretty different from the final version. The artificial caps in the law were more stringent as an oversight, and the number of business licenses was limited. The final version was meant to scrutinize the licenses issued by OMMA and how they were all maintained. Limits are now put in place to control the oversaturated market. That said, let’s look at what a patient needs to do to obtain medical marijuana in Oklahoma. 

How to Get Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma 

The procedure of acquiring medical marijuana in Oklahoma is almost the same in other states in America that have legalized medical marijuana. 

  • Get recommended by a licensed practicing doctor

The first thing you need to do as a patient seeking to get medical marijuana is looking for a physician in the state of Oklahoma who advocates for medical marijuana. The doctors need to confirm that you are suffering from any of the qualifying medical conditions. To do this, you need to present your medical history and other medical information that the doctor may need to recommend to you. 

Once the doctor has confirmed that you are suffering from any qualifying medical conditions, they will have to present the document himself in the Department of Health together with the patient’s filled out forms. The patient is not allowed to present the recommendation to the DOH. 

  • Application of the Medical Marijuana Card 

The second step in obtaining a medical marijuana card is sending an application to the State Department of Health. Once they have received your application, they will have to review it for a couple of days. After a few days, you will get feedback on whether they accepted or denied your application. If the application is accepted, you will be issued a medical marijuana card. 

Learning how to get medical marijuana in Oklahoma offers you a legal way to acquire cannabis. You can do this by providing copies of a state-issued identification card. You also need to present several documents that prove that you are a resident of Oklahoma. Once you are approved and have gotten the medical marijuana card, you can start going to medical marijuana dispensaries to purchase medical cannabis. 

Conclusion 

Getting a medical marijuana card in Oklahoma is as easy as that, and you don’t need to struggle so much. Remember that medical marijuana is legal in many states; you need to follow due process. You don’t need to suffer in silence while you can get medical cannabis to relieve the pain that comes with these dilapidating medical conditions. 

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What is the Best Air Purifier for Cough Symptoms?

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Best Air Purifier
Best Air Purifiers

The rapid industrial growth brought many conveniences to our urban lives. But, along with those comforts, it also brought morbid health issues. The primary and most persistent problem in our modern lives is the problem of air pollution. Air contaminants and allergens are the main reason for our allergy, which causes cough problems in an allergic individual. If you live in an urban environment where you get surrounded by allergens, viruses and other pathogens, the chances are that you may be looking for the best air purifier to get help with your cough. Coughing can severely slow down you and your kids and hinder productivity. We will provide you with some best air purifier models and tips to choose a Daikin air purifier yourself. 

How do Air Purifiers Help with Coughs?

If you are coughing uncontrollably, you must look for the best air purifier because it surely can help you with your cough problem. But the question is how? Air purifiers use a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Absorbing) filter to isolate the contaminants suspended in the air and keep them trapped in the system until you clean and change filters.

What Should You Look for When Buying an Air Purifier?

  • Filters: Filters are the primary organ of any best air purifier. Know which filters are there on your device. Here are some of the generally used filters for you to check:
  1. Pure HEPA filter
  2. Activated Charcoal Filter
  3. UV-C filter
  4. Pre-filter and
  5. Ozone free Ionizer 
  • Warranty period: Most air purifier models come with 1 to 2 years of warranty. Know which parts the company covers in the warranty paper.
  • Easy set-up: Modern air purifier models are mostly touch-controlled and have a simple button layout. Avoid any complications in the set-up, and filter changing process.
  • Room size: Check the rated size for an air purifier to know if it suits your room size.

What is the Number One Air Purifier?

These brands produce one of the top-selling air purifier models available in the Indian market.

  1. Daikin
  2. LG
  3. Eureka Forbes
  4. Panasonic
  5. Phillips
  6. BlueStar

Among them, Daikin is making one of the most affordable air purifiers.

Top Three Best Air Purifier Models are – 

  1. Daikin MC55XVM6 Air Purifier:
  • Streamer Discharge: This Daikin air purifier, besides the HEPA filter, uses the streamer discharge function to quickly remove odours and allergens with high-speed electrons with the oxidizing property.
  • Turbo mode: The Turbo mode in the Daikin air purifier provides a high-power operation to clean the air fast.
  • Deodorising Filter: Some Daikin air purifier models, including the MC55 model, utilize streamers to decompose the foul odours and assist the filter.

 

  1. Eureka Forbes 56-watt AeroGuard mist Air Purifier: 
  • HEPA filter: It uses advanced HEPA technology to remove 99% of suspended particles of 0.3 microns. 
  • UV Lamp: A UV lamp helps reduce volatile organic compounds, parasites and mites in the indoor air.
  • 10X filter technology: It uses the Active 10X filter technology to purify the air in your house and eliminate dust, dander and germs.
  1. Daikin MC40XVM6 Air Purifier:
  • Electrostatic HEPA filter: This Daikin air purifier has a high-performance filter that catches 99.97% of 0.3μm* fine particles.
  • Anti-pollen mode: When you switch between “standard” and “low” modes in this Daikin air purifier, it creates a gentle whirlwind to catch suspended pollen in the air.
  • Deodorising Filter: Odours are caught on this Daikin air purifier using the deodorizing filter. 

Shop from the Bajaj Finserv EMI Store for affordable pricing and enjoy pre-approved offers. Get hold of your Bajaj Finserv EMI Network Card to purchase eureka forbes air purifier on No-cost EMI.

Conclusion:

In times of the global pandemic, your home is the only place where you spend the most time in the day. Although, it is no more a haven for you with a plethora of allergens, pathogens, viruses and other invisible germs floating in the indoor air. The Daikin air purifier uses the streamer discharge method, active plasma Ion and cutting-edge Electrostatic HEPA Filter to protect you against many dangerous disease-causing pathogens and improve the overall air quality. Do not compromise on the health of your family, and buy the best air purifier today. Enjoy a no-cost EMI using the Bajaj Finserv EMI network card for your purchases.

 

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Neurological Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

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In 2017, almost half of the Australian population was prevalent for neurological disorders. This is a worrying piece of information. Neurological disorders can sneak up and they can take a toll on your health without you even noticing it. You may have a headache from time to time and think it’s not a big deal. However, it can be a pretty big deal. Some of these symptoms may seem harmless or irrelevant, but the trust is that they can damage your well-being in many ways. Here are the symptoms that should alert you that it’s time you saw a neurologist. 

Chronic headaches 

We all experience headaches – nothing new about that. However, it’s not the same when you have a headache once in four months and when you have one-two times a week. The latter should be a reason for concern. Especially if the headaches are strong and disruptive, you shouldn’t ignore them. Chronic migraines are also worrisome. 

A good way to determine whether you see a neurologist is by measuring the times you take pain relievers for headaches in a month. If the number goes over five, you should definitely consult a professional. When fever, stiff neck, and light sensitivity accompany a headache, they might point to an underlying issue such as meningitis. 

Frequent dizziness 

While dizziness is usually something benign, it can also become a sign of a serious health problem. If you feel dizzy once in six months due to fatigue, you shouldn’t worry too much – you should get some rest. On the other hand, if you experience bouts of dizziness all of the time, you shouldn’t just wait for the next one to start. 

There are several types of dizziness. For instance, syncope causes light-headedness and makes you feel like you’re going to faint while vertigo makes you feel like you’re spinning or swaying even when you’re standing still. Recognising this as a potential problem could help you treat a neurological disorder on time (if you have one).

Persistent pain 

Another thing that accompanies underlying neurological conditions is persistent pain. If you’ve suffered from constant pain for over six months, you should make an appointment with a neurologist as soon as possible. This is especially important if the pain is followed by sensations such as numbness, weakness, and tingling. You could also experience bladder or bowel control issues. 

All of these could be the symptoms of conditions such as neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases. Luckily, you could get a life-changing brain surgery in Brisbane and improve your health and life significantly. You could even prevent a stroke. Sudden numbness affecting only one side of your body could be a sign of stroke. 

Sleep problems

Sleep is an essential part of the life of any functional being. You simply cannot go on with your life properly if you’re experiencing some serious trouble sleeping well. Insomnia and hypersomnia are just two of the sleep-related diseases you might have in this case. You could have narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome. 

All of these can make it difficult for you to remain focused and present at the moment. Furthermore, they could make it difficult for you to stay sane. If you’re unable to get a good night sleep for any reason, you should definitely head to a neurologist. Even if the problem isn’t neurological in nature, solving it will improve your life in many ways. 

Memory loss 

Finally, if you have trouble remembering things, you should check your neurological health. Of course, you could forget to switch off the lights sometimes – that isn’t a cause for concern. However, if you’re unable to focus on what people are telling you if you have trouble processing information, and if you can’t recall important pieces of information, you might have an issue. 

Especially if this becomes a constant in your life, you should seek help. Even if you constantly feel confused, you could be experiencing some symptoms of dementia. If that’s true, you could slow down this disease simply because you’ve noticed it on time. Once the treatment begins, you could improve the quality of your life in numerous ways.

Conclusion 

Some of the things we consider ordinary or normal might be signs of serious health conditions. If you experience any of this often, make sure to check your health with a professional. Most health issues can be treated as long as they are noticed on time!

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