Health Watch: Evaluate health insurance options after a layoff
As the economy continues to struggle, an increasing number of people are faced with the unfortunate prospect of losing their job. One of the primary concerns facing the recently unemployed is the loss of health benefits.
With more and more people entering the individual health insurance market, it is essential for people to have a clear understanding of all of the options that are available to them.
There are a number of different ways for the unemployed to ensure health insurance. This includes becoming a dependent on their spouse's plan; receiving coverage through an alumni association or club membership; or finding out if they are eligible for free or low-cost state programs. Another option is COBRA coverage, which allows people to keep the same coverage they had through their employer, even after they lose their job.
Many consumers may be able to find a more affordable individual plan since many insurers sell these plans directly to consumers.
As you start to search for the right health insurance option for you, there are three questions that every consumer should keep in mind:
- How long do you expect to go without insurance? Not having insurance for a few months is very different from not having it for a few years.
- How much coverage do you need? A young man looking for his first job and a mother of two who owns her own business will make very different choices.
- How much do you want to pay? A lower premium (the amount you pay each month) might seem to be the best way to save a few bucks. Just be sure to find out how much more you will have to pay if something happens to you.
In the News: Safe-driving education for teens
Safe-driving education should be part of routine teen physicals, experts at Johns Hopkins Children Center say. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians are advised to:
- Ask 15-year-olds if they are applying for a driver's permit soon.
- Discuss driving risks and ask questions about driving behavior.
- Ask specific questions about medication use, use of alcohol, nighttime driving, seatbelt use, use of a cell phone while driving.
- Encourage parents to place driving restrictions on their teenagers.
- Ask parents to consider a written contract with their children, establishing the rules of engagement and penalties for failure to follow them.
- Remind teens and parents that many state laws restrict cell phone use and nighttime driving for novice drivers.
-- Johns Hopkins Children Center
Did You Know?
U.S. health officials report that 86,629 people annually are injured in dog- and cat-related falls. -- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Tip: Easter egg safety
Painting Easter eggs and egg hunts are fun ways to celebrate the holiday, but if you’re using real eggs, there are precautions you should take to avoid food-borne illness.
- Keep eggs refrigerated before you boil them in preparation for decorating. Be sure to check the “sell-by” dates.
- Be sure to refrigerate hard-boiled eggs within two hours of cooking and use them within a week. Don't eat or cook with cracked eggs or eggs that have been un-refrigerated for more than two hours.
- If you plan to eat the Easter eggs you decorate, be sure to use only food-grade dye. (Some people make two sets of eggs -- one for decorating and hiding, another for eating.)
- During egg hunts, limit the hiding and hunting time for real eggs to two hours. Refrigerate them immediately if they are to be eaten. Eggs found hours later or the next day should be thrown out.
-- The Hodges Partnership
Number to Know: 2
Percentage of hospitals that have implemented comprehensive electronic health records. Researchers believe electronic records can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health-care providers.
-- Harvard School of Public Health
Children’s Health: Anesthesia, learning disabilities link found
Mayo Clinic researchers have found that children who require multiple surgeries under anesthesia during their first three years of life are at higher risk of developing learning disabilities later.
The research team found that although one exposure to anesthesia was not harmful, more than one almost doubled the risk that a child would be identified as having a learning disability before age 19. The risk also increased with longer durations of anesthesia.
Researchers noted that it's unclear whether it's the anesthetic, the physiological stress of surgery or perhaps the medical problems that made surgery necessary that are responsible for the learning disabilities.
Senior Health: Vitamin D supplements reduce fracture risk
Oral vitamin D supplements are associated with a reduced risk of bone fractures in older adults, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researchers analyzed 12 previously published clinical trials of oral vitamin D supplements among adults age 65 or older. At a dose of at least 400 international units per day, vitamin D supplements reduced non-vertebral fractures by 20 percent and hip fractures by 18 percent.
Researchers concluded that greater benefits may be achieved with earlier initiation of vitamin D supplementation and longer duration of use.
GateHouse News Service