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Obamacare costs less than expected

Obamacare will cost $104 billion less over the next ten years according to the Congressional Budget Office. This is the latest in a string of good news for the Affordable Care Act, which now has signed up over 7.5 million Americans.

The launch was disastrous, but now we’re seeing important progress.

10 of the Nastiest Chemicals Found In Cigarette Smoke

ID-100198286 By sakhorn38,
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If you’re a smoker or someone close to you is, you may be surprised to find out what’s really in cigarettes. While we all know smoking is bad for us and can ultimately have serious consequences for our health, unless you’ve done your research you may not realise just how many nasty chemicals you’re inhaling every time you take a puff. With more than 500 potentially toxic chemicals found in cigarettes, it’s pretty hard to narrow it down to a list of just 10, but if these aren’t enough to make you think twice before lighting up, I don’t know what is!

Ammonia

Often used as a flavouring agent, Ammonia is probably one of the most well-known chemicals that is found in cigarettes, because it’s also a common element found in most toilet cleaning products – which seems to really stick in your mind for some reason!

Arsenic

You don’t even really need to know what this one is to know its bad for you, because just the name sounds scary. Arsenic is found in most smoking products and is also commonly used as an ingredient in rat poison.

Hydrogen Cyanide

This is one very harsh chemical found in some cigarettes that you may not be aware of. Hydrogen Cyanide is used in Gas Chamber Poison – just something to think about next time you take a puff!

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Staying away from food loaded with sodium

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Whether or not you’re facing high blood pressure issues, you should considering reducing your sodium intake as you try to improve your eating habits.

When considering your diet and which foods should be emphasized less, it’s not always obvious where you’ll find a lot of sodium. This slideshow of the 7 saltiest foods offer up a good start. For example, one can of soup has a whopping 1,622 mg of sodium! If you’re buying soup at the store, make sure to get the low-sodium version.

Next, 2 slices of pizza has an incredible 1,280 mg of sodium! If pizza is a big part of your diet, you need to reconsider your eating habits. Pizza is also loaded with simple carbs, so start thinking of replacements.

Check out the entire list for more ideas of foods that need to be a smaller part of your diet.

Disappointing launch for HealthCare.gov

female worker typing at keyboard fingers

Calling the rollout of the website for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is probably an understatement. It’s incredibly disappointing to hear the stories of problems with the website, as it’s so important to so many to have this access to affordable health insurance. Also, regardless of your political opinions, the law is here and for many people having this access will be critical. Don’t let the political hype dissuade you from trying it out.

Still, it’s now likely that many people won’t try it, at not for a while, with all of the much-publicized problems with the website. Hopefully this update from HHS is a sign that they are serious about fixing the problems. They need to fix the problems, and then be diligent in letting people know as the site improves. Fortunately, the media is all over this, so if they finally get it right people should hear about it.

Good news on Obamacare premiums

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We’re finally getting close to the point where people can start buying insurance policies in the Obamacare exchanges, and all of the bluster about “rate shock” is running into reality. The bottom line is that the health care plan will be affordable for many people.

The main takeaway from an exhaustive new study of premiums on the Obamacare health insurance marketplaces: They’re generally going to be lower than expected, undercutting the persistent claims of “rate shock” by conservatives.

Marketplaces premiums are coming in below initial estimates, said the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation in a new report released Thursday.

The expected monthly premium for a 40-year-old adult purchasing a silver-level plan (the baseline, which covers 70 percent of costs) on a marketplace had been $320, according to previous projections from the Congressional Budget Office. But in 15 of the 18 regions studied by Kaiser, the average premium will be below that — thus the study’s conclusion that the prices are going to be lower than anticipated.

“While premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected,” the authors wrote.

In some states like Wisconsin, Republican administrations are trying to push the notion that premium prices are rising, but the information they are putting out there excludes the subsidies available to many people.

The key for everyone is to actually go into the health care exchanges once they are open and see for yourself what is available.

Pleasant surprises in store for Obamacare?

Here’s some welcomed good news from of all places California:

Predictions of an Obamacare apocalypse seem a little less credible today, thanks to California.

On Thursday, officials in that state offered the first detailed glimpse of what consumers buying health benefits on their own can expect to pay next year. And from the looks of things, these consumers will be getting a pretty good deal.

Based on the premiums that insurers have submitted for final regulatory approval, the majority of Californians buying coverage on the state’s new insurance exchange will be paying less—in many cases, far less—than they would pay for equivalent coverage today. And while a minority will still end up writing bigger premium checks than they do now, even they won’t be paying outrageous amounts. Meanwhile, all of these consumers will have access to the kind of comprehensive benefits that are frequently unavaiable today, at any price, because of the way insurers try to avoid the old and the sick.

Guys like Paul Krugman are heralding these new numbers.

If these numbers play out in other states as well, we could see a surge of people getting more affordable health insurance coverage.

Are health care costs starting to stabilize?

Health care costs are the biggest contributor to our long term deficits, and so this issue gets a ton of attention in Washington. President Obama has argued for years that simply bending the long term cost curve on health care will result in huge savings regarding government spending helping to reduce deficits. The trend may have already started.

Health care spending growth has famously slowed over the past five years, significantly enough that the Congressional Budget Office recently revised its projections of Medicare and Medicaid spending over the coming decade downward by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Now, research papers suggests the recent slowdown doesn’t just reflect temporary economic weakness, but also structural shifts in how health care is delivered and financed — possibly attributable to the Affordable Care Act — and thus might be a harbinger of a longer-term trend.

If they’re right, and the trend continues, it means workers can expect higher wages and the country’s projected medium term deficits are significantly overstated, which in turn suggests lawmakers’ continuing obsession with the current budget deficit, and deficits over the coming decade, are misguided.

One of the keys to Obamacare is to move our health care system away from fee for service care to health care delivery that takes a holistic approach where doctors and hospitals are paid for overall care and outcomes as opposed to more tests and procedures. It makes sense that this shift has started to decrease overall costs.

Let doctors see health care costs

stacks of 100 bills

Here’s a fascinating tidbit. When doctors know the cost of tests and procedures, it affects how often they will order them.

We also know that patients will think twice when they have to pay even modest amounts for tests.

This is all just further evidence that we need to change the way we do things if we’re ever going to reform our health care system and fix our long term budget issues.

Perverse incentives for hospital profits

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If you want to know one reason why our health care system is so screwed up, please read this article. It explains how hospitals often make more money when complications arise during surgery.

Patients who suffer complications after surgery are lucrative for hospitals, which get paid more when they treat infections and other problems, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today.

In 2010, an unnamed, nonprofit 12-hospital chain in the southern U.S. was paid an average of $49,400 per person for treating surgery patients who have complications — more than double the $18,900 paid for patients who underwent only the initial surgery, according to an analysis by researchers from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere.

Read the entire article for details on this problem. We need to alter these incentives and pay for health care that actually works. Incompetence and mistakes should not be rewarded.

Drug Addiction and Recovery: Seeking Help

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Seeking help for yourself, or someone you love, in resolving a drug problem is one of the biggest decisions you can make in your life. But deciding to get help is only a small part of the process. The bigger issue is determining they type of treatment needed, and where to find the best drug rehabilitation program.

Finding a Facility:

On an average day, you could see encounter several advertisements, in radio, TV, and even billboards for expensive rehab programs in spa settings with ocean views. And while it might be tempting to try one of these programs, they are not always the best bet for everyone.

Some addicts could benefit from an outpatient program. Choosing a facility close to home would allow an addict continue meeting his daily obligations, such as work, school and family, while receiving intensive treatment several days a week. A nearby facility would also allow the addict to receive support from family and sober friends. Additionally, someone who needs prescription drugs for an underlying medical condition could benefit from staying in close proximity to his personal physician.

Other addicts might benefit from a complete change of venue, including separation from family and friends who might trigger a relapse, and an out-of-state facility could fit the bill.

Whether searching local or out-of-state, it might be tempting to open the yellow pages or do a web search to find facilities in your target area. For example, if you need a facility in a different area, a search for something like “best drug rehabilitation Manistee” or “drug rehabilitation centers in (city/state)” will definitely yield results. You can find a list of facilities in your target area. This is a great way to get a basic idea of what is available, but it will not give you the whole picture.

Your best option is to go to the agency that oversees mental health in the state where you would like to attend rehab. The primary reason you want to go through a state agency is that you are more likely to find programs that are accredited and licensed by the state. This is important because it ensures that the facility is following state-mandated standards of care, and that the facility receives periodic inspections. A non-accredited facility could be using unproven, and untested techniques.

The state mental health department can also give you information on the effectiveness of the program and its success rates. If you contact a rehab facility directly, it will most likely report high success rates. However the fact is that the average post-rehab relapse rate is 50 percent or more. There are several factors that determine relapse, including the initial quality of care and the type of aftercare services the facility provides.

A reputable facility should have information on its success rates compiled by an outside source, but you should also be able to find this information at the state agency. Additionally, a good facility will provide information on the type of aftercare services they provide including referral services for patients who choose to continue their recovery out of state. Always ask for this information before making any sort of commitment to the facility.

If you are unable to find information at the state level, you can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is part of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA offers a treatment locator and additional resources for finding treatment to meet your needs.