Category Archives: Health Care

Sweating is good for us!

When was the last time you perspired?

Did you know that sweating is good for us, physically and mentally?

benefits of sweat

Read more about it, here.

I’m gonna put on my walking shoes and go take my walk in the hills and, hopefully, work up a sweat. insouciant cat

How about you?

~Éowyn

2/3 of Puerto Ricans may flee to U.S. and overwhelm govt services

Puerto Rico map

Puerto Rico is an incorporated U.S. territory in the Caribbean with a current total population of around 3.6 million people, 12.5% of whom are black or sub-Saharan African. As such, according to Wikipedia, people born in Puerto Rico are “natural-born citizens of the United States.”

Three days ago on June 29, 2015, Puerto Rico’s governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla admitted the island is broke and asked that the commonwealth be allowed to restructure its debts under U.S. bankruptcy code. But Puerto Rico is not eligible for debt restructuring under the U.S. bankruptcy code because it is not a municipality.

Puerto Rico’s debt is $73 billion, while its GDP in 2012 was $103.5 billion, which means the U.S. territory’s debt is an astounding 70.5% of its GDP!

Alan Yuhas reports for The Guardian, July 2, 2015, that unable to pay its debt, Puerto Rico has begun rationing water, closing schools and watching its healthcare system collapse. Already, 45% of Puerto Ricans are living in poverty, and that percentage is sure to increase.

Puerto Ricans, being already U.S. citizens, are moving to America. Even before the bankruptcy, emigration to the mainland has accelerated in recent years. From 2003 to 2013, more than 1.5 million people had left Puerto Rico. Today, 60% of Puerto Ricans live in the States and 40% on the island according to a 2014 Pew report, with most moving to Florida. Cuny professors Edwin Meléndez and Carlos Vargas-Ramos predict that by 2020, it’s likely that two-thirds of Puerto Ricans will reside in US states.

Edgardo González, coordinator of the activist group Defenders of Puerto Rico, said that most Puerto Ricans are arriving in central Florida, but many cannot find jobs or even housing. González said, “Some might stay with family for a few weeks, but for those who don’t have family, people end up homeless because of the lack of services. People end up living in hotels, living in cars or on the street. Then you have people who are homeless with kids, who get in trouble with the law, and you have to get into it with childcare and welfare services.”

Making matters worse is the fact that professionals with higher degrees are leaving the island in search of work, draining Puerto Rico of the talent it needs to resuscitate its economy and healthcare sector.

In New York, fears of the wave of new immigrants have seeped into the city’s sizable Puerto Rican communities. On Wednesday the Bronx borough president, Rubén Díaz Jr, warned on NPR that the surge would sap the city’s services, especially in the cash-strapped parts of his borough.

The Bronx is poorest of New York’s five boroughs, with almost 30% of its population living below the poverty line. Almost 300,000 Puerto Ricans live in Bronx County, more than any other in the country, according to 2010 data; Brooklyn’s Kings County and Orange County, Florida, follow at second and third.

Puerto Rico continues to have people leave to the tune of 100 individuals on a daily basis,” said Díaz, who is himself of Puerto Rican descent. “We’re losing a doctor a day that is leaving the island and coming over here. The local governments here in the United States, we have to then absorb the added cost to our localities in order to provide services.

Díaz urged action by the federal government, saying Congress should give Puerto Rico the power to declare bankruptcy and restructure its debt. As a US territory, the semi-autonomous island does not have the same authorities that allow others to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, as Detroit did to cope with its own disastrous finances. “We’re not asking for a bailout, we’re not asking for the federal government to give Puerto Rico a dime,” he said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said this week that the Obama administration is not considering any form of bailout for the island.

The island’s non-voting delegate in Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, called for Congress to address the island’s political status, and introduced a bill that would grant Puerto Rico the powers to declare public enterprises bankrupt. Pierluisi advocates statehood for Puerto Rico, and characterized the island’s non-statehood in a letter to the New York Times as inequity: “No people have ever prospered while being treated unequally, and it is not reasonable to expect Puerto Rico to be the exception to that rule.”

But María Enchautegui, a senior fellow at the research thinktank Urban Institute, explains that the problem is probably more intractable than simply bestowing statehood or bankruptcy powers on the territory. Chapter 9 authorities “would be only for municipal debt, which is very small in the whole of Puerto Rico. So I don’t think that is going to solve a lot of the problem.”

Enchautegui suggested that Puerto Rico should restructure its varied debts not just to cut losses but to overhaul the government. “While we are looking at what agencies to eliminate or change, we could actually make a more efficient government,” she said. Restructuring public-private arrangements, as with electrical companies and utilities, could also bring in precious revenues.

Such changes would not require Congress’s intervention, although Washington would have to get involved to bring Puerto Rico’s Medicaid and Medicare systems to the same level as the rest of the states.

Enchautegui points out that the out-migration from Puerto Rico to America “is now more than 5 million people, most who keep relations with Puerto Rico, have family there they go and visit. Those could be human resources, capital and knowledge that can bring back investments, businesses, networks. They left the island, that’s the way they have dealt with the crisis, but they are very connected to it.”

See also:

~Éowyn

Belgium’s culture of death: Woman, 24, granted right to die by euthanasia over suicidal thoughts: ‘Life, that’s not for me’

angel

NY Daily News: A 24-year-old Belgian woman who suffers from depression and has had a “death wish” since childhood has been granted the right to die  — even though she’s not terminally ill.

Doctors gave the young woman, identified only as Laura, the go-ahead to be euthanized by lethal injection after she spent her life battling suicidal thoughts, she told Belgian newspaper De Morgen.

“Life, that’s not for me,” she said. “Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful.”

Laura, who entered a psychiatric institution when she was 21, said her alcohol father and troubled childhood contributed to her longtime “death wish.”

“I played all my life with these thoughts of suicide, I have also done a few attempts,” she said. “But then there is someone who needs me, and I don’t want to hurt anyone. That has always stopped me.”

Laura is now planning her funeral and final words to loved ones, De Morgen reported. “What I’m going to say on that last moment, I do not know yet,” Laura said. “I have extensively written ideas in letters to my friends. I think everything has already been appointed.

“Maybe I will finally figure it out with these words: ‘Those who are about to die salute you.'”

Belgium, which legalized euthanasia in 2002, gave the physically healthy woman the green light to end her life as a terminally ill California mother sues the state for the same permissions.

Christy O’Donnell, 46, who suffers from stage IV lung cancer, has less than four months left to live but fears an agonizing death that will feel like drowning.

She follows in the footsteps of Brittany Maynard, a cancer-stricken California woman who led the “death with dignity movement” and moved to Oregon to legally take her own life with prescription drugs last November.

See also:

DCG

Shocker, not: No high-deductible CalPERS medical plan in California budget

SEIU's best buddy...

SEIU’s best buddy…

Sacramento Bee: A proposal to add a low-cost, high-deductible plan to the state’s menu of medical insurance options was left out of the budget that Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Wednesday, although it could resurface later.

“Staff advise that those provisions weren’t included in the final agreement” that Brown struck with the Legislature, Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said in an email.

The governor wanted lawmakers to require that CalPERS, which negotiates and administers medical coverage for state employees and retirees, add at least one health plan to the state’s menu that would give subscribers lower monthly premiums paired with a tax-advantaged health-savings account. Since the state pays a percentage of premiums, a high-deductible pay would save money for the state and, by extension, taxpayers.

But high-deductible plans exchange those lower premiums for higher co-pays for visits to doctors and significantly larger deductibles for treatments, hospitalization and drugs. Employees bear those higher out-of-pocket costs.

Unions blasted Brown’s proposal, while some state experts questioned whether such a plan – common in the private sector – would save money. And the lowest-premium insurance that CalPERS offers is also its least popular, raising the possibility that state employees would stick with their high-premium plans even if offered a high-deductible alternative.

Although the proposal wasn’t in the budget, Brown could still resurrect it. The governor has said he wants to negotiate lower-tier benefits with labor unions, and he’s in talks with four groups right now. If any reach agreement for a cheaper plan before lawmakers adjourn in September, a bill could be rushed through for Brown’s signature. And with three more state budgets to craft before he is termed out, the governor could float the idea again in subsequent proposals.

While your insurance costs go up thanks to Obamacare (and some of us can’t afford insurance yet pay for others’ plans on our federal taxes), government employees reap the benefit of their unions donating to the democrat party. Enjoy!

DCG

You can’t fix stupid: Women who get butt injections

Aping big-ass “celebrities” like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, women are getting illegal injections of silicone in their buttocks, with disastrous, sometimes fatal, results.

Kim Kardashian

Rachael Rettner reports for LiveScience, June 18, 2015, that the number of women getting illegal butt injections is on the rise, according to some doctors who say they’ve seen an increase in patients who’ve had the procedure.

But the silicone injections can cause a host of health complications, including:

  • tissue hardening
  • pain
  • infections
  • breathing problems
  • life-threatening blood clots
  • death

Just this month, a 34-year-old woman from Maryland died after receiving the illegal injections in New York, according to news reports. Another woman, named Sophelay Ouk, was hospitalized 25 times after her injections, and is now undergoing treatment in New York to have the silicone removed. Ouk experienced a blockage in her lungs, and also infections.

Sophelay Ouk

Sophelay Ouk

Dr. Tansar Mir, a plastic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital, treated Ouk by cutting out the liquid silicone and attaching the woman to a machine to drain the remaining foreign substance over several days. Mir says he’s seen several dozen patients with silicon butt injections in the last 2½ years, and that these injections are dangerous and are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Most of the injections are done by nonlicensed practitioners.

Mir warns that patients often don’t know exactly what substance is being injected into them. It’s usually non-medical-grade silicone, meaning silicone that could be picked up at the hardware store and that is not sterile. 

silicone caulk sold in hardware stores

silicone caulk sold in hardware stores

There have even been reports of women who were injected with tire sealant, mineral oil, baby oil and even cement. In 2011, an unlicensed practitioner was arrested, and later sent to jail, for reportedly injecting women with cement and tire sealant, according to ABC News.

Even when actual silicone is used, it can cause problems, when the injected silicone sometimes gets into the veins and spread to other parts of the body, causing blood clots. If the blood supply to an artery becomes blocked, it can lead to limb loss.

Los Angeles hairdresser Apryl Michelle Brown had a massive infection from illegal butt injections which resulted in a quadruple amputation of her limbs.

limbs amputated from botched silicone butt injections

Patients can also experience infections because the silicone injections compromise their immune systems. Mir said, “These foreign materials are not meant to be freely floating in the body. The patient’s immune system becomes comprised because the majority of the immune cells are being occupied fighting the foreign material in the buttocks.”

While not everyone experiences life-threatening symptoms from the injections, more common symptoms are pain, burning, itching and swelling in the injection area, or skin changes. Patients can experience skin hardening because the pressure and scar tissue in the area (caused by the immune system’s response) impair the blood supply to the skin. As a result of the loss of blood supply, the skin tissue can start to die.

Even if women don’t experience health problems right away, they may have problems later. Mir said he’s treated women who had symptoms 15 to 20 years after their injections.

Very few U.S. plastic surgeons will treat patients who’ve had illegal silicone buttocks injections. Many doctors are not familiar with the disease physiology, or they don’t want to take on a patient who has complications from something done by another practitioner. Some doctors treat these patients with liposuction and a laser procedure, but Mir said that in his opinion, this treatment should not be done, because it causes the silicone to spread to other areas. Instead, what is needed is surgical excision of the silicone.

~Éowyn

Oregonians’ health premiums poised for big hikes next year

oregon insurance rates

Oregon Live: More than 220,000 Oregonians who buy their own health insurance are poised to pay higher premiums next year — some of them a lot higher. State regulators on Thursday announced rates for people who aren’t covered by their employers or government programs. And the news is not good.

While some insurers proposed rates similar to or better than this year’s, officials are ordering them to be raised — saying they need to close a sizable gap between what insurers have collected and what they spend on claims.

As a result, the least expensive “silver” plan premium available to a 40-year-old next year will run $271 per month under the new rates. That’s up $49 per month over this year’s low rate. Bronze plans offer the least coverage under new federal ratings, and platinum the most.

Those prices are not the last word. About half of Oregonians used the health insurance exchange to buy plans in the individual market, and most of those qualified for federal tax credits averaging almost $200 per month. Also, the rates released by the state won’t become final until after public hearings later this month.

Still, it’s clear that the premium hikes already seen in other states following federal health law changes are finally hitting Oregon. Moda Health, which covers more than 100,000 Oregonians in the individual market, would raise premiums an average of 25.6 percent under the state’s rates.

The rate hikes won’t affect most Oregonians, the majority of whom are covered by employers, Medicare or Medicaid. (Oh goody, just the minority take a financial hit.)

Officials say the rate increases reflect changes to the market due to the federal law commonly known as Obamacare, which kicked in in 2014. More people, including sick people, bought policies in part because insurers were prohibited from denying coverage for preexisting medical conditions. A new tax penalty also encouraged people to buy plans.

While the least expensive catastrophic-coverage plans were all but eliminated by the new law, Oregon did not see the big hikes in 2014 that other states did, and state officials have often boasted that Oregonians enjoyed some the lowest premiums in the nation. But officials now say those premiums were too low.

Insurers’ financial reports for 2014 show medical expenses and other costs far outstripped the amount they collected in premiums, according to the state. Specifically, they spent $830 million on individual plans and collected $703 million in premiums, meaning they tapped reserves for more than $100 million to make up the difference.

This year, many insurers had proposed far lower rates than were set by the state. Zoom Health, a new company, proposed a silver plan premium for 40-year-olds of $233 per month, which would have been a market low. The state proposed the company increase the premium to $291 per month.

Other insurers proposed the increases themselves. Lifewise, which offered the lowest silver rate this year at $222, asked to boost it to $318. The state approved the hike, which is the biggest among individual plans

State Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali said that while her job is to make sure consumers are not overcharged, she also has to ensure rates cover insurers’ costs. Otherwise, predatory pricing could over the long term drive some companies out of the market. She said that Oregon is likely to still enjoy better rates than other states thanks to one of the most competitive markets in the country.

Pat Allen, director of the state Department of Consumer and Business Services, said “We need to ensure a market that long term is stable, competitive and ensures pricing that is much closer to the cost of delivering health care.” The state is holding public hearings June 23-25, and the public can also comment online.

Some insurers still hope to make a stronger case for lower rates. For instance Kaiser Health Plan of the Northwest, which had sought to cut its rates slightly, instead had its rates boosted by about eight percent.

“We appreciate the Division’s efforts to maintain a sustainable health insurance market for Oregon consumers,” said Keith Forrester, a Kaiser vice president. “However, we have confidence that we have priced for long-term stability.”

obamacare

DCG

7 Disturbing Quotes From The NYT’s Story On Teen Sex Changes

gender confusion

Daily Caller: The New York Times published an article Tuesday about the brave new world of people undergoing gender transitions at 18 years old or even younger. Given the topic matter, the article is full of lines that are a little uncomfortable, to say the least. Here are the top seven most cringe-worthy:

1. “Kat was anxious about having enough privacy in college, since her new vagina needs constant care or it will close off like a wound.”

While the Times doesn’t have the courage to say it, the reason Kat’s fancy new vagina will close off “like a wound” is because it literally is one. Male bodies do not naturally come with a large gash in the pelvic region, and “dilation” is needed to prevent the body from healing itself. This dilation must continue for one’s entire life. The description on Wikipedia is not for the faint of heart.

2. “‘I was salivating,’ he recalled. ‘I said, we had to do this.’”

This line was uttered by Dr. Norman Spack, describing his reaction after hearing the Dutch were using hormones to block puberty in young children that doctors have concluded are transgender.

3. “A meeting of teenagers in April began with each one declaring a name and pronoun of the day.”

Thanks to the rise of concepts like gender fluidity, it’s totally possible for people to actually have a pronoun of the day, whether it’s “he,” “they,” or sundry other pronouns like “thon” and “xe.”

4. “In the fall of junior year, she showed up at school wanting to be called Katherine, or Kat, because she likes cats. She does not want anything to do with her birth name, Caden. She also has discovered that she likes girls. ‘I identify as a lesbian,’ she said, though her attractions have not been reciprocated.”

5. “With growing tolerance, the question is no longer whether gender reassignment is an option, but rather, how young should it begin.”

As the story recounts, several doctors are racing ahead to transition children’s genders at younger and younger ages. That may not seem too bad, until the Times drops another nugget just a moment later:

6. “Studies suggest that most young children with gender dysphoria eventually lose any desire to change sex, and may grow up to be gay, rather than transgender.”

In other words, doctors may end up giving children irrevocable sex-change surgery, only for the recipient to end up feeling mutilated rather than “fixed.” And that’s a troublesome possibility, because widespread transsexual surgery is so new that the long-term effects are not yet well-understood. One bit of data, however, is a cause for great concern:

7. “A large-scale Swedish study at the Karolinska Institute found that starting about a decade after gender reassignment surgery, the transgender suicide rate was still 19 times higher than for the general population.”

Read the full New York Times article here.

DCG