healthcare

Say you bought health insurance through the federal health exchange, paid the premiums and followed the rules.

And then say you start having pain in your hands. Your doctor refers you to a rheumatologist to test for arthritis.

But when you search for the specialist, there isn't one there.

Pharmacist Narender Dhallan winces as he looks at a computer screen in his drugstore on a recent morning. For the second time in two hours, he has to decide whether to fill a prescription and lose money or send his customer away.

This time it's for a generic antifungal cream that cost him $180 wholesale. The customer's insurance, however, will pay Dhallan only $60 to fill it.

"This used to be something that would happen once in a rare, rare while," Dhallan says. "Now it's becoming routine."

Tyler (trp0) / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

  Julia Nazarenko has been insured through the Kentucky Health Cooperative since 2013.

When it comes to health savings accounts and the so-called Cadillac tax on expensive health plans, the questions just keep coming. And what do you do about adding grandchildren to a health plan? Let's tackle that one, too.

Last year, my wife and I opened a health savings account. Since then, my account has been moved twice, and we have no choice as to who manages it. We can't shop around for someone with lower fees. I think that is a big flaw in the system. Why can't I choose to have my HSA with the same company I have my brokerage account?

As health insurance open season heats up for businesses, many employees will discover that participating in their company's wellness program includes rolling up their sleeves for blood tests.

Across the country, half of large employers offering health benefits have wellness programs that ask workers to submit to medical tests, often dubbed "biometrics," that can involve a trip to a doctor's office, lab or workplace health fair.

Take a look at the latest obesity data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and you can see that the country's obesity epidemic is far from over.

Even in Colorado, the state with the lowest rate, 21.3 percent of its population is obese. Arkansas tops the list with 35.9 percent.

Health care costs continue to rise, and workers are shouldering more of the burden.

The big reason? Skyrocketing deductibles.

More companies are adding deductibles to the insurance plans they offer their employees. And for those who already had to pay deductibles, the out-of-pocket outlays are growing.

Federal funding for Planned Parenthood will clearly be a flashpoint when Congress returns this week from its summer break.

But the fate of many other health programs, from the National Institutes of Health to efforts to reduce teen pregnancy, hang in the balance as well, as lawmakers decide whether and how to fund the government after the current fiscal year expires Sept. 30.

About 25 to 30 percent of people prescribed statins dump them within a year. I flunked Lipitor after a few wretched months.

Statins are prescribed to lower cholesterol in people who show risk factors for cardiovascular disease or diabetes, or who already have them. Side effects can include muscle weakness, diabetes onset and, rarely, permanent muscle damage. These risks are higher in women, with age, and with certain heart and blood pressure drugs.

Most women 40 and older believe they should have mammograms every year to screen for breast cancer, the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics health poll finds.

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