Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines of the Week

By  //  October 15, 2014

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Topics Include:  Obamacare Political Football Again; Dallas Ebola Outbreak; Java In the Genes – and More.

ACA WEBSITE WON’T REVEAL 2015 INSURANCE COSTS UNTIL AFTER ELECTION

The 2015 Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) insurance marketplaces open for enrollment starting on November 15 and close on February 15.

With only one month until enrollment opens, it only makes sense that Health and Human Services, an integral player in the purported “most transparent” administration ever, would release the 2015 marketplace insurance premium rates and make them available on healthcare.gov so that consumers have information at their disposal to make decisions related to their Obamacare coverage.

congress-healthcareHowever, as reported in the Washington Times, the Obama administration has decided to withhold specific information regarding marketplace premiums until after Election Day on November 4, giving only an 11-day window prior to the start of enrollment.

According to data collected from 40 states and the District of Columbia by PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute, consumers will see an average ACA premium increase this year of 5.9 percent.

Premium increases vary widely, with some of the most dramatic increases in states such as Alaska, Iowa and Louisiana, which are in the midst of key senate races that could tip the majority in the Senate over to Republicans.

It appears that manipulation of elements of Obamacare continues to be a not-so-subtle political tool in the administration’s tool-box. (Richardson, Washington Times, 10/14)

 SECOND TEXAS HEALTHCARE WORKER TESTS POSITIVE FOR EBOLA

Not surprisingly, the Texas Department of State Health Services issued a 176-word statement on Wednesday announcing that another healthcare professional who took care of the late Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas had tested positive for the virus. The statement only identifies the individual as a “health care worker” without explaining the patient’s occupation or how he or she could have been infected.

635483363426829602-1006-ebola-in-dallas01In the wake of the two healthcare workers who contracted Ebola from Duncan, the Center for Disease Control is under fire and many are asking crucial questions related to how well prepared the U.S. really is to deal with this crisis.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden admitted that his agency “could have done a better job than how they have handled cases of Ebola.” In fact, he said the government has made mistakes in its effort to control the virus, did not respond aggressively enough once Duncan tested positive and is taking aggressive new steps to “beef up that response now.”

The debate over suspending entry into the U.S. of persons who have visited Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Nigeria in the 21 days prior to travel continues to rage.  Support for an Ebola travel ban is growing fast, with 67 percent of Americans favoring “restricting entry to the United States by people who’ve been in affected countries,” according to a new poll by The Washington Post and ABC News. (Fernandez, New York Times, 10/15)

BEST FREE APPS TO BOOST HEALTH, FITNESS AND FUN

It may seem that in this day and digital age everyone is tethered to a tablet or smartphone.

Health appsSo why not use that to your advantage to help improve your health and well-being?

From managing a heart condition or medications to meal planning and meditation, here are the top 10 free apps that, according to physicianspractice.com, physicians should recommend to their patients to boost their health, fitness, and fun.

HARVARD STUDY: JAVA’S IN THE GENES 

According to research out of the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham Women’s hospital recently published in the medical journal Molecular Psychiatry, genetics plays a major role in determining coffee drinking behavior.

13742445318The question of why coffee affects people differently has been studied for decades, and this study looked closely at why some people need more of the stimulant than others for optimal caffeine effect.

The researchers identified six new gene variations that are more common in those who drink java frequently and in high volumes.

Daniel Chasman, associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the study’s senior author, said of the the genetics related to the propensity of some to drink more coffee, “Like previous genetic analyses of smoking and alcohol consumption, this research serves as an example of how genetics can influence some type of habitual behavior.” (Christiansen, PBS, 10/7)

VIDEO SPECIAL: PAPER TOWEL VS. HAND-DRYER

ASAPSCIENCE is the creative brainchild of two Canadians, Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, who, after graduating from the University of Guelph with biology degrees, recognized the power of YouTube to inform and entertain.

Their very popular YouTube channel produces three-minute lessons that bring logic, reason, and scientific evidence to some of the most common of questions.

With flu season upon us, outbreaks of new viruses like EV D-68 and Ebola in the U.S., and 80 percent of infectious disease spread by our hands, effective hand washing is imperative and must be a public health priority for all of us.

In the video below Moffit and Brown look at the facts related to the most effective way to dry our hands after washing, and the advantages/disadvantages of using a paper towel or an air hand-dryer.  The use of clean water and soap, and proper hand washing technique will eradicate most bacteria and viruses, but if soap is not used or hand washing is haphazard, the spread of organisms is more likely to occur from rubbing wet hands on clothing or bathroom fixtures.

Timing and friction seem to favor the use of paper towels, but whether using a paper towel or an air-dryer, diligence and thoroughness are key to cleanliness and personal protection.

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