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The cost of asthma inhalers in the United States compared to other countries

October 29, 2018 | By | Reply More

I’m traveling abroad, a trip centered on teaching law school for a week in Istanbul. On the way out of the U.S., I had an asthma attack while walking through the perfume area of a Duty Free store in Atlanta. I had an inhaler, but it was getting low (my inhaler is the red Albuterol inhaler on the left. It costs about $70 or $80 WITH the insurance price. My first stop overseas was in Beirut, Lebanon, where I entered a pharmacy without a prescription. They didn’t have Albuterol but the pharmacist sold me the Lebanese equivalent called Salres. Total price was $5. When I arrived at Istanbul Turkey, I visited a pharmacy and paid less than $2 for their equivalent, “Butalin,” the one in the middle Again, no prescription needed, and the pharmacist assured me that this was an equivalent prescription.

I am now in Madrid. Yesterday, I visited a pharmacy here, no prescription, and they sold me the “equivalent,” the inhaler on the right. Price was 2.5 Euros (about $2.85). I spoke with the pharmacist in Spanish. I told her that in the United States, my inhaler costs about $80 with the insurance rate, $300 without. Her immediate reaction was shock at the price. The she became angry, and asked “What do children do when their families cannot afford the medicine?” I told her that I don’t know, and that it is a terrible situation and that there is no excuse for it.

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Shall We Meet for Lunch or Hold a Walking Business Meeting in the Park?

June 26, 2018 | By | Reply More

“Let’s have lunch, OK?” That used to be my suggestion when I wanted to talk with someone, whether it be catching up with a friend or the need to discuss business. That was before the biometrics of Fitbit, among other things, nudged me to reach for a different way to conduct a small business meeting. Now, when I need to talk business, I often ask whether, instead of lunch, my acquaintance would like to talk while we walk in a park. I started doing this a couple years ago, and to my surprise the great majority of people would rather walk than sit in a restaurant or coffee shop.

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Homeopathic Emergency Room

August 10, 2017 | By | Reply More

Mitchell and Webb take a look at Homeopathic in the ER:

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What Ails the United States Beyond Health Insurance Reform

March 25, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

According to this article from the conservative leaning National Review, the current debate needs to be much broader than health insurance. Who could possibly disagree with that? The article includes a stunning graph tracking middle-age mortality, and a even more stunning video-mapping of the increasing obesity across the US. Here’s a haunting quote by the author, David French:

As Congress debated Obamacare repeal, I had lunch with a local critical-care doctor who seemed oddly indifferent to the outcome. His is a world dominated by addiction. “If it weren’t for addicts,” he says, “I wouldn’t have a job.” The intensive-care unit is overrun with people addicted to drugs, to alcohol, to food, and to tobacco. Insurance matters to the economics of the hospital, but it doesn’t matter so much to the quality of its patients’ immediate care or to their ultimate health outcome. They’re killing themselves, and the best health care and the most luxurious “Cadillac” health plans won’t stop their slide into oblivion.

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The Problems with Obamacare and the need for Single Payer.

March 25, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

Ryan Cooper comments at The Week:

ObamaCare plays to precisely the opposite of America’s strengths. Instead of being a simple,

straightforward program to hand out insurance coverage — the policy equivalent of a honking great axe — it’s got complex regulations, fiddly quasi-market structures, and mandates everywhere you look — the policy equivalent of the repair box from Toy Story 2. It should be no surprise that many of those regulations do not completely fix the problems they were intended to address, or are effectively ignored. We need simpler, bigger, blunter tools, and single-payer fits the bill.

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In Light of the GOP’s new Health Care Proposal, it’s Time to Rename the GOP as the “Social Darwinist Party.”

March 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

In light of the GOP’s “solution” to the “problem” of Obamacare, it’s time to simply and clearly declare that the GOP has become (and should be renamed) the “Social Darwinist Party.”

Addressing the cries of the Super Rich (“I want even more money”) is no solution at all to the medical crises many of us face. I realize and recognize the frustration of the GOP that people who are lazy and/or who repeatedly make bad decisions resulting in being poor should not be able to mooch off the rest of us. But what about those who have worked hard and have been laid off by downsizing, and now earn $10/hour? What about people who are doing their best after being raised by dysfunctional families and/or “taught” at dysfunctional schools? Should they really be told that health care is totally out of their reach?

I’m lucky that I am a 60 year old man who can afford to pay the market rate of $900/month for a $6,000 deductible (“Bronze”) health care policy with Anthem for me and my teenage daughter. It was the best deal I could find this year.

But there are good hearted hard-working people who are paid minimum wage, meaning that they gross about $1,500 a month for full time work. After Social Security taxes, if they were to pay $900/month for health insurance (and then all the co-pays and deductible) they would have NOTHING left on which to live. NOTHING.

The GOP solution, I assume, is to have these people (many of whom voted for Trump) begging for health care at hospital doors, with many of them eventually dying in the streets. Is the GOP then going offer block grants to cities to help clean up the bodies of sick and dying people on the sides of streets?

Obamacare was an flawed attempt to balance the many competing interests at play. But it was an attempt. It was far better than the GOP proposal, which is essentially, “If you can’t come up with a LOT more money than minimum wage will pay you, then into society’s scrap heap you go!”

We can do better than Obamacare. We can do a LOT better than the current GOP proposal. It’s time for single payor, a solution used by almost every other industrialized country.

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Bill Moyers: The EPA is about to be destroyed.

February 1, 2017 | By | Reply More

Donald Trump has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has made a career of attacking the EPA on behalf of his fossil fuel contributors, to be head of the EPA. Based on his past conduct, including his denial of climate change, Pruitt’s mission will be to destroy the EPA, thereby putting the American public at great risk of living in a toxic cesspool, the conditions leading Richard Nixon to create the EPA in the ’70’s.

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Health insurance no longer effective safety net

January 9, 2016 | By | Reply More

I often wonder about studies showing that Americans are spending less on health care. It seems to me that many of us are now buying cheaper health policies with huge deductibles, then putting off health care because much of it is coming out of pocket. This NYT article was thus interesting to me.

The number of uninsured Americans has fallen by an estimated 15 million since 2013, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act. But a new survey, the first detailed study of Americans struggling with medical bills, shows that insurance often fails as a safety net. Health plans often require hundreds or thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket payments — sums that can create a cascade of financial troubles for the many households living paycheck to paycheck.

These financial vulnerabilities reflect the high costs of health care in the United States, the most expensive place in the world to get sick. They also highlight a substantial shift in the nature of health insurance. Since the late 1990s, insurance plans have begun asking their customers to pay an increasingly greater share of their bills out of pocket though rising deductibles and co-payments. The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in 2010, protected many Americans from very high health costs by requiring insurance plans to be more comprehensive, but at the same time it allowed or even encouraged increases in deductibles.

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Funny or Die video exposes Planned Parenthood

August 17, 2015 | By | Reply More

If you want to know the details of what Planned Parenthood does, this video from Funny of Die doesn’t mince words:

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