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Too many Florida children do not have health insurance

Florida has too many uninsured children despite programs that should be helping.

A report from Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute states there are 284,000 uninsured children in the state.

Florida has the highest rate in the South, 6.9 percent, except for Texas. In fact, half of all the uninsured children in the nation live in the South.

Still more children are insured in Florida in recent years thank to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP.

Nationally, children’s uninsured levels experienced the largest two-year decline on record. This coincided with the Affordable Care Act.

Uninsured rates in U.S. in 2015:

• Adults: 13.1 percent.

• Children: 4.8 percent.

• Elderly: 0.8 percent.

U.S. and vasectomies

While birth control often is inappropriately seen as a woman’s work, vasectomies are effective, safe and cheap.

So how come American men are half as likely to use them than men in Canada and Great Britain? Female sterilization costs six times as much.

One reason for the relatively low rate is low usage among minorities and the less educated, according to a report from Brookings.

Obamacare is involved. It mandates coverage of 18 forms of female contraception but not vasectomies.

So vasectomies prevent pregnancies just as effectively, safely and far more cheaply than female sterilization.

prostate care

As the numbers of boomer men age, many face the question of what to do about their prostate.

The average age of diagnosis of prostate cancer is 66 in the U.S.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine of men over 10 years reported in The New York Times has good news.

Only 1 percent of them died from prostate cancer. Also, there was no difference in death rates from men who had surgery or radiation. Both treatments are equally effective.

Also there was no difference in death rates for those who chose active monitoring with treatment only if the cancer progressed.

Almost half of Americans with early stage prostate cancer choose active monitoring. This must be done regularly.

A diagnosis of early stage prostate cancer is not an emergency and seniors have access to Medicare for insurance.

deaths in childbirth.

American women are more likely to die in childbirth than in all but one of the developed nations. How come? It appears to be a result of the inequality in health care, as reported in the Journal Obstetrics &Gynecology and in The New York Times.

In Texas, the maternal mortality ratio doubled from 2000 to 2014 to 35.8 per 100,000 live births.

The death rate in Germany: 4.1.

As with infant mortality, the solution involves health care of women.

In Britain, every death if a newborn or mother in childbirth must be reviewed. The idea is to learn lessons and improve in the future.

In the United States, too often we are flying blind.

Benefits of exercise

Research continues to show that even a little exercise produces many benefits to the body and mind.

Time magazine recently itemized a few:

• Exercise helps memory function.

• Men who cycled just 20 minutes reported a 166 percent increase in energy levels.

• Women who exercised the minimum recommended amount (2 ½ hours a week) reported half as many symptoms of depression.

• People who exercise had a 20 percent less risk of contracting certain cancers.

• People who exercised for 15 minutes after doing mental work ate 100 fewer calories than those who remained sedentary.

• A group that walked three times a week and gradually increased the intensity for six months performed much better on memory tests


Doctor shortage

The United States has fewer practicing physicians per 1,000 people than 23 of the 28 developed nations, reports The New York Times.

The shortage is acute among primary care doctors.

One solution is to provide more mid-level personnel such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners in primary case.Another issue is that doctors often are in short supply in rural areas and less popular cities.

The U.S. doesn’t rank so poorly among specialists, which means there will be tendency to have specialists doing work that primary care docs could be doing.

The average student debt for a medical school graduate in 2015 was $180,000. The median starting salary for a resident physician was $52,000.

It’s clear that the current system is broken.

There ought to be more incentives for people to go into primary care perhaps by forgiving loans in return for practicing in underserved areas and adding medical residencies for primary care.

Those surprise ER bills

So you go to a hospital that’s in the network of your health insurance plan only to be hit by a huge bill later. It turns out that one of the physicians who treated you was outside your network.

This occurs in about 1 in 5 emergency room visits, reports a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the practice, reports The New York Times.

Nelson called the practice “unfair and deceptive.”

Yes, that sums it up. Patients in an emergency are helpless to do comparison shopping.

They shouldn’t be penalized through no fault of their own.

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