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The Real Cost of Cancer

A diagnosis of cancer can take a devastating emotional toll on the patient and his family. Even for families with the most comprehensive of medical insurance, however, this diagnosis can also represent a staggering financial cost. Cancer can be an exceptionally expensive disease to manage and even with insurance managing the care and treatment of the patient, as well as personal costs for the family of the patient can be truly crippling. Understanding these costs from the beginning can help a family prepare for the financial obligations of cancer so that they are better able to plan for the management of these costs.

cancer cellsMedical Costs

The primary cost cancer is paying for care, testing and treatment. Because patients suffering from cancer will often also cope with other conditions as a result of their compromised immune system and the effects of the cancer treatment itself, it is common for patients to have ongoing treatment relationships with multiple doctors throughout the course of the disease and require a variety of treatments. Medical costs associated with cancer include:

  • Doctors’ appointments and check ups
  • Screenings, blood and urine tests and other laboratory tests
  • Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cancer treatment drugs
  • Surgical procedures to locate or remove cancerous growths
  • Drugs to control side effects of therapy
  • Nursing care
  • Alternative therapy costs
  • Medical equipment for the home such as a hospital bed, IV equipment and medical supplies

 Personal Costs

The cost of cancer is not limited to medical expenses. Patients and their families must also consider the related costs to each person involved throughout the course of the disease. These costs will vary depending on the individual patient and his needs, but can represent a difficult financial challenge because they are not covered by medical insurance. Personal costs associated with cancer include:

  • Loss of income from not being able to work
  • Loss of income for a partner or other family member that becomes a caregiver
  • Child care costs
  • Costs for taking care of the home such as a maid, dog walker or other people that help take care of the home and family
  • Psychological support for the patient and the family.

The financial struggle associated with cancer can put additional strain on already frayed emotions and relationships. It is important for families to handle these challenges together and place focus on supporting and encouraging each other throughout the course of the disease.

Beth Simms is a financial coach who blogs about money management, debt, and personal loans on sites like moneymutualcomplaints.com. She also maintains her own blog answering specific financial questions from clients and subscribers.

Posted in Finances.

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Advances in Medical Software

If there is one thing we have come to expect from the moving and passage of time, and the development of technology, it’s that technology is vastly improving our lives and quality of life. Sure, Facebook is great, but what can technology do for us and our health, and not for our “like” buttons of Klout scores.

Related to that, then, are the advances in medical devices, software, and technology that have come from improved technology across the board, and improved access to technology for much of the population. Here are just a few new tech trends in the health world, and how they are helping improve people’s lives, and greatly increase access to medical care.

Electronic Medical Records – The Future Is Here

Remember when you used to go to your doctor, and they’d have the wall of patient forms and folders? You get in the doctor’s office and the cramped quarters of the exam room, and your doctor would come in with your chart and write notes about your condition and quality of life? Well, no more!

Today, electronic medical records are a thing of the future, and countless practices and doctors have moved to computers and tablets, freeing up space and providing a massive digital database of every patient that can be accessed securely from anywhere. Doctors, in turn, can text message and email you information about your conditions and provide you information and content about what is going on with your test results in the blink of an eye. Truly, we are really living in the future!

scanning machineTest, X-Rays, and Diagnostic Imaging on Demand

Just a few years ago, you’d go to the doctor to have blood work or other tests done, and you’d have to wait days or weeks for results and analysis from a specialist or other medical professional, depending on your condition. Well, not any more! Increasingly today, there are very fast turnarounds when it comes to test results and imaging analysis, thanks to things like digital imaging that have replaced old-style X-Rays, and diagnostic testing software that returns results quickly.

Obviously, medical care improves due to the on-demand and greatly improved testing speeds and result analysis, and it will only continue as technology improves, and general practitioners and specialists can even more seamlessly analyze and communicate about medical conditions and tests, thereby improving patient care and quality of life.

The future is bright when it comes to advances in medical software and electronic medical records, and surely it will continue to be an interesting and fascinating time to be a patient or part of the medical community as the technology keeps innovating and improving. From electronic medical records to diagnostic imaging, care for all is only getting better in 2013 and beyond!

Posted in Health, Technology.

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Consumer Demand Leads to Dietary Supplement Growth

If you take vitamins and minerals or herbs to enhance your diet, know that the federal government has blessed your doing so. In fact, the law which governs diet supplements opens with a long preamble listing their benefits. Here is an example:

“(5) preventive health measures, including education, good nutrition, and appropriate use of safe nutritional supplements will limit the incidence of chronic diseases, and reduce long-term health care expenditures.”

The U.S. Congress passed the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for diet supplements are generally less strict than those for prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.

Under the law, manufacturers:

  • do not have to prove supplement’s safety and effectiveness;
  • can state claims about the product if research supports them. But this must be followed by “This statement has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”; and
  • must follow “good manufacturing practices.”

The FDA monitors safety. Product information and product advertising are overseen by two different federal agencies once a dietary supplement goes on the market.

Rise in popularity of diet supplements convinced the government to regulate them. In turn, the law’s passage has further stimulated the growth of the industry. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, adults in the U.S. commonly use dietary supplements. Over 40 percent used them during the years between 1988 and 1944. The number increased to over 50 percent during 2003 to 2006. These figures are found in a Data Brief by Jaime Gahche, MPH, et al, titled, “Dietary Supplement Use Among U.S. Adults Has Increased since NHANES III (1988-1994).”

All of this federal scrutiny serves to spotlight increased consumer demand for healthier living. The American marketplace has met that demand through expansion of healthy food store chains, like Whole Foods, and stores offering vitamins and supplemental products, like GNC. The wider availability of dietary supplements may in turn convince more people to invest in their health through this avenue.

The industry has grown exponentially. In 1994 when the federal law was passed, dietary supplement sales totaled about $4 billion. In 2007 the figure was about $21 billion. Mintel International Group Ltd. published a study called “Vitamins and Minerals – US – December 2011.” Between 2006 and 2011, sales in the segmented category of multivitamins, vitamins and minerals grew by 28 percent.

Testing and a broad array of research studies on the effect of diet supplements, herbs and botanicals on our bodies are sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. But not everyone is convinced about such supplements. A New York State Task Force on Life & the Law published “Dietary Supplements: Balancing Consumer Choice & Safety New York” in 2005. It focuses concern about consumers’ presumption of diet supplement safety because of federal monitoring.

Gavin Sparks is a popular health columnist and author.  His work appears on blogs about nutrition and diet as well as sites devoted to health research and news.

Posted in Health.

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Possible Changes in Store for AZ Medical Marijuana Law

The Arizona Republic reported Friday about a hearing held at the Arizona Department of Health Services to consider expanding what conditions are covered under the state’s medical marijuana law. The law, which voters passed in 2010, has some strong restrictions about who can receive a medical marijuana card, who can grow marijuana, and the number and locations of dispensaries. It does, however, allow conditions to be added as decided by the Department of Health Services Director Will Humble.

The hearing included testimony by nearly 2 dozen individuals who suffer from conditions such as PTSD , depression, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, and irritability. While all testified to finding relief from their symptoms, medical professionals on the other side of the debate worry that legalizing medical marijuana for such a broad range of conditions could cause many to self-medicate; potentially harming themselves or others.

Very few states have such broad medical marijuana laws and some argue that it could create a bigger problem. The sale and dispensation of marijuana is something that will be closely regulated. Even though it is legal for medical purposes it won’t be as easy to obtain as over-the-counter medications from your local pharmacy or favorite website like www.prohealth.com .

A decision on the hearing is expected mid-July.

Posted in Government, Health.


Social Security becoming more of a Headache than Help

Social Security benefits are designed to supplement your income if you become disabled. You can apply for two types of disability benefits depending on your needs. But even if you follow all the rules and complete every form, you can still receive a denial. You may end up getting more headaches than help.

SSD

You qualify for SSD, or Social Security Disability, if you worked during your life-time and earned income from a place of employment or from self-employment. You must pay into Social Security to receive this benefit. The federal government has specific guidelines regarding the benefit.

Each year you work, you earn up to four credits toward your SS benefits. The Social Security Administration calculates your earned credits by your yearly income. The amount of your disability benefit depends on your age and how long you worked.

If you do not pay or work enough to qualify for SSD, the social security office can deny you. The government can deny you if it feels that you can work at some point in the future, or do not have a condition that affects your ability to work.

SSI

You can apply for your Supplemental Security Income if you become disabled from a medical condition or from serving in the military. If you happen to be a veteran with a disabling injury, you may qualify for benefits from the Veteran’s Administration and the Social Security Administration.

SSI applies to you if your doctor considers you unable to work because of a debilitating medical condition, disease or cancer. The headache arises when you need to prove to the administration that you are disabled and qualify for your benefits. You may spend a great deal of time seeing the administration’s doctors, completing paperwork and calling the Social Security office during the process.

Getting Help

It can take a year or more to receive an answer about your case. If the Social Security Administration does deny your claim, you can obtain help from pro-bono lawyers and advocates who specialize in Social Security claim cases. They can assist you with filing an appeal but you must do so within 60 days of your initial denial.

Your advocates can help you during the appeal hearing. If you still receive a disability denial, make another appeal to the Appeals Council. Keep in mind that the council can uphold the hearing’s decision and refuse this claim as well.

Posted in Government, Legal, People, Retirement.

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Things to Consider When Refinancing Your Home

The present economic climate across the country is not healthy.  When the economy is on a dip and going down, and people are not buying houses, the market often pushes mortgage interest rates down.  This gives homeowners with mortgages who are playing higher interest rates the opportunity to refinance and take advantage of low interest rates.

However, it’s not always in every home owner’s best interest to refinance.  There are certain circumstances where refinancing may end up costing more than staying put.  Examples would be if the owner has a high level of debt or a second mortgage or if they do not plan to stay for long in their current home.

Your credit score should be better than when you first mortgage was taken out.  Your credit score influences the interest rate and if it is not healthy because you ran up debt after buying the house then it may not be worthwhile refinancing.

If you are considering refinancing then you should find out your current level of equity.  Private mortgage insurance will kick in if you are borrowing more than eighty percent of the homes value.  Also if your home is close to being paid off then you are basically paying off the principal and so a lower interest rate will not change things a great deal.

The rule of thumb is that you should be planning to live in the property for five years or more to make refinancing worth it.  The costs involved in refinancing make it prohibitive if you are going to be moving before that time.

If you are considering refinancing your home it is always a good idea to read up on the latest information and also consult with a refinancing expert.

guest post by Paul Majors, a retired mortgage broker and full-time writer.  Paul’s work appears on many real estate and financial sites like http://www.moneymutual.net.

Posted in Real Estate.


The Social Media Takeover

Social media has seemed to incorporate itself into everyone’s life in one way or another. It has permeated every aspect of life from personal to business. Social media is easily accessible whether it be on a computer, a smart phone or a tablet.

In the beginning, social media was designed as a way for people to keep in contact with friends, family and acquaintances. Now, it has grown into something new entirely, a cyber world. Not only do individuals interact online but so do businesses, musicians, and news sources. Pretty much any information that you could want to know you can find out through social media.

Facebook seems to be the largest and most widely used outlet of social media in today’s time. It allows people to share information, photos, videos and links and allows you to talk to someone directly or all your friends at one time. One of the integral parts of facebook is the wall; people can post status updates, photos or videos. Businesses use it to update their followers on news and promotions, for example you can take a look at the Elixir Interactive Wall to see what all they have been up to.

Twitter seems to be the other outlet of choice because it is short, sweet and easy to follow. While it takes a little bit to catch on to the twitter language, it is an important outlet as it has hundreds of thousands of followers. Businesses or individuals choose a twitter name, for example, @elixirinteractive to tweet to Elixir Interactive. Twitter is full of symbols such as the @ to denote the person or the # to categorize the tweet. Tweets allow followers to read a short snippet and then move on, but tweets can also contain links to articles, pictures or websites.

It is very important for a business or an individual to stay connected into social media as it has become the prime source of communication in today’s time.

Posted in Internet.

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Organizations Call For Ban on Tanning Beds

Tanning beds have grown in popularity over the past decade. People want to be as tan as possible and want to do it quickly. Tanning beds allow people to achieve that golden complexion with only a few sessions at a tanning salon. While these beds will make people tan, they come at an extremely high risk.

A tan comes from the direct encounter of UV rays which damage skin cells. Tanning beds channel the UV rays and by laying in one, high doses of UV rays are channeled directly at your skin which causes the tan. Recent studies have shown that tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma, a fatal form of skin cancer, by 74%. Studies have also proven that tanning beds do cause the development of melanoma, so anyone who uses a tanning bed is basically asking for skin cancer.

There are many resources and organizations who try to educate the public about the dangers of indoor tanning but some believe that education is not enough. Recently a tax of 10% has been added to tanning beds, making them more expensive, but although that has deterred some tanners, most are still using the beds. Some organizations are looking to law offices for help, they want laws passed which will ban or prevent indoor tanning for teens under the age of 18. These efforts have proven fruitful, over 30 states now have laws that require parental consent for anyone age 14 to 18 to use the tanning beds.

Tanning has also been banned for people under the age of 18 in Britain. Many organizations and groups in the US are calling for laws to follow suit.

While a tan may look great there are other ways of achieving it without having to bake your skin. There are many sunless tanning lotions as well as spray tanning which if done correctly, look like the real deal. Although tanning beds may be popular there are other alternatives to achieving the golden glow, without the skin cancer.

Posted in Health.

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Tire Inflation Affects the Environment

It’s hard to imagine how tires that are still on the road could affect the environment. It’s usually tire disposal that brings to mind a negative impact. The practice of burning old tires released toxic chemicals into the air and contributes to pollution. Proper recycling can repurpose tires into construction projects and other uses. Few people realize that low tire pressure is a major environmental problem too.

It is estimated that over two billion gallons of gas are wasted each year in Europe alone due to tire pressure. This is because over 90 percent of of the cars on the roads have tires that are under inflated. There are no reliable figures for American drivers, but it is probably in the same neighborhood, but with so many more drivers, that percentage represents an even greater waste of gasoline Properly inflated tires provide consistent air pressure across the tire for longer periods of time. This helps improve the vehicle’s gas mileage. If everyone checked their tire pressure every week and kept them properly inflated, the gas savings on a global level would be astounding.

A newer development is to fill tires with 100 percent nitrogen. The argument is that general tires , which are filled with about 78 percent nitrogen, lose pressure quicker as that 22 percent that is oxygen leaks out. By switching to nitrogen filled tires, pressure will remain more constant and gas mileage will improve and drivers won’t have to fill the tires as often.

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Understanding the Services and Definition of EHR Software

The tremendous advances in technology that have taken place over recent years have caused some people to consider this era a new revolution in electronics and other technological areas. The health care system is one of the fields that is being greatly impacted by these developments and the changes are occurring in more than the obvious realm.

Most people will associate technological advances with patient treatment options, and that’s certainly true. However, technology is also changing the way patient information is documented, stored and even accessed. With new developments in EHR software, records are being stored more easily and accurately, as well as more economically and efficiently.

So, what is EHR It stands for electronic health records, and the basic idea behind it is software that has been created to store, update and sometimes even quantify patient health care information. This interactive potential of the software indicates that there are possibilities with it that are still in exploration and development. There are some suggestions that the software programs can be built to assist with certain diagnostic procedures. Regardless of where the developments in electronic software might lead in the future, the benefits they are providing patients and doctors’ offices alike today are already well worth their discovery.

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