Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

As a person with diabetes, it’s essential to keep an eye on your eye health. High blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina, leading to diabetic retinopathy. This condition can cause vision loss or even blindness if left untreated. Therefore, regular eye exams are crucial to catch any issues early on and prevent further damage. So, it’s highly recommended to have more frequent eye exams if you have diabetes.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers annual eye exams for diabetic retinopathy if you have diabetes. The exam must be conducted by an eye doctor legally authorized to perform the test in your state.

It is important to note that your healthcare provider may suggest that you receive services more frequently than what Medicare covers. Additionally, they may recommend services that are not covered by Medicare, which means you may have to pay some or all of the costs. To better understand why your doctor recommends certain services, you should ask questions and determine how much Medicare will pay for them.

How many proteins do you think you have in your body? The answer is in the billions. Proteins deliver oxygen to your tissues, defend against infection, digest food and even make new proteins. These molecules are uniquely designed to carry out their tasks. If we can understand how protein shapes affect what they do, we might be able to understand what goes wrong in some diseases and develop better treatments.

Proteins are made of long strings of amino acids. These basic building blocks are chained together in a specific sequence dictated by that protein’s gene. In less than a second, the chain twists and buckles into a 3-dimensional structure. Each protein’s shape is unique. The shape lets the protein interact with other molecules to trigger all the reactions that run our bodies.

Shape is so important that just one amino acid change can alter a protein’s entire structure—and its performance. These switches can lead to life-threatening disorders like sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Knowing a protein’s shape can help scientists design drugs that fix the flawed protein or even block its activity.

Protein structures can also help pinpoint the Achilles’ heels of disease-causing viruses or bacteria. One structure-based success came in 1989, when NIH-funded scientists discovered the shape of HIV protease, a protein that helps the AIDS virus get into our cells. The researchers showed that the protein, like a butterfly, was made up of two equal halves, and the site at the protein’s center was essential for infecting new cells.

Eventually, other researchers used this knowledge to come up with a new class of drugs, called protease inhibitors, that are now widely used to block the action of HIV protease and stop the virus from infecting more cells. Protease inhibitors helped to revolutionize the treatment of HIV/AIDS, transforming HIV infection from a death sentence into a treatable condition that people can live with for decades.

Unfortunately, HIV is a moving target. When it reproduces inside the body, it can churn out slightly altered viruses with different protease shapes. The inhibitor drugs might not work on these altered proteins. Some researchers are now developing new generations of HIV protease inhibitors that will combat these drug-resistant viral strains.

Scientists have also been using their structural knowledge of HIV to develop other approaches for combating the virus. They recently identified an unchanging region on the HIV surface and isolated human antibodies that react with it. The antibodies were able to stop more than 90% of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells. This advance will hopefully let researchers design more effective HIV vaccines.

Many other scientific problems will benefit from a better understanding of protein shapes. NIH researchers recently used discoveries about the influenza (flu) virus structure to generate antibodies that attack a wide array of influenza viruses in mice, ferrets and monkeys. This accomplishment may point the way to a universal flu vaccine. Trials are already under way in humans to test the approach. In the future, research on protein structures could lead to new treatments for a variety of diseases and conditions that are more potent, more convenient to take and have fewer side effects.

Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Assistant Editor: Vicki Contie

Emily Carlson, Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Bryan Ewsichek (design) and Harrison Wein

Attention Editors: Reprint our articles and illustrations in your own publication. Our material is not copyrighted. Please acknowledge NIH News in Health as the source and send us a copy.

Individual dental insurance is probably one of the most widely adopted private insurance plans.

Individual dental insurance provides you with the coverage you need to promote good dental health in which you can generally find customized options. That means you may have some work cut out for you as you shop our web site. For example, in California we offer over 65 dental plans to choose from which beats looking through that many places. Keep in mind individual plans is just a term used to distinguish itself from group plans which you generally get from your employer. Since obtaining an individual dental insurance plan is very affordable, many people choose to take responsibility for that coverage either as a stand-alone policy or as a supplement to their group dental coverage.

You should visit your health care provider regularly, even if you feel healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:

* Screen for medical issues
* Assess your risk of future medical problems
* Encourage a healthy lifestyle
* Update vaccinations
* Help you get to know your provider in case of an illness

The Baltimore Sun Consuming Interests blog posted a great explanation  about when you actually have to provide your Social Security number.

Some of the most common instances include when you open bank accounts or apply for a new job.  You may need to provide a leasing office with my social security number so they could run a credit check before you are approved to live there. That’s fairly common too. There are lots of other circumstances when you may need to provide your Social Security number, and you can learn how companies and organizations use it.The Social Security Administration identified a few instances when legally you must provide your number.

If you’re uncomfortable with giving out your social security number, the Sun recommended asking the company what they need it for and if there is some alternative form of identification you can give. If there’s not, ask about how the company will protect your identity.


Lack of Vitamin D could cause serious health problems, including osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, and cancer.

About Vitamin D:

  • Vitamin D does not penetrate glass, e.g. car windows. Note: While the good rays do not penetrate your car windows.  the wrinkle rays (UV) do.
  • Sunscreen blocks Vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is not found in dairy products, only fortified dairy.
  • Vitamin D is rarely present naturally in food.
  • Overweight individuals manufacture less Vitamin D.
  • It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. You would have to drink ten glasses of vitamin D-fortified milk each day just to get 1000IU of vitamin D from your diet.
  • Chronic Vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight. It takes months of supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system.


Anxiety caused by stressful events like moving or losing a job is a normal part of life. Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are characterized by persistent, excessive and disabling fear and worry and get progressively worse if left untreated. It is estimated that anxiety disorders affect between 3 and 14 percent of older adults in a given year. To provide an older audience with additional information, NIHSeniorHealth, the health and wellness website for older adults from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has added a topic about anxiety disorders.

In Alzheimer’s disease, a protein fragment called beta-amyloid accumulates at abnormally high levels in the brain. Now researchers funded by the National Institutes
of  Health have found that in the most common, late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid is produced in the brain at a normal rate but is not cleared, or removed from the brain, efficiently. In addition to improving the understanding  of what pathways are most important in development of Alzheimer’s pathology, these findings may one day lead to improved biomarker measures for early diagnosis  as well as a new approach to treating this devastating disorder.

Losing your wallet or purse is stressful. Your money, credit cards, driver’s license, all gone. Don’t fret too much about tracking down contact information to close accounts and get things replaced. puts the answers you need in one easy-to-find place.

  1. Make a list of what you had in your wallet and tackle the important things first.
  • Immediately cancel all your credit and debit cards, letting your bank know that your wallet was lost or stolen. Request new copies of the card with a new account number.
  • File a police report so there is an official record.
  • Report a missing driver’s license to your state’s department of motor vehicles and request a new copy.
  • Alert the fraud departments of the major credit reporting companies. They will place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number, and you can request that they alert you before opening a line of credit in your name. (Equifax: 1-800-525-6285, Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742, Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289)
  • Request a replacement Social Security card and consider not carrying it in your wallet.
  • Contact either your company’s HR department or your health insurance provider directly to get a replacement insurance card. If you’ve lost a Medicare card, contact the Social Security Administration to get a replacement.
  • For other miscellaneous cards, like membership cards, video rental cards and bonus club cards, you’ll have to contact the individual companies directly.



The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an opinion that upholds the Affordable Health Care Act

This includes the individual mandate for coverage.  The case challenged the constitutionality of several parts of the law, including the rule that most people in the U.S. must get health coverage.   We will continue to carry out provisions of the law by thoughtfully implementing the new requirements for customers and members. We will also continue to look for ways to address increasing costs that are crippling our health care system, including: ·      Advancing our partnership with primary care physicians announced earlier this year that we believe will substantially improve quality and member health, and potentially reduce the trend in overall medical costs by as much as 20% by 2015. ·      Coordinating patient care through the use of IBM-Watson technology to promote evidence-based health care and ensure that millions of Americans receive the most effective courses of treatment.  We look forward to continuing our efforts to work with policymakers and other key stakeholders to build a health care delivery system that provides security and affordability to all Americans.

Will my Medicare Part B premiums increase in 2011? Most Medicare beneficiaries will continue to pay the same $96.40 or $110.50 Part B premium amount in 2011. Beneficiaries who currently have the Social Security Administration (SSA) withhold their Part B premium and have incomes of $85,000 or less ($170,000 or less for joint filers) will not have an increase in their Part B premium for 2011. For additional details, see our FAQ titled:
For all others, the standard Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $115.40 in 2011, which is a 4.4% increase over the 2011 premium. The Medicare Part B premium is increasing in 2011 due to possible increases in Part B costs.  If your income is above $85,000 (single) or $170,000 (married couple), then your Medicare Part B premium may be higher than $115.40 per month.

Social Security will use the income reported two years ago on your IRS income tax return to determine your premium (if unavailable, SSA will use income from three years ago).  For example, the income reported on your 2009 tax return will be used to determine your monthly Part B premium in 2011. If your income has decreased since 2009, you can ask that the income from a more recent tax year be used to determine your premium, but you must meet certain criteria.

If you are having trouble paying your premiums, you should call your State Medical Assistance (Medicaid) office to see if you qualify for some help. Some states refer to the Medicaid office as the Public Aid office, the Public Assistance office, or the State Medical Assistance office.

The Internal Revenue Service supplies your tax filing status, your adjusted gross income, and your tax-exempt interest income to the Social Security Administration to determine if you have an income related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA). The Social Security Administration will add your adjusted gross income together with your tax-exempt interest income to get an amount called the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

The income-related monthly adjustment amount is effective from January 1 through December 31 each calendar year. The Social Security Administration will refigure your Medicare Part B premium amount again next year when the Internal Revenue Service updates the information.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is providing $749 million in housing assistance grants to help nonprofit organizations deliver accessible housing, rental assistance and supportive services for the elderly and persons with disabilities. HUD’s Sections 202 and 811 Supportive Housing programs will kick start construction or major rehabilitation on housing developments in 41 states and Puerto Rico. Find out about rental assistance by contacting your local HUD office.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis has announced an innovative partnership that leverages the combined audience and expertise of officials from the U.S. Department of Labor, Facebook, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, DirectEmployers Association and the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The initiative provides important employment resources to job seekers through the use of social networks. As part of the announcement, Facebook officials debuted a social jobs partnership page that highlights available training programs, educational opportunities and job search resources.

Handbook from The Autistic Self Advocacy Network written by adults and youth with autism for current and future college students with autism. Discusses disability and special education laws that apply to students from grades K-12 and how students in college must advocate for themselves. Also includes information on independent living, health and safety, and social issues. You can order a copy or download the book in PDF format from the website.

Get your FREE prescription drug discount card from Medicare Card   You can save from 10% to 85% on the cost of both brand name and generic prescriptions immediately.

There are no claim forms to fill out and no limits to the number of times you or your family can use the card. Medicare drug discounts are available only at participating pharmacies. The Pharmacy Discount Program provides discounts for its members at certain participating pharmacies for drugs and other healthcare supplies. You can also save on smoking cessation aids and diabetes supplies. These savings are based on the fact that we have over 56,000 pharmacies processing millions of prescriptions annually.


Eighteen-day periods of mandatory school closures and other social distancing measures were associated with a 29 to 37 percent reduction in influenza transmission rates in Mexico during the 2009 pandemic. The research was carried out by scientists at the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health and published in PLoS Medicine.

The federal government’s YouTube channel features videos on careers with the government, food safety, interviews aboard a space shuttle, and much more.

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