Health Updates 14 June 2011

  • Dental health on the rise as economy picks up: “Fact is, many patients are coming back not because they can afford it, but because after years of inattention their teeth just hurt too much to stay away.  Result: Dentists are doing more complex work, and it’s costing patients more.  National data show that dentists’ profit margins are ticking upward slightly after years of decline, partly due to the need for complex care”. (St Petersburg Times)
  • Seniors forgo cancer meds because of high costs: “Private insurance companies that deliver the Medicare prescription benefit say the problem is that drug makers charge too much for the medications, some of which were developed from taxpayer-funded research.  The pharmaceutical industry faults insurers, saying copayments on drugs are higher than cost-sharing for other medical services, such as hospital care.  Others blame the design of the Medicare prescription benefit itself, because it allows insurers to put expensive drugs on a so-called ‘specialty tier’ with copayments equivalent to 25% or more of the cost of the medication”. (Associated Press)
  • Does a sunscreen chemical have toxic side effects?:  Sunscreen is supposed to protect skin.  But some people suspect that a chemical in sunscreen, absorbed through the skin, may be even more hazardous than the sun’s rays.  The concerns stem from a small body of research indicating that oxybenzone, which blocks ultraviolet light, may mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and promote the growth of cancer cells….But in March, researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York published an independent report examining all the evidence on the subject and concluded that the alarming findings from early animal studies relied on unrealistic dosages.”  For those still worried, there are sunscreens made without oxybenzone, though they may not afford the same ultraviolet protection.  The bottom line: Exposure to oxybenzone, in normal sunscreen use, is safe. (Anahad O’Connor, NY Times)
  • Poll shows people recognize need for Medicare reform but wary of GOP plan – still: “A new CBS News poll shows that Americans have mixed feelings about what should happen to Medicare: While 53 percent say the programs needs fundamental changes, 58 percent say it should continue the way it is set up now”.  No surprise there. (CBS)


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