Pack Health: A New Resource for Personalized Support

Needymeds exists to help you get healthcare costs under control. We know you need additional resources to make sense of healthcare —  that’s the whole point of the NeedyMeds Voice.

But what we don’t always talk about is the importance of finding your own voice. Do you ever find yourself with lingering questions? Do you ever have trouble holding yourself accountable? Do you ever fail to speak up?

 

We recently discovered a resource that supports individuals on a one-on-one basis, where a health coach comes right alongside you to keep you motivated and get your questions answered in your day-to-day life. It’s called Pack Health, and it’s a digital coaching service. This means they can reach you wherever you are and on your schedule – on the phone, online, or both.

 

These people get what you’re going through, and they’ll help you with everything from exercise and nutrition to budgeting and logistics. You set the goal, they’ll help you get there. It’s that simple.

We reached out, and they’ve opened up a special opportunity for our community. We were able to reserve 100 free spots for members with the following diagnoses:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Psoriasis

  • MS

  • COPD

  • Cancer

 

That’s 3 months of sponsored support, no credit card information required, fully funded through grants received by Pack Health.

Sign up here and let us know how it goes: https://packhealth.com/needymeds/

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Better Care Reconciliation Act

We have been tracking the new healthcare bill being proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). After passing the House last month, the bill was sent to the United States Senate where it was redrafted into the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which they are planning on holding the vote for after the July 4th recess. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released their analysis report on the BCRA’s impact on the Federal deficit and American’s premiums and insurance status.

 

Previous CBO scores for Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal/replace bills have shown millions of Americans would lose health insurance while premiums rise for several years before falling, primarily for the healthiest and youngest Americans while older people and those with pre-existing conditions could see much higher healthcare costs. The analysis of the most recent bill concurs that 49 million Americans under 65 years old would be without health insurance (compared to the projected 28 million under the Affordable Care Act). The CBO also cuts funding to Medicaid by $772 billion over the next ten years; enrollment is expected to fall by more than 15 million people by 2026, 57% of which covers children or disabled Americans.

dollar-1175293_640As found in previous reports, premiums are expected to rise leading up to 2020. Premiums would rise an average of 74%, with Americans under 18 years old seeing a 10% increase in premiums while they would more than double for those 55 and older. Analysis also found poverty level would impact premiums, with those below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) seeing an increase between 82% to 294% based on age (older Americans paying the most) and those above two times the FPL experiencing smaller increases but still seeing those over 55 paying almost double for their insurance premiums.

 

As with previous versions of the bill, minimum standards of care are expected to be diminished while annual and lifetime limits on insurance benefits would make a return to pre-ACA circumstances. The costs of insurance would be higher for less benefit, while the most vulnerable—the elderly, those in poverty, and those with pre-existing conditions—won’t be able to afford substantial coverage, or could have their coverage cancelled if they exceed a certain amount of medical expenses in a given year or even within their lifetimes.

 

There will be further developments in the American Health Care Act/Better Care Reconciliation Act and any repeal or changes to the Affordable Care Act, and we at NeedyMeds will try to keep up-to-date on the details. We at NeedyMeds prefer to remain apolitical—we work in a diverse office with people of varying backgrounds and views—but we believe in being informed and that those in need deserve care. It should be clear that NeedyMeds supports improved access to care as well as lower costs for medications and healthcare services for all.

NeedyMeds also encourages Americans to be active in the legislative process: If you have an opinion on the AHCA/BCRA or the future of healthcare in the United States, call 202-224-3121 to reach the U.S. Capitol switchboard; from there you can be connected to your elected House Representative or Senator’s office.

 

We at NeedyMeds will continue to provide information as the need for assistance navigating the often expensive landscape of health care rises. The NeedyMeds website has databases of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs), Diagnosis-Based Assistance (DBAs), and Free/Low-cost/Sliding-scale Clinics to help those in need. The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can save users up to 80% off the cash price of prescription medications for those without insurance or choose to use the card instead of insurance. In addition to the plastic card, the card is available in a printable form or a smartphone app for Apple and Android devices. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.

Stay Healthy in Summer Weather

We are now in June and summer is about to sweep across much of the United States. Over the next few months, it will be important to protect ourselves from the health risks posed by the sun and heat. Regardless of skin color, exposure to the sun carries many dangers to one’s skin—from freckles and wrinkles often associated with aging, to sunburns, benign tumors or cancerous skin lesions. Prolonged heat exposure can also have many negative impacts on one’s health ranging from a rash, exhaustion, fainting, or even death.

sunglasseslotionAlthough everyone should take precautions to protect their skin, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages those with pale skin; blond, red, or light brown hair; or who has a personal or family history of skin cancer to be especially careful while in the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage one’s skin in as little as 15 minutes, and the best tool in combatting that skin damage is sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying SPF 30 (at least) liberally 15 minutes before going outside, and to reapply at least every two hours to remain protected.

To further protect your skin where sunscreen is ineffective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when possible, and at least a t-shirt when the heat makes long clothing uncomfortable. Hats and sunglasses also protect vulnerable areas from the sun. Staying in the shade or avoiding the outdoors altogether during the midday hours can also lower one’s risk of skin damage from the sun.

There is an average of 618 heat-related deaths per year in the U.S. The CDC has many recommendations including staying in air-conditioned or climate-controlled areas, taking cool showers or baths, drinking more water than usual to stay hydrated, avoiding alcohol or sugary drinks, and to be aware of local weather reports.

It is very important to know the symptoms of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Muscle cramping is often the first sign, and could lead to heavy sweating, weakness, clammy skin, fast weak pulse, nausea, or fainting—the signs of heat exhaustion. Cramps can also lead to heat stroke, a medical emergency; if body temperature rises above 103°F with rapid and strong pulse or unconsciousness, call 911 immediately. In times of extreme heat, people are encouraged to check on friends and neighbors who are at higher risk to the heat such as people aged 65 and older, infants and children, people with chronic medical conditions, outdoor workers, and people with low income.

It is important to know the dangers of sun and heat exposure, and that there are resources available for those in need. NeedyMeds has information on national Diagnosis-Based Assistance programs (DBAs) offering testing for those at risk for skin cancer as well as financial assistance for those already diagnosed. We hope everyone enjoys the beautiful weather this summer and stays safe and healthy.

Amended AHCA Passes House Vote, Fails CBO Score

In a previous blog post, we explored the proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA; aka Obamacare) repeal/new healthcare law called the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Congress decided the bill would not be voted on shortly thereafter due to lack of support, but it has since been modified and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The passing of the House bill was celebrated by the Trump administration before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) could analyze how the bill would affect the federal deficit and the healthcare costs for Americans. Last week the CBO released their report on the amended AHCA.

 

According to supporters of the bill, the AHCA’s aim is to lower premiums and the deficit. The CBO report finds that the deficit will decrease by $119 billion by 2026 (as opposed to the $337 billion decrease from the previous version of the AHCA rejected in March) but would increase the number of uninsured people by 23 million in the same time period. It also found that insurance premiums would rise an average of 25% by 2019 before normalizing by 2020. Depending on what part of the country and the number of changes implemented in different states, premiums would be anywhere from 4% to 20% lower by 2026. The CBO acknowledges that the highest reduction in premiums would go to the healthiest and youngest Americans, while older people with pre-existing conditions could see a rise in premiums.

There is a high degree of uncertainty based on states being able to obtain waivers exempting them from ACA’s Essential Health Benefits—minimum standards of care, including mental health and other services that Obamacare required insurance plans to cover. Another waiver would allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more. Based on CBO projections, states that receive both waivers would have prohibitively high insurance premiums for less healthy people, including those with pre-existing conditions. Waiving essential health benefits would lead to an increase in individuals’ out-of-pocket costs by thousands of dollars despite eventually lower insurance premiums. The CBO estimates one-sixth of Americans live in states that will seek both waivers, a half won’t be affected by either waivers, and the remainder of states will implement “moderate” changes. The new healthcare bill also aims to remove the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits, further affecting out-of-pocket costs especially for Americans with pre-existing conditions. The bill is currently set to be debated in the U.S. Senate.

 

There will be further developments in the American Health Care Act and any repeal or changes to the Affordable Care Act, and we at NeedyMeds will try to keep up-to-date on the details. We at NeedyMeds prefer to remain apolitical—we work in a diverse office with people of varying backgrounds and views—but we believe in being informed and that those in need deserve care. It should be clear that NeedyMeds supports improved access to care as well as lower costs for medications and healthcare services for all.

 

We at NeedyMeds will continue to provide information as the need for assistance navigating the often expensive landscape of health care rises. The NeedyMeds website has databases of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs), Diagnosis-Based Assistance (DBAs), and Free/Low-cost/Sliding-scale Clinics to help those in need. The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can save users up to 80% off the cash price of prescription medications for those without insurance or choose to use the card instead of insurance. In addition to the plastic card, the card is available in a printable form or a smartphone app for Apple and Android devices. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.

National Women’s Health Week

This past Mother’s Day launched the 18th annual National Women’s Health Week. Led by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, the goal is to empower women to make their health a priority and raise awareness of the steps one can take to improve their health.

nwhw-logo-web

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends many common measures, such as proper health screenings, staying physically active, eating healthy, and promoting other healthy behaviors. Healthy behaviors include getting enough sleep, being smoke-free, washing your hands, not texting while driving, or wearing a seatbelt, a bicycle helmet, or sunscreen when appropriate. Furthermore, the National Women’s Health Week website has suggestions for women in their 20s to their 90s.

 

The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)/new healthcare law awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate after passing through the House of Representatives removes a regulation forbidding insurance companies from excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions. Prior to the ACA, pre-existing conditions included many routine women’s health issues including pregnancy and Cesarean sections. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) also removes the ACA’s essential health benefits guidelines, many of which were in place to promote and ensure women’s health.

There have been reports that being a victim of sexual assault or domestic abuse would qualify as a pre-existing condition under the AHCA. While this is not specifically the case, follow-up treatments for assault such as STI-prevention or injuries sustained through abuse can lead to higher insurance costs or denial of healthcare coverage.

 

There are resources for women in need. In a previous blog post, we detailed the National Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Information for the local offerings from the program can be found in the NeedyMeds State Sponsored Programs section. There are other government programs for women’s health to be found on our site, including WISEWOMAN, a program that provides low-income, uninsured/under-insured women with blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings.

NeedyMeds has a database of over 15,000 free, low cost, or sliding scale clinics, over 4000 of which offer women’s health services. Search your zip code for clinics in your area, and find Women’s Health in Services under the Details heading to find free or low-cost medical attention. Assistance for women’s health can also be found in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance database by searching for conditions that affect the women in our lives. For more resources, check our website at Needymeds.org or call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897.

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