Author: Evan O'Connor

Open Enrollment for 2022 Coverage

The Affordable Care Act (ACA; aka Obamacare) Health Insurance Marketplace is set to begin its tenth Open Enrollment period today. American healthcare consumers can sign up on the federal insurance exchange at healthcare.gov or through their state marketplaces. In recent years there has been increased confusion surrounding Open Enrollment due to changes (and attempted changes) made to the ACA under the Trump administration, though President Biden has reversed some of the harmful changes that led to the first increases in U.S. uninsured rate since 2014 and largest single-year increase since 2008

When Obama was president and launched the ACA, the Open Enrollment period ran 90 days beginning November 1 and running until the end of January. Trump cut Open Enrollment to 45 days along with outreach budgets his first year in office, limiting access to assistance and information for those in need. President Biden has set Open Enrollment to 75 days — now running from November 1 to January 15 — and reinstated funding and navigator requirements. The

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Intersex Awareness Normalizes Naturally Occurring Bodies

The “i” in LGBTQIA stands for intersex. Intersex is an umbrella term for people with differences in sex traits or reproductive anatomy. Intersex people are born with these differences or develop them in childhood/puberty. There are many possible differences in genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, and/or chromosomes compared to the typical binary notion of male and female bodies. An estimated 1.7% of people are born intersex.

Since 2004, October 26 is observed as Intersex Awareness Day. Intersex Awareness Day commemorates the anniversary of a protest held by members of the intersex community during the annual American Academy of Pediatrics convention in 1996. Activists gathered in action against the standard practice of invasive gender-based surgeries that many intersex children have historically endured. This practice is largely considered outdated and harmful today, though only Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Boston Children’s Hospital have categorically stated that they do not perform infant genital surgeries.

Intersex people are often made to feel like medical curiosities

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Health Literacy and Education in Time of COVID

Health literacy is defined as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Being able to disseminate health information allows people to navigate the healthcare system, keep track of their medical history, competently engage in self-care, and understand the probability of health risks.

Health literacy is the main form of defense against the growing misinformation prevalent in our society. Knowledge of the facts is key to combat the influence of those who would fly in the face of medical and scientific studies on subjects such as vaccinations or family planning services.  Dangerous pseudoscience can be avoided, saving individuals money and suffering at the hands of those who either don’t know or don’t care. Despite this, only 12% of adults have “Proficient” health literacy. This means nearly nine out of ten American adults may lack the knowledge necessary

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COVID-19 and Cold/Flu Season 2021

The change of the seasons is in full swing throughout the country, and the United States is heading towards another cold and flu season in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Children returning to school amid the dangerous politicization of public health attempts to increase vaccination and promote mitigation measures such as masks and social distancing has created a risk-filled environment for many across the country.

We’ve previously covered the differences between asthma, allergies, and COVID infection. It is even more vital to know the difference between symptoms for viral conditions such as a cold, the flu, and COVID-19. All three are spread in similar ways and share symptoms, but have varied incubation time and severity.

  • COVID-19 (coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) most common symptoms are a fever, cough and tiredness; other symptoms include muscle aches, sneezing, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, nausea, diarrhea, and loss of smell/taste. Symptoms can appear anywhere between 2-14 days after exposure, during which time an infected individual can spread the coronavirus even if asymptomatic (not presenting symptoms). Complications can include blood clots and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Most hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 can be prevented with a vaccine. Many symptoms of COVID-19 can be lessened with antiviral medications.
  • Colds (rhinoviruses) have similar symptoms to the novel coronavirus, but do not include diarrhea or nausea. Symptoms of a common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure. Colds are only transmissible while a person is symptomatic. There is no vaccine or cure for the common cold. Treatment may include pain relievers and over-the-counter cold remedies such as decongestants. Unlike COVID-19, a cold is usually harmless; most people recover from a common cold in 3-10 days.
  • The flu (influenza) has the same symptoms as COVID-19, but rarely causes loss of smell/taste. Flu symptoms usually appear about one to four days after exposure to an influenza virus. The flu is generally only transmissible while symptomatic and does not pose the same risk of severe illness as COVID-19. There are several antiviral treatments available to treat the flu, and an annual vaccine reduces the risk of infection and/or severe illness. The flu vaccine can be given as an injection or as a nasal spray.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a confirmed exposure, it’s important that you contact a healthcare provider right away for medical advice. Tests are available to confirm diagnosis of COVID-19 and/or the flu. Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Even if you have been fully vaccinated, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing reduces the

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Mental Illness Awareness Relieves Stigma

For over 30 years, the first full week of October has been Mental Illness Awareness Week. This year, the NeedyMeds blog has observed Mental Health Month in May, Minority Mental Health Month in July, and Suicide Prevention Month in September. We’ve discussed how everyone’s mental health matters, the unique factors affecting mental health for vulnerable populations, and how to prevent devastating outcomes, but we have not yet touched on the realities of mental illness in 2021.

Twenty percent of the population — as many as 65.6 million Americans — live with some kind of mental health condition, with nearly 5% living with a serious mental illness that substantially limits their life activities. Those living with mental illness fight stigma while trying to survive under profound internal duress. Awareness is important to ensure resources are made available to those who need them and the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses can be reduced.

Everyone has stress and difficult emotions on occasion, and this is completely normal. Mental illness, however, is any condition that

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About Us

Welcome to the NeedyMeds Voice! We look forward to presenting you with timely, provocative pieces on healthcare reform, patient advocacy, medication and healthcare access, and other health-related news. Our goals are to educate, enlighten, and elucidate; together, we will try to make sense of the myriad and ongoing healthcare-related changes in the U.S. today.