Wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus has become part of daily life for Americans. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets that travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, and breathe. These droplets can then land on others’ faces or may be inhaled by people in the area. Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent these respiratory droplets from reaching others by reducing the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.

Everyone over the age of two years old should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick. People who contract COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. 

The main function of wearing a mask is to protect those around you, in case you are infected and shedding the SARS-CoV-2 virus but not showing symptoms. A cloth mask does offer some protection to the wearer, how much depending on the fabrics used and how your mask is made (the type of fabric, the number of layers, how well the mask fits, etc). Medical

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA; aka Obamacare) Health Insurance Marketplace began its ninth Open Enrollment period yesterday. 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, leading to the U.S. uninsured rate to rise for the first time since 2014 and the largest single-year increase since 2008.

When Obama was president and launched the ACA, Open Enrollment period ran 90 days beginning November 1 and running until the end of January. Open Enrollment was cut by President Trump to 45 days in 2017 unless you qualify for the Special Enrollment Period which extends enrollment by an additional 60 days. Advertising and outreach budgets for Open Enrollment have faced cuts, limiting the people able to access assistance or appropriate information that can help them.

New rules put out by the Trump administration allow ACA subsidies to be used for

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The United States is in the midst of a presidential election at a time when healthcare is a major concern for Americans, even before the global pandemic. We have covered many of the changes to healthcare during the Trump administration as well as proposals from the candidates during the primaries, and continue to strive to empower and educate our audience on the policies that affect their healthcare costs. As such, we felt it remains important to cover the healthcare records and policy proposals of the major candidates.

Incumbent President Donald Trump ran on a platform of abolishing the Affordable Care Act (ACA; aka Obamacare), saying it would be “so easy.” He claimed in 2016 his ACA replacement would have “insurance for everybody”, “no one will lose coverage” or “be worse off financially”, and that “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” In practice, both “Trumpcare” bills (2017’s American Health Care

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October has been observed as Talk About Your Medicines Month (TAYMM) for 35 years. Started by the BeMedWise Program at NeedyMeds (formerly known as the National Council on Patient Information [NCPIE]), the awareness month is an annual opportunity to spotlight safe medicine use with the goal of improved health outcomes. This year’s theme is Medication Adherence – On Track With Your Meds and Your Health. Medication adherence is a vital part of maintaining your health. Our goal is to empower patients to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks of the medications they are taking, and provide the tools they need to talk about their medicines.

Medication adherence has been called America’s “other drug problem.” Nonadherence can lead to illness progression, severe complications, and preventable deaths. Nonadherence includes anything from delaying or not filling a prescription, skipping doses, splitting pills, to stopping a medication early. Not taking medication as directed can lead to poor health outcomes which then increases healthcare service utilization and overall healthcare costs.

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Photo by Ahmed Hasan

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. Each year over 45,000 people in America kill themselves — a rate that has increased 41% since 1999. Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but 54% of those who commit suicide do not have a known mental illness

Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor, and is also affected by personal relationships, substance use, physical health, and stress from jobs, money, legal issues, and/or housing. The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic injustices have also had a chilling effect on Americans’ mental wellbeing. Awareness is important to end the stigma of suicidal feelings and help more people access life-saving help in dark times. 

Anyone can have suicidal thoughts, but it is important to know they are not permanent. Having suicidal thoughts is not a sign of weakness or failure, but is a symptom of profound distress. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors can be very damaging and dangerous, and should be considered a psychiatric emergency. 

Other than mental illness, there are a number of risk factors for suicide:

  • A family history of suicide;
  • Substance abuse — using drugs and alcohol results in mental/emotional highs and lows that can exacerbate suicidal thoughts;
  • Intoxication — more than a third of people who die from suicide are under the influence at the time;
  • Access to firearms;
  • A serious or chronic medical illness;
  • A history of trauma or abuse;
  • Prolonged stress;
  • Isolation;
  • A recent tragedy or loss;
  • Agitation; and/or
  • Sleep deprivation.

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