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Mosquitoes like it hot. As temperatures increase, so does the potential for the insects to bite - and possibly transmit diseases. That's a nationwide concern this summer, as the Zika virus rages through much of the Americas.
But health officials in Los Angeles and Orange counties are not currently recommending that everyone slather themselves in mosquito repellent all day long. At this point, they are mainly pushing people to protect themselves when they go outside at dawn and dusk.
The rationale is that for Southern California residents, the more pressing mosquito-borne disease is not Zika, but West Nile virus.
Here's why: While the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry Zika and several other infectious diseases, are in Southern California, none of the Aedes mosquitoes found so far in the state or nationwide were carrying Zika.
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Even when patients make concerted efforts to see doctors covered by their insurance plans at in-network facilities, they run the risk of unknowingly being treated by other out-of-network providers during that visit. A new state bill would protect people from paying hefty surprise medical bills stemming from such out-of-network charges.
The proposal, AB 72, says that when consumers are unknowingly treated by out-of-network radiologists, anesthesiologists or other providers, they would only pay what they would for doctors within their insurance network. These payments would also count towards their out-of-pocket maximums.
The legislation comes on the heels of an effort last year, AB 533, that was also intended to curb surprise out-of-network bills. That bill would have made consumers responsible only for in-network rates. Insurance companies would then have been required to reimburse the out-of-network doctors at the rate they would get from Medicare.
The newly approved Harvoni tablets bring several advances to the fight against hepatitis C, but they also have a steep price tag, reported at $1,125 for a single dose.
When the very expensive - and very effective - hepatitis C medications hit the market more than two years ago, private health insurers limited prescriptions to the very sickest people.
Two new analyses now say that approach is shortsighted. Researchers, writing in the American Journal of Managed Care, argue that treating people during earlier stages of the disease has long-term health and economic benefits.
"Unfortunately, the conventional wisdom is, if there's an expensive drug, the way to ration it is to treat people who are sickest," says Darius Lakdawalla, a health economist and professor at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. "But it turns out that's kind of backwards from where the value really lies."
Lakdawalla and other researchers find that expanding hepatitis C treatment benefits private insurers in the long-term; by paying for the drug now, they avoid paying for costly complications from hepatitis C, like liver transplants, down the road. Curing patients' hepatitis C infections and avoiding future liver transplants has another benefit, they write: It frees up liver transplants for other people who need them.
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Do you snack when you're stressed? Do you crave comfort foods when you're sad?
We've likely all eaten our feelings at some point.
But does this actually make us feel better? What does science have to say about it?
Research into stress and comfort eating is still in its early stages, but recent studies have shown that eating comfort food can lower your stress levels. At the same time, it's unclear whether it can improve your mood.
Eating before or after a stressful event might tamp down your stress levels, according to research by Janet Tomiyama, director of the UCLA Dieting, Stress and Health Laboratory.
She says there is a strong body of research showing that when rats are continually put in stressful situations and given access to comfort foods – which in their case could be Oreo cookies or Crisco mixed with sugar – that "the comfort eating over time actually dampens down their physical stress responses." The researchers could make that conclusion because the rats generated less of the hormone they produce in response to stress.
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Two bills moving through the state legislature would require more transparency around prescription drug costs.
One bill, SB 1010, would obligate drug manufacturers to notify health plans if they were going to increase the wholesale cost of a drug by at least 10 percent during any 12-month period and justify those increases.
Another bill, AB 2463, would require insurance plans to inform consumers how much they will pay for a drug and how much their health plan paid for the drug.
The bills come at a time when one in four Americans has trouble affording prescription medications, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This begs the question: Can sharing this information help lead to lower drug costs for consumers?
I got three perspectives on whether price transparency could make a dent in what people pay for their drugs.