The National Safety Council says more Americans are dying by accident, and opioid abuse is one of the leading causes.
As the nation struggles with an epidemic of opioid abuse, KPCC is launching an occasional series in which we'll share your stories of dealing with pain, and offer experts' advice on how best to manage it. Share your story and insights through the Public Insight Network.
Kelli Glazebrook of Fresno lives with chronic pain.
Glazebrook, 38, has a rare autoimmune disease called Behcet's disease. It causes blood vessel inflammation throughout her body and has led her to develop other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and spinal degeneration.
She says she generally manages her pain through healthy eating, yoga and meditation. Glazebrook takes a high dose of ibuprofen when her pain escalates. But when her pain really flares up, she says, it's hard to think, she feels grumpy and it's hard to eat.
sharyn morrow via Flickr Creative Commons
As the nation struggles with an epidemic of opioid abuse, KPCC is launching an occasional series in which we’ll share your stories of dealing with pain, and offer experts’ advice on how best to manage it. Share your story and insights through the Public Insight Network.
"Mary" knew opioid painkillers were highly addictive and, as a former heroin addict, she knew she was at an elevated risk for a relapse. So even though she had been sober for decades, she pushed back when her doctor prescribed Vicodin for an injured rotator cuff and a couple of cracked ribs.
"I said, 'I'm really leery of taking Vicodin because I used to be a junky,'" says Mary, a 65-year-old who spent most of her life in California and now lives in Florida. She asked that we not use her real name due to the sensitive nature of her story.
Photo by Redcorn Studios [Matt] via Flickr Creative Commons
Believe it or not, the new school year is just around the corner. This year, for the first time, some parents will no longer be able to skip vaccinating their kids based on their personal beliefs. It's all because of a law that took effect last Friday.
What does the law do?
This law requires all kids who go to day care or school in California to be vaccinated. It eliminates vaccine exemptions based on personal belief or religion, while maintaining the medical exemption. The law also allows parents of special needs kids to forgo immunizing their children. More on that below.
The law, authored by State Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), was spurred by the measles outbreak that started at the Disney theme parks in Anaheim in December 2014. Experts say the highly contagious disease was able to spread due to pockets of people who don't vaccinate their kids, and this law is intended to close those gaps.
Morag Riddell via Flickr Creative Commons
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.
urbanbohemian via Flickr Creative Commons
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.