Items are left in memory of Robin Williams on his star along Hollywood Boulevard.
Something positive may come out of the tragedy of Robin Williams' apparent suicide: Suicide prevention hotlines are seeing a spike in calls from people seeking help.
The 160 local hotlines that make up the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline saw their collective call volume more than double in the 24 hours after Williams' death, according to Lifeline officials.
In Los Angeles, the folks manning the phones at the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center — the nation’s oldest and largest — are reporting a similar phenomenon. There has been a 95 percent spike in calls since Williams' death, from about 160 a day to more than 300 a day, says Center Director Robert Stohr.
The comedians' death seems to have had a particularly strong impact among Latinos experiencing mental health crises, if calls to the Center's Spanish language line are any measure. Before Williams' death, there were a couple of calls a day, and since then there have been more than 50 a day, Stohr says.
Photo by Jhaymesisviphotography via Flickr Creative Commons
Have you ever visited with your doctor via the camera on your smartphone or computer?
Have you ever visited with your doctor via the camera on your smartphone or computer? Could this soon become the norm for minor conditions?
Doctor consultation apps seem to offer incredible convenience: For basic but annoying health issues, they could possibly replace a visit to urgent care. After a virtual consultation, doctors can prescribe antibiotics and common medications, if needed. The virtual appointments are often available for a flat fee that ranges from $40 to $50 per visit, depending on which app you use. Some offer monthly subscription rates.
But as Heather Somerville reports for the San Jose Mercury News, these apps also come with potential pitfalls.
For one, Somerville writes, patients are using the apps for conditions that, while common, typically require diagnostic tests – like strep throat, bronchitis, ear infections and urinary tract infections.
Valley Breast Care and Women's Health Center in Van Nuys charges its privately insured patients $540 for a basic mammogram.
As part of #PriceCheck, we're trying to bring greater transparency to medical costs by asking you to tell us how much certain medical procedures cost. We received a number of responses to our request for mammogram prices.
We found that across the Los Angeles area, mammograms come with large price tags: Valley Breast Care and Women's Health Center in Van Nuys charges its privately insured patients $540 for a basic mammogram. At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, near Beverly Hills, the charged price is $519.
Charges 'don't make sense'
But Edward Prunchunas, the chief financial office at Cedars-Sinai, says these high sticker prices "really don’t make any sense." These charges are really just a starting point to negotiate discounts, he says.
"There's hardly anybody that gets anywhere near charges as payment from any insurer," says Prunchunas.
In a recent study, people were informed of price differences among similar-quality MRI facilities, and given the option of selecting lower-price facilities.
The study included more than 60,000 Blue Cross and Blue Shield members, whose employers participated in a price transparency program. People in the study were informed of price differences among similar-quality MRI facilities, and given the option of selecting lower-price facilities.
The authors write:
"As a result, the price transparency program greatly reduced the average price level, shifted patients away from hospital-based facilities, and reduced the price variation between hospital and non-hospital facilities in the intervention group."
They say that the benefits of the transparency project spilled over onto those not involved in the study, noting that people not included in the study saw an average decrease of $57 per test, compared with a $99 decrease in the employer groups participating in the study.
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Thousands of requests for prior authorization of prescriptions arrive daily in doctors' offices across the country, Danielle Ofri writes.
Last month we heard from an Impatient reader who won a battle with his health insurer over its refusal to authorize a particular medication. But consumers aren't the only ones who find themselves yelling into the phone at a service rep -- your doctor most likely spends time doing it on his or her patients' behalf.
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Dr. Danielle Ofri, an associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, writes that thousands of letters requesting a doctor's prior authorization for medication arrive daily in medical offices across the country.
She explains that insurance companies require prior authorization as a cost-saving measure: Doctors must provide a compelling reason why their patients need more expensive treatments, rather than less costly medications. She writes: