How to Choose a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan

Choosing a Medicare Prescription PlanAmericans that are currently on a Medicare plan are probably aware of the rising costs in prescription drugs – especially if they take prescription drugs themselves. The cost of prescription medications has been rising for years now. Costs were up by an estimated 12.6 percent in 2014, and since then have been projected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to rise by roughly 7.3 percent every year. Fortunately, there are ways for people with Medicare to lower their prescription drug costs as long as they plan properly or at least prepare for the rising costs.

Choosing the Right Medicare Prescription Drug Plan

People can avoid high prescription drug costs by choosing the right Medicare prescription drug plan. One thing to keep in mind is that premiums, deductibles, co-payments, and the list of accepted medications can actually change from one year to the next because of the fact that insurance companies revise their formularies throughout the year. The following are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a medicare prescription drug plan:

  • Prepare a list of prescription medications that you expect to take over the next year.
  • Compare insurance plans with a Medicare Part D drug plan. Choose three plans to compare.
  • Compare the plans and drug formularies at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services website.
  • Speak with a representative at the State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
  • Speak with a pharmacist. Most pharmacists have in-depth knowledge in regards to different prescription drug plans.
  • Compare the annual costs of prescription drugs. Evaluate each plan by comparing premiums, deductibles, and out of pocket expenses. Those with a Medicare Advantage plan don’t need to do this since their drug costs are part of the plan.
  • Check the formulary, which is a list of covered medications. Make sure your medications are covered. Drug cost tiers change over the years – especially for brand names.
  • Figure out all costs – sometimes you can be charged differently depending on the pharmacy you use.

Use these tips to choose a Medicare prescription drug plan and visit The Benefits Store for more health insurance advice.


6 Facts to Know About Beating Cancer

Beating CancerBreast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women. Roughly a third of all newly diagnosed cancers in women are breast cancers. However, a lot of people are still somewhat misinformed when it comes to breast cancer and beating cancer in general. The following are some facts to know about beating cancer:

  1. The survival rate over the course of five years is close to 90 percent.
  2. Many of the women that are diagnosed with breast cancer do not need treatments that are either disfiguring or highly aggressive.
  3. Many women believe that a mastectomy, which involves removing the entire breast, improves long-term survival of breast cancer patients. This isn’t actually true – survival doesn’t depend on the removal of any additional healthy tissue. Because of this, a majority – between 60 and 75 percent – of breast cancer surgeries are lumpectomies, which involves the removal of only a small part of breast tissue.
  4. Although lumpectomies can be quite effective and result in the breasts still looking mostly the same after surgery, there is a drawback to the procedure. Around 25 percent of the women that undergo lumpectomies will have to have a second lumpectomy to remove cancer cells that weren’t successfully removed the first time around. There’s also a slightly greater chance of the cancer coming back than there is if a mastectomy is performed (less than five percent versus one to two percent).
  5. In some cases, chemotherapy may be considered before surgery instead of after. Chemotherapy is usually recommended after breast cancer surgery. However, neoadjuvant chemotherapy is sometimes recommended prior to surgery in order to shrink the tumor. By undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy, the patient may only need to undergo a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy.
  6. Because many newly diagnosed breast cancers are estrogen or progesterone-receptor positive, the exposure to hormones can increase the risk of recurrence. The use of drugs that block hormones can kill tumor cells that may have otherwise spread beyond the breast.

These are six things to know about breast cancer. For new information about beating cancer, be sure to visit The Benefits Store today.

Selfies Can Improve Your Oral Health

Selfie Health Benefits“Selfies” have become a pretty common occurrence due to the quality of today’s camera phones. While many people tend to lament the younger generation’s affinity for taking selfies all the time, there are some benefits to doing so besides vanity. For example, recent studies have shown that taking a video selfie while brushing one’s teeth can actually help improve oral health care techniques.

Tooth Brushing Selfies

Participants of the study propped their smartphones up on stands so that they could film themselves while brushing their teeth at home. Researchers discovered that this resulted in a number of changes, including:

  • An eight percent improvement in tooth brushing skill
  • An increase in the number of toothbrush strokes
  • An increase in the accuracy of toothbrush strokes

These changes occurred in the same amount of time the participants spent brushing their teeth before they began taking selfie videos.

According to Lance T. Vernon, who is a senior instructor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, most people want to brush their teeth the right way and have the ability to do so – they just don’t because they are using improper techniques and don’t realize it. Tooth brushing is often learned and practiced without being properly taught, and according to Vernon, changing tooth-brushing behaviors that are learned at an early age can take a lot of time and guidance since those habits become tied to muscle memory.

Filming a selfie while brushing one’s teeth can help disrupt such habits. This is because it makes participants more aware of their brushing and can help them develop new muscle memory. Selfies could also be used to receive feedback from dental professionals to ensure that people are brushing correctly.

The use of selfies haven’t just been applied to improving oral health. A whole new area of data gathering through the use of selfies has developed called mHealth (mobile health). Selfies can help identify the progression of diseases as well as the effectiveness of treatment. Be sure to keep up with all the latest health-related advancements and news by visiting us at The Benefits Store.

Brain Machine Helps Paralysis Patients

Paralysis PatientsContinuing advancements in the field of robotics has led to some incredible medical results over the last few years. Just take for example the Walk Again Project, which is a research project currently taking place in São Paulo, Brazil, in which patients suffering from paralysis of the lower limbs have regained partial sensation and muscle control after training with brained-controlled robotics.

The Walk Again Project

Research gathered from the project was recently published in Scientific Reports. The study involved eight patients suffering from spinal cord injuries that led to the paralysis of their lower limbs. Their injuries occurred in a number of different ways, from car crash impacts to falls.

The project included over 100 scientists from 25 different countries. It was headed by Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University and the co-director of the Duke Center for Neuroengineering. The combined efforts of the project team led to a patient suffering from paralysis being able to kick a soccer ball using a brain-controlled robotic exoskeleton. In fact, this particular feat was on full display in 2014, when the patient showcased the result at the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

Previous studies involved the use of rats and monkeys. These animals were provided with brain-implanted microelectrodes, which allowed them to learn how to control levers and walk on treadmills using only their brain activity. Basically, researchers discovered how the brain codes for movement and were able to apply this to paralyzed humans. The patients involved with the project were able to use their brain activity to simulate full control of their legs. Of the patients participating in the project, five had been paralyzed for at least five years and two had been paralyzed for more than ten years.

All eight patients spent two hours a week or more using devices controlled by their brain signals. After a year, their muscle control and sensation improved to the point where their diagnosis was changed from complete to partial paralysis. For more news concerning advancements in the medical field, visit us at The Benefits Store.

Yogurt: Myths Versus Facts

Facts About YogurtYogurt is one of those foods that everybody tends to agree is incredibly healthy. Studies have shown, for example, that yogurt can help to lower blood pressure. Greek yogurt especially is said to be packed with probiotics along with all kinds of essential nutrients. However, there are a few misconceptions about yogurt that should be set straight. The following are a few myths about yogurt to avoid falling for:

  • Greek yogurt is healthier than all other types of yogurt. Greek yogurt has roughly twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt. However, it also has more saturated fat than regular yogurt – not to mention that it lacks the calcium that regular yogurt has. Greek yogurt loses its calcium during the process in which whey and lactose are strained out.
  • Anyone that’s lactose intolerant should avoid eating yogurt. Actually, the good bacteria found in both Greek and regular yogurt helps predigest some of the lactose, thereby reducing the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
  • Low-fat yogurt is the best option. Many consumers avoid full-fat yogurt in favor of low-fat yogurt. However, full-fat yogurt doesn’t just have the saturated fat most people are trying to avoid – it also has conjugated linoleic acid, which is actually linked to protecting against type 2 diabetes. Not to mention that full-fat yogurt makes one feel fuller for a longer period of time as the fat takes longer to digest, thereby staving off hunger.
  • Out of all available dairy products, yogurt is the most rich in probiotics. Probiotics are a friendly bacteria that can enhance digestion and improve the function of the immune system. As previously stated, Greek yogurt is known for being packed with probiotics. However, there are other dairy products that also contain probiotics. For example, kefir has way more probiotics than Greek yogurt.

While yogurt is an incredibly healthy food that shouldn’t be ignored, there are a lot of myths surrounding yogurt, such as these, that should be dismissed. At The Benefits Store, we strive to keep California residents up to date on all health related news and information, including dietary advice.