How to Save Money on Daily Medications
More than half of insured Americans are taking medications for chronic medical problems, according to a new study by by Medco Health Solutions. And prescription drugs are costing more. The AARP says that, on average, manufacturers' prices for the 153 prescription drugs most widely used by older Americans increased by nearly 54 percent between 1999 and 2006. The general inflation rate in that period was 20.1 percent.
What's a consumer to do? The most obvious opportunity for saving money on prescription drugs is "for people to use generic medications when they're available," says Janet Silvester, president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. If you're having trouble paying for your medications, U.S. News explains other ways you can save money on prescriptions by shopping around, splitting pills, taking over-the-counter drugs, and looking into prescription assistance programs that might cover or reduce your costs.
More Education Might Mean Longer Lifespans
Being well educated may lead to a longer lifespan, suggests a new study published in the journal PLoS One. Researchers reported that the gap in overall death rates between college graduates and those with less than a high school education increased rapidly between 1993 and 2001. "This study finds the socioeconomic inequalities in mortality rates are not only failing to drop, they are actually increasing in the U.S.," Otis W. Brawley, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, told HealthDay. "People with less education have fewer financial resources, less access to health insurance or stable employment, and less health literacy. As a result, while the death rate among the most-educated Americans is dropping dramatically, we're seeing a real lack of progress or even worsening trends in the least-educated persons. The gap between the best- and worst-off in the country is actually getting wider."
As Health Buzz reported last month, a study published in the same journal found that between 1983 and 1999, women's death rates went up in many poor counties in the United States and that, overall, racial and geographical disparities in life expectancy have gotten worse across the country. And black children with diabetes face a death rate that is twice as high as that for their white counterparts, according to a report published in November by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Counting Calories Is Key to Watching Weight
A recent study found that more than 60 percent of white, Hispanic, and African-American participants between ages 45 and 84 were overweight, and more than 30 percent were obese, Katherine Hobson reports. (Among Chinese-Americans, on the other hand, 33 percent are overweight and a mere 5 percent obese.)
Why are so many of us carrying extra pounds? The answer is simple. We generally put away more than we burn off through daily activity and exercise, Hobson explains. A "diet disconnect" survey released yestserday by the International Food Information Council Foundation (a group funded by the food, beverage, and agricultural industries) found that 44 percent of those surveyed didn't balance what they ate with what they burned off. Only 15 percent knew the number of calories they needed to consume every day to maintain their weight.
Learn how to stay in shape in Hobson's On Fitness blog. Also, U.S. News's Sarah Baldauf recently explained the science of fat, including why it's so harmful. She revealed her own body fat measurements and listed five reasons to lose weight in '08.
FDA Says It's OK to Keep Using BPA-Containing Products for Now
The Food and Drug Administration is continuing to review the safety of bisphenol A, but the agency sees no reason to advise consumers to stop using products containing the controversial chemical, Reuters reports. In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, FDA official Norris Alderson defended the agency's use of two industry-funded studies to determine that BPA-containing products are safe. Other studies in lab animals have found a variety of health problems. BPA can be found in some baby bottles, certain water bottles, and even containers for canned foods.
The federal government's National Toxicology Program expressed concern last month that BPA exposure could cause neural and behavioral abnormalities in fetuses, infants, and children. U.S. News offers consumers tips on how to avoid contact with BPA and provides a list of resources for locating BPA-free products.
—January W. Payne