Did You Know?


Medicare vs. Medi-Cal
What's the Difference?

Medicare is a federally governed health insurance program. Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, is an assistance program governed by the State of California and financed equally by the state and federal governments.


Medicare is the federally funded health insurance program for:

  • People age 65 and older.
  • Certain younger people under age 65 with certain disabilities.
  • People of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant).

There are four parts of Medicare that cover specific services:

  • Medicare Part A (hospital insurance)
  • Medicare Part B (medical insurance)
  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans)
  • Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)

Your application for Medicare is located at the Social Security office in your area or is available online here.


Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program, which is financed equally by the State and federal government. Medi-Cal is a public health insurance program that provides needed healthcare services for low-income individuals including:

  • Families with children
  • Seniors
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Foster care
  • Pregnant women
  • Low-income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer or HIV/AIDS.

“Medi-Medi” or “Dual Eligible”

Some people qualify for both Medicare and Medi-Cal. People who qualify for both programs are called ‘dual eligible’ or “Medi-Medi.” Medi-Cal is sometimes used to help pay for Medicare premiums.


Better news on apps at Kaiser Permanente, but still no iPhone version
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente which hyped its mobile device app’s progress back in January before it had a lot to crow about, has some real numbers now.

To wit, the Oakland-based health care giant says 94,367 of its Android apps have been downloaded — up from just 2,100 in late January. Meanwhile, 74,295 locator apps, used by Kaiser members to locate their nearest Kaiser hospital or clinic, have found their way onto mobile phones.


Tobacco Firms Step Up Efforts To Defeat Cigarette Tax Hike Measure
California Healthline

Tobacco companies — including Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds – are spending tens of millions of dollars to try to defeat Proposition 29, a June ballot initiative that would increase the state’s tobacco sales tax by $1 per pack, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

The current tobacco tax is 87 cents per pack. The state allocates 50 cents of that amount for First 5 early childhood health and education programs.


Tobacco brands target black youth, study finds
California Watch

Tobacco marketing is targeting California’s low-income and African American youth, according to researchers who examined advertising throughout the state.

Academic researchers funded by the state’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program found that there was greater visibility of menthol cigarette advertising at retailers near high schools where there are larger African American student populations.


How to Be a Better Flosser
The Wall Street Journal

Flossing—beyond just clearing out the spinach from those eggs Florentine lingering between the molars—aids in gum health and good breath. New research shows flossing may even protect against diabetes and preterm births.

But there is little literature on flossing’s finer points, says Denis F. Kinane, professor of pathology and periodontics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Dental Medicine. “It’s kind of like grandmother and apple pie. We know flossing is beneficial, but no one has even studied if it’s better to floss in the morning or evening.” We asked him to resolve some common household debates about flossing.


April is National Autism Awareness Month
Autism Society

In order to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, the Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month since the 1970s. The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community.


When ‘Take as Directed’ poses a challenge
The New York Times

If the label on one bottle of prescription drugs says, “Take one tablet twice daily,” and the label on another says, “Take one tablet every 12 hours,” would you realize that you could take both medications at the same time?

What if one bottle says, “Take with food and water,” but the second doesn’t?

Given that the average adult over age 55 juggles six to eight medications daily, the ability to consolidate pill-popping is no minor matter. “I’m more likely to be able to sustain a medication regimen if I only have to take it three or four times a day,” said Michael Wolf, an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University who studies drug safety. “Seven or eight times a day is complicated to fit into your daily schedule.”


The Informed Patient
‘Use Only as Directed’ isn’t easy

The Wall Street Journal

A new push is under way to make prescription drug information clearer and stem the rise in emergency room visits and hospitalizations resulting from patients incorrectly taking their medicine.

As many as three in four Americans say they don’t take prescription medicine as directed, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association.


Family health history: ‘best kept secret’ in care
The Associated Press

Holiday gatherings can be a good chance to have a conversation and gather information about your family’s health history, which is key to healthcare. The U.S. Surgeon General operates a free Web site — https://familyhistory.hhs.gov — that helps people create a family health history and share it electronically with relatives and their doctor.

Did you Know?

Showing your ID is important to your patient safety and quality of care

Showing your ID is important for your health and safety. Showing your ID is critical to ensuring that you get treatment that is meant for you, not for someone else. We have heard of cases where someone uses a fake ID to get care. This is dangerous and could result in getting the wrong medication, tests or treatment. Failing to show your proper ID jeopardizes your personal/patient safety and could put you at risk of immeasurable harm, as severe injury or even death may result.

Most healthcare providers are required by federal law (HIPAA) to treat your healthcare information as confidential.

What Information Is Protected

  • Information your doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers put in your medical record
  • Conversations your doctor has about your care or treatment with nurses and others
  • Information about you in your health insurer’s computer system
  • Billing information about you at your clinic
  • Most other health information about you held by those who must follow these laws

New book offers checklists to help hospital patients
Kaiser Health News

As anyone who has been a patient or a visitor at a hospital knows, they’re often confusing, chaotic places. By the time you learn the routines and the rules, with any luck you’re recovered and on your way out the door.

Elizabeth Bailey’s father wasn’t that fortunate. When he started experiencing double vision several years ago at age 81, he had a biopsy performed on an outpatient basis at a New York hospital to determine if he had a rare and dangerous inflammation of an artery near his temple. He didn’t, as it turned out. But things went downhill from there.


High health-care costs: It’s all in the pricing
The Washington Post

There is a simple reason health care in the United States costs more than it does anywhere else: The prices are higher.

That may sound obvious. But it is, in fact, key to understanding one of the most pressing problems facing our economy. In 2009, Americans spent $7,960 per person on health care. Our neighbors in Canada spent $4,808. The Germans spent $4,218. The French, $3,978. If we had the per-person costs of any of those countries, America’s deficits would vanish. Workers would have much more money in their pockets. Our economy would grow more quickly, as our exports would be more competitive.


Alzheimer’s: Trouble sleeping could affect memory later on, study finds
Los Angeles Times

People who have trouble sleeping may be at higher risk of developing memory problems, new research shows.

People who woke frequently in the night had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to work to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in New Orleans in April.


New rules for health plans require clear summaries of benefits
Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington—

Moving to implement a much-anticipated consumer protection in the new healthcare law, the Obama administration issued regulations Thursday [February 10, 2012] requiring health plans to describe what they cover in clear, standardized language that is understandable to consumers.

Starting this fall, insurers and employers that offer health coverage will have to provide a six-page form that summarizes basic plan information, such as deductibles and co-pays, as well as costs for using in-network and out-of-network medical services.


Recession holds down health spending
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — National health spending rose a slight 3.9 percent in 2010, as Americans delayed hospital care, doctor’s visits and prescription drug purchases for the second year in a row, the Obama administration reported Monday.

The recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, reined in the growth of health spending as many people lost jobs, income and health insurance, the government said in a report, published in the journal Health Affairs.


2012 brings new laws on California employment
San Francisco Chronicle

About two dozen state employment laws will take effect Jan. 1, according to a list published by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Some of these laws will prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of their gender expression or genetic information, require more employers to continue health coverage for mothers on pregnancy disability leave, clarify how long employees can take off work to donate organs or bone marrow, and prohibit some employers from doing credit checks on certain types of workers or job applicants.


Starting with tamales, Latino families urged to eat healthier
The Sacramento Bee

Pediatrician Catherine Vigran has fought the devastation of diabetes and obesity among her young Latino patients in determined and personal ways.

She has told parents, in painful conversations, that they must feed their families differently or risk their children’s lives. Quarterly for the past three years, she has arranged healthy cooking classes for families in the Rancho Cordova neighborhood she serves.


World AIDS Day message: Get tested
San Diego Union-Tribune

Everyone should get tested for HIV.

That’s the message health officials from San Diego to Washington have emphasized on the eve of World AIDS Day, held each Dec. 1 since 1988. This year’s theme is “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”


Routine HPV vaccine recommended for boys
Los Angeles Times

A vaccine that protects against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus should be routinely given to boys ages 11 and 12 to prevent anal cancer, a government advisory committee has decided.

Though many parents may not wish to contemplate the future sex lives of their pre-adolescent children, vaccinating them young is the best way to avoid the risk of the cancer-causing virus, experts said Tuesday [October 25, 2011].

The recommendation is sure to ignite further debate among the Republican presidential candidates who have focused intently on whether the controversial vaccine, called Gardasil, is appropriate for girls — who receive it for prevention of cervical cancer — let alone for boys.


Disparities cloud health improvements in past decade, report finds
Kaiser Health News

Minority and low-income groups continue to be less likely to have a regular source of health care when compared to the general population, despite efforts over the past decade to remedy the situation. This and other health disparities persist across race, ethnicity, income level and education, according to the final review of Healthy People 2010, which was released Thursday [October 6, 2011].


Beach cities’ next wave: Getting healthier
Los Angeles Times

Madison Elementary formed a “walking school bus” to get children — and their parents — to exercise. Good Stuff Restaurants started promoting to-go boxes so customers don’t overeat. Crowne Plaza Hotel on Harbor Drive began opening some meetings with music and dancing.