- If the Australian Government warns its citizens not to travel to the United States without private health insurance, imagine what it is like for those who live there without it.
- Diabetes research at the University of Newcastle could have a significant impact on the use of nutrition to treat one of the symptoms of the disease.
- Two children have been stung by the potentially deadly Irukandji jellyfish in what are believed to be the first incidents of the season in Western Australia.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 7th January 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
If the Australian Government warns its citizens not to travel to the United States without private health insurance, imagine what it is like for those who live there without it.
“Medical costs in the United States are … extremely high,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smart Traveller website warns.
“A visit to a doctor in the US for even minor complaints can cost several hundred dollars, excluding laboratory tests or medication costs.”
Magaly Zapata, an assistant nurse in Washington DC who earns $US9.50 an hour, said she was lucky her three now-adult children never really got sick while they were growing up.
“All the time I visited the doctor I have to pay the money from my pocket,” she said.
“We’d go to the pharmacy and [get] medication over the counter – that’s it.”
But four years ago she slipped at work, hit her head and ended up in hospital with a $US7,000 debt she is still paying off.
“They took an x-ray, the doctor checked what happened with me,” Ms Zapata said.
“They took an MRI with my head. The doctor said you can’t work like that [for] two to three weeks because [my] knees [were] swelling, hands swelling and I was staying home.
“I’m making arrangements – paying monthly little bit, little bit.”
Under Obamacare – president Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms – Ms Zapata can get a monthly private health insurance plan worth $US499.97, for which she will pay just $US25.97.
“My heart is bumping more fast – this is something wonderful for me,” she said, clearly emotional when she signed up.
More than 10 million Americans have medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act which came into effect at the end of 2013.
The president’s health secretary said it was meeting its goals of access and affordability, and significantly, people with pre-existing health conditions could also no longer be denied health coverage.
Dr Linda Blumberg, an economist and former adviser to the Clinton White House who is now at the Urban Institute in Washington DC, said the program had cut the number of Americans without insurance by a third.
Diabetes research at the University of Newcastle could have a significant impact on the use of nutrition to treat one of the symptoms of the disease.
Hunter region volunteers are being sought for an on-going study to measure the impact of the nutrient resveratrol on blood circulation in the brain.
Professor Peter Howe said the nutrient occurs naturally in grapes, red wine and chocolate, and its use might delay the onset of mental impairment in sufferers of Type 2 diabetes.
“We know that as we age, our cognitive abilities slow down,” he said.
“The decline is accentuated in people with Type 2 diabetes and our research is indicating that that is likely to be due at least in part to impairments in blood flow in the brain.”
Professor Howe said volunteers will be administered the natural supplement and then asked to perform simple mental challenges while being monitored.
“A headpiece that has some ultrasound detectors that are able to measure the blood flow in blood vessels within the brain, whilst they are actually doing the test,” he said.
“So we will be able to look at the responses both in terms of cognitive performance of those tasks and changes in blood flow in the brain.”
Two children have been stung by the potentially deadly Irukandji jellyfish in what are believed to be the first incidents of the season in Western Australia.
A sting triggers a massive rush of adrenaline which drives up the heart rate and causes excruciating pain.
The two children were swimming on different days at Honeymoon Cove, near the Pilbara town of Point Samson, when they were stung.
Dr John Stedman helped treat them at Nickol Bay Hospital.
“When they arrived they were both suffering from quite severe generalised pain, which is a common feature of Irukandji syndrome, as we call it,” he said.
“And they both had quite high pulse rates for children.”
Dr Stedman said a quick response is essential.
“If there’s suspicion of a sting, vinegar should be applied as first aid if available, to the sting site,” he said.
“And we’d suggest that if they develop severe pain in sites distant to the sting, then they should definitely attend hospital, because there’s a good chance that it is an Irukandji that has stung them.”
He said both children responded well to treatment and were sent home.
Irukandji are small but highly toxic jellyfish that bloom in the warm waters of the northern wet season.
They are on record as causing two deaths in Queensland.
The wet season months are the most high-risk time for jellyfish stings as the water temperature can sit above 30 degrees Celsius for much of the day.
Some locals continue to take a daily dip in the ocean at locations like Broome’s Cable Beach.
Residents in northern Australia who swim in the ocean are advised to wear full-body stinger suits through to April.
This has been the news on Health Professional Radio. For more information on today’s items head to hpr.fm/news and subscribe to our podcast on itunes.