Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Affordable Care Act - accountability required

For the first time since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, U.S. citizens will be required to report if they had health insurance coverage on their 2014 tax returns.  Currently, the IRS is expecting people to report honestly on their health insurance status.  If a person did not have health insurance, and indicates this lack of coverage on their tax return, they will also be required to calculate and pay the penalty.  Penalties begin at $95 and can be as high as 1% of the person's annual income.  Some people can apply for exemptions or tax credits, depending on current income and status.

If you have questions about your responsibilities for reporting on your 2014 tax return, it might be best to consult a tax professional.  They are trained to stay on top of the current tax regulations.

For more information, please see:

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Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP
Friday, January 2, 2015

Cough, cough, sniffle, sneeze

Sick boy

We have had our fair share of health issues this winter.  Both of my kids battled strep throat in November.  My husband came down with flu symptoms on Christmas Eve.  He is still recovering.  The first few days that he was sick, he asked me if I thought he should go to the doctor.  I told him that it was just a virus, there was nothing they could do.  On the fourth day with fever and sore throat, he went to the clinic for a strep test.  It came back negative and he was diagnosed with the flu.  The doctor told him that if he had come in the first day or two, they could have given him Tamiflu.  Wait, what??  After all these years of telling people to stay home when they have a virus, the doctors are notwencouraging people to come in the first day or two?  This advice went against everything I had ever read or been told.  So, I did some research.

Tamiflu, according to the company website, "is a prescription medicine used to treat the flu (influenza) in people 2 weeks of age and older who have had flu symptoms for no more than 2 days. Tamiflu can also reduce the chance of getting the flu in people 1 year and older ".  It is not a substitution for the flu vaccine, but rather an anti-viral medication.  Sounds great, right?  Who knew? I thought we couldn't do anything to treat viral infections, except rest and drink plenty of fluids.  So, I decided to research a bit more.

According to a BBC News Health report from April of 2014, millions of dollars have been wasted on the production of Tamiflu, which has been found to be ineffective in treating flu symptoms - no more effective than common pain-killing drugs already on the market.  The research is conflicting, but it points to controversy surrounding the anti-viral drug.

Who do we believe?  Should we run to the doctor at the first signs of flu?  Or, is the age-old advice of staying home to avoid spreading the germs a better course of action?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the best way to treat the flu is to:

1.  Get plenty of rest
2.  Stay hydrated.
3.  Utilize a humidifier
4.  Gargle salt water to soothe a sore throat
5.  Consult your doctor, if needed.

Of course, prevention is the best course of action.  Try to wash your hands often, stay active, eat healthy, and get plenty of rest!

For more information:

Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP

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