Patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.

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Turning 65: The Sellers Were After Me

Trudy Lieberman | April 28, 2011

Even before I officially signed up for Medicare, sellers of Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug benefits and Medigap policies began stuffing my mailbox with marketing brochures and lead cards'the kind that ask for your name and address and tell you that a salesperson will call if you return the card. Since the first of the year, I have received five lead cards asking for personal information, four solicitations for Medicare Advantage plans, two for stand-alone drug plans and three for Medigap insurance.

Health Information Technology Has Come to My Town

Linda Bergthold | April 28, 2011

All the talk about information technology in health care was just an abstraction to me until it actually came to my town. I read about all the money the federal government was spending to spur the development of electronic medical records, but most of my records were still stored in those vast walls of color coded folders. Then my medical group introduced a new IT system that allows patients to do a lot of fantastic things online ' for FREE!

Pothole Forming Ahead: Aging and the Migration of Health Services and Information Online

Jessie Gruman | April 27, 2011

It was only a small hole in the pavement in front of my building last fall. But the seasonal snow, ice and salt, a dramatic increase in traffic and the neglect of a cash-strapped local bureaucracy has produced a honking big pothole that slows a lot of people down. We face a similar figurative pothole as vital health-related activities such as appointment scheduling, interaction with providers and comparative cost and quality information migrate to the Web.

Mayo Finds Heart Patients Skip Meds Due to Costs; Self-rationing in Health Continues

Jane Sarasohn Kahn | April 25, 2011

Health economist and management consultant, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, discusses a Mayo study which found half of people in the study stopped taking their statins due to cost. Sarasohn-Kahn says, 'Welcome to world of self-rationing in health, where even the lucky health citizen receiving the best acute care money (and third-party health insurance) can buy doesn't follow through with the recommended self care at home.'

Guest Blog: The Role of Experience in Science-Based Medicine

Harriet Hall | April 21, 2011

Before we had EBM (evidence-based medicine) we had another kind of EBM: experience-based medicine. Mark Crislip has said that the three most dangerous words in medicine are 'In my experience.' I agree wholeheartedly.

Semper Paratus: Our Decisions About Emergency Care

Jessie Gruman | April 20, 2011

Nora misjudged the height of the stair outside the restaurant, stepped down too hard, jammed her knee and tore her meniscus. Not that we knew this at the time. All we knew then was that she was howling from the pain. There we were on a dark, empty, wet street in lower Manhattan, not a cab in sight, with a wailing, immobile woman. What to do? Call 911? Find a cab to take her home and contact her primary care doctor for advice? Take her home, put ice on her knee, feed her Advil and call her doctor in the morning?

Inside Health Care: Is Your Doctor a Social Butterfly?

CFAH Staff | April 19, 2011

There appears to be no area that social media cannot soak through to: farming, politics, dating, death and even taxes. It comes as no surprise then that social media has diffused into the world of health care. Clinicians, researchers, patients and hospital CEOs are blogging, tweeting and sending Facebook messages. This post reveals some of the recent dialogue on the web surrounding social media and its use by health care professionals.

1st Person: My Epidemic

First Person | April 18, 2011

Journalist Meg Heckman becomes the source when she shares her experience of living with hepatitis C. She says, The worst thing about having hep C isn't the disease or symptoms, it's the way others perceive you when they find out you have it. Watch this video, which was also featured on the Association of Health Care Journalists Covering Health blog and Stanford's Scope medical blog. Meg's six part 'My Epidemic' series was originally featured in the Concord Monitor.

The Conversation Continues: Vitamins & Supplements

CFAH Staff | April 15, 2011

A new report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that half of U.S. adults take vitamins and other dietary supplements.

Guest Blog: Death Panels and Decision Making: A Radio Interview

Amy Berman | April 15, 2011

Diana Mason, former editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing, interviews Program Officer at The John A. Hartford Foundation, Amy Berman, and The New York Times blogger and nurse, Theresa Brown. Amy Berman was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer earlier this year, and in this interview, she says, 'Nothing was off limits.'

The Lemon of Illness and the Demand for Lemonade

Jessie Gruman | April 13, 2011

"Life gives you lemons and you make lemonade your response to all those cancer diagnoses is so positive, such a contribution!" "Your work demonstrates that illness is a great teacher." "Your illness has been a blessing in disguise." Well-meaning, thoughtful people have said things like this to me since I started writing about the experience of being seriously ill and describing what I had to do to make my health care work for me. I generally hear in such comments polite appreciation of my efforts, which is nice because I know that people often struggle to know just what to say when confronted by others' hardships.

Inside Health Care: Overtested

CFAH Staff | April 12, 2011

Doctors and an executive vice president share experiences of over-testing and over-treatment in medicine and propose solutions to alleviate the problem by using you.

Turning 65: It Was Time for Medicare

Trudy Lieberman | April 11, 2011

This is the first in a series of posts that examine the process of signing up for Medicare, navigating its rules, choosing supplemental coverage and planning for health care in a program with a very uncertain future.

Are We All Ready for Do-It-Yourself Health Care?

Jessie Gruman | April 6, 2011

The outsourcing of work by businesses to the cheapest available workers has received a lot of attention in recent years. It has largely escaped notice, however, that the new labor force isn't necessarily located in Southeast Asia, but is often found here at home and is virtually free. It is us, using our laptops and smart phones to perform more and more functions once carried out by knowledgeable salespeople and service reps.

1st Person: At 98, Bob Stewart Would Rather Be Dancing

First Person | April 5, 2011

Bob Stewart, who will turn 99 this May, began taking supplements in 2000, when he was in his late 80s. The retired podiatrist is also a strong believer in keeping active. He takes exercise classes at least three times a week and participates in numerous community activities, including a local men's chorus.

Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements: Before You Dive In

Health Behavior News Service | April 5, 2011

At 98 years old, Bob Stewart swears by his dietary supplements as a secret to successful aging. He takes flaxseed and apple cider vinegar pills, along with a Japanese supplement called nattokinase. He has never had a 'bad experience' or side effects, he says. But Betsy McMillan, an Ohio writer, describes her overdose from a vitamin B complex supplement. After a few weeks of taking it'in which she never exceeded the dose recommended on the bottle'her liver began to swell and she was overwhelmed by fatigue. It turned out that the pills contained potentially fatal levels of niacin.