Happy New Year! The new year comes with a host of challenges and opportunities. I would like to cover just a few.
Many will have new insurance with new deductibles and new pharmacy benefit managers. Likewise, networks and deductibles may have changed as well. We encourage you to bring your new insurance cards to your first visit of the new year. It is also important to be ready to pay for your visit with cash or credit because many deductibles reset in the new year. It is also helpful to bring in your formulary so we can prescribe to most cost-effective medications. Many insurances have contracted with different pharmacies which means you may need new prescriptions sent to new pharmacies.
No, it is not too late to have an influenza vaccine. Despite reports questioning the efficacy of our current vaccine, it is still the best way to prevent influenza and avoid life threatening complications like pneumonia. The CDC is reporting a sharp uptick in the incidence of influenza and influenza like illness. Influenza A represents about 86.7% of illness, with Influenza B accounting for the remaining 13.3%. Of the strains of Influenza A, the more virulent H3 strain predominates over the H1 strain by a ratio of 10:1. Tamiflu is still the drug of choice for confirmed illness. It works best when started within 48 to 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. The CDC is not recommending prophylactic treatment of household contacts. A flu vaccine is still the preferred management for the flu season, especially given to cost of Tamiflu and potential drug shortages too.
Increasingly, insurance companies are upping the ante to encourage full participation in all recommended wellness screening. This includes Annual Physicals, attention to obesity, smoking cessation, and regular screening for specific disease states, like colonoscopy for colon cancer, mammograms for breast cancer, bone density testing for osteoporosis, and blood work to screen for high cholesterol and diabetes. Failure to abide by these screens in some cases may trigger letters from insurance companies. Make plans now to have your Annual Physical, or for those in Medicare, an Annual Medicare Wellness exam. In future blogs we will talk about new innovations in many areas of medicine and how Unifour Family Practice is working on your behalf to bring you the “state of the art” in primary care.