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Five Ways to Make the Most of Your Prescription Drug Plan

(TJ Gibb, VP, Medicare Part D, Humana) - While inflation is forcing many people to cut back on purchases, spending on your health is not where you want to trim your budget. However, if you have a prescription drug plan (PDP), now is a good time to take a closer look at how you can get the most out of your PDP, including ways to make your medications more affordable and accessible.     

Here are six considerations to keep in mind for your medications:     

Smart Shoppers Compare Costs: Many seniors take multiple medications to treat chronic conditions, which can get expensive. If you’re taking a brand-name drug, you can likely reduce costs by either taking a generic or an alternative medication that treats the same condition but is less expensive. For instance, some pharmacies like CenterWell Pharmacy will let you know if there’s a lower-cost option available and how much it will save you annually.     

• Carefully Choose Your Pharmacy: It is best to select a pharmacy that is in your plan’s network. Some pharmacies, referred to as preferred pharmacies, might offer prescriptions at a lower cost. Check with your PDP to see if there’s another pharmacy in your area that could save you money.       

• Need a Refill? There’s an App for That: Another good way to make sure you refill prescriptions on time and easily manage your medications is to use mobile applications. For example, Humana members have access to MyHumana, a secure and easy-to-use web and mobile application designed to help members get the most out of their PDP benefits.     

• The Pharmacy is Ready to Help: While doctors prescribe your medication, pharmacists are most knowledgeable about them. Many PDPs have pharmacists available to speak with you. If you have any questions or concerns about the medicine you’re taking, make that call rather than wait in line at a pharmacy or for your next doctor’s visit.     

• Get Extra Assistance When Needed: There are low-income subsidies that can further reduce copays and help you afford your medication if you qualify. Additionally, there are patient assistance programs offered through drug manufacturers, foundations and state-based assistance programs that can help cover medication costs.     

• There’s No Place Like Home for Getting Your Medications: Transportation can be costly and not always accessible, making it difficult to get to the pharmacy for needed medications. And you could make a trip to the pharmacy, only to find out your medication is out-of-stock. Instead, take advantage of home delivery options to help ensure medications are received on time. Reduce your costs with home delivery by getting a 90-day supply of the medicine, which often has a lower copay than filling it each month, and by signing up for auto-refills to ensure you don’t miss a dose.       

These options are especially important for seniors to consider since research shows they take an average of 15 prescriptions per year. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage or a stand-alone prescription drug plan, check to see what’s included so you can start using these services.

Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP and PFFS organization and a stand-alone PDP prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal. Other pharmacies are available in the Humana network. 

4 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Medicare Advantage Plan

(George Renaudin, Medicare President, Humana) - As inflation causes us all to stretch our dollars, the majority of Americans are likely focused on finding the best prices without sacrificing quality. Healthcare is no exception, so picking the right insurance plan that meets your needs can be critical to maintaining a balanced budget.       

During the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Election Period, which runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, people eligible for Medicare have the opportunity to select a plan that provides the affordability, convenience and benefits they want as well as the quality healthcare they deserve.     

When evaluating Medicare Advantage plans, here are four key questions to consider:     

• Are your preferred doctors and hospitals in-network? If you have a doctor you trust or limited hospitals in your area, make sure they are in your network before selecting a plan.     

• Do you need dental, vision or hearing coverage? Evaluate your health needs. Some people will just need dental insurance, while others may need vision and hearing coverage.     

• What about prescription drug coverage? Prescription drug coverage is included in many Medicare Advantage plans, and some plans even offer $0 copays. Make a list of your medications and compare estimated prescription costs as you evaluate plans.     

• What additional benefits do you need? Some plans include transportation assistance to and from doctors’ offices; fitness programs; mental health services; or allowances for out-of-pocket dental, vision or hearing costs. Medicare Advantage members may also consider getting healthcare in the home from in-network providers, such as Heal for primary care or CenterWell Home Health for acute care and chronic health issues.     

There are many new Medicare Advantage offerings this year, so it is worth taking the time to evaluate your options to find the best plan for your healthcare needs --  and your wallet. In fact, consumers who select Medicare Advantage save nearly $2,000 per year compared with what beneficiaries pay with original Medicare.     

For more information, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, you can learn about Humana Medicare Advantage plans, which are recommended by USAA, by going to or calling 1-888-372-2614 (TTY: 711) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week, to speak with a licensed sales agent.

Additional Information
Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP AND PFFS organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal. Other providers are available in the Humana network.  

USAA and the USAA logo are registered trademarks of the United Services Automobile Association. All rights reserved. USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. Use of the term “member” or “membership” refers to membership in USAA Membership Services and does not convey any legal or ownership rights in USAA. Restrictions apply and are subject to change.   

Understanding Common Kidney Diseases

(NewsUSA) - Did you know that one in seven Americans lives with a kidney disease? As a nephrologist, I see the range of emotions patients experience when they are first diagnosed. Anxiety, fear and guilt are all common feelings that may be accompanied by physical aches and pains stemming from their condition. While these emotions may be overwhelming, I encourage my patients to take charge of their diagnosis by educating and empowering themselves to learn more about a management strategy that works for them.     

I also try to educate my patients on the nuances between kidney diseases, as some variants -- such as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) -- can be inherited and easily masked by another condition, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and the sickle cell trait. The following are common kidney diseases you should be aware of so that you can discuss them with your family and your healthcare provider:     

• Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is characterized by kidney damage or a decrease in kidney function for at least three months. People living with CKD lose their ability to filter extra salt and fluid from the blood properly due to loss of kidney function. CKD is common in the United States, with more than 37 million adults potentially living with this disease. Individuals are at a higher risk for CKD if they already have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or a family history of kidney failure.     

• Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disorder and a form of chronic kidney disease that causes cysts to form and grow in the kidneys; as cysts grow, kidneys enlarge and damage progresses, reducing kidney function and potentially leading to kidney failure.   

 • Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is an inherited, rare disease that affects more than 140,000 Americans. ADPKD, the most common form of PKD, causes cysts to form and grow in the kidneys. As the cysts grow, kidneys enlarge, with some kidneys growing to the size of a football. As a result, kidney function progressively declines and may lead to kidney failure.     

ADPKD may be diagnosed by clinical imaging such as an ultrasound, computed tomography  scan or magnetic resonance imaging. Genetic testing may also be used to diagnose ADPKD. While ADPKD is considered a rare disease, it frequently occurs in families impacted by the condition -- with a child of a parent with ADPKD having a 50 percent chance of inheritance.     

• Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) is often detected before a baby is born due to ultrasound images showing the unborn baby’s kidneys larger than normal. A child is only born with ARPKD if both parents are carriers of the gene that causes it.   

 There are a variety of healthy lifestyle changes and management strategies that may help to delay disease progression such as maintaining a kidney-friendly diet, drinking a certain amount of water and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s also important to utilize educational resources, such as, to ensure you’re educated about the disease so you can have open conversations with your doctor and family.

Dr. Dahl is a paid consultant of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.

Join National Stair Climb to Honor Fallen Firefighters, Support Their Families

(NewsUSA) - Joe Minogue knows the meaning of service. The retired lieutenant from the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) began his firefighting career in 1998. But on September 11, 2001, his chosen career changed radically when the World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed following a devastating terrorist attack.     

Minogue rushed to the rubble. He would not know at the time that his musical talent would become part of his duty. He became an FDNY bugler for the Ceremonial Unit, playing Taps for hundreds of firefighter funerals and memorials.     

Minogue remains an active member of the FDNY community. He’s currently a liaison to the FDNY for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), the nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1992 to lead a nationwide effort honoring America’s fallen firefighters, assisting their families and working to reduce line-of-duty deaths.     

Every year, Minogue now participates in the NFFF National 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb to commemorate the FDNY firefighters killed in the 9/11 attacks. He says the climbs are meaningful for three reasons. “It’s about the past, the now, and the future. We remember the past; we live in the now because we don’t know what the future will bring. And no matter what -- we can’t forget the 343 who gave their lives in service, so we’re honoring their memory and supporting their families into the future, for as long as they need.”     

The National Stair Climb takes place on October 16 at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY. Participants symbolically retrace the steps of the FDNY firefighters who died on 9/11 by climbing stairs until they reach the equivalent of 110 stories -- or 2,220 steps -- of the World Trade Center. Each climber also carries a photo of a firefighter who died on 9/11. Visit this link to the Belmont climb to register and participate in New York on October 16.      

Approximately 50 local NFFF Stair Climbs also occur yearly in cities on or around September 11. Funds from the climbs support much-needed programs for families of firefighters killed in the line of duty. These programs offer various services, including grief and behavioral counseling -- and even a summer camp for the children of fallen firefighters. Current FDNY members benefit from this support as well as the survivors of those lost on September 11, 2001. The programs are available for as long as firefighters and their families need them.     

Anyone anywhere can support fallen firefighters and their families by climbing, walking or even biking in an NFFF Virtual Stair Climb. That’s possible now through December 31, 2022. Registration is required HERE.     

For more information and other ways to support families of fallen firefighters and reduce line-of-duty deaths, visit

Medicare Cuts Could Limit Access to Critical Lab Tests

(NewsUSA) - Medical tests done by clinical laboratories are an essential part of health care. However, repeated Medicare reimbursement cuts to clinical laboratory services could threaten patients’ access to common tests used to diagnose, monitor and manage serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.     

A new campaign, called Stop Lab Cuts, is working to fix this problem and is urging Congress to pass the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act (SALSA) this year.     

SALSA is intended to reform the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) passed by Congress in 2014, which has led to three rounds of payment cuts to laboratory services since the law was enacted.     

PAMA put Medicare reimbursement for clinical laboratory tests on an unsustainable path of multiyear cuts and relied on a narrow sample of clinical laboratory test prices to set Medicare rates, according to the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), the national trade organization representing clinical laboratories that provide diagnostic services across the United States.     

Congress has acknowledged the potentially harmful effects of PAMA and has taken bipartisan legislative action three times to delay cuts. Now, on the cusp of the next scheduled round of cuts, SALSA has been introduced to reform PAMA and protect access to laboratory tests, according to ACLA.     

SALSA has support from both parties in the House and Senate and from patient, provider and hospital groups.     

“Without congressional action this year, laboratories across the country will face a fourth round of cuts to reimbursement. These cuts could reduce access to testing and undermine the laboratory infrastructure essential for day-to-day care and needed to respond to emergencies such as COVID-19 and monkeypox. Ongoing cuts to payment will also stifle innovation and investment in new screening and diagnostic tests,” ACLA leadership said in a statement.   

Reforms proposed in SALSA include:     

  • Ensuring that representative data is used in Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) rates and alleviating the reporting burden on labs by using statistical sampling.     
  • Setting a limit of 5% on how much a CLFS rate could be increased or decreased from year to year.       
  • Improving the types of private payor data used to set CLFS rates.     
  • Increasing the length of time between data reporting from three years to four years.     

America needs a strong clinical laboratory infrastructure to support the delivery of routine patient care, and passage of SALSA would help protect access to the most common laboratory tests on which so many of America’s seniors depend, according to ACLA. 

New Non-Prescription Medical Food Offers Help For Meal-Triggered Indigestion

The most common symptoms of meal-triggered indigestion or Functional Dyspepsia are nausea, bloating, belching, inability to finish a normal-size meal, feelings of fullness and pressure in the upper belly and upper-belly pain or burning.

But sufferers may find help with FDgard, a new non-prescription medical food specially formulated for the dietary management of meal-triggered indigestion or Functional Dyspepsia, which affects an estimated 1 in 6 adults in the U.S.

FDgard is the only non-prescription medical food clinically studied for this relatively common but frustrating condition, and it's available in local pharmacies nationwide. Each FDgard capsule contains targeted-release microspheres of caraway oil and l-Menthol, the primary component found in peppermint oil, engineered for release in the upper belly, where discomfort most often occurs. The combination of caraway oil and l-Menthol have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing or improving dyspepsia discomfort, including feelings of pain and burning, early fullness, pressure, and bloating, which makes FDgard an ideal pre-meal companion to help control meal-triggered symptoms.

Based on results of two peer-reviewed and presented studies at the American College of Gastroenterology meeting in October 2017, FDgard showed a high level of patient satisfaction and rapid improvement of Functional Dyspepsia symptoms. In a first-ever clinical study conducted in eight centers across the U.S., known as FDREST (Functional Dyspepsia Reduction and Evaluation Safety Trial), FDgard showed significant reduction and rapid relief of Functional Dyspepsia symptoms in 24 hours. In a second real-world, patient-reported outcomes study of 600 patients, called FDACT (Functional Dyspepsia Adherence and Compliance Trial), the findings showed a high level of patient satisfaction and overall symptom relief with FDgard.

More and more doctors are turning to FDgard for the management of meal-triggered indigestion or Functional Dyspepsia. In fact, in a recent nationwide survey of 200 gastroenterologists, FDgard was the number-one-recommended herbal product for Functional Dyspepsia.

"Functional Dyspepsia can have a significant impact on one's quality of life," says Michael Epstein, M.D., F.A.C.G., A.G.A.F., a leading gastroenterologist and Chief Medical Advisor of IM HealthScience, LLC.

"People are afraid to eat, they are afraid to go out to restaurants, they are afraid to sit down and enjoy a meal with friends," he says. "I explain to my patients that what we are dealing with is not a life-threatening medical condition."

Dr. Epstein says that in his experience, FDgard is a great addition for fast relief of frustrating Functional Dyspepsia symptoms, especially since some patients want to take a natural product with minimal side effects. "I appreciate having this effective, non-prescription option for my patients, so more patients can proactively manage their Functional Dyspepsia symptoms."

He explains that the combination of l-Menthol and caraway oil works synergistically to address the pain, pressure and early fullness that people with meal-triggered indigestion or Functional Dyspepsia experience.

FDgard should be taken under a doctor's supervision; the usual adult dosage is two capsules twice daily. FDgard is available in the digestive aisle at Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid nationwide.

Learn more by visiting


Scuba Therapy Helps Veterans Heal

Scuba diving might not be the first therapy that comes to mind to help these individuals, but data support the value of scuba diving for improving the physical and mental health of people suffering from conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and chronic pain.

Diveheart, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001, provides adaptive scuba training to volunteer divers and instructors, and offers unique opportunities in zero gravity to veterans and others with a variety of disabilities. The Diveheart motto, "Imagine the Possibilities," reflects the positive attitude of the organization and the hope and healing it offers.

A subset of the organization, Diveheart Military Wounded focuses specifically on introducing veterans with physical and mental disabilities to the benefits of scuba therapy.

On the physical side, scientific research and the personal experiences of veterans show that water pressure and the feeling of weightlessness can relieve physical and mental tension as well as chronic pain.

"The weightlessness kind of helps my body release itself," says Coast Guard veteran Kevin Cozzie in an interview with the Daily Herald, a publication based in suburban Chicago. "I can feel it when I get out of the water."

Ian James Brown, an Air Force veteran who was injured in the line of duty, returned to scuba diving after his injury through a Diveheart program.

"I discovered scuba again," he says in an interview on the Diveheart website, "I was able to integrate skills I thought I had lost," such as the regulation of breathing and balance, he says. "It made me challenge myself a bit more."

Mr. Brown, who suffers from chronic neurospinal pain but has chosen to forego medication, "felt this euphoric feeling," and realized that he was "living pain-free for the first time in 11 years," during an extended dive in Cozumel.

The mental health benefits of scuba diving are as valuable as the physical. Veterans who have participated in Diveheart programs report that learning new skills, gaining confidence, and bonding with other veterans who have experienced similar challenges create a sense of community and empowerment.

For many disabled veterans, scuba diving helps them realize the possibilities rather than focus on their limitations, according to Diveheart founder Jim Elliott.

Diveheart relies on volunteers and donations to help provide adaptive diving and scuba therapy experiences at no cost to participants.

Visit for more information about the way scuba diving can change veterans' lives.


Scuba Diving Brings Health, Hope to Injured And Disabled

The weightlessness of a water environment allows individuals with a range of injuries or disabilities to exercise, relax, have fun, and gain confidence. Children and adults with challenges including traumatic brain injuries, amputation, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and blindness can enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of scuba diving.

Diveheart, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001, trains thousands of volunteers and works with injured and disabled individuals across the world, in areas including the United States, Mexico,UK, Malaysia, Israel, Philippines and the Caribbean.

As Darrell Young, a Vietnam veteran who is paraplegic as the result of a spinal cord injury, explains in a testimonial on the Diveheart website, "Diving gives me a high expectancy of myself. It gives me a goal to accomplish knowing that when it comes to the finish line it doesn't matter how I finish my dive, but the feeling of strength I gain from diving," he says.

Diveheart relies on volunteers and donations to help provide adaptive diving and scuba therapy experiences at no cost to the participants. Most of the initial training and first diving experiences occur in school or community pools. Participants don't even need to know how to swim to benefit from therapeutic scuba diving, and the learning curve is almost immediate, according to Diveheart's website details.

Diveheart works to spread the word that diving is a real option with many benefits for the individuals affected with injuries and for the volunteers who get involved as "dive buddies." The basic experience of being in the water with the support of a trained "dive buddy" can relieve pain, improve focus, and bring joy, according to Diveheart participants.

Diveheart also provides adaptive dive training for those who want to take the next step and become adaptive divers or dive buddies to help others.

Most Diveheart participants are eager for destination scuba-diving adventures once individuals are trained and comfortable with the scuba experience. Diveheart offers opportunities for fundraising and also works to find grants for those who struggle with the cost of a dive getaway.

In addition, Diveheart works with the science and medical communities to provide data and research opportunities on the benefits of therapeutic scuba diving for a range of medical conditions.

For more information on participating, volunteering, or donating, visit


Investigational Therapy May Change How Urinary Tract Cancer is Treated

The cancer is called upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC). It affects the lining of the kidney and the ureter, the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder.

UTUC can be classified as high-grade or low-grade. People diagnosed with the high-grade disease usually must have their kidney, or both their kidney and ureter, removed. Those with low-grade UTUC can sometimes be treated by tumor removal using a special scope.

Unfortunately, the procedure to remove the tumor is associated with a high rate of recurrence, and repeated procedures are often required. Around 20 percent of patients with low-grade UTUC eventually require kidney and ureter removal due to disease recurrence or progression.

There are about 7,500 new cases of UTUC diagnosed in the United States annually. To date, no drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of UTUC.

The challenge of treating UTUC is rooted in the way the body functions. Urothelial cell cancers in the bladder are treated by surgical removal followed by chemotherapy instilled in the bladder and applied directly to the cancer cells. This approach is extremely challenging in the kidney and ureter because the flow of urine rapidly washes the medication away before it has time to work.

"It is exciting to have a clinical trial underway to study an investigational drug that may allow chemotherapy drugs to remain in the upper tract for a prolonged time," notes Diane Zipursky Quale, Co-Founder of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network.

Well-designed clinical trials are the best way to determine whether an investigational drug is safe and effective and offers an acceptable balance of risks and benefits.

"The OLYMPUS study may shift how low-grade UTUC is treated in the future," says Karim Chamie, MD, MSHS, Associate Professor of Urology at UCLA. "As a urologist, I am excited about the possibility of providing an alternative to surgery for my patients diagnosed with low-grade UTUC."

If you are interested in learning more about clinical trials for investigational treatments of low-grade UTUC, such as the OLYMPUS trial, speak to your doctor about the possibility of participating in a clinical trial.

You can also visit or go to (NCT02793128) to find a clinical trial site in your area.

Teeth Grinding Can Be A Real Headache

Involuntary and excessive clenching and grinding of the teeth (known in medical terms as bruxism) is a common condition, so prevalent that it affects 1 in 5 adults in the U.S

And this number continues to increase.

It's probably no surprise to learn that bruxism can result in significant tooth wear and enamel erosion, leading to tooth surface sensitivity, chipped and fractured teeth, as well as a host of other dental issues that may require expensive treatment. But, what you may not realize is that over 90 percent of bruxism sufferers also experience headache pain caused by their teeth grinding.

If you think about it, the link between teeth and jaw clenching, and headaches caused by teeth grinding, make a lot of sense. Because the jaw is capable of exerting more than 250 pounds of force when clenching, this amount of force can crack a walnut.

This extreme tooth-on-tooth force helps explain tooth wear caused by teeth grinding and may also lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and potential TMJ issues from teeth grinding.

The temporomandibular joints are flexible joints found on each side of your head in front of the ear. Responsible for all jaw movements including eating and talking, they are the most active joints in your body and thus endure a lot of wear and tear. They connect the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull. Excessive teeth clenching and grinding, which generally occurs during sleep, puts pressure on these joints and as a result can cause far-reaching pain in your temples, behind the eyes, in the back of your neck and through your cheeks and ears.

The exact cause of bruxism is not known, but it is widely believed that stress is a primary trigger and once the stressful event has passed, the clenching and grinding usually subsides. However, the amount of damage and tooth wear caused by teeth grinding that can be done within a brief period can be significant.

That is why it so important that you seek treatment once you realize you are a teeth grinder, not only to stop your nagging headache pain, but also to prevent any further damage to your teeth.

While there is no medication currently available to treat bruxism, dental experts recommend wearing a dental grind guard to protect the teeth from further damage and potentially help alleviate TMJ pain.

To this end, Ora-GUARD is a dental grind guard unlike any other. Ora-GUARD's revolutionary, patented design combines a soft, medical-grade material for fitting and cushioning the teeth during clenching, combined with a hard surface design that allows your teeth and jaws to slide naturally forward, protecting your teeth from the damaging effects of grinding and at the same time releasing tension in the TMJ muscle.

For those looking for headache and pain relief from teeth grinding and TMJ, Ora-GUARD could be the answer.

Visit for more information.


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