Monday, January 14, 2013

Flu insurance

The good news is that I spent a chunk of the weekend replenishing the supply of Jewish penicillin for friends and family. The bad news is that the nation is in the grips of a "flu epidemic," caught shorthanded on vaccines:

"We're hearing of spot shortages," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ... manufacturers already have shipped nearly 130 million doses to doctors' offices, drugstores and wholesalers, out of the 135 million doses they had planned to make for this year's flu season."

Ideally, you got your shot a month or two ago, and are sitting pretty. If not, all is not (necessarily) lost:

"Health insurers are trying to do their part to keep the current U.S. influenza outbreak from becoming anything to write home about ... Massachusetts Blue [Cross] gives advice about preventing the flu from spreading, treating flu at home, seeking professional medical attention for flu symptoms, and insurance coverage for flu vaccination shots."

Many plans cover flu shots, sometimes at 100% (YMMV). We got ours at the nearest chain drugstore, and it was quick and (relatively) painless. And it's not just about your own health, either. As one insurer notes:

"You could infect other people even if you don't get that sick yourself, especially those at high risk such as infants, nursing home residents and people with chronic conditions"

The bug seems to be especially hard on our seasoned citizens, with "about 90 percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur[ing] in people ages 65 and older." So if you (or someone you know) is in that age cohort, seriously consider tracking down a dose or two.

Oh, and: gesundheit!

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