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Will The H1N1 Flu Vaccine Be Effective

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 @ 07:11 PM

Tags: H1N1 Vaccine

  The H1N1 is a mutated version of the flu virus.  It was believed to start in Mexico in a pig farm.  This is where the name the swine flu started.  H1N1 spread from Mexico and started becoming contagious.  H1N1 in a worse case scenario may spread to half the US population.  The H1N1 has killed very few people this year in the US.  Most people recovery just fine from the H1N1 virus without requiring medical attention.  The flu virus has actually killed far more than the H1N1 virus.  The flu also has a higher death percentage than H1N1. 

  Many companies are now working on the H1N1 vaccine.  They hope this vaccine will fight off the H1N1 virus.  The H1N1 vaccine is recommended by the CDC for pregnant women, care givers of babies, healthcare workers, children and young adults between 6 months and 24 years old and adults with medical conditions.  Older adults have some immunity to the H1N1 due to their immune systems have seen these strains 30 years back.

  The H1N1 vaccine has the same issues as the flu vaccine.  The flu vaccine is most effective if a close match to the current flu strain is matched.  If the match is not close, the vaccine is not very effective at all. In 2007, a close match of the flu vaccine was obtained.  The vaccine was very effective in preventing the flu.  However, the last flu season the match was not close.  The vaccine was not effective at prevention.  Some people say the vaccine may reduce the severity of the flu if the match is close but that is not proven.

  The H1N1 vaccine is basically a shot in the dark.  No one is sure whether or not this vaccine will be a close match to the strain of H1N1 that is going to happen this flu season.  This vaccine will not prevent you from catching the H1N1 vaccine unless it is a close match.  The vaccine may not necessarily lower the severity of the H1N1 either.  

  The question remains is whether you should take the H1N1 vaccine.  If you take the flu vaccine, the H1N1 vaccination probably will not hurt.  If you have a strong immune system, your body should be able to fight off the H1N1 virus.  A vaccination will not be required.  Most people in the US have already successfully fought off this virus with out any medical intervention.  The H1N1 may also not spread everywhere as some people predict.   

Homeopathy Coverage In FSA Accounts

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Mon, Aug 17, 2009 @ 05:57 PM

Tags: Homeopathy, FSA accounts

  Many people in the US have different type of medical accounts.  Two popular medical accounts that people with health insurance carry are FSA and HSA.  Both of these are similar but are used in a totally different way. This blog entry will concentrate more on FSA but some information about HSA will be given so people do not confuse the two of them.

   HSA stands for health savings account.  This was passed by the Bush adminstration.  It is a way to save money for unforeseen medical expenses.  Health savings account can be contributed about 3K per year by individuals and about 5K per year by families.  These expenses are pre tax.  The money can be withdrawn if a castrophic medical condition takes place.  Money carries over year after year.  The money can be used for retirment if no caustrophic medical condition occurs.  HSA is for people with a high deductible health insurance.  The idea was to reduce helath care costs with the HSA.  High deductible health insurance would be  cheaper than normal health insurance.

  FSA stands for Federal Spending Account or Flexible Spending Account.  This is a tax free way to pay for medical expenses.  FSA are used with low deductible health insurance.  Many families allocate a sum of money that they approximate that they will need for medical expenses.  Examples of medical expenses that may be deducted from the FSA are medical deductibles, doctor co-pays, dentist co-pays and miscellaneous medical costs.  The cost of these medical expenses must be approximated at the beginning of the year. It is recommended to allocate money on the high side because people want to tax deduct their medical expenses.  All of this money must be used by year end.  There is no carry over with FSA accounts.  It is a use it or loss it proposition.

  Most US citizens do not realize that left over money from there FSA accounts can be used to purchase a wide variety of products.  Homeopathy purchases are covered with FSA accounts.   These medicines include both combination homeopathic medicines and single homeopathic remedies.  A doctor note is not necessary or required.  A receipt of your purchase is required.  The receipt must be mailed into your FSA provider.  Other products that people do not know about that may be covered under your FSA are sunblock, anti-itch lotions such as poison ivy lotion and fiber supplements.  Some items not included in FSA accounts are herbal supplements and certain vitamin supplements.  Vitamin B can be used as a FSA purchase but other vitamins can not be used.  To see the full range of over the counter products covered under the FSA, go to

  In summary, HSA accounts are accumulated over time and never expire.  They are used to pay for major medical expenses that may occur with high deductible medical insurance.  FSA accounts are used with lower deductible medical insurances.  FSA expenditures must be allocated at the beginning of the year.  All FSA expenditures must be consumed or the money will be lost.  If all of your money allocated did not go to doctors or other medical expenses, you can use this left over money to purchase a wide range of over the counter products including homeopathy.    


Americans Spend 3 Billion Dollars on Homeopathy

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Tue, Aug 04, 2009 @ 01:06 AM

Tags: Homeopathy in the US

  A study conducted in 2007 showed that Americans spend 3 billion dollars on homeopathy per year.  This accounts for about 8.7% of spending on alternative medicine in the US.  US spends about 34 billion dollars per year on alternative medicines.  43% are spent on vitamins, herbs and natural occuring products.  35% are spent on alternative medicine practioner costs.  12% is spent on Yoga, Tai chi, qigong classes, massage and chiropractic. 

  In 1997, another government survey showed that 27 billion dollars per year was being spent on alternative medicine.  In 10 years, the amount of spending by the US consumer on alternative medicines has increased by 7 billion dollars.  Government officials expect the purchase of alternative medicines to continue to rise in the next several years.  

  The total cost of medical care in the US is 2.2 trillion dollars.  Insurance covers most of the cost of health care.  However, Americans spend 48 billion dollars purchasing prescription drugs per year and about 49 billion dollars in doctor visits that insurance does not cover. Another large cost for the uninsured or under insured is conventional care such as cancer treatments, surguries and so forth.  171 billion dollars were spent on this type of care.

  Much of this data was gathered before the recession of the US.  Many people are assuming alternative medicine popularity is growing due to loss of insurance coverage by many Americans.  Homeopathy and vitamins can be purchased inexpensively and without a prescription most of the time.  Prescription drugs require a doctor visit and may not be affordable to many uninsured patients.  In fact, most medicines are except from FDA regulation all together.  Homeopathy products are loosely regulated.  The FDA assumes homeopathy to be harmless since the medicines are too dilute to cause any harm.  

More research needs to be done on alternative therapies to decide which ones are effective.  However, many alternative therapies such as homeopathy require special trials since most of the remedies are individualized.  Acupuncture is also another alternative therapy where trials are difficult to do.  Research does exist in other countries for alternative medicine.  Extensive research has been done on homeopathy in the UK and the rest of Europe.  India also is doing extensive research on homeopathy.  US does not really need to start from scratch on alternative medicine research.  US can simply look at some of the promising alternative medicine trials and try to replicate those in a large scale. 

 Alternative medicines make up a small portion of Americas health care costs.   Alternative medicines cost make up about 1.5% of the total health care cost in the US.  Do you see even more American consumers using alternative type medicines such as homeopathy in the future  Do you think the amount of prescription drugs will decrease in the future?  How large a market share can homeopathic medicine have in the US?  



Center For Disease Control and Prevention

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