I’ve been practicing medicine in Teton Valley for more than 15 years. I’ve had the pleasure of being a family physician for many of you, and I’ve enjoyed watching your families grow. I want what’s best for you and your family, whether or not you choose me as your provider. What’s best for your family is often what’s best for mine, and when a patient asks me “what would you do if it were your child/parent/friend?” I tell them the truth.
I vaccinate. My kids are vaccinated, as are my wife and I. I recommend all my patients who are of proper age and health get immunized against several diseases that once were commonplace in the United States. The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is one of them. We declared measles eliminated from this country in 2000, but the incidences of disease have increased in recent years.
So far this year we have seen over 100 cases of measles spread across 14 states in this country. The majority of those (92 percent) are related to an outbreak linked to theme parks in California including DisneyLand. The 102 cases just in the month of January puts us on track for exceeding the record number of cases (644) we saw in all of 2014.
While we’ve yet to see a case of measles this year in Idaho, we still need to protect ourselves, our families and our community from it.
What’s the big deal about measles?
Measles is highly contagious.
On average, a person with measles will spread the disease to 18 other unvaccinated people, compared to an average of 2 for Ebola and less than 2 for influenza. Measles can spread even when no symptoms are present (4 days before and after a rash appears). It is spread through the air via droplets from sneezes or coughs and can linger on surfaces for up to two hours.
Measles can be deadly.
Complications from the initial viral infection of the measles can lead to hospitalization and even death. Ear infections and pneumonia are the prevailing complications, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can also result. If a person with a compromised immune system comes in contact with the virus, risk is even higher.
An MMR vaccine is more than 95% effective.
The MMR vaccine is provided in two doses, one at age 12-47 months and the next when the child is 4-6 years old. It is the best defense against catching measles, mumps or rubella. You can also choose to add varicella to the vaccination, (MMRV), which vaccinates against chickenpox. While no vaccine is 100% effective, MMR and MMRV are our best options for preventing measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox in our children and in the children who attend school and/or play with our children.
Herd immunity doesn’t work if the herd isn’t vaccinated.
The basic principle of herd immunity is that if enough people are vaccinated (immune) to a disease, those who are too young or sick to get the vaccine themselves will be protected. Some may argue that not vaccinating their child isn’t such a big deal because the majority of children and people are vaccinated. But there’s a tipping point in herd immunity where if even a small percentage of the community is not immune (unvaccinated) it puts the entire community at risk.
The takeaway here is that I hope you, like I do, will vaccinate yourself and your children against these diseases that are now making appearances in our country despite having been wiped out at one point or another.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions, and understand the potential consequences to your family and to the community as a whole based on your decision to vaccinate or not.
Your 1095_A should arrive in the mail in early February. If you want it before then, log on to Healthcare.gov and print out a copy from your account page.
You may receive more than one 1095_A. Keep all of the forms for tax filing purposes.
If you received health insurance coverage via your employer for part of last year and were on the exchange for even a few months, you will still receive a 1095_A.
You can no longer file a 1040EZ if you received subsidized healthcare. You’ll need to fill out a longer form instead.
There’s a new tax form you’ll need this year if you got insurance through the exchange marketplace in 2014.
Those who received insurance premium assistance will receive a statement (form 1095_A) that needs to be included in tax filing for the year 2014.
The form is a statement of benefits received (called premium assistance or premium tax credits) and indicates what your insurance premium was for 2014 and how much assistance the government provided.
While Idaho is running its own insurance exchange for 2015 through Your Health Idaho, the state participated on the federal marketplace via Healthcare.gov for 2014.
The following is from the Healthcare.gov blog:
Form 1095-A and your tax return
If you or anyone in your household enrolled in a health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2014, this tax season you’ll get a new Form 1095-A — Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. You’ll get it in the mail by early February and use it to file your 2014 federal income tax return. Keep it with other important tax information, like your W-2 forms and other tax records.
When you get Form 1095-A, make sure the information matches your records. Check things like coverage start and end dates and the number of people in your household. If you think anything’s wrong, contact the Marketplace call center at (800) 318-2696.
What’s on Form 1095-A?
Information about anyone in your household who enrolled in a health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2014.
Information about the monthly premiums you paid to your health plan.
The amount of any advance payments of the premium tax credit that were paid to your health plan in 2014. These are the credits that lowered what you paid in monthly premiums.
The cost of a “benchmark” premium that your premium tax credit is based on. You won’t get this form if you have health coverage through a job or programs like Medicaid, Medicare, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). You may get more than one Form 1095-A if anyone in your household switched plans in 2014 or reported life changes. You’ll get a Form 1095-A even if you had Marketplace coverage for only part of 2014.
You can download copies of Form 1095-A through your Marketplace account where they may be available before you get your copy in the mail.
It was 10 a.m. October 19Sunday morning when my daughter Hanna and I decided to fulfill our shared goal of kayaking at String Lake. Our family has visited String Lake many times for short hikes and picnics and we’ve always been envious of people who were out on canoes, SUPs, or kayaks on this translucent fairy-tale of a lake.
Only a couple months ago Hanna had said to me “Mom, are we really going to let another summer go by without kayaking on String Lake?” That put a burr under my saddle that finally resulted in action, though by now we were firmly into pre-winter season.
I announced our intentions to the male side of our family and my husband, who already had a tee time at Targhee Village, responded less than enthusiastically as he went out the door with his golf bag though he did promise to be back by 1 p.m. to head over Teton Pass. My teenage son assured me that we’d have fun without him and that he intended to remain glued to his laptop playing an addictive monster vs. monster game rather than go outside on a crystal clear day in the Tetons.
Using my best mother skills, I cajoled him into coming with us by being alternately threatening and heart-broken. Just as I was about to remind him that I could die at any moment from any number of horrific medical crises, he closed his laptop and pledged his participation.
I had the rental kayaks, lunch bags, beverages and kids all ready to go when my husband came back early (early!) from golfing and off we went, toward adventure, beauty and timeless family moments. Ten minutes into the drive, no one was speaking to each other due to a few snippy remarks about what a wet, rotten, freezing cold time we were all going to have. In other words, someone really wanted to finish his golf game.
In silence, we finished the 90-minute drive arriving at the beach at 2:30 p.m. Suddenly, it became clear that we were not driving to our doom. The Cathedral Peaks were reflected like etchings on the water which sparkled and beckoned us to float upon it. So we did.
By Tony Hochstetler from Fort Collins (String Lake Panorama – Explored)
Some people toss around adjectives like popcorn and we all become tired of the hyperbole. Was that bologna sandwich really fabulous? Does her salon hair color really look absolutely incredible?
I’m here to tell you that String Lake was magical that afternoon. Depths of different shades of green. Shadows of fish bursting under us. The hush of the mountains and crackle of red-gold autumn leaves in the breeze. The sound of our teenagers laughing as they rowed their double seated kayak together.
My husband and I floated upstream, taking in the views and occasionally dipping an oar to swing us to another perspective of the range or the beach or the kids. The word “lucky” was said a few times.
I believe that everyone needs these moments out in nature. There’s a power in wild waters, mountains and greenery that heals and redefines us. The Palmer family drove home that day feeling closer, content, and lucky.
Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.