Washington State Office Of The Insurance Commissioner
Trying to solve a problem with your insurance company? Have a question about which coverage is right for you? Need help navigating the Medicare maze?
This State office is here to help protect insurance consumers. They are concerned about all types of insurance. You will find their home page at http://www.insurance.wa.gov. Call them at 1-800-562-6900 or file a complaint online.
They also maintain the SHIBA Helpline(Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors HelpLine), a health insurance resource offering personal asistance.
Medicare's Expanded Preventive Services
Over the past few years changes in Medicare have expanded benefits to cover many cancer screen tests. Since January 1998 Medicare has covered screening mammograms once a year without referral from a physician. Changes in Medicare laws passed last December increased the frequency of coverage for screening pap smears and pelvic exams from once every three years to once every two years. They're covered once every 12 months if you are high risk for cervical or vaginal cancer.
Since January 2000, prostate screening tests, including the digital rectal exam and the PSA blood test have been covered annually for all men with Medicare age 50 and older. Colorectal cancer screening tests, such as sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, can detect polyps that can become cancerous. Recent law changes have expanded coverage of colonoscopies for all individuals with Medicare Part B. not just those at high risk.
To learn more about other preventive services covered by Medicare, visit the website at www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
This warning forwarded by Judith supplements the same warning given by one of our readers, (I think it was Bill Murphy) some time ago:
BOILING WATER IN A MICROWAVE
I recently received the following story from a friend. Since I wasn't sure of the authenticity I contacted General Electric's small appliance group and asked if it was correct. Their response supports the danger reported in the story.
Anyone who uses a microwave oven to heat water should be made aware of the potential hazards.
My 26-year old son decided to have a cup of coffee. He took a cup of water and put it in the microwave to heat it up (something that he had done numerous times before). I am not sure how long he set the timer for but he told me he wanted to bring the water to a boil.
When the timer shut the oven off, he removed he cup from the oven. As he looked into the cup he noted that the water was not boiling but instantly the water in the cup blew up into his face. The cup remained intact until he threw it out of his hand but all the water had flown out into his face due to the buildup of energy.
His whole face is blistered and he has 1st and 2nd degree burns to his face which may leave scarring. He also may have lost partial sight in his left eye.
The doctor who was attending him stated that this is a fairly common occurrence and water (alone) should never be heated in a microwave oven. If water is heated in this manner, something should be placed in the cup to diffuse the energy such as a wooden stir stick, tea bag, etc. It is, however, a much safer choice to boil the water in a tea kettle.
Here is what our local science teacher had to say on the matter: "Thanks for the microwave warning. I have seen this happen before. It is caused by a phenomenon known as super heating. It can occur anytime water is heated and will particularly occur if the vessel that the water is heated in is new, or when heating a small amount of water (less than half a cup).
"What happens is that the water heats faster than the vapor bubbles can form. If the cup is very new it is unlikely to have small surface scratches inside it that provide a place for the bubbles to form. As the bubbles cannot form and release some of the heat that has built up, the liquid does not boil, but continues to heat up well past its boiling point.
"What then usually happens is that the liquid is bumped or jarred, which is just enough of a shock to cause the bubbles to rapidly form and expel the hot liquid. The rapid formation of bubbles is also why a carbonated beverage spews when opened after having been shaken." If you pass this on you could very well save someone from a lot of pain and suffering.