Facebook support groups packed with predatory marketers

Looking to Facebook for help with addiction? Take care: the social network is full of predators, and they know where to find vulnerable people. They're sleazy marketers, brokering questionable self-help and inpatient treatment options.

A stranger named Garrett Hall sent Couch a Facebook message. “Hey Lauri [sic], I saw your name on the Affected By Addiction support group, and I had this weird/strong impulse to just reach out,” Hall wrote to Couch. “[A]re you doing ok?” ...

Couch soon got a call from Meghan Calvert, a paid marketer for a treatment center called Pillars Recovery. It’s owned by Darren Orloff, who is part of Affected by Addiction’s volunteer leadership team. Couch, who has a background in sales, knew a sales pitch when she heard it. She told Calvert off for taking advantage of desperate people. ... After the call, Couch was surprised to find that she could not log back in to Affected by Addiction. In fact, she came to realize, she’d been banned.

Specific addiction support groups are the tip of the predatory marketing iceberg, but Affected by Addiction's the one Zuckerberg personally promoted on his own page.

Cat Ferguson:

Facebook, by making desperation so easily searchable, has exacerbated the worst qualities the treatment industry. A word-of-mouth industry with a constant supply of vulnerable and naive targets who feel stigmatized and alone is a scammer’s paradise.

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Canadian healthcare isn't as free as you think

I love you, America! Between living in your country as a digital nomad for part of the year and attending events as part of my job, I've spent a lot of time in the United States. One of the biggest misconceptions that I've run into when talking to my American pals is that they believe we receive free healthcare.

This is mostly incorrect.

Most Canadians, with the exception of Alberta, where I live for half of the year, either pay for our hospital and doctor visits as part of our taxes or are billed monthly by the province we live in. Having been born and raised in Canada, I've taken for granted being able to see doctors or receiving emergency medical care whenever I need it – right up to the point where I no longer could. I needed to visit the hospital, shortly after moving from one province to another. I'd registered as a resident there, but my paperwork had somehow been lost. A month after seeing a doctor, I received an $800 bill in the mail. So, that sucked. Even when things work the way that they're meant to, not everything is covered. Things like dentistry, massage therapy or counseling only happen on a pay-per-use basis, or if you're lucky enough to have a job that affords you a health plan. I fall into this latter group, thanks to my partner. 

And then there's the cost of drugs.

As The Guardian recently pointed out, Canada has the second highest drug prices of any industrialized country in the world. Read the rest

Universal health care is "free stuff" as in "freedom"

Jeb Bush accused Democrats of winning black votes by promising "free stuff," and then Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of "promising free this and free that and free everything." But universal health care is free as in "freedom." Read the rest

How Trumpcare keeps Americans sick and congressmen in office

Michael Goodwin, author of an excellent cartoon history of economics has a new comic about the Republican health care plan, and why its not about helping sick people get affordable medical care but about making rich people richer so they will keep donating money to the GOP. It's humorously illustrated by Dan E. Burr. Read the rest

Reader reviews for animal medication tell a grim story about human healthcare in America

If you want an idea how desperately bad the U.S. healthcare system is for those unable to afford it, the reader reviews on Moxifish—aquarium antibiotics—make for grim reading.

Worked in two days! My fish no longer has a tooth infection:) lol

My fish started work at a new job and his insurance hadn't kicked in yet. Well, of course, my fish got a bad case of bronchitis or something like that. Nevertheless, we decided to get him some meds and boom! Within 2 days he was all new again and just kept swimming!

My fish got bronchitis the first week of a new job and didn't have the time or money to go see a doctor. I received these quickly after ordering them and now my fishy's nasty cough is gone!

My fish have been sick for two weeks straight and having trouble sleeping at night. I finally figured out that the fish have a bad sinus infection and swollen glands. After just a few hours the swelling is gone and my fish can breath again. They were even outside all day building a shed and didn't feel sick at all. :).

$40 for thirty 500mg amoxycillin capsules isn't a good deal, and it seems likely the reader reviews have become more about the joke than the broke. But doctor visits can cost hundreds of dollars without insurance (and $50 or more with it), alternatives are not easily accessible, so here we are.

P.S. survivalists have long suggested stocking up on pet antibiotics for the comic-book apocalypse. Read the rest

An Eel in the Keel

1. Chinese man is constipated. 2. Chinese man remembers an old folk remedy. 3. Remedy involves inserting a live eel up your bum. 4. Chinse man goes to hospital.

Seems like a foregone conclusion that if you insert a live eel in your rectum, health problems will ensue! The slippery monster ate through part of the guy’s intestines and went for a swim. The man went to the hospital to have it removed.

I don’t really have to say anymore because here’s a video from Chinese news with a CGI reenactment of the whole fiasco. From the music, the little green cloud, and the gas mask it appears that Chinese news takes this to be a comedic episode. Just remember this the next time you go out for a nice unagi dinner.

Via SoraNews 24.

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You can already choose a new health plan under the American Health Care Act

With Obamacare all but history, Republicans are moving fast to provide replacement services that embody a principled conservative viewpoint on healthcare for America's poor. Check out the official ACHA website. Read the rest

Death is freedom: Republicans pass Obamacare repeal bill

In a 217-213 vote in the House of Representatives, every Democrat and 20 Republicans were not enough to prevent the passage of Paul Ryan's Obamacare repeal bill. The American Health Care Act (ACHA) will reportedly allow insurers to raise premiums and deny healthcare coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions (including being the victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault, or giving birth by c-section) and amounts to an $880-billion slashing of healthcare services in the form of a tax cut returning mostly to the rich.

The Senate, however, will not need any Democrats to pass it because they are using a procedural mechanism that allows the bill to pass the Senate to pass with just 51 votes instead of the usual 60-vote threshold. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate.

The House measure came to the floor without an updated accounting of how much the bill will cost or its impact. The last assessment, which was done before the bill was altered, said that 24 million people would lose insurance, it would save $300 million and premiums would go down ten percent after ten years.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Georgia, said that having no updated CBO score is slightly concerning.

"It is a concern, but at this point we have to move forward. The American people are clear they want this done, so I think we have to strike when the iron's hot," he said.

The bill must still be voted on in the Senate. Then, assuming it passes, it will be signed into law by President Trump, who had promised before the election to provide healthcare coverage for all Americans. Read the rest

Healthcare facilities widely compromised by Medjack, malware that infects medical devices to steal your information

The healthcare industry is a well-known information security dumpster fire, from the entire hospitals hijacked by ransomware to the useless security on medical devices to the terrifying world of shitty state security for medical implants -- all made worse by the cack-handed security measures that hospital workers have to bypass to get on with saving our lives (and it's about to get worse, thanks to the Internet of Things). Read the rest

Theranos, failed blood-testing startup, sued by Walgreens for $140m

Theranos, led by charismatic founder Elizabeth Holmes, became a billion-dollar startup on the promise of a pinprick blood test that doesn't work. Walgreens, a retailer suckered into partnering the scam, is suing what's left of it for $140m.

Walgreens has filed suit against Theranos in Delaware district court, asking for $140 million and alleging a breach of contract.

Walgreens successfully moved to seal the complaint, citing the non-disclosure agreement, so the details of the alleged contractual breach are still unknown. A Walgreens spokesperson confirmed that the company had filed the lawsuit, but declined to add further comment.

Walgreens operated the "Theranos wellness centers," but apparently never bothered to validate the technology. (Previously)

Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

Paul Ryan admits Obamacare is here to stay after Clinton victory

House Speaker Paul Ryan admits that a Clinton victory in tomorrow's general election dooms efforts to overturn Obamacare. The battle moves on to preventing evolution toward a single-payer system; Republicans fear a public option may prove a more popular way to lower costs than feeding the poor to insurance companies.

Ryan admitted that a victory by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would mark the end of his quixotic quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That may seem like an obvious conclusion, but it qualifies as a noteworthy statement because it’s coming from the man who oversaw dozens of hopeless votes to overturn the 6-year-old health care law. ...

Weber: Obamacare doesn’t get repealed, likely ever, if Hillary wins. Doesn’t get repealed. Agree?

Ryan: Yes. Yes, I do agree. Hillary’s talking about a public option, which is basically double-down on government-run health care. That’s the opposite of what we’re offering. We actually have a plan to replace Obamacare. All of us have basically gotten to consensus on what our plan is, but we have to win an election to put it in place.

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The world's biggest asshole

It's hard to say why The world's biggest asshole is worth watching without spoilering it, but Coleman Sweeney is at least an entertaining asshole—until he isn't. Read the rest

Mentally ill man jailed over $5 worth of snacks dies in cell after waiting months for mental health care

Man, the first few paragraphs of this Washington Post story about a mentally ill man who died in a jail while waiting for medical care are so devastating. Read the rest

Texas governor bans Planned Parenthood from cancer screening program for poor women

Texas governor Greg Abbott OK's ban on healthcare provider's non-abortion-related services for the poor.

Should a past mental health episode mean this mom loses her child?

Steve Herbert for ProPublica

At ProPublica, the story of a young woman who had a mental health crisis -- a psychotic episode -- and as a result, lost custody of her infant daughter. In the crisis incident, the mom became delusional and believed her child had been raped. The child had not been assaulted, nor was she ever harmed by her mom. Four years later, the mom is receiving effective treatment for her postpartum depression and psychosis, and capably raising a son. Yet, the courts in Kansas still won't give back her daughter, arguing she is unfit based an principle sometimes called "predictive neglect." Is this right? Read the rest

Village designed as a home for forgetful seniors

Kelsey Campbell-Dollahan: " there's still no perfect way to care for sufferers of dementia and Alzheimer's. In the Netherlands, however, a radical idea is being tested: Self-contained "villages" where people with dementia shop, cook, and live together—safely." Read the rest

Hospitals will happily tell you the cost of parking; procedures, not so much

Fourteen-year-old Jillian Bernstein got herself published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by comparing the transparency of medical costs at Philadelphia hospitals with the transparency of parking rates at the same hospitals. Out of 20 hospitals, 19 were happy to provide information on the cost to park a car. Only three, however, were willing to tell her how much it would cost an uninsured person to get an electrocardiogram, and those prices were ridiculously variable — $137, $600 and $1,200, depending on the hospital. Read the rest

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