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by Joyia Emard

Covered California—the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—begins open enrollment today.

Californians who need health insurance will find new ways to shop for coverage and new ways to save in 2017, and more than 92 percent of consumers will have three or more health plans to choose from—none will haveCovered CA Logo fewer than two.

Also for 2017, most consumers will see a lower copay for their primary care visits, and urgent care costs in every plan will be the same as the primary care visit, helping consumers save up to $55 per visit. Consumers in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans will pay a flat copay for emergency room visits in 2017 without having to satisfy a deductible, which could help them save thousands of dollars.

These improvements for 2017 build on features already in place that help make care more affordable for Covered California enrollees. Most outpatient services in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans are not subject to a deductible, including primary care visits, specialist visits, lab tests, X-rays and imaging. Even consumers in Covered California’s most affordable Bronze plans are able to see their doctor or a specialist three times before the visits are subject to the deductible.

Three of Covered California’s 11 health plans are expanding their coverage areas and two new family dental plans have been added.

Consumers shopping for health coverage can get a wide variety of free support to learn about their options online, by phone, at community events and at more than 800 Covered California storefronts statewide. In addition, the Covered California bus will travel throughout communities in California to promote enrollment starting Nov. 12.

To learn about all the new offerings and see more details, read Covered California’s open enrollment news release here.

Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to CoveredCA.com or call (800) 300-1506.

And remember, if you’ve experienced a life-changing event, you may be able to sign up for a health plan during Special Enrollment even after the open enrollment period ends. Visit http://bit.ly/1BMTca1 for more information.

 

 

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Did you know that 1 in 11 Americans today has diabetes?  Despite its prevalence, diabetes is an invisible disease.  It affects men and women, people young and old, and people of all races, shapes and sizes.  Often there are no outward signs of the disease from the 29 million Americans who fight this chronic illness every day.  That’s why there is a critical need to foster awareness and education while breaking down stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings about this growing public health crisis that affects so many of us.

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This is exactly why the American Diabetes Association marks each November as American Diabetes Month: to bring extra attention to the disease and the tens of millions of people affected by it.

Diabetes is more than the medications and devices used to manage it.  For many, diabetes dictates how they organize their day, what they eat at every meal, how they choose to be physically active and how they spend their money.  People with diabetes can have health care costs that are 2.3 times higher than someone without diabetes, as type 1 and type 2 require very specific forms of treatment.

ada2Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and there is no known way to prevent it.  Approximately 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, which means their body does not produce any insulin.  Insulin is critical in order for the body to transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells for energy.  People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to live.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of cases in the United States, and is caused when the body does not produce or use insulin properly.  Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes and having diabetes while pregnant (gestational ada1diabetes).  Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose (sugar) with healthy eating and being active; others may require oral medications or insulin, especially as the disease progresses.  Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as older adults.  

Some women develop gestational diabetes, high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy, which requires treatment to protect the health of the mother and the baby. Gestational diabetes affects approximately 9.2 percent of pregnant women.

This November, the American Diabetes Association will showcase real-life stories of friends, families and neighbors managing the day-to-day triumphs and challenges of diabetes.  Through the use of social media, everyone is invited and encouraged to use  #ThisIsDiabetes to share their personal stories and to begin a dialogue about what it means to live with diabetes.2-november-is-american-diabetes-month

The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) along with the Board of Registered Nursing, Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, Physician Assistant Board, Medical Board of California, Board of Podiatric Medicine, Board of Optometry and the Board of Pharmacy are proud to help promote the 2016 awareness campaign efforts of the American Diabetes Association.

DCA will run a social media campaign in support of the national awareness effort via Facebook, Twitter and its blog, The DCA Page.

To learn more and view #ThisIsDiabetes stories, check out diabetes.org.

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shutterstock_contactsIf you are going all-out on a Halloween costume, complete with cosmetic contact lenses that make your eyes extra spooky, be aware of potential hazards from cheap, nonprescription contacts.

Wearing cosmetic contacts purchased at gas stations, flea markets, or costume shops—any place that doesn’t require a prescription—can damage your eyes in several ways, including corneal scratches, infections, and allergic reactions that can cause impaired vision or temporary or permanent loss of sight.

Selling cosmetic contacts without a state license is against the law, and businesses doing so are operating illegally. Out-of-state companies selling contacts on the Internet to residents of California must be licensed and are required to verify your prescription with your eye doctor.

Although the contacts are not intended for vision correction, it is still vital they fit your eyes correctly. If you don’t have a current prescription, you will need to have your eyes examined by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist; if you have a current prescription, your eye care professional can give you a copy.

Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons licensed by DCA’s Medical Board of California. They perform surgeries for problems caused by diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, and also treat eye diseases and prescribe corrective lenses. Optometrists are licensed by DCA’s State Board of Optometry. They conduct examinations for overall health of the eyes, screen for diseases, and also prescribe corrective lenses.

You can check Medical Board licensees’ records online at www.mbc.ca.gov, and State Board of Optometry licensees at www.optometry.ca.gov.

If you do get a prescription for cosmetic contacts, buy them from a licensed optometrist, ophthalmologist, or registered dispensing optician, and be sure to follow directions for caring for and wearing them properly.

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shakeout_global_joinus_728x90California is known as “earthquake country” and for good reason.

There is an infamous 800 mile long crack otherwise known as the San Andreas Fault that travels along the state from the Salton Sea in the south, to Cape Mendocino in the north.

Although earthquakes occur daily in California, many go unnoticed.  While some areas of California are more likely to have earthquakes than others, all of California is at greater risk compared to the rest of the country.

Shake Out Scenario:

You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work, at school, or even on vacation.

It is not a matter of if the “big one” will occur, but when.

The Great California ShakeOut is happening this Thursday, October 20th at 10:20am.

Essentially a statewide earthquake drill, the ShakeOut serves as an annual reminder for all Californians to practice how to prepare and be safe during big earthquakes by remembering to “Drop, Cover and Hold On!

drop_cover_hold_on_eng_blue_orangeThe ShakeOut was organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to practice, review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies (see last month’s National Preparedness Month post), and to secure your space in order to reduce damage and injuries during an earthquake.

As residents of California, what we do now will determine our quality of life after our next big earthquake.

Are you prepared to survive and recover quickly?

For more earthquake preparedness information resources, please visit http://www.earthquakecountry.org/.

 

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Did you know that not every graduate of a court reporting school works in a legal setting as a court reporter?

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Photo by Pamela Powers

Contrary to its name, a degree in court reporting offers a broad selection of career choices.  Well-trained court reporters can be highly sought after.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for CSRs will grow by 18 percent between 2008 and 2018, reflecting the demand for real-time broadcast captioning and translating. This growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations in that time period.

As technology continues to expand, so will the varied career options, allowing those trained in the discipline of court reporting to take their skills out of the courtroom and in to other industries such as television, web broadcasting and the captioning of live, in-person events and presentations. steno-machine

An individual trained in the discipline of court reporting can expect an annual salary range between $30,000 to $100,000 plus, flexible work schedule, the ability to work remotely and/or become their own boss without a four-year college degree.

PATH TO COURT REPORTING:

You must receive two to four years of technical training and be a graduate of a state-approved court reporting school.  If you plan to work in California, you must have a Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) license administered through the Court Reporters Board of California.

You must also pass a qualifying examination which is comprised of a two-person live voice dictation for five minutes at 200-words-per-minute with an accuracy rate of 97.5% and a written exam in spelling (English), grammar, punctuation and terminology.

CAREER OPTIONS BEYOND THE COURT ROOM

Some court reporters, also known as certified shorthand reporters (CSRs), do function in the capacity of “official reporter” in a courtroom or during litigation-related sessions such as a deposition.  Every word that is spoken during a judicial proceeding is captured verbatim by the official reporter in the form of a transcript (they turn speech into text), and they serve a very important role as the keeper of the courtroom record.

Photo by Norma Miller

Photo by Norma Miller

But there are many more career opportunities for court reporters. Thanks to technology, millions of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are able to effectively communicate by utilizing the aids and services provided by court reporters.  This ever-expanding access to mass media is expected to increase and those with court reporting skills will continue to see career opportunities increase, beyond a legal setting.

Here are two of the most common in-demand services that court reporters can specialize in.

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Photo by Peter Foley

CART – Communication Access Real-time Translation:  By using a computer that translates as it goes in a process called Computer-Aided Transcription (CAT), the CART provider is able to send instantaneous transcripts directly to readers’ computer screens.  CART eliminates the need for the deaf or hard of hearing to solely rely on lip reading or sign language and allows these individuals to participate in classroom lectures, business presentations, conventions, theater performances and concerts.

BROADCAST CAPTIONERS:

Jennifer M. Bonfilio

Photo by Jennifer M. Bonfilio

Broadcast captioners, also called stenocaptioners, use court reporting skills to caption live televised programs and events, via a process called closed captioning, for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.  Software that displays speech to text in real-time on the screen is used.  Some broadcast captioners may translate dialogue in real time during broadcasts of televised news programs and sporting events; others may caption during the post-production of a program.  Many of these broadcast captioners are front and center at sporting and entertainment events such as the U.S. Open, World Series, Super Bowl and Academy Awards!

As you can see, the possibilities are plentiful.

Interested in exploring further?  The Court Reporters Board of California has career information and helpful resources available at www.courtreportersboard.ca.gov.

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A Bakersfield man was arrested Tuesday for the unlicensed practice of medicine.

The Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Central Valley Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation arrested Alberto Gonzalez on Tuesday, October 11, 2016, following the investigation of a complaint that was made by a local news reporter.

Read More

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 SACRAMENTO—The California Acupuncture Board has appointed Benjamin Bodea as its new executive officer, effective October 12, 2016.

Mr. Bodea has served as the board’s acting executive officer since March, overseeing the board’s operations and managing a staff of 12. In this role, he initiated the regulatory process for an omnibus package to refine the board’s regulations, among other accomplishments.

He joined the board as an administrative assistant in 2010, working his way through the ranks in roles that allowed him to amass broad experience in stakeholder relations, enforcement, administration and more.Acupuncture

He studied cognitive science at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a certified massage practitioner.

See the full news release here.

The Acupuncture Board—part of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)—licenses and regulates acupuncturists in California. The board administers an examination that tests an applicant’s ability, competency, and knowledge in the practice of an acupuncturist; issues licenses to qualified practitioners; approves and monitors students in tutorial programs; approves acupuncture schools and continuing education providers and courses; and enforces the Acupuncture Licensure Act.

DCA promotes and protects the interests of California consumers. Consumers can file complaints against licensees by contacting DCA at (800) 952-5210. Consumers can also file a complaint online at http://www.dca.ca.gov.

 

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California is in the middle of fire season. Already this year, thousands of acres have burned and hundreds of homes and structures have been damaged or destroyed, leaving some facing the huge task of rebuilding and trying to salvage what was lost.

Fortunately, having to rebuild after a disaster is not something that’s done everyday. Unfortunately, scams run as rampant through disaster areas after the fires as the flames did while the fires were burning. Fake contractors and cons are counting on the shock of the emergency and the desire to rebuild as soon as possible to take the money and run.

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Signs posted by CSLB staff at the Erskine fire in Kern County warn consumers and cons alike. The fire damaged approximately 250 structures. —Photo courtesy of CSLB

Little do the cons know they are being watched—by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). CSLB is one of the first state agencies to arrive on the scene after a natural disaster, meeting with consumers and providing them with educational materials and information that will help them spot and avoid a scam. Besides in-person meetings, CSLB posts signs around the disaster area like the ones in the photo above, warning consumers to check the license and telling unlicensed contractors that they are not welcome.

CSLB utilizes many different methods to assist disaster victims, including public service announcements for local television and radio stations, undercover sweeps and sting operations, participating in local assistance centers, and more.

Consumer information and assistance is also available in many different formats on the CSLB’s Disaster Help Center. There, consumers can access audio podcasts, watch the CSLB video Rebuilding After a Natural Disaster, and access several different publications dealing with disasters and scams, and tips on how to choose a contractor. The website also hosts one of the most important tools for consumers—instant license check. Consumers can also check the license and obtain information by calling CSLB’s toll-free number, (800) 321-CSLB (2752).

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The California Department of Consumer Affairs Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists has released a new video titled, “How to File A Complaint.”

The video clarifies the process for those wishing to complain to the Board about unprofessional services received from any of the professionals the Board licenses or an unlicensed person who has performed services without being properly licensed.

The Board protects the public’s safety and property by promoting standards for competence and integrity through licensing and regulating the Board’s professions, which include professional engineers, land surveyors, geologists and geophysicists.

View the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHKfHa3uzvQ and visit the Board’s website for more information at http://www.bpelsg.ca.gov/ .

 

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