Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Time to shop for the best medical deal

—Bob Moos, Southwest public affairs officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

It’s time again to shop for your best deal on Medicare drug and health plans. Medicare’s open enrollment period runs from November 15 until December 31.

Open enrollment is the right time to make sure your health and drug plans still meet your individual needs, especially if you’ve had any changes in your health.

Even if you’ve been satisfied with your coverage, you’ll want to check your options. Shopping around may save you money or improve your coverage.

Insurers should have mailed out notices telling of any drug or health plan changes for 2011. Some are adjusting premiums, co-payments, or other cost-sharing rules.

Thanks to new rules that will simplify your shopping for drug coverage, insurers are weeding out plans that were too much like other plans they already offer.

But there are still plenty of choices for 2011. In New Mexico, 32 drug plans, with premiums ranging from $14.80 to $89.40 a month, will be available in Original Medicare.

Look beyond premiums, though. The only way to determine the true cost of your drug coverage is to check on other factors like deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance.

Also as expected, some Medicare Advantage plans in certain areas of the country are folding next year because of a patient protection law that requires them to set up networks of doctors for the first time.

Those private fee-for-service plans have decided to leave the market rather than follow through with that 2008 law’s requirement.

Even so, Medicare Advantage remains a strong alternative for millions of people. Premiums for the private plans, on average, will be about one percent lower next year.

If your health plan has notified you that it’s ending, don’t worry. You can enroll in another private plan of your choosing or receive your care through Original Medicare.

Medicare’s Web site ( has the best tool for helping you narrow your search for a new drug or health plan. Just click on “Health and Drug Plans.”

After entering your zip code and the list of your prescriptions, you can use the “Plan Finder” to compare your coverage and out-of-pocket costs under different plans in your area.

The quality of a drug or health plan’s customer service should be considered, too. To help you identify the best, the Plan Finder provides star ratings for each plan.

 Besides using, you can call Medicare’s toll-free help line at (800) 633-4227, or consult your Medicare and You handbook, which you have just received in the mail.

One-on-one benefit counseling is also available through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. In New Mexico, you should call (800) 432-2080.

If you’re having difficulty affording your medications, you may be eligible for help with your premiums, deductibles, co-payments, and any costs you have in the “doughnut hole.”

The amount of extra help depends on your income and resources. But, generally, you’ll pay no more than $2.50 for generic drugs and $6.30 for brand-name drugs.

Thirty-nine percent of New Mexico’s Medicare beneficiaries with Part D drug coverage now get such a break.

To learn more about whether you qualify for the program, visit, or call Social Security at (800) 772-1213.

There’s never been a better time to check out your Medicare coverage. With the Affordable Care Act, you’ll receive new benefits next year, including free wellness visits, free health screenings, and if you fall into the doughnut hole, a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs.

Though the enrollment period runs until the end of the year, it’s smart to make any plan changes by early December to ensure a smooth transition to your new coverage on January 1. So take some time today to review your coverage and start shopping.

The Healthy Geezer

—Fred Cicetti

Q. When my husband misses his daily BM, he complains that he’s constipated. Don’t you think that’s a bit of an exaggeration?

Your husband is not alone. A lot of people believe they are constipated if they don’t go every day. The clinical definition of constipation is any two of the following symptoms for at least 12 weeks (not necessarily consecutive) in the previous year: straining during bowel movements, lumpy or hard stool, sensation of obstruction or incomplete evacuation, fewer than three bowel movements per week.

Those reporting constipation most often are women and adults age 65 and over. Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the U.S.

Common causes of constipation include insufficient intake of fiber and liquids, lack of exercise, medications, older age, and abuse of laxatives.

The most common cause of constipation is a diet low in fiber and high in fats. The bulk and soft texture of fiber helps prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Keep in mind that many refined and processed foods we eat have the natural fiber removed.

Many seniors eat a low-fiber diet that causes constipation. Some lose interest in eating and choose convenience foods low in fiber. Others have difficulties chewing or swallowing; this leads them to eat soft, processed foods low in fiber.

Liquids add bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. People who are constipated should drink about eight 8-ounce glasses of liquids a day. Avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol because they dehydrate.

Not enough exercise can lead to constipation, although doctors do not know why. If you want to move your bowels, move your body.

Some medications can cause constipation. They include pain medications (especially narcotics), antacids that contain aluminum and calcium, blood pressure medications (calcium channel blockers), anti-Parkinson drugs, antispasmodics, antidepressants, iron supplements, diuretics, and anticonvulsants.

Aging may affect bowel regularity because a slower metabolism results in less intestinal activity and muscle tone.

Laxatives usually are not necessary to treat constipation and can be habit forming. The colon begins to rely on laxatives to bring on bowel movements. Over time, laxatives can damage nerve cells in the colon and interfere with the colon’s natural ability to contract. For the same reason, regular use of enemas can also lead to a loss of normal bowel function.

Most people with constipation can be treated with changes in diet and exercise. A diet with 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day is recommended.

Other changes that can help include drinking enough liquids, engaging in daily exercise, and reserving enough time to have a bowel movement. In addition, the urge to have a bowel movement should not be ignored.

For those who have made diet and lifestyle changes and are still constipated, doctors may recommend laxatives or enemas for a limited time.

Bood Vessels




Blood vessels

Bodies on exhibit

The process of polymer preservation

BODIES…The Exhibition provides an intimate and informative view into the human body. Using an innovative preservation process, the Exhibition allows you to see and celebrate your body’s inner beauty in ways you never dreamed possible. Over 200 actual human bodies and specimens, meticulously dissected and respectfully displayed, offer an unprecedented and wholly unique look into your amazing body.

Polymer preservation, the process used to preserve the specimens for BODIES...The Exhibition, is a revolutionary technique in which human tissue is permanently preserved using liquid silicone rubber. This prevents the natural decay process, making specimens available for study for an indefinite time period.

Polymer preservation provides a closer look at the skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, urinary, reproductive, endocrine and circulatory systems by unveiling the mysteries of the human anatomy.

How It Works:

  • Anatomists fix a specimen with chemicals to temporarily halt the decaying process. They then dissect it to expose important structures.
  • All of the water is removed from the specimen by replacing it with acetone.
  • The specimen is placed into a liquid silicone mixture within a vacuum chamber. Under vacuum, the acetone becomes a gas that is completely replaced by the polymer mixture.
  • Lastly, the silicone polymer is hardened. The end result is a dry, odorless, permanently preserved specimen containing no toxic chemicals. It retains the look of the original, but functions as if it were rubber. (Preparation time varies. A small organ may take only a week, while a full-body specimen may take up to one year to prepare.)

Fun Facts About The Body:

Did you know?

  • That your body grows another 40 yards of hair every 24 hours?
  • That if you stretched out all of the blood vessels in your body, they would wrap around the earth?  Twice!
  • That your nerves transmit messages to and from your body at speeds over 200 miles per hour?
  • That your kidneys filter over one liter of blood per minute?  That’s a big soda bottle every two minutes!
  • That the average person needs to replace about 2.5 quarts of water each day?
  • That every person has between 2,000 and 5,000 taste buds?  Girls usually have more than boys!
  • That the liver is the single heaviest organ in the body, weighing close to 3.5 pounds in an average adult?
  • That the human body is almost 70% water?
  • That you produce 12,000 gallons of urine in your lifetime?
  • That you shed 30-40,000 microscopic skin cells every minute?  That means that you are likely to shed 40 pounds of skin in your lifetime!

BODIES Albuquerque is located at Albuquerque Convention Center (Northwest Exhibit Hall, 401 2nd Street NW) in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is open from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM Sunday through Thursday and 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM on Friday and Saturday.

For complete hours of operation and Holiday hours please call 505-338-2515.





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