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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

For Physicians

Insurance enrollment: Call center, resources can help

For patients who are signing up for a health plan through the new health insurance marketplace, new resources and a toll-free call center can help simplify what could be a daunting process.

As the government works to address technical issues with the marketplace website, patients can contact the call center to apply for insurance or request assistance. The center is taking calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 318-2596 or TTY (855) 889-4325.

A recent blog post on healthcare.gov recommends that patients check out an online calculator from the Kaiser Family Foundation to get a rough estimate of how much health insurance may cost them in 2014. The government site also offers a search tool to find health plan cost information based on the patient's area.

Open enrollment began Oct. 1 and will close March 31. Visit a new AMA Web page to access resources about marketplace enrollment that you can print and display for your patients and find answers to frequently asked questions.

Learn more about how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is working to improve the health insurance marketplace website.

Prevent medication abuse: Take-back event Saturday

Encourage your patients to appropriately dispose of expired or unwanted medications Saturday during the next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Visit the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website to learn more about this event. The site features a search function to help locate collection sites and drug disposal information for patients. The event lasts from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time.

Prescription medications are the most commonly abused drugs next to marijuana, according to the DEA, and safely disposing of unused medications can help counter this trend. Authorities collected more than 371 tons of unwanted or expired medications during the last National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in April, bringing the total collected by these events over the last two years to 2.8 million pounds.

The AMA's comprehensive strategy (AMA login required) for combating prescription drug diversion, overdose and death includes a recommendation to establish local take-back locations to remove unused and unwanted drugs from the public.

Physicians also can use the AMA's medication disposal guide to remind patients to dispose of expired, unwanted and unused medicines properly.