An Issue with Medicare?

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about Medicare:

“Dear Heloise: I recently tried to find a physician who would take Medicare in my hometown and found out that many, if not most, of the doctors here have dropped Medicare. What’s going on?” — H.N., via email

H.N., many doctors are refusing Medicare because of the time-consuming paperwork, strict rules and low reimbursement rates. To find a doctor in your area that accepts Medicare, you can:

* Search the Medicare directory at www.medicare.gov.

* Visit an urgent care center. Most walk-in clinics accept Medicare.

* Choose to stay with a doctor you’ve used and liked in the past, but if he or she won’t take Medicare, you can be charged as much as 15% above Medicare’s normal reimbursement. You might also be asked to pay in full at the time of service. — Heloise


Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for castor oil:

* A natural moisturizer for the skin. It’s often used in cosmetics.

* Reduces acne because of its antimicrobial properties.

* It helps heal wounds by stimulating tissue growth and reducing dryness and the buildup of dead skin cells.

* Reduces inflammation and pain through topical application. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda? — Lucille E., Wayne, Neb.

Lucille, both baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents, but it’s not uncommon to confuse the two.

Baking soda becomes activated when it is mixed with some sort of acid ingredient (lemon juice, buttermilk) and a liquid. This produces carbon dioxide, which allows baked goods to rise while becoming light and airy.

Baking powder is complete, which means it contains baking soda and the acid needed to make the baked goods rise. Baking powder also needs a liquid to activate the leavening process. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: What can I give my fiancee for Valentine’s Day? She recently lost 65 pounds, so candy is out of the question. Got any suggestions for me and a thousand other guys? — J.L. in Louisiana

J.L., yes! Here are a few ideas:

* A monogrammed terry cloth bathrobe.

* A simple necklace with her name engraved on a circle or a heart.

* Perfume (choose her favorite scent).

* Essential oil diffuser.

* There are also clubs that send a monthly gift of coffee, tea or wine. — Heloise


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