imaz-athar

Imaz Athar

Imaz Athar is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, double majoring in Neuroscience and Sociology. He aspires to become a physician and plans on attending medical school in Fall 2017. Imaz fell in love with the art of writing at a young age and is currently the Publisher of Pitt's undergraduate-run science magazine The Pitt Pulse. When he's not writing or keeping up with classes, Imaz enjoys running, playing basketball, watching Empire, singing (in the shower), and listening to all kinds of music.

Trumpcare is Bad for Women’s Health

The American Health Care Act (AHCA), or Trumpcare, doesn’t seem to care for women’s health. The bill—which was narrowly passed by the House of Representatives on May 4th—allows states to withdraw from providing essential health benefits, which includes maternity and preventive care. Under Obamacare, all insurance plans are required to provide ten essential health benefits. This provision protects patients—it mandates insurance companies to cover the costs of important care, while also preventing them from selling barebones coverage to consumers. However, as the AHCA/Trumpcare permits states to waive coverage of essential health benefits, the cost of care will shift from insurance company to the patient. And, patients will be forced to pick up a huge tab out of pocket. This will disproportionately affect women who, without coverage, will have to pay high prices for treatment that’s vital to their health, including birth control, cancer screenings, and routine vaccines. Fortunately, the AHCA/Trumpcare isn’t the law yet. But imagine just how much women will potentially have to pay under its provisions! Amino, a healthcare transparency company, looked through their database of nine billion health insurance claims to uncover the astronomically high prices women patients may have to pay under the AHCA. Here’s a summary: About $1,000 for an intrauterine device (IUD). IUDs provide long-lasting birth control. Depending on the type, they need to be replaced every three to 10 years. $4,000 for...

Trumpcare Is Bad For Mental Health Coverage

On May 4, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the Republican regime’s new health plan, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), or Trumpcare. This is a win for Republicans, many of whom promised their constituents that they would finally repeal Obamacare. The AHCA is different from Obamacare in many ways, and NPR does a great job of breaking down the main provisions of the new health care bill. One of the ways the AHCA is so different from Obamacare is by how it addresses mental health.   One of the provisions of the AHCA permits states to apply for waivers that allow insurers in their state to eliminate Obamacare-required “essential health benefits” from their plans. The removal of required essential health benefits, which include mental health and addiction services, will likely lead to cheaper, and therefore more affordable, health plans. But, of course, it comes at a cost—while these cheaper plans seem like a good deal for consumers, they actually provide barebones coverage that excludes mental health care. The sad thing is that many consumers aren’t fully aware of the barebones coverage their more ‘affordable’ plan provides. This isn’t necessarily the consumer’s fault, considering how complicated insurance language is….but, that’s a story for another day. The exclusion of behavioral health care is crippling, considering 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness within a given year. The loss of...

Medicine’s Gender Pay Gap is Huge

  A new survey conducted by Doximity, a social media site for physicians, shows that female physicians make an average of 26.5% (or $91,000) less than male doctors. The self-reported data—which was gathered from 36,000 licensed physicians and controlled for factors such as hours worked—shows that the pay gap exists in all medical specialties and in every U.S. city.   The largest wage gap is in neurosurgery, where female neurosurgeons are paid, on average, $93,000 less than males. One of the smallest pay gaps is in preventive medicine, where females still make $35,000 less on average. Meanwhile, in terms of geography, the largest wage gap exists in Mississippi, where female physicians make, on average, $118,000 less than males. The smallest gap is in Hawaii, where women make $45,000 less.   Medicine’s gender pay gap is especially concerning considering many medical specialties rely greatly on female physicians. For instance, specialties such as Pediatrics and Obstetrics & Gynecology are predominantly female, but male physicians in these specialties still make an average of 21% more than their female counterparts. These specialties, among others, will likely see more females in coming years as close to half of the graduates from U.S. medical schools are women. In fact, female graduates outnumbered males in states such as Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Washington. Furthermore, research suggests that female doctors perform better than males—a recent Harvard study showed...

Choosing a Medical Speciality Based on Your Personality

When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I tell them I’m going to be a doctor. Then, I have a mini-existential crisis when I realize I’m 22 years old and almost a full-blown “grown-up.” Usually, after that, they ask me what kind of doctor I want to be. And then I have another crisis because I don’t really know what I’m going to specialize in. Sure, there are certain specialties that I’m drawn to. But, isn’t it too early to tell? And, how am I really supposed to know, considering there’s so many specialties to choose from?   I know, I know, there’s really no need for me to panic. It’s not until your third year of medical school that you actually start rotations, so there’s plenty of time to find the specialty that suits you. But, regardless, I’m still very fascinated by what speciality I’ll end up in, and I often day-dream about the types of illnesses I’ll be treating as a physician.   I’ve asked the doctors I shadowed about what drew them to their specific specialty. One of the answers that really stood out to me was that each speciality has a certain personality type—you’re often drawn to a specific speciality based on whether you possess its distinct personality.   It turns out many people use this personality-specialty match to figure out...

An Update on Healthcare Reform

In March, Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). It was a troubling moment for a new Republican regime that, for years, had promised to repeal Obamacare.   The AHCA was a flawed bill. It attempted to appease varied conservative interests, but it ended up being a convoluted mess that only alienated hard-line and moderate Republicans. Far-right conservatives thought the bill was Obamacare-lite, while moderates were concerned the bill failed to protect the interests of both their lower-income and sicker constituents.   According to Politico, Republicans have come to a tentative agreement that would appease the conflicting interests of their party. The conservative Republicans have agreed to reinstate Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits, which was stricken from the original AHCA. According to this provision, all health plans must provide health benefits such as mental health and addiction treatment, preventive services, ambulatory care, and more—all with no limit. This appeases moderate Republicans who were worried about their constituents, as the provision prevents insurers from providing bare-bones coverage. In exchange for this, moderate Republicans have agreed to permit states to opt out of Obamacare’s community rating provision—this means that insurance companies can charge higher premiums to individuals with pre-existing conditions. This is a win for fiscally conservative Republicans because it’ll theoretically lower health insurance prices, at least for healthy individuals.   The compromise does...

Benefits of MD/MPH programs

What is an MPH? While medical training emphasizes clinical skills to treat individual patients, training in public health allows students to study ways to improve community health. Students pursuing a masters in public health (MPH) degree gain knowledge about the various threats to population health and learn ways to promote health and prevent disease.   The MD/MPH dual degree has become quite popular, as over 80 medical schools currently offer it. Some medical schools allow their students to complete both MD and MPH degrees concurrently. Others offer their students a leave of absence between their third and fourth years of medical school to complete their MPH degree.   Although an MPH is useful, it costs a lot of money, like other degrees. And, you can explore public health without pursuing an MPH—for example, as an MD student, you can still certainly help out in a public health research lab, if you’re interested. That’s why, before deciding to pursue an MPH, you have to consider how an MPH will enrich your medical education and how you’ll use it in your career. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: how will I benefit from pursuing an MPH?     Benefit: In-depth training in research methodology As I mentioned earlier, you can do public health research without pursuing an MPH. However, an MPH will provide you with the skills needed to create and...

6 Books For Future Doctors To Read

  “Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America” by Robert Whitaker (Image of Cover) Although the U.S. has made advances in psychiatric treatments, the number of disabled mentally ill has tripled over the past twenty years. In “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” Robert Whitaker tries to make sense of this paradox. Using scientific evidence as his tool, Whitaker provides a surgical analysis of the problem….and the results will shock you. By tracing the history of psychiatric treatments, Whitaker questions our current biological understanding of psychiatric disorders, and posits that the long-term effects of psychiatric drugs may actually be doing more harm than good—worsening the prognosis of the mentally ill.   “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” by Oliver Sacks (Image of Cover) Oliver Sacks was a prolific writer, authoring fifteen books. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” may be his best. Sacks, a neurologist, illustrates the art of medicine using vignettes of his clinical experiences with patients, as well as references from your favorite philosophers. Not only does Sacks humanize his patients, but he also reflects on their neurological afflictions to answer questions on memory, consciousness and, ultimately, what it means to be human.   “America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System” by Steven Brill ...

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