Health briefs for Dec. 21, 2013: Health insurance enrollment deadline is Dec. 23

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Those who plan to enroll in the health insurance plans offered through Connect for Health Colorado must do so by Monday if they want their coverage to be effective as of Jan. 1.

The deadline for the first premium payment to apply for immediate coverage is Jan. 10. Customers are encouraged to submit payments in as timely a manner as possible.

The Customer Service Center — 1-855-PLANS-4-YOU (855-752-6749) — will be available for extended hours on the following dates:

• 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. today

• 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday

• 7 a.m. to midnight Monday

• 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday

Registration will continue to be available through March 31.

For more information about how to register, coverage options, financial assistance, tax credits and other concerns, visit http://connectforhealthco.com.

The Memorial Hospital to close clinic services for holidays

The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic will close early for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. The clinic also will be closed all day on Christmas and New Year’s Day, resuming normal hours Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.

TMH’s emergency services will be available at all hours, should anyone need immediate care.

January is awareness month for multiple medical issues

January 2014 will include observances for numerous medical topics, such as birth defect prevention, blood donations, cervical cancer and glaucoma.

Birth defects prevention — Women of childbearing age and their care providers need to know that folic acid promotes good health before, during and after pregnancy.

Daily consumption of the B vitamin folic acid beginning before pregnancy is crucial, as birth defects of the brain and spine, known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida, can occur in the early weeks following conception, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

For more information about preventing birth defects, visit www.marchofdimes.com or consult local medical experts about prenatal care.

Blood donations — Blood traditionally is in short supply during the winter months, especially January, because of the holidays, travel schedules, inclement weather and illness. A reduction in turnout can put our nation’s blood inventory at a critical low.

January has been designated as National Blood Donor Month to encourage donors to give or pledge to give blood.

For more information about donor eligibility, visit www.bonfils.org or contact your local medical organization.

Cervical cancer — During January, issues are highlighted relating to cervical cancer, human papillomavirus and the importance of early detection, along with personal stories of women and caregivers battling persistent HPV, pre-cancer or cervical cancer. In addition, recent advances and research in the prevention, detection, and treatment of cervical cancer and HPV, and the success of local early detection cervical cancer screening and treatment programs are acknowledged.

The Foundation for Women’s Cancer, the National Cervical Cancer Public Education Campaign and its partner organizations promote the message that cervical cancer is preventable — vaccinate early, Pap test regularly and HPV test when recommended.

For more information, visit www.wcn.org or www.nccc-online.org or consult with local experts on women's health.

Glaucoma — More than 2.2 million Americans age 40 and older suffer from glaucoma. Nearly half do not know they have the disease — it causes no early symptoms.

Prevent Blindness America will provide insightful information about this “Sneak Thief of Sight.”

For more information, visit www.preventblindness.org.

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