Carol White of St. Petersburg and some of her friends spent Monday looking for a new Medicare Advantage plan after BayCare Health System ended its contracts with UnitedHealthcare.

She ended up going with Florida Blue, but she's plenty steamed over being forced to switch insurers to keep her doctor.

"They have caught senior citizens in the middle," White said. "It's almost unconscionable they could not work this out."

June 30, 2014. I don’t need to have this date circled on my calendar, or on my phone calendar reminder app. It is now etched in my brain. That is the date of my anticipated retirement from private practice.

It is hard enough for me to grasp that next summer I can enroll in Medicare, let alone quit working––something I have done with only one brief 3 month break, since I was 16. Yet this is a self-imposed deadline. The contract with my medical practice ends then and I have stated my intention to retire on that date.

This column began in 2008 when I left the Orlando Sentinel as a senior reporter and entered the health-care profession as a licensed massage therapist. This week, the column ends as I begin a new chapter of my career and enter nursing school. Class starts Sept. 10.

Having left other writing jobs at various newspapers in the past, I know the departure will be bittersweet for a long time to come. Writers like to write, regardless of the profession we choose. Whether in a massage room or a hospital room, my mind thinks like a journalist.

By Jann Bellamy
8/16/2012 Special to Health News Florida

The recent deaths of two Florida patients following stem cell therapy highlights the need for greater regulation of these medically controversial treatments.

By Lottie Watts
8/10/2012 © Health News Florida

I was overdue for a dental check-up and feeling guilty about it when I got a coupon in the mail from a dentist's office.

It offered new patients a free exam with X-rays. For $84, I could get a cleaning at the same time.

Having moved to St. Petersburg for graduate school, I lacked both a dentist and dental insurance. So I booked it. 

It was a well-equipped office, with a flat screen TV on the wall so I could see inside my own mouth.