Online Updates

July 6, 2007

AIRFARES
Get money back when prices plunge

Yes, you read that right: Many airlines will refund your money—usually in the form of a voucher or a credit to be applied toward a future flight—if the price of your ticket drops after you purchase it. According to The Wall Street Journal, airlines have had these rollover policies in place for many years, but trying to cash in on them has been tough because you have to call your carrier when the lower price is in effect. For a busy professional like a doctor, that's been all but impossible since fares can change several times in a single day. Enter a company called Yapta (www.yapta.com). Co-founded by a former marketing executive of Alaska Airlines, Yapta tracks your flight confirmation code and alerts you when you're eligible for a refund. The site also lets you monitor prices on flights you haven't booked yet.

TECHNOLOGY
How the Web can help in emergencies

A new web-based service can assist you in treating a waiting room full of disaster victims that you've never seen before. The In Case of Emergency Prescription Database (www.icerx.org), which was inspired by the plight of Hurricane Katrina victims, would become active during disasters. It lets physicians and pharmacists gain secure access to outpatient prescription histories from their laptops, PDAs, or office computers. It won't, however, include information about medications prescribed for sensitive conditions such as HIV/AIDS or mental illness. The American Medical Association and SureScripts (which operates an e-based prescription service) will verify the identities of licensed healthcare providers who register with the free service.

ICERx.org is a collaborative effort between the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and state Medicaid and other government agencies.

SUMMER TRAVEL
Museums, monuments . . . money

If you want to take the kids to Washington, DC, this summer, you'd better bring lots of cash. A family of four will pay an average of $611 a day for food and lodging in the nation's capital, which ranks second on AAA's list of most expensive states for travel. (Hawaii came in first at $650 a day.) That's up from $441 a day for a trip to DC two years ago—a 39 percent increase.

If you're looking for a bargain vacation this summer, head out West. A trip to South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore, will set you back an average of just $204 a day for a family of four, according to AAA. Other economical destinations include Albuquerque ($165) and Mesa, AZ ($180).