Last Call For Your Health Insurance – Deadline March 31, 2014

All good things come to an end, right? It has been a long time coming. The legacy health care reform, also known as ‘Obamacare’, open enrollment period is about to come to an end. If you do not make a decision before it closes, “You snooze, you lose”. You will have to wait until the next open enrollment period to select a plan. Oh wait… You will have to pay a tax penalty as well. Whoa!

Life is too precious to have it become miserable and financially devastating over a $25,000 surgery bill from the hospital. Or maybe even take your kid to the emergency room only to receive a love letter from them, attached to a $3,000 invoice for ‘services rendered on little Johnny’. Holy smokes! This will have more of an impact on you, financially, than the tax penalty.

Yes, there are exceptions to qualify for a ‘Special Enrollment Period’ to bridge the gap until the next open enrollment period. If you are considered for the “Special Enrollment Periods” (between 4/1/14 and 11/15/14), you will be able to buy another individual major medical policy on a no preexisting condition basis from any insurance company offering a Qualified Health Plan (QHP). This is even though you are applying outside the annual open enrollment period.

You could just go to the state or government websites to enroll on your own. But good luck. Doing the wrong thing on your own could cost you.

You could also use a Navigator. Many are available 24/7.

Insider Tip: Navigators do NOT go through background checks to be employed by an organization or non-profit to assist those enrolling into a health plan. There have been cases where ex-criminals were behind the desk. Buyer beware! Also, they are not supposed to give you any advice. They are not advisors. They are there just to enroll people into a plan with a title of ‘Navigator’. If you are lo`oking for insight from an industry expert, do not look to a Navigator. They are good for customer service and filling out paperwork.

Insurance agents have to go through a licensing process. Every 1-2 years we have to renew this insurance license. This is after taking some continuing education courses on approved subjects by the state. The state also does a check for huge violations of the insurance laws. Those who are able to renew and maintain their insurance license remain in good standing. On top of this, there are subject matter experts in the mix of the licensed insurance agents. They are out there, you just have to look for them.

Beyond any open enrollment period, the health care law, or picking a plan, health insurance protects everything you worked so hard for. This speaks for all of your insurances. We do not buy health insurance to save $20 at the pharmacy or $100 at the doctor’s. Sure, anyone can agree it is nice to receive more value out of what we pay on a monthly basis. However, it is about protecting you from unexpected and expensive losses.

Health insurance is there for things such as your wife going into the hospital for a surgery, followed by two days of observation. It can also be lifesaving in the event of a serious illness. Since illness doesn’t discriminate, you could be racking up $300,000 a year in bills for chemotherapy treatment. How do you protect yourself against that? Health insurance gives you a peace of mind that the majority of the hospital bill will be covered by the health insurance.

Health Insurance Portability Offers Freedom To Switch to New Health Insurer

Many individuals prefer to buy a comprehensive health insurance policy for the family as it is a perfect solution for family heath protection. Insurance planners design plans to cover the expensive medical bills incurred during hospitalization. Sometimes, the policy buyers are unable to enjoy the claims specified in the plan due to many reasons. They can now switch to a better insurer who keeps its promise. Switching insurers does not mean that you will lose the benefits of your existing policy. Under the health insurance portability, the policyholder is able to switch to a new insurer without losing the benefits of his or her current policy.

Health Insurance Portability

General insurance companies have launched ‘health insurance portability’ program which is applicable only to health policies. According to the portability, if your existing policy covers you under a group of medical claim, you can move to either an individual health insurance policy or a family plan. However, you can move only if you have been with the same company for at least one year. Every employee (including his or her family) who doesn’t have any health plan other than the one provided by their employer, enjoys these benefits as well.

You cannot switch to a new insurer at any time. You can apply for portability only 45 days before the renewal of your existing policy. Read these 5 steps to opting for health insurance portability.

It is important to apply to the new insurer 45 days before the renewal date of your existing policy
Once the new insurer receives the form, it will give you a portability form. You should fill it out and submit it along with the filled proposal form.
It is mandatory for new insurers to ask (within 7 days of getting the forms) your existing insurer for your information in detail. The detail includes medical and claim history.
The existing company shares the information to the new insurer through a web portal which is Insurance Regulatory Development Authority.
After receiving the relevant information, new insurer frames the proposal based on its underwriting policy. Within 15 days, it informs you about what to do next.
It is important to know that the new insurer can reject your request. For example, if the maximum entry age for the new insurer’s health policy is 60 years and you are more than 60, your application for portability could be rejected. The new insurer can reject it based on its underwriting policy.

What to consider before Applying for Insurance Portability

Before you opt for insurance portability, you must read the insurer’s terms and conditions carefully. You must ensure whether the new policy coverage is better than that of the old insurance company. Don’t evaluate the companies and plans just on the basis of cost, but also on features they offer you and how they cater to your future needs, service standards, price rise with age, stability and brand equity of the company.

Health Insurance Terminology for the 99%

I’ve had some interesting conversations this past week and wanted to take a step back to discuss health insurance in general. I’m slowly learning that the vocabulary regarding health insurance is very foreign to some folks and they are having difficulty understanding the terms that are used. I want to take this opportunity to educate folks on some of the basics and how it pertains to you, the consumer.

So lets start off with the basics of insurance terminology in its most simple form- in regards to how it plays out in the medical world.

Premium- this is the amount of money you pay to have health insurance (your safety net), can be paid monthly, quarterly, or all at once.

Deductible- this is the amount of money that you must pay before your insurance even begins to cover costs. There are fine details associated with this but in my mind, this is how I think about it. These can vary from a few hundred dollars to $10,000, depending on what kind of insurance that you have.

Co-insurance- after you have paid the entire amount toward your deductible (the amount of money you pay prior to your insurance actually kicking money in), your co- insurance represents the amount of dollars you are still responsible for. Let’s use an example to demonstrate this. If you see a doctor and the bill is $100, the first hurdle is whether you have paid your deductible yet or not. If you have paid the deductible amount, the insurance carrier will pick up a portion of the bill and the rest you will owe. If your Co-Insurance is 20%, then you are responsible for 20% of the bill. In this case its $20. If your Co-Insurance is 35%, then you are responsible for $35. The higher the co-insurance, the more money you will have to kick in for medical services.

Out of Pocket Maximum- this is the amount of money in a given YEAR, that you will likely need to pay on top of health insurance. Some plans include your deductible towards this amount. Some do not. The other fine detail here is that your insurance carrier can deem certain services not included in this out of pocket maximum. For example, if you really hurt your knee and need an MRI, your insurance carrier can say that the MRI is not a covered service meaning that they will not pay for it. The MRI bill will come to you on top of all the other bills that you have accrued.

IN- Network/ OUT of Network- This seems to be the area of most confusion for most patients. The simplest analogy I use is to think of discount membership stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. When you have a membership to either place, the products they sell have been approved by Costco or Sam’s, at an agreed price, and then the you the consumer can purchase it from the store, typically at a discounted rate. If a product that you want is not at Costco or Sam’s, then you are going to pay full price at another store. IN- network means that the doctors office has agreed to terms set by the insurance carrier, and you the patient only pay a pre-determined amount of money based on these negotiations. Most times- your charge is a nominal fee. OUT of network means that your doctors office is NOT a part of the insurance plan. The fees associated with this visit are ultimately your responsibility and sometimes your insurance carrier pays you back for services rendered. NEVER assume that your doctors office is IN NETWORK. I always assume OUT of network coverage until I see it in writing.

Private Health Insurance CEOs and Their Disproportionate Salary

In the United States, there are over fifty million people without health insurance coverage, and the number has grown substantially in recent years. Yet despite this alarming trend, the massive private insurance industry is booming. Without a competitive publicly financed option, many people are entirely dependent on their employers for health insurance. This means that in many areas of the US, private insurance companies face little or no competition. Consolidations have resulted in a few large health insurance companies having influence not only over the baseline price of many health premiums and healthcare services, but also a patient’s course of treatment. Many municipalities represent a captive market, given that large health insurance companies may be the dominant provider for a large region.

These business practices have resulted in extreme profits for health insurance companies, and revenue is at an all-time high, even after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Also known as Obamacare or the ACA, the Affordable Care Act was, in theory, designed to curb overall healthcare spending while extending coverage to tens of millions of Americans who previously were uninsured. Though the Affordable Care Act has succeeded in establishing the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which allows small business owners to compare pricing plans for insuring their employees, the ACA does not effectively curb health insurance company profits. In 2010, the year the ACA passed into law, private insurance companies generated higher profit margins than they ever had before.

These high profits have transferred into grossly inflated wages for the top administrators at many private health insurance companies, with a current (as of 2010) median CEO healthcare administrator salary of around $10 million. While these may dwarf the US median family income, they are still a very small part of overall US healthcare spending. More importantly, these costs are expected to rise significantly as the swell of US baby boomers reaches retirement age. More healthcare services tend to be consumed by the elderly, who are often seeking expensive treatments (e.g. hip or knee replacements) to improve their quality of life. US CEO health administrator pay, while it is a small part of overall healthcare costs, reflects a larger problem in US healthcare: the price creep of every part of the healthcare delivery process, which vastly outpaces the rate of inflation. If true financial reform is to come to the healthcare industry, CEOs need to make the same sort of cuts to their salaries (either voluntarily or through legislation) that employers providing health insurance to their employees are endeavoring to make.

Health and Safety Signs and What You Should Know

complete physical, mental, social, psychological, and spiritual well-being. It is, therefore, mandatory that the health for workers, citizens, and every person is maintained and ensured. This is done through normal communications about risk factors that may result to poor health.

One way of communicating is by displaying health and safety signs. These signs pass specific message to people who may be exposed to a health hazard for purposes of warning them. The warning aids in preventing accidents indicate relevant guidance information in an emergency situation and indicate the location of safety equipment.

Attributes of Good Signage

There are many signs that exist in the world, most of them are conventional signs decided upon by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to avoid inconsistencies that may exist between different regions. These signs must have the following attributes namely:

They must be in a simple language for easy understanding.
They must be clearly written or drawn.
They must be consistent and without variations from one country to another.
They should be accompanied by a conventional diagram.
Only the following colours are allowed for safety shapes; red for prohibitions, yellow for caution, green for positive action, and blue for mandatory actions.
Safety signs may be in four shapes, namely circular shape for instructions and prohibitions, squares and rectangles for information and emergency signs, and triangular shapes for warnings.

Importance of Health and Safety Signs

World Health Organisation (WHO) in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has given guidelines to be followed by employers to ensure that their workplace is safe. These guidelines minimise the risks associated with workplace accidents and increase the occupational safety of the workers. It is prudent to have signs that do not just warn, but also give a solution to impending danger. For instance, hazardous gas warning is ideally accompanied by sign for wearing a gas mask.

Importantly is to understand that health and safety signs per se cannot be a solution to the accidents that are experienced at workplace, roads, or recreational sites. There is a mandatory need to have well-trained occupational health specialist who not only ensure that the signs are appropriately located, but also continuously advise workers and users on safety measures they should observe.

Many questions on where and when should the signage be placed are common; the answer will vary depending on the workplace environment. In enclosed settings, the signs can be pinned on walls where many people will have a look at them. They can also be placed on machines or equipment to remind operators of the precautions they should take and at points of use sites like refuse receptacles in hospitals. All signs should be used whenever appropriate and necessary; for instance, wet floor safety sign should not be used when the floor is dry.

How Superfoods And Super Smoothie Recipes Can Improve Your Health

Your health is important to you – without your health, you have nothing. No amount of time, money, gifts or treats can be enjoyed without good health. But super food smoothie recipes can change all that.

If you are deficient in nutrient health, you might find chronic illness is a debilitating fact of ageing – or is it?

According to Health researcher Phillip Day, chronic illnesses are not self-limiting. That is to say, chronic illness generally gets worse without the right intervention until before you know it you are suffering from a multitude of ailments and taking regular visits to the doctor.

But there is another way.

Few of us ever consider the important role food plays in our health. Food is supposed to do more than stop hunger – it is supposed to nourish, heal and maintain our bodies in good health.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald in 2009: “Not all foods were created equal – some are so packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and other beneficial substances that they’ve been deemed “superfoods”.”

Have you ever heard of the superfoods? Do you know what they are? Why should we care even?

Superfoods are foods that offer big health benefits. Their super nutritional dose is thought to help protect against many chronic and age-related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Other benefits include lowering cholesterol, protecting the body from toxins and improving digestive health.

It is even touted that superfoods can help you live longer in better health.

10 Superfoods you should include in your diet:

1. Acai – consuming the juice of this fruit can dramatically increase your intake of free radical fighting anti-oxidants.

2. Avocado – Their healthy fat keeps you satisfied and helps you absorb other nutrients.

3. Blueberries – It is thought that these little blue berries can improve your memory. Blueberries can protect your brain from inflammation and boost communication between brain cells.

4. Brocoli sprouts – much more potent than broccoli which itself is a superfood, these sprouts have 10 times more of the cancer-preventing compounds than regular broccoli and to top it off, it is easier to eat bigger quantities of sprouts than broccoli head.

5. Brown rice – is a key source of magnesium, a vital mineral used in your body for more than 300 chemical reactions (such as building bones and converting food to energy). It also helps to alleviate aches.

Is the Health Care Sector Recession Proof?

As per my belief, in times of economic instability, even the footing of the medical industry becomes rickety along with other sectors but that does not coax me to deem Health sector vulnerable to recession. By putting forth the reference of statistical data, I would like to highlight the fact that the pharmaceutical division of our country saw an estimated 24 percent growth when it came to hiring professionals in the medical sector. And seeing this trend, our country can only expect this percentage to rise in the near future. As a matter of fact, I strongly consider the pharmaceutical sector of our country as an active recruiter now and even in the near future.

EXPANSION OF MAJOR PHARMACEUTICAL FIRMS

Let us throw light on the fact that some of the heavyweight medical firms of our country have immensely opened their wings and have expanded their operations to other parts of the world. These very firms have affirmed their presence in the medical sector with the help of plethora of acquisitions as well as mergers which in turn, has resulted in the opening of surfeit of jobs in the health industry. One of the primary factors which play an instrumental part in the progress of major pharmaceutical firms is the growth rate as well as the strategies for expansion across other nations. The growth rate of major healthcare firms has always been robust in our nation and these firms have always been coming up with lucrative expansion plans. This in turn has made the health industry of India, a billion dollar enterprise.

Let us throw light on the growth in the export market. Over a period of 5 years, statistics tell us that the export of medical products of multi-national pharmaceutical organizations based in India has increased from a staggering USD 6.23 billion to USD 8.7 billion. Thus, this clearly shows a 21 percent increase in the annual rate of growth for the industry. So if we have seen an impressive increase in the revenue generated from exports, then it is quite evident that more jobs have opened up in the health sector.

The pharmaceutical industry of our country has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade which drives us to believe that our country’s health sector will be included in the top 10 global markets tentatively by the year 2020. Healthcare is a sector that can never degrade owing to the rising medical demands of our population. The capital profits generated by healthcare heavyweights such as Ranbaxy is immense which is why, the healthcare sector as per my belief is quite invulnerable to recession.

HEALTH INDUSTRY ON THE RADAR OF MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES

Over the past decade, we have witnessed our country growing under the strong influence and tutelage of globalization. India certainly happens to be one of the most revered global markets in the present day and age which is something that has stolen the attention of well-known Multinational Corporations. The revenue of healthcare corporations has increased at a skyrocketing rate over the past decade after numerous mergers and international acquisitions by major Indian pharmaceutical firms. As a result of multiple mergers and acquisitions, the pharmaceutical sector of our nation has grown leaps and bounds henceforth, giving rise to ample jobs in the medicare sector.

Mental Health Counselor

A mental health counselor is an individual who combines traditional psychotherapy with prevention techniques in order to help clients cope and treat emotional and mental disorders. These professionals encourage their clients to discuss their emotions and experiences in order to learn more about their current issues and how they may assist and proceed in the therapy process. Therapy could include coping mechanisms, or strategies and skills designed to change behavior. Mental health counselors sometimes work in conjunction with social workers or psychiatrists to create the best treatment possible for an individual.

In order to become a mental health counselor, an individual must have earned a master’s degree in counseling. A license to practice is also required. This is mandatory in all states in the Unites States. Licensure typically requires a master’s degree, plus a certain number of supervised clinical experience hours. After earning this degree and licensure, graduates must also pass a state-recognized exam. In order to keep licensure current and up-to-date, annual education classes must be attended. While in a master’s program, students will study ways to recognize, define, and address mental and emotional symptoms and disorders.

This career is not for someone who finds sympathy and compassion difficult traits to embody. Mental health counselors may deal with individuals who are traumatized by their disabilities, or who are frustrated with their inability to cope with an emotional or mental disorder. These professionals should be able to listen to an individual, connect with the feelings they are displaying, and communicate effectively with their clients. These skills may be easier to exemplify from someone who considers themselves a “people person,” or someone who gets along well with various types of individuals, personalities, and age groups.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median pay of these professionals in 2010 as $19.09 per hour, or $39,710 per year. This career is projected to grow by 37% between 2010-2020. Industries that employ the greatest amount of these individuals include places such as individual and family services, residential mental health and substance abuse facilities, and outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers. As insurance companies tend to provide reimbursement to individuals who use the services of counselors, more people are projected to utilize these outlets. BLS also explains that people who are searching to receive mental health treatment are much more likely to visit a mental health counselor rather than go to another provider.

Selecting the Appropriate Health Insurance for Your Needs

Getting the right healthcare for you and your family can often be a huge challenge. Taking into consideration pertinent factors like accessing competent physicians, healthcare centers with the right equipment and medicine, and more importantly the costs that you will be expected to meet. Most ordinary individuals might require relatively infrequent medical attention, while others, depending on their health conditions, need more visits to the hospital. However, everyone from time to time has to deal with unexpected health challenges, which can often necessitate a substantial amount of money.

It is, thus, wise to have the foresight to take appropriate measures to ensure that whatever predicament comes your way, you will always be prepared. One of the best ways of doing this is by acquiring a suitable health insurance cover, which will infinitely lower your medical expenses.

Figuring out the right health insurance plan that will meet your distinct needs, isn’t as easy as it might appear, and there are various factors one needs to consider. This article will attempt to elaborate on the different types of medical insurance plans available.

What kind of healthcare plans do insurance firms offer?
In essence there are 4 common types of medical insurance plans, which are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. It is important to note that under the Affordable care act, all these plans meet the same essential health benefits, which among others include coverage for:
• Chronic ailments treatment
• Hospitalization
• Maternity care
• Occupational & physical therapy
• Preventive care
• Prescription drugs
• Emergency services
• Addiction treatment

What primarily distinguishes one plan from the other is often based on several factors, which are:

Premium
This happens to be the prerequisite monthly payment any medical insurance policyholder has to meet, despite of having or having not received medical care. The factors that determine how much premium you will pay include: your age, whether you smoke, your location, number of people you want to be covered in the policy, among others.

The Surprising Big Threat To Women’s Health

I have to admit, sometimes I’m a little worried when I see all the publicity and awareness about breast cancer. Certainly I consider breast cancer a significant threat. As an integrative doctor, specializing in women’s health, I’ve seen enough patients battling this disease to know this first-hand.

But as bad as it is, breast cancer is not the biggest killer of women. Heart disease kills more women than any other disease. In fact it kills more women than all cancers combined. And it kills more older women than it kills older men.

Unfortunately, not enough women take this threat seriously enough. While it’s slowly gaining more recognition, it’s not on our radars… and it’s not on enough physicians’ radars as well.

As one of my colleagues, a thoracic surgeon with a great sense of humor, said in a speech I recently attended, “I wish doctors would stop giving women the bikini treatment, focusing only on breasts and reproductive organs.”

Indeed, there’s a lot more of you in between that needs care. Chief among these parts of your body is your heart.

How To Give Your Heart Some Good, Healthy Love

Now, certainly some women have the odds already stacked against them if they have a family history of heart disease.

But for most of us, protecting your heart is a matter of lifestyle changes.

Eat lots of veggies and fruits to get lots of fiber and antioxidants.
Move your body – sweat!
Take care of your emotional health. Minimize stress and maximize your relationships.
You’ve probably heard this advice but I’ll repeat it. Because here’s the thing that you may not hear from your doctor…

No medical intervention – surgery or drugs or special medical devices – none of these can fix a broken heart.

Sure, we can patch things together a bit to help your heart limp along. But it’s not the same as having a healthy heart.

And here’s another story you may not hear very much about. Many of these interventions may even make things worse.

Several studies have shown certain statin drugs offer no benefit to women at risk for heart disease. And there is some evidence that it may even increase women’s risk for heart attacks and death.[1]

In 2012, the Archives of Internal Medicine published a study showing that statins increased the risk for diabetes in post-menopausal women by 71%.[2]

I’m not saying this because I don’t value the technology western medicine offers. I’ve seen firsthand how conventional medicine can save lives.