Category Archives: Health

Three Steps to Save More Money

We all need health care – well, most of us do, anyway. But none of us like to spend much of our hard earned money on that. Health costs are expensive, and we’d much rather spend our cash on our home, on our family, on things we can enjoy. How to save more money on health care? Well, here are three steps.

First, get yourself healthier! I know, this may look too common sense to make it worth writing down here-but it is really the key. If you have an active lifestyle and a good, nutritious diet, you are setting yourself up to pay much, much less on health care than someone who is a couch potato and lives on junk food.

There are two aspects of this. First, you will simply need less health care. If your diet includes plenty of calcium, for example, and you get enough vitamin D to allow your body to make use of it, you can fall down the stairs, get up, and go about your business. If your diet is low in calcium, though-maybe you prefer cola instead of milk as a regular drink-a fall down the stairs is likely to mean a trip to the hospital, a cast on your arm or leg, and a monstrous bill.

The second aspect has to do with your health insurance. Insurance providers look at you and your general health when they give you health insurance quotes. If you want affordable health insurance, you should be as healthy as possible. Pre-existing conditions is a nasty word that makes the price given for health insurance quotes skyrocket and the benefits sink somewhere lower than Mordor. With a healthy lifestyle, you’ll have far fewer pre-exisisting conditions than if you threw your health to the birds and partied your way through life.

So, the first step is to get yourself healthier by choosing a healthier lifestyle. What is the second? Preventative care. Saving a dime to spend a dollar is what many of us do when it comes to medical expenses. If there’s a medical procedure you really should have done, just go get it done. It’s better to pay the fees for this now than to pay the enormous fees you’ll have to pay if you let the problem grow before it’s taken care of.

The third step you can take in order to save money on health care is to do your research before choosing an insurance provider. Get health insurance quotes from a variety of places if you really want affordable health insurance. Make sure you give the insurance provider all relevant information when asking them to generate health insurance quotes, and then, when you’ve got data from quite a few places, compare them. Compare not only the insurance quotes, but also the benefits that each provider is offering-benefits for day to day preventative care as well as benefits in an expensive emergency. A careful analysis of this information will help you get the most affordable health insurance for your personal situation, and affordable health insurance will help you bring your health bills down.

Workplace Mental Health

The mind and the body are inseparable. And you do want to engage the whole employee in your worksite wellness program, right?

Most worksite wellness programs today are not really wellness programs at all – they are employee health status management programs. Why do I say this? Most worksite wellness programs focus solely on employee physical health, to the exclusion of all the other dimensions of wellness.

As conceived by the modern wellness field’s founders, (Robert Allen, Donald Ardell, Halbert Dunn, Bill Hettler and John Travis), wellness is a multi-dimensional concept. The published wellness model of the National Wellness Institute includes the following dimensions: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, occupational and spiritual.

Emotional well-being is associated with numerous benefits to health, family, work, and economic status. Positive emotions and view of life are associated with decreased risk for disease, illness, and injury; better immune functioning; better coping and quicker recovery; and increased longevity. In addition, mental health and mental illness may influence physical health and biologic functioning. Positive mental health is associated with better endocrine function (i.e., lower levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) and better immune response (i.e., higher antibody production and greater resistance to illness). It has also been shown to be associated with longevity.

Researchers are continuing to learn more and more about the mind – body connection. It has been clearly shown that emotions play a huge role in our physical health. There is also a reciprocal relationship between many chronic diseases and mental health. Self-efficacy, goal-setting, and problem-solving enable self-management behaviors, and these components are dependent on emotional health. On the other hand, self-management behaviors that enhance health, such as physical activity and stress reduction, can improve mental health status and quality of life. In many ways, it makes no sense to address physical health without addressing emotional health at the same time.

The absence of mental illness does not mean the presence of mental health. Growing research supports the view that these are independent, but related dimensions. Mental wellbeing are characterized by the presence of positive affect (e.g., optimism, cheerfulness and interest), absence of negative affect, and satisfaction with life. On the other hand, mental illness is characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress or impaired functioning.

Why Address Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace?

The health of the mind and body cannot be separated. What effects one influences the other. Therefore, a healthy mind supports and contributes to a healthy body and vice versa.

Mental illness costs employers money and mental health can impact productivity and employee performance. Just like physical health, mental health can be viewed as being a continuum. At one end there is mental health and mental illness is located at the opposite end.

Mental health generally refers to the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships, and the ability to adapt to change and adversity. These domains are commonly referred to as wellbeing.

Mental illness includes diseases with classic psychiatric diagnoses, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Mental health and mental illness can be influenced by multiple determinants, including genetics and biology and their interactions with social and environmental factors.

Employers approach employee health through a multi-strategy framework. A multi-strategy framework can be applied to an employer approach to mental health as well. A comprehensive approach includes: promotion, prevention, intervention, and follow-up. It is important to recognize that mental health promotion needs to be equal in importance to the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

Workplace Mental Health

Good mental health is fundamental to maintaining good physical health. And you want your employees to experience total worker health, correct?

The fact that the mind and the body cannot be separated results in an inseparable relationship between physical and mental health. Despite the fact that the connections are striking, integration of the two fields in worksite wellness programming still has not occurred in any meaningful way. Worksite wellness practitioners need to better understand the connections between physical and mental health so they can intervene more effectively with employees to improve the outcomes in both areas.

It is important to address the integration of physical and mental health for the following reasons:

• The individual employee’s mental health status or the presence of a mental illness such as depression or anxiety can affect an individual’s ability to undertake health promoting behaviors that address their physical health status. It is therefore critical that individuals have a better understanding of the integral link between all aspects of their health.

• Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer can have a profound impact on an individual’s mental health.

• An individual’s mental health status affects an individual’s ability to participate in their treatment and recovery from a chronic disease.

• Family members and caregivers of people with chronic diseases are also affected psychologically thereby potentially resulting in their neglecting their own health.

Integrating all aspects of health within a worksite wellness program requires partnerships and integration at multiple levels. Integration and partnerships allow the partners to leverage their strengths and resources and to work on common goals. Integration needs to occur at the program level, the policy level, between vendors and potentially between the employer and community based resources.

The elements necessary to support integration include:

• Making the business case through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on the interrelationships between all aspects of employee health. The data should also show how integration and partnerships can better advance the employer’s core mission and objectives.

• Developing a champion at every level within the organization. While integration requires leadership and motivation from the top, it is best to have a champion at each level to initiate, implement, and sustain the integration.

• Forming an integration management working team to sustain the integration effort. The integration effort cannot be sustained if it is only the work of just a couple of people.

• Developing integrated interventions that are based on identified needs or gaps where positive outcomes and early wins can be achieved. Early on, look for interventions that are simple, targeted, and within the scope of the missions, resources, infrastructures, processes of the partners’ existing program initiatives.

• Monitor, measure and evaluate integrated initiatives by establishing goals, measures and collecting the appropriate data. Evaluation could include process, output and outcome types of evaluation strategies. They could include assessing improvements in access to and satisfaction with care, services, or programming, determining the effect of policy changes on outcomes or services, and making the case for cost-benefit and/or cost-effectiveness.

Programming is one of the key areas where integration can and should be implemented. The four levels we see for physical health programming can also be applied to other health areas as well. These are: awareness, education, lifestyle change and policy/environmental change.

The traditional core physical health programming topics have included physical activity, nutrition, sleep and stress management. These four core programming areas also have implications for mental health as well. This makes the leap to integrated programming real easy. Prevention and self-care activities are also areas where integration can be applied.

Good mental health is fundamental to maintaining good physical health. Ultimately, there is no health without mental health. A worksite wellness program is a necessary and ideal venue to support program integration.

Government-Run Health Care

It would be GREAT if our government could successfully manage American’s Health Care needs. I would be all in if the government guaranteed good health for everyone, and they were even remotely qualified to make such a guarantee. The truth is we all face different health issues at different ages. The recent health issues I faced were handled by doctors, hospitals, and nurses. I had made poor food and exercise choices and suffered a stroke because of those poor choices. Health professionals guided my recovery and no person from the government or from the health insurance company ever visited me while I was hospitalized or in recovery. The task of defining what a health care system looks should be determined by you and your doctor, not the health insurance companies, government, and lawyers that are currently the face of our health system.

The government, i.e. politicians, claim we all need health insurance, but who will pay for the premiums, co-pays, and not-covered illnesses and accidents? Will everyone enjoy good health because they a health insurance policy? Will everyone’s health insurance be free since the ACA has mandated everyone own a policy regardless of their individual health needs or financial position? Basically, at gun-point, ‘rhetorically speaking,’ the government is forcing everyone to purchase health insurance? If legal, where will the money come from to pay the health insurance premiums, or the health professionals who diagnose our illnesses? Where will the money come from to finance the equipment needed to diagnose and/or treat our health needs? Where will the money come from for the buildings needed to house the equipment and the facilities for the infirmed? These are just a few of the questions I have for those who profess the government should be responsible for our individual health needs. The last time I checked the government didn’t have any money to pay for anything unless they taxed you and me to get it.

What, you mean we already have a government-run health care system? Is that why my taxes are so high? Is that why I read in the newspaper recently that the government is paying millions of dollars every year for fraudulent health care claims? Is that why doctors are leaving the government-run health system for the more efficient private practices? Is that why the government is making criminals out of Americans who would rather not purchase health insurance policies? Golly, I hope the government does a better job of running Obamacare than they did managing health needs for our veterans through the Veterans Administration.

County Health Department

As clinical providers seek ways to improve the health of their patients at the population level, one great resource that they should tap is their county health department. There are many resources and skills that health departments will share with physicians and other providers that will improve their ability to improve the health of their patients.

In my work I have had numerous occasions to collaborate with the chief epidemiologist of the Kent County Health Department of Michigan-Mr. Brian Hartl. Through these contacts and through an introductory epidemiology course I have found that health departments are experts at providing population level health services. This is in contrast to most clinical providers who excel at working with their patients on a face-to-face level. Both staff of physician offices and staff of health departments are concerned with the health of individuals and groups of people.

Clinicians most often work with individuals during face-to-face encounters. They treat the disease or injury of an individual one at a time. For instance, if a physician is treating a patient with hypertension, she will plan a course of treatment with the individual in mind. If the physician considers the population level in her work, then she is looking at how the treatments and instructions that she provides affect a group of her patients. For instance, she may consider how effective she is in treating her patients with hypertension collectively.

The patients of a county health department are the population of the county. Only in a few instances do health departments treat individuals one at a time. Much of their work would not be considered clinical interventions. However, their work does affect the population as a whole. For instance, health departments are responsible for seeing that food at restaurants is handled and cooked correctly. Health departments track reports of communicable disease to identify potential clusters or outbreaks, such as measles, in order to mobilize the community and physician groups to respond and prevent further transmission.

Can these two health groups benefit each other in improving the health of their patients and, if so, how? I recently interviewed Brian Hartl about this and he shared some thoughts that I believe can help clinical providers do a better job. As an expert in population level health, Mr. Hartl sees much of his work as preventive in nature. In the emerging world of population level medicine it is important for physicians and other clinical staff to focus on prevention too-prevention of chronic diseases worsening for patients, such as prevention of patients diagnosed with prediabetes advancing to diabetes, and prevention of teen patients from misusing alcohol and other drugs, including tobacco. The Kent County Health Department has many resources that can help physicians achieve their goal and would be very willing to collaborate with clinical groups. In fact, KCHD currently has a grant whose funds can be used to improve patient opportunities for chronic disease prevention, risk reduction or management through clinical and community linkages.

Mr. Hartl believes there is potential to work together with physicians to establish a system for prescribing healthy living activities and lifestyles as non-clinical interventions for the prevention/management of chronic disease. For instance, the Kent County Health Department is actively engaged in helping communities develop walking paths in underserved areas in the City of Grand Rapids. He thinks that patients with chronic diseases can greatly benefit if they became more active by walking. He is willing to share maps and information about the location of such paths so that a physician can prescribe a walking agenda for a patient and then point them to nearby paths that they can easily access.

The Kent County Health Department is also engaged in working with community partners to bring fresh foods to locations in the county where access to fresh fruits and vegetables is difficult. These are known as ‘food deserts’ and often only have retail food stores that are ‘quick markets’ that have only boxed food, such as those found in many gasoline stations. His group is working with such retailers in the community to overcome the barriers to providing fresh foods. Mr. Hartl is willing to share with physician groups the locations of fresh food sources in the community so that clinicians can inform their patients of the locations and improve their food lifestyles.

These are just two examples of information that the health department is willing to share with clinical groups so that their patients can achieve healthy, active lifestyles. Besides information, health departments also have community contacts that could be useful. For instance, the Kent County Health Department works with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, which has a nationally recognized program (the Diabetes Prevention Program) that helps prevent individuals diagnosed with prediabetes from becoming diabetic. The health department also has links with community educators, the Grand Rapids Urban League and prevention groups that focus on the prevention of the misuse of alcohol and other drugs.

As you can see there are many resources that are available from health departments. Will it be beneficial to clinical providers to access these resources? I believe that accessing these resources will help physicians and other clinical providers greatly improve the quality of life of their patients. Also, it will help in improving the outcomes of patients at the population level. This is very important for groups that have risk-based contracts with private payers and for those who serve patients who are covered by Medicare. According to an article in Modern Healthcare dated January 16, 2015, about 40% of all private payer contracts are incentive based now; those with such contracts need to focus on population level health.

There is a treasure of information at the health department for patient-centered medical homes that have patient care coordinators. One of the responsibilities of these coordinators is inform their patients of community resources that would be useful to them. The health department is an excellent source of such information.

The goals of healthcare providers remains to provide safe and high quality care to their patients while their management staff work to improve the bottom line. With the rise of risk based contracts that dictate managing care at the population level, I believe that county health departments can do a great deal to help providers meet their goals.

Population Level Health Management

There has been much discussion of population health management coupled with predictive analytics recently in the health care field. Why? Most who are discussing these topics see it as a means of improving the health of patients while reducing the costs of doing so. Providing better care at lower costs is becoming necessary as payers are beginning to pay for quality outcomes as they move away from fee-for-service.

What is population health and how does predictive analytics fit in? Let me begin by defining population health and illustrate predictive analytics. In statistics, population refers to the complete set of objects of interest to the investigation. For instance, it could be the temperature range of adolescents with measles. It could be the individuals in a rural town who are prediabetic. These two are of interest in healthcare. Population also applies to any other field of research. It could be the income level of adults in a county or the ethnic groups living in a village.

Typically, population health management refers to managing the health outcomes of individuals by looking at the collective group. For instance, at the clinical practice level, population health management would refer to effectively caring for all the patients of the practice. Most practices segregate the patients by diagnosis when using population health management tools, such as patients with hypertension. Practices typically focus on patients with high costs for care so that more effective case management can be provided to them. Better case management of a population typically leads to more satisfied patients and lower costs.

Population health from the perspective of a county health department (as illustrated in last month’s newsletter) refers to all the residents of a county. Most services of a health department are not provided to individuals. Rather, the health of residents of a county is improved by managing the environment in which they live. For instance, health departments track the incidence of flu in a county in order to alert providers and hospitals so that they are ready to provide the levels of care needed.

You should be able to see that the population whose health is being managed depends upon who is providing the service. Physician practices’ population is all the patients of the practice. For county health departments it is all residents of a county. For the CDC it is all residents of the United States.

Once the population is identified, the data to be collected is identified. In a clinical setting, a quality or data team is most likely the body that determines what data should be collected. Once data is collected, trends in care can be identified. For instance, a practice may find that the majority of the patients who are identified as being hypertensive are managing their condition well. The quality team decides that more can be done to improve the outcomes for those who do not have their blood pressure under control. Using the factors from the data that it has collected the team applies a statistical approach called predictive analytics to see if can find any factors that may be in common among those whose blood pressure is not well managed. For instance, they may find that these patients lack the money to buy their medication consistently and that they have trouble getting transportation to the clinic that provides their care service. Once these factors are identified, a case manager at the clinic can work to overcome these barriers.

I will finish this overview of population health management and predictive analytics with two examples of providers using the approach correctly. In August 2013 the Medical Group Management Association presented a webinar featuring the speakers Benjamin Cox, the director of Finance and Planning for Integrated Primary Care Organization at Oregon Health Sciences University, an organization with 10 primary care clinics and 61 physicians, and Dr. Scott Fields, the Vice Chair of Family Medicine at the same organization. The title of the webinar was “Improving Your Practice with Meaningful Clinical Data”. Two of the objectives of the webinar were to define the skill set of their Quality Data Team, including who the members were, and describing the process of building a set of quality indicators.

The clinics were already collecting a large variety of data to report to various groups. For instance, they were reporting data for “meaningful use” and to commercial payers as well as employee groups. They decided to take this data and more and organize it into scorecards that would be useful to individual physicians and to practice managers at each clinic. Some of the data collected was patient satisfaction data, hospital readmission data, and obesity data. Scorecards for physicians were designed to meet the needs and requests of the individual physicians as well as for the practice as a whole. For instance, a physician could ask to have a scorecard developed for him that identified individual patients whose diabetes indicators showed that the patient was outside of the control limits for his diabetes. Knowing this, a physician could devote more time to improving the quality of life of the patient.

Scorecards for the clinic indicated how well the physicians at the site were managing patients with chronic conditions as a whole. With predictive analytics the staff of the clinic could identify which processes and actions helped improve the health of the patients. Providing more active case management may have been demonstrated to be effective for those with multiple chronic conditions.

Mr. Cox and Dr. Fields also stated that the quality data team members were skilled at understanding access, structuring data in meaningful ways, at presenting data to clinicians effectively and in extracting data from a variety of sources. The core objectives of the data team were to balance the competing agendas of providing quality care, making sure that operations were efficient and that patient satisfaction was high.

A second example of population health management focuses on preventing cardiovascular disease in a rural county in Maine-Franklin County. Over a 40-year period, starting in the late 1960’s, a volunteer nonprofit group and a clinical group worked together to improve the cardiovascular health of the residents of the county. As the project advanced, a hospital joined in the efforts.

At the beginning of the prevention efforts, the cardiovascular health of this poor county was below the state average. As volunteers and clinical groups became more active in improving the health of its residents, various cardiovascular measures improved significantly and actually were better in some respects than more affluent counties in the state that had better access to quality health services. The improvements were driven by volunteers who went out into the community to get those identified as being at risk of developing cardiovascular problems involved in smoking cessation classes, in increasing their physical activity and in improving their diets. This led to lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol rates and improving endurance.

The results and details of this 40-year effort in Franklin County has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2015. The article is “Community-wide CVD prevention programs linked with improved health outcomes”.

As you can see, a population level approach to healthcare provides effective results. A clinic can improve the outcomes of its patients with chronic diseases while balancing costs through improved efficiency by focusing on data at the population level. A community can improve the lives of its residents by taking a population level approach to preventive care. Population level approaches to healthcare are varied and can be very successful if population level theory is correctly implemented. Better results can be obtained pairing it with predictive analytics.

Is Mental Health Covered Under

For people who depend on any type of private or company insurance to cover the cost of their health needs, the question of whether or not the health insurance policy covers mental health problems is a crucial one for a number of reasons.

The idea of a split between physical health and mental health is an old one, and is a fairly arbitrary decision as to which is which some of the time. From a point of view of health insurance, classifying illnesses or diseases can determine whether or not the insurance company will pay for them, and for many people with mental health issues that can literally be a life or death process.

The term mental health can relate to a condition ranging from a fairly mild form of depression through to serious conditions of clinical depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, full-blown psychotic episodes etc.

Any health insurance policy should specify exactly what types of illness or disease it is willing to provide cover for and those which it is not. This will also include what it specifies as a type of mental health problem or issue and whether or not the insurance policy provides any type of cover for it.

One of the reasons people are wary of health insurance plans with relation to mental health issues, is that often any type of treatment for a mental health issue relates either to what is known as a talking therapy, or some type of pharmaceutical drug based regime.

Any type of talking therapy that is likely to be effective is likely to be a relatively long-term process, depending upon the nature and seriousness of the illness. Any insurance policy that does cover specified mental health conditions will also provide very strict criteria as to what type of talking therapy is covered, for how long and by whom the talking therapy can be carried out by.

The other issue to be really aware of when looking at any type of mental health coverage under a health insurance plan is the nature of deductibles, co-pay and co-insurance. These terms are essentially ways of getting the person who is insured under the policy to bear some of the cost of the treatment on an ongoing basis in relation to the insurance company.

Most people are familiar with the idea of a deductible, sometimes called an excess, in a policy, but any health insurance policy needs to be looked at carefully in terms of what it’s deductibles are. This is because there are often several different deductibles applicable to the same policy, each for differing amounts and applying to different sections of the policy.

This means that a health insurance policy could have both an individual and a family deductible. This deductible could be separate from another deductible that would apply to specific types of drugs, normally where a distinction is made between a generic and a brand-name drug. The amounts involved in terms of these deductibles can be significant, and when taken in addition to any co-pay or co-insurance amounts can stack up into a sizeable burden that the individual will have to carry for themselves.

The Impact Of Shift Work On Health

The health and motivation for shift work has been known to have its own peculiar demands. This has set it apart from jobs that have traditional hours of work. Shift work has its own health merits. The shift work has been created to aid workflow processes between employer, employee and tasks at hand. Over the years, it has been noticed that workers identified in shift work often receive better health plans, health products and remuneration and by this, give shift workers time to do other tasks or personal chores while being watchful of individual mental health.

However, the scientific and medical communities report continually that shift workers concerned stand an increased risk of certain health disorders and mental health challenges that have severe negative impact on the general well-being of work shift staff which may not be achieved until the right health products are used.

There is a concern for the 9 to 5ers, as one sees a case of the health of those who barely get by with the hard life of routine which most times is viewed to compensate only the boss at the top. Furthermore, we sought to consider those who work less conventional hours that include working shifts at night. Any way it is looked at, an adequate welfare plan should be in place for them while introducing supplements of health products.

Researchers have discovered that those more at risk of suffering certain mental health challenges and chronic ailments or diseases, are shift workers, such as flight attendants, police officers, doctors, bartenders, nurses, and the like. Shift work can be classified as any type of work schedule that involves hours that are uncommon, or unusual when comparing this type of work schedule with the traditional work schedule that occurs within the day between 6 am and 6 pm.

For clarity, the term shift work can refer to rotating shifts, working overnight, evening shifts and other flexible shift patterns desired or arranged by the employer that also addresses the challenge of mental health in shift work platforms. In other to assist shift workers, first aid boxes can be kept handy and filled with health products for shift workers.

It’s been recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), that over 16.8% salary workers and full-time wage workers are employed to work alternative shifts. Another interesting discovery made is that evening shifts are the most common alternative shifts, which have their working hours starting at between 2 pm and midnight. Work schedules may also constantly change as a result of irregular work shifts that also result in mental health and hormonal imbalances.

In this article, we take a look at what the resultant effects of what shift work are, what shift workers can potentially do in other to lower their risks of diverse health problems and what salient reasons could possibly be behind these findings. The mental health and prescribed health products of shift workers should not be left unaddressed as this plays an important role in the health and total well-being of the workers.

At first glance, it appears as though shift workers have and work different hours compared to the regular workers’ typical 9-to-5 routine. Reports also show that this is not the only underlying factor, as one key factor also is an increased risk of some diseases.

Some medical associations such as the Medical News Today have reported on studies that relate lack of usage of health products and increased risk of certain health problems with shift work. These relationships have seen discoveries ranging from the predictable to the most amazing jaw-dropping situations.

A reputable medical journal published a meta-analysis in 2014 which suggested that shift workers face an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. This is a red flag. Taking into consideration, shift workers rotating shifts also face an increased risk of 42%. So we see a need for the inclusion of health products as ready supplements for shift workers.

Interestingly, shift workers who rotate night shifts for 15 years and above were found to potentially increase the health risk of lung cancer mortality and poor mental health. The use of health products will aid these situations enhance longevity and maintenance.

Health And Wellness Products

Health and wellness products will mean very different things to different people.

Wellness can be defined as ‘the pursuit of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
For the benefit of this article, wellness products are being looked at in the context
of ‘over the counter drugs, health supplements and health remedies.

While for some people, wellness products might be viewed as an aid to recovery
from illness, for others it might be a means of further enhancing some
aspect of their current health. The variety of and uses for such products
are as numerous as are the the definitions of wellness products or wellness
programs, depending of course upon who is promoting them at any given time.

Whatever your reasons for pursuing alternative care health or health and wellness
products, a common goal is to achieve optimised health and well-being.

There are powerful media images hailing the benefits and safety of many over the
counter drugs, supplements and health and wellness products, every where you turn
these days. They have equally strong claims of being the one and only miracle cure
or solution for one ailment or another. How accurate are these claims though, and
what are the real costs to you in monetary and health risk terms?

Immediately after reading this article, go take a look and do a quick add-up of the
total cost of all the health and wellness products you currently have in stock. I’m
sure the figure will surprise you just as much as learning about the very real and
harmful side effects which can be caused by some of these drugs or supplements
that are supposed to be contributing to your overall state of wellness.

You may also be surprised to know that many of the ‘over the counter drugs you
buy on a regular basis, simply treat the symptoms and not the real health issue.
Needless to say, this approach of focusing on the symptom, side-steps
the crucial requirement of getting to the root cause of your condition or whatever
it is that ails you.

You’re most likely to pursue a wellness product either because you are becoming
wary of the adverse effects of chemically produced drugs or because you’re keen to
recover from ill-health and improve a specific health condition. In some instances it
might be that you just want to optimise your current state of good health.

While some health and wellness products can be an effective measure toward
improving your health, you should note that long-term use of certain over the counter
drugs and some supplements can cause you more harm than good, with the long-
term implications far outweighing any short-term benefits. You may well find that
you are paying far too high a price on the basis of a mere quick fix promise.

For thousands of years, people in lands far and wide have used natural homemade
remedies to manage their health conditions and wellness needs, without manufactured
health and wellness products, that can be detrimental to health. They have purely relied
upon attaining or maintaining health by plants or by other natural means.
It could be argued that with the emergence of chemical and pharmacological methods,
many forms of this natural means to health and wellness have declined. In fact, even
by today’s standards, there are many so-called under-developed countries where
inhabitants’ rely on nothing more than homemade health and wellness products,
gained via natural methods of plants or plant-based extracts.

While conventional medicine relies on scientifically backed research to substantiate
effectiveness and safety. In contrast, similar cannot be said about some alternative
medicines or health and wellness products. There is no such requirement but their
promotion as regard effectiveness are deemed sufficient in themselves as support
for therapeutic or wellness claims.

Herbal remedies in general are harmless, however, certain claims being made by
some health and wellness products promoters, (under the banner of being
‘natural’)) can insinuate their health and fitness products being the
exclusive answer to your health condition or wellness questions, thus putting you
at great risk. Secondly, how open are they being about what’s really inside? You
should always consult your physician over any health concerns, as well as discussing
with him/her your intention or choice of alternative means for treatment with any
health and wellness product or remedy.

Multi-billion-dollar industries have long weald their power by way of
lobbying to gain exemption from FDA regulation. This has been exactly the
case, according to the Skeptical Inquirer, who, on commenting on
the ‘dietary supplement industry back in 1994, states – “Since then, these
products have flooded the market, subject only to the scruples of their
manufacturers”.

The above point is an important one to note in that, while health and wellness
products manufacturers may list ingredients and quantities being used in
specific health and wellness products, there has been no real pressure on them to
do so, or to do so accurately. Furthermore, neither has there been any
watchdog body to ensure they are penalised for this failing.

So, what are the alternatives open to you? Increasingly, more and more people
are turning to do-it-yourself health and wellness homemade herbal remedies.
The distinct difference being that in making your own health and wellness products,
you are in the driving seat. Not only do you have a full awareness of exactly
what the ingredients are and the true quantities, but with the appropriate level of
guidance from a reputable practitioner, you’re more conversant with any health
implications, if any.

With the right know-how, you too can draw on the old-fashioned yet effective
sources to greatly improve your health. For instance, using naturally prepared
herbs, vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements, essential oils and flower
essences to create real healing solutions that deal with particular health
conditions rather than just the symptoms.

It is in the interest of a health and wellness product manufacturers to promote their
products as being the only option open to you. They don’t want you to know about
the abundant natural resources and health-giving potent attributes of herbs and home
remedies which have been used effectively for thousands of years. You see, these
remedies cannot be patented because you can make them yourself and at a
fraction of the cost.

Whether your goal is to overcome illness, drugs intolerance, allergies or just to
optimise your already good health, with a little know-how, you can start making
your own health and wellness products and remedies, using nothing more than the
readily available natural resources in your home and garden. Not only will you
save your hard earned cash, you also alleviate the risk of serious or harmful
additives and side effects.

Are you interested in learning more about how you can treat numerous common ailments without the harsh side effects, using nothing but natural herbs, vitamins
and nutrients you prepare yourself at home? For instance, did you know that
placing yogurt on your face help to bring water from the deeper layers
of your skin to the surface, moisturizing your skin for the rest of the day and hiding
wrinkles?

Here are just a few more of the many quick and effective remedies you can learn
to make:

1. Natural laxatives

2. Beauty recipes

3. Skin care and cleansing preparations such as acne treatment

3. Herbal shampoos as well as how to treat hair loss

5. Dermatitis

6. Menstrual Pain and PMS Symptoms

Florida Health Insurance

Florida Health Insurance Rate Hike

Florida Health insurance premiums have touched new heights! Every Floridian has the common knowledge that most annual health insurance contracts will endure a rate increase at the end of the year. This trend is not new and should be expected. Every time this issue pops up it seems as though the blame game starts. Floridians blame Health insurance companies; Health insurance companies blame Hospitals, Doctors and other medical care providers, Medical care providers blame inflation and politicians, well, we really don’t know what they do to help the issue… No one seems to be interested in finding the real cause of the health insurance premium rate increase. Most individuals, self employed, and small business owners have taken Florida Health Insurance Rate Hikes as the inevitable evil.

Hard Facts

What are various reports telling us? Why do Health insurance premium have annual rate increases?

Rate of inflation and heath insurance premium rate increase.

America’s health expenditure in the year 2004 has increased dramatically, it has increased more than three time the inflation rate. In this year the inflation rate was around 2.5% while the national health expenses were around 7.9%. The employer health insurance or group health insurance premium had increased approximately 7.8% in the year 2006, which is almost double the rate of inflation. In short, last year in 2006, the annual premiums of group health plan sponsored by an employer was around $4,250 for a single premium plan, while the average family premium was around $ 11,250 per year. This indicates that in the year 2006 the employer sponsored health insurance premium increased 7.7 percent. Taking the biggest hit were small businesses that had 0-24 employees. There health insurance premiums increased by nearly 10.4%

Employees are also not spared, in the year 2006 the employee also had to pay around $ 3,000 more in their contribution to employer’s sponsored health insurance plan in comparison to the previous year, 2005. Rate hikes have been in existence since the “Florida Health Insurance” plan started. In covering an entire family of four, a person will experience an increase in premium rate at every annual renewal. If they would have kept the record of their health insurance premium payments they will find that they are now paying around $ 1,100 more than they paid in the year 2000 for the same coverage and with the same company. The same item was found by the Health Research Educational Trust and the Kaiser Family Foundation in their survey report of the year 2000. They found out that the premiums of health insurance that is sponsored by the employer increases by around 4 times than the employee’s salary. This report also stated that since 2000 the contribution of employees in group health insurance sponsored by employer was increased by more than 143 percent.

One business man predicts that if nothing is done and the Health insurance premiums keep increasing that in the year 2008, the amount of health premium contribution to employer will surpass their profit. Professionals within and outside the field of Florida health insurance, think that the reason for increase in Florida health insurance premium rates are due to many factors, such as high administration expenditure, inflation, poor or bad management, increase in the cost of medical care, waste etc.

Florida health insurance rate hikes affect whom?

Rising rates of Florida health insurance generally affects most of the Floridians who live in our beautiful state. The highest affected individudals are the minimum wage and low wage workers. Recent drops in the renewal of health insurance are mostly from this low income group. They just can’t afford the high premiums of Florida health insurance. They are in the situation where they can not afford the medical care and they can not afford the medical insurance premiums that are assosiated with adequate coverage. Almost half of all Americans are of the opinion that they are more worried about the high health insurance rate and high cost of health care, over any other bill they have on a monthly basis. A survey also finds that around 42% of Americans can not afford the high cost of health care services. There is one very interesting study conducted by Harvard University researchers. They found out that 68% of people who filed bankruptcy covered themselves and their family by health insurance. Average out-of-pocket deductibles for people filed bankruptcy were around $ 12,000 per year. They also found some co-relation between medical expenditure and bankruptcy. A national survey also reports that main reason for people not to take health insurance is the high premium rate of health insurance.

How to reduce Florida’s high health insurance cost? Nobody knows for sure. There are different opinions and experts are not agreeing with each other. Health professionals believe that if we can raise the number of healthy people by improving the lifestyle and regular exercise, good diets etc. than naturally they will need less medical care services which decreases the demands of health care and hence the cost.( This year in Florida the smoking rate has increased by 21.7 percent) One Floridian sarcastically suggested that there are ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ in health care that are needed to reversed. That the state of Florida is to ‘high’ in cost of medical care compare to other States and ‘low’ in the quality of health care.

Florida Health insurance rate hike has attracted many frauds. These frauds float many bogus insurance companies and offer cheap health insurance rate which attract many people to them. These companies usually through assosiations that are based in other states.

Meanwhile reputable Florida health insurance companies provide different types of health insurance like employer sponsored group health insurance, small business health insurance, individual health insurance etc. to vast number of employees and their families. Still there are many people in Florida that lack any health coverage. Today the employer also has found it challenging to decide how to offer employer sponsored group health insurance to their employees, so that both of them arrive at some point of agreement.