What is Affordable Healthcare Act?

Health is wealth. The need to be healthy and remain healthy cannot be overrated. The health of the citizens of a country always has its effect of the country’s economy. This perhaps explains why the Obama Administration has taken the health care reform in the United States quite seriously, and passed the Affordable Health care act. This act brought a lot of changes into the insurance sector. These changes have impacts on the both the insurers and the individuals seeking insurance.

Key points in the bill 1. The health insurers are not allowed to refuse coverage for insurance or make different charges considering the patient’s medical histories. 2. The employers must provide coverage for their workers or pay surtax up to 8%. 3. There are subsidies provided for low and middle level Americans while buying insurance .4. Those who make less that $48000 a year are eligible for this financial assistance. 5. There would be a central health insurance market place where people will have the privilege of comparing various policies. 6. There are eight new taxes included which would affect the customer premiums directly. 7. All Americans would have to carry health insurance coverage or will have to face a penalty.

The effect on young single uninsuredAs there are minimum set of benefits in every plan, the coverage for it has also increased. The scheme comes as an overburden for young adults. They feel it would be better to pay the fine instead of accepting the insurance scheme which makes the individual pay thousands of dollars every year.

The Affordable health care act comes as a concern for the insurance companies too as they find it difficult to persuade the young adults to apply for the scheme.

The young single individual who is uninsured and not eligible for subsidies will have his premium amounts being hiked by 42 percent. However, a majority of single uninsured individuals in 20s shall be eligible for the subsidies provided by the government.

The outcome of this act shall prove to be worthy for senior individuals but for youngsters (young single uninsured), it still remains an issue. If a lot of youngsters opt out of the scheme, it will affect the stability of Affordable Healthcare Act as a whole. This led to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC (North California) writing the federal office regarding the meager response from the young single individuals. However one of the positive aspects of this act on young adults is that, the insurers are not allowed to remove adult children from the parent’s policies and the health insurance coverage will be available till the adult child reaches the age of 26.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC and Affordable Healthcare Act

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina holds independent license from BCBSA, which includes 38 insurance companies in US. Most hospitals in the US accept this insurance coverage of BCBSNC. It has become mandatory for all Americans to have an insurance coverage for their health, and seeking an affordable health plan is not an easy task. This makes the effort of Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC in providing affordable insurance coverage to both companies and individuals commendable.

Are ACOs the Answer to an Affordable, Quality Healthcare & Health Insurance System?

Remember the Affordable Care Act of 2010? It’s the one Congress titles: Quality, Affordable Health Care for all Americans. How about the part where it will be the responsibility of every single American – requirement – to maintain (and report on) minimum essential health insurance coverage? Ah, now you remember.

This is the biggest question on which we’re waiting for the Supreme Court to make its ruling. Passing it would mean that millions of uninsured Americans would have their health insurance coverage subsidized by the federal government. The question isn’t whether or not it’s a good idea. The real question for the Supreme Court is whether mandating health insurance coverage is actually constitutional.

Whatever happens will turn out to be a double edged sword, and there is no easy answer.

There is good news. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has started to 1) pay doctors bonuses if they improve efficiency, 2) encourage patients to shop around for treatment, and 3) pay doctors to install computerized records. I believe all of these are good, and no matter what happens at the Supreme Court, we’re not going back to the ridiculous status of healthcare and insurance of 2009.

Increasing health insurance costs, associated with our aging population and more disease, will ensure continuous efforts to expand coverage, reduce costs, cut waste and improve healthcare. We’ve got to figure out ways to address of all these issues. I’m glad to see BCBSNC taking a proactive approach to working on a solution.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is creating (i.e. funding) with the University of North Carolina Health Care System (UNCHCS) a private accountable care organization (ACO) in which a shared risk model means patients will have easier and better access to their doctors, medical records, and test results.

I’ll write again about these ACO provider alliances. Will they deliver lower-cost but still high-quality health care via new payment models, particularly ones that reward efficiency? It’s premature to tell. But I can help you find the right and most affordable plan for you and your family. Let me help you ask the right questions when getting health insurance quotes and comparing health insurance plans in North Carolina. I am happy to help you find the right answers for your needs.

Calm and Happy Children, Calm and Happy Parents

In homes, schools, medical clinics and even insurance agencies, people talk about psychological health and well being and the great numbers of adults and children with attention deficit, hyperactivity, anxiety or depression. How health insurance plans or medical offices will deal with a person’s situation depends upon each case and coverage. Costs for dealing with these conditions can be quite high.

 Millions of children in the U.S. are medicated for ADHD alone, according to the Center of Disease Control (CDC). Over a million preschool children in the U.S. are said to be depressed. North Carolina has more parents who report their children as having ADHD than any other state. Yet parents and children everywhere are happiest when both parents and children feel great without requiring prescription medication for mood, impulses, behavior and so on!

 The vast subject of ADHD, depression and anxiety and their counterpart (a positive sense of well being) aren’t that well understood. Our diet is a big part of our environment and the diet greatly impacts how we feel.

 Google search “ADD+diet” and we find over 128 million pages results! Googling “depression+diet” brings over 17 million page results. While such isn’t solid research, it would be a bit silly to think that diet and chemistry do not affect our minds and our sense of well-being. Attention to diet can often identify various causes of imbalances so we can rectify the imbalances make needed changes serious medical conditions develop. Parents report amazing results for both themselves AND for kids when they remove dietary items proven to create difficulties.

 A most helpful method to finding answers is the do-it-yourself Rotation Diet. This method of rotating foods and observing changes was developed by obesity expert, Martin Katahn, PhD.

 Since it’s a highly individual matter, people can observe their reactions to items with the rotation diet and learn exactly what foods subtly (or not so subtlety) disagree with them. Depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, sluggishness, digestive upsets, headache or migraine, feeling “scattered” and unfocused, etc., are sometimes only a result of a few key food choices that don’t support one’s chemistry.

 It’s common for people to put up with feeling poorly over many years, to later learn that discomfort, headache, aches and pains, arthritis and mood issues were food sensitivity related. (Allergy tests don’t typically reveal such sensitivities, which are different from allergy.)

 There are a few essentials that every human needs. In addition to supporting our physical wellness, these nutrients also support our moods, behavior and general feeling of wellness:

 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) — A guaranteed-pure fish oil benefits the brain and nervous system and virtually every other system in the body. In research studies, fish oil has often proved to be beneficial to those with depression. Not only are EFAs good for feelings of well-being, they are needed for correct adrenal and thyroid function, the development and function of the brain, healthy hormonal activity, breaking down fats and many other things! EFAs are in fish, especially the skin of the fish, as well as nuts, flax, green and leafy vegetables.

 Adequate magnesium is a must. 80% of Americans are said to have a magnesium deficiency. Signs include anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity, confusion, fidgeting, difficulty sleeping, learning difficulty, constipation and even dangerous heart rhythm problems. Magnesium is found in beans, nuts and other vegetables.

Zinc is a common nutritional deficiency among children who are hyperactive. A person with zinc deficiency has trouble thinking, and is prone to being anxious. Zinc is found in meats and grains.

 

B vitamins give people lots of energy and a good feeling of vitality. Bs are found in meats, milk,  whole-grain cereals, eggs, fish, yogurt, nuts, fruits and many other foods.

 

Vitamin E is a calming vitamin. Without enough of it, we have poor nerve conduction in the brain, among other problems. Almonds, olive oil, wheat germ oil and many other foods have vitamin E.

 

Vitamin D deficiency if rampant! It causes depression. D comes from the sun. D is a powerful immune system supporter and is needed for strong bones. Many adults and children are highly deficient in D, which also offers protection against many cancers, viruses and infections. D3 is said to be the health promoting and non-synthetic form of the vitamin which is added to milk and other products.

 How we eat can indeed be our “medicine” and help us to feel at our best.

 We at www.nchealthplansonline.com wish you a happy and healthy season ahead! Call Judy Goloff for NC health insurance information. Judy’s primary focus is on identifying and meeting your individual medical care needs with a variety of health and life insurance plans from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina ® (BCBSNC). She will walk you through the entire process to make sure you get what you need in a health plan. 1-800-582-2262.

Health Insurance for Starter Families

Starting out in life is tough and starting out with a family can be even tougher. You want to do everything you can for them and, just in case, you want them protected. One of the most important types of protection is Health Insurance.

 Why Health Insurance?

 Health insurance protects you and your family from the high cost of medical care. In the most basic form you pay a monthly premium and the provider offers certain coverage.  One common fear is the cost of health insurance but imagine what the consequences could be of not having coverage.  Medical bills from a small playground accident can delete any savings and a major illness could put you into bankruptcy.

 Comparing Plans

 There are basically two types of plans, Traditional or Indemnity and Managed care.

Indemnity also known as ”Fee for Service” generally covers illness and accidents. There are no provisions for preventive care (flu shots, birth control, yearly wellness checks). And they may not offer prescription coverage. A big advantage is that you will have more freedom as to choice of doctors but you will pay for it with higher premiums.

 Managed care is what most of us are more familiar with. These include HMOs (Health Maintenance Organization) and PPOs (Preferred Provider Organization). HMOs offer lower premiums by offering care through a network of doctors and hospitals.  Co-payments are generally lower and prescriptions, preventive care and mental health are covered.

 PPOs are like a combination of the “Fee for Service” and the HMO. You have the option to use doctors out of the network but you will pay a higher portion of the cost. Using doctors within the network will save you in out-of pocket-costs which could include co-payments, deductibles, or other fees that you are required to pay outside of your health benefits plan. Premiums for PPOs are generally higher.

 Choose a health Plan

 Health insurance can add to the family budget, but there sensible ways to save money by shopping wisely. If you look around you will find options.  If your employer offers insurance you should take advantage.  You will almost always get a better premium with group or employer-subsidized plans.

 Whether you are getting insurance coverage through your employer or you have to buy it yourself it is important to do your homework and pick the plan that is right for you. Another good idea is to investigate insurance brokers. A broker has access to multiple providers and can help you make the right choice. Some questions you should ask your broker or while shopping around:

 – Does the plan cover the services I may use? Are there any pre-existing conditions, do you plan on having children. Does their network cover favorite doctors or hospitals?

– Prescription cost, how much they cover, what they cover. Do you have any special prescription needs?

– What are the co-payments?

– What are the deductibles? A common mistake is to choose a high deductible to keep the premium low. This could actually prevent you from getting care if you can’t cover it so keep the deductible realistic.

– What expenses have t be paid before reimbursement

 Before you make a final decision with a company take a few minute and get online and check them out. Look for things like complaints or high dropout rates. Look for accreditations and memberships. Purchasing health insurance is one of the most important decisions you will make for your family and it is a choice that needs to be made wisely.

I’m A Breast Cancer Survivor

I’m about more than North Carolina health insurance, I’m a firm believer in living a healthy whole life and I’ve practiced that with my own for a long time. But life can throw you a curve ball.

I was going along thinking that I was doing everything right then wham I’m diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m proud to say that I am a two year survivor but my point is that no matter how well you think you are taking care of yourself “shit happens” and that is the truth. If I did not have my health coverage the medical bills could have cost me my home and my way of life.

 I believe life is a gift and you should choose to live healthy. If you go to my blog you will find articles about cooking healthy, essential oils for health, quitting smoking with many more to follow. But, I also believe in “prepare for the worst” and things happen in life that are out of your control like a car accident for example so you have to have a good health insurance plan.

 Please go to my site, see what I offer and feel free to contact me.

Health Benefits of Cooking for Yourself

Cooking for yourself can have many advantages. When you prepare your own food, you can cater to your own dietary needs, as well as you own tastes. Besides making food to your own likes and dislikes, you control what goes into your food, whether it be leaving things out of or adding to a recipe.

 We all know that you have to have salt in your diet. But too much salt can be a bad thing. So by controlling the amount and type of salt that you use in your food, you can reap the health benefits. Using sea salt for example, you can use less and it tastes much better. When trying to lower the sodium intake of you or your family, reading labels is one of the best things you can do. Knowing what you are eating is the first step to eating healthy. Boxed, canned, and bagged foods (even low sodium options) contain high sodium levels. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read your labels, and knowing what they mean. Once you start paying attention to the labels and what you are consuming, the more you will enjoy preparing, tasty foods that are better for you or your family. And the self gratification that comes from making flavorful, healthy food is good for ones self esteem, and boosting your mental health is directly related to your physical health.

 The more you prepare food for yourself, the more you will tend to have on hand the items you will need to make better food for yourself. Things like better oils for cooking and eating, like a good olive oil for example, or garlic is another ingredient that is really good for you and makes almost anything taste better. By no means do I mean garlic powder. I mean real garlic, even if you buy the pre-chopped kind, like all foods fresh is better, in taste and health benefits, so buy in small batches. The fresher and less processed your foods are, the better they will be for you.

 By preparing the food yourself, the more you can cater to your own personal dietary needs. Controlling your diet is one of the best things you can do to impact your health. And by diet, I am not talking about some gimmick based diet. Diet is your intake of food everyday! Whether or not your diet (eating habits) works for you is very easily controlled by cooking for yourself.

 It is a lot easier to make food taste the way you like it, when you make it yourself. Liking the food you eat makes it easier to eat foods that are healthier for you. With all the gimmicks out there, eating better is not one of them. Eating right and regular exercise are the cornerstones of healthy living. So why not learn to make delicious food for yourself and your family. You have to eat anyway, so put food to work for you. Because with better eating comes better living.

Medicare Annual Enrollment

You probably have noticed an increase in TV ads regarding early enrollment for this year, October 15 through December 7. Due to the changes in policies, this earlier open enrollment allows time to receive updated policies and insurance cards for the beginning of the year to avoid delays and uninterrupted coverage for 2012. The insurance options seem so daunting and so complicated, most people find it easier just to let the policies they have in place, simply renew on their own rather than delve into the options available that could potentially save money.

The recent passage of the “Affordable Care Act”, will reduce premiums for the majority of beneficiaries while receiving more benefits and lower prescription costs. The new plan allows for an Annual Wellness visit with your primary doctor without a co-pay or deductible. This also includes mammograms and gynecologic visits. This new legislation also gives those in the “donut hole”, greater discounts for brand name drugs and expanded coverage for generic prescriptions. An easy way to compare plans, and you don’t have to be computer savvy, is go to www.Medicare.gov and check out the Medicare Plan Finder. This page allows you to compare last years plans with the available options in the plans for 2012. They also have a 5 star quality rating system which lets you view the higher quality ratings for the past three years and the projected rating for 2012. Every individual is different and each have very different needs, but if you will take the time to sift through the many options, you will get a better understanding of what you need and what is available while navigating the insurance maze.

BCBSNC is the largest provider of Medicare supplement insurance in NC. The Medicare Advantage organization has a Medicare contract which, in simplistic terms, means more physicians accept BCBSNC than any other plan. There are substantial savings for you in terms of clarifying if your physician is an in-network carrier or out-of-network carrier, he either accepts BCBSNC or he doesn’t. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to an out-of-network physician, it just means you will pay more for the services. It is always advisable to check with your physician before hand to verify your coverage as this can change from year to year.

Here is a simple check list to get started:

  1. Define what your needs are in health insurance,

a. lower cost office visits

b. lower prescription costs

c. higher deductible with lower premiums

  1. Go to www.Medicare.gov and read up on available options and changes in your policy
  2. Contact your physicians insurance specialist to verify your insurance is accepted with their firm
  3. Do a little homework so you get a basic understanding of the insurance lingo. Another website for overall information is www.cms.gov/center/openenrollment.asp.

If you still find this too complicated, find an authorized licensed BCBSNC health agent and they will be more than happy to help assess your needs and provide you with a recommended plan that will compliment your Medicare.

Strides Against Breast Cancer

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a friend of mine is now a 2 year survivor of breast cancer. I can remember the fear in her eyes when she found out, I can only imagine what was going through her head. But I also remember her incredible strength, she won’t admit to it but it was there.

 As she went through diagnosis and treatments I could see major changes in her attitude and her will to survive. She made light of the treatments, made a game out of choosing different wigs. The whole time she was able keep up her job, keep up her own strength and resolve and more importantly, she was able to help those around her keep up their strength.

 I learned that in the beginning when she was in her darkest hours she meet two women that she refers to as “Her Angles”.  These two women were survivors themselves and were with my friend every step of her journey.  The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk helped make those “Angles” possible.

 So here we are two years later and my friend is an active member of our local “Making strides Against Breast Cancer” group, she speaks at local meetings and is a great supporter of the walks by recruiting walkers and gathering donations.

 Sponsored by the American Cancer Society since 1993 close to seven million walkers have raised more than $400 million dollars according to their website. It is a noncompetitive event and goes between 3 and 5 miles.  Again, according to their web site “In 2010 alone, nearly 800,000 walkers across the country collected more than $60 million to save lives from breast cancer. Thanks in part to the dollars raised by Making Strides supporters, 2.5 million breast cancer survivors will celebrate another birthday this year”.

 Some breast cancer facts (provided by breastcancer.org):

–  About 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

– About 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2010. Less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases occur in men.

–  The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).

– About 70-80% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

– A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 20-30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer.

 I was really surprised when I saw those actual numbers. It has reached a point where everyone knows someone whose life has been affected by breast cancer, including me.  I was even more surprised to see that men can also fall victim as well. We all should be thankful that organizations like this exist and I encourage everyone to support them. Got to the American Cancer Society Making strides Against Breast Cancer website and find an event near you. If you can, join the walk. If you cannot walk then please donate. Let’s make it possible for other survivors to find their “Angels”.

Health Insurance Or No Health Insirance

The very thought of health insurance makes most of us uneasy. Why, because it make us think about what could happen, what  if we got hurt or sick or how are we going to pay for it. And that is the next uneasy thought, how much healthcare can cost. But the real question is can you afford to be without it?

 The bottom line is protection, to protect yourself and your loved ones financially. The same reasons you have homeowner or auto insurance, to protect yourself in case something happens. That is the overall reason but if you really look at it there are more practical reasons:

 – To protect against health care expenses as mentioned above.

 – If medical bills go unpaid, hospitals and doctors will try to collect and that could cost everything up to and including your home.

 – People with insurance enjoy better health. Those with insurance are more likely to go to the doctor when something is not right or for yearly wellness checks. This catches conditions before they become a major issue.

 – People with insurance tend to follow their medication and treatment programs.

 – You could receive a lower life insurance premium.

 Unless you are covered through your workplace most of us have to buy our own health Insurance.  This is where you need to find a good health insurance broker. A good broker can assess your needs and walk you through the morass of plans out there. Here in North Carolina Blue Cross and Blue Shield is one of the largest.

 The principal behind insurance is a lot simpler than the actual plans themselves. You enroll in a healthcare plan and pay a quarterly or monthly fee to be covered under certain conditions. Depending on the type of plan insurance may pay the whole bill or a percentage of it and you are responsible for the balance.

 So, what are the general types of plans, basically there are four main types, Catastrophic, Short-term, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), and Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Managed care health insurance plans are what most of us are familiar with these are the PPOs and HMOs.

 Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) is a health insurance plan that will fully cover treatment if that treatment is provided by doctors or hospitals that belonging to the PPO’s network of health care providers. Treatment performed outside the network is also covered, but you will pay extra.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), these plans generally have significantly lower premiums.  The trade off is they greatly restrict who a patient may see for non-emergency medical services.

Short-term health insurance can only be purchased for a specific period of time similar to term life insurance. Short-term health insurance often comes with strict qualifying procedures and may not cover pre-existing medical conditions.

Catastrophic health insurance is one of the least expensive forms of health insurance you can find but the deductibles are generally large for these types of policies. These policies are only good if you have the financial means to handle routine illnesses and hospitalizations.

So to sum up don’t let the cost of health insurance scare you. Not having insurance could cost you much more in the end. Whether you have a family or are still single a good broker will help you find an affordable health insurance plan to fit your needs.

Health Plan to Protect Yourself and Your Pocketbook Against the Flu

You know the symptoms: fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, extreme tiredness, cough, and maybe a runny nose (more common in children than adults).

It’s the flu.

It’s not fun, it’s not cheap, and it can be deadly. Influenza annually accounts for more than 36,000 deaths. That’s more than the number of people killed in car wrecks!

Recently North Carolina officials confirmed that a 15-year old who did not get a flu shot was the state’s first person to die from the disease this season.

Besides deaths, the costs associated with influenza include direct healthcare costs, indirect costs such as lost productivity, and intangible costs of pain and social disruption. Consider this: in theUSalone, the annual direct medical costs (hospitalization, doctor visits, medications, etc.) of influenza are estimated at more than $10 billion. Furthermore, each year up to 111 million workdays are lost because of influenza,

And those are just the “normal” costs of the flu. When an influenza pandemic breaks out, those costs always skyrocket. It is important to remember that everyone in society bears the cost – healthcare providers, patients, third-party payers, and business and industry.

If you run your own business, this is not news. You already know the direct cost of lost productivity and sick days.

In the United States, the flu season is considered October through May, with the season peaking now through March. Each flu season normally is associated with a major influenza virus subtype. The associated subtype changes each year, due to development of immunological resistance to a previous year’s strain (through exposure and vaccinations) and mutational changes in previously dormant virus’s strains. That’s why the flu vaccine also changes every year.

The current flu strain is a particularly nasty subtype called H1N1.

To protect yourself, you should take these preventive measures:

  • Get an annual flu shot. They are cheap and widely available at drugstores, supermarkets, clinics, and most county health departments. The CDC recommends the vaccine to everyone age 6 and older. Be aware, however, that vaccines do not provide complete protection, and some people may develop mild reactions to the shot.
  • Maintain optimal blood vitamin D (25-hydroxy D) levels throughout the year. Research indicates that by increasing vitamin D intake, you can reduce the incidence of influenza. And vitamin D is cheap, about $5 a bottle.
  • Always wash your hands when you are out in public. Cleanliness is still one of the best ways to prevent spreading the disease.

Remember, you are at far greater risk for getting the flu if you already have one of the medical conditions which compromise the immune system. These include:

·         Diabetes

·         Asthma

·         Cancer

·         HIV/AIDS

If this applies to you, be sure to work with your doctor to maintain a healthy (flu-free) lifestyle.

Of course, our Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance coverage is there to help whenever you need it. Whether it is standard family or group coverage or a Medicare supplement, BCBS is North Carolina’s most popular insurance option.

However, it always is best not to need it. Take care of yourself.