Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Health By The Numbers

Here are a few health factoids.

Estimated 1.5 newly diagnosed cancer cases in America in 2010.

1 of the 3 largest organs in the human body weighs just 3 lbs. Your brain.  

Most people wash their hands regularly, but not everyone washes them long enough. It takes 15-20 seconds to kill the germs on your hands. Just about as long as singing "Happy Birthday"... twice.

Gym memberships spike after the holidays leading to $19 billion in annual membership fees. A bit ironic since America has the widest waist line.

Americans consume on average 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Well over the recommended 6-9 teaspoons. In teenagers, the number climbs to 34 teaspoons. Soda, candy and vending machine items contribute to the sugar overdose.

ONE fat cell lives for 3,652 days or 10 years.

The average human heart will beat approximately 100,000 times in a 24 hour period.

Those who have systolic/diastolic values of 130–139/80–89 mmHg BP range are at twice the risk to develop hypertension as those with lower values.

For the gentlemen:  normal PSA levels are <4 nanograms. Higher values may indicate anything from temporary inflammation from the digital exam to cancer. 

Good Health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN

Friday, January 21, 2011

Health Insurance: Security for Your Financial Health

When trying to decide between an HMO, PPO, or Indemnity plan, take the time to know what each plan provides. Take into consideration what is most important for you. You certainly don’t want to pay for pregnancy benefits if you’re a single man. Or, will you be losing your PCP? Additionally, it’s important to analyze the cost-benefit details in the plan you go with. For example, you may decide that you want a $20 co payment for a doctor visit rather than a $40 one. But how much does this add to your annual premium? If it adds just $200, you would have to go to the doctor more than 10 times in a year (10 x $20 difference) to make that up. Once you decide which type of coverage will benefit you the most, the next step will be to complete an application and answer a few medical questions.

The state of Florida aims to make health insurance a good investment for its residents. By prohibiting "lowball" practices, the state prevents insurers from giving you a low premium and then scheduling rate increases as you get older. Association based insurance policies will not single you out for rate increases. If you see a rate increase, the whole class receives a rate increase. Just know, for an individual policy you are paying a rate based on your health status. State and federal government agencies also guarantee that your individual policy is renewable.

All too often insurance agents hear, “I’m young, only 25 why do I need insurance?” First and foremost, your alive. Your at risk for disease, car accidents, falls, etc. Despite your age and your daily activities, sickness can strike. You'll save yourself a ton of money by circumventing doctor bills as long as you have health insurance in force. The number one reason for personal bankruptcy is caused by astronomical medical bills. It just takes one catastrophic illness or accident to set the ball in motion to personal bankruptcy. Ask yourself, “where am I going to get the money to pay expenses?” Passing YOUR financial burden on family, friends, and the community is just plane irresponsible.

Don’t procrastinate. Secure your place in an affordable, quality health plan today.

Good health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Florida's High Risk Insurance Pool

Risk pools are state-sponsored programs to help people with a history of medical problems in their family to purchase coverage. These pools are for people who can afford to buy health insurance, but are not able to get underwritten in the private market because of a pre-existing health condition. These programs can vary significantly from state to state in price, benefits and number of people served. Often insurance companies doing business in the state are required to contribute to the pool to keep it in the black. In the best cases, they allow people to be able to switch jobs or become self-employed without the fear of losing their health insurance coverage

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan:

Eligible residents of Florida can apply for coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan program run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To qualify for coverage:

You must be a citizen or national of the United States or lawfully present in the United States. You must have been uninsured for at least the last six months before you apply. You must have a pre-existing condition or have been denied coverage because of your health condition.

PCIP covers a broad range of health benefits, including primary and specialty care, hospital care, and prescription drugs. All covered benefits are available for you, even if it’s to treat a pre-existing condition.

Below are the monthly PCIP premium rates for Florida by the age of an enrollee.

Age Standard Option Extended Option HSA Option

0 to 18:     $196 $263 $203

19 to 34:   $294 $395 $305

35 to 44:   $352 $474 $366

45 to 54:  $450 $605 $467

55+:        $626 $842 $650

In addition to your monthly premium, you will pay other costs. In 2011, you will pay a $1,000 to $3,000 deductible, which varies by your plan option. A plan option may have a separate drug deductible. After you pay the deductible, you will pay a $25 copayment for doctor visits, $4 to $40 for most prescription drugs, and 20% of the costs of any other covered benefits you get. Your out-of-pocket costs cannot be more than $5,950 per year. These costs may be higher, if you go outside the plan’s network. Today, many insurance companies spend a substantial portion of consumers’ premium dollars on administrative costs and profits, including executive salaries, overhead, and marketing. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will receive more value for their premium dollar because insurance companies will be required to spend 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on medical care and health care quality improvement, rather than on administrative costs, starting in 2011. If they don’t, the insurance companies will be required to provide a rebate to their customers starting in 2012.

On November 22, 2010, the Obama Administration issued a regulation implementing this policy, known as the “medical loss ratio” provision of the Affordable Care Act. This regulation will make the insurance marketplace more transparent and make it easier for consumers to purchase plans that provide better value for their money. Additionally, this regulation will help consumers get a good value for their health insurance premium.

How These New Rules Will Help You – Ensuring Value for Consumers

The new medical loss ratio rules will hold insurance companies accountable and increase value for consumers by:  Establishing Transparency and accountability. Beginning in 2011, the law requires that insurance companies publicly report how they spend premium dollars. This information will provide consumers with meaningful information on how their premium dollars are spent, clearly accounting for how much money goes toward actual medical care and activities to improve health care quality versus how much money is spent on administrative expenses like marketing, advertising, underwriting, executive salaries and bonuses.

Insurance companies that are not meeting the medical loss ratio standard will be required to provide rebates to their consumers. Insurers will be required to make the first round of rebates to consumers in 2012. Rebates must be paid by August 1st each year. Enrollees owed a rebate will see a reduction in their premiums, receive a rebate check, or, if the enrollee paid by credit card or debit card, a lump-sum reimbursement to the same account that the enrollee used to pay the premium. In some cases, the rebate may go to the employer that paid the premium on the enrollee’s behalf. Regardless of whether the rebate is provided to enrollees directly or indirectly through their employer, each enrollee must receive a rebate that is proportional to the premium amount paid by that enrollee.

Good Health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN

Source: Government Health Care

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

One of the most popular and most readily broken resolutions among adults is to lose weight, get in better shape and live a healthy lifestyle. For 2011 and beyond, improve your chances for success by making it a resolution for your whole family. Remember the old adage, if you can't do it for yourself do if for someone else? Having support and a little household accountability will lead to success and make staying fit fun for the entire family. Try some of these suggestions for a healthier you:

Go for a family walk or bike ride each day. Make it a daily routine. Not only will this get you in the groove of exercising but this will be a nice time to bond with family. Keep things interesting by picking a new activity each week. My favorite: going to a park. Take a nature walk. Listen to the birds, smell the flowers and simply take in the aw of nature. Allow your senses to guide you. You can also go on a guided nature walk by checking with your local recreational center. Guided walks are a lot of fun because you will learn about what you are seeing and hearing. Lastly but not limited to, eat right! No doubt about it. Eating plenty of nutritious foods provide energy, maintain normal chemical levels and overall  make you feel better. This "feeling better" will get you on track and encourage you to keep on keeping on. 

Most all of us skip this very important meal of the day, breakfast. I know, I skip it. Breakfast jump starts your metabolism allowing you to burn more calories. Which means, burn more fats. By skipping this meal, you are slowing your metabolism and your body is holding on to more fats. Your BODY is sluggish and begins to "think" it better slow it's metabolism because it doesn't know when nutrients will be feeding it next. What WE "think" I can eat a large meal because I skipped breakfast and this is OK. On the contrary,  this is a NO NO. Our body will burn the carbs and use for immediate energy. The leftover carbs, will turn to fat. The fats in your meal will store as fat instead of breaking it down into energy.

Simply put, eat a well-balanced breakfast that includes proportioned protein, carbs and fats.

Healthy You 2011,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN