Archive for September, 2011

Kids Who Get Sleep Stay Lean

September 30th, 2011

According to an Australian study, kids who go to bed early and get up early have a better chance of staying healthy than those kids who get less sleep.  The study shows that these kids are less likely to become obese later in life.  Children who went to bed late and also got up late have a 1.5 times greater chance of becoming obese as an adult

The study also suggests that kids who go to sleep late also will have a 2.9 times more chance to have physical inactivity.  Many kids that were tracked over a period of time that got less sleep played video games and watched television much more than what is recommended.  Many experts think that the morning is a time that kids are much more active as opposed to night.  At night, there are much more distractions such as television that do not promote healthy active behaviors.

Group Insurance In The Future

September 29th, 2011

Many employers are wondering how the health reform will effect their business.  The current companies that offer employer-sponsored health coverage for their employees are wondering also if their are tax incentives for doing so or penalties for not offering it to everyone.  The new health reform that passed last year is requiring everyone to have health insurance by 2014.  The health insurance can either be purchased from the soon to be formed health insurance exchange, directly from an insurance carrier, or through your employer. 

Many other types of coverage also qualify such as through government programs like Medicare.  However, the government has said that if people do not have health insurance coverage by 2014, they will be fined.  The purpose of the health reform is to make the health insurance market more competitive so the cost of health insurance goes down.  However, many experts are thinking that the reform will actually drive the cost of health insurance even higher.

Strict Diabetes Treatment Does Not Improve Memory

September 28th, 2011

According to a new study, lowering blood sugar in diabetics preserved some brain volume but did not improve memory loss.  The trials that were backed by the U.S. government were actually stopped because people that got aggressive diabetic treatment were actually dying faster than those who got normal treatment.  The large trial focused on type 2 diabetics with the goal of trying to slow down their memory loss and also prolong their life.

The doctors show that those who are over the age of 70 have a greater chance of faster memory loss than the younger demographic.  The doctors claimed that lowering their blood sugar levels will help slow down the rate of memory loss.  However, the doctors and researchers were not correct in this case.  Their was no substantial evidence with the 3,000 type diabetics that the researchers conducted tests on.  The research was a failure and doctors are still trying to find a solution.

Coffee Cuts Depression Risk In Women

September 27th, 2011

According to a new study, drinking coffee may help lower the risk of depression in women.  The study shows that women who drank about two to three cups of coffee per day have a 15 percent lower risk of getting depression.  The study suggest that the decrease in percentage is over a ten year period.

Doctors also say though that the findings only show a correlation between depression and coffee drinking and have yet to exactly prove the cause and effect.  The research is in line with coffee consumption and suicide risk.   A previous study showed that coffee drinking has lowered the risk of suicide in people.  Their are other risk factors of drinking too much coffee.  Coffee has a lot of sugar and fat content and too much drinking of coffee has other health related issues.  Also, too much caffeine is not healthy for the heart.

Health Insurance In California

September 26th, 2011

California is one of the largest states in America.  Also, it has one of the largest economies.  In the health insurance market, California has many carriers that provide competitive rates and plans.  Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield are the largest carriers in California for individual health insurance.  They have all types of plans from HMOs and PPOs, and also high-deductible plans to make health insurance more affordable.

With the new health reform and the health insurance exchanges coming up, everyone is waiting to see how the health insurance market will be effected.  Experts do not know the effect on the plans that will be offered in the health insurance exchange and also at what price.  Many think that the new restrictions on health insurance carriers might cause health insurance premiums to increase.  By 2014, health insurance exchanges are required to be operational in all 50 states.

High-Deductible Health Insurance Plans

September 22nd, 2011

Many people have recently turned to individual coverage for their health insurance.  As companies continue to either downsize their workforce or discontinue health care all together, consumers have to find other ways to find coverage.  The individual health insurance market is very different then group health insurance people get from their employers.  Usually, individual insurance is much more expensive and the plan benefits are not as strong as they are with group health insurance.  The premiums are so high in fact that many Americans are forced to increase their deductibles just to be able to afford the health insurance.

Deductible is the amount of money the covered person as to pay out of pocket first before the insurance benefits kicks in.  Usually, doctor visits are not included in the deductible.  However, health care services such as x-rays, lab work, cat-scans, etc., are included in the deductible and can get very expensive. 

Consumers are waiting to see if the health reform will make individual health insurance more affordable.  Also, if the health insurance exchanges will make access to affordable health insurance possible.  Carriers such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield are already on board and are starting to work with the states to make the health insurance exchanges possible.

Depression Tied To Stroke Risk

September 21st, 2011

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, having depression significantly increases the risks of getting a stroke and dying from it.  Researchers looked at over 320,000 patients and found that depression increased the risks of stroke by as much as 45 percent.  Experts say that the reason that depression increases the risk of stroke is the inflammation of the nervous and immune systems in the body.  Additionally, depression increases diabetes and high blood pressure which also increases the risk of stroke.   

Doctors and experts say that other factors associated with depression also increase the risk of stroke.  Factors such as smoking, drinking, eating poorly, can also lead to health related issues that are associated with stroke.  Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America.  Stroke kills about 144,000 per year in America.  And nearly 19 million people in America have depression.

Is Anthem Blue Cross the Best Carrier In California?

September 20th, 2011

Anthem Blue Cross is one of the largest carriers in the country, and they are the largest carrier in California.  They offer the most selection of plans for individual and family health insurance.  Most carriers in California have strong networks and good benefit offerings.  However, Anthem Blue Cross does have the most variety of plans, ranging from very cheap to very expensive. 

Many times when searching for health insurance in California, Anthem Blue Cross will have the most results based on your search criteria.  That is because of their long history in California and the resources they allocate to make sure that they are the biggest in California.  Anthem has made a commitment to give the best customer service throughout the year when people have any questions about their plans or claims.  Their are other carriers such as Blue Shield and Aetna that also offer competitive plans and rates.

California Could Pose Problem For Obama’s Healthcare Reform

September 19th, 2011

Ever since the health reform laws have passed, California has been a leading state when it comes to compliance and pro-activeness.  California was set to be a model state for the health reform  and many states were supposed to follow their path.  In fact, it has been quite the opposite.  Many states are fighting to overturn the laws, stating that the health reform laws are unconstitutional because the government they say can not force Americans to get health insurance against their will.

California is asking the government for permission to place limits on how people on Medicaid can use the program.  Medicaid, which is a federal program for poor Americans to use healthcare, is a very costly program for the state.  California wants the government to allow them to place limits on use so people in California will not take advantage of the system.  California believes that other states will follow their path if they can pull this off.  California was one of the first states to approve the health insurance exchange which must be up and running by 2014.

Is “Obamacare” Working?

September 15th, 2011

The Affordable Care Act is a major part of the new health reform laws past last year and its main purpose is to make health insurance more affordable for Americans.  According to the Census Bureau, about 500,000 young adults ages between 18-24, had health insurance in 2010 as compared to 2009.  That is a large increase and many experts are pointing to the new health reform as a reason many Americans purchased health insurance.  Their are many things that changed about health insurance, including things such as free wellness and preventive check-ups once per year, and no cap on lifetime benefits.  Some of these benefits, which were enacted by the Affordable Care Act, might be the reason that more Americans are getting health insurance.

The long-term effects of the health reform is still yet to be determined.  Starting in 2014, states are required to have a health insurance exchange up and running to make buying affordable health insurance easy for all Americans.  This will be requiring a lot of management both at the state level and the federal level.  In addition, experts are still not sure of the total costs over the long haul.  Many people are still skeptical of its value.

Is Getting Individual Health Insurance Difficult?

September 14th, 2011

Obtaining individual or family health insurance is a lot different when you compare to group or company-sponsored health insurance.  With individual health insurance their is a medical underwriting process that does not normally happen when your employer provides health insurance.  If a company meets the participation requirements from their employees, then their will not be medical underwriting done on each individual employee.  So what that means is that some employees with pre-existing conditions will be automatically approved for health insurance. 

On the individual health insurance process it is a little different.  Usually when you apply their is not an automatic approval.  Health insurance carriers take a look at each individual application and make a determination whether or not to approve the person applying for coverage.  Sometimes they will ask for a phone interview, and other times they will either request a physical exam or medical records.  The process of getting individual health insurance usually takes around 3 weeks, depending on which health insurance carrier you choose.  It is important to have your medical history and general knowledge about your health ready when you apply for individual health insurance.

What Does It All Mean?

September 13th, 2011

When shopping for individual health insurance, it can be very intimidating and overwhelming.  Their are literally hundreds of plans in California to choose from and all the benefits are different.  It is important to know what you are looking to get out of the health insurance plan.  Are you a healthy person just looking for catastrophic insurance?  Or do you have recurring prescription medications that you have to take on a monthly basis?  Whatever the reason your shopping for health insurance, you have to make sure that you understand the lingo and are making a correct decision on your health insurance plan. 

We have information on all the major health insurance carriers in California so you can research the right carrier, network and health insurance plan that fits your budget and goals.  Also, we also have broken down the definitions of what goes into health insurance plans and the benefits that you get for the premium you pay.  Unfortunately, individual health insurance is not guaranteed approval, please let us help you decide which health insurance plan you should apply for.

More Medicare Reform, More Struggling Hospitals

September 12th, 2011

Many organizations and hospitals will be feeling the effects of the health care reform next year and beyond.  The Affordable Care Act was enacted last year and one of the provisions states that both Medicare and Medicaid will be getting reimbursement rate cuts.  Many hospitals that serve this segment will be taking a hit to their bottom line and as a consequence, the quality of their service might go down as well.  The elections are right around the corner and many do not think that anything will be appealed or changed. 

Organizations are preparing for the worst case and also bracing for a less profitable business.  The rate reductions to Medicare is a big concern because the baby boomers are starting to take a big effect on the services.  More and more individuals are starting to retire and hospitals are feeling the demand of the medical services and the participation increase in Medicare.

Costs Of Healthcare Goes Up While Insurance Coverage Drops

September 9th, 2011

According to the Commenwealth Fund, about 44 percent of Americans last year were either uninsured or underinsured.  An estimated 29 million adults did not have enough coverage to meet their health care expenses in 2010.  Some had too high of deductibles and others did not have enough prescription drug coverage.  Whatever the benefit was lacking, many Americans had to pay a lot of money out of their pocket to cover the medical expenses.  And as their wages continue to grow slower than the costs of health care, many Americans are hoping that the health care reform will make health insurance more affordable.

To put it in perspective, in 2003, 16 million people had health insurance that was considered too little.  That is a big increase in 7 years.  The survey also points out that many people simply lost their coverage because of their employer either stopping coverage or losing their job.  The economy has taken its toll on the companies, and those who offer health insurance coverage to their employees are often suffering even more.

A Drink A Day Linked To Healthy Aging

September 8th, 2011

A new study out of Harvard shows that middle-aged women who drink alcohol in moderation have a better chance than nondrinkers of staying healthy as they get older.  The study observed 14,000 mostly white women for about 30 years.  The results show that those who drink about 3 to 15 drinks per week have a better chance of not getting chronic illnesses, physical disability, and other mental health problems. 

The study show that men do not benefit the same way women do from drinking alcohol.  Their are other risk factors from drinking alcohol of course.  Women should be careful not to over drink per week.  Usually, a glass of wine is recommended by researchers to keep a healthy heart moving forward into older age.  As health care and health insurance premiums continue to increase, people are looking for anyway to stay healthy.

Almost 17% Of Americans Have No Health Care

September 7th, 2011

In 2011, almost 17 percent of Americans do not have health insurance.  Looking back three years to 2008, the number of uninsured Americans was 14.8%.  The numbers are obviously going in the wrong direction and the economy has a lot to do with it.  As employers continue to lay off workers, or at least not hire anyone, many people are losing their employer-sponsored health coverage.  The majority of Americans are getting coverage from their employer so its a big factor in health coverage numbers when unemployment remains high.

Texas has the worst health coverage statistics at 27.2% of the residents with no health insurance.  As states continue to struggle to find ways to boost unemployment, the figures will remain high until things chance.  Individuals are hesitant to have high health insurance premiums because they simply do not have a job and the supported income.  Until the economy turns around, the uninsured Americans will not be able to afford health coverage.

Deciding On Individual Health Insurance Plans

September 6th, 2011

Their are many different types of health insurance plans in the marketplace today.  Especially on the individual health insurance market, many factors may influence your decision on which plan would make the most sense.  Such factors as carrier network, premium amount, and benefit mix will influence your decision on which plan to purchase.  Also important to note, individual health insurance is not guaranteed and quite often, you will have to either go through a telephone interview or medical underwriting.

Which carrier to choose is very important when you are deciding which health insurance plan to apply for.  In California, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield are very strong in terms of network size and plan options.  You have to make sure to research the benefit options as well.  Make sure to take a look at deductible amount, out-of-pocket limits, prescription benefits, and hospital charges before you purchase. 

With each plan, their is a full benefit summary that will detail out the benefits and how much you will have to pay with each service.  Also, with the recent health care reform, many services are now free such as preventive care and wellness visits.

UnitedHealth To Buy Doc Group

September 1st, 2011

UnitedHealth is the largest health insurance company in the United States.  Only WellPoint has more enrollments than UnitedHealth.  Based out of Minnesota, UnitedHealth plans on purchasing one of the largest physician associations in Southern California.  Monarch was founded in 1994 and has over 2,600 doctors.  Monarch offers access to 20 hospitals in the Southern California area and over 30 urgent care facilities. 

Their has been a fair share of acquisitions from large health insurance companies.  Last year, WellPoint announced the purchase of CareMore Health Group, which provides Medicare Advantage coverage in California.  Also, Humana, purchased Concentra last year for over $790 million.  Concentra provides medicine and urgent care services in 42 states.  These large health insurance companies are buying up market share around the U.S. and we have to wait and see how all these acquisitions will be affected by the health reform in 2014.