Children Caring For Parents and Avoiding Medical Errors

Children caring for parents often assist in keeping track of their parent’s health records. This can be a daunting task as many seniors see multiple physicians who may prescribe several medications for a variety of conditions. Keeping good medication and medical records can help prevent dangerous medical and medication errors. Sometimes they do this by hiring a caregiver to come to their home, but others will often drop their parents off at a senior daycare on the way to their job and pick them up at days end.
There are many in home care services that are offered by independent companies who most often have to be licensed to provide senior assistance services in the home.
Those assisting seniors can help them keep an updated medication list (including over the counter medications) on a computer or in a notebook. An updated list makes it easier for everyone since the first question most doctors ask for is the patient’s list of medications and any changes since they were last seen. Even if they are not available for every appointment, the caregiver can ask about any changes and update and print this list for their parent. Expiration might also be followed to avoid trying to get a renewal for a much needed prescription.
Another good record those providing parent care will want to keep is a good medical history that includes conditions, past surgeries, hospitalizations, Dr.’s names numbers and emergency contact information. These types of lists are vital for emergency visits as well.
They can take these lists to every Dr.’s appointment along with a list of any other issues they or their family may want to address. These simple steps empower the medical professionals providing geriatric care, those caring for their parents and most importantly the seniors themselves.

Online Babysitting Services: How Do They Work and How To Choose The Right One For You

So you need someone to watch your children and have decided to look into online babysitting services. However, there are so many to choose from, including Sittercity, Care, Care4Hire.com, GoNannies, AuPairCare and 4Sitters.com, that it is overwhelming. To find the best fit for you and your family, you need to check out an assortment of sites. Each one will vary in everything from their fees and services, to their applicant filtering system and reputation, to the number of caregivers in their database. Some even provide contact information for pet sitters, housekeepers, tutors and eldercare services.
There are two ways in which online babysitting services work. With the first method, parents post a job and then the sitters who are interested and nearby contact them. This may be done via email or telephone. The parents can then respond accordingly. With the other method, parents can look at the profiles of potential babysitters and then contact the best ones. When searching, you get immediate access to babysitters. Simply type in your zip code and a list of local sitters pops up. When you click on a sitter, you may get a brief bit of information or their entire profile.
Some sites will let you preview and look for sitters without registering, so you can see the options. However, if you want to get the contact information, you need to be a member. Subscriptions may be paid for on a monthly or yearly basis. The best sites will give you a free trial period, perhaps for a week, so you can try it out first. If you like it, you often have to pay an initial registration fee, in addition to the subscription costs.
Be aware that not all sites do the same things. Some may simply interview the babysitters to create a profile but do not check references. Others provide the option of doing extensive background checks. However, it may cost extra or require you to increase your membership level. The best sites will have a multi-step screening process. In addition, the online babysitting services should have comments or referrals from people the caregivers have worked for in the past.
Most online babysitting sites also have a search filter that lets the parents narrow down the candidates. For instance, if you have a child with special needs, you can locate a babysitter who has previous experience with this type of child or someone with specific medical certifications. This search filter will help you save time. They can also help you find back-up sitters at the last minute, in case the scheduled sitter gets sick or you get an unexpected dinner invitation. Some sites, like Sittercity, even offer nannycam and video monitoring options.

Alternative Health Treatment – 5 Questions and Answers

1. Why should I look at alternative health treatment as a realistic remedy for my ailment?
While Western medicine has advanced closely in tandem with knowledge of and experimentation with drugs as a way of treating disease and illness.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that it relies heavily on drugs and medications for treating disease. But drugs and medications are not natural to the human body, and invariably there are side-effects, often harmful.
Alternative health treatment is based wholly on natural cures not involving drugs or manufactured or processed materials. As such, it is invariably accepted by the body without resistance, so no energy is wasted in fighting it. It’s like swimming with the current rather than against it.
Besides, alternative health treatment has an excellent record in curing people of illness and disease, arguably a better record than Western medicine.
2. How does alternative health treatment differ in essentials from orthodox medical treatment?
Orthodox Western medicine depends largely on the administering of drugs and medicines, and unnatural procedures such as chemotherapy for cancer victims. It focuses largely on the symptoms rather than the underlying cause. A typical example is the taking of pain killers to cure a headache.
Alternative medicine acknowledges that the natural state of the body is one of good health, and that the body, mind and spirit are closely connected. It recognizes that all these components of the whole need to be in balance, and treats illness as a sign that they are out of balance. It therefore works to restore the natural balance and, thereby, good health. A headache would be cured by direct action on the area affected, e.g. by acupressure techniques.
3. Why don’t doctors and surgeons give more weight to alternative health treatment, and why hasn’t it made more progress in being accepted by the medical establishment?
The medical establishment consists largely of doctors and surgeons. Put yourself in the position of a doctor or surgeon. You spent seven gruelling and expensive years qualifying and passing difficult exams, and working long hours for at best mediocre pay. You now have an encyclopedic knowledge of medicines and medical drugs and procedures, and are enjoying a financially rewarding career in medicine.
Then you learn there is an alternative system of medicine based on herbs, and practices such as acupuncture that claim to be able to deal with medical conditions better than the medicine you learned at such cost in money and time. What would your feelings be towards these alternative medicines?
4. Isn’t alternative health treatment rooted in the past, and modern Western medicine with all its advanced technology the way ahead?
What matters more than anything else is what treatment will effectively cure your own particular ailment.
Just because skills such as acupuncture, acupressure and yoga have been practiced for thousands, of years in the Far East it doesn’t mean they are any less relevant today. On the contrary, it is evidence of their effectiveness.
Western medicine may have all the modern gleaming technology, but it is still a system developed and administered by humans and subject to all their faults and failings. Yes, it can and does produce some astonishing and greatly beneficial results, such as transplant surgery and artificial limbs, but in the case of common ailments and complaints, sometimes the simple methods are the best.
5. Which alternative health treatment is best – herbal, physical contact type treatment such as acupuncture or chiropractic, or supplements such as oils and enzymes?
It’s horses for courses. Different kinds of treatment best suit different kinds of illness. A general malaise, such as weight loss or gain, can often best be treated through a change in diet and the administration of herbal remedies, plus an exercise regime, whereas constant muscular pain such as back ache is best treated by someone like a chiropractor or osteopath, who can manipulate the bones and muscles so as to remove the root cause of the pain.

Fashion Tips For Men Over 40

When you hit age 40, there is a good chance you will feel like you have a fulfilling and secure lifestyle. You feel secure about your career, your family, and even your style. Your unique sense of fashion may not be as secure as you think though. Over the past 20 years or so, styles have changed constantly, but you believe you have chosen a timeless and classic style to wear. However, even though the suits, chinos, and patterns you wore five years ago might have rocked, do they still work today?
Tips For Men’s Fashion
Finding the right sense of fashion after all these years can be difficult. Here are a few tips you should consider when you are trying to figure out if your style is right for today’s society.

  • Avoid the Fads – You have most likely seen ‘the best’ styles changes constantly from year to year. Even in today’s world, there are fashion marketing campaigns, urging you to dress a certain way. Don’t fall for these ploys. By the time you are 40, your style should be timeless, not set in time. Most fads are aimed at certain age demographics, so many of them may not even work well for your age group. For instance, you would probably not look great wearing light up sneakers and a pair of skinny jeans with holes in the knees, even if every magazine is telling you that is what is in style.
  • Business vs Style – Even though your crisp dress shirt, silk tie, and two piece navy blue herringbone suit is the epitome of fashion in the workplace, it may not be the best option for fun after hours and on the weekends. Don’t confuse the two. Instead of strutting through a club or nice restaurant in your suit, choose a nice pair of chinos and a blazer.
  • Let the Past Go – While it may be tempting to celebrate when old fashions come back in style, don’t be fooled into pulling out your old wardrobe from the back of the closet. Chances are, these fashions are not exactly what they used to be. They typically have been updated to make them more contemporary and stylish.
  • Simplify It – One of the best fashion tips for men over 40 is keeping your wardrobe simple. Gone are the days of being flamboyant. Leave that style for men in their 20s and 30s. Your style should now be timeless, subdued, and sophisticated. Keep a clean and simple appearance as well. Your clothes should also be crisp and impeccable.
  • Be Proud Of You – If you really want to look great during your 40s, be proud of your age and your looks. Don’t try to stay in your 20s and adopt that generation’s style. Wearing age-appropriate fitted clothing and keeping yourself well-groomed is the best way to show off your masculine sophistication and your extraordinary sense of style.

Styles come and go, so it is best not to fall for every new fad that comes along. Whether you are wearing a nice pair of chinos or a savvy suit, you can maintain your own fashionable style, age gracefully, and remain timeless.

Don't Put Off Researching For The Right Family Healthcare Plan

Family health care plans or insurance can be extremely beneficial to the well being of the people you care the most about. Let’s be honest, our health is very important to us and as we age it becomes vitally important that we spend some time thoroughly researching the health insurance providers in order to find a family healthcare plan that protects the interest of our family’s health without costing us a fortune in health insurance premiums or monthly rates.
There are several reasons why researching a family healthcare plan is a good idea. First and foremost as I’m sure you are aware more and more companies are downsizing or eliminating the benefits they provide their employees. Unfortunately, reducing or completely doing away with health care benefits has become the norm as opposed to an exception to the rule. For this very reason it is imperative that you spend quality time now finding an adequate family healthcare plan that will provide outstanding family health insurance to your most precious of assets.
Guess what, accidents happen and they do so with enough frequency that should you need to take a trip to the emergency room or to the doctor’s office it’s better if you go knowing that you have a family healthcare plan that has you covered and will take care of any medical or health related bills that appear as a result of the hospitalization required due to the accident.
Being financially strapped for cash is no picnic and can be very stressful for many consumers. Having a family healthcare plan allows you to put aside any financial worries you may have in the event you find yourself or a family member needing attention or treatment at a local hospital. Having proper health insurance also affords you the opportunity to save money for other needed necessities in life because you won’t have to worry about having to cover any medical expenses or bills that may come up due to receiving medical attention from a hospital or doctor.
As you do your online research in order to find a family healthcare plan that fits your needs, wants and desires you will be able to compare price quotes between several different health insurance providers or companies. Always make sure to look at deductible costs, prescription costs and of course the doctor’s that you can choose to seek future medical treatment from. The time you invest in finding the best family healthcare plan will save you money and aggravation in all of your future medical emergencies.

Why Parents Don't Like Rap and Hip Hop Music While Kids, Teens and Young Adults Do

Rap and Hip Hop Music is one of the leading trends in music today. Yet, so many parents disapprove of rap/hip hop music, while kids, teens and young adults have an undying love for it. Why?
Most parents want the best for their children, and so, they go about their days attempting to acquire better lives for themselves and their loved ones. Parents were young once too, but they later discovered it is more beneficial to live a positive life style compared to a negative one. They have come to understand that the path towards having constructive experiences start with feeding the mind with constructive ideas, learning good lessons and following sensible instructions.
Therefore, most parents do not want their loved ones to have negative experiences, such as the constant viewing of cruel images, repeated feelings of unnecessary pain or repetitive listening to destructive words that are heard in some hip hop and rap songs. For this reason, parents don’t like many rap and hip hop songs because of the damaging lyrical content. What is more, they don’t appreciate the idea that such harmful words are being fed into the minds of their kids, teens or young adults.
On the other hand kids, teens and young adults love rap and hip hop music because of the powerful nature of the beat, while the flow of the lyrics spew out catchy punch lines and slick metaphors. For the young at heart, hip hop and rap is more than just music, it is a life style. It is a wonderful combination of rhythm, rhetoric and hope. Kids, teens and young adults all over the world bop their heads emotionally to the rhythmic sounds of hip hop. They become awe inspired by the rhetorical flow of rap and hope to one day capture the financial success of the artists viewed in the videos.
Although some of the lyrics in rap and hip hop music are derogatory in nature, all of it is not belittling. Several hip hop and rap artists outright demean people, places and things, while some rhyme about how they overcame appalling living conditions, hateful peers, poverty and crime. Others boost about their financial success as an affirmation that they have made it out of a life of dreadfulness. And, artists may use language which they are familiar with — a curse or two to express such experiences.
So I ask parents, a kid, teens and young adults, is there a balance?
Well, everyone knows that the mind is like a sponge, soaking up information like water from the very moment of human conception. Indeed, the mind vividly records what is observed through sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and imagination. As a result, that which is recorded in our minds has an effect on our behavior. Yes, music also shapes our mindset!
Music is considered an art and science for a very good reason! Experts in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, biology, physiology, physics and education have worked alongside musicians to unravel the mysteries of music. Such research is aimed at understanding music’s basic structure; it’s biological, emotional and psychological effect on humans and the brain; it’s healing and altering potential; and its function in the evolutionary process. Music helps scientists understand complex functions of the brain and opens up treatments for patients who are recovering from strokes or suffering with Parkinson’s. Research even suggests that music may alter the structure of the brain.
What is more, words have power, real energy. This is demonstrated in the fact that music can thrill us, sadden us or inspire us. We feel goose bumps rise on our skin as we listen to a favorite melody, and we are whisked back to old memories by hearing the opening bars of an old school song. Throughout history, songs have been created with the intention to inspire feelings of happiness, joy, praise, relaxation, anger, heartache, destruction, etc. Wow! Music can do all this?
The good news is that there is a balance. For parents, it is recommended that you do not discredit all rap and hip hop music. There exist good and wholesome compositions out there that your young ones can enjoy, and you can feel safe that they are feeding their minds with sensible ideas.
And for the kids, teens, and young adults, it is suggested that you be more mindful of the type of rap and hip hop music you are listening to as it does have an impact on your mindset.

How to Choose Your Rose Gold Watch?

Rose gold is one of the most beautiful choices for jewelry. It is also known as Russian gold, although this term has become somewhat rare. It not only inherits the luxury feature of gold but also displays something much more fascinating for the eyes. It is not as flashy as gold. But it looks still nice and classy. At present, Russian gold timepieces are very popular. If you are shopping for nice Russian gold timepieces, the information below may be helpful.
Decide the Color of Your Watch
The first thing you should take into consideration is the color of the watch, namely, how rosy you hope your timepieces will be. People create Russian gold by combining gold and copper together. Therefore it has a reddish look. The different amount of copper in the gold decides the level of the color. Russian gold has 3 levels of color – pink gold, rose gold and red gold.
Other Colors for Your Watch
When you have decided the level of color, you can choose other colors you like. For example, timepieces for men are usually black watches or gold watches which only have touches of Russian gold since pink gold is not suitable for men’s watches. A black watch strap with a watch face of rose gold and black is a good option for men. However, women’s rose gold timepieces can be entirely made of rose gold. Or they may be made of silver and rose gold in the design. What’s more, don’t forget to choose a right watch band such as metal, leather or ceramic.
The style of Your Watch
Russian gold watches have a lot of styles such as classic, traditional, romantic, effeminate, modern, strong and futuristic. The most important thing is that you must choose the style according to the occasions in which you want to wear your watch. Don’t forget to think about other additional features such as sapphire and diamond.
What’s Your Budget?
Rose gold timepieces are available at different prices. Some cheap watches are priced less than $100 while some expensive ones are priced at more than $10000 each. Do you want to buy a luxury watch for some formal occasions? Do you need one to wear daily? No matter for what occasion or for whom you are shopping, you must decide your budget before you begin to shop in order to find your ideal watch efficiently.
What’s Your Ideal Brand?
Some people don’t care much about the brand of the timepieces. But there are still many people who only buy watches of designer brands like Omega. These people believe that designer brands are symbol of quality and status. Do you care about the brand? If you do, make sure that there is a balance between your budget and your desire.
The functions of Your Watch
After you have decided the brand, style and budget, you must think about the functions of your Russian gold watch. For instance, some watches are shock-resistant and solar-powered. If you are interested in these functions, you may want to have a look at that watch.
In a word, before you make your decision to buy your Russian gold timepiece, you must take style, functions and cost into consideration. Hope the information (stated above) will be helpful for you.

Enhance Your Fashion Style With Wonderful Fashion Accessories

Though it may be overstated that one could lose the glamour without wearing fashion accessories, it is true that they can indeed add a touch of sparkling attraction to one’s personality and personal style. Only with the proper fashion pieces can one’s outfit be completed perfectly. Thus, it is extremely important to wear the right accessories in an appropriate way.
Usually, fashion accessories consist of various beautiful pieces, such as shoes, handbags, belts, rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants and many others. Women will never stop their craze about these gorgeous accessories, especially jewelry, shoes, and handbags. Faced with so many fantastic options, one should always keep in mind that a wise fashion enthusiast will only buy the most suitable items rather than bring all the trendy shoes, handbags, jewelries at home which turn out to be inappropriate at all.
In order to choose the most ideal accessories, one should know well about how they can work well with different types of clothes and accentuate the outfit. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to buy all kinds of accessories to match each of your dresses. On the contrary, the real fantastic pieces are rather versatile and can be paired with almost all kinds of apparel.
Different people have different preference and tastes, hence, fashion designers will constantly release numerous new collections of fashion accessories every season. Women who are not quite sure about their own style can pay attention to the fashion reports on the newest trends and what the celebrities and fashion icons wear, from which they can find inspirations.

Physical Beauty or Glamour, Fashion, Style and Elegance?

Beauty, it is often said, is in the eye of the beholder. Although every person has his or her definition of what beauty really is, in general it is considered as all the pleasing and favorable physical characteristics that can be seen in an individual. You can be ugly to one person and beautiful to the next; in any case, we define physical beauty by how we see it. And as always, beauty often leads to attraction and it greatly helps in the development of relationships both romantic and otherwise.
However, for those who think or consider themselves to be lacking in physical beauty, it usually leads to a lack of self-esteem and sense of style. Because of this seeming deficiency, they often lack glamour and they usually lag behind in fashion trends. But physical beauty can be enhanced by fashion and style, and people who consider themselves to be ugly can assume a sort of glamour that can be had by not following them.
More often than not, it takes a high level of self-confidence for a person to form his or her opinion about physical beauty. There are those who believe that beauty is beauty and there is no other substitute for it, others would see beauty in an ugly person because they see characteristics that are unique or special in that person. Fashion and style by themselves should not be means to an end, instead, they can be dispensed of and you can still be beautiful all the same.
Also, it is possible to be beautiful regardless of a lack of glamour, fashion, and style. Prevailing misconceptions and biases notwithstanding, an ugly person should believe that he or she is beautiful in his or her own special way. Beauty should not be defined by these three attributes; instead, they should be integral to how the person views himself or herself.
As stated above, you can be ugly and yet still be beautiful in your own special way. Ugliness lends to a sense of uniqueness and charm that can only come when it is viewed in a positive way. You can be fat and because of this, you see yourself to be lacking in glamour and style because elegant and stylish persons tend to be seen as fashionably thin. But that does not mean that you cannot indulge in the latest fashion trends and emerge as being fashionably fat. You may have bulging eyes, a comely face, and a generally homely aura, but if you have a pleasant personality and enough self-confidence, you are still able to make friends and partners. It all boils down to how you view yourself; you can establish your own sense of style and assume a certain level of fashion that will help you go by.
Whatever other people say, you are who you are and that alone should make up for all of your physical shortcomings. You and you alone must realize that glamour, fashion, and style are not necessarily needed if you see yourself as beautiful.

Small Business Health Insurance – The Best Policy Is A Great Agent

I have been a health insurance broker for over a decade and every day I read more and more “horror” stories that are posted on the Internet regarding health insurance companies not paying claims, refusing to cover specific illnesses and physicians not getting reimbursed for medical services. Unfortunately, insurance companies are driven by profits, not people (albeit they need people to make profits). If the insurance company can find a legal reason not to pay a claim, chances are they will find it, and you the consumer will suffer. However, what most people fail to realize is that there are very few “loopholes” in an insurance policy that give the insurance company an unfair advantage over the consumer. In fact, insurance companies go to great lengths to detail the limitations of their coverage by giving the policy holders 10-days (a 10-day free look period) to review their policy. Unfortunately, most people put their insurance cards in their wallet and place their policy in a drawer or filing cabinet during their 10-day free look and it usually isn’t until they receive a “denial” letter from the insurance company that they take their policy out to really read through it.
The majority of people, who buy their own health insurance, rely heavily on the insurance agent selling the policy to explain the plan’s coverage and benefits. This being the case, many individuals who purchase their own health insurance plan can tell you very little about their plan, other than, what they pay in premiums and how much they have to pay to satisfy their deductible.
For many consumers, purchasing a health insurance policy on their own can be an enormous undertaking. Purchasing a health insurance policy is not like buying a car, in that, the buyer knows that the engine and transmission are standard, and that power windows are optional. A health insurance plan is much more ambiguous, and it is often very difficult for the consumer to determine what type of coverage is standard and what other benefits are optional. In my opinion, this is the primary reason that most policy holders don’t realize that they do not have coverage for a specific medical treatment until they receive a large bill from the hospital stating that “benefits were denied.”
Sure, we all complain about insurance companies, but we do know that they serve a “necessary evil.” And, even though purchasing health insurance may be a frustrating, daunting and time consuming task, there are certain things that you can do as a consumer to ensure that you are purchasing the type of health insurance coverage you really need at a fair price.
Dealing with small business owners and the self-employed market, I have come to the realization that it is extremely difficult for people to distinguish between the type of health insurance coverage that they “want” and the benefits they really “need.” Recently, I have read various comments on different Blogs advocating health plans that offer 100% coverage (no deductible and no-coinsurance) and, although I agree that those types of plans have a great “curb appeal,” I can tell you from personal experience that these plans are not for everyone. Do 100% health plans offer the policy holder greater peace of mind? Probably. But is a 100% health insurance plan something that most consumers really need? Probably not! In my professional opinion, when you purchase a health insurance plan, you must achieve a balance between four important variables; wants, needs, risk and price. Just like you would do if you were purchasing options for a new car, you have to weigh all these variables before you spend your money. If you are healthy, take no medications and rarely go to the doctor, do you really need a 100% plan with a $5 co-payment for prescription drugs if it costs you $300 dollars more a month?
Is it worth $200 more a month to have a $250 deductible and a $20 brand name/$10 generic Rx co-pay versus an 80/20 plan with a $2,500 deductible that also offers a $20 brand name/$10generic co-pay after you pay a once a year $100 Rx deductible? Wouldn’t the 80/20 plan still offer you adequate coverage? Don’t you think it would be better to put that extra $200 ($2,400 per year) in your bank account, just in case you may have to pay your $2,500 deductible or buy a $12 Amoxicillin prescription? Isn’t it wiser to keep your hard-earned money rather than pay higher premiums to an insurance company?
Yes, there are many ways you can keep more of the money that you would normally give to an insurance company in the form of higher monthly premiums. For example, the federal government encourages consumers to purchase H.S.A. (Health Savings Account) qualified H.D.H.P.’s (High Deductible Health Plans) so they have more control over how their health care dollars are spent. Consumers who purchase an HSA Qualified H.D.H.P. can put extra money aside each year in an interest bearing account so they can use that money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Even procedures that are not normally covered by insurance companies, like Lasik eye surgery, orthodontics, and alternative medicines become 100% tax deductible. If there are no claims that year the money that was deposited into the tax deferred H.S.A can be rolled over to the next year earning an even higher rate of interest. If there are no significant claims for several years (as is often the case) the insured ends up building a sizeable account that enjoys similar tax benefits as a traditional I.R.A. Most H.S.A. administrators now offer thousands of no load mutual funds to transfer your H.S.A. funds into so you can potentially earn an even higher rate of interest.
In my experience, I believe that individuals who purchase their health plan based on wants rather than needs feel the most defrauded or “ripped-off” by their insurance company and/or insurance agent. In fact, I hear almost identical comments from almost every business owner that I speak to. Comments, such as, “I have to run my business, I don’t have time to be sick! “I think I have gone to the doctor 2 times in the last 5 years” and “My insurance company keeps raising my rates and I don’t even use my insurance!” As a business owner myself, I can understand their frustration. So, is there a simple formula that everyone can follow to make health insurance buying easier? Yes! Become an INFORMED consumer.
Every time I contact a prospective client or call one of my client referrals, I ask a handful of specific questions that directly relate to the policy that particular individual currently has in their filing cabinet or dresser drawer. You know the policy that they bought to protect them from having to file bankruptcy due to medical debt. That policy they purchased to cover that $500,000 life-saving organ transplant or those 40 chemotherapy treatments that they may have to undergo if they are diagnosed with cancer.
So what do you think happens almost 100% of the time when I ask these individuals “BASIC” questions about their health insurance policy? They do not know the answers! The following is a list of 10 questions that I frequently ask a prospective health insurance client. Let’s see how many YOU can answer without looking at your policy.
1. What Insurance Company are you insured with and what is the name of your health insurance plan? (e.g. Blue Cross Blue Shield-“Basic Blue”)
2. What is your calendar year deductible and would you have to pay a separate deductible for each family member if everyone in your family became ill at the same time? (e.g. The majority of health plans have a per person yearly deductible, for example, $250, $500, $1,000, or $2,500. However, some plans will only require you to pay a 2 person maximum deductible each year, even if everyone in your family needed extensive medical care.)
3. What is your coinsurance percentage and what dollar amount (stop loss) it is based on? (e.g. A good plan with 80/20 coverage means you pay 20% of some dollar amount. This dollar amount is also known as a stop loss and can vary based on the type of policy you purchase. Stop losses can be as little as $5,000 or $10,000 or as much as $20,000 or there are some policies on the market that have NO stop loss dollar amount.)
4. What is your maximum out of pocket expense per year? (e.g. All deductibles plus all coinsurance percentages plus all applicable access fees or other fees)
5. What is the Lifetime maximum benefit the insurance company will pay if you become seriously ill and does your plan have any “per illness” maximums or caps? (e.g. Some plans may have a $5 million lifetime maximum, but may have a maximum benefit cap of $100,000 per illness. This means that you would have to develop many separate and unrelated life-threatening illnesses costing $100,000 or less to qualify for $5 million of lifetime coverage.)
6. Is your plan a schedule plan, in that it only pays a certain amount for a specific list of procedures? (e.g., Mega Life & Health & Midwest National Life, endorsed by the National Association of the Self-Employed, N.A.S.E. is known for endorsing schedule plans) 7. Does your plan have doctor co-pays and are you limited to a certain number of doctor co-pay visits per year? (e.g. Many plans have a limit of how many times you go to the doctor per year for a co-pay and, quite often the limit is 2-4 visits.)
8. Does your plan offer prescription drug coverage and if it does, do you pay a co-pay for your prescriptions or do you have to meet a separate drug deductible before you receive any benefits and/or do you just have a discount prescription card only? (e.g. Some plans offer you prescription benefits right away, other plans require that you pay a separate drug deductible before you can receive prescription medication for a co-pay. Today, many plans offer no co-pay options and only provide you with a discount prescription card that gives you a 10-20% discount on all prescription medications).
9. Does your plan have any reduction in benefits for organ transplants and if so, what is the maximum your plan will pay if you need an organ transplant? (e.g. Some plans only pay a $100,000 maximum benefit for organ transplants for a procedure that actually costs $350-$500K and this $100,000 maximum may also include reimbursement for expensive anti-rejection medications that must be taken after a transplant. If this is the case, you will often have to pay for all anti-rejection medications out of pocket).
10. Do you have to pay a separate deductible or “access fee” for each hospital admission or for each emergency room visit? (e.g. Some plans, like the Assurant Health’s “CoreMed” plan have a separate $750 hospital admission fee that you pay for the first 3 days you are in the hospital. This fee is in addition to your plan deductible. Also, many plans have benefit “caps” or “access fees” for out-patient services, such as, physical therapy, speech therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc. Benefit “caps” could be as little as $500 for each out-patient treatment, leaving you a bill for the remaining balance. Access fees are additional fees that you pay per treatment. For example, for each outpatient chemotherapy treatment, you may be required to pay a $250 “access fee” per treatment. So for 40 chemotherapy treatments, you would have to pay 40 x $250 = $10,000. Again, these fees would be charged in addition to your plan deductible).
Now that you’ve read through the list of questions that I ask a prospective health insurance client, ask yourself how many questions you were able to answer. If you couldn’t answer all ten questions don’t be discouraged. That doesn’t mean that you are not a smart consumer. It may just mean that you dealt with a “bad” insurance agent. So how could you tell if you dealt with a “bad” insurance agent? Because a “great” insurance agent would have taken the time to help you really understand your insurance benefits. A “great” agent spends time asking YOU questions so s/he can understand your insurance needs. A “great” agent recommends health plans based on all four variables; wants, needs, risk and price. A “great” agent gives you enough information to weigh all of your options so you can make an informed purchasing decision. And lastly, a “great” agent looks out for YOUR best interest and NOT the best interest of the insurance company.
So how do you know if you have a “great” agent? Easy, if you were able to answer all 10 questions without looking at your health insurance policy, you have a “great” agent. If you were able to answer the majority of questions, you may have a “good” agent. However, if you were only able to answer a few questions, chances are you have a “bad” agent. Insurance agents are no different than any other professional. There are some insurance agents that really care about the clients they work with, and there are other agents that avoid answering questions and duck client phone calls when a message is left about unpaid claims or skyrocketing health insurance rates.
Remember, your health insurance purchase is just as important as purchasing a house or a car, if not more important. So don’t be afraid to ask your insurance agent a lot of questions to make sure that you understand what your health plan does and does not cover. If you don’t feel comfortable with the type of coverage that your agent suggests or if you think the price is too high, ask your agent if s/he can select a comparable plan so you can make a side by side comparison before you purchase. And, most importantly, read all of the “fine print” in your health plan brochure and when you receive your policy, take the time to read through your policy during your 10-day free look period.
If you can’t understand something, or aren’t quite sure what the asterisk (*) next to the benefit description really means in terms of your coverage, call your agent or contact the insurance company to ask for further clarification.
Furthermore, take the time to perform your own due diligence. For example, if you research MEGA Life and Health or the Midwest National Life insurance company, endorsed by the National Association for the Self Employed (NASE), you will find that there have been 14 class action lawsuits brought against these companies since 1995. So ask yourself, “Is this a company that I would trust to pay my health insurance claims?
Additionally, find out if your agent is a “captive” agent or an insurance “broker.” “Captive” agents can only offer ONE insurance company’s products.” Independent” agents or insurance “brokers” can offer you a variety of different insurance plans from many different insurance companies. A “captive” agent may recommend a health plan that doesn’t exactly meet your needs because that is the only plan s/he can sell. An “independent” agent or insurance “broker” can usually offer you a variety of different insurance products from many quality carriers and can often customize a plan to meet your specific insurance needs and budget.
Over the years, I have developed strong, trusting relationships with my clients because of my insurance expertise and the level of personal service that I provide. This is one of the primary reasons that I do not recommend buying health insurance on the Internet. In my opinion, there are too many variables that Internet insurance buyers do not often take into consideration. I am a firm believer that a health insurance purchase requires the level of expertise and personal attention that only an insurance professional can provide. And, since it does not cost a penny more to purchase your health insurance through an agent or broker, my advice would be to use eBay and Amazon for your less important purchases and to use a knowledgeable, ethical and reputable independent agent or broker for one of the most important purchases you will ever make….your health insurance policy.
Lastly, if you have any concerns about an insurance company, contact your state’s Department of Insurance BEFORE you buy your policy. Your state’s Department of Insurance can tell you if the insurance company is registered in your state and can also tell you if there have been any complaints against that company that have been filed by policy holders. If you suspect that your agent is trying to sell you a fraudulent insurance policy, (e.g. you have to become a member of a union to qualify for coverage) or isn’t being honest with you, your state’s Department of Insurance can also check to see if your agent is licensed and whether or not there has ever been any disciplinary action previously taken against that agent.
In closing, I hope I have given you enough information so you can become an INFORMED insurance consumer. However, I remain convinced that the following words of wisdom still go along way: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” and “If you only buy on price, you get what you pay for!”