Rich Man, Poor Man – a Tale of Two Scanners

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Does where you receive medical treatment make a difference? If two different facilities use the same CT scanner shouldn’t the pricing be about the same?

Ben Hayden had a pain in his abdomen . . . so he went to see his doctor. To rule out anything serious, Ben’s doctor sent him to a free standing imaging center for a CT scan.

The radiologist didn’t see anything wrong on the images, and Ardesia didn’t recommend any treatment.

A few weeks later, Hynden, who has a high-deductible health insurance policy with Cigna, got a bill for $268. He paid it and moved on. – KHN

Then 3 months later the pain returned. Ben’s regular doctor was not available so he saw a nurse practitioner. Thinking Ben might have appendicitis, he was told to go to the hospital ER for a scan. Tale of Two Scanners

The results of the scan ruled out appendicitis but this time he had a different problem.

 

Two Scanners – Two Prices

A word of advice.

If you have a choice between going to the hospital ER for a CT scan, and a free-standing imaging center, choose the center.

“It was the exact same machine. It was the exact same test,” Hayden said.

The results were also the same as the October scan: Hayden was sent home without a definitive diagnosis.

And then the bill came.

Patient: Benjamin Hayden, 29, a adviser in Fort Myers, Fla.

Total Bill: $10,174.75, including $8,897 for a CT scan of the abdomen

Service Provider: Gulf Coast Medical Center, owned by Lee Health, the dominant health care system in southwest Florida

Quite a shock.

This time instead of owing $368 Ben’s share was $3,656, roughly 10x his share for the same scan 3 months earlier.

Click here for the rest of the story . . .

 

High Deductibles, Networks and More

Ben was only 29 years old and not on Medicare. But the outcome could have been the same under a managed care Medicare plan.

Over half the Advantage plans offered in Georgia are HMO’s. As long as you use a network provider your claims should be paid. But step outside the network and you could owe the entire bill. What happens if the provider who does your scan is not in network?

An exception could be made in the case of a life-threatening emergency.

But who decides if your case is a true emergency?

If the carrier decides against you, the claim is denied. Do you really want to take that chance?

 

 

 

 

Original Medicare and a Supplement Plan

Original Medicare does not have networks. You can use any doctor, any hospital, anywhere in the country. Never any penalties for using the wrong provider.

Even better, your out of pocket for a scan is limited to 20% of the Medicare approved amount. With a Medicare supplement plan (Medigap) your out of pocket cost could be less than $200.

Which makes more sense to you?

It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness.

Can Strokes Be Prevented?

Strokes. Can they be prevented? What is a stroke? Am I at risk for a stroke? How can I tell if I am having a stroke? What does Medicare cover?strokes rehab

Anyone at any age can have a stroke but the likelihood of strokes increases with age. Immediate treatment can minimize the long term effects of the attack.

 

Can Strokes Be Prevented?

The old saw that prevention is the best medicine is good advice. Before we look at what a stroke is and how it should be treated let’s review preventive measures.

Strokes threaten millions of lives — every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke. And, on average, one American dies from a stroke every 4 minutes, taking 130,000 lives a year and making it the 5th-leading cause of death in our country. And, too, among survivors, it can cause severe long-term disability and handicap.

The facts are that strokes are largely preventable, treatable and beatable – but action is required. In fact, research shows that 80% of all strokes are preventable by taking action. – Washington Times

An active, healthy lifestyle is the best prevention. If you are heavy, lose weight. Stop smoking. Monitor your blood and cholesterol levels.

Any of these conditions puts you at risk for a stroke.

Many cases of hypertension or hyperlipidemia can be controlled with diet and exercise, but if you need more help your doctor may prescribe medication. Have regular check ups. Monitor your blood pressure at home.

 

What Is A Stroke?

Strokes are classified in different ways.

  • Ischemic (ih-skee-mik): The artery gets blocked, often by a clot, and this prevents adequate blood flow. It is responsible for 87 percent of all strokes.
  • Hemorrhagic (hem-ur-ajic): An artery leaks or ruptures and the resultant leaked blood puts pressure on the neurons, causing damage. This can result from dangerously high blood pressures that overwhelm the blood vessel walls, chronic high blood pressures that cause wear and tear over time, and/or weakened blood vessels.
  • Mini-stroke:” A temporary blockage caused by a clot. This is also referred to as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Unlike a stroke, the symptoms resolve and there is no permanent injury to the brain. A TIA is a warning sign for a future stroke and must be taken seriously: more than 30 percent of people who have a TIA end up having a major stroke within 1 year if they do not receive treatment. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke. If you have a TIA, your health care team can find the cause and take steps to prevent a major stroke.

The type of stroke you have often determines the treatment as well as long term effects. When the stroke victim is diagnosed and treated quickly the chances of recovery are much improved. Triage in the hospital ER will determine if the patient needs a clot busting injection or surgery.

 

Am I Having A Stroke?

Most of the time you will know something is wrong but it may take people around you to see the visible signs and call for emergency care. How do you know if you are having a stroke? Think F.A.S.T.

  • FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately (even if they resolve)

If you are with someone and see any of the above symptoms do not hesitate to call 911.

 

Does Medicare Cover Treatment for Strokes?

Medicare does in fact include emergency treatment for your stroke. Medicare Part B covers ambulance transport and ER care. Your 2016 Part B calendar year deductible is $166. Once the deductible is satisfied Medicare pays 80% of approved charges and you are responsible for the remaining 20%.

That 20% is not capped. You pay until you are better, run out of money or die.

Medigap plans F and G will pay the 20% remainder after Medicare pays their portion.

ga medigap rates

If you are admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, your stay will be covered under Medicare Part A. Your Medicare per admission Part A deductible for 2016 is $1288. Supplement plans F, G and N pay this deductible for you.

Not all hospital admissions are as an inpatient. If you are admitted for observation the charges are covered under Part B. If you are then discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or rehab unit, Medicare does NOT pay for this care. In order for SNF or rehab to be covered by Medicare you must have had a 3 day stay as an inpatient.

If your post discharge stay qualifies under Medicare rules but exceeds 60 days you will be responsible for a daily coinsurance of $322 for days 61 – 90. That amount doubles to $644 per day for stays lasting longer than 90 days and up to 180 days.

All Medigap plans cover your Part A coinsurance and extends that coverage up to 365 days lifetime.

Private long term care insurance, short term care insurance and home health care are types of policies that should be explored to supplement your Medicare coverage.

Georgia Medicare Plans specializes in finding  Medigap coverage that fits your needs and budget. Bob Vineyard has more than 40 years experience in the health insurance industry. In addition, he is also a Medicare beneficiary covered by original Medicare and a Medigap plan.

With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia it is impossible to find the right plan without expert guidance. We shop the market for you and show you the best plans based on your needs.

GA Medigap rates

Click the image above for an instant Medigap quote. Compare up to 30 plans side by side. A free report showing all plans in your area will follow by email.

 

Stroke Aftermath

I have friends who have had strokes. Some have mostly recovered, while others would be considered an invalid requiring round the clock home health care. Medicare only covers a portion of the bills and provides no coverage for care that is not medically necessary.

Without additional insurance you and your family will bear the cost of attending to your activities of daily living.

 

Additional Resources For Learning About Strokes

Medicare Coverage for Skilled Nursing Facility

Long Term Care – Medicare, Medicaid and More

National Stroke Association – Medicare Basics

Caring – Will Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Long Term Care?

 

 

#Stroke #Medicare #LongTermCare #ShortTermCare #HomeHealthCare

 

Prescription Drug Interactions

Prescription drug interactions kill an estimated 6,000 people per year and most of these could have been prevented. Doctors often fail to check state prescription drug databases before prescribing. Even if your doctor checks the state database you should use a drug checker for the safety of your own health. CDC finds over 100,000 over age 65 end up in the Emergency Room due to drug interactions and accidental overdose.

Retirees on Medicare Part D need to keep a list of all their medications on their smartphone by using iBlueButton.

 

Prescription drug interactions can be killers.

Roughly 6,000 people die each year as a result of adverse drug interactions.

An estimated 100,000 retirees over age 65 end up in the Emergency Room for something that could have been avoided.

Seniors are more at risk due to a number of factors including, taking multiple medications, mixing prescription medications with over the counter supplements, memory lapses that can lead to missed doses or even over-dosing.

Doctors and pharmacies need access to a prescription drug monitoring database. Georgia has a monitoring program but it only tracks prescriptions for controlled substances such as prescription pain killers.

If a patient is concerned about possible adverse reactions to their medications they need to be proactive and cross-check their med’s against a database.

 

Opioids and doctor shopping

Many people, including retirees, will seek out unconventional ways to counteract pain. If the medications they are on are not enough to control the pain some will resort to doctor shopping.

medicare doctorSadly, most doctors fail to check the database before prescribing controlled substances.

In a survey of 420 primary care physicians published in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs, the researchers found that 72 percent indicated they were aware of their state’s program, and 53 percent reported they’d used their state’s program. Another 22 percent indicated they had no knowledge of their state’s program.

The databases allow prescribing physicians to identify “doctor shoppers” — people who obtain prescriptions from multiple physicians, either to use or to sell or both — and other potentially illicit or abusive behaviors. Every state but Missouri has a prescription drug-monitoring program in place. – Johns Hopkins

The Georgia database has been available since 2013. At first, only pharmacists were able to register but now doctors can access the database as well.

One pharmacist checked the database for several of his patients who he thought were only using his pharmacy to get their hydrocodone and alprazolam prescriptions filled. To his surprise, he found that all of the patients he checked had been going to multiple other pharmacies, getting the same type prescriptions filled and going to multiple physicians. He decided to stop filling prescriptions for those customers. Another pharmacist checked the database for patients she suspected were doctor shopping. But to her relief, none of those patients were getting prescriptions filled at any other pharmacy than hers. – GPhA

Don’t try and game the system. You will be caught.

Doctor shopping is dangerous. Medicare shopping is simple and fast. With more than 170 different Medicare plans in Georgia, how do you find the right one?

Instant online GA Medigap quotes

Your information is never sold.

 

 

Prescription drug checker

All patients should use a prescription drug checker to verify there are no potential adverse reactions among their medications.

Drug interactions occurs when the effect of a particular drug is altered when it is taken with another drug, or with food.

The Drug Interaction Checker explains the mechanism of each drug interaction, the level of significance of the interaction (major, moderate or minor), and in certain cases, can provide the recommended course of action to manage the interaction. The Drug Interaction Checker will also display any interactions between your chosen drug(s) and food. – Drugs

Follow this link to check your medications now.

Other sites also have prescription drug checkers which may be more comprehensive. Here are a few more for consideration.

WebMD interaction checker – precription drugs, OTC and herbal remedies

Rx List interactions checker – crosscheck generic, brand and OTC medications

Medscape – check prescription drugs, OTC medications and herbal supplements

Dangers of opioid pain management medication

Certainly abuse and addiction is at the forefront of concerns regarding prescription pain medication but that is not the only concern.pharmacy

Roughly 70% of those taking prescription pain medication are also taking one or more additional prescription medications.

A drug interaction occurs when two or more substances (drugs, supplements, or even some foods) affect each other in such a way that the metabolism, elimination, effectiveness, and/or toxicity of one or more of the drugs is changed. Simply put, a drug interaction causes one or more of the medications you’re taking not to work as they should. This can have dangerous, even deadly, results. – Health Central

Make sure your doctor is aware of all prescription drug medications and supplements you are taking.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

#PrescriptionDrugInteractions #AdverseDrugReaction #GAMedigapQuotes

Top 5 Benefits of Walking

The benefits of walking can be tremendous, especially if you are sedentary. Baby boomers like myself may not be as active as we once were. We can make excuses like a lack of time, the weather is bad, or you just don’t feel like it. walking_way_to_health

The results are the same.

You aren’t moving enough.

You don’t have to join a gym or buy equipment or fancy clothes. When you are 60+ and out walking no one really cares what you are wearing.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, over the past 20 years the number of people who walk on a regular basis has dropped by 42%. During that same time frame obesity has increased by 40%.

 

Number one benefit of walking

Each of us are motivated by different things, so the number one benefit of walking for me may not be the same for you. For some their motivation is to lose weight. Others may want to reduce the risk of disease like diabetes, cancer or heart ailments. Your desire to walk may be so you can enjoy time with your grandchildren.

Regardless of your reason, pick some area of your life where you want to improve and make that your primary goal.

Healthy people spend less money on medication and trips to the doctor. Some medical conditions like type II diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure can be reversed with regular exercise, including the simple act of walking on a daily basis.

Saving money is always good, especially for those on a fixed income. We save our clients an average of $450 per year in Medigap premiums and another $1,000 in out of pocket drug costs.

That adds up!

 

My story

I am a baby boomer. Born in 1950. Twenty years ago when our son was pursuing his Eagle Scout award we went hiking and camping a lot.

Frankly, outdoor camping never appealed to me. My idea of roughing it was staying in a Day’s Inn. A meal cooked over a campfire was a hot dog on a stick followed by roasted marshmallows for desert.

walking manOnce he graduated from scouting neither one of us went camping or hiking again.

I gained about 15 pounds since that time.

OK, maybe it was more like 25.

For a 64 year old man I am in reasonably good health. I don’t take any medication. My BP is slightly elevated but my cholesterol is less than 150.

Last year during my annual the doctor measured my waist. Obviously she used a metric tape because my waist has never been that big. My BP was up a bit but not enough to warrant medication.

The killer was when she wrote “obesity” in my chart.

I decided then to change my lifestyle. Kohl’s had a sale on walking (and running) shoes so I bought two pair.

A few months before my physical I had a kidney stone. The ER doc that treated me said I didn’t drink enough water.

So now I am drinking more water daily and walking. My goal is to walk 4 miles a day for 5 days.

Most weeks I do that.

A few months ago I had another physical. My weight was down by 8 pounds and my BP dropped to a more acceptable 128/86.

Walking works.

 

Walking reduces stress

Having spent 40 years in the health insurance business, I needed to slow down a bit and find something less stressful. Most of my regular health insurance clients had to drop their coverage because they could not afford the higher Obamacare rates. To offset the lost income I migrated toward the Medicare market about 4 years ago. In September of this year when it is my time to join my other boomer’s and go on Medicare I needed to know what to expect. walking 1

What I have found is, most people my age were just as confused as I was and they hadn’t worked in the health insurance market all their life like I had.

Changing my focus to Medicare only has helped, but during the Medicare season known as annual enrollment was almost too much. I was winding down my existing under age 65 client block and helping them one last time while at the same time trying to increase my number of Medicare clients.

Getting out an walking for 75 minutes or so helped my attitude tremendously. Some days I would leave the house at 5:30 AM while others it would be noon. And some days I would begin my walk around 4:00 PM.

Walking that 4 mile loop around my neighborhood not only reduced my stress levels but helped to drop my BP as well.

A recent article published by Everybody Walk has this to say.

  • Put your brain in a meditative state
  • Outdoor activity reduces stress
  • Boost endorphins
  • Socialize while walking
  • Boost energy and reduce fatigue

Hard to argue with any of those.

 

Reverse medical conditions

Many afflictions are lifestyle related. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety and type II diabetes are all conditions that may be caused by lifestyle but can also be reversed.

My own drop in BP can be tied to walking and increased water intake.

According to the American Heart Association, walking for 30 minutes a day has this effect

  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

Maybe you are not at risk for any of the above and that is good news. But that is not a reason to ignore the health benefits of preventing or even reversing the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Type II diabetes is a common chronic condition in retirees and is a costly illness to treat, especially if you have complications. I have diabetic clients and some of them are spending $500/month and up on medication. What a tremendous savings they could realize by walking just 30 minutes a day.

 

Improved sleeping

As we age our body changes and one area that is impacted as much, if not more, is quality sleep time. Walking, especially in the evening before bed can relax your body and help you have a more restful night.

You can also benefit from walking earlier in the day so if night time is not convenient for you go when you can and start sleeping better.

 

Laundry list of benefits

If you do enough research you can probably come up with 100 or more reasons to walk. The folks at Tesco Living summarized these 10 points.

  • Strengthen your heart
  • Lower risk of disease
  • Weight control
  • Prevent dementia
  • and osteoporosis
  • Tones your body
  • including your arms
  • Boosts vitamin D levels
  • Gives you energy
  • Makes you happy

Who doesn’t want to be happy?

 

Additional reading

Still not convinced of the benefits of Walking?

Check out these dozen+ articles on Medicinenet

 

Closing thoughts

Get moving and enjoy your days. Walk outdoors or inside. Many malls open early in the morning for “mall walkers”. It’s a good time to socialize and avoid the crowds.

Senior centers in many areas are available at no charge or reduced rates. Some have walking tracks, swimming pools and exercise classes.

A few Medicare supplement carriers include Silver Sneakers membership as part of their “package”. Georgaetna medicareia carriers that include Silver Sneakers are Blue Cross, Humana and the AARP brand of United Healthcare.

Of course their Medigap rates are usually higher than comparable plans that don’t include Silver Sneakers. We recently added Aetna to our mix of carriers. They have competitive Medigap rates but don’t have Silver Sneakers.

With more than 170 different Medigap plans in Georgia, how do you find the right one? We can help. Shop and compare plans on your own but don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

 

#walking #Medicare #diabetes #highbloodpressure #cholesterol #Aetna

 

 

Anthem Blue Cross Hacked

Anthem Blue Cross recently made headlines but for all the wrong reasons. A “sophisticated” attack on their computer systems exposed millions of customer personal data to hackers. Current and former customers names, addresses, Social Security anthemnumbers, dates of birth and other personal information may be in the hands of the bad guys.

Most people think of identity theft as a source for opening fraudulent lines of credit in the consumers name, but this time it may be more ominous.

What Anthem isn’t saying about this breach that could hurt them more than it does you.

 

Anthem hack and fraud

No doubt the breach at Anthem is serious. Exactly when the attack occurred and what was stolen has not been completely revealed.

passwordMost hacks are discovered by accident and often it is long after the attack. It is not unusual for a company to state they have never been hacked but the real question is, how do they know?

Unless one of their IT people stumble across suspicious activity, or clients complain about fraudulent activity, the company may not be aware of a problem.

I am not suggesting this is the case with Anthem, just making a general (but informed) comment.

 

How bad is it?

We don’t know, and possibly neither does Anthem. Much depends on how the breach was discovered and how often they  backup their web traffic.

Exactly how many people are affected wasn’t immediately clear. The database that was infiltrated contained records for 80 million peoplepersonal data file

The company is still investigating exactly how many records were actually stolen but, “at this point we believe it was tens of millions,” said Cindy Wakefield, an Anthem spokeswoman.

If the entire file was taken it would be “the largest health care breach to date,” said Vitor De Souza, a spokesman for Mandiant, the computer security company Anthem has hired to evaluate its systems. – USA Today

80 million records.

That’s a bunch.

How far back does the data go? Five years? Ten? Twenty?

Anthem isn’t saying.

 

What this means to you

Anthem has released a public statement about the situation and will be offering a credit monitoring service for their current (and presumably former) policyholders. What was stolen?

They don’t know (or aren’t saying) but it could include the following:

Hackers had gained access to the company’s computers and that their names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, addresses and employment data including income.

The logical path most consumers will take is wondering if someone will try to establish a line of credit with their information. Data monitoring services can certainly track that and there is a good chance you won’t find someone in Bangladesh buying a car in your name.

health care fraudThe more likely use of this data will come in the form of medical identity theft.

Hackers can use the Anthem data to print fake health insurance cards and Medicare cards. This kind of theft is more difficult to track and much more lucrative than applying for a Nieman-Marcus card in your name.

Credit cards have upper limits of anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Once the card is used the fraud is exposed and the card is shut down.

But a health insurance ID card or Medicare card has an unlimited line of credit that can’t be tracked by credit monitoring services.

It is easy enough for a thief to make a new Bob Vineyard Anthem Blue Cross card and pay a street person $20 to pretend they are me, walk into a clinic and get a prescription for drugs. Take the prescription to a pharmacy that is in on the scam, fill the order, then sell the drugs on the street.

Things like this happen every day.

But once Anthem gets wind of a bunch of fake Bob’s getting fake medical care to buy real drugs all Anthem has to do is cancel that card and issue a new one with a new ID number.

But if the crook makes a fake Medicare card the theft is more difficult to detect. Even worse, since your Medicare number is also your Social Security number don’t expect Medicare to cancel the card. If you are on Medicare and have a supplement plan through Anthem claims filed with Medicare automatically are filed with Anthem once Medicare approves the claim.

If you have an Anthem Advantage plan the fraudulent claims are filed with Anthem for processing.

 

What you can do to protect yourself

You can take advantage of credit monitoring services. You can also freeze your credit. These steps should prevent most routine identity theft situations.

For medical identity theft you need to be proactive. computer hacker

If you are a current or recent Anthem policyholder check your online claim reports on a weekly basis for the next few months. Report any suspicious claims to Anthem.

If you are on Medicare and have an Advantage plan with Anthem, log into your account to monitor and report fraudulent activity.

For your Medigap plan through Anthem log into MyMedicare.gov on a regular basis and report suspicious activity to HHS

Georgia Medicare Plans has a contract with Anthem Blue Cross and can place Medigap clients with Blue. However our preference is to use more competitive carriers that save our clients hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. Many of these Medicare supplement carriers are low profile and generally not targets for hackers.

Shop and compare our Medigap rates instantly online.

 

#Anthem #hack #BlueCross #Medicare #Medigap #IdentityTheft #GAMedigapQuotes

Bill Jones Didn’t Have to Die

Bill Jones lived in Lumpkin, Georgia and died of a heart attack because the nearest hospital was 40 miles away. But Bill Jones didn’t have to die.

Pam Renshaw in Folkston, GA had a similar challenge when her 4-wheeler crashed and caught on fire. The nearest hospital was 9 miles away but it had closed 6 weeks earlier. It was 2 hours before Pam could get to the nearest hospital, in Florida, and receive much needed attention.

stewart webster hospital small

Rural hospitals all over the country are closing and the south seems impacted more than other areas of the country. A combination of factors including a struggling economy and the decline of the middle class plus new rules imposed on medical practices under Obamacare have resulted in hospital closings.

When a hospital dies local residents lose access to critical care. The closing of Stewart-Webster Hospital in Richland, Georgia did not make national news. But residents of rural Stewart county Georgia are very much aware of the impact of the closing of their local hospital.

Georgia Medicare Plans has rates on more than 170 different plans in your area. We can’t stop the hospitals from closing but we can make sure you have access to the best hospitals in your area. Rates in Georgia have been trending lower over the last 2 years and you are probably paying too much.  Shop and compare Medigap plans instantly.

 

Bill Jones, farmer

Bill Jones was born in Cuthbart, GA, about 20 miles south of Lumpkin where he lived and worked. Bill did many things during his adult life but his love of farming became his life.

If Stewart- Webster hospital had not died in 2013 perhaps Bill would still be alive.

Stewart-Webster Hospital had only 25 beds when it still treated patients. The rural hospital served this small town of 1,400 residents and those in the surrounding farms and crossroads for more than six decades.

But since the hospital closed in the spring of (2013), many of those in need have to travel up to 40 miles to other hospitals. – USA Today

40 miles may not seem like much to some people. That’s the distance from Acworth, GA to Hartsfield airport. With no traffic that is a 42 minute drive down I-75.

But in an emergency that 40 miles can mean the difference in life and death.

If you are driving from Acworth to Hartsfield you will drive past Kennestone Hospital, Windy Hill Hospital, Piedmont Hospital and Grady. Other than Grady which is right off the interstate, you probably don’t think about the drive. But if you are in need of critical care things are different.

Perhaps that is the way Bill Jones felt that day as the ambulance took him past Stewart-Webster hospital and on to a hospital 40 miles away.

 

Dying Georgia Hospitals

obamacare bullet holesIn the last 4 years at least 7 Georgia hospitals have died. At least some of them closed because of Obamacare.

According to the USA Today article, rural hospitals are being squeezed in two ways.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to improve access to health care for all Americans and will give them another chance at getting health insurance during open enrollment starting this Saturday. But critics say the ACA is also accelerating the demise of rural outposts that cater to many of society’s most vulnerable. These hospitals treat some of the sickest and poorest patients — those least aware of how to stay healthy. Hospital officials contend that the law’s penalties for having to re-admit patients soon after they’re released are impossible to avoid and create a crushing burden.

Many U.S. counties had no hospitals after the Great Depression and World War II. But the 1946 Hill-Burton Act sought to change that with grants and loans for the construction of new hospitals. The number of hospitals soared, creating the backbone of today’s modern health system.

Obamacare changes the way hospitals are reimbursed, and penalizes those that have higher than normal readmission rates.

Hospitals are also required to upgrade to EHR (electronic health records) or face steep fines.

But the $1 million or more it was going to cost to change over to electronic records was one of the last straws for Randy Stigleman, former owner of Stewart-Webster.

Declining revenues, new fines and penalties and the cost of upgrading put’s a nail in the coffin of rural hospitals.

Even if Georgia had expanded Medicaid the low reimbursement for Medicaid patients means hospitals lose money on every Medicaid patient they treat.

 

Access to health care

Obamacare was supposed to expand access to health care but instead has done just the opposite. Rather than increased access to health care the unpopular law is accelerating the demise of the rural hospital.

The law also impacts those on Medicare. lower premiums

Lumpkin, GA residents have only 6 Medicare Advantage plans including 4 from Humana, 1 from Care Improvement Plus and 1 from Wellcare.

If you live in Stewart county there are 7 hospitals within 30 miles of Lumpkin, Georgia. But only two hospitals are in the Humana Choice Medicare Advantage plan and the nearest ones are in Cuthbert, GA or Eufaula, Alabama.

When you have original Medicare and a Medigap plan you can pick from over 170 different plans and have access to all hospitals in your area.

Our Medigap clients save an average of $450 per year by helping them find a lower monthly premium for the same exact coverage. Our Part D clients save an average of $1,000 per year in out of pocket drug costs compared to a plan they picked on their own or bought through another agent.

Savings are meaningless if you can only use a handful of doctors and hospitals in your area. We have Medigap plans starting at $80 per month for a female, age 65 in Stewart county Georgia. If you are paying more than this or if you have to drive 30 miles or more to use a participating doctor or hospital, we need to talk.

Bill Jones didn’t have to die. We can’t bring back Stewart-Webster hospital but we can provide you unfettered access to health care in your area and probably save you some money.

How simple is that?georgia-medigap-button

 

#hospitalsclosing #obamacare #medicaid #medicaidexpansion

Foot Pain Relief

Do you have pain in your feet and legs? Discover home remedies for foot pain relief that really work. Achilles tendonitis, Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis and more can make your life miserable. foot pain relief

 

Achilles Tendonitis Foot Pain Relief

Inflammation of the tendon, known as Achilles tendonitis, usually is due to overuse. The tendon gets weaker and susceptible to injuries with age. If you overwork the tendon—say, by spending a few hours on the dance floor or the basketball court—the fibers can develop small tears and get inflamed. It typically takes at least three months for it to heal completely. In the meantime, don’t engage in high-impact exercises such as running, and switch to low-impact activities such as biking or swimming. Also…

Start with ice. Ice is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation and help the tendon heal.

Bottom Line Publications

 

Leg and foot pain relief can be simple and quick when you know how to treat your pain. Learn simple things you can do to eliminate the cause of foot and leg pain.

Are your Medicare supplement premiums causing pain and stress? Many of our clients save $500 a year and more by making simple changes in their Medigap coverage. One Georgia couple saved over $1700 per year by exchanging their overpriced Mutual of Omaha plan F.

I can’t guarantee to save you that much but the only way to find out is to shop and compare.

GA Medigap Quotes

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a thickened nerve in the ball of your foot. It typically causes sharp pain or burning that gets worse when you walk. The abnormal growth of nerve tissue is the body’s response to irritation—usually from shoes that are too tight or from wearing high heels. Anything that puts repetitive pressure on the toes, including activities such as jogging, can cause Morton’s neuroma.

Wear wider shoes. Giving the toes more room to move reduces pressure and causes the neuroma to shrink back to normal, possibly within a month or two.

 

Lifestyle changes provide foot pain relief.

 

Plantar Fasciitis

A thick band of tissue (the plantar fascia) runs across the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch. Small tears in the tissue can cause burning/stabbing pain, particularly in the morning.

Important: Get a second opinion if your doctor recommends surgery. About 90% of cases heal with conservative care within a year.

Apply ice. Hold an ice pack over the painful area for 15 or 20 minutes, three or four times a day.

 

Simple ways to find relief from leg and foot pain. For more home remedies and tips, check out Bottom Line Publications.

Be sure to tell your friends how to save money by lowering the cost of Medigap coverage. Shop and compare Medicare Supplement Plan costs.

 

#FootPainRelief

Sequester Cuts Medicare Funding

The Godfather movie image Al PacinoDid you know cuts in Medicare funding means cancer patients may have to forego treatment? Obama’s pick and choose sequester cuts means no White House tours, close airport control towers and no cancer treatment for you.

Medicare funding cuts are part of the sequester and as of April 1, some doctors and cancer clinics are turning away Medicare patients.

Oncologists say the reduced funding, which took effect for Medicare on April 1, makes it impossible to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs while staying afloat financially.

Patients at these clinics would need to seek treatment elsewhere, such as at hospitals that might not have the capacity to accommodate them.

“If we treated the patients receiving the most expensive drugs, we’d be out of business in six months to a year,” said Jeff Vacirca, chief executive of North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates in New York. “The drugs we’re going to lose money on we’re not going to administer right now.”

Washington Post

Those most readily affected would be patients receiving tier 4 infusion therapy.

For the clinics, it’s a choice between treating patients and staying in business.

Medications for seniors are usually covered under the optional Medicare Part D, which includes private insurance. But because cancer drugs must be administered by a physician, they are among a handful of pharmaceuticals paid for by Part B, which covers doctor visits and is subject to the sequester cut.

The federal government typically pays community oncologists for the average sales price of a chemotherapy drug, plus 6 percent to cover the cost of storing and administering the medication.

Since oncologists cannot change the drug prices, they argue that the entire 2 percent cut will have to come out of that 6 percent overhead.

If the clinic is a Medicare par provider, they cannot balance bill, so their choice is to stop treating patients or take a loss.

It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.

GERD and Orange Peel

Natural Supplements Like Orange Peel Extract Can Help Fight Heartburn

Author: Darrell Miller

If you think about how many prescription and over-the-counter heartburn medicines there are, you'd guess that everybody in American suffering from heartburn.

It is true. A Gallup Organization national survey discovered more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms every day. But, there is good news orange peel extract can work to relieve heartburn pain safely and effectively and without side effects. Many people tell about its great success in their lives.

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is the pain caused by the splashing up of fluids from the stomach into the esophagus. The stomach has a special lining to protect itself from the hydrochloric acid, the esophagus does not. At the bottom of the esophagus there is a circular muscle called lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the LES opens to soon stomach acid travels from the stomach into the esophagus, this is what causes the burning pain.

What is the difference between heartburn and ulcers?

Stomach ulcers are sores usually caused by a bacterial infection or overuse of aspirin in the stomach. A stomach ulcer and heartburn are in the same family. They have mostly the same symptoms and treatments, and could eventually be a serious problem if left untreated.

What's the difference between heartburn and GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease's (GERD) symptom is continual heartburn throughout an entire week. GERD can be a very serious disease because the hydrochloric acid can wear away the esophagus lining and develop scar tissue. Scar tissue causes problems with trying to swallow. GERD also can help cause asthma, pneumonia, hoarseness, chronic cough, and the erosion of teeth. Recently, doctors have found that GERD can be the cause for cancer of the larynx and pharynx.

What causes heartburn?

There are many causes for heartburn. The esophagus has an important function to allow humans to swallow. When we swallow, small muscle fibers contract creating a movement called peristalsis. The slowing down of esophageal peristalsis happens with age and heartburn can develop.

Overeating can also cause heartburn, because the food has overfilled the stomach which allows acid to come up. The acids can also cause heartburn when bending over, lying down, or lifting heavy objects.

Foods can cause the discomfort of heartburn. Foods and beverages such as: chocolate, tomatoes, raw onions, citrus fruits, garlic vinegar, black pepper, citrus juices, caffeine, carbon, and alcohol. Smokers are also more prone to heartburn because it relaxes the LES which opens to let the acid out.

Who else is prone to developing heartburn?

There are three major types of people who are more apt to having heartburn. People who are overweight get heartburn because their fat adds pressure to the abdomen. Also pregnant women get heartburn because of their pressure on the abdomen from the baby. Doctors also say that a woman's changing hormones can cause the muscle valve to relax. An overwhelming 25% of women have heartburn during their pregnancy.

Heartburn is also known to show up in people with hiatal hernias because in this condition, the stomach slides above the diaphragm, a thin muscle that keeps the stomach away from the chest. Food and the acid are now able to flow back into the esophagus, which causes heartburn.

What side effects do many heartburn medications have?

No medications can cure heartburn, but they can relieve the pain for a period of time. Some medications are known to impede some vitamins and calcium absorption, as well as interfere with digestion and stomach secretions.

Heartburn medications work for some people most of the time, but for some they lack a consistent relief. This allows for many people to switch brands to find the one that will work the best for their body.

Antacids use substances to neutralize stomach acid, but now the hydrochloric acid can not do its vital functions, like digesting food, inhibiting bacterial growth, and absorbing vitamins and nutrients. Also, when the acid is neutralized, our body reacts by creating even more, which would cause even greater heartburn. This cycle is known as "acid rebound."

Antacids also have many side effects. Food poisoning is more apt to happening because bacteria can survive longer with the antacids.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) restrain the acid from creating. Actually, it practically shuts down the stomach's ability to produce acid.

The most common heartburn medications, such as Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid are actually supposed to be used short-time, but people are using them as a long-term medication. Using the orange peel extract is a safe alternative because it has no side effects.

How does orange peel extract work?

Orange peel extract is being researched and there are several possibilities as to how it stops heartburn. Some believe that it helps food move through the stomach, forbidding food to stay in the esophagus for a long period of time. This minimizes the chance for heartburn. It can also work as a surfactant, which reduces the surface tension of a liquid and would decrease the potential for the hydrochloric acid to splash.

How much orange peel extract should I take?

It is recommended that 1,000 mg be taken every other day, which was used in the scientific studies. Look for a product with 98.5% purity of d-limonene, found in the orange peel extract.

How does orange peel extract cure heartburn?

Almost 90% of the participants in the studies said that their heartburn was happening less after two weeks and about one-third said that they had a resolution of the heartburn after about two days. Even better, participants said that although they stopped take the orange peel extract, two weeks after they hadn't felt heartburn. On a scale of 1-10 (10= mild and 1= severe), the study participants had an average rating of 7.8 and two weeks after the end of taking the orange peel extract they stopped having any heartburn. Seldom, some people felt heartburn after eating the foods that they previously avoided, but a single orange peel extract pill solved the problem.

Is orange peel extract safe?

It is an all-natural product, which makes it safe for many people. You should always follow the directions on the bottle.

You shouldn't take it if you are pregnant or nursing or if you have an ulcer. Ulcers will create a burning irritating sensation. Children shouldn't be given the orange peel extract because it has not been tested on them yet. Orange peel extract has been used in cancer studies for many years, and scientists haven't found any adverse effects.

Does orange peel extract affect cancer?

Research has discovered that orange peel extract has prevented cancer activity by inhibiting the way cancer cells divide and grow. Some cancers that the orange peel extract has prevented are breast, skin, liver, lung, pancreatic, colon, and stomach cancers, in laboratory studies.

One study had 32 cancer patients take the orange peel extract, and no toxicity was observed. Blood analysis revealed that the orange peel extract was absorbed in to their bodies very well. More research is needed on orange peel extract and cancer.

Some important last notes

Frequent heartburn could mean a more serious condition and if this is you, you should consult a professional health physician.

Conclusion

Heartburn can be very serious. It happens to millions of Americans who spend billions of dollars on medications. Orange peel extract is an inexpensive and safe way to relieve heartburn pain. Orange Peel Extract can be found at any health food store.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/medicine-articles/natural-supplements-like-orange-peel-extract-can-help-fight-heartburn-91394.html

About the Author
Visit VitaNet Health Foods at http://vitanetonline.com/ VitaNet sells high quality supplements like HeartBurn Free Orange Peel Extract. Please link to this site when using this article.

Heartburn Drugs Safe?

Heartburn drugs OK for short term, but risks remain

Mar 25, 2011 12:46 PM
 
 

The over-the-counter drugs Prilosec and Prevacid are safe when taken short term, according to an annoucement this week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But many people take the drugs long-term, increasing their risk of fractures.

The FDA said that OTC proton-pump inhibitors don't pose a fracture risk when they're taken for less than 14 days, three times a year. However, taking the drugs longer or more often does increase those risks, especially when taken for a year or longer.

That's why we say consumers should exercise caution when using the drugs to treat heartburn orgastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Over-the-counter doses of PPI medicines should be:

 

  • Omeprazole (found in Prilosec OTC and others) — 20 mg tablet (Once a day for no more than 14 days. The 14-day course may repeated every 4 months.)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR) — 15 mg tablet (Once a day for no more than 14 days. The 14-day course may repeated every 4 months.)