Saturday, October 25, 2014

Which Is The Best Healthcare Discount Card? Because 40,000,000 People Can't Afford Health Insurance

Its seems that we are hearing a lot lately about how the economy is recovering. That's great news. But why is health insurance still so expensive? Even the Obamacare coverage is still out of reach for so many people. A typical monthly payment for many families is between $500 and $700. And deductibles can be a staggering $5000. So is your traditional health insurance really paying anything for you at all? $500 a month translates to $6000 a year, with a $5000 deductible.

That further translates to spending possibly over $11,000 before your insurance company starts paying anything for you. Unless you're pretty sick, who really spends more than $11,000 a year on healthcare?And that's just one year. In five years, you've given the insurance company $30,000 and they don't have to pay for anything until you've spent $25,000 on medical bills.

Is there a better way to take care of your family's healthcare needs without having to spend a fortune on health insurance? Maybe. Millions of people are taking the Healthcare Discount Card route. The idea is that instead of having to pay enormous monthly premiums for health insurance when you get sick, why not pay a small monthly payment to a Discount Card company that allows you to receive benefits from medical providers a lot cheaper. Healthcare Discount Cards are not insurance.

The companies that offer healthcare discount cards have negotiated with medical providers to offer their services to people a lot cheaper, sometimes even between 50% and 80% cheaper. What you should know is that insurance companies do the same thing with providers, but they don't pass the results of that savings on to  you -they get the discount.

In actuality, providers like doctors and hospitals are accustomed to only receiving about half of what they bill for services anyway. Most major medical insurance companies have contracted with hospitals and doctors to only pay between 30% and 50% of the original amount billed. So in essence, insurance companies are carrying a "discount card" in their "pockets". And apparently, they are making enough money off of you to stay in business while you are struggling to pay their premiums.

So when you are insured with an insurance company, you pay them a huge monthly payment so they can pay only half of your doctor bill and then the medical providers right off the rest. Even Medicare and Medicaid has contracted with most providers to pay only about half of what has been billed for the services you received. The only people that actually pay full price for medical services is the self-pay person with no discount card.  Does this make sense to you?

Healthcare Discount Cards are basically a means of making self-insurance affordable. Instead of giving the insurance companies the discount, providers have agreed to give it to you, the self-payer. And since you are not paying huge monthly premiums to insurance companies, you can afford better to pay medical bills as you go, especially when they are highly discounted.

Wouldn't it be nice if providers just simply charged 50% less to everyone for services they provide? Absolutely, but that's not likely to ever happen, because as long as there are self-payers out there that feel forced to pay astronomical amounts for services they receive, doctors and hospitals will keep charging huge amounts. So how do you choose a good Healthcare Discount Card?

They are literally hundreds of them out there. You need to be careful and cautious when choosing a healthcare discount card, because there are some fraudulent ones out there. A reputable healthcare discount card will always plainly state in clear sight that is it not insurance. Look for a company that has been in business for many years. Check the Better Business Bureau for a company's rating. Ask lots of questions before purchasing a healthcare discount card. Remember that you get what you pay for. Some are very cheap or even free, but the discount savings may only be 10%.

Ask your sales person to explain clearly what all the benefits of the card are. It's also a good idea to get on that company's website and check their list of providers to see how many local medical providers there are on that list. You don't want a healthcare discount card that no one locally accepts. Ask about hidden fees. It's typical for healthcare discount card companies to charge a monthly fee for the use of their card as well as an annual membership fee.

Ameriplan is one healthcare discount card that has an A+ rating with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and has been in business for 23 years. It has been featured on 60 minutes and ABC news' Good Morning America as a reputable company. The most expensive plan they have costs only $99 a month for the entire household and covers medical, dental, vision, prescriptions, chiropractic, wellness, legal services, identity theft protection and an auto club plan. It also offers huge discounts on restaurants, theaters, hotels, travel, shopping and other entertainment, business/technology and it has in its network over 400,000 providers nationwide.

The legal services part has over 20,000 participating lawyers. The auto plan has over 16,000 participating auto repair stations. There is an annual $40 membership fee, but the best part of this plan is what they call the AmeriDoc service. This is where you can call a doctor over the phone anytime, even in the middle of the night and get a consultation or a diagnosis and he will even call you in a prescription if you need one. There is no need to spend hours waiting in a doctor's office for a routine type of illness.

Ameriplan's hospital advocacy program lets you use any hospital of your choice and when you receive your bill, an advocate will negotiate with that hospital for up to an 80% reduction in your bill and will even negotiate payment arrangements for the remainder of what you owe. In many cases, this is a significantly higher savings than what a major medical plan would have to offer you.

Since this is not insurance, there is no waiting period. Benefits begin immediately. Ameriplan reports that individuals have called their company while they were sitting in a dentist chair and signed up to save on that very visit to the dentist. Many customers have claimed that the card literally paid for itself every month in the savings they received from things that they normally have to purchase every day.

ProVantage is another healthcare discount card, but this card offers only group benefits to employees. They offer similar services such as medical, dental, vision, chiropractic, prescriptions and entertainment discounts. You can only sign up for this discount card through your employer, so you can ask him/her if he/she offers a group healthcare discount card such as ProVantage. The monthly fee for each employee is $29.95 per month. Employers have the option of paying for part or all the monthly charge for these healthcare discount cards. This gives employers something to offer potential employees instead of the very high cost of offering insurance benefits.

If you can afford health insurance premiums and the out of pocket costs such as copays and deductibles, then this is the best way to go. However, if you're like most people who are struggling in an apparently recovering economy, you might consider the option of purchasing a healthcare discount card as a way to protect your family's health.

Ameriplan Healthcare Discount Card

If you are an insurance agent that sells group health insurance benefits and would like to offer ProVantage Healthcare Discount Card benefits to the businesses you already service, please visit this website:

ProVantage Benefits

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Essential Oils - Nature's Healers?

Is it possible that something as simple as the oil that is pressed out of a living plant can offer a complete healing from some of the worst physical ailments? It's possible.

According to millions of essential oil users, the oil from the pretty purple lavender flower aids in stress relief and insomnia. The oil from the basil leaf has been known to relieve sore muscles and improve breathing.

Oils from the cassia plant promote healthy digestion and improve immune system function. Supposedly, the clary sage leaf produces oils that help alleviate menstrual symptoms and balance hormone levels. The lovely white blossoms of the geranium flower produce oils that claim to clear skin, lessen anxiety and strengthen the liver.

But what about the science of all of this? According to nih.gov's website, Medline Plus, lavender oil is possibly effective for hair loss and developing research suggests using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight or on a gauze pad left beside the bed, might help some people with mild insomnia. That same website also states that some research suggests that adding 3 milliliters of a 20% lavender oil and 80% grapeseed oil mixture to daily baths produces small improvements in mood, compared with baths containing grapeseed oil alone.

Additionally, nih.gov reports that some research suggests that rubbing 2 or 3 drops of lavender oil on the upper lip, so that the vapor is inhaled, might reduce migraine pain and nausea, and help stop the headache from spreading. That sounds a lot like what millions of essential oil users are claiming.

What about basil oil? According to Dr. Madhukar Patil's (Ph.D. Chemistry Professor for the Institute of Science in Bombay, India for 30 years) website Organic Facts, "The health benefits of basil essential oil include its ability to treat nausea, motion sickness, indigestion, constipation, respiratory problems, and diabetes."

Another trusted scientific website, WebMD states that basil oil contains many chemicals and that it has been used for stomach problems, head colds and to improve circulation and kidney function. It even comments that basil has been used to fight warts. If it helps head colds, that would certainly improve breathing function.

With regard to cassia oil, nih.gov's website Medline Plus states that some studies suggested that cassia cinnamon oil might be effective for controlling type 2 diabetes. And WebMD reports that some research has found that a particular type of cinnamon, cassia cinnamon oil, may lower blood sugar in people with type II diabetes. Are diabetes and digestion connected? Makes sense.

As far the geranium flower oil, WebMD states that "some studies have shown that applying botanical oils such as geranium oil can reduce the pain of postherpetic neuralgia". This type of pain is a complication of shingles, an extremely painful condition resulting from having had the chicken pox as a child.

WebMD only attributes the improvement of digestive disorders and kidney disease to the consumption of clary sage oil, but says nothing about its ability to regulate hormones or alleviate menstrual symptoms. So the jury may still be out on that one as far as concrete medical evidence. But there seems to be enough people testifying to the health benefits of essential oils that it might be worth taking a look at.

Essential Oils - Get A Closer Look

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Can Exercise Keep You From Getting Sick? Enterovirus & Ebola Protection? Maybe...

The CDC has confirmed 628 infections in 44 states in the US from Enterovirus D68 and one death. It was a 4-year old child (Eli Waller) in Hamliton, New Jersey that died from the infection on September 25th.

Recently, the Florida Department of Health confirmed it's first case of Enterovirus D68 in the state. A 10-year old girl in Polk County was treated at Tampa General Hospital for 6 days back in September and then released. To date, there are 5 reported cases of Ebola now in the US.

With scary viruses running around out there like the Enterovirus D68 and Ebola, it makes you wish you could do something to protect yourself from sickness or create in yourself an immunity to these viruses. But we all get sick from time to time and so it feels like there is no way to prevent it. However, Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom comments in her book that there might be a way to prevent sicknesses or at least prevent their frequency.

She states that vigorous exercise greatly increases circulation in your body. This in turn creates an increase in white blood cells throughout your body. White blood cells are an important part of the immune system that fight off infectious disease and foreign invaders. With more white blood cells running around in your blood stream, the more likely they are to catch and destroy viruses and other germs that make you sick.

The US National Library of Medicine seems to agree with Dr. Northrup. It states on it's website (nlm.nih.gov), "Exercise sends antibodies and white blood cells (the body's defense cells) through the body at a quicker rate. As these antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, they could detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. The increased rate of circulating blood may also trigger the release of hormones that "warn" immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses."

Another theory revolving around exercise and sickness prevention is that exercise calms the mind and relieves stress. Prolonged or chronic stress is an enemy to the immune system, but the relieving of stress may give your immune system a boost. Here's why: When your body is under stress, your adrenal glands release hormones called adrenaline and cortisol to help you react to the stressful situation at hand. It's the fight or flight reaction.

While this is happening in your body, your brain tells other systems like the immune system and the digestive system among others to temporarily stop working so that your brain can concentrate on "fighting or flighting". Once the perceived "danger" has passed, body systems begin to return to normal. However, under a chronic stress situation, your body continues to suppress these systems. That's why your immune system doesn't function at optimum and you seem to get sick more often.

On a side note, your digestive system has trouble metabolizing your food efficiently during these chronic stress situations  as well and you may gain weight. Most people are familiar with the fact that excess cortisol (the stress hormone) causes extra belly fat. Extra weight can tax the body too, causing an impaired immune system. Exercise helps to burn off these stress hormones, relaxing the brain and boosting the immune system.

Symptoms for Enterovirus D68 are much like that of a cold except that fever might be higher, breathing can become labored, chest pain may be present and stools might be significantly softer. It is more common for children to become infected with Enterovirus D68 and possibly adults with asthma or compromised immune systems. The CDC highly urges everyone to wash their hands with soap and water frequently to help prevent the spread of this disease. It was noted that typical hand sanitizer is not affective in destroying the virus.

Exercising for 20 minutes a day can greatly increase blood circulation, heart health and apparently improve your immune system too.