Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Health First Insurance Offers Diabetes Foot Clinics

Florida’s Health First Insurance Wound Management Center is offering foot screenings for free to anyone with Diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association states that diabetes patients may suffer from poor circulation in the legs and feet. They also may have a harder time fighting infection in these areas. Many diabetes patients have reduced feeling in the lower extremities because of nerve damage. These risks increase the chance of infection which could ultimately lead to amputation.

The serious risks associated with Diabetes has lead Health First Insurance to offer weekly Diabetes Foot Check Clinics. The free screen by a physician includes reviewing foot circulation, temperature, sensation, toenails, and open sores. Patient education and recommendations are also provided all free of charge.

To receive more information on the clinics, visit Health First Health Plans’ website.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Health Insurance: Republican Bill Introduced

A health reform bill was introduced by the Republican Party giving tax payers credit for purchasing health insurance. It didn't include a public insurance choice.

The Patients' Choice Act would halt tax cuts for companies that offer health insurance and give tax credits to those purchasing their own health insurance. More money would be given to lower income families. The Republicans intend to make it easier to shop around for health insurance and assume company-based health insurance is going away as more benefits are taken away and it becomes more and more expensive for the employee.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Importance of Health Insurance Coverage

Many Americans have health insurance through their employers. But as the economy struggles and the working world changes, employment is no longer a health insurance guarantee. America continues to move from a manufacturing based economy to a service economy and working patterns are evolving. This, in turn has made employer based health insurance less stable.

Many small employers cannot afford to offer health benefits. And of the companies who do offer health benefits, many are charging the employee more of the cost. Because of these factors, many Americans are choosing to not take advantage of job based health insurance. But having coverage is still as important as ever. Everyone should have health insurance with basic benefits at a minimum.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Health Insurance and Gender

Health insurance carriers tend to charge women higher rates than men, making the argument that women have higher medical costs. This has been questioned by Congress recently and it may change.

A bill was introduced by Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry that would prohibit the health insurance industry from charging women more than men. This could be the push needed to get health insurers to take gender out of the equation when determining premiums.

It's important to ensure you have the best health insurance rate, and through comparison shopping online you can quickly and easily see what is available. Visit http://www.comparehealthrates.com/ to begin your quotes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Many Businesses Calling For Health Insurance Reform

A Reuters article by Donna Smith reports that businesses throughout America are in favor of some type of health insurance reform. Employers claim that they are at a disadvantage globally; they typically have to provide health insurance to their employees (while not legally required, it's a generally accepted inevitability for most large employers), as opposed to most industrialized nations that provide government-subsidized health care. Major economic competitors (United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, France, and Germany) were found to spend 63 cents for every $1 America spends on health care, while fast-developing economies like China, India, and Brazil spend only 15 cents per dollar.

The Business Roundtable, a consortium of the largest U.S. companies, worries that American companies will be less able to survive the recession as a result of these disparities in health care costs. They also point to evidence that employees in the United States are less healthy than those in other nations! Unhealthier employees could end up being less efficient.

Recommendations by the group are similar some proposed by the Barack Obama administration, including health insurance mandates and the use of technology to increase efficiency and decrease the cost of care. The Business Roundtable opposes dominant government-run health insurance plans, but supports some public aid for those unable to afford insurance.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Obama Picks Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius The Associated Press' Richard Alonzo-Zaldivar reports that President Barack Obama has chosen Kansas Governor and Democrat Kathleen Sebelius as his Secretary of Health and Human Services. She is a former state insurance commissioner who is knowledgeable about the complexities surrounding health care and insurance issues and is known for her ability to reach across the aisle to accomplish goals. 

However, she does not have as many connections in Congress as former nominee Tom Daschle. As a result, Obama is also planning to name a seperate person as the head of a White House health care reform department; Daschle was set to fill both posts simultaneously. She also has to be confirmed by Congress, which seems likely due to the support she has recieved from both consumer advocates and the health insurance industry.

HHS is responsible for both federal government-sponsored health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Part of Sebelius' job will be to solve the problem of Medicare's dwindling finances and inefficiency while still expanding health care coverage to more Americans.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Q&A: Health Care and the Obama Budget

President Obama has announced his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, and health care is a major priority. Robert Pear details the budget in The New York Times. Here are some answers to questions you may have about health insurance and the budget.

Q: How will he expand medical coverage to the uninsured?
A: Details are vague right now; he says he'll discuss it with Congress over the next year. He has called for a $634 billion reserve fund to be set aside for that purpose.

Q: Is there increased funding for medical research in the budget?
A: Yes; $6 billion will go to the National Institutes of Health for cancer research, and he aims to eventually double that amount. More funding will also go to the Food and Drug Administration to speed up research that will allow cheaper generic drugs to reach the market faster.

Q: Are there any provisions specific to women's health?
A: The budget would expand eligibility for family planning services (e.g. birth control) to women on Medicaid.

Q: How will health care reform be paid for?
A: Obama plans to cut spending over the next decade in certain areas to cover it:
  1. Requiring pharmaceutical companies to give greater discounts to Medicaid (22% instead of the current 15%)
  2. Reducing Medicare payments to health insurance companies that provide comprehensive care, such as Medicare Advantage plans
  3. Cutting payments to home health agencies
  4. Giving hospitals "bundled payments" that cover care provided by home health agencies and nursing homes for the following month after they leave the hospital, in addition to the hospital's care itself. Payments will be cut to hospitals that re-admit too many of their patients during the first 30 days.
  5. Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes will see their prescription drug coverage premiums increase.
Q: About how much money will that free up in total?
A: Obama's estimates claim that those provisions will save at least $239 billion.

Q: What about doctors and Medicare? Will their payments be cut?
A: It seems like they won't be. Even though current laws call for a reduction in payments, sources say that Congress will make sure that doctors are not affected.

Keep in mind that this budget probably won't pass as is and will likely see significant changes when debated by Congress. Not to mention, various lobbyist groups have already expressed their opposition to some of these proposals.

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