Author Archives: Lindsay

Best and Worst States for Individual Health Insurance

Paying for individual health insurance premiums can be brutal.  For those that are self-employed, or cannot otherwise receive health insurance, this is quite a significant monthly expense.

Of course, location with insurance changes everything.  Sheryl Nance-Nash reports that the national average is at $215 per person for a monthly premium.  The most expensive states are as follows:

  1. Massachusetts: $437
  2. Vermont: $401
  3. New Jersey: $364
  4. New York: $357
  5. Rhode Island: $344

On the other side of the picture, those who have to get their own health insurance capture inexpensive rates in the following states:

  1. Alabama: $136
  2. California: $157
  3. Arkansas: $163
  4. Idaho: $167
  5. Delaware: $173

Health insurance shoppers should know that variations exist.  Shopping around is a must in any type of insurance, and it is certainly the case with health insurance.  Also, there may be ways to get around needing to purchase individual health insurance – it could be possible to be covered under a spouse’s health insurance plan.

Part of the battle exists with overall costs.  Using savings accounts, prescription cards, and other opportunities to save money can be extremely beneficial, as part of an overall strategy.

At Cake Health, health costs can be monitored for free.  Users can see how much they are paying for insurance, prescriptions, and everything else, along with helpful tools to keep track of payments and bills.  It is also a helpful tool to analyze one’s finances, seeing if any changes may be necessary.

Don’t fret if you have to pay for individual health insurance.  Shop around and remember that there are other ways to save money.

More Prescription Tips That Save Your Wallet

The smartest thing you can do when it comes to your health and medical purchases is to be an informed individual. Here are a few prescription tips to help you stay on top of what is going on in the world of pharmaceuticals.

Be Inquisitive

It is your right to ask your doctor why he/she is prescribing a certain medication for you to take. Ask them about how the medication will help you, if you really need it, what side effects it might cause, your risk factors for taking it and/or drug interactions that may occur. Your local pharmacist is a better resource for drug information.

Research

Tell your doctor you want to think before starting a new medication. You can get reliable information online from the drug manufacturer’s website. Doing your own research can surpass anything your doctor can tell you about medications. Doctors are not pharmacists and most of them only know the basics; dosages and standard data about drugs.

Costs and Coverage

You need to know what a prescription is going to cost you with or without insurance and/or Medicare.  Start by learning about your insurance formulary list in order to determine costs for medications. You need to know if the medication being prescribed to you is covered by your insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. You might want to find out about free prescription cards to help offset expenses.

Other good rules of thumb for being smart about your prescription medications include:

  • Verify the dosage and make sure it is clear to you.
  • Ask for a print-out of the side effects and general drug information at your pharmacy.
  • Make sure to find out if there are any special instructions for taking your medication. This can include things like avoiding or eating certain foods with it, whether it causes drowsiness or if you need any vitamins or supplements while taking it.
  • If you have problems swallowing pills ask for a liquid form if available. You may be able to crush them if they are not time-released making them easier to take.
  • Ask about the proper storage and get expiration information on the medication(s) you take.
  • Find out if there is a generic to save money. You may also be able to request a higher dose and adjust your dosage appropriately to save money (Sometimes insurance coverage will cover more for larger dosages of certain medications.).
  • Buying in bulk if/when you can might be a good way to save money.

You reserve the right to choose whether or not you take certain medications. Barring a life-threatening disease that requires medication, you have options. It is wise to be an informed patient and consumer for your health, quality of life and to save money.

Obamacare Offers Free Preventative Services For Women

Good news for all our lady friends! As of yesterday, 47 million women will get greater control over their healthcare without any out of pocket spending, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced.

According to a new HHS report also released today, approximately 47 million women are in health plans that must cover these new preventive services at no charge.  Women, not insurance companies, can now make health decisions that will keep them healthy, catch potentially serious conditions at an earlier state, and protect them and their families from crushing medical bills.

The new prevention-related services now offered are:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women

Obamacare has already helped women in private plans and Medicare access potentially life saving test and services without paying coinsurance or deductibles. With today’s announcement, insurance companies will now offer the above services without a copay. Additional benefits extend to women who are pregnant or nursing, such as gestational diabetes screening, breast-feeding support, counseling and supplies.

To learn more about the aforementioned health care services, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/prevention. 

5 Tips For Paying Off Large Hospital Bills

A majority of Americans are unable to pay for health insurance or obtain health insurance through any means. Sadly, this can often lead to expensive hospital bills that cause severe debt and worry. Paying off those bills for good doesn’t have to be such a hassle. It is absolutely possible to pay them off with proper budgeting. These five hospital bill tips will get you on the right track.

Look into A Hospitals Payment Plans

Hospitals are much more forgiving than credit card companies. This is good news for you. Hospitals may charge interest, but many don’t, especially if you are already a low-income patient. They just expect you to pay it off in a timely manner. For this reason, you can set up payment plans to help knock off the costs. Woohoo!

Negotiate Your Costs

It is possible to negotiate with a hospital for the services rendered. This is because there is a huge markup on the medical treatments. Everything from medication injections to exams cost many times more than what they are “worth.” Talk to people individually about reducing the total cost of each item on your bill. Don’t think it was fair for that shot of morphine to cost you $220? Convince someone to give you a deduction on the cost.

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15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy

When we talk about wellness on our blog, we usually refer to the physical aspects of healthy living: going to the dentist, finding a good pediatrician, etc. But wellness is more than taking care of your body – it’s also about taking care of your mind.

Nowadays, things move fast. We’re forced to learn new technology just in time to have it be replaced by the latest and greatest alternative, urged to make our mark on the world before settling down, told to work hard but also be patient. Everyone wants to give us their two cents on how to live well, and oftentimes we end up with information overload.

The other day, however, I came across an exceptional post titled, “15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy.” It’s been linked-to like crazy, so someone agrees with me. Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make for a happier life:

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How to Deal With Dental Care Billing

Going to the dentist isn’t something most people think about often. But when you need to have a root canal, it’s not just the teeth pulling that can leave you feeling sore. Without dental insurance, many Americans find their bills climbing into the thousands, and are unprepared to handle it. But insurance premiums can be very expensive, especially for the average middle class family. Even if you have insurance, there are some reports that it won’t do you a lot of good if you need a lot of work done in your mouth. So how can you prevent yourself from falling into a pit of debt due to unexpected dental care billing?

The solutions can range from complex to simple, and most rely on some form of planning. You’re going to have to look ahead.

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Insurance Carriers We Support

Things have been picking up at Cake. Since rolling out Version 2.0, we’ve received a heap of emails requesting integration with various insurance carriers, and that makes us want to bust a move and celebrate!

The unfortunate news, however, is that we are unable to roll out these integrations as quickly as the requests come in.  That being said, we will be announcing our next bundle of providers in the (very) near future, so keep your eyes peeled for your provider.

In the meantime, those with the following insurance carriers will be able to use CakeHealth:

 

If you’d like your payor to be first on our list of integrations, tell your friends! We are adding carriers on a need-basis, so the more that request, say Kaiser, the sooner it will come to Cake!  Thanks for your patience and understanding as we build out our product.

Version 2.0 Has Arrived

Over the past six months you’ve given us your feedback, taken our surveys and emailed us your product requests, and today we’re proud to announce that we’ve transformed many of your suggestions into new features and functionality. Thanks to your input, CakeHealth Version 2.0 is here to help you better manage those medical bills!

Among the improvements we’ve rolled out are the following:

Year-by-year health spending comparison - One of the most common requests we received this year is the ability to compare current spending to previous years in order to better understand where your money is going.  So now you can! In the Analysis section of the Dashboard you’ll be able to go back as far as your claims allow and get a clear picture of what you paid versus what your insurance covered.

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Put Down The Burger Or Pay The Price

New research from Duke University and the CDC suggests that severe obesity could have a considerable effect on health costs in coming years, WebMD Health News reports.

According to the study, by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese and 11 percent will be severely obese. If prediction turned reality, health care costs would see an increase in millions of dollars due to a rise in heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other related conditions. Obesity-related ailments already account for 9 percent of U.S. health costs — or $147 billion a year, according to WebMD.

The news isn’t all bad, however. Adult obesity numbers, though still unhealthful, seem to be leveling off. Earlier obesity estimates predicted that 51 percent of the population would be overweight by 2030.

So maybe we’re already getting the message.

“If Americans could become no more obese than we were in 2010,” WebMD says, “the U.S. would save $549.5 billion over the next two decades.”

But that still leaves stark numbers on the other side of the spectrum. Based on BMI (body mass index), 1 in 20 Americans is considered severely obese. At the rate we’re going, that number will rise to 1 in 10 by 2030.

The messages — and the worrisome predictions — are out there. Now it’s up to individual efforts to improve personal health, exercise and eating habits.

If nothing else, maybe we’ll do it for the money.

Doctor Appointments for Every Decade

If you’ve been on top of your apple a day in hopes of keeping the doctor away, I’ve got some unfortunate news for you: like it or not your butt is bound to get back on that table!

Visits to the doc are an essential part of good health, so embrace it, mark your calendar and remember these important appointments that come each decade:

IN YOUR 20s

Primary care physician.  Every year you should make a visit to your primary care physician. Think of this yearly appointment as a time and money saver; the earlier health issues are detected, the better (for both your health and wallet).  The checkup should include a screening for problems such as gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer and diabetes.

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A Few Not-So-Innocent Supplements

According to a recent article in AARP magazine, “When Supplements Become Dangerous,” taking dietary supplements can wreak havoc when combined with certain medical prescriptions.

“There are over 5,300 distinct dietary supplements, and very few of them have been studied systematically,” notes Vanessa Grubbs, M.D. and expert in kidney disease at San Francisco General Hospital. Newly diagnosed kidney patients should tell their doctors if they are taking any supplements, as some might adversely affect any drugs the doctor prescribes, says Grubbs.

It’s tough to know what’s really inside those supplements because although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the industry, the FDA doesn’t adhere to the same guidelines it uses for medications.

What’s worse is that FDA approval isn’t needed by the supplement manufacturers before they release their products. Yikes!

A doctor’s approval for taking supplements is a must, particularly for people with hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease or liver problems. The article references a list of potentially dangerous supplements in a 2010 issue of Consumer Reports:

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Long-Term Vs. Short-Term Medical Insurance

Preparing for unexpected life changes is a necessity. Most people are not prepared for sudden illnesses or accidents which put them out of work. Depending upon the situation, some people may not be able to return to work, which is why preparation is key.  In these instances, investing in short-term and long-term insurance will reduce a significant amount of financial stress.

Short-Term Medical Insurance

Short-term insurance usually starts after a person has been at their job and enrolled in the program for about a year. It is important to speak with your employer’s health care benefits coordinator to find out when you are eligible to participate. Most short-term insurance policies will cover time out for childbirth and months home with the new born. Short-term insurance also provide financial relief due to an accident, illness or minor surgery. Most people need this steady flow of income to keep paying household bills and health care costs. Obviously short-term disability will eventually reach its course, and that is when long-term disability will replace it.

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Health Benefits of Yoga (Besides A Rockin’ Bod)

Over the past several years, yoga has seen a dramatic increase in popularity in western culture.  In major cities, studios are popping up on every block and men and women are getting hooked on the practice.  But exactly what is it that makes yoga so appealing?

Apart from the transformative toning effect it has on the body, yoga has an infinite number of benefits which improve the mind, body and (yes, really) the soul.  While some consider it a form of exercise, others consider it to be a powerful form of alternative medicine.

No matter how you view the practice, however, its positive effects cannot be ignored:

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How to Haggle a Lower Medical Bill

For those that are uninsured, getting sick can be a nightmare. Even worse if you realize that you need a costly procedure that you cannot afford at the moment. But even those with insurance often struggle coming up with the funds to pay off the remaining balance that their health coverage did not cover.

Just like with most businesses however, patients can negotiate lower medical bills if they go about it the right way. In fact, statistics show that only a mere 13 percent of Americans even attempt to negotiate reduce bills. But those that do try are generally successful. That said, to learn how to haggle your medical expenses, continue reading below.

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Big Data in Healthcare: Easier Said Than Done?

In 2011, IDC predicted the that size of data or the “digital universe” would increase by 48% in 2012, accelerating the innovation of in-memory databases and analytic functionality.  Since then, everyone’s been talkin’ about big data:  what it means and how it will shape US industries like healthcare.

“Healthcare organizations around the world are challenged by pressures to reduce costs, improve coordination and outcomes, provide more with less and be more patient centric,” explains a recent report by IBM.

The solution? Building analytics competency which would allow these organizations to use “big data” to set goals and produce better outcomes more quickly.

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