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Why You Should Get Your Blood Pressure Checked Monthly

Knowing what blood pressure is will help you to understand why it should be checked on a regular, if not monthly basis.

In a nutshell, blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your heart is working to circulate blood and oxygen around your body. If your heart is not exerting enough pressure, blood and oxygen will not be able to travel to all the places it needs to in the body. To determine how hard your heart is working, medical professionals measure blood pressure. Blood pressure is determined by two sets of numbers. Systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. The average or goal for adults is somewhere in the range of 90/60 and 120/80.

Understanding the Readings…

Systolic pressure:
Systolic pressure or the top number measures the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. When this number is high, it signals that the heart is working too hard and is over-exerting itself and should be monitored closely by a medical professional to help prevent heart damage, heart attack, or stroke.

In some people, it is natural or considered baseline for the systolic pressure to be low, under the range of 90. If the systolic pressure drops suddenly and is not a normal reading/baseline reading, it could be a sign of the heart not being able to work hard enough to get blood to the body and organs. This can be extremely damaging to the body and should be taken care of immediately by a physician.

Diastolic pressure:
Diastolic pressure is the bottom number. This number measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats. If this pressure is high, it could signal an increased risk of a cardiac event and you should seek the assistance of a medical doctor immediately.

If the diastolic pressure is low, it could be an indication of a serious medical disorder and you should seek medical attention right away.

Warning signs.
Both high and low blood pressure has subtle or no symptoms. It can creep on slowly over time making the symptoms harder to identify. Or, a change in blood pressure can come on suddenly. Both indicate changes that need to be seriously looked at. Below are some symptoms of high and low blood pressure that you should be aware of:

High blood pressure or hypertension symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart attack
  • Chest pain

Low blood pressure symptoms:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration

Extreme low blood pressure known as hypotension can result in life-threatening conditions. Signs and symptoms to look for in this case include things like:

  • Confusion, especially in older people
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Weak and rapid pulse

The best way to monitor your blood pressure and understand what your baseline or normal range is, is to get is checked monthly. Many drug stores and grocery stores have blood pressure machines available for you to use whenever needed. If you are concerned about the accuracy of those machines, consider investing in a personal machine for your home. These types of machines are small, portable, and easy to store.

Regardless of the type of machine you choose to use, it is best to follow these tips:

  • Check blood pressure monthly
  • Record readings each time
  • Remain calm during the reading
  • Note extreme changes and call your doctor immediately
  • Be consistent in the time of day you take your blood pressure
  • Follow and understand the instructions of the blood pressure machine before attempting to get an accurate reading

Remember, symptoms can be difficult to detect which is why many call heart disease and cardiac events a silent killer. Be proactive. Download my blood pressure tracker to help stay on top of any changes that may occur with your blood pressure.

Download my blood pressure tracker HERE.

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What is a Catastrophic Plan and are you Eligible?

When selecting health insurance during open enrollment, you may decide to select a “Catastrophic Plan.”  To do so, you must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for this type of plan.

Defining a Catastrophic Plan

Catastrophic health insurance plans have low monthly premiums and very high deductibles. They may be an affordable way to protect yourself from worst-case health scenarios, like getting seriously sick or injured.

Most routine medical expenses are paid by you if you elect this type of plan.

You are only eligible for this plan if:

You are under 30 OR you are of any age and you have a hardship exemption or affordability exemption. These exemptions are based on Marketplace or job-based insurance is unaffordable.

What’s Covered?

  • Catastrophic plans cover the same essential health benefits as other Marketplace plans.
  • Catastrophic plans cover certain preventive services at no cost.
  • Catastrophic plans cover at least 3 primary care visits per year before you’ve met your deductible.

How much do they cost?

  • Monthly premiums for this type of plan are usually low,
  • Deductibles:  Deductibles are the amount you have to pay on your own for most services before the plan starts to pay anything.  These can be very high for this type of plan.  For example, the deductible for this plan during 2017, for all Catastrophic plans is $7,150. After you spend that amount, your insurance company pays for all covered services, with no copayment or coinsurance.

This can be very confusing and it may be difficult to make the best choice for you and your family.  The good news is, I am here to help!  Let me help guide you through the open enrollment process this year so that you can make an informed decision.

Schedule your FREE consultation by calling:  (813) 391-3448


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Making Open Enrollment An Easy Process

Open enrollment for 2018 health insurance coverage is right around the corner.  The enrollment dates are November 1, 2017, through to December 15, 2017.  All health insurance coverage, decisions, and selections you make during the open enrollment period will be valid beginning January 1, 2018.

Before open enrollment begins on November 1, 2017, there are some things you will want to gather before you speak with a qualified agent.  Your agent will need to know who will be covered under your plan and the type of insurance required.  

Below is a comprehensive list of the items you will need in order to make a sound and educated decision on your health care coverage.  

If you already are covered then it’s very easy. You just need to advise your agent if any of the items below have changed over the past year.

Pre-Open Enrollment Checklist:

  • Household size:  Make a list of the people in your household that will be needing health insurance during 2018
  • Current mailing address for everyone who is applying for coverage
  • Birth dates for all household members
  • Social security numbers for everyone who will be getting coverage
  • Information about how you file your taxes
  • Estimate of what your household income will be for 2018
  • A list of any major life changes for each member of your household getting coverage such as  Marriage, Income, Moving, Births, Divorce, etc.

After you have gathered all of the information listed above, call a health insurance agent who is well versed in the Affordable Care Act and understands the laws that surround it. If you do not have an agent and need help in making the best healthcare coverage decisions for you and your family, I am here to help!  Schedule your FREE consultation by calling:  (813) 391-3448


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Do you really need an annual well visit and why is it so important?

What is the purpose of an annual well visit?

Your annual well visit or check up is something you should have each and every year.  Why?  Because it gives both you and your physician a baseline reading of your overall health while you are symptom free.  Having this baseline measurement can help your doctor detect potential health concerns before they progress – think of it as a warning system for your overall health. 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

What can you expect during your annual well visit?

You can expect your physician to check the following during your next well visit

  • Health history
  • Height measurement
  • Weight measurement
  • Blood pressure reading
  • Body mass index assessment (BMI)
  • Counseling for obesity
  • Skin cancer and safety
  • Depression screening

During the overall visit with your doctor, he or she will determine if there is a need for additional tests, lab work, x-rays and other medially appropriate health screenings based on what the baseline measures report.

Embrace the opportunity you have to go for an annual well visit every year.  These visits can help you avoid potentially serious health conditions.  They can also provide early diagnosis for diseases that can be easily treatable if caught early enough – things like diabetes.  Allowing health concerns like diabetes to go unchecked for a prolonged amount of time can do serious, irreversible damage.

Curious to know how the Affordable Care Act’s annual check up has helped real people?  Check out the stories below!

All names have been changed.

Rich had not had a checkup in many years and after getting insurance for the first time in as many years he went for a checkup.  The doctor saw something irregular on his EKG and sent Rich for further testing. Turns out Rich had a blockage in a small artery and needed a procedure to open it up.  What was an outpatient procedure could have been life threatening if it went on undiscovered.

Samantha has had insurance for many years but had not had a checkup in about 4 years.  When she went this past February a small nodule was found in her breast that needed further study.  The nodule turned out to be nothing to worry about but its very important to have these things checked.

Don also had insurance for many years and had not been to a doctor in about 5 years.  After showing the doctor a mark on his leg, the doctor sent him for additional tests.  The spot turned out to be skin cancer that was easily removed at the stage that it was in.  Had it gone on longer, it could have been an issue.

Tips to make your upcoming well visit productive:

  • Be very specific when you call to schedule your appointment – indicate that you need an appointment for your annual well visit
  • Make sure the doctor’s office codes your visit properly so you do not get charged erroneously
  • If you think you have been charged incorrectly, ask to see the codes your doctor’s office uses for well visits
  • Make a list of questions and concerns you would like addressed during your visit
  • Know what is included in your annual well visit – visit a blog post I wrote earlier this year that outlines what is included HERE

Here’s to continued health!


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Healthcare and The Incoming Administration

The attached article – Donald Trump Walks Back His Stance On Obamacare shows a possible change in direction of the incoming administration and it’s not totally unexpected.


YOCG Tuesday 2 2 16 CANVAThere are so many people covered by insurance now that were never covered before it would almost be impossible to unwind what’s already been done and put something else in place that does not look like just about the same thing.  You know that old saying…if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…its a duck.   Maybe its a Trump duck instead of an Obama duck….but its still a duck.  
 

The affordable care act (Obamacare) was based on a few core principles. The most important ones in my opinion are…

1. No one should be turned down for any pre-existing medical condition

2. People who could not afford insurance would get subsidies or some kind of assistance to help with the cost

3. Everyone would be required to have insurance that consists of what is called MEC (Minimum Essential Coverage). This is also called the “Individual mandate”

It’s these principles that define Obamacare. Everything else in my opinion, surrounds these principles and if changed, really does not effect the basic core principles.  Some examples of things that could be changed that would lower the cost of coverage to most people include….

 – Should pregnancy coverage be included in all policies?

 – Should mental health coverage be included in all policies?

 – Should rehab coverage be included in all policies?

YOCG Tuesday 11 24 15 CANVAMaybe these coverage’s should be options like when you buy a car.  Everyone gets the basic car but if you want a radio it’s extra, if you want bigger tires it’s extra, if you want a sunroof it’s extra, you get the point.

I think we need to bring healthcare coverage back to its original intent, to cover you for what you want to be covered for and not what the government says that you should be covered for.  Of course everyone should have at least basic well-care and hospitalization coverage but should everyone have to pay for all the options? 

Read the article HERE


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Open Enrollment & Obamacare Changes YOU Need to Know About!

Healthcare Open Enrollment is RIGHT Around the Corner! 

There are LOTS of Changes YOU Need to Know About!

yocg-tuesday-9-6-16-canvaHealthcare open enrollment begins on November 1, 2016 and runs until January 31, 2017 and it won’t be business as usual.  There will be several carrier changes for 2017. 

Before we get into the specific changes, there are some dates you need to put on your calendar for the open enrollment period:

  • November 1, 2016:  Open Enrollment Begins
  • December 15, 2016:  Meet this enrollment deadline to ensure coverage begins on January 1, 2017
  • December 31, 2016:  Coverage ends on this date.  If you have NO changes to your plan, your plan will be auto-renewed
  • January 31, 2017:  This is the VERY LAST day you can apply for 2017 healthcare coverage

If you miss these deadlines, you cannot enroll again until November 1, 2017 unless you have special “life event” changes take place.  Life event changes include:  having a baby or losing your job.

Did you know?

If you do not enroll in Obamacare or have an approved form of health insurance during 2017, you will be fined 2.5% of your income or $695 per adult – whichever is higher.  Please note that the amounted listed is only an estimation as the higher 2017 dollar amount has not been released as of yet.

Those living at poverty levels can enroll at any time in the Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).  These programs do not have a specific enrollment period or timeframe to adhere to.  Please note, there are some restrictions to adhere to such as income restrictions.

Changes…

yocg-wednesday-9-1-16-canvaAt the beginning of this article, I noted there were going to be changes in the Florida Marketplace.  There will be some carriers leaving and some new additions too!

Let’s first say good-bye to:

  • United-Healthcare
  • Aetna

Say Hello to:

  • Cigna – they exited the Florida Exchange in 2015 but are coming back in 2017
  • Molina – They are expanding from South Florida to the Tampa Bay area
  • Harken Health (a subsidiary of United Healthcare) is planning to enter the exchange in the Miami and and Fort Lauderdale area

Of Note:

Humana plans to scale back it’s participation in the Marketplace but will remain in the Florida Exchange system. 

Other changes coming down the pike in 2017 include rate changes that have not been approved by the state yet.   

Other Obamacare changes people can expect to see in 2017 are:

MORE INFO!

When you select a healthcare plan, there are usually two things you ask:

1)  How much is it going to cost me

2)  Is my doctor or the hospital I prefer in my plan

A common complaint last year was inaccurate doctor and hospital information.  The new rules mandate that:

  • Insurance providers are required to give consumers a 30-day notice when a doctor is being removed from a network
  • If a doctor/provider is being removed from a network and a patient is in active care/treatment with the physician being removed, the insurance company must allow for up to 90 days treatment under the physician’s care

Reduction in “Surprise” medical bills from out-of-network providers

Many patients have complained about receiving unexpected invoices and bills from out-of-network doctors, even when the patient thought the doctor was in network.  The new rule calls for:

  • Ancillary care amounts to be applied towards a patient’s yearly out of pocket maximum expenses

Note, this rule only applies to those instances where the insurer has not given patients the correct notification that they will be receiving care from individuals outside of the network.  The general rule is that a patient must be notified that they will receive care from an out of network provider within 48 hours.

Better Explanation of Out-Of-Pocket Expenses/Costs

During 2017, insurers are to offer plans with a standard set of coverage costs (deductibles and copays).  With this information easily attainable, the patients will better understand the out-of-pocket fees associated with the plan they select.

Do you have specific questions about open enrollment and how the 2017 marketplace changes could affect you?  Contact me, Your Obamacare Guy!  I can be reached at:  (813) 391-3448 or email address:  dave@YourObamacareGuy.com


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Emergency Room VS Walk -In Clinic and Your Insurance

Emergency Room VS Walk -In Clinic and Your Insurance

YOCG Tuesday 1 5 2016We all like options right?  Today we have lots of options when it comes to healthcare.  We can choose our doctor from a list of network physicians, select generic prescriptions versus brand name, and we can even choose whether or not we want to go to the Emergency Room or a Walk-In Clinic in urgent but non life-threatening circumstances.  The last option may mean a big difference in dollars you need to pay!  Read on to learn more!

 

Lower Copays
If you had the opportunity to pay lower copays, would you jump at the chance?  I know I would!  Did you know that your may have the opportunity for lower copays if you choose to get care at an in-network walk-in clinic instead of an emergency room?  That’s right!  Your insurance may reward you with a lower copay when you elect to get treatment in a walk-in clinic rather than an ER for non life threatening illnesses or injuries.  In some instances, you may only need to pay $25 to $50 in copay fees when visiting an in network walk-in clinic as opposed to thousands of dollars in Emergency Room bills.

What Type of Services Can You Expect From A Walk-In Clinic?

You may be surprised at the vast amount of services a Walk-In Clinic or Urgent Care facility can provide.  Check out our table below for details of what may be treated in an urgent care facility.

Urgent Care Services

Emergency Room Fees Add Up…Quickly!

YOCG Tuesday 2 2 16 CANVAEmergency room fees tend to add up fast, even before you get there, especially if an ambulance was called.  Depending on your insurance, you could be charged anywhere from as low as $25 but as high as $1,200.

Once you arrive to the Emergency Room, there is a chance that you will need x-rays, special diagnostic testing, medicine and more. Below is my list of tips for monitoring your emergency room bill:

  • Make sure you have a trusted friend or family member with you to help you do some legwork
  • Ask for an itemized list of your bill and scrutinize it for procedures not done or medication not given
  • Talk to the billing department.  Find out if there are different sets of costs for procedures done and select one that fits your budget if you can
  • Discuss a payment plan.  Typically hospitals do not want a bill to go to collection agencies.  See if they will work out a reasonable payment plan with you
  • Discover if there are financial aid programs available to you or if there are any not-for-profit organizations that can help with paying the bill

When Should You Go To An Emergency Room?

Some conditions that should be seen by an Emergency Room staff include:

  • Severe chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Compound fracture (bone protrudes through skin)
  • Convulsions, seizures or loss of consciousness
  • Fever in newborn (less than 3 months old)
  • Heavy, uncontrollable bleeding
  • Deep knife wounds or gunshot wounds
  • Moderate to severe burns
  • Poisoning
  • Serious head, neck or back injury
  • Pregnancy-related problems
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • (Signs of) Heart attack (i.e.. chest pain lasting longer than two minutes)
  • (Signs of)Stroke (e.g. loss of vision, sudden numbness, weakness, slurred speech, or confusion)
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings

When in doubt, get to the nearest emergency room and get the treatment you need.

Before an emergency happens, take the time to understand your policy and what is included and required during an emergency

If you have questions about your coverage and need assistance understanding your policy, contact me, Your Obamacare Guy at (813) 391-3448 or dave@YourObamacareGuy.com.  It is my pleasure to help people get the coverage they need to live the healthiest life possible!