Medical Insurance

Do you have medical bills you need to pay? There are many people in this situation, and medical bills can be very, very expensive, especially for those citizens without medical insurance. If you find yourself in a medical bill pickle, just remember there are ways to tread water and even get out of the debt without being scathed! In this blog post I will explain how to, first of all, avoid the debt you could get into from a medical encounter, and second of all how to deal with any type of debt, especially medical once it is accrued.  With all that being said let’s go ahead and look at how to avoid said debt!

 

Firstly, as I said, the main priority is to avoid the debt. Debt and borrowing money is a tricky concept full of pros and cons, and before any major financial decision it is important to consult your accountant. However, once you are sure you need to pay for something necessary, it is important to have savings in place to help you out great with the debt you could be accruing. The bigger the down payment you can make on a loan, the less your interest will accrue, and the less you will have to pay in the long wrong. If you can pay the whole payment in one go, without having to take out a loan, that would be even better, Owing money means you interest is adding up, and this also means you will be living and working to pay this debt off until it’s over. The other very important aspect is insurance–if you can get a good insurance package, either through your work or through federal programs, the less debt you will have to worry about, especially medically.

 

Next, if you do go into debt for medical bills or otherwise, the best thing you can do is keep in contact with the lender you worked with to obtain the loan. Let them know what your situation is, and answer their questions honestly. Most lenders will help you as far as meeting you where you are with monthly payments, even though your interest will keep accruing. Another way to save is to choose Norton Antivirus to save big on protecting your technology.

 

 

 

Medical Bill Help: Compare Healthcare Costs Before Proceeding With Treatment

The costs of medical and health care services have been rising steadily for many years, and American consumers are feeling the pinch in a big way. Many American individuals and families are now facing extremely high medical debts, some of them for fairly routine or minor health care procedures or treatments. With the private insurance system looking to offset costs, and very little in the way of a safety net for consumers, medical bankruptcy threatens many thousands of families each year.

Now, medical advocates are telling American patients to go a step further than many of them are accustomed to: new guidelines from experts in the industry suggest that consumers should be asking medical providers about how much a certain procedure, treatment or even a consultation may cost before they ever step in the door of the medical office.

Barriers to Asking Questions About Healthcare Services

In prior times, most patients were not used to asking their doctors what something would cost – there was a kind of intuitive understanding that since medical care is something that nobody wants to skimp on, it’s not a situation where prices can be negotiated. Over time, that led up to a system where insurance plans, largely those provided by group employers, covered major costs, leaving a patient with a straightforward co-pay or deductible that would represent their total financial responsibility.

These days, even a group plan doesn’t protect the average consumer from receiving extremely expensive medical bills after getting nearly any kind of health care service. Larger co-pays, larger deductibles and co-insurance mean looming costs for many Americans as medical costs continue to skyrocket and other issues like deceptive out of network charging leave many patients with much more debt than they thought they were going to incur when they arrived at a hospital or other facility.

Can Americans Shop for Health Care?

What new reports are showing is that the best way to shop around for health care is to ask your insurance company. Most of the efforts at cataloging the various rates that different providers charge for services are done by big insurers like CIGNA, Anthem Blue Cross, and other multi-state insurance companies. Patients can also ask their insurance company which providers have a contractual plan that forces them to charge a certain set price for a given medical service.

Over time, this trend will probably continue, to the point where American patients routinely ask their insurance company to help them shop. For most enrolled members, the insurance company has a vested interest in that person getting the cheapest medical care possible. While these kinds of partnerships between private insurers and individual patients can help both parties to rack up less medical debt for the same kinds of treatments and procedures, there’s also a great need for more patient education, where consumer advocates are standing in for states and the federal government when it comes to providing fixes for a problem that is challenging the majority of American families today.

In Support of Modern Medical People

As anyone who has visited my website can easily see, I am a strong advocate of alternative and non-modern medicine. If one didn’t know me, they might even think that I am against modern medicine, hospitals, the American Medical Association (AMA), doctors and even against the often well-meaning organizations with which they are affiliated.

While I feel that many in power of such private and governmental organizations are culpable, discourage and even block patient’s wellness and recovery from ill health, I believe that the vast majority of MDs genuinely care for their patients and would do anything within their power (short of being tossed out of their expensive and hard-earned profession) to help us in anyway that they can.

In my experience, I have enjoyed the services of many fine modern medical practitioners. Perhaps, because I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I have had occasion to visit more doctors than most people. In so doing, I have always been greeted and treated with utmost warmth and sincerity. I normally come away from such encounters with respect for and appreciation of the modern medical practitioner. They are good people.

Others, with a diverse range of medical conditions and disabilities, report pretty much the same concerned treatment in their communications with me.

As for the modern medical staff, assistants, technicians, nurses, receptionists, and support attendants, these are “Great” people! Never have I encountered a rude or insincere paraprofessional. Not even a telephone appointments receptionist. Being a deaf guy, to boot, I feel that is indeed remarkable. These wonderful professionals in their own right would have given me the clothes off their own backs, if it had not been a requirement that I strip or wear a gown. I love them, each and every one.

It is the pharmacological industry that I have issues with, and not the pleasant and victimized people under their power. It is they, the drug house power brokers that do pretty much what I recall a Senator saying of the international bankers and of the Federal Reserve in another time. On the floor of the senate, the senator rose to charge, “In this dark crew of financial scoundrels, are those who would cut a man’s throat to get a dollar out of his pocket. There are those who send money into states, to buy votes, and to control legislatures.” Does this sound a little like the legal drug lords? It does to me.

Those people involved in the practice of modern medicine have spent long hours in preparation of their own medical practice. Such has been necessary to gain their expertise, skills, and proficiency in administering good patient care. Too late, some even realize that they are powerless to influence the actions of the leaders of their own professions. Yet they have to earn a living too. I feel that they do the best they can under the circumstances.

This does not take away from alternative, complimentary and traditional medical advocates and/or practitioners who have chosen the more difficult, yet ultimately more rewarding path to improved patient health. Abused and accused as they are by the purveyors of pharmaceuticals, Naturopaths, Chiropractors, Herbalists, Homeopaths and “alternative” medicinal professionals are often a viable alternative to modern medicine because they can often achieve healing for their patients via natural and herbal methods, rather than by surgical and/or pharmacological means.

These people are purveyors of traditional medicine, their traditions stem back to Plato and Aristotle, as do the traditions of the modern medical professionals, but the modernists have stepped out of their traditional role. Traditionally, medical practitioners were involved with healing the individual.

Today, medical practitioners, despite their well-meaning intentions, are so governed by the drug houses that their traditional methods have been cast aside by the determination of the drug houses to increase their profits at the expense of the sick. The drug houses have even gone to the extent of forcing legislation upon us that says: Only drugs and surgery can cure disease. Sadly, this is what the modern medical practitioner has to live with.

Even so, I publish this brief article in support of the modern medical “People.”

Be Your Own Medical Advocate

I had been having many medical issues starting at the age of 27 that not any one doctor could really put their finger on and definitively diagnose. I was told by a handful of doctors, what they thought was wrong. I ended up hearing things that ranged from being pre-menopausal to slightly depressed. I even ended up seeing a psychologist to be sure it wasn’t depression. How silly is that? In February of 2007 I ended up seeing a surgeon in University of Penn in Philadelphia. I was told I had to have my thyroid removed due to a goiter. Naturally, being in shock, I go home and research the thyroid function and read all the information I can about it. I then begin to research what it will be like living without my thyroid and what the changes in my body are going to be. What I found is that all of the research and all of the knowledge in the world couldn’t even begin to prepare me for the journey I was about to take.

For any of you who are not familiar with the thyroid or its function, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. It’s a butterfly shaped gland that sits in your neck, right in front of your trachea. Its main job is to produce thyroid hormone. These hormones are chemicals secreted by the gland to act like messengers telling specific body parts what to do such as regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, proper brain function, and most importantly, convert food into energy. The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine. These cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are then released into the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy). Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. The normal thyroid gland produces about 80% T4 and about 20% T3, however, T3 possesses about four times the hormone “strength” as T4.

Without proper thyroid function, you can expect to see these symptoms:

• Fatigue and weakness
• Low basal temperature (cold intolerance)
• Dry and coarse skin
• Hair loss
• Cold hands and feet
• Weight gain
• Insomnia
• Constipation
• Depression
• Poor memory, forgetfulness
• Nervousness and tremors
• Immune system problems
• Heavy menstrual periods.

The awful thing about having a thyroid issue, is that all of the symptoms of which I had, could have absolutely been menopause or depression. Any and all of these symptoms go hand in hand with many different issues, but today, most doctors will immediately jump to depression first, without looking deeper into the issues. This is how I was NOT diagnosed for years with a thyroid issue.

I was told that after the surgery by an endocrinologist that I would be able to live a pretty normal life while taking thyroid medication for the rest of my life. Part of the research I had done prior to my surgery was about the different thyroid medications on the market today, most of which are synthetic. I did, however, find that there was one thyroid medication that was natural made from Pig thyroid hormones. In learning all of this during my research, I feel like I know my body and how it reacts to synthetic things and that my only option was the natural hormone. Armor Thyroid, the natural hormone has been used successfully since 1891. In the 1960’s, the big pharmaceutical companies were replacing Armor with the synthetic brand, which is very different than Armor in the fact that all of the synthetic hormones are T4 only. What is the problem with this, you might ask? If you recall reading earlier, T3 possesses about four times the hormone “strength” as T4. T3 is the one that puts the spring in your step because it is so potent. So my doctor, like many others, would not even listen to me in the fact that I would like to start out with the Armor Thyroid. She says that first we go with Synthroid, and if there’s a problem, then she’ll talk to me about Armor. OK, I decide, I’m not the doctor, so against my better judgment, I’ll do what she thinks is best.

I proceed for the next year and a half, taking Synthroid, and getting sicker and sicker. Any and all of the side effects of Synthroid AND being hypothyroid were mine to have. Over the course of the next 8 months I gained 25 pounds. I had a lot of muscle pain which I’m sure had to do with the weight gain. I am five feet nothing and was always about 110 pounds after my son was born. With twenty five extra pounds, my body was always feeling physically sick and then I was emotionally sick due to the extra pounds I was seeing. I was still so fatigued that I had grown accustomed to drinking energy drinks to keep me afloat, hence, I’m sure attributing to the weight gain. To make matters worse, I had severe constipation that would make or break each day with discomfort and bloating. I very rarely slept through the night which made my life during the day a struggle to keep it together. I would forget things a lot and couldn’t think straight so soon I became seriously depressed because of all of these symptoms and the fact that my doctor kept telling me to hang in there. I was crying all of the time and couldn’t control my emotions.

My doctor told me this had nothing to do with the thyroid, but I felt like my body was revolting against me and I had no control over anything. I went through a dose change of Synthroid every three months until we were to get it right. The dose change would sometimes make the symptoms so severe that I just didn’t know how to deal with it or myself or my family.

During this period of time while taking Synthroid, I researched and researched things that would help with all my symptoms. It was Rebecca, my healer, who turned me on to a natural product that would help with some of my physical issues.

After reading all about this “Holy Tea” I was intrigued and because of its claims, I tried it. I can say at this time, I will never be without it. I have not had the physical slowing down of my GI tract due to this detoxifying tea that, over time, clears out the so-called gunk that builds up in your system. It’s been used with great results for many things such as: Crohn’s Disease, IBDs, Spastic Colon, Enlarged Abdomen, Excess Stored Fat, Skin Conditions, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Joint Pain, Insomnia, Low Energy, Loss of Clarity, and Forgetfulness, just to mention a few. This was not a cure all for me, but man how nice life becomes when your body starts to feel like it’s functioning again!

After having great success with the tea, I began researching their other products, one of which is Coral Minerals. Without my thyroid it’s very important to keep my calcium levels up because in the surgery, most of my parathyroid glands were taken as well. The major function of the parathyroid glands is to maintain the body’s calcium level within a very narrow range, so that the nervous and muscular systems can function properly. I’ve found that Calcium is the most plentiful of minerals in Coral Complex 3. Coral Complex 3 has helped people keep their bones strong, people with tendentious, periodontal disease, varicose veins, and even mood swings. I’ve been using this as well and it’s been a great supplemental boost.

OK, so I found a few things that helped make life a little more bearable, but the next time I was in to see the endocrinologist, I told her that enough was enough. I was ready to try the natural hormone, and hopefully feel better. She finally, after a year and a half, agreed. I can tell you that with-in a two week period of time, all of the aches and pains I was going through were gone. I wasn’t so sad anymore. I started sleeping through the night. My head was a little clearer, and things were looking up. I still had quite a ways to go, but at that point life was good, FINALLY!! At this point in my life, three years later, I can say that I’m still struggling because for the past three years, I haven’t been able to stay at one dose yet. It looks like I’m finally on that track now, and it was just 3 years in February. I’m sure I will always have some sort of struggle, but I’m on the right track, I can feel it.

So at this point, I finally find the right medication that works with my body and the manufacturer now has the product on national back order. Boy, I was starting to feel like I couldn’t get a break. No fear, whenever I have issues pertaining to my thyroid, I always go back to http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com. This is a website that has helped me with many questions that I’ve had as well as be able to chat with people who have the same issues as me. Every now and again, you learn something from someone that you had no idea would help you. It’s a wonderful site, and I highly suggest it for anyone going through these struggles themselves.

Throughout the past three years, I’ve been able to find many things that have helped me through this struggle. The main thing that has gotten me to the point that I’m at today is my support system. I have the best husband, family, and friends that anyone could ask for. They have helped me get through this time, by listening to me talk through it, or sometimes cry and complain. They’ve helped me make sense of it all every step of the way. So to all of the people in my life, I have got to say “I love you!” and “Thank You”. This doesn’t even begin to make you understand how much each of you is an integral part in my life. I treasure all of you and feel blessed that I have so much love in my life to get me through one of the hardest times I’ve had to deal with. And my husband, God love him, was the best support system anyone could ever ask for. I know during this period of time how awful I was feeling constantly and that I was never easy to deal with. But Dave stood with me, and supported me, every step of the way. What I learned most from all of this and mainly from my husband, is that no matter what, you need to trust yourself, and be your own advocate in this world. You know your body better than anyone… including doctors. They know medicine, but only you know when something is truly wrong, and despite the fact that they may tell you your perfectly fine, you need to stand up for yourself and keep fighting until you know in your heart that all is fine.

Thanks to all for listening, and be well.

Medical Fraud: A Big Dollar Concern

With reports about identity fraud making waves throughout the news media, it’s especially important for those looking at the American health care industry to consider a specific kind of identity fraud that can be especially expensive for victims. Medical fraud is commonly defined as any kind of identity theft that facilitates the use of insurance or medical information which allows for an unauthorized individual to get access to medical insurance, medical care or other services, or that in some cases, allows for false billing or funneling money directly from the victim to the fraud perpetrator. Learning more about it can help you avoid medical bankruptcies or other problems.

The Numbers on Medical Fraud

Although it may be more obscure than other types of fraud, for instance, credit card fraud, some reports estimate that medical identity theft affects almost two million people in America each year, with an overall monetary impact of over $40 billion. Experts also estimate the costs of medical fraud per victim at over $20,000. That means that this kind of fraud can destroy the budgets of many American consumers or families who become victims of this type of identity theft.

Common Scenarios

Experts suggest that some identity thieves pursue medical fraud in order to get insurance coverage through illegitimate means, while others may be looking to get their hands on prescription drugs that they will sell on the black market. But although these kinds of situations can hit consumers or families out of nowhere, other reports suggest that in many cases of medical fraud, there’s a gray area: the victims of these kinds of fraud may have let their family members misuse their medical information or otherwise been complicit in fraudulent claims or other types of identity theft.

Medical fraud is just one way that the average American family can find itself bogged down in medical debt or otherwise trapped in eternal debt cycles. In order to prevent these kinds of nightmare scenarios, it’s important to safeguard identity information and do regular credit checks and basic financial monitoring. You can also get help from third party medical advocates that understand the health care system and how to fight various kinds of financial challenges to make sure that you and your loved ones are not taken advantage of by a system that often generates extremely high costs. Talking to these types of agencies and organizations can help you gain a better idea of how to prevent medical fraud, unfair denials or bills, or any other financial struggle that could have been avoided through good documentation and vigilance. Get the facts and protect yourself against medical fraud and unfair medical debt for a better financial future.

Ways to Pay Off Medical Bills If You Don’t Have Healthcare Coverage

The impact of health insurance premiums and treatment costs continues to be a major concern for consumers. In addition, a recent industry survey indicated that 77% of consumers struggled using their health insurance in the past year. While we anticipate what’s to come on the healthcare landscape, here are some ways to reduce and or at least manage your medical costs, with or without insurance.

  1. Speak Up: Let your healthcare provider know how medical costs can impact your personal situation. Most providers provide quality care. Sometimes, this could mean extra costs to you. However, if you plainly explain to your doctor your concerns and are seeking ways to keep them in line while effectively treating your condition, s/he can prepare a treatment plan with this in mind.
  2. Unnecessary Procedures: Understanding your sensitivity to costs, your physician might eliminate less necessary tests or delay tests, if possible, without compromising your situation.
  3. Generic Medications: Costing up to 80% less and just as effective as brand names is a good way to reduce the prices of your prescriptions. There are a number of good resources for this.
  4. Online Research: Do your homework before the procedure to compare costs in your area. Use this information as a guideline. Remember, there are many factors in determining why a procedure costs what it does. In addition, contact your own insurance plan or use their cost estimator tool.
  5. Right Facilities: Urgent care clinics can cost a fraction of hospitals and emergency rooms when it comes to doing procedures, tests or blood tests. These are good for non-emergency care.
  6. Cash Payments: If you can pay cash, ask about cash discounts. It’s less work for the administrative offices.
  7. Payment Plan: Avoid putting a large medical bill on a credit card. Instead, ask if you can pay using a pay plan. Most providers offer this and in some hardship cases, they might even reduce what you owe. Find out what your doctor’s payment options are.
  8. Medical Advocates: For complicated cases, a medical or patient advocate offers services including helping to research treatment options, tracking paperwork and negotiating lower rates. You may have to pay a fee but it can help unravel complex paperwork or lower outstanding medical costs.
  9. Billing Mistakes: Check your explanation of benefit (EOB) statements to make sure they are correct. Compare them to your actual bill. Industry studies suggest many bills contain errors because of incorrect coding and other reasons. Do not hesitate to call the billing department or your insurance plan’s support hotline to get to the bottom of the bill if you suspect it is incorrect or simply want clarification.
  10. Understand Your Medical Insurance: Make sure your insurer is still in your market and that your provider and facility remains in-network. Many consumers are shocked when they receive a bill they thought would be covered by their insurance only to find out the provider or the facility was out of network with their plan.

Medical Bills and Arbitrary Costs: Add These Strategies to Your Toolkit

Media, consumer advocates and others talk a lot about how many of us are facing absurdly high costs for medical treatments. We know that these charges range significantly from location to location and that many times you may be hit with the majority of the balance. Not everyone, though, is talking about actual, practical ways to protect yourself from excessive costs when you obtain care at a local doctor’s office, hospital or other facility.

Asking the Right Questions

Almost all of the practical strategies for “consumer cost control” in medical offices focus on getting answers from medical providers. Asking relevant questions before, during and after a visit can help you avoid some of the most ridiculous charges that show up on medical bills.

One tip is to ask for an itemized list of charges. Itemization of a medical bill will show you whether any costs for a particular procedure have been padded or exaggerated, for example, in bills for supplies and related expenses. Some doctors have begun to bill different aspects of consultation separately and this is another area where an itemized bill can come in handy.

Look At the Medical Codes

Medical consultants are now advising to look at the CPT codes that show up on your medical bills. CPT codes represent specific procedures and treatments, and you can use these to help find a fair price online. It is becoming increasingly common for individuals to look for these kinds of “blue book values” for medical procedures when negotiating with a provider. Experts also recommend checking out the government’s reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid to see if your doctor is charging you too much for a specific procedure.

Look for Alternatives

Another way to lower overall medical costs is to decline some of the more expensive and less necessary treatments that your doctor may suggest. Lots of medical advocates tell patients to always apply the “BRAIN” ( benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, nothing) principle to their questions in the doctor’s office. This involves looking at the pros and cons of procedures, as well as what lower-priced alternatives may be available, as well as checking your intuition or “gut feeling” about a suggested treatment. Then, evaluate the consequence of delaying treatment for a health condition.

One reason that consumer advocates suggest this kind of questioning is that a doctor’s suggested treatments are not always the only course of action for any given health condition, and sometimes, a practical approach can reveal perfectly good alternatives that can come with a much lower price tag.

Look for Discounts and Other Payment Options

Another great tip is to look for payment plans and other options from your local medical providers. Many providers have begun to offer these options to patients. Some patients who are facing high-dollar bills can even qualify for charity, especially if their insurer declined huge portions of their bill. Make sure that you keep all of these strategies handy for dealing with medical bills that threaten to ruin your financial health.