Health Care Provider Tips

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What is a Health Savings Account and what are its benefits?

Consumer-Directed Healthcare May Result in Healthcare Savings

A new movement is afoot in the insurance industry. With healthcare costs continuing to rise, more consumers are choosing a new option for healthcare savings. Part of what is being called consumer-directed healthcare, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) allow people to put tax-free dollars into savings accounts set aside for routine healthcare. Insurance policies accompany these tax-free accounts to cover larger medical expenses.

While HSAs were just approved in 2004, well over one million people have already enrolled. This aspect of consumer-directed healthcare seems to be effecting far-reaching change, including savings in premiums, monthly costs, prescriptions drugs and laboratory tests.

What is President Bush doing to reform healthcare?

White House Working to Reform Healthcare

President Bush has promised healthcare reforms in an effort to make healthcare services more accessible to everyone. In early May 2006, President Bush detailed some initiatives his administration is implementing to reform healthcare.

Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit – Medicare now provides prescription drug benefits to more than 30 million people. Low-income senior citizens who have signed up for this program have 95 percent of their prescription costs covered.

Medicaid is improving. – Legislation passed earlier this year helps states cover more people and provide better healthcare services.

Community Health Centers are increasing. – Since President Bush's term began, 800 new or renovated Health Centers have opened. These Health Centers are more accessible healthcare for the poor and treat at least 13 million Americans each year.

What should I do if I have been a victim of medical misinformation?

Medical Misinformation

It's vital to be your own doctor and keep copies of medical reports and tests, if possible. You are entitled to a copy of your test results. Keep a copy of all your medical records.

How well is healthcare used in America?

Preventive Care Underused in America

In an effort to increase their healthcare savings, many Americans are passing on healthcare screenings and other services they should be using. According to The Health Report to the American People published by Citizens' Health Care Working Group, preventive care for diabetes and heart disease is greatly underused, as is treatment for depression. Vaccines and colonoscopies are also not utilized enough.

If you have inadequate insurance or do not have the income to pay for preventive care, talk to your healthcare provider about financial help. Programs, such as Medicaid, are often available to help pay for your preventive care.

Is home healthcare covered by insurance?

Most Insurers Provide Some Coverage For Home Healthcare

If you or someone you love needs a home healthcare provider, you may be quite concerned about the cost this will incur. According to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), as the preference for home healthcare has increased, many insurance companies have modified their coverage of the service.

The home healthcare provider coverage varies greatly, of course, from plan to plan. If the patient is severely ill, most policies will cover a limited amount of home care. If the home healthcare provider is needed long-term, some insurers institute a cost-sharing plan with the patient.

Hospice care is generally completely covered by most large insurance plans. This includes all hospice services, i.e. personal care, nursing, social work, medication and more.

How do I choose a home healthcare provider?

Choosing a Home Healthcare Provider

Deciding which home healthcare provider to use for your own or your loved one's care can be difficult. Many factors are important in determining a quality home healthcare provider, but the tips below can help you make an informed decision.

Accreditation – Has the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) certified the organization? A JCAHO stamp of approval indicates the home healthcare provider has been evaluated and approved.

Medicare and Medicaid coverage – Talk to your physician or another community source to determine whether the home healthcare provider participates in Medicare or Medicaid.

Reputation – Word of mouth is worth a lot, so advice from your hospital or friends and family can be valuable in choosing a home healthcare provider.

Emergency Services – Choose a home healthcare provider who will be there whenever they're needed.

Communication – Be sure the home healthcare provider will be communicating regularly with your doctor.

Where is American healthcare money going?

Breakdown of American Healthcare Spending

We all know that many American dollars are being spent on healthcare services. In fact, in 2003 alone, people in the United States spent $1.7 trillion on healthcare services. But where exactly is all this money going?

1. We spent almost one third of our healthcare money, $542 billion, on visits to the doctor or dentist. While these visits are typically not too pricey, they are numerous.

2. $516 billion was spent on hospital care. In 2003, only 7% of Americans reported spending the night in the hospital. Since hospital care is so expensive, however, this category is the second most expensive type of healthcare.

3. The remainder of our $1.7 trillion was spent on prescription drugs. With more new drugs to buy, we are spending more of our healthcare money than ever before on prescriptions.

What is Medicaid and how do I know if I'm eligible?

Medicaid Assistance Available For Qualified Individuals

If you are unable to pay for the healthcare services you need, your healthcare provider should be able to give you information on Medicaid. Medicaid is an assistance program that is run by your state. Since each state makes its own rules, qualification guidelines differ from area to area.

Medicaid is designed to allow low-income people access to quality healthcare services. If you are approved, Medicaid will send payments straight to your doctor as payment for your appointments. In some states, there is a Medicaid co-payment, which is similar to many large insurance companies. The co-payment is small, generally $10 or $20 and is paid at your appointment.

Your income is only one of the factors considered when you apply for Medicaid. Other factors include whether you are pregnant, a senior citizen, disabled or blind. Your U.S. citizenship status is also taken into account.

Eligibility rules are somewhat different for children. If you are not a U.S. citizen, but your child is, he or she may be eligible to receive Medicaid healthcare services.

If you are uncertain of your eligibility, consider applying for Medicaid anyway. A case worker will work with you to determine whether or not you are eligible.

What do I need to know to care for my loved one at home?

Family Members Can Learn to Provide Amateur Home Care

Sometimes a family member chooses to serve a loved one as an amateur home healthcare provider. If you choose to provide care for a homebound family member, you will need some training. Most states provide courses in home care to teach you the basics in taking good care of your loved one.

Most courses cover these basics, plus a good deal more.

* Maintaining your health – You can't care for someone else if you're sick.
* Caring for a patient in bed – Your patient who is confined to bed will require special care.
* Avoiding caregiver burnout – Respite care, having someone else to help you, is important to avoid burnout.
* Taking vital signs
* Safety administering medicine
* Safely using wheelchairs and walkers
* Safely using oxygen
* Avoiding bedsores – If your patient is bedridden, you will need to provide special care to avoid bedsores.
* Alleviating stress in both patient and caregiver

What is a BLS course for healthcare providers?

Basic Life Support Course Helps Healthcare Providers Stay Current

A BLS for Healthcare Providers is short for Basic Life Support. This class educates healthcare providers in a variety of skills, including CPR for all ages of victims. The BLS course also teaches how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) and how to remove a foreign body in the airway. A professional level course, it's aimed at those who care for patients in more than one type of setting, including both in and out of hospital.

When choosing your healthcare provider, consider asking if the doctor and his staff have taken the BLS Healthcare Provider course. You might also inquire about how much continuing education the office personnel have. Good healthcare providers should take the time to be aware of new information in their field.

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Byron White