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Health Tips

Important Basic Legal Documents That Adults of Any Age Should Sign

Every adult should execute basic legal estate planning documents, including a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy.
The need for these basic legal documents is even more compelling when you have a child with disabilities. Failing to properly plan could result in your child losing his/her government benefits, including Medicaid and SSI.
A Last Will and Testament is a document expressing your wishes as to how you want your estate distributed at the time of your death. A Will also allows you to designate a guardian to raise your children. Finally, a Will can designate that any assets to be distributed to your children be held in a Trust.
For parents with children, there are two important types of Trusts to consider for your Last Will and Testament.
For a child who is not expected to require any government benefits, you can leave his/her share in a special asset management trust for minors.
This Trust for minors can be used to pay for the support and education of your child (or grandchild) until he/she reaches a designated age (for example, to age 25). Once he/she reaches the designated age, he/she would then receive the balance outright.
For a child (or grandchild) who is expected to require government benefits such as Medicaid, his/her share can be left in a Supplemental Needs Trust.
As long as the Supplemental Needs Trust complies with the strict legal requirements, assets from the Trust can be used to provide for the well-being of your child with disabilities without disqualifying him/her from receiving government benefits. You would then name a remainder beneficiary to receive any balance left in this Trust after the death of your child.
A Power of Attorney is an important legal document where you give a person the legal authority to handle your finances on your behalf. If you become incapacitated in the future and have not signed a Power of Attorney, then a Guardianship proceeding in Court might become necessary.
When you have children, a Power of Attorney can be critical to allow someone to access your finances to be able to pay for your minor children’s needs.
A Health Care Proxy designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. If properly drafted, the Proxy should include the authority to carry out your wishes regarding the removal of life support machines, feeding tubes and hydration. Also, the Proxy should permit the release of private medical information under HIPAA.…

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Health Tips

Be Your Own Health Care Advocate in 5 Simple Steps

The American Journal of Medicine reports that 60 percent of bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical bills accrued by middle class, well-educated homeowners. With the cost of health care continuing to rise, understanding how to be your own health care advocate is essential in order to survive in today’s economy.
1. Understand what your insurance does and does not cover
Utilize the help of an expert. Health insurance brokers know and understand the fine print of health insurance plans. With their expertise, you can be confident in knowing what your premium covers and what goes towards your deductible.
2. Discuss potential costs before proceeding
If a doctor suggests a procedure, test, or surgery, ask for the total cost before scheduling it. Speak with someone in the billing office to get an itemized bill with all costs, and then go over the list with your insurance carrier so you know exactly what you’ll be required to pay.
3. Document everything
Whenever you speak with anyone-insurer, doctor, etc.-regarding your health care needs, make sure to document the date of contact, date of service, name and phone number of the person contacted. Also notate the results of the conversations and any necessary follow up. Keep a copy of all bills, explanations of benefits and services together in one place. Finally, keep records of all your non-reimbursable medical expenses, including car mileage, parking fees, telephone bills and lodging. These costs may be covered through Medicare or be used as an itemized deduction when you file your income tax return.
4. Question doctor recommendations
Respectfully inquiring why a doctor recommends one specific drug or treatment over another can provide information concerning both your health care needs and potential health care costs. On occasion, an alternative treatment or generic drug can be utilized to the same benefit at a lower cost.
5. Check local pricing resources and negotiate before procedures, if in a non-emergency situation
The Healthcare Blue Book allows you to determine fair pricing for procedures in your area. If a non-emergency situation requires extensive care that may not be fully covered under your current health insurance plan, negotiate with doctors and hospitals for the best price before scheduling the procedure in question.
In the current state of our nation, being proactive about our health care is becoming a requirement, rather than an option, as we attempt to stave off increasing medical bankruptcies. Be your own health care advocate; it’s good for your health, and it just might save you some money.…

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Healthcare Articles

The Ease of Buying Individual Health Insurance

There used to be so many variables when even attempting to purchase insurance coverage that the consumer was often left confused. Not to mention the whole process had to be handled by an agent who claimed to know what was best for the individual. Well those days are long gone and now the process of buying individual health insurance is both easy and convenient.
Many changes have occurred within the industries that are beneficial to the everyday individual. Purchasing insurance is now as easy as picking up the phone or even utilizing the Internet. Gone are the days of needing an insurance agent who always had just the right policy at an astronomical rate. Now the control to find the best coverage is in the hands of each individual.
Competition is fierce within the insurance industry and companies are trying to outdo each other. Buying individual health insurance has become much less of a burden to the consumer because of this. The price of insurance and the coverage provided can be curtailed to fit into most budgets and still provide security. Another benefit is that anyone can access the information needed to make a decision about health care on their own.
Resources are available to aid the consumer in discovering both the options and premiums offered with these plans. There are no more standard one size fits all policies that require payment for services that are not needed or even wanted. Every potential insured has the capability of picking only the coverage that is needed at an affordable cost.
Buying individual health insurance means purchasing what is needed without added coverage increasing the premiums. There are a variety of options available when choosing the right plan from full coverage to a supplemental policy for added protection. Deciding what type of plan is best should be the first step in obtaining information.
Once the decision has been made as to the benefits needed, start comparing prices between carriers. There are a variety of ways to decrease the amount spent out of pocket as well as ways to keep the overall cost of the plan down. Being an informed consumer is a smart consumer when it comes to purchasing insurance.
Take the time to find out what options are available and the surprise might be that great coverage is available at a reasonable rate. The control is in your hands when it comes to health care and the purchase. Buying individual health insurance can be done with ease and still provide peace of mind.…

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Health Store

10 Tips for Giving and Receiving Feedback Effectively

Multiple studies have shown, and I’m sure your own personal experiences will attest to, the relationship between effective feedback and employee engagement. Receiving regular, pertinent and specific feedback from their direct supervisors and managers is a key driver of engagement. On the flip side, when that feedback is absent, it creates a great deal of distress for employees because they don’t know where they stand or how they’re doing. One of the greatest gifts that leaders can give to their direct reports is clear, consistent and honest feedback. Here’s how:

1. Ask yourself: “What useful information do my people need? What information would help them be more successful in their jobs?” Your goal for giving feedback is to encourage future positive behaviors and also to let your staff know how they’re doing and the impact they have on others or on the organization.

2. Avoid focusing on feedback as either positive or negative. Feedback is feedback – get rid of those descriptors because they can actually interfere with your ability to get your point across. Your feedback is just as important in giving recognition as it is in correcting behavior.

3. Assume positive intent. Approach your staff from the standpoint that you recognize their desire to perform effectively in their jobs. Whatever it is that they have done, consider your response from the standpoint that their intent was positive. So, you might start out by saying: “Chris, I know that you’re committed to providing exceptional customer service.” Or, “Pat, I know that efficiency is very important to you.”

4. Address specific, observable behaviors instead of making broad judgments. Consider the difference between: “Chris, I just observed you walk past a patient who clearly looked lost,” and “Chris, you’re insensitive to patients’ needs.”

5. Act immediately. Feedback should be provided as soon as possible after the behavior was observed. The closer to the actual situation, the more pertinent and relevant your feedback will be.

6. Attain confirmation that your message was received. As part of your discussion with your employee you should make sure that they heard, and understood, the message you sent. So you might say something like: “Just so I know we’re on the same page, could you tell me what you understand our next steps to be?”

In addition to giving feedback, there are also times when we will receive feedback. Here are some guidelines for when you’re on the other end of the conversation:

1. Suspend any defensive responses that you might naturally feel. Frankly, most of us had had negative experiences with receiving feedback so our initial reaction may be a “fight or flight” response. Work to keep your emotions in check!

2. Say to yourself: “This is information.” Remember, we are not going to label feedback as either positive or negative. It is simply feedback-useful information that can provide you with new insights or understandings about how you or your behaviors are perceived by others. You are always in control of your own response so you get to choose whether you are going to respond emotionally, defensively, or whether you will focus on the feedback as useful, character-building information.

3. Seek specifics. Using a non-defensive tone and body language, seek additional information, particularly if the person giving you feedback hasn’t provided you with specific details. “I’m sure you know that providing exceptional customer service is very important to me, so I want to make sure I understand more about how I came across in this situation. Could you give me a specific example about what you observed?”

4. State your understanding of the conversation. Just as you want to seek confirmation of your message when you’re the sender, when you’re the receiver you want to confirm that you understood the message. “What I hear you saying that correct?” A gracious recipient of feedback will also thank the person giving the feedback, understanding that it is a growth opportunity.

Of course there will be some give and take in your conversations with others, whether you are on the giving or receiving end of the feedback. A technique that can be helpful to ensure that the conversation doesn’t escalate or become defensive is empathetic assertion. Empathetic assertion involves making a statement (assertion) that expresses your understanding (empathy) for the other person’s point of view.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

A nursing staff member whose attendance at an administrative meeting is requested resists and says she just doesn’t have the time to attend. “I know that it’s hard for you to leave your patient care responsibilities, yet I want you to know how important your participation in this meeting is.”

You spot a housekeeping employee who stops in the hallway to comfort an obviously upset visitor. “I couldn’t help but observe your interaction with that …

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Healthier

Health Care Reform – How Are You Affected? – Part 3

If you are an employer with fewer than 50 full time and “full time equivalent” (FTE) employees, you will enjoy the luxury of being exempted from the most onerous provisions discussed in the previous article. If you offer health insurance coverage to your employees you will still have a few issues affecting your health plan.
Effective for tax year 2013, an additional Medicare Part A tax of 0.9% will be assessed on incomes above $200,000 for individuals or $250,000 for joint filers. This works out to a 62% increase over the current Medicare tax rate of 1.45%. Another tax of 3.8% will be assessed against unearned income for “high income” taxpayers.
Other taxes will go into effect on or before January 1, 2014, that relate to HSA account distributions. The so-called Cadillac tax on rich health plans will begin then as well, but perhaps one of the most notable tax increases actually began March 23, of this year. All tanning bed operators began paying an additional 10% tax surcharge for customer rental of tanning beds.
If you offer group health insurance, your plan will have to eliminate lifetime caps on Essential Health Benefits (EHBs). As was discussed previously, EHBs will be further defined by Health and Human Services. It is believed EHBs will include certain wellness, outpatient and hospitalization benefits. That is, all health insurance plans must offer these benefits and can not place caps on how much can be paid out under the plan. A few of the EHBs may be required to be offered exclusive of a plan deductible, such as routine physical exams.
The most important issue for small groups is the 35% tax credit that is available for tax year 2010. This credit is available through tax year 2013 if the employer contributes at least 50% of the total premium cost. The debate continues at present if the 50% contribution rate must apply to dependents’ premiums as well. The larger the business becomes, the smaller the credit becomes. Consultation with a knowledgeable tax professional is recommended.
The credit will stop after 2013. At that time a two-year tax credit will then be available if the small group plan is purchased through the government health insurance exchange.
Children of employees are eligible as dependents until age 26, regardless of marital or student status.
By January 1, 2010,annual caps on EHBs must be eliminated. Too, the small business will not be able to extend a waiting period for enrolling new employees beyond 90 days. Texas state law already requires no more than a 3-month wait.
Pre-existing health conditions must be fully covered by January 1, 2014 for adults. The mandate for children under 19 years must be in effect by September 23, 2010. Insurance companies are challenging the child provision however saying, the time frame is too soon for the mandate to be implemented.
As you shop for better deals for small group insurance or even individual insurance, HCR is supposed to open the door to expanded competition. You will be able to continue to shop for insurance as you have in the past, but you may also go direct with insurance carriers, or look at Consumer Owned and Oriented Plans (CO OPs), or even through a state run health insurance Exchange.
The exchanges, in conjunction with purchasing from carriers directly through third parties, will most likely be the same insurance carriers, similar plans and comparable premiums. Although, the Exchanges will require insurance companies to offer plan designs that satisfy unresolved minimum benefit levels. Only the CO OPs may be able to offer a little diversity in plan design, and because they are supposed to be owned by the individual group employers, the idea is that premiums will generally remain stable.
HCR will provide initial seed money to start up the CO OPs and Exchanges, but no one knows yet any details on how these programs must be structured. Some important questions remain to be answered.
-Can CO OPs cross state lines?
-Can CO OPs include different industry types?
-Who actually will run the program?
-Will multiple plan options be available to different employers’ unique needs?
Individuals will also be able to shop through the Exchanges, but will not be allowed the opportunity to enroll in CO OPs unless 1-person groups are allowed to participate. Eventually, the small group market and individual market probably will merge into just an individual market.
A lot more of the “fun” begins for small groups and individuals January 2014. As mentioned earlier, the Medicare tax begins. Also on that date, individuals must enroll in a health insurance plan that is equal to or better than EHBs or pay a penalty. The penalty is $95 or 1% of household income in 2014; $325 or 2% in 2015; or $695 or 2.5% in 2016 …

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Healthier

Affordable Health Insurance Quotes and How to Get Them

Most Americans don’t know that you can buy medical insurance in much the same way that a lot of people now buy their car insurance – online. You can find affordable health insurance quotes online and get yourself into a policy that is specifically built just for you and your family in a matter of minutes and have the health care coverage that you need.
Living in today’s world without some form of medical insurance is a recipe for disaster. Without medical insurance, you will put off going to the doctor until things get really bad. You will also not take care of some of the preventative matters and testing that everyone should have done. You will find that when you shop for affordable health insurance quotes online that getting coverage is a lot cheaper than you might think.
People have long thought that getting health insurance through your employer as the cheapest way to do it, but that is not always the case. Especially if your employers requires you to help fund the insurance program, then you are probably paying a lot more than if you got your policy individually. So before you sign up for a high-priced medical insurance policy at work, you should shop for affordable health insurance quotes online.
Because not all families are alike, not all insurance policies are, either. You can design your own health insurance policy so that is perfect for your health, the amount of regular visits you make to a doctor, and your budget. Some people find that a low level of coverage is enough, while others want to be able to go to the doctor on a regular basis without paying a high office co-pay. The choice is really up to you, but remember that having coverage of some kind will always be beneficial for your family’s health.…

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Health Store

Lifelines Sustained Via Health Management

To sustain any business of sorts, there is a necessity to employ administrators to ensure proceedings run on clockwork. In similar fashion, health management services are essential in the dispersal of services of a commercial sense or otherwise. As the business of providing quality health care continues to climb to new heights due to newly discovered diseases, cures, methods and like, it takes a substantial amount of knowledge and experience to keep its lifeline running well. It certainly does not spell well for the patients if the establishment they are seeking services from is in equally bad shape.
Although great honor is laid at the feet of those who do service to the public by restoring them to good health via medical treatment coupled with befitting bedside manner, let one not forget those who function in the background. In order to run a successful performance on stage or in recorded mode, the unseen faces play equally crucial roles. The responsibilities of those in charge of health management are no easy burden to carry. One is charged to run a business which provides care for the less fortunate whilst keeping itself in shape. Being different from other commercial trades which focus on profit-generating objectives, this sort of establishment is supposed to uphold the Hippocratic Oath as sworn by its staff of health care practitioners. Times may call for difficult decisions when escalating costs may cause one to make decisions which are deemed unfavorable and unfair to the common eye.
With relevant knowledge via a degree in this field, one is better equipped to handle the daily affairs plaguing the establishment. This is not to say that one can handle with ease every sort of problem thrown in his way. An educated and experienced administrator can better assess the situation and derive informed judgments for the provision of quality health care as well as overall good of the organization.…