A health farm is a place to go to improve your health through diet and exercise. Many people who attend health farms do not experience symptoms of specific diseases. Instead, they often want to lose weight, cultivate better eating habits, or simply feel their best.
The term "health farm" is sometimes used interchangeably with "medical spa." Depending on the regulations where you live, a medical spa may be required to have a licensed physician or other health professional on the premises at all times. Unlike health farms, which usually focus on diet, fasting and exercise to improve both mind and body, medical spas can provide many other treatments, sometimes including plastic surgery. Both may have a luxury-spa environment complete with massage treatments, mineral baths, beauty treatments, and more.
Many of those who attend health farms suffer from psychological disturbances such as stress, anxiety, addiction, or insomnia. Most health farms have treatments designed to heal both body and mind. If you're considering a retreat at a health farm, here's what to expect when you get there.
Expect an out-of-the-way facility. Many health farms are located in rural areas. Most health farms emphasize serenity in daily living, and a location close to nature and far from the distractions of an urban environment helps bring their patients closer to a serene state of mind. If you're planning a stay at a health farm, don't be surprised to find it's a bit isolated-or to find yourself falling in love with the beautiful scenery.
Expect a religious or philosophical viewpoint from some spas. Many health farms do have a specific religious or philosophical point of view. Not all of them do, however. When choosing a health farm, make sure their particular religious or cultural slant is one that appeals to you.
Expect some fasting. Many patients at health farms begin their stay with a cleansing fast intended to detoxify the body. If you're there to lose weight, you may find yourself on a longer fast. Fasting often involves taking in only certain fluids during the day, usually herbal teas and fruit juices.
Expect a strong emphasis on diet and exercise. A health farm is primarily concerned with improved health through a strictly managed diet and exercise programme. At many health farms, you should also be able to access spa treatments such as massage therapy, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture. However, the emphasis is usually on diet and exercise for improved health and well-being.
Expect a strictly controlled diet. On a health farm, you will probably have a hard time finding caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee. Most do not serve alcohol, although some may serve a limited selection of wines. In addition, depending on the purpose of your visit, you should expect a diet specially designed to help you achieve your nutritional goals.
Expect professional supervision. At a health farm, you will often see licensed nutritionists, exercise and fitness specialists, and massage and acupuncture therapists. In most cases, you will find a homeopath, osteopath, or physician in a supervisory role.
Expect an overnight stay. Most health farms expect you to stay overnight for a certain duration-a few days to a few weeks, depending on your package and your health and fitness goals. Most health farms will tell you that it's difficult to control patients' diet and exercise routine as strictly when they are staying off-site, and that an on-premises stay will ensure you get the most out of your visit.
Expect different packages for different needs. Some health farms have an emphasis on certain types of patients. However, many offer a variety of packages based on your needs-from weight-loss programmes to stress reduction, honeymoon stays to holistic health, and more. A visit to a health farm can be a rigorous exercise-oriented retreat, or it can be a relaxing vacation. It depends on the packages available.
Expect to discuss your options with the resident health professionals. Before choosing a package at a health farm, it can be a good idea to have a conversation with the resident medical staff. They will often be willing to discuss your medical history, fitness goals, and the best programme for you. In many cases, you may be able to design your own package if their pre-existing programmes don't fit your needs.
A health farm can help you change your lifestyle, adopt healthy eating habits, lose weight, detoxify your body, and more. If you're looking for a vacation that will have lasting benefits in your life, health farms are a great option to explore.
All Americans should have the right to save for current and future healthcare expenses with pre-tax dollars. Health Savings Accounts provide some Americans with precisely that opportunity, but it is too limited in its scope to benefit the majority of the US. I love the concept of Health Savings Accounts (HSA), if you're not familiar with them they are savings accounts in which money can be put away for future medical expenses on a pre-tax basis. In order to be eligible for an HSA you must be covered under a qualifying high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). These are health insurance policies that typically cost less because they require their holders pay a high deductible (typically greater than $1000 annually). Unfortunately, the eligibility requirement to participate in a health savings account precludes the majority of the population from receiving a privilege that should be as basic as saving for one's own retirement.
In a recent response from my Congressman, he suggested I consider using a sister product, the Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Although beneficial, the benefits of an FSA fall short of the benefits in an HSA; primarily because the balance of unused money in an FSA expires annually where an HSA rolls over from year to year. This is a monumental difference. With an HSA I have a means to cover current and future medical expenses which can accumulate to a retirement vehicle which becomes available for any purpose at age 65. The rollover benefit becomes an even greater benefit when you consider the funds in Health Savings Account are eligible to pay the premiums on Cobra. Contributing to an HSA provides financial resources to use should one lose their job. Americans can use their HSA to pay the necessary 102% of their health premiums through COBRA or they may roll the money into a less expensive high deductible health plan (HDHP) with the resources to meet the high deductible.
Let's look at a couple of case studies.
Dick and Jane
Dick and Jane are engaged. Jane has been submitting $2600 into and HSA for the past five years. During that time she has only consumed $1600 in health care costs that means Jane has been able to build up a health nest egg of $11,400. After they are married Dick begins carrying Jane as a dependent on his health care plan which does not qualify as a high deductible health care plan. Under current laws, Jane would be forced to discontinue contributing to her HSA, but it if all Americans were eligible for this savings incentive she wouldn't have that problem. Instead they could increase their contribution $5,150. After a year, Dick may lose his job, but the family has been able to save $16,550. Their healthcare nest egg provides Dick and Jane with additional options. They may select to continue their current coverage through COBRA or they can select an alternate health care option. If COBRA were to cost $400 a month they can utilize their HSA funds. With these funds they would have the means of paying for coverage for 41 months. They could also choose to purchase independent health coverage. Their $16,550 nest egg minimizes their risk on a high deductible healthcare plan. They could conceivable absorb a $10,000 deductible and reduce their monthly payment to about $200, or half the cost of their cobra payment.
Scott and Laura
In the scenario of Scott and Laura, Scott is a severe asthmatic. His condition leads to a hospital stay about once a year costing about $3000. He must also have continuing medication at a monthly cost of $112. Scott and Laura are both on her employer's group health plan. They pay $112/month with a $500 deductible and a 20% coinsurance. Their annual healthcare responsibility is approximately $2610 with insurance or approximately $4340 without insurance. Their insurance saves them approximately $1700 annually from paying full price on their medical care. Their FSA saves them about 20% (their tax bracket) on their prescription charges. Because Scott and Laura will lose the money in the FSA if they don't spend it by the end of the year, they only save the cost of Scott's prescriptions. Now, if Laura loses her job their healthcare future becomes much less secure because Laura's plan was not HSA eligible, they do not any residual savings from their health care expenses nor were they granted guaranteed tax savings from their medical expenses. If they keep the medical insurance they clearly need through COBRA they now need to pay $400/month. These annual premiums total $4000 alone meaning that Scott and Laura only save about $340 a year by having health insurance. This does not include the cost of any of the co pays. Keeping the insurance could increase their medical expenses to about $6000 a year or $550/month at a time when the family income has been reduced. Scott and Laura have a very difficult choice to make in regards to their healthcare. Should they continue with coverage or should they let the family health insurance lapse?
Had they been able to contribute to an HSA, their scenario may have looked a little different. Scott and Laura would still have the same policy but chose to contribute the maximum allowable to their HSA. From the $5150 they withdrew $2610 for healthcare expenses leaving $2540 to accumulate over for the next year. Over the course of 5 years they have accumulated $12700 in the HSA. If Laura loses her job their options look much more promising. They can more easily absorb costs of COBRA and provide for the costs of their existing coverage for their entire 18 month term of eligibility. By making wise decisions in time of plenty, Scott and Laura would be able to prevent financial devastation or public dependence in the future and still provide the means to maintain their health needs. All health consumers should have the option to participate in an HSA and receive the corresponding tax benefits. The opportunity to participate in an HSA should not be tied to a high deductible health insurance plan. As it is written an HDHP with an HSA discriminates against most Americans, namely, consumers whose employers don't offer a qualified high deductible healthcare plan and those who may have regular health needs which require a more generous health plan including young families who may need maternity or well child care.
Ironically, those ineligible to participate are doubly discriminated against. Not only do they lose the opportunity to financially prepare for the future healthcare needs, but it actually results in having higher healthcare costs. Here's how:
1. High deductible health care plans often attract the healthiest segment of society, and when you remove the healthy consumers from the general insurance pool, rates rise to cover the lost revenue and higher payout per consumer.
2. Non participants must pay deductibles and uncovered health care from post tax dollars or they must try to forecast their annual health expenses through a flexible spending account (FSA). If they underestimate, they are again paying for expenses with post-tax dollars and if they overestimate they lose the unspent balance.
3. Individuals who have continuing healthcare needs are at the mercy of their employer for continued coverage. The loss of employment often means the loss of health care and can bring great personal risk and financial hardship.
By eliminating the requirement that an individual have a HDHP plan, you open the door for many more participants. These are people who need to hedge against risk in their health and financial well-being. When you allow people to pay their insurance premiums with their HSA, you grant them a means of planning for their health future, without discriminating based on their health care needs. Nationally, you increase the savings rate, sending more money into banks, and driving down your uninsured among the unemployed. Fewer people are dependent on government healthcare subsidies because they were able to plan during times of plenty. You open a door for increased retirement savings and, by giving people access to their funds when healthcare is needed, you limit some of the draw on government resources because they don't end up on state sponsored plans.
All Americans should have the right to save for current and future healthcare expenses with pre-tax dollars.
For those who don't know, health insurance is simply the coverage of medical claims of an individual, against the medical costs. Like many others you may not be able to afford an expensive insurance policy - but you can eliminate all the frills you don't need and get the low cost health insurance you want and still be adequately covered. Health insurance, as with any kind of insurance today, whether individual, personal, business or family health insurance, is always a gamble. You're gambling that you'll take out more than you are paying in and your health insurance company is gambling they will pay out less.
You want to know what to look for in any type of good insurance. If you have always had a health insurance benefit where you've worked and especially if you were a state or federal employee and now find you have to buy your own, you may not be able to afford the level of coverage you used to have. Finding good low cost health insurance today is easier than most people think.
To start, shopping for free health insurance quotes online is the easiest and best way to find low cost health insurance coverage. If you have any permanent health problems, such as diabetes, or have had cancer at any time in your family history, your monthly cost could easily be more than your house and car payment combined, but there are many different good insurance plans available today in the US.
The cold hard facts are the older you get the more important your health insurance policy becomes; this isn't to say that you should not be concerned about your insurance when you're younger. In case your doctor decides that something is an absolute medical necessity and it's not covered under your current policy, the insurance company may exercise its discretion in paying for it, but don't hold your breath. Many report they were eventually covered yet many more people get turned down.
One of the best ways to find low cost insurance is to get free health insurance quotes online. You can generally get very fast quotes and you want to compare several companies, as they will all have different criteria. This will be the fastest way to find low cost insurance.
Most importantly, you want a health insurance provider or company that has a good track record for paying without fighting you on every little detail. Your local agents may only be able to offer what they have currently available and not be able to offer you what's best for both your pocketbook and your health.
The death rate in any given year for someone without insurance is twenty-five per cent higher than for someone with insurance so you want to make sure you get the best coverage you can get at the lowest cost as soon as possible. Heart-attack victims who don't have insurance are less likely to be able to get angioplasty, which is often the treatment of choice. People who have pneumonia who don't have insurance are less likely to receive initial or follow-up x-rays or necessary consultations.
In general because people who are uninsured are sicker than the rest of us because they can't afford proper medical care, they can't get better jobs, and because they can't get better jobs they can't afford insurance, and because they can't afford insurance they get even sicker.
Although it does increase your risk, one way to lower your insurance costs is to set a higher deductible; if you're in good health you'll like come out ahead, barring an unforeseen event such as an accident, etc. Keeping yourself in better health will help you with less health insurance claims. All the insurance companies have to be very competitive because it's so quick and easy to compare them with the other competing companies online.
Children without any insurance are less likely to receive proper medical attention for serious injuries, for recurrent ear infections, or for asthma for example and you want to avoid having to face a $100,000 open heart surgery without having any insurance.
So taking out insurance with higher deductibles and spending a little time online comparing at least five or more companies will make it more likely that you'll find the best low cost insurance. There are many different health plans so make sure you get an understanding of all the low cost health insurance policies that are available from each company. Cheap or low cost insurance does mean a lower price and in some cases lower quality, but the price may be more important to some than the quality of the health plan. You don't want to pay for more than you need but you want to consider any possible future health events you might encounter too.
Finding good, hopefully cheap, low cost insurance without giving up quality does not simply mean looking for the lowest premium but it means fully understanding all of the costs that will be involved in your policy. And finding the best health insurance is easy to do online, whether you're shopping for long-term or short term health insurance from California, Texas or Florida.
With the rise of medical insurance costs today, most people look for low cost health insurance premiums that will ensure quality medical attention at the time of need, but at a price they can simply afford. Make sure to keep in mind that with low cost insurance options, you'll need to compromise somewhat on the variety of services covered. Proceed surely but carefully.
How and where to find individual insurance plans that offer you adequate individual health coverage takes much consideration. But first the significance of doing health insurance comparison before deciding can't be over-emphasized.
Coverage and Pricing Options
Affordable health plans that come with various options and prices are dependent on the individual health coverage required as well as what a given healthcare insurance policy should cover. Depending on specific situation, sometimes the individual's job, professional organization or union will provide group health insurance plans, while others do not and require the individual to take up private health care insurance.
Group Health Coverage
Group health care will normally cost less than private health care insurance, or indemnity policies. They are less expensive and hence, more affordable because health insurers offer deals to large organizations to insure many people at one go under that particular organization's policy. Moreover, the individual may be given the choice to opt for group healthcare with the organization offering to pay a part of the premium for the individual, should they decide to accept any of the plans. Both are contributing factors to make group health care more affordable.
Health Insurance Comparison
By comparison, private health care insurance provides the individual with many more options, but usually cost a lot more than a group health policy. The former also may require the individual to file his own claims for reimbursement. This means more time, paperwork and hence, more hassle for that person. However, the individual usually has more choices of healthcare service providers under individual health plans. As a result, the person can start shopping around for the best prices on the market according to what he needs to sniff out truly good deals with affordable health insurance plans.
Take Your Pick
After all, finding individual health plans that is best for you with proper individual health coverage making health insurance comparison is not so tough if you know how to pick and choose from among many affordable health plans out there.
Consider what could happen if you suddenly came down with a severe illness or suffered a catastrophic accident. Within a matter of days you could incur hospital and doctors' bills in the tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Without insurance your home could be taken from you, your bank account could be drained, and any other assets you own could be wiped away - all in the blink of an eye.
And yet, for over 50% of the people in West Virginia the cost of health insurance is reported to be a severe financial hardship and fully 16% of the people of West Virginia can't afford health insurance at all.
While we wait for relief it is vital that we find ways of reducing the cost of health insurance ourselves. Purchasing health insurance online is, perhaps, part of the answer since online health insurance generally costs less than health insurance purchased from a brick and mortar business. But simply jumping online with no clear idea of how to lower the cost of health insurance will not solve the problem. We need something more. We need ways of reducing costs initially so that the additional savings we get from purchasing our insurance online can have a real meaning.
Fortunately there are steps that you can take that will help reduce the cost of your health insurance even before you get online.
For example, start by eating a healthy diet and getting some exercise. Yes, this means cutting way, way down on fast food and fried foods and it means eating more fruits and vegetables and it means walking or riding a bike three or four times a week.
It also means that you will have to stop smoking and using chew if you are serious about getting cheap health insurance online or anywhere else in West Virginia.
Your weight is also a factor when looking for cheap health insurance. A portion of your health insurance premium is based on your BMI, or Body Mass Index. The less your BMI the lower your health insurance premium each month. The one ray of sunshine is that if you are able to lose even a few pounds it's possible that you could move down on the insurance company's BMI chart - and if you move down even one level you could, potentially, save hundreds of dollars each year on your health insurance.
Join a group health plan. A group health plan may not be as concerned about smoking and BMI as an individual health plan. If your place of work doesn't offer group health insurance consider any groups, clubs, organizations or associations that you or any member of your family or any friends belong to. If you find a club or organization that offers its members group health consider it seriously.
Join an HMO or a PPO. These are forms of group health insurance that are somewhat less expensive than many other health insurance plans, but HMOs especially limit the doctors that you can see, so unless your current doctor is a member of the HMO that you join, there's a very good chance you will need to change doctors.
Don't participate in extreme sports and don't drive a fast, sporty car.
If you have other forms of insurance it can pay you to consolidate all of your insurance with the same company. In this way you will qualify for a Multi-Policy Discount.
Have your premiums automatically deducted from your checking account each month. The money your company saves on billing you will be passed along to you.
Can you afford to increase your co-payment each time you visit your doctor? If you can afford a 50% co-pay you'll save a bundle on premiums each month. This plan works best for people who do not see their doctor on a regular basis.
Finally, can you afford to increase your deductible? If you can increase your deductible then you will lower your cost of health insurance immediately. However, don't agree to pay more of a deductible each year than you can actually afford to pay.
And this brings us to our final step: buying our health insurance policy online. Yes, it is true that you can get cheap health insurance online in West Virginia, but don't get lazy and stop after looking at just one health insurance price comparison website.
If you are truly serious about finding the cheapest health insurance you can, then you must compare prices on at least 3 different websites. And you must take what you've learned in this article and fill out the forms on all three website EXACTLY the same.
Only in this way can you compare the same health insurance on all three sites - and making a true comparison is the only way to really find the cheapest health insurance.
Once you've made all of your comparisons then the only thing that's left is to review the prices you found and choose the lowest one. By doing your homework and by making your comparisons on a minimum of 3 different websites, you can feel confident that you now know exactly how to get cheap health insurance online in West Virginia and save as much money each month as you possibly can.
Only 400 years ago it was believed that the sun revolved around the Earth.
And it was only in the late 19th century that the barbaric practice of blood letting (and once believed 'cure all' of disease) was finally abandoned.
Thanks to advances in science and medicine, new discoveries have been made that have reshaped old paradigms and changed our way of thinking.
Therefore, we would assume that in this current age of science, medicine and technology, a well established consensus of health information would exist...Sadly that is NOT the case.
In fact, many of the current health recommendations are causing an increase in health problems. Several leading health researchers point to the fact that these recommendations are often driven by certain industries who have vested interests; namely profits, at stake.
As a former student of natural therapies, and having now been involved in the health & fitness industry for over 15 years, it is my intention to shed some light on 10 of the most common health myths - as controversial as they may be!
The Top 10 Health Myths are as follows:
Myth 1: Your genetics determine whether you will get cancer
Myth 2: For good health, follow the recommendations of the food pyramid
Myth 3: The sun causes skin cancer
Myth 4: People are overweight because they have slow metabolisms
Myth 5: Cows milk is a good source of calcium and builds strong bones
Myth 6: Eggs are high in cholesterol and should therefore be avoided
Myth 7: Margarine is a better choice than butter
Myth 8: Artificial sweeteners are a good alternative to sugar
Myth 9: You should eat a low fat diet
Myth 10: I should drink red wine as it's recommended by my doctor for good heart health
Let's address these one by one...
Myth 1: Your genetics determine whether you will get cancer.
Fact: Your LIFESTYLE is the single most determining factor, not your genes!
While it's true that you inherit genes for cancer, it's whether these genes are expressed that truly matters. In other words, just because your mother or father died from cancer doesn't mean you have to suffer the same fate. It all comes down to lifestyle choices.
Unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and poor lifestyle choices, play a major role in the development of many diseases, including cancer.
Dr Rachel Thompson, science program manager for the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) dispels this common myth and she conservatively estimates that lack of exercise and being overweight, causes three times as many cases of cancer as genetics.
According to her, the evidence suggests that 39 per cent of the most common cancers, including breast and bowel, could be prevented through a good diet, exercising and keeping weight under control.
"It's important to dispel the myth that cancer is down to genes," says Thompson. "The evidence shows that an unhealthy diet and low activity levels cause three times more cancer cases than genes. If people do have a family history, then this is important information for them personally, but overall this inherited genetic predisposition is uncommon. In fact those who have inherited genes should pay even closer attention to their lifestyle as there is probably still a lot they can do to reduce their risk.
"It is clear that choosing a healthy diet and being more physically active are important ways to help prevent many cancers," she added.
Furthermore, a study conducted in 2005 by Dean Ornish and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, US, tested the effects of a dramatic lifestyle change on gene expression in 30 men with prostate cancer.
Biopsies taken before and after 3 months of healthy eating, moderate exercise, stress management and psychotherapy showed a significant change in the expression of hundreds of genes. Healthy eating and exercise turned crucial genes on and off.
Many, including several genes involved in tumor formation, were down-regulated, or less active. Others, including some disease-fighting genes, were more active.
Not only do these results demonstrate that positive lifestyle changes can slow the progression of cancer, the results may also be significant for cancer prevention.
Conclusion: Many people believe that inherited genes or simply bad luck are the only factors in cancer development and it's time that myth was laid to rest.
Myth 2: For good health, follow the recommendations of the food pyramid. Fact: Following the recommendations of the food pyramid is bad for your health!
The original 1992 U.S.D.A. food pyramid was based on the same recommendations and ratios for fattening cattle and other livestock!
According to Harvard Scientist Dr. Walter Willett, the original food pyramid was motivated by food industries rather than valid scientific research. He also states that the food pyramid is "terribly misleading and flawed."
For example, blanket suggestions are made that all fats are bad and all carbohydrates are the same, which is simply not true.
Moreover, the original food pyramid advocates eating 6-11 servings of carbohydrate per day. Therefore it's hardly surprising that we have such high rates of type 2 adult onset diabetes and obesity.
Recommendations concerning exercise, alcohol intake and the importance of fruits and vegetables are conspicuously missing.
The New 'Longevity' Pyramid!
Dr Mitra Ray, author of 'From Here to Longevity' advocates a new food pyramid which is based on sound health principles. This new food pyramid has a foundation of 5-10 servings of non-starchy vegetables. The next tier is meat, fish and poultry 2-3 servings as well as lentils, beans, raw nuts or seeds comprising 1 serving. The next level is fruit, 2-4 servings, and the top level (or least amount) is whole grains, breads and cereals with a maximum of 2 servings per day.
Myth 3: The sun causes skin cancer.
Fact: The body needs sunlight! Regular exposure to sunlight can reduce the incidence of cancers by up to 60%!
Most people believe that the sun causes cancer, when in fact, the opposite is true.
For example, many studies demonstrate that people who live in sunnier, southern latitudes and who have higher levels of vitamin D (as a result of their increased sun exposure) are much less likely to die from any type of cancer than people in northern latitudes.
There is also strong evidence that sunlight protects against MS and breast cancer.
Contrary to what you may have heard, appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent the fatal type of skin cancer, melanoma. In fact, rates of melanoma have been found to decrease with greater sun exposure.
To significantly reduce our risk of developing cancer, we need to ensure we have regular sun exposure to keep vitamin D at optimum levels.
Recommendation: Try to obtain at least 15 minutes of sun exposure per day. Cover up with clothing to prevent sunburn, and make sure to avoid using commercial sunscreens as these contain toxic chemicals linked to skin cancer & melanoma (unbelievable but true) AND they block the absorption of vitamin D. If you must use sunscreen, use a natural, chemical free alternative.
Myth 4: People are overweight because they have slow metabolisms.
Fact: Only a very small percentage of people have slow metabolisms.
It's a common complaint, but studies show you can't use a slow metabolism as an explanation for weight gain.
In fact, recent studies have revealed that overweight people actually have faster metabolisms and burn off more energy than their lighter counterparts.
Your body composition, specifically your lean muscle mass, determines your basal metabolic rate (BMR) or the amount of calories you burn at rest.
The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn, and people who are overweight usually have an increased metabolic rate because they have more muscle as well as fat.
This is why men - who typically have more lean muscle than women do - tend to lose weight faster and gain it more slowly. It's also why experts recommend strength training to build muscle mass. BMR is also affected by how much you exercise. All physical activity, not just strenuous activity, increases the number of calories you burn.
There IS such a thing as a slow metabolism but it's very rare.
If you're concerned that you have a slow metabolism, consult your health professional. Your health professional may recommend a test to calculate your BMR, or resting energy expenditure. Medical conditions that can decrease BMR or alter your muscle-to-fat ratio include hypothyroidism and Cushing's syndrome.
The bottom line: Most overweight or obese individuals do not get that way because of a slow metabolism. They get that way because they eat too many calories and don't exercise enough.
Myth 5: Cows milk is a good source of calcium and builds strong bones.
Fact: Cows milk is not designed for human consumption. We are the only species on the planet to drink another species milk...cow's milk is for cows!
People who have grown up believing that cows milk is a good for you, that it is a great source of calcium and produces strong bones, are in for a shock! In fact, many prominent medical doctors are now saying dairy consumption is a contributing factor in nearly two dozen diseases of children and adults.
Our "nutritional education" in school (funded in part by the dairy industry) taught us that dairy products are one of the four basic food groups we all need for proper nutrition. As a result, dairy products became a well-entrenched and major staple of government-sponsored school lunch programs.
Cow's milk can lead to iron deficiency anemia, allergies, diarrhea, heart disease, colic, cramps, gastrointestinal bleeding, sinusitis, skin rashes, acne, increased frequency of colds and flu, arthritis, diabetes, ear infections, osteoporosis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and more, possibly even lung cancer, multiple sclerosis and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma...
And what about the claim that milk is a great source of calcium?
Ounce for ounce, a single head of broccoli has more calcium than a glass of cow's milk. However, even more important is the finding that the type of calcium found in green vegetables is better absorbed and does not leach from the bones...unlike high protein-containing dairy products.
In short, adequate amounts of green vegetables are much better sources of calcium than milk and cheese.
Myth 6: Eggs are high in cholesterol and should therefore be avoided.
Fact: You can eat 1 or 2 whole eggs per day and not be concerned about increased cholesterol.
There has been a widespread belief that eggs are bad for your heart, however, eating whole eggs on a daily basis may prove to hold numerous health benefits, including a decreased risk of heart disease!
Research showed that, in healthy adults, eating eggs every day did not produce an increase in cholesterol levels or constitute an increased cardiac risk.
While it's true that egg yolks contain cholesterol, (of which the body requires a certain amount) we should not assume that eating dietary cholesterol will yield an increase in blood cholesterol. Therein lies the confusion! There is NO correlation between dietary cholesterol and serum (blood) cholesterol levels.
So go ahead, eat and egg or two per day (ideally the organic free range variety) and enjoy the healthy heart benefits!
Side note: Of significant interest is that elevated blood cholesterol levels is more likely to be the result of insulin resistance caused by a diet high in refined carbohydrates.
Myth 7: Margarine is a better choice than butter.
Fact: Avoid margarine at all costs. And that includes the so called healthy olive oil based margarine. Butter is better!
Yet another myth! And if you thought margarine and spreads were better because they're low in saturated fat and cholesterol, think again.
Butter is truly better than margarine or other vegetable spreads. Despite unjustified warnings about saturated fat, the list of butter's benefits is indeed impressive. Butter is a rich source of vitamins A,D,E and K as well as trace minerals and fatty acids necessary for a range of healthy bodily functions.
Standing in direct opposition to these healthful qualities stands margarine and assorted 'vegetable oil' spreads.' While these may be cheaper, chances are you'd never eat them again if you knew how they were made!
Margarine are made from assorted vegetable oils that have been heated to extremely high temperatures. This ensures the oils become rancid. After that, a nickel catalyst is added, along with hydrogen atoms, to solidify it. Nickel is a toxic heavy metal and small amounts always remain in the finished product. Finally, deodorants and colorings are added to remove margarine's horrible smell (from the rancid oils) and unappetizing grey color.
In the solidification process, harmful carcinogenic trans-fatty acids are created. Ask yourself, would you rather have a health food with healthful qualities? Or a stick of carcinogenic, bleached and deodorized slop.
Given the choice, choose butter!
Myth 8: Artificial sweeteners are a good alternative to sugar
Artificial Sweeteners are highly toxic to the body!
Aspartame (often labeled as 'phenyalanine') and marketed under the name NutraSweet and Equal, is linked to a multitude of health and neurological problems including fibromyalgia, lupus, Alzheimer's and MS.
Often described as a silent killer, symptoms of aspartame toxicity can include numbness of the legs, cramps, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, joint pain, depression (aspartame reduces serotonin levels in the brain) anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, or memory loss.
Those of us watching our waistline are often tempted by claims of 'zero sugar' or low carbs. However, more often than not these foods and drinks contain artificial sweeteners. Paradoxically, artificial sweeteners cause carbohydrate cravings which can lead to weight gain!
Today, artificial sweeteners can be found in everything from soft drinks to yogurt to baked goods to chewing gum.
Although small amounts are unlikely to be problematic, be discerning of your food choices and be aware that repeated ingestion of artificial sweeteners can be damaging to your long term health.
Myth 9: You should eat a low fat diet
Fact: The body needs fats! Especially 'essential fats.'
This idea that all fat is bad is completely untrue! Every cell in the human body requires fats for metabolic functions, the manufacture of hormones, brain function, plus many other vital functions.
Your body needs 'essential fats' from your diet (essential simply means that our body can't make it by itself) The best sources are high in omega 3 and include olive oil, nuts, avocado and fish oils.
The rights fats assist in lowering blood pressure, thinning your blood and preventing blood clots. Likewise, most inflammatory conditions can be prevented or controlled with regular omega 3 fats in the diet. A lack of omega 3 in your diet will intensify a number of inflammatory conditions ranging from asthma to arthritis and even heart disorders.
The fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K cannot be absorbed unless we have sufficient fats in our diet. Therefore no matter how many vitamin rich fruits and vegetables you eat, if you have a low fat diet, it's highly likely you'll eventually suffer degenerative diseases caused by vitamin deficiencies. One example is osteoporosis. For calcium in our diet to become bone mass, it requires the presence of Vitamin D and Vitamin K to be absorbed.
As the human brain is 70% lipid (fats) we need a regular intake of healthy fats and cholesterol to function properly. Therefore it should not surprise you that a low intake of fats can lead to short term memory loss, loss of concentration, depression, bi polar disorders and schizophrenia and in the longer term, Alzheimer's disease.
Symptoms of insufficient fat in our diet include increased cholesterol levels, dry and flaky skin, loss of skin elasticity and wrinkles! (The benefits of healthy fats are similar to antioxidants.)
Hopefully I've convinced you to increase the amount of healthy fats in your diet...eat fat, just choose the right fats!
Myth 10: I should drink red wine as it's recommended by my doctor for good heart health
Fact: It's not the alcohol in red wine that is good for you. Alcohol is a neurotoxin!
It's not the alcohol in red wine that is linked to a lowered incidence of heart disease, it's an antioxidant found in red grapes called resveratrol.
Wines contain abundant quantities of polyphenols, a class of antioxidant not present in other alcoholic beverages. The concentration of polyphenols in red wine is several times greater than that in white wine and it is these polyphenols that are associated with a number of health benefits.
Alcohol itself is actually a neurotoxin and excess consumption can seriously disrupt your delicate hormone balance, cause liver damage and other health problems.
If you're a non drinker, my recommendation is simply this... Don't start now! Remember, it's not the alcohol in red wine that's good for you - it's the antioxidants. Use moderation, or drink grape juice instead!
So there you have it. The top 10 health myths finally exposed!
I encourage you to be vigilant in your pursuit of good health and be weary of health claims made by the media, the pharmaceutical companies and even your own doctor.
When it comes to your health, you're the one in the driver's seat. Do your own research, seek out reputable sources of information and explore natural and alternative therapies where appropriate.
It's by keeping an open mind, questioning and evaluating current health recommendations, that you can truly take control of your health and well being.
Optimal health means more than the absence of pain, sickness and disease. As important as it is to be physical healthy it is equally important to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy as well. Optimal health, therefore, in context of what is being written here, is a balance of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health. Let us take a look at each of these aspects, beginning with physical health.
So much has been written about the subject of physical health in the categories of health and wellness, diet and weight loss, fitness and bodybuilding etc. In this article I will primarily deal with physical health in its internal aspect which includes building a healthy immune system, detoxifying the body, healthy and quick elimination, and nourishing the cells with proper nutrition. Aging itself can be slowed down by keeping the internal aspect of our physical health up to par. Wouldn't you love to have a healthy, youthful, energetic, strong, lean body which is free of disease, sickness and pain well into adulthood beyond the age of 40? It all narrows down to what type of food we put into our bodies - either food filled with toxins and poisons, or healthy, living, vital food.
Mark and Patti Virkler, in their inspiring book "Eden's Health Plan - Go Natural" write:
"Food is intended to furnish the body with all the live elements needed for the regeneration of its cells and tissues. If the body fails to be healthy, the lack or deficiency of regenerative elements in the food is the cause of, and the responsibility for, whatever ailment, sickness or disease overtakes it. Our bodies seek homeostasis, equilibrium, balance. This equals health. When given the right building blocks to work with, the body maintains itself in health."
These building blocks can be found in whole, unbleached, organic grains, rice (wild rice, brown rice etc.), beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, various seeds and herbs etc. Large portions of these building blocks can be found in the "super-food" family in such foods as Spirulina and Barley Grass. (A super-food is extremely rich in a large variety of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and amino acids, and can be assimilated by our bodies very easily. Spirulina is a complete protein and is known to be very healthy.) Look in your local health food store for super green foods in powdered form. I personally sometimes use Garden of Life Perfect Food Super Green Formula.
Super-foods are known to:
Massively Boost Your Immune System
Aid Weight Loss
Lower Your Cholesterol
Radically Improve Your Energy
Enhance Your Mental & Emotional Well-being
Boost Your Libido
Alkalize Your System
Protect against Toxins and Pollutants
Beautify Your Skin
Cleanse and Fortify Your Blood
Nourish and Revitalize your Systems
Fight and Protect against numerous diseases including Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease, Stroke, Cancer, Arthritis, Cataracts, Osteoporosis, Acne, Obesity, High cholesterol, Age-Related Blindness...And Much More!
Again I quote Mark and Patti Virkler:
"By taking just a bit of a super-food (in capsule or powered drink form) as a supplement to your diet, you will find many wonderful things happen to your body. Essentially, the nourishment will give your body the needed resources to rebuild any broken or damaged parts and improve your body's chances of returning to homeostasis. Testimonies of its power range from improved eyesight, to relief from back pain, to better scores in sports by world champion competitive athletes. Generally, one will experience feelings of increased energy and vitality; reduction and alleviation of stress, anxiety and depression; relief from the discomforting symptoms of fatigue, hypoglycemia, some allergies, poor digestion and sluggishness; and improved memory and mental clarity. People also experience elimination of mood swings, toxin elimination, better sleep, reduced cravings for food and sweets, lower blood pressure and many other health benefits. Then there are many specialized health problems which have disappeared as people's bodies receive adequate nutrition through super-foods. Prostate problems have been normalized, as well as triglycerides, arthritis and diabetes, and many other severe and degenerative diseases. Basically, any and every disease will be fought off by your body, if it has the right tools to fight with. Super-foods give it the right tools. You just need to try it for thirty days and see what it may do for you. I recommend taking a product that includes several kinds of super foods, as they work together in a synergy that can have a profound effect on your health and vitality. If your body needs detoxifying first, you may experience a bit of a "tissue cleansing" during the first few days or weeks of taking the super-food as your body cleanses itself."
Basically if we put the wrong food (and drink) into our body it weakens the immune system and opens the door for us to be susceptible to health problems of whatever sort (whether it be frequents colds and sicknesses, flues, aches and pains, sores and ulcers, weakness, sluggishness, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, heart problems, diabetes, cancer or psychological disorders such as malaise, apathy or memory problems etc., etc., etc.) Looking on the bright side a healthy immune system that is not swamped with toxins can fight off diseases successfully!
It is preferable to never be unhealthy to begin with and to eat nothing but healthy food from day one. Unfortunately it is not this way. Many have been conditioned to eat unhealthy, fattening, artery clogging foods from childhood to the grave. Many of us think it is a normal part of the aging process to start getting weaker, fatter, having more pain etc. after age 30 and onward. In many cases (definitely not all) premature aging and bodily weakening is the result of years of poor eating habits from childhood to adulthood. Due to many years of wrong eating habits it may be best to detoxify.
In the process of nourishing our cells with foods high in fiber such as vegetables, fruits, super-foods, and whole grains our body naturally detoxifies itself in the process, which in turn strengthens our immune system and slows, or in some cases, reverses the aging process. The key to optimal health as far as the physical aspect of our health goes, is to:
Eat plenty of Grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, super-foods, herbs, being sure to get plenty of exercise, pure water and clean air, excreting waste from the intestines quickly (which is a byproduct of eating plenty of fruits, fiber and vegetables). There are also natural supplements you can take such as Vitamin C, vitamins and minerals, and various antioxidants unless you are getting plenty of these from your regular diet.
I left out other important factors which contribute to overall optimal health. They included, but are not limited to, being healed of emotional traumas, maintaining a calm mental attitude, living in a spirit of prayer, faith, hope and love towards others in general, and towards God, Spirit, Higher Power in particular.
Next, I hope to share a little about the three remaining categories of health - mental, emotional and spiritual.
Mental and Emotional Health
Mental and emotional health are so closely related it is hard to separate the two. Having a healthy mind is not limited to having a keen intellect and an excellent memory. Someone can excel at this level of mental health but still be an emotional wreck, not to mention being spiritually ignorant at the same time.
Negative mental attitudes or emotions can have a direct effect on our physical health even if we are eating healthy food. Emotional traumas, anger, rage, hate, stress etc., when persisted in day in and day out, weaken the immune system and manifest in ill physical health. A negative mind, over time, often erases all the good that healthy food does for us.
Some forms of sickness, disease, and illness, as well as bad habits like smoking, drinking, drugs etc., are often external symptoms of something deeper. They are effects of a deeper cause. And until that cause is addressed and healed the symptoms will keep coming back like fruit on a tree whether in the form of ill health, disease, anxiety, bad habits of one sort or another, or in the worse case scenario cancer. Luckily there are warning signs when all is not well within.
The subconscious part of our mind is the storehouse of our emotions and memories and it is here where we need healing as far as our mental and emotional life are concerned. Sometimes negative or uneasy dreams (some of which originate from the sub conscious) are manifestations of our own fears and internal wounds. Some dreams are also messages, clothed with images we can comprehend, from our highest level of mind - the super conscious level - warning us when we are making wrong decisions, or heading in a wrong direction. In those rare cases where we are susceptible to the healing energies of the super conscious level of mind we can experience internal healing quicker than we ever imagined. More about this in a minute when I get to the spiritual aspect of health.
Along with a healthy diet it is important to think positive thoughts and maintain a positive attitude, avoiding anger and bitterness towards others. But, thinking positive thoughts and making an effort to be happy, loving, and optimistic, are only part of what is involved when it comes to the healing of our emotional life. We can only go so far by exercising will power alone, as important as it is to use our own efforts when attempting to make a change in our emotional life for the better. All our ethical standards, our rules and regulations for leading an acceptable moral life, all our positive thinking formula are a means to an end, the end being the opening and revelation of the spiritual aspect or our mind - the super conscious level of mind. This brings me to the last category of health, the spiritual category.
I have written about this subject elsewhere and will be repeating some of the information here. Keep in mind when reading this that being spiritual is not to be confused with being religious. Someone who is religious can be operating from a physical, emotional, and mental level only, but be void as far as being spiritual goes. A pseudo religious life (not to be confused with a genuine religious life) that is lived in pride, elitism, self righteousness and egoism is completely opposite of spiritual life. In context of this article being spiritual means living your life from the level of your super conscious mind, and living a harmonious life naturally from that level. This is easier said than done because our pride and ego often get in the way and cause us untold pain and suffering. But by living in harmony with the super-conscious level of our mind, and accessing the spiritual grace and energy which flow through (from God and Spirit) that same level of mind, our mental and emotional health, as well as our physical health, all fall into place and are balanced.
All our moral, ethical, religious or merely human efforts at trying to be a more loving, positive, optimistic person are a feeble way of (often unconsciously) aligning, or attempting to align, ourselves with that ever present flow of energy, light, grace, and Spirit permeating throughout all creation.
This ever present, but often unperceived and untapped, spiritual energy upholding all creation is the source of a truly happy life even when we find ourselves in the midst of negative external circumstances. It is the ultimate key to optimal health. Some call this ever present energy cosmic consciousness, super-consciousness, Christ consciousness, God, Spirit, a Higher Power etc. Some people personalize it and clothe it with a human form and then worship the person it manifests through. Ancient writings say the heavens and earth were made by the word of God and by the breath of his mouth. This is a human way of trying to accommodate a spiritual truth to the limited understanding of the human brain, using analogies, parables, particular genders, and concepts that can be understood by the rational brain. This often results in misunderstandings and even war and bloodshed in the name of religion.
The naked truth is intuitively perceived by the higher aspect of human consciousness called super consciousness. And it is this level of consciousness (Christ consciousness) that wells up from within to "save," change, deliver, and heal us when the thick layer of ego, all the emotional blockages, wounded memories, and wrong thinking, are thinned out enough by our own efforts at self improvement. This is the truth of the "Messiah" or Savior figure often mentioned in ancient writings. Eventually we have to let go of our own strivings and let God take over.
Or, we can continue to resist the inner pull and instead live an unnatural life with the end result of disharmony on all levels physical, mental and emotional. (This is the truth about the so called wrath of God. It has nothing to do God or Spirit being angry at us. But it has everything to do with us bringing suffering upon ourselves by choosing to go our own way, not heeding the whispers and impressions of the super conscious mind either within ourselves, or speaking through dreams, visions, other people, or even through writing, art, and so on.)
Once we tap into the spiritual flow of grace then a truly changed person is the result, from the inside out. Children are closer to this level of being than adults who have been conditioned and brainwashed throughout life via peer pressure, upbringing, culture and so on. Humility is key, not pride and ego. Attaining to the spiritual level of healing consciousness is the end of all religions.
When we are physically, emotionally and mentally healthy in the true sense of the word we are spiritually in tune with the highest level of our consciousness - the super consciousness - so that there is a steady flow of life and energy from that level of consciousness flowing into us as we allow it to flow through us cleansing and vivifying us. This even reaches to ones decisions on what to eat, motivating one to exercise and to joyfully do what is best for the body, to forgive others. By choice we finally willfully chose to move in a joyous harmony with the impressions, counsel, advice and wisdom forever emanating from the inherent harmony within the spiritual energy upholding all creation. The ego fears this and sees it as death to its pride and rebellion. This is the truth behind the often repeated idea of dying on the cross, worshipping God, obeying God etc. There is no true God who has an ego so inflated that he demands worship on pain of sickness and death if he is not worshipped. Instead, for our own sakes, the ever present holy Spirit encourages us (without interfering with our freedom of choice) to choose to move in the flow and harmony of the ever present spiritual energy upholding all creation so we can experience the true key to optimal health, and lasting harmony even after our brief stay in this world is over, and our temporal physical shell is dissolved into nothingness. The end result is a truly healthy and whole person.
The Buddha tapped into this source. Lao Tsu, in words and language accommodated to the understanding of people in his day and age, wrote about this in the Tao Te Ching. In the Christian religion Jesus was the personification of this spiritual grace, energy, Spirit, the eternal Tao, which many call God, or the Power and Word of God. The esoteric or mystical side of all religions emphasize this same point in so many different words. Some have experienced glimpses of this level of consciousness and try to share what they perceive through writing, some paint, some sing, and some dance etc. Everyone has their own unique way to bring that light and love to the world which they sense in the silence and stillness when the emotions, reasoning and physical body are calm and collected. Yoga and meditation in particular teach someone how to get in touch with the highest aspect of their being.
There is much debate about the type of insurance proposals that will be required in the new health system currently being negotiated in Congress. President Obama has just come out in support of a public health plan, which is opposed by private insurers who say that they could not compete with a public health plan that didn't have to make a profit. Supporters of the public plan proposal correctly say that it would give people more choices and create more competition. Opponents argue that private health plans would go out of business, leaving only an entirely government-run health care system.
Of course all sides are exaggerating and taking up extreme positions. They will all in time compromise and hopefully reach some form of agreement. The sad part is that at present they don't seem to be thinking of the person at the center of all this - the patient. It is widely acknowledged that health care costs far too much in this country, while at the same time at least 47 million Americans are uninsured. So, from a patients perspective, if you do have health insurance, you are paying way too much for it, and getting poor value, and if you don't have it, then you just continue to suffer. What a dreadful choice. What an indictment of America.
The goals of overhauling the health care system are to lower costs and extend care to the uninsured. Obama wants a bill on his desk in October at the latest. Where can Congress begin to compromise, and why is it that Republicans in particular, believe that public health plans are likely to be so dreadful. What is the evidence for this belief beyond their own philosophical ideas. They regularly bring up the supposed ogre of "socialized medicine" whenever public plans are discussed, but there is no evidence whatsoever that countries with more federal control over their health systems, especially in Europe, have worse health outcomes that the USA. In fact the contrary is true, health outcomes are much better overall, and cost a lot less money per capita of population.
As a physician who has lived and worked in the USA, Australia and Britain, and who has an interest in how health services are organized, I think America could move forward in a relatively simple way as long as we always keep the patient at the center of any health system we plan. It is essential that we do not design a health system primarily to protect profit levels for some or all of the various constituents, whether they be providers, health insurers or pharmaceutical companies. We have the opportunity of picking the best parts of other health systems from around the world and including these in the eventual plan to reform American health care, and we should learn from other countries.
What should we do?
Firstly we need a public-private partnership philosophy. Australia is a good example where this works excellently. That means public and private, not just private. American core business and social philosophies are based on capitalist principals so any new approach to health care must combine the need for profits in certain sectors of the health system, with the need to develop a number of core public health services that may be less likely to ever achieve a profit. Funding for care has to involve choice and should be provided in many instances through payment for annual or episodic whole of person care, rather than on individual piece rates as at present. These capitated payment systems work well for Kaiser Permanente, and in Britain. The primary gain from this approach is that it tends to force more resources into the prevention of illness and wellness promotion, rather than into the treatment of illnesses that have already commenced.
The public component of the health care system, seemingly strongly supported by President Obama, would include universal basic health insurance as well as catastrophic care insurance. We know that this type of system works well in America and is widely accepted and popular, because we have the very successful example of Medicare for seniors. Effectively broadening the base of Medicare for other populations would prevent many of the bankruptcies caused by healthcare costs, and would cover many of the current uninsured. Public insurance would then be likely to pay for many emergency and geographically isolated health services, as well as public health services, pre and postnatal and early child care as well as care of some special populations who cannot afford private health insurance such as the unemployed, and certain impoverished or geographically isolated groups. Medicare for seniors would of course continue. These are areas where there will be less competition from private insurers who have typically kept away from them, but of course any private health insurers would be able to enter these markets and compete if they wished.
The private component would be funded with the aid of broader tax incentives or similar financial tools to encourage most people (or companies) to take out private insurance. The aim should be that at least 80-90% of the population should have private insurance, whether it be comprehensive insurance, or top-up insurance to support core government provided insurance. It is important to reach this level of insurance to ensure that we all are financially responsible for at least a reasonable proportion of our health care costs. Here the Republicans are right as it is important that we do not see health care as something that is provided for free. The private sector should offer a full range of services from birth to death, but the industry should be more carefully regulated so that they would, for instance, be prevented from excluding patients on the grounds of pre-existing conditions. They should also have the ability to charge extra for certain "non-essential" services such as cosmetic surgery.
These ideas are taken from what I consider to be the best parts of the American, Australian and British health systems. No country has a perfect health system, and no country ever will. America can afford to choose the best from other countries as it debates how to improve its health care system. Lets hope that Congress can be creative, look outwardly, and not get bogged down in political dogma.
Being able to afford health insurance is a big problem for many people here in Alabama. In fact, the problem has become so severe that close to 17% of all Alabama residents cannot afford health insurance of any kind.
Fortunately the state of Alabama has made low-cost health insurance available to many people who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Children under the age of eighteen, college students, pregnant women and others may be able to qualify for low-cost health insurance through one or more state-sponsored programs.
For those individuals who do not qualify for a state-sponsored program there are still several simple things you can do that may help to reduce the cost of your monthly health insurance premium. And once you know what things you can do to lower the cost of your health insurance, then it will be time to get online and compare the cost of your premium-saving policy at every health insurance company that sells policies in Alabama until you have found the very lowest cost possible for the insurance you need.
Let's start with some lifestyle changes. These are the most difficult things for most people to do, even though they can potentially save the most on your health insurance.
Don't smoke or use chew or any other tobacco product. You know in your heart of hearts that tobacco products are not good for your health, and insurance companies know this too. That's why they charge tobacco users anywhere from 20% to 50% more for their health insurance than they charge non-smokers.
Losing weight is even more difficult than stopping smoking for most people, but if you are overweight you are going to pay more for your health insurance. Again, this is simply a fact of life. The good news is that losing even a small amount of weight can potentially drop you down on the insurance company's weight chart and can potentially save you hundreds of dollars each and every year in premium payments. Every little bit can potentially help.
Are your weekends filled with extreme or dangerous sports or hobbies? As fun and exciting as they may be, the fact is you are going to pay more for health insurance if you put your life and health at risk unnecessarily. The same goes for driving a fancy sports car.
And were you aware that your credit rating can also affect how much you pay for your health insurance? As strange as it may seem, the better your credit score the lower your health insurance premium.
Group health insurance is always less expensive than individual health care, plus group plans will often overlook smoking, weight and some pre-existing conditions that would drive the cost through the roof if you were purchasing an individual policy. If your place of employment does not offer a group plan start asking around at any club, organization or association you belong to. You may be surprised to find that some group you never even thought about offers its members group health insurance. Ask your friends and co-workers if any of them belong to a group, club or association that offers group health insurance - and then see if you can join. Ask if any religious organization you belong to offers its members group health insurance.
Look into joining an HMO a PPO or some other form of health maintenance organization. If your favorite doctor is not part of an HMO then you may have to switch doctors, but often you can keep your same doctor if you join a PPO. See if one of these types of groups makes economic sense to you.
If you own a home-based business it may be possible to qualify for group health insurance even if your only employee is a spouse. Ask your insurance agent if this is possible in your case. But even if group health is not a possibility, it still may be possible to deduct your health insurance payments from your taxes if you own your own business - and the tax savings could help offset the cost of your premiums to the point where health insurance is more affordable than you thought.
What about your co-pay and your deductible? If you can increase your co-payment and/or your deductible you can lower the cost of your health insurance. Obviously increasing your co-pay and/or your deductible must be considered carefully as any increase in either represents cash that is coming out of your pocket.
It's finally time for you to take the tips and tricks you picked up from this article and use them when filling out the form on at least 3 of the websites which allow you to compare health insurance prices among the different insurance companies.
Make sure that you fill out the form exactly the same way on all three of the comparison websites you've chosen and then simply pick the company with the lowest cost (being careful to choose a company that you feel confident will still be around when you need them), and your job is done!
You have now compared low cost health insurance in Alabama, you've picked the lowest-priced company and you can feel good about the fact that you are getting the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
Health care reform is on everyone's mind. It's an idea, they say, whose time has come. The cost of health insurance is out of control. 40 plus million Americans cannot afford or cannot qualify for health insurance.
But health care reform has been here before. Actually, about every 15 years there is a push for reforming health care in America. It started way back in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party introduced a platform calling for national health insurance for industry.
In 1934 as part of the New Deal, Franklin Roosevelt considered proposing universal health coverage as part of the Social Security Act. Presidents as diverse as Truman, Carter, Ford, George H.W. Bush and Clinton have all introduced various proposals for health care reform. Universal health coverage is always the stated goal. All the proposals put forth by all these administrations, dating back to the early 1900's have only thing in common-failure.
In 1943 President Truman proposed a single insurance plan that would cover all Americans. His plan allowed for public subsidies for the poor. This universal, comprehensive plan was to be run as part of Social Security. But Truman was faced with an economy that was transitioning from a war time economy to a peace time economy. For a time Truman lost the confidence of the general public. Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress in 1946 and branded Truman as a lame duck.
But Truman campaigned in 1948 on a promise to extend the New Deal and specifically targeted Congressional Republicans who has opposed national health insurance. Truman defeated these Republicans and seemed to have a mandate from the people to implement national health insurance. But despite having a Congress that had a Democratic majority, Truman could not pass his health reform plan. His plan failed because powerful Southern Democrats, all of whom held key leadership positions in Congress, feared that federal involvement in health care would lead to desegregation of hospitals that still separated patients by race.
Labor unions also played a part in the defeat of Truman's plan. The AFL-CIO supported the plan for universal coverage as did the UAW. But then, the UAW negotiated a deal with General Motors that included payment by GM of health insurance and pensions. Unions then believed that they could negotiate better benefits for their members than they could get under a federal universal health plan and they abandoned their support of universal care.
The AMA also opposed the Truman plan but they based their opposition on the unpopular concept of socialized medicine. As anti-communist sentiment rose, the public support for universal health care declined. Most large associations including the Chamber of Commerce, the ABA and the American Hospital Association supported the concept of voluntary and private health insurance. This was also the position favored by most of the nation's media.
Universal health insurance failed again in 1950. By that time the employer sponsored plans were deeply entrenched as an employee benefit. This was the time that insurance companies began to experience rate premiums. The result of this new rating system was that older, sicker people found it harder to get affordable coverage. In 1960 Congress passed the Kerr-Mills Act. This Act provided federal funds to the states to cover the health costs of the elderly who were too poor to afford health insurance. But this Act, with all its well meaning hope, failed completely because by 1963, only 28 states had agreed to participate and even those states did not budget correctly to support the plan. This Act became the precursor to Medicare and Medicaid.
From 1970 through 1976 more competing plans were proposed But compromises came and went and no significant bill ever reached the House floor because of lack of Committee consensus. President Ford withdrew his attempt at universal health reform fearing that it would make inflation worse. President Carter campaigned on the promise of a comprehensive national health plan but once elected shifted his priorities to cost containment, specifically hospital cost control, and told the American people that national health insurance would have to wait until the economy was stronger.
About that time, Senator Edward Kennedy introduced a new proposal which called for private health insurance companies to compete for customers. The private plans would sell an insurance card to be used for hospital and physician care. The cost of the card would depend on income and employers would be expected to cover the majority of the cost for their employees. The federal government would pick up the cost of the card for the poor. Neither the Carter nor the Kennedy proposal made it through the Congress.
The Clinton plan also supported universal health insurance through the enforcement of individual and employer mandates. The government would control the competition between private insurance companies The Health Care Task Force, chaired by Hillary Clinton when she was first lady, gave President Clinton a complex plan in September 1993. Despite a Democratic Congress, the size and complexity of the plan slowed its progress through Congress and lost the interest of the general population.
Now in 2009, another administration is proposing health care reform. The White House has created the Office on Health Care Reform. Members of Congress are polishing up their own creations for solving this problem. The administration believes that popular opinion will compel our elected officials to end what might be considered a national embarrassment of having millions of American unable to afford or have access to quality health insurance. But as far back as the 1930's, public support quickly began to fail as the insured were advised that the goal would only be achieved if they contributed more to the cost, either directly or through some added taxes.
The United States spends twice as much per capita as the average of the 10 next richest countries in the world. Yet, despite this expenditure, 1 out of 6 Americans under the age of 65 are uninsured and/or individually uninsurable.
One of the problems facing reform is that the 80% or so of American who have health insurance are generally happy with the care they receive. They like their doctors and the freedom to make their own choices when it comes to doctors and hospitals. Most think they already pay too much for health insurance. Most believe, and there is evidence to support this belief, that the red tape and the administrative expenses of their health insurance plan are part of the reason their cost has increased. Why can't someone fix that, they wonder?
The insured fear change. Any proposal that threatens their current insurance arrangement will be regarded with deep suspicion. Everyone is aware of the power of special interest groups. Our political system is set up in such a way as to frustrate action on any large and socially controversial idea. Congressional committees wield enormous power. The interest of each state in controlling its own health insurance programs can, in itself, bring down the whole idea of reform.
We have had some success in improving access to health care for million through some of the Children's Health Insurance Programs. But note that most of the programs to cover uninsured children are state based.
We seem to be unable to learn from past mistakes or take advantage of the concepts that actually have worked. Anyone who has done even a cursory study of history should realize that we have been here before.
Yes health reform is back again. What will happen this time? Stay tuned.
With health care costs soaring through the roof, the cost of health insurance premiums are increasing as well. Health insurance is a necessity, however, when you consider the costs of one visit to the emergency room, surgery to set a broken bone, scans, lab and other costs. When your budget is limited, how can you keep the costs of your health insurance premiums down? There are several steps you can take to reduce your health insurance costs and still maintain adequate medical coverage when you need it.
First step is to consider what health insurance options you have. Does your employer offer a group medical benefit? Many employers (and/or labor unions) offer health benefits to full-time employees. Group health insurance is usually the cheapest way to get medical coverage; an employer can negotiate with health insurance companies to get a group health plan at cheaper rates. In addition, many employers will pay part of the premium, reducing your health insurance cost even further. Another consideration is whether your spouse has health coverage available through their employer? If so, compare your health benefits plan to that of your spouse, and decide which health plan is the better buy. It may be possible to have one spouse carry family health insurance coverage and the other drop their health benefits. Many employers have multiple health insurance options, so review these plans as well. Choose the health plan that best meets your needs at the cheapest rate.
If no health insurance coverage is available through your employer, there are other ways to obtain health insurance coverage. Individual and family private health insurance policies are available. Shop and compare benefits and premiums from each health insurance plan. If you and your family are generally healthy, the new Health Savings Account (HSA) may be worth consideration. The HSA is an account that allows you to save tax-free dollars for your medical/health expenses. Similar to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), you are limited in the amount that you are allowed to contribute each year; however, with the HSA, withdrawals for health expenses are not penalized, and no tax is paid on the withdrawal. When paired with a health insurance policy that has high deductibles and low rates, the HSA may be ideal for you. Save money in the HSA for deductibles and co-pays, and you're set.
For those over 65 or permanently disabled, Medicare is available through the federal government. The original Medicare is an 80/20 plan (they pay 80% of eligible expenses and the insured pays 20%) with an annual deductible and a monthly premium. Supplemental health plans are available to cover this deductible and co-pay. These supplemental health plans are usually private and the insured pays a premium. In addition to the original Medicare plan, there are Medicare HMOs. In these Medicare HMO health plans, the Medicare premium is paid to an HMO to provide benefits to the insured. HMO plans are more restrictive in that patients must get care through a network provider, but often these plans cover more prescription drugs and preventive care than original Medicare does.
Recently some employers have offered lower premiums to employees who do not smoke cigarettes. This is currently a controversial topic for some, but it certainly may begin a trend. In the future, employers and their health insurance providers could offer reduced premiums for employees who maintain normal weight, exercise regularly, and receive certain wellness benefits. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle lowers the risk to the health insurance company that they will be paying big bucks in health care down the road. And health insurance, as any other insurance, is all about risk.
Bottom line: going without health insurance coverage is a big risk for you. Find health coverage that you can afford just in case Murphy comes knocking at your door!
Most people do not carry medical records when they leave home. They do not realize that in an emergency, which no one can predict, these medical records can make a big difference. In fact, they could save a life. Previous medications, history of allergy to medications, and other significant medical or surgical history can help a physician to optimize treatment. The National Health Council recommends you to keep a personal health record and take it with you to your doctor. It's one thing to document your medical information it's another to know when and how to use it.
The main components of a Good personal health record are:
* Your name, birth date, blood type and emergency contact
* Date of last physical
* Dates and results of tests and screenings
* Major illnesses and surgeries, with dates
* A list of your medicines, dosages and how long you've taken them
* Any allergies
* Any chronic diseases
* Any history of illnesses in your family
Personal health records in paper based format have been used since the beginning of modern health care services. These have several disadvantages as they cannot be accessed rapidly during emergency, difficulties in sharing of these records, security and vulnerable to physical destruction as shown in recent Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005. These records are also difficult to carry around for the individual when migrating to another medical center or health care provider.
Although there are different methods to record one's personal health, Portable Digital Personal Health Record Storage medias are popular since they offer the advantage to Individuals to enable them maintain their health information at their own computer hard drive or other storage devices. Moreover, these could be made easily accessible to any health care provider by the individual who controls the data.
Electronic management of personal health records were developed in the last 2 decades by several electronic health software vendors. Rapid growth in this sector was noticed during the dot-com bubble era.Today, with the growth of Web 2.0 in the internet, there is renewed interest in Personal health records in electronic format. Many still have confusion about Personal health records (PHR) and Electronic health records (EMR).PHRs are different. EMRs or electronic medical records are developed in Hospitals and medical centers, these legal health records are created and stored in health care settings and patients have no control over these records. They contain the longitudinal medical information of any patient over a period of time. A fully functioning EMR is described as one that includes a clinical data repository, controlled medical vocabulary, computerized provider order entry, clinical documentation or charting, pharmacy management, electronic medication administration record, major ancillary systems (for example, laboratory, diagnostic imaging, cardiology, and so on.) and picture archive and communication systems (PACS).
However, PHRs or Personal health records are created by the individuals and patients can have full control over these records. These can contain in addition to medical illness information, health related information. The models are shrink wrapped unlike the EMRs.They could also include complete demographics of the patient along with essential health insurance details. In addition they could also include record of illness over a period of time.
Personal health records have a useful role to play in health care management. Adopting technologies in health care will significantly reduce the cost and improve the effectiveness of health care delivery. Over prescription of medications, duplication of tests and lack of sharing of medical information among health care service providers has resulted in increased cost of health care in the current era.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purpose only and is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. The author encourages Internet users to be careful when using medical information. If you are unsure about your medical condition, consult a physician.
The cost of healthcare is driving a difficult dilemma --- Few of us can take the risk of a major illness or injury which can often be many thousands of dollars, yet health insurance that offsets this significant financial risk can be very expensive. The combination of a High Deductible Health Insurance plan along with a tax favored Health Savings Account (H.S.A.) can be a sensible middle path; Health Insurance for major medical situations while the Health Savings Account allows you to set aside your own money for routine or future medical costs. If you are self-employed and are paying for your own healthcare insurance coverage, this can be a path to affordable medical insurance that still provides important financial protection. An H.S.A. qualified High Deductible Health Insurance policy still has the substantial protection of a major medical plan, just not the "low-end" benefits. Don't be fooled by "Cheap" Health Insurance or "Affordable Healthcare" plans that limit benefits that you might need and still leaves you vulnerable to catastrophic medical expenses.
Health Insurance Component. A High-Deductible H.S.A. compliant health insurance contract.
Savings Account Component. A tax advantaged "Health Savings Account."
It is important not to confuse the two components.
The High-Deductible Health Insurance: It is your backstop to protect you from the financial risk of a major illness or severe injury. The health insurance contract completely stands on its own but is a prerequisite for the tax advantaged Health Savings Account. These insurance contracts are really misnamed. You can indeed have a H.S.A. compliant health plan with a range of deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket limits. Insurance companies offer a range of "H.S.A. compliant plans" with different features within the IRS rules --- just find a plan that makes sense for you. Be sure that any plan you select is labeled as H.S.A. compliant or compatible. Very few of us can afford the healthcare costs of an illness such as cancer, heart attack or a severe injury. These costs can run into the hundreds of thousands. My older brother's struggle with Lymphoma, for instance, resulted in over $500,000 in healthcare costs over two years. A High-Deductible Health Insurance is often lower cost because you are not buying the "low-end benefits" but it still offers financial protection similar to any "Major Medical" health insurance plan beyond the maximum out-of-pocket. This is a critical component to this overall healthcare finance strategy.
The Health Savings Account: An optional, tax advantaged savings account that you can use to set aside your own funds toward future medical costs. You are required to have a High-Deductible Health Insurance plan to take advantage of this exceptional tax deal. In 2009, the maximum contribution to your H.S.A. is $3000 for an individual account ($5950 for a family account) plus a "catch-up" contribution of an additional $1000 for people age 55 or more. This contribution limit is adjusted for inflation by the IRS each year. One of the very important advantages of the Health Savings Account is how broadly you can use the funds for healthcare expenses while retaining the tax savings. Examples are over-the-counter medicines, eye glasses, dental expenses and more. A second important advantage of a Health Savings Account is the tax impact. Essentially, the money you set aside in a tax year in this special account and then either retained or spent for qualified medical costs is reduced from your taxable income. A third very important benefit is with a Health Savings Account, if you don't spend the money contributed, you keep it. What you contribute this year and don't spend is retained for future healthcare expenses. Don't confuse the H.S.A. with a "Health Reimbursement Account" (H.R.A.) which you may have had with an employer sponsored plan.
Lower health insurance cost. Why pay for benefits you don't use?
Insurance protection for a major injury or illness. The "major medical" insurance protection of the High Deductible Health plan is a critical component.
Tax Savings. Optional but productive tax deal with the Health Savings Account.
Broad Eligible Expenses. Your H.S.A. funds can be spent for many different qualified healthcare costs.
Use it or Keep it! Money you set aside in your H.S.A. can be spent for qualified medical bills but is retained if you don't use it.
Is it a Good Fit?
This healthcare financing strategy, a High Deductible Health Plan paired with the Health Savings Account, is a good fit for many folks but not everyone. Here are the criteria that I want my clients to consider:
Can I qualify? Normally, you have to be in good health before the health insurance company will make you an offer.
Can I save? This strategy is better for folks that are willing to save for future healthcare costs.
Can I decide? This strategy is better for folks that want to make choices on what to buy with their healthcare dollars.
Can I spend? For this strategy to work safely, you have to be willing to spend your money when you need to for necessary healthcare expenses.
I purposely have not focused on the tax rules, plan details, etc. Most folks get caught up with this extensive detail and become completely confused. The big picture is what I want you to see --- This can be a great deal! --- Buy health insurance for the catastrophic risk only and self-insure your normal healthcare costs with contributions to a Health Saving Account. You save on your insurance costs, save on your taxes and have an overall better outcome.
Home health care is allowing the patient and their family to maintain dignity and independence. According to the National Association for Home Care, there are more than 7 million individuals in the United States in need of home health care nurse services because of acute illness, long term health problems, permanent disability or terminal illness.
Home Health Care Basics
Nurses practice in a number of venues: Hospital settings, nursing homes, assisted living centers, and home health care. Home health care nursing is a growing phenomenon as more patients and their families desire to receive care in their homes. The history of home health care stems from Public Health Nursing where public health nurses made home visits to promote health education and provide treatment as part of community outreach programs. Today academic programs train nurses in home care and agencies place home health care nurses with ailing individuals and their families depending on the nurse's experience and qualifications. In many cases there is a shared relationship between the agency and the academic institution.
Many changes have taken place in the area of home health care. These include Medicare and Medicaid, and Long Term Care insurance reimbursement and documentation. It is important for the nurse and nursing agency to be aware of the many factors involved for these rules and regulations resulting from these organizations. Population and demographic changes are taking place as well. Baby boomers approaching retirement and will present new challenges for the home health care industry. Technology and medical care in hospitals has lead to shorter inpatient stay and more at-home rehabilitation. Increases in medical outpatient procedures are also taking place with follow-up home care. This has resulted in the decrease of mortality rate from these technologies and medical care has lead to increases in morbidity and chronic illness that makes the need for home health care nursing a greater priority.
Home Health Care Nurse Job Description
Through an array of skills and experience, home health care nurses specialize in a wide range of treatments; emotional support, education of patients who are recovering from illnesses and injury for young children and adults, to women who have experienced recent childbirth, to the elderly who need palliative care for chronic illness.
A practicing nurse must have the skills to provide care in a unique setting such as someone's home. The nurse is working with the patient and the family and must understand the communication skills for such dynamics. Rapport is evident in all nursing positions, but working in a patient's own living space needs a different level of skill and understanding. There is autonomous decision making as the nurse is no longer working as a team with other nurses in a structured environment, but is now as a member of the "family" team. The host family has cultural values that are important and are different for every patient and must be treated with extreme sensitivity. Other skills include critical thinking, coordination, assessment, communication, and documentation.
Home health care nurses also specialize in the care of children with disabilities that requires additional skills such as patience and understanding of the needs of the family. Children are living with disabilities today that would have resulted in mortality just twenty years ago. Genetic disorders, congenital physical impairments, and injury are just a few. Many families are familiar with managing the needs of the child, but still need expert care that only a home health care nurse can provide. It is important that a home health care nurse is aware of the expertise of the family about the child's condition for proper care of the child. There are many complexities involved, but most important, a positive attitude and positive reinforcement is of utmost importance for the development of the child.
Medication coordination between the home health care nurse, doctor, and pharmacist, ensures proper management of the exact science behind giving the patient the correct dose, time of administration, and combinations. Home health care nurses should be familiar with pharmacology and taught in training about different medications used by patients in the clinical setting.
Many advanced practicing nurses are familiar with medication regiments. They have completed graduate level programs. Home health care agencies believe that a nurse should have at least one year of clinical experience before entering home health care. Advanced practicing nurses can expedite that training by helping new nurses understand the home health care market and teaching.
Employment and Salary
According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 2.4 million nurses in America, the largest healthcare occupation, yet many academic and hospital organizations believe there is a gross shortage in nursing staff. The shortage of nurses was 6% in 2000 and is expected to be 10% in 2010. The average salary for hospital nursing is $53,450 with 3 out of 5 nursing jobs are in the hospital. For home health care, the salary is $49,000. For nursing care facilities, they were the lowest at $48,200.
Training and continuing education
Most home health care nurses gain their education through accredited nursing schools throughout the country with an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), or a master's degree in nursing (MSN). According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2004 there were 674 BSN nursing programs, 846 ADN programs. Also, in 2004, there were 417 master's degree programs, 93 doctoral programs, and 46 joint BSN-doctoral programs. The associate degree program takes 2 to 3 years to complete, while bachelors degrees take 4 years to complete. Nurses can also earn specialized professional certificates online in Geriatric Care or Life Care Planning.
In addition, for those nurses who choose to pursue advancement into administrative positions or research, consulting, and teaching, a bachelor's degree is often essential. A bachelor's degree is also important for becoming a clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners (U.S. Department of Labor, 2004).
All home health care nurses have supervised clinical experience during their training, but as stated earlier advanced practicing nurses hold master's degrees and unlike bachelor and associate degrees, they have a minimum of two years of post clinical experience. Course work includes anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, psychology, and behavioral sciences and liberal arts. Many of these programs have training in nursing homes, public health departments, home health agencies, and ambulatory clinics. (U.S. Dep. of Labor, 2004).
Whether a nurse is training in a hospital, nursing facility, or home care, continuing education is necessary. Health care is changing rapidly and staying abreast with the latest developments enhances patient care and health procedures. Universities, continuing education programs, and internet sites, all offer continuing education. One such organization that provides continuing education is the American Nurses Association (ANA) or through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
There are many rewards to becoming a home health care nurse. Some rewards include the relationship with a patient and their family, autonomy, independence, and engaging in critical thinking. The 21st Century brings with it many opportunities and challenges. We must meet these challenges head on - there is an aging baby boomer population, a growing morbidity factor due to increased medical technology and patient care, and the growing shortage in nursing care.
Becoming a home health care nurse today is exciting and an opportunity to make a difference one life at a time. With clinical experience and proper education, a home health care nurse will lead the future of medical care.