Corporate Behemoths in Healthcare: Will the Patient Win?

The past several weeks have been abuzz with the mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare arena. CVS has purchased Aetna for a cool 69 billion dollars and went through the regulatory process with flying colors. Amazon (on their quest for world domination) has teamed up with Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and financial powerhouse J.P. Morgan to use their resources, influence and power to, according to Buffett, “tackle healthcare costs in our nation.” Buffet also said that because the U.S., at 18% of our gross domestic product, the U.S. is at a competitive disadvantage, at 3.3 trillion dollars annually. He believes the private sector can handle healthcare better than the government.

Albertson’s, a grocery company, is ready to acquire retail pharmacy giant Rite Aid. And now, Cigna, the insurance behemoth, is buying Express Scripts in a deal for upwards of 50 billion. Software giant Apple is dipping their toe into employee health, while things are starting to rumble at Wal-Mart, the retail monster.

After all of that information, you need a breather. But will a disruption by these companies be the thing that makes healthcare better in the U.S.?

Yet, as a patient advocate and caregiver supporter, my main concern is this: Will all of this be a win for patients, caregivers and families? You know – the healthcare customers?

While the shake-up in healthcare is oh-so-long overdue, is the combination of behemoths the right way?

First, this healthcare shake-up won’t be the last of the behemoths to combine. I would be willing to bet on that. We have yet to hear from the likes of Microsoft, Walgreens, Google or any of the Generals (Electric, Motors, Mills). What about other insurers? Where is Humana or United Healthcare in this game?

Many companies will follow suit. It’s just a matter of time. I liken it to the most popular girl in high school getting into a relationship with the most popular boy and becoming a force to be reckoned with. Everyone will see the trend, its benefits and potential, and jump into it. Sorry for the high school analogy.

The point is everyone sees that it is time for change in healthcare.

So what’s in it for patients/customers?

Something we must question is this: Are these corporations in it for the billions of dollars that healthcare is worth or do they really want better conditions, cost and efficiency for patients? Will the combination of all these behemoths reach past their employees and meet the needs of all patients in our nation? What are their motives?

My mission is to empower patients and caregivers to navigate healthcare confidently and correctly, to save them and all parties involved time, money and frustration. I show them that they have rights and responsibilities in their Healthcare journey and must take a strong and active role in their care. Patients are the lifeblood of the healthcare system.

None of these behemoth combinations will be successful without patient/customer buy-in. They’d better put all of their goals into a nice and helpful package for patients so they feel supported and empowered. If these corporations can show how the patient will be helped and how their alliances can save money for all parties involved, they should have no trouble in the regulatory processes they face.

But I implore all of you behemoths… DO SOMETHING.

Do something for the 64% of Americans who avoid getting care because they are afraid of the costs.

Do something for the working poor who make too much for Medicaid and not enough to afford skyrocketing healthcare premiums.

Do something that shows how healthcare can actually be affordable and where service prices do not have to be excessive.

Do something to empower patients and establish real healthcare cost transparency.

Do something about actual care and system processes to show that it doesn’t have to be as difficult or time-consuming as it is currently.

You behemoths have the power to change healthcare for the better for the foreseeable future and possibly, forever. Please don’t look down from your Ivory Towers upon us mere mortals and pity us or hope for the best. Do something.

Make it a win for patients, and we all will win.

What’s in Your Mouthwash?

You may use mouthwash as a part of your at-home oral hygiene routine. It may be because your dentist recommend you use it or maybe you have an extra sense of oral cleanliness that mouthwash offers. Regardless of the reason behind you use mouthwash, the use of mouthwash adds an additional level of cleanliness and protection from tooth decay and gum disease.

While there are many types of mouthwash, there are two main categories of mouthwash: therapeutic and cosmetic. The vast majority of mouthwashes are therapeutic, providing treatment from tooth sensitivity, bad breath and dry mouth, while also strengthening and cleaning teeth and gums to protect them from disease and decay. Cosmetic mouthwashes often have the sole purpose of whitening teeth. These cosmetic mouthwashes have additional ingredients in them that help remove stains from the surface of teeth.

What about the therapeutic mouthwash you use each night before you go to bed? What ingredients are in it?

Traditional mouthwashes have a variety of active ingredients that are to do everything from killing bacteria to giving the mouthwash a pleasant, sweet flavor. Most mouthwashes have at least 11 active ingredients plus ingredients for the flavoring. Below are the common mouthwash ingredients:

Active Ingredients:

  • Benzalkonium Chloride-Used for its antibacterial properties
  • Benzoic Acid-A common mouthwash ingredient that has good buffering and antiseptic properties
  • Calcium Hydroxide-An inorganic compound that acts as a depository of an additional layer of dentin.
  • Camphor-Used for its aromatic properties as well as a pain reliever
  • Cetylphyridinium Chloride-Acts as an antimicrobial mouthwash agent
  • Chlorhexidine Gluconate-An antiseptic disinfectant used to treat periodontal disease
  • Domiphen Bromide– Used for its antiseptic properties
  • Alcohol-An antiseptic that gives mouthwash its characteristic burning sensation
  • Methparaben-Used for its antimicrobial properties
  • Methyl Salicylate-Used for it aromatic and antiseptic properties
  • Sodium Benzoate– Used as a preservative

Active Ingredients for Flavor

Different mouthwashes will have a different mixture or concentration of different flavoring ingredients depending on what the overall mouthwash flavor is.

  • Clove Leaf Oil
  • Cubeb Oil
  • Cedarwood Oil
  • Eucalyptus Oil-Used for its antibacterial properties
  • Lemon Oil
  • Myrrh Oil
  • Redistilled Mentha Arvensis Oil
  • Sweet Orange Oil
  • Peppermint Oil-Used for its aromatic and antibacterial properties
  • Sucralose-An artificial sweetener to enhance flavor
  • Saccharin Sodium-An artificial sweetener to enhance flavor
  • Spearmint Oil

Emulsifier and Surfactant Ingredients

Emulsifiers and surfactants are what make the mouthwash foam after being swished around in the mouth.

Poloxamer-Acts as a surfactant

Polysorbate-Acts as a surfactant and emulsifier

The majority of mouthwashes one finds in the store or dental office will contain these active ingredients. Some patients, however, may not like using traditional mouthwash because of the numerous chemicals included in them.

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the use of all-natural mouthwashes and mouthwashes that are alcohol-free. Many of the natural mouthwashes can be made at home using common, inexpensive home products such as coconut oil, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Keeping Our Minds Young – Memory Loss, Alzheimer’s and Caregiving Considered

One of the most heartbreaking things for families is when an elderly member of the family loses their memory. It can be devastating, and it can make a family member who has been doing part-time caregiving almost want to give up. The family member feels guilty, and also realizes that 1/2 the time their elderly parent or loved one doesn’t even know who they are. It’s so sad.

What can be done to stave off memory loss?

Well, science still isn’t sure, but one thing is certain – the old adage; “if you don’t use it, you lose it” seems to be some pretty solid common sense. What tasks help the brain stay healthy? Well, crossword puzzles, companionship, making new friends, expanding the environment (mapping out where things are in our minds), and learning new things. This is something that an in-home caregiver can help with; someone to talk to, someone that can ask questions keeping them engaged, and someone to listen allowing them to articulate and in the process keep the mind thinking.

What else can be done? Well, there are many vitamins that the brain needs, and if you ask your physician about it, they can make some recommendations, and also make sure that none of the vitamins being taken interfere with the medication that’s been prescribed. An in-home caregiver can then remind them when to take vitamins along with when to take medications.

Will this stop Alzheimer’s? No, there is no cure yet, but research health scientists are working very intensely on the problem and Big Pharma is spending big on clinical trials, no winners yet, but you can bet that Pharmaceutical Companies and BioTech startups won’t give up on this quest, as there are huge dividends for the first drug proven to cure or stop the progression of the disease.

One article on this topic I recently read, which was very interesting appeared in Forbes. The article was titled: “How Close Are We To A Cure For Alzheimer’s?” published on February 13, 2018. You might wish to look it up, as it has links to six other pertinent articles on this topic.

For now, our best bet is to keep the mind active and alert by making sure it is used early and often – and nutrient rich, meaning the right diet and vitamins. Please consider all this and think on it – it’s time we all put the caring back into in-home care for our families.

Knee Replacement Cost Guide

Knee replacement surgery has become quite common and more affordable in the last few years. It is now considered as a safe option for people with severe osteoarthritis of the knee joint. This is especially a boon for patients who have end-stage arthritis of the knee.

The constant increase in the number of patients undergoing knee surgery surgery can be attributed to a number of reasons, including the following:

Increased affordability: Now a greater number of patients prefer to opt for knee replacement surgery because the cost of implants has decreased significantly in the recent past.

Range of implants available: Thanks to advancements in medical technology, there are a number of knee implants available today to fulfill the individual needs of the patients. From implants with 180 and 360 degrees motion to 3D-printed knee implants, there is nothing that isn’t available to benefit patients with different severity of osteoarthritis.

Improved surgical outcomes: Open knee replacement is a thing of the past. Now, several new technologies are available that offer greater benefits and ensures positive outcomes. Thanks to minimally invasive technology, surgery is not that painful anymore. Nor does it take weeks of hospitalization for the patient to recover.

But still, the cost of knee surgery in the Western countries continues to remain on the higher side. For patients in such countries who wish to undergo affordable knee surgery, flying to the top medical tourism destination is an option. Some of these medical tourism hotspots for knee replacement include India, Thailand, and Turkey.

The Average Cost of Knee Replacement: Top Countries

The average cost of knee surgery in the Western countries may start from $30000. Further, it is seen that the cost of knee replacement surgery varies not only from country to country but within a country or a city as well. This is especially true about the US.

For example, the knee surgery cost in Dallas, US, may vary between $16,772 and $61,585, depending on the hospital. Paying a higher price for a procedure does not necessarily mean that the quality that the hospital offers to the patient is any better than the hospital that is less expensive.

There are several factors that can be attributed to the disparity between the pricing of the same procedure within the same city. Competition, state taxes, location, and the level of free care provided by the hospital are some of them.

The cost of knee replacement in India, Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, and Taiwan, on the other hand, is much more reasonable than in the Western countries. The cost drops by as much as 50 to 80 percent in these countries. This explains the patient mindset when they decide to travel to the overseas to get knee implants.

Type, Material, and Manufacturer of Implant

There are different types and material of knee implants available today to choose from. Each implant has a specific purpose and is most suitable for a specific patient group. For example, older adults can manage everyday activities with an implant that allows flexion of 110 degrees. However, younger adults may need a high-flex knee implant because of an excessive activity level.

Cobalt chromium alloy, titanium alloy, oxidized zirconium, and polyethylene implants are commonly available nowadays. Each implant material has specific pros and cons associated with them. They vary in terms of pricing, use, availability, and longevity.

Type of Surgery

An individual is either recommended to undergo (TKR) or partial knee replacement. The difference lies in the portion of the knee joint replaced during the procedure. The duration of hospitalization and the recovery period in the case of TKR is greater than that of partial replacement. Therefore, there is a direct impact on the total cost that the patient has to shell out of his pocket for the procedure.

Type of Hospital

Hospitals with the most advanced infrastructure and state-of-the-art technologies tend to charge higher than other hospitals. This is despite the fact that the experience and the qualifications of the surgeon handling the case could be the same. The cost also depends on the location of the hospital. Centrally-located and easily accessible hospitals are expensive than remotely located ones.

Experience of the Surgeon

The cost of knee surgery also depends on how experienced the surgeon is. Surgeons with vast experience are the most sought after. In fact, it has been scientifically proved that surgeons who perform more than 50 TKR a year have less than one-third complications rate as compared to those who perform less than 50 TKR per year.

Most patients prefer to be treated by a surgeon who is experienced. But there is an extra price that they must pay for it.

Rehabilitation Cost

Rehabilitation after surgery includes physiotherapy, which is conducted at an extra cost. The doctors usually advise the candidate to undergo physiotherapy for at least 6 to 12 weeks for better outcomes and pain relief. Each session of physical therapy may cost anywhere between $20 and $350, depending on the country where you are getting treated. Rehabilitation is an important aspect of recovery after knee replacement. Therefore, patients must take into consideration these expenses while planning for the surgery.

Incidental Costs

The patient may have to incur incidental costs in case of any complication. Additionally, the costs may increase when the duration of stay inside the ICU post surgery is extended. Like any other surgery, there are certain complications associated as well. Post-surgical infection delayed wound healing, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and pulmonary embolism are some of the examples. The management of such conditions has an impact on the overall cost.

Other Costs

  • Unanticipated care and management of a pre-existing condition may add to the total bill amount.
  • The greater the number of days you spend at the hospital, the bigger is the billing amount.
  • Cost of private or single accommodation is greater than shared or multi-bedded accommodation.
  • Follow-up visits after discharge from the hospital cost extra.
  • Loss of earning resulting out of hospital stay and impact of surgery may add to the financial burden.

Tips To Choose A Hospital Overseas For Knee Surgery

Choose the country wisely. Countries that offer cheaper treatment do not necessarily compromise with the quality of medical services.

Choose the surgeon wisely. Do not choose someone who is experienced but charges a whopping amount.

  • Choose a surgeon whose clinic is less crowded. Surgeons who are hugely popular tend to remain busy and spend less time per patient. This may hinder personalized care that you may desire to have.
  • Seek help from a hospital or a medical tourism facilitator to arrange for additional needs. This may include accommodation, local travel, translator services, and hospital transfer.
  • Check the credibility of the hospital online before selecting one. Look for patient testimonials and Google reviews.
  • Check the accreditation of the hospital. Prefer to choose a hospital that is certified by Joint Commission International (JCI).
  • Ask for all the information beforehand about the type of implants that will be used. Also, ask for a detailed profile of the surgeon who will conduct the surgery.
  • Seek an estimate for potential costs associated with airline tickets, hotel, food, and other expenses.

How to Make 200k By Staying Healthy

Staying healthy seems like a punishment to many until it is accompanied by the opportunity to earn you 200k.

Given that both cost savings and staying healthy are desirable but challenging aspects with an impact on your financial wellbeing, several approaches can be employed to ensure that both are achieved seamlessly without discarding the other.

Here are some of the approaches to staying healthy and earn 200k in cost savings and as extra income from various incentivized wellness programs.

  1. Insurance discount

Insurance premiums are periodically deducted in your income to facilitate payment of medical bills in case you fall ill. Some insurance providers encourage healthy living among their clients so as to reduce the cost of claims. Customers who stay healthy benefit from discounts on premium payable or cashback refunds. Some insurance providers give up to 15% as a refund to customers who exhibit healthy living in their activities and medical records.

  1. Paid wellness challenges

Several wellness challenge applications that encourages healthy living by incentivising the entire process using financial rewards exist on the market. Subscribers commit to a programme and set a goal which upon being met will be paid with cash and cash equivalents. However, if the subscriber fails to meet the target, for example losing 500 calories in a week, the application deducts an agreed amount from their committed funds. This approach provides both positive and negative motivation aimed at encouraging healthy living.

  1. Alternative workout

The average gym membership cost is approximated at $58 a month, exclusive of the extra charges such as the registration/initiation fee and other fringe costs. It translates to roughly as high as $1000 a year depending on the location. Earn this $1000 by using alternative workout regimes with equipment that are freely available in your house or engage in outdoor activities and freely access public facilities.

  1. Cycling to work

The average commuting cost and time in America is $10 and 25 minutes respectively. This translates to an annual cost of $2600. Cycling to work not only eliminates this cost but it also provides you with an ample 50 minute mental and physical workout to and from work.

  1. Go veggie

You can save up to $25 a week or $1200 annually by omitting meat and meat products in your meals. Increased intake of vegetables not only helps you to stay healthy but stopping meat consumption also boost the ‘health’ of your wallet through cost savings.

  1. Befriend technology

Wearable gadgets and smart watches have inbuilt healthy living applications that tracks physical activities such as walking, the heart rate, calories burned or added, etc. This data can be synchronized to other stakeholders such as retail stores and businesses that encourage healthy living, and the user earns points that are converted into cash discount redeemable at the store.

It pays, literally, when you stay active and healthy, and within 1-2 years of staying healthy you can make up to 200k. Staying healthy and being physical active saves you money in the in the long run (pun intended).

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9912986

You Need Patient Advocacy

Healthcare in the U.S. is broken and only getting worse. Here are just a few examples of why:

  • Of the $3 trillion spent on healthcare annually, $1 trillion is wasted;
  • Many doctors are providing too much unnecessary treatment;
  • Providers are paid for quantity of care vs. quality of care;
  • Healthcare costs are through the roof for everyone; and
  • Many patients are not aware of their rights and responsibilities within their healthcare.

Many people settle for the care they get from their healthcare providers when they should not. If you ordered a cheeseburger and got a hamburger, wouldn’t you take it back? Do you use that same tactic in your healthcare? Maybe not. You’re not alone, most don’t.

Have you ever had an experience at a doctor or hospital that was uncomfortable or frustrating? Had errors on your bills? Left a doctor’s appointment feeling puzzled? Many experience this every day. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to deal with poor treatment.

Advocacy is a patient-centered method that can address many of the ills of America’s healthcare delivery, spending waste and inefficiencies.

Being a social worker for 20 years in many areas of healthcare, I’ve seen plenty happen to people who were uninformed or didn’t know what to say, do, or ask. Many times, negative outcomes were preventable.

What is patient advocacy?

This means championing the cause of meeting a patient’s needs and desires during their healthcare journey. This could mean speaking with doctors on a patient’s behalf, facilitating communication between healthcare providers, supporting a patient’s end-of-life wishes, correcting an erroneous bill, helping with insurance claims and so many other things.

Advocates also have focuses such as billing, insurance claims and appeals, specific diseases (cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke), or getting and keeping good care (like me). There are professionals such as hospital advocates, patient navigators and nurse navigators in healthcare facilities to assist patients with their needs while they are in the hospital.

If you hire a private advocate (one with no corporate/non-profit interests) and pay them directly, their job is to go to the mat for your best interests. If you want to know where the loyalty of any advocate is, find out where their paycheck comes from, and you will have your answer. It’s not always with the patient, unfortunately.

Insurance does not cover advocacy (so private advocates must be paid out-of-pocket), as the government has not regulated our profession. Anyone can say they are an advocate because of this, even my sixth-grader, no matter what their level of experience is. Make sure to check their education, skills and experience before hiring them. Ensure that they are the right fit for your specific needs.

In advocacy, intelligence is not a substitute for experience. Many very sharp people have called on my services because they didn’t know how to handle their healthcare situations, some after making matters worse. They alienated the healthcare providers or they were labeled as “troublemakers.” Communication shuts down between families and providers – which is an awful scenario that does not help the patient’s interests. Advocates can assist you in a situation such as this, and many others depending on their specialty.

Healthcare is a business and you are a consumer. Further, you are responsible for your own healthcare. Patients have to take care of themselves and yield to a provider’s orders, as they are the experts on healthcare. Yet, patients have the right to question any medication, test or procedure proposed to them. Patients must do their part to have good health, as they are the experts on themselves. One cannot drink and smoke heavily and expect a miracle cure for their body after abusing it.

Healthcare spending can decrease once patients learn to use the healthcare system correctly, and a good private advocate can show you how to do that while saving you time, money and frustration.

Not only individuals and families can benefit, but corporations and non-profits can save by enlisting an advocate’s services. It will show their employees (especially those that are caregivers or have chronic illnesses) that there is a more efficient way to experience healthcare treatment, and possibly solve problems which can increase productivity!

What Are the Benefits of Dental CT Scans

The work of the dentists is never easy without the use of special equipment. Most of the work done by the experts revolves around the diagnosis. Unless accurate diagnosis is done, the treatment will not be beneficial. That is why dentistry relied so much on X-Ray images to identify oral infections and diseases. Despite the benefits of the X-Rays, they are inadequate. They failed to cover some parts of the mouth. That is dangerous since the hidden mouthparts might be infected without the knowledge of the dentists.

The insufficiency of X-Rays led to the adoption of the CT scans. The CT scans enable the dentists to get 3D images of the mouth. That reduces the difficulty of examining the mouth. It becomes less difficult for the dentists to identify oral infections. No special preparation ought to be done by the dental patients prior to the examination. However, they are advised by the dentists to wear loose clothes. Anything that might tamper with the imaging should not be worn. That includes hearing aids, sunglasses, and jewelry.

The CT scans offer a wide range of benefits in dentistry. Listed below are some of its great benefits.

Reveals everything in the mouth

The CT scan does not hide anything. The scan captures every part of the mouth using different angles and views. Thus, the dentists will have a better view and idea of what is happening in the mouth of the patients. In fact, the dentists prefer the scan when planning to carry out a complete evaluation of the entire mouth.

Bone and soft image tissue

The CT scan is more effective than the traditional X-Ray imaging. The typical dental X-Ray was used to capture images of the jawbone and teeth. However, the CT scan provides more details. The scan captures details of the teeth, bones and soft tissues in a single scan. Thus, dentists have a complete view of every part in one image.

It is quick

The CT scan is very quick. For a full mouth scan, the imaging process is likely to take 20 to 40 seconds. A scan targeting a specific part will take less than 10 seconds. Apparently, the patients are not supposed to be exposed to radiation for a long time. That is dangerous. The imaging process takes a short time but it is very effective.

Controlled radiation

The CT scan uses radiation. Exposure to radiation is one of the causes of cancerous growth. That is why most people believe that the equipment is risky. When a small amount of radiation is used, it does not have any bad effect. The CT scan equipment gives dentists the ability to control the radiation. That has helped in reducing the risk of getting cancer, making the equipment a safer alternative.