In 2012, the number of uninsured Americans was around 46 million. That is a slightly lower, but statistically insignificant difference from the previous year’s uninsured numbers. That puts the total uninsured at about 15.4% of the total population. That does not even account for the millions of people who are woefully underinsured.

Even if you make plenty of money, medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US. That is reason enough to learn a few important facts about health insurance including:

  • How to buy
  • Types of policies
  • Government options

How to buy

43.5% of Americans: that is about 60% of the insured, get their policies through their employer. This is called group insurance. There was a time when this is how over 70% of Americans were insured. With that number decreasing, more people are having to go it on their own. Individual vs. group insurance is a very different animal.

Pre-existing conditions are usually covered under group insurance. The group is big enough to absorb those extra expenses. That is because there are many in that group that will never get sick. As an individual with pre-existing conditions, you will find a different reception. Some companies will simply not do business with you, while others will charge extravagant rates for basic coverage. If you lose your job, you will have a window of opportunity to purchase your existing insurance at a reduced, individual rate.

Outside of work, there are two routes you can choose. You can go through a broker who will research a variety of plans from all the major companies and offer you the one that best fits your needs (think Progressive for car insurance), or you can deal directly with an insurance provider and put together a more full-service package that includes a PPO network, accident protection, and short-term disability such as USHealth Group Private.

Types of policies

The three most common types of insurance are HMOs, PPOs, and Major Medical + HSAs. Health Maintenance Organizations provide the most coverage at the lowest price, and are great for preventative care for the whole family. The serious knocks against HMOs are that they are too restrictive. They are designed to provide care within a specific network of providers and it can be both difficult and expensive to go outside the network. The other negative is that HMO providers are rewarded for limiting medical treatment as much as possible. The idea is that if you keep a person healthy with inexpensive and regular office visits, problems can be identified early, and expensive tests and treatments can be avoided. If your family is reasonably healthy to begin with, this could be a great option to keep them that way.

The biggest difference between an HMO and a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) is that the patient has the freedom to choose any doctor she likes. Usually, a referral is not needed to see a specialist. For this freedom, one can expect to pay a bit more for the policy, as well as higher copays and deductibles. This option removes your primary physician as your medical gatekeeper and gives you more control over your family’s health care.

HSA stands for health savings account. It is not a stand-alone health plan, but is used in conjunction with other health plans. If a person opts for a plan that only covers major medical, they will often have an HSA to go along with it. As the name suggests, an HSA is a savings account used to pay medical bills as they arise. The idea is that you would pay into it monthly, and use it for low-cost services like doctor visits and labs. Your major medical policy is there for big ticket items like hospitalization and surgery. Major medical plans are much less expensive, but only cover major medical. This might be a good plan for someone who never goes to the doctor.

Government options

There are two major sources of government insurance: Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid is provided by the state and is based on income. Even as the number of people receiving insurance through work decreases, the number of Medicaid recipients is increasing. For families who have fallen on hard times, this option can provide even more comprehensive coverage than the policy once provided by an employer. Medicare is provided by the state, and is based on disability and age. It is an excellent resource for people with physical challenges.

There is much more to learn about insurance. No one, not even insurance agents can know it all. It is a highly regulated industry for good reason. But this one thing is easy to understand: having no insurance is a very bad thing. Find an agent or agency and start the conversation.


Oscar winning actress, Angelina Jolie, bravely admitted to the world that she underwent breast augmentation after losing both her breasts in a double mastectomy. The news dominated headlines because many people hadn’t heard of such a thing – a woman opting for a preventative procedure, and then admitting to cosmetic surgery. For many, this was the first time they’d heard of a non-superficial reason to garner breast implants.

In an op-ed piece titled “My Medical Choice,” Jolie tells her audience that she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which increases her risk of breast cancer to about 87 percent. “I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could,” says Jolie. Her mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 56, and Jolie has no plans to leave her children similarly motherless. She writes, “I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”

About her breast implants, Jolie has this to say:

“There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.”

She’s a brave woman indeed, and she’s helped to open the world’s eyes to alternative reasons to get implants. In truth, there are many reasons a woman chooses to have her breasts augmented. And, no one can argue that Jolie had a perfectly good reason to have her breasts reconstructed, after she lost both of her natural breasts in a double mastectomy.

What are some of the other reasons a women may decide to undergo breast augmentation?

There are many reasons that a woman might opt for breast augmentation, says, leading Baltimore breast augmentation surgeon, Dr. Adam L. Basner. A member of the prestigious Mentor’s Preferred Physicians Program, Dr Basner lists the following reasons as the most popular reasons a woman chooses to undergo breast augmentation surgery:

·To enhance the body contour of a woman who, for personal reasons, feels her breast size is too small

·To restore breast volume lost due to weight loss or following pregnancy

·To achieve better symmetry when breasts are moderately disproportionate in size and shape

·To improve the shape of breasts that are sagging or have lost firmness, often used with a breast lift procedure.

·To provide the foundation of a breast contour when a breast has been removed or disfigured by surgery to treat breast cancer

·To improve breast appearance or create the appearance of a breast that is missing or disfigured due to trauma, heredity, or congenital abnormalities

Studies have shown that a full chest can help a woman achieve a full life.

As it turns out, breast implants, even those garnered for cosmetic reasons, can have a positive effect on one’s life and mental health. According to a study performed by the University of Florida’s College of Nursing, breast implants have psychological benefits, as they improve self-esteem. 84 women were studied before and after surgery. These women reported higher self-esteem and improved sexual satisfaction post-surgery. Thus, leading researchers to determine that breast augmentation has health benefits, especially in women who perceive their breasts as physical deformities.

It seems that breast implants have lived with this stigma of being superficial for too long, but the truth is they have their benefits, and many of the women who have them aren’t superficial at all, but rather simply seeking to improve their life overall.

Parting words from Angelina Jolie:

“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”

 


There are really no words to adequately explain all the emotions that come with knowing a loved one is in the process of dying, and then the actual death itself. While the passing of the elderly does not produce a sense of shock, as it might if a person is young and in the prime of his life, that does not make the process necessarily easier on those who love this person.

To think she may be in any sort of pain, or suffering, can be very difficult to bear. You may feel helpless or overwhelmed by sadness, and this is perfectly normal. But, you don’t have to be powerless against these powerful feelings. There are ways to cope with this situation. Ultimately, you are presented with a wonderful opportunity to learn, grow and become a better person.

Turn to Something Larger than Yourself

Faith in something larger than ourselves is one of the best coping tools I know of, and was a life-saver as I watched my father slowly lose his battle against cancer. I have had too many experiences in this life to reject the idea that there is nothing beyond our five sense reality. There is something—I have given up trying to fully understand it. Understanding it is not necessary to tap into its awesome ability to heal and nourish us. Knowing that there is a rhyme and reason to all our experiences, including these challenging ones, can give you a healthier perspective on what is happening; it can help you become more accepting of the situation.

This is something very personal, and you don’t have to necessarily prescribe to the beliefs of any one major religion. Define what this force means to you personally, and how you can tap into it to get through this situation.

Strengthen Your Connection to Family

While everyone handles the dying process differently, very few people prefer to go through it completely alone. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in front of family members—they are one of the best sources of support during such a trying time. And your openness can inspire them to be open. The more open we are about what we are feeling, the better we can cope with the dying process.

It can be a wonderful opportunity to forgive past hurts, and reinvigorate relationships that may have weakened over time. Hopefully this experience will make you realize our time is limited, and how important it is to keep family near, regardless of conflicts or clashing personalities. I know my experience with my father caused me to look at certain family members in a whole new light—they were the same person they always were, but changing how I looked at them changed how I interacted with them. I felt more love for the people close to me, and became more forgiving of what I perceived to be their ‘’faults.’’

Take Good Care of Your Health

Turmoil in our personal lives is a common reason for getting off track with our healthy habits; but, tending to our physical and emotional well-being can make a huge difference in how we feel during this process. Exercise was one of my lifelines—it reinvigorated my mind and body, and was very effective at dispelling the various energies I was experiencing, namely my anxiety. You can still eat well when you are busy—pack away some healthy snacks or look up some 30-minute meals online. Keep stress to a minimum—now is the time to let go of unnecessary obligations and put yourself first.

Utilize Resources Available to You

During this time, you are contending with a lot. Besides the emotional toll, there may be practical issues with which you need to deal. If you are providing care for a loved one in your home, for example, your Area Agency on Aging, can offer all sorts of guidance.  If your loved one is in hospice; did you know that many, such as the Lightbridge Hospice, offer all sorts of services to family members, from spiritual counseling to guidance on financial matters?

This is a trying time in your life, but you can get through it with grace. Following the above tips can go a long way in making this situation more peaceful and manageable.

 


If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor has probably recommended weight loss as a means of lessening symptoms and reducing the risk of complications. And we all know that, in addition to diet, exercise is a great way to shed pounds, add lean muscle mass and improve virtually every area of health and wellness. However, as a diabetic, it’s important to fully understand your illness, as well as how exercise will affect your symptoms. Keep reading for everything you need to know about getting in shape with diabetes, including information on which exercises you should avoid, and which ones you can use to reduce symptoms and enhance health, appearance and quality of life.

 

Getting Started

Before beginning an exercise regimen, it’s important to understand your unique needs as far as your illness is concerned. Diabetes affects patients in vastly different ways, so an awareness of any specific symptoms or complications you may be experiencing is essential. For example, complications like nerve pain, numbness and vision loss should be taken into consideration before starting a workout routine.

Next, close monitoring of your condition is also crucial in protecting health and preventing injury. Keep a close watch on your blood glucose, and pay attention to how exercise affects your sugar levels. For added convenience, compact monitors like the Glucose Sensor from Dexcom are small, yet powerful, and are easily transported to the gym, on walks or wherever your fitness plans may take you.

Lastly, since many diabetics experience nerve damage in the feet, wearing the proper footwear is extremely important. Cotton socks are a must, as are shoes that are not only well-fitting, but designed for the specific activity on your agenda.

 

Exercises to Avoid

If you are in the early stages of your illness, you should be able to carry out most any exercise, safely and effectively. However, if you’re experiencing complications or can’t seem to get symptoms under control, you may want to avoid workouts like the following:

  • Heavy lifting. While strength training can be an effective way to burn calories and build muscle mass, too much heavy lifting should be avoided.
  • High-impact exercise. Since high-impact workouts like running, tennis and plyometrics may be hard on the feet, legs and joints, they may not be the best fit for individuals with diabetes.

 

Exercises to Enjoy

As long as your doctor gives you the green light, feel free to enjoy workouts like the following:

  • Light strength-training. As far as weight goes, you should feel resistance but shouldn’t have to strain.
  • Walking. Walking is a great exercise, and is suited to most any fitness level. For added benefit, try picking up the pace every few minutes, then returning to your normal speed.
  • Yoga. Yoga is not only a great way to lose weight and build strength: it may also help keep the symptoms of diabetes in check! Be sure to start out with classes for beginners, and make sure your instructor is aware of your condition and any other health problems you may be facing.
  • Swimming. Swimming is low-impact cardiovascular exercise, which means it burns calories without causing undue stress to the body. What’s more, swimming is a great workout for building strength and endurance, as well as tacking on lean muscle mass.
  • Dancing and aerobics. These workouts are fun, effective and keep your fitness routine fresh and inviting. Check your local gym for classes, or just get moving in the privacy of your own home!

 

Now that you have all the information you need on diabetes and exercise, you’re free to get started on your workout routine. For added benefits, be sure to pair your exercise regimen with a balanced, diabetic-friendly diet, which will amp up energy, promote weight loss and keep your body in top working condition.