Where is Your Health Information? Not Knowing Could Kill You!

Do you have a family doctor? How long have you been his/her patient? Do even they have a complete and comprehensive picture of your medical history going all the way back to birth? Not many do these days. Family doctors are hard to find and the result is that there isn’t really anyone at the helm of your healthcare. There isn’t that consistency that existed in the days of housecalls.

Of course, the day of the housecall has long since seen sunset, but if you’re not under the care of a G.P. (general practitioner), then who is making sure you get your annual physical? Who is plotting and planning to get those middle age tests looked after? And, who has ALL of your medical records.

These days, we are all in a hurry and in a society of global mobility, our records are being scattered hither and yon! The walk-in clinic you visited last week has a record of your prescription for that nasty chest cough. And the emergency room that you took your son to after that little soccer incident has the x-ray of his sprained ankle. But does anyone, anywhere have a record of everything … every treatment that has been undertaken … every medication …

In all, one million adults and 130,000 children in Ontario alone don’t have a family doctor. The OMA says the province needs 1,000 general practitioners now. (Hamilton Spectator Nov. 26, 2007) (This number grows exponentially when you look across North America … to a whopping 9.8 million!! – US Govt. Committee on Healthcare, Statistics -June, 2007). Government has, over the past few years, introduced a number of programs to provide more medical care especially to rural settings, but is it enough?

There’s too much room for error with numbers like this staring healthcare in the face … medical error that is! And medical errors cost money and lives!! People’s lives are permanently changed or even ended unnecessarily every day across North America due to the lack of essential information needed for doctors to make informed decisions about our care. The time for change is NOW!

But who needs to make the change exactly? Governments across North America and worldwide are recognizing the need and making funds available to improve communication capabilities in the medical industry. Medical practitionners have long-since noted a gap in the flow of information between facilities, private practices and healthcare providers of all sorts. All of these groups are thoughtfully and positively working toward change, but I would suggest that it is not their sole responsibility.

In fact, I would argue that responsibility is just as much that of the individual as it is their doctors’ and governments’.

So today’s order of business … where is your personal health information right now … right this minute? Do you have it neatly organized and typed on your computer or does only your doctor or medical practitioner know for sure? Maybe there’s a trail of prescriptions dating back to 1985 somewhere in your medicine cabinet?

Here’s the rub folks … you never know when you might need to know about yours or your family’s medical information! What if you’re on vacation thousands of miles from your doctor’s office or what if they’re just not available at the time? You just never know when your health information will be needed to help you or someone you love in a crisis?

Medical information technology is forefront in the new US administration’s mandate and your information is in their sights. Canada is working hard to implement a system for health communication as well. But their systems are still years away. What are you going to do in the meantime?

It’s up to you to take control! Do it! You have both the right and the responsibility to make sure that your health information is accurate, complete and current.

Bottom line … something is always better than nothing. Even if you just take a few minutes to write down life threatening conditions, a little of your medical history and what medications you take regularly, it’s better than leaving things to chance. Emergency contact information is also important in any personal health record so that healthcare providers can get in touch with someone who knows and cares about you. Keep your notes in your wallet and give a copy to someone who cares about you.

Better yet, make it as comprehensive as you possibly can. The more information you can provide, the less likely it is that an unnecessary medical mistake will affect your life!

It’s time for all of us to take responsibility for our own information in every area of our lives. How else can we really be sure the world has an accurate picture of who we really are?

Top Medical Insurance Providers

here are several health insurance carriers in the country and still, it is sad to see that not everyone are able to fully protect themselves and their family from medical emergencies due to the rising cost of health coverage. Good for those who enjoy the opportunity to be part of group health insurance as they pay low or nothing at all. For most Americans, it is a shoo-in for individual health insurance, or nothing at all.

While individual health insurance can be more costly than group health insurance, it would be more costly not to have any coverage at all. To make the search for the perfect medical insurance carriers easier, it would be ideal to check out their backgrounds and what they can offer to their customers.

Here are the top medical insurance carriers as rated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners based on market share:

Unitedhealth Group

The UnitedHealth Group is comprised of UnitedHealthcare, one of the many medical insurance carriers that serve millions of customers all over the United States. The Group offers healthcare plans that provide access to high-quality healthcare not limited to the 50 states but also in other international markets. The union of UnitedHealthcare and Golden Rule Insurance Company in 2003 has led to the provision of health insurance solutions and innovative health insurance products to many families. One of the many criticisms lodged against medical insurance carriers is the processing speed of claims. This company is proud of being able to process 94 percent of all health insurance claims in ten business days or even fewer. Medical insurance providers like United provide a toll-free customer service line for consumer inquiries.


Amongst all the other medical insurance carriers, WellPoint has the biggest membership of 34 million for its affiliated health plans. The company provides health benefit solutions and products including long-term health insurance, life and disability insurance and behavioral health assistance services along with others. Health coverage is supplied by this company to over 30 million members through the Blue Cross and Blue Shield name. It provides a variety of health plans including indemnity, HMO, PPO, hybrid plans for businesses, and recipients of Medicaid and Medicare. WellPoint has 37,500 employees as of 2010.

Kaiser Foundation Group

The Kaiser Foundation Group includes Kaiser Permanente which in turn is composed of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and the Permanente Medical Groups. With at least 8.7 million members in the District of Columbia and nine states, Kaiser is respected as the largest non-profit health plan in the US. It is famous for offering an integrated health care delivery model to its members including emergency care, well-baby and prenatal care, pre-emptive care, pharmacy services, hospital visits and medical services. It has a network of 32 medical centers, 416 medical offices and 13,729 doctors.


Aetna is one of the healthcare leaders amongst the many medical insurance carriers in the United States. They provide employee benefits, disability coverage, group life, pharmacy and dental plans. Aetna is supported by 154 years of heritage, having been created in 1850. It has a total of 34,024 employees and covers all 50 states. This firm has 16.6 million members and has a network of 4771 hospitals and over 470,000 doctors and specialists.


HumanaOne provides inexpensive health coverage and targets recent college graduates, early retirees, entrepreneurs and those who are not covered by work. It aims to make insurance plans more affordable to these sectors by providing low insurance costs of up to 50 percent. As one of the largest publicly-traded health insurance providers in the country, HumanaOne has a network of over 3,000 hospitals, over 350,000 medical providers and over 50,000 pharmacies all over the United States.

Knowing about the leading medical insurance providers will give consumers an idea of what to look for while selecting their own medical insurance carriers including the quality of health insurance provided, costs, and the total network of the provider.

Medical Underwriting – What to Expect

Many people need to go through a medical underwriting process before they are permitted to sign up for health insurance. This can be a very traumatic and terrible experience for many people. The process is invasive, lengthy, and filled with all sorts of loopholes and requirements. Meanwhile something very important is on the line: your health and the access you are able to get to health care to keep you healthy through your life.

Often you are also worried about your family when you go through the medical underwriting process. What will happen to them if you cannot get affordable and decent health care that can care for all your needs? What to expect during the medical underwriting process is that the insurance company will want to know everything they possibly can about your entire medical history. They will go as far back as necessary in your history to obtain this information. They will want to talk to childhood doctors and get records from every doctor you’ve ever seen.

If you have ever suffered from an illness or been treated in the hospital for any kind of condition, the insurance company will want to know all about it. They will want to know about any medications you took and how they affected you, as well as any surgeries you had and how you reacted to them. Accidents are part of your medical history as well, so any accidents and any care you received for those accidents should be documented. All of this is routine part of the medical underwriting process.

Any births you have experienced will also be explored. Your mental health might be something the insurance company will want to know about as part of the medical underwriting process. They will want to also know about your habits. If you smoke, they will want to know about it. Diet plays an important role as well. Exercise habits give them valuable information about you. And of course, they will want to know a lot about your family history. What diseases run in your family? They will use this information to assess their risk and potential costs in taking you on as a client. If you are going to go through this process, it is in your best interest to start getting all your paperwork together as early as possible. That will save you some time during the process, which could make an otherwise difficult process a little bit easier.

If you need assistance in locating particular coverages at a pre-determined price, we can help you save up to 50% on your health insurance monthly premium.

Foundation to Good Health

Few people are kind to their digestive system, often abusing them and then ignoring or covering up the signs of discomfort, stress or pain by taking medication.

Digestion begins in the mouth – enzymes in your saliva mix with our food and begin to work on it, particularly on carbohydrates. Chewing increases the surface area of our food making it easier for our enzymes to do their job further down the digestive tract. Chewing also alerts the digestive system further down the line, getting the pancreas and gall bladder ready. So if you chew your food well it gives your whole digestive system a better chance.

Here I should mention about chewing gum – chewing gum alerts your digestive system and certain things are set into motion, but the digestive system is fooled, no food! I have come across many people who constantly chew gum and have digestive problems. Once they give up chewing gum, more often than not their digestive problems disappear.

Many people confess to gulping down their food, hardly stopping to chew or taste their food. Often paying little attention to what they eat or how much they eat. It is a difficult habit to break and will need a conscious effort.

The health of your mouth and teeth is so very important at any age, as it is vital to be able to chew our food properly. As we get older it is even more important that we look after our teeth and gums. Find a dentist you like and trust. going to the dentist for regular visits is very important; I would say that you need to do this at least every 6 months. A good dentist can even alert you to any health problems just from the state of your gums.

Many people have over the years got into the habit of not chewing well, for many different reasons. You are not going to chew your food properly if you have painful or sensitive teeth, sore gums or indeed if you have broken or missing teeth. You could be making poor food choices, purely due to the state of your teeth.

Grinding your teeth at night, many people grind their teeth and have no idea. The dentist can detect the tell tale signs of wear and tear. This grinding can cause people to have jaw aches, headaches, neck aches or many times just have sore teeth and gums making them sensitive to everything you eat or drink. Having a mouth guard can eliminate this problem for some people. Get a mouth guard made especially to fit your teeth and mouth it’s much more comfortable if you do, so when you grind your teeth there is a cushioning to reduce the impact and pressure. Calm your anxieties with herbal teas and try to avoid caffeine as it can heighten your anxieties.

However, for most people the problem isn’t their teeth – it’s too being busy, or distractions, eating on the run etc. These are some of the things you need to consider. Do not eat -

a) while standing
b) while reading
c) if you are angry
d) while watching television
e) while on the phone
f) while driving

Concentrate on what you are eating, chew well and savor your food. In truth few people pay much attention to how much they have eaten or to what they have eaten, as they are too busy doing something else while they eat. The small amount of extra time needed is well worth the investment, it will make a big difference to your digestion and ultimately your health.

Drinking lots of water with meals is not a good idea as you dilute your digestive juices, but drinking water 20 to 30 minutes before a meal is really good for the digestion.

Saliva also helps to neutralize acidity in the mouth (protecting teeth) from acid in foods and drinks that most people consume most of the time. Then saliva also prevents infections by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. A dry mouth can be very uncomfortable, disturbing sleep, causing a sore throat all having a direct or indirect effect on your digestion. There are several causes of dry mouth could be due to a certain diseases, however, the most common cause is the side-effect of medication in particular anti-histamines and diuretics (in simple terms these drugs dry up the body). Other causes are dehydration, from chronic (more than short lived) vomiting, chronic sweating, chronic diarrhea and fever. If you have a dry mouth you need to consider making some life-style changes.

Herbs – Sage or Thyme, the herbs found in your or dried from supermarkets can be made into a natural mouth wash. Take 1 tablespoon of sage or thyme per mug of boiled water – allow it to stand for 10 minutes then strain, do not swallow. This strong infusion can be used for bleeding gums, infections, and mouth sores. Once the infusion is made keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days only. The fresh leaves of sage can be rubbed into the gums for gingivitis.

Vitamins – take 1000mg of vitamin C each day, to prevent infection and bleeding gums, maintaining healthy blood vessels.

Foods – sugary foods and drinks as we all know are detrimental to your teeth and general health. Foods that strengthen your teeth and bones, and at the same time maintain a good acid-alkaline balance – any dark green plants/herbs/vegetables.

Buckwheat is a seed that is used like a grain. It contains a compound called rutin. Rutin is an antioxidant, vitamin-like substance that protects against capillary fragility and bruising (typical of many people with high blood pressure), as well as bleeding gums. Buckwheat flour can be used to make great pancakes. ‘Crepes’ made in Brittany where traditionally made from buckwheat. This flour is gluten-free.

Avoid drinking black tea with food as it will hinder the absorption of minerals like calcium, iron etc due to its high tannin levels.

Taste and smell are extremely important to digestion as they alert the organs to excrete digestive enzymes and hormones. People who are short of zinc do not taste and smell their food particularly well, and should consider taking Zinc with a B complex. A common reaction to lowered sense taste and smell, is an increased use of salt and sugar.

Once we swallow our food it ends up in our stomach, where the lining of the stomach secretes hormones, enzymes and hydrochloric acid. Have you ever wondered why the stomach doesn’t digest itself? This is due to the fact that it has a very thick layer of protective mucus. In the stomach Pepsin – breaks down proteins. The stomach lining produces several types of pepsinogens, which lay dormant until they are mixed with hydrochloric acid. If you do not have enough hydrochloric acid, the pepsinogens cannot be activated into pepsin, making protein digestion very much more difficult. Hydrochloric acid is produced by the parietal cells in the stomach lining. Besides helping to break down proteins, it’s vital in the break down and ultimately absorption of minerals, especially calcium and iron. Having enough hydrochloric acid is important to our general health, as it kills bacteria, fungus etc. Generally, our hydrochloric acid levels drop as we get older. Gastric lipase splits down fats. Amylase continues to break down carbohydrates. Instrinsic factor, without it we could not absorb vitamin B12, causing pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is not the same as the anemia that is caused by iron shortages. Food will stay in your stomach anything from 1 to 5 hours, depending on what you have eaten.

Some people get heart burn, what does this mean? This means they suffer a lot of pain and reach for antacids that may or may not work, have side-effects and only treat the symptoms? Heart burn can have several causes – a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES for short), the muscle (valve) that rings the base of the esophagus and the top of the stomach. Swallowing opens the valve allowing food to enter the stomach and is supposed to prevent the stomach acid seeping back up into the esophagus, called “reflux”, causing burning and pain in the esophagus. Some antacids reduce the stomach’s acidity so it burns less. Others reduce the stomach acid secretion so there is less in the stomach. Both of these do nothing to encourage the valve to function better, and certainly hinder digestion and absorption.

There is a huge problem with this sort of treatment, as we need normal amounts of stomach acid to digest our food properly, lowering it sets up all sorts of health problems in the long run. There are foods and drinks that contain compounds that encourage the body to increase the production of a hormone that relaxes the LES valve. These include chocolate, tea, coffee, alcohol, and greasy foods (from processed fats). Being overweight increases physical pressure on the stomach, and can force acid up into the esophagus. This is why heartburn is so common amongst pregnant women.

Some people are in pain and take regular pain-killers, needing antacids to counteract their side-effects, but they too have side-effects! Get help changing some aspects of your life and diet, you will suffer less pain, take less medication, your body will naturally have less inflammation and will start absorbing more nutrients, which has a positive knock-on effect.

The stomach’s contents empties into the duodenum where its acidity needs neutralizing immediately. The pancreas produces about 2.5 liters of pancreatic juices/enzymes a day. The first thing that must happen is the production of a substance rich in sodium carbonate, neutralizing stomach acid, as the lining of the duodenum cannot cope with such high acidic levels. If this doesn’t happen you will be prone to duodenal ulcers.

The pancreas releases digestive enzymes – amylase, lipase and three proteases, digestive enzymes that further break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

There is a direct relationship between our enzyme reserve and the health of our immune system. The better our enzyme reserve, the better our immune system can cope with everyday battles, of which there are many, including your eating habits.

White blood cells are responsible for seeking out and destroying foreign invaders that manage to infiltrate our blood and lymph. Studies have shown that these white blood cells have proteolytic, amylytic and lipolytic enzymes similar to that produced by the pancreas for digestion. These enzymes break down larger molecules of proteins, fats and carbohydrates that have managed to get into the blood stream. These substances are dealt with before they cause too much havoc or destruction in our system. Interestingly, studies show depending on what you eat, directly affects your white blood cell activity.

Eating dead processed foods causes your immune system to use up large amounts of its vital enzyme reserves. Eating live natural foods doesn’t use up such reserves, and even adds to this the reserve. As your enzymes become depleted over the years and as you continue to eat dead food your digestive system struggles more and more (even if you are not aware of it). The gradual depletion of enzymes means most of our food is not being digested properly. This situation along with eating nutrient poor foods can lead to all sorts of chronic problems. Dead food is not just void of enzymes but more often than not also co-enzymes (vitamins, and minerals) that enable the body to manufacture more enzymes.

Studies have shown low levels of enzymes in diabetics. The pancreas has another function besides producing digestive enzymes, it also produces insulin. People suffering from liver problems have also been found to have low levels of digestive enzyme activity.

All food must be broken down into simpler molecules by enzymes. The more enzymes we get from your food the less your system has to manufacture, borrow or steal from other activities within your body, like the immune system. The enzymes provided by the food we eat, aid in their own digestion, leaving the body’s own reserves in tact to get on with other metabolic jobs that are so vital to your health.

Enzymes are the key to life, needed for every reaction in our bodies, otherwise we are like a machines without batteries. Vitamins and minerals are also known as co-enzymes, the building blocks to enzymes, sure our bodies can make enzymes providing we are absorbing enough co-enzymes (all the vitamins and minerals needed), this is not always the case.

After a cooked meal our white blood cell count goes up considerably, they would appear to aid in the process by providing much needed enzymes. However, when we eat raw foods there is no such substantial increase in our white blood count. Raw foods bring with them plenty of their own enzymes and co-enzymes, reducing our immune system’s involvement.

The gall bladder releases its stored bile salts, which break down fat into smaller parts allowing lipase to do its job more efficiently. Bile is a greenish yellow colored fluid that contains cholesterol, fatty acids, lecithin, bilirubin, and bile salts, produced by the liver. It’s the bile salts that are important to digestion as they help to emulsify fats, by lowering the surface tension it allows large particles to be broken down into tiny ones. Bile salts also help with the absorption of fatty acids from the intestinal tract. Bile gets its color from the pigment called bilirubin, which come from spent and worn out red blood cells that are removed from the blood stream for disposal.

A good working liver and gall bladder are very important to the digestion and absorption of fat. I hear some of you say, I don’t want to absorb fat. Oh, yes you do. Some fats are essential to our health and weight maintenance, so much so they are called ‘essential’ fatty acids. The liver and the production of bile is a very important part of controlling your cholesterol levels. Spent hormones and cholesterol are broken down by the liver and released into the gall bladder, from there cholesterol ends up in the large intestines.

Put simply, if your diet has enough natural fiber (from whole foods) and enough nutrients it will bind with the cholesterol and will be removed from the body via the bowels, thus maintaining good cholesterol levels. However, a diet void of enough fiber and nutrients, will allow cholesterol to be reabsorbed back into the blood stream, for the liver to deal with again.

In the jejunum and ileum is where most of our absorption takes place. Enzymes play a vital role in the process of absorption from the small intestine into the blood stream. To encourage maximum absorption the lining has microscopic finger-like protrusions, called villi. These villi give our intestines an enormous surface area to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients.

How to ensure your body has enough enzymes? At first you could take digestive enzymes in the form of capsules/tablets, these are only a temporary solution while you change your diet and your digestion improves. Take more live foods that are full of enzymes – fresh fruit, vegetables, natural plain yogurt etc. However these should be eaten raw or lightly steamed. Too much cooking easily destroys enzymes.

By the time the food has reached the large intestine (bowel or colon), a lot of what was worth absorbing will have already been absorbed by the time it reaches here. Though the entire digestive tract contains bacteria, here in the large intestine is where the majority of bacteria exist, the good, the bad and the terrible. These guys produce enzymes that continue to work on the remains of digestion. At this point water is re-absorbed and the longer the waste remains in the large intestine the more water is removed, and reabsorbed into the blood stream. This is called auto-intoxication. The more constipated a person is the drier their stools become.

Somehow, many people think that they can eat what they like and the digestive system just sorts it all out. I often hear people say – a little of this or a little of that, and a little of the other, will do no harm, not really stopping to think of all the accumulative effect it all has. Bit by bit, week by week, year by year!

The large intestines should contain a large abundance of the correct bacteria ‘the friendly bowel flora’, in order for these good guys to survive and flourish, they need the correct nourishment. These beneficial bacteria, contribute to our immune defense system, and help to produce some nutrients.

Modern eating habits and certain medications contribute, encourage and feed the unfriendly flora. Antibiotics are an example – disrupting the balance. Antibiotics should be taken as a last resort, they do undoubtedly save lives, but too many people are taking them for minor reasons. This approach really isn’t a good idea especially if you are not in a high risk category – being elderly, very young or have asthma etc. Just because I am a Naturopath doesn’t mean I am against pharmaceutical medication, however they are not a good idea for simple conditions or first resort (if the condition is not life threatening). Worldwide scientific news has been reporting for many years that antibiotics are being overused and misused, which is causing ‘drug resistant bugs’ and health problems.

Yeast or fungal infections are more prevalent as the bowel flora becomes out of whack. Symptoms are varied – including headaches, aches and pains, skin problems, respiratory problems and mucus problems, tiredness, more susceptible to infections and so on.

As a practitioner of natural medicine it is impossible not to think of the body as a complete entity, everything you do has a knock on affect on every single cell in the body.

Feed the bad guys – eat plenty of white rice, plenty of white flour products like white bread, when throw in some sugar for good measure, from so many foods like cakes, cookies and sodas. Plenty of products contain something worse, ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup’. This is not to be confused with the fructose that comes packaged in whole fresh fruit, is not the same thing at all, far from it.

Feed the good guys eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (remember 5 a day is a minimum recommendation), plus garlic, beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, millet, plain yogurt, ground flax seeds also know as linseeds or psyllium can be found in the supermarkets, add a teaspoon or two to a glass of water.

It is important that your bowel are functioning well, constipation is not good for your overall health. To prevent auto-intoxication, to balance cholesterol levels and hormones you need to consume enough natural fiber from whole foods, which will bind with cholesterol to successfully remove it from the body before it is reabsorbed back into the system. Hence why the adverts on lowering cholesterol extol the virtues of the soluble fiber found in oats. However, fiber from all sorts of natural whole foods will enhance your health, ensure a good working digestive system, feed the correct bowel flora, balance/lower cholesterol and so much more.

Be kind to your digestive system its your foundation to health.

Psst – Have You Heard About the Surge in Functional Health Beverages?

Improve your memory? Lift your mood? Relieve tension? A growing market of “functional health beverages” enhanced with herbs and other ingredients promise to improve your health. But do these drinks really offer health benefits? Judging by the reaction to these products the answer is a resounding, yes.

Americans want to be healthier and also discover the fountain of youth and longevity. The food industry is rushing to fulfill this new desire. The new buzzword is “functional health beverages and foods.” Functional beverages (also known as “neutraceuticals”) are beverages fortified with dietary supplements and herbal medicines. And they are becoming a multi-billion dollar industry.

Experts predict Americans will buy more bottled water than coffee or beer. Artificial flavors are losing ground to drinks with “all natural” claims. Antioxidant tea products are now the rage. And at least one brand of coffee is adding herbs and minerals to its beans. Energy drinks are the fastest growing supermarket category — with sports drinks right behind.

Japan was a pioneer in functional beverages and foods consuming nearly twice as many functional beverages as any other nationality. The Japanese have always made the direct connection between what you eat and drink and what you are, and they’ve long viewed their diets as being a primary source of health and medication.

Energy drinks have been established in Japan for decades and are also known as tonic drinks. Initially targeted at young consumers (and routinely used by this demographic as alcohol drink mixes), these drinks are now being aimed at people of all ages who need a healthy energy boost. People now understand that almost everything we take in has some kind of effect-this is a new kind of knowledge. Consumers are more empowered because of this knowledge, and companies are responding to this new found personal edification.

Other market sectors are continuing to expand. Enriched juices and juice-based drinks fortified with vitamins and minerals are gaining in popularity, as are herbal-infused beverages. All this goes well for the functional beverages industry. Functional health beverages are going more mainstream, because consumers have become much more holistic-minded, so companies are now meeting them in the middle. There is a consciousness out there now that very small amounts of something can have a very significant effect.

The functional beverages industry has attracted the attention of traditional beverage manufacturers focused on expanding their product ranges in the face of falling sales of old stand-bys such as carbonates. Pepsi’s purchase of Gatorade and South Beach Beverages Sobe, Cadbury Schweppes’ purchase of the Snapple and Mistic brands are a few examples. Products affiliated with major sporting brands, such as Reebok and Umbro sports and performance drinks, also are infiltrating the market. More sophisticated products, such as fast-rehydration drinks, are becoming popular, especially in Japan, where stamina enhancing sports drinks with added ingredients to aid performance are becoming more popular.

Wellness and nutraceutical drink products are increasingly being targeted at specific segments of the population, for example, age, gender, lifestyle and particular health conditions. Examples include Sunny Delight for children and drinks for women. Targeting specific segments of the population has been the motivation for many new products such as, women-specific products, issue-oriented products, for example, prostate and breast cancer prevention.

At present, the sports drink market is the most mature and therefore presents little opportunity for growth, which has become apparent already in the US and Japanese markets. Across all functional health beverage product lines, energy drinks are the fastest-growing sector, a trend that shows no sign of slowing in the immediate future.

The nutraceutical-wellness drink sector is the least developed but possibly the most exciting category, with drinks containing ingredients such as probiotics, prebiotics, soy proteins and phytosterols. Over-the-top premium pricing policies have also restricted sales in some circumstances, although a recent US survey showed 40 per cent of consumers were willing to pay a premium for products containing added nutritional benefits.

The same study ranked these benefits and found energy enhancement, illness prevention, heart health, anticancer effects, relaxation, mood enhancement and sexual enhancement were the most desirable. With interest in these kinds of products higher than ever, the future looks bright for this category. The 1990s fueled a health and lifestyle revolution that resulted in consumer demand for foods and beverages that provide both nourishment and good taste, at the right price. The beverage industry, with functional drinks, has successfully met those desires by selling a broad range of products–juices, energy drinks, smoothies, soy-based beverages, enhanced isotonics, enhanced water, teas that fulfills a nutritional need.

Claims for many of these drinks have not been proven and the amount of added ingredients is neither standardized nor identified on the label. And their safety — optimal doses, interactions and long-term consequences — isn’t known. Some skeptics believe the best approach for healthy living and feeling energetic is to eat healthfully, get regular physical activity and give yourself time to relax.

US consumers spent more than $25 billion dollars on ‘wellness drinks’ in 2005, making up 12% of all soft drinks spending across the US and Europe. The market represents a major opportunity for drink marketers, as consumers become aware of the link between diet and lifestyle.

What is important about the Wellness Industry? How about the definition: wellness is anything that makes you feel healthier, stronger, see better, hear better, feel better, or fight symptoms of ageing. The Sickness Industry’s definition is more in line with healthcare: anything concerned with being sick and treating symptoms of sickness. The Sickness Industry has little to do with preventing illness, being stronger or healthier which increases the popularity of the functional health beverages and food products. People are tired of popping pills for everything that ails them and are taking a more holistic or as some say looking at alternative health treatments rather than the traditional medical care that most of us have grown accustomed to.

The Wellness industry is going through a boom. Before the end of this decade, it is estimated that the Wellness industry may surpass the dot.com revolution. This is an exciting time.

Whether its drinks or spreads, yogurts or desserts, functional foods and beverages are among the fastest-growing categories in the food industry. If this looks like the 80s all over again, this newly discovered health trend has got to be the strongest yet. Consumers approach to health is different this time; it’s more aggressive, sophisticated, and here to stay.

Medspas – 5 Tips For Wellness Health and Beautifying Baby Boomers

It’s no longer enough to work on the “outside” of your looks and health. Wellness spas and preventive health-focused medical spas reach into your “inner body”, address sources of hyper-tension and stress, rough skin, even sleeping disorders, offering tension releasing deep tissue massage therapies, hydrotherapy, spiritual healing, sexual health guidance, colonoscopy and digestive fitness evaluation, skin and facial skin rejuvenation treatments, cosmetic and aesthetic procedures in a refined blend of Western and Oriental medical traditions, and offered in a relaxed setting.

Tip #1 Aromatherapy Massage. The top medspas, offering day spa cosmetic services, branch out to increasingly popular and effective treatments such as aromatherapy massage. Exploiting the penetrating nature of unaltered botanic oils and essences for deep penetration and tissue stimulation, aromatherapy massage combines focused pressure… such as shiatsu… while the massage therapist gently moves pressure into knotted tissue and muscle areas, working to relax and release bound-up tension… meanwhile oil essence is worked into your tissues to enhance healing and overall skin health. A half hour to hour session can leave you calm, relaxed, your skin muscles and skeleton loosened for a feeling of tranquility.

Tip #2 Deep Tissue Massage Therapy. Wellness spas are a safe haven for people seeking reduction in tensions, stress, unwanted rough skin When accumulated tension builds deeper within your body, surface touching lacks the vitality to address the underling tension. Solution? Deep tissue massage therapy. Tendons, ligaments, muscles, your skeleton and core nervous system all converge under the subtle applied arts of the deep tissue massage therapist.

What you’re looking for is the deep tissue massage that will work out knotted tightening “binds” in the integrated network of ligament, tendon muscle, nerve and skeleton. What will you experience? Some initial discomfort as the massage therapist presses into tender areas… and when your session is over, you’ll feel this subtle all-over feeling of relaxation and stimulation. The closest related therapy is chiropractic, which also delivers neuro-muscular pressure and skeletal adjustment in integrated therapies.

Tip #3 Classic Thai Massage. Centuries before modern chiropractic therapy principles became understood, Oriental natural physicians experimented in manipulating body energy systems, identifying energy pathways which could be stimulated in order to relieve disease symptoms or, proactively, to promote enhanced health. Modern wellness spas offer skilled therapists who can artfully deliver a series of Thai massage therapies focusing on skeletal adjustment, tissue stimulation, releasing accumulated tension deeply bound into tendons and ligaments. Sessions can last up to two hours, and your Thai massage therapist will combine hand and feet techniques in an integrative manual therapy to stimulate your body… inducing passive stretching similar to yoga and Tai chi.

Tip #4 Infrared Sauna. Medspas practice a range of detoxification therapies including the popular infrared sauna therapy. Imagine resting comfortably in a cooler infrared sauna… temperatures between 110 to 130 rather than the 190+ degree scorching from traditional Finnish saunas. High tech but safe infrared energy is easily, and deeply absorbed by your body and, according to practitioners’ theory, can stimulate the deep-tissue release of stored toxins held by our skin, the body’s largest organ. You sweat, your body’s circulation receives a stimulating boost, you leave your infrared sauna relaxed, refreshed.

Tip #5 Craniosacral Therapy. Exploring the “possible” as much as the “real” separates the truly avant-garde medical spas from the traditionalists. Yes, having a pool, golf and tennis nearby is a plus. However, New Age theories about brain activity, toxicity and disease formation suggest that the brain may operate with rhythmic patterning unique to itself. Craniosacral therapy exploits this subtle possibility with a hands-on therapy… light touch… sensitively probing and seeking feedback… releasing pressure from cranial bones (sutures where the bones connect) in an effort to identify brain patterns and signals of imbalance and potential disease. Unconventional, even far out? Yes. But wellness spas turn over every rock in the possibility of identifying a health therapy that’s just right for each visitor.

Bottom Line. Will all your physical tension simply vanish in one session as if by magic? Unlikely. But your medspa medical advisor will teach you the principles of regular exercise, stretching, yoga and posture, healthy foods, skin health strategies, detoxification, disease symptom recognition, plus a range of relaxation techniques.

When Your Health Insurance Plan Won’t Pay

The very nature of managed care health insurance plans increases the likelihood of a legitimate health insurance claim being denied. Bear in mind that managed care (health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, and preferred provider organziations, or PPOs) exist for the purpose of controlling costs for the health insurance company. Many health care procedures, surgeries, durable medical equipment and drugs, particularly the more expensive ones, require prior authorization from the health insurance plan before the plan will pay. Claims are reviewed to determine “medical necessity” of the claim. Health care services or products deemed “not medically necessary” will almost certainly be denied for payment by the health insurance plan.

Health insurance companies do make mistakes, however, and it’s certainly possible that a covered expense will be denied. What recourse does the health plan member have when one disagrees with the decision of the health plan? Here are some steps to take in dealing with a denial of payment.

1. Review the explanation of benefits (EOB) sent to you from the health insurance company. The EOB should state what services or goods were billed and briefly why benefits were denied.

2. Review your particular health insurance policy. What benefits does the health insurance policy state for the particular service or product? Should the claim be covered according to the policy?

3. Does the health plan have special criteria to be met in order for an particular expense to qualify as “medically necessary” and be considered a covered expense? For example, many managed care plans will cover drugs on their formulary. Other, nonformularly drugs may not be covered at all, or may be covered only if the formulary drugs have been tried and failed. An expensive MRI procedure may only be covered if certain symptoms are present. Check your policy to determine whether the expense qualifies as “medically necessary” by the health insurance company. Your health care provider must submit sufficient documentation to the health insurance plan to justify the need for the expense.

4. Is the health care provider “in-network” (contracted) with your health insurance plan? If not, does your managed care plan cover “out-of-network” (non-contracted) providers? Most HMO plans do not cover “out-of-network” providers; many PPOs will pay for services by “out-of-network” providers, but usually at at lower rate than paid to “in-network” providers.

If, after reviewing the health insurance policy and the EOB, you feel that the claim should have been a covered benefit by the insurance company, you should first request in writing that the insurance company provide you with the information that they used to base their denial of benefits. The health insurance company is required to provide you with this information on request. Review this information carefully. Many times the health insurance company was not provided with appropriate or sufficient documentation from the provider to justify the claim. If this is the case, contact the provider and request that they submit more medical records that support the claim for benefits. It may also be helpful for the provider to write a letter to support the claim in addition to the medical records. Your claim may be resolved in this manner.

All health insurance companies have a process in place by which plan members can appeal the decisions of the health insurance company. If providing further documentation does not resolve the dispute, then an appeal must be filed with the health insurance plan. Your provider may help you with this, and they may not. Read the member handbook and/or policy and follow the procedure for appealing the denial of the claim. Be prepared to submit more documentation to support your appeal. Keeping a record of all interactions with the insurance company is vital. Record all phone conversations and include the name of the person you spoke with, a brief summary of the conversation, and the date and time. File all correspondence sent and received, and have it readily accessible.

Bottom line is that health insurance plans are “for-profit” entities; in business to make money. They look for reasons not to pay. Indeed, their goal is to not pay, increasing their profits and keeping costs down for the members. It’s up to you to ensure that legitimate claims for covered benefits are paid.

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act: The First 24-Months

This article chronicles the implementation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, passed via referendum in the 2008 general election. As expected, once applied to our human tapestry, the MMA has been subjected to some already-classic judicial interpretations, with a strong promise of more to come.

The Michigan Legislature passed the MMA on December 4, 2008, making Michigan the 13th state to allow the cultivation and possession of marijuana for medical purposes. The Act cited a series of findings related to the beneficial uses of marijuana in treating nausea, pain and other effects from a variety of debilitating medical conditions. The Act also notes that according to the FBI, 99% of all marijuana possession arrests nationwide are done pursuant to state, rather than federal law. It is important to note that possession of the drug remains illegal under federal law.

The MMA defines a “debilitating medical condition” as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C, and other diseases along with other chronic afflictions which cause pain and nausea. A “primary caregiver” is defined as, “a person who is at least 21 years old and who has agreed to assist with a patient’s medical use of marijuana and who has never been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs.” A “qualifying patient” is “a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition.”

The basic mechanics of the Act provide that qualifying patients and primary care providers (marijuana growers) must possess a “registry identification card”, issued by the Department of Community Health. Tens of thousands of applications have been processed; many thousands remain pending with more filed every week; the demand for certification, for marijuana, is seemingly insatiable here in Michigan.

The high demand is understandable. Cardholders are not subject to arrest or prosecution for marijuana possession/distribution provided the patient keeps less than 2.5 ounces of smokeable pot. Care providers are allowed to maintain up to 12 plants for each qualified patient; stems, seeds and unusable roots do not count toward the plant limitation.

Physicians also have immunity from prosecution relative to their certification of the patient’s need for the drug, so long as they conduct an assessment of the patient’s medical history. A legitimate physician-patient relationship is required.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Conant vs Walters in 2003, physicians have been able to recommend a patient’s use of marijuana (but cannot prescribe pot by placing the recommendation on a prescription form). Doctors can also make notes regarding their recommendations in the patient’s chart and can testify on behalf of a patient’s medical use of marijuana in a court of law. The Supreme Court’s Conant decision paved the way for passage of the MMA.

Primary care providers may receive compensation for their marijuana. Selling marijuana paraphernalia also is allowed under the MMA, and such paraphernalia cannot be seized.

Persons merely present during the use of marijuana for medical purposes likewise are not subject to arrest.

Sound too good to be true? When marijuana is distributed to persons other than qualifying patients, the registration card is revoked, and the provider is subject to a 2-year felony. Also, driving while under the influence of marijuana remains illegal, as does smoking in public. Use or possession of pot on school premises or on school buses remains prohibited. And yes, it remains illegal to smoke in a jail or a penitentiary, regardless of your medical condition.

The Act set a short timetable (120-days) for the Department of Community Health to promulgate regulations for the administration of the possession/distribution credential. The delay in the promulgation of these regulations gave way to confusion among law enforcement, the public and some judges as to what is legal and what is illegal.

For example, the 2009 Redden case from Madison Heights involved a couple arrested during a drug-raid. The couple had applied for certification cards prior to their arrest and received the cards a month after their arrest. In dismissing the case brought against the two defendants, 43rd District Judge Robert Turner characterized the MMA as, “the worst piece of legislation I’ve seen in my life”, according to the Detroit News. Judge Turner’s dismissal was appealed by the Oakland County Prosecutor where it was affirmed in the Oakland County Circuit Court.

Earlier this year, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Oakland Circuit Court Judge Martha Anderson’s reinstatement of the criminal charges against Redden and Clark. Now, the accused Madison Heights couple will either have to plead or go to trial.

At the time of the raid on the couple’s residence, the Oakland County Sheriff seized 1.5 ounces of pot, some nominal cash, and about 21 small plants. Three weeks prior to the raid, each defendant had submitted to a medical certification exam with Dr. Eric Eisenbud (not making it up) of Colorado (and of the recently founded Hemp and Cannabis Foundation Medical Clinic) and applied for a medical marijuana card pursuant to the MMA. Their cards, however, had not been issued at the time of the raid.

At the couple’s preliminary examination before Judge Turner, the prosecutor argued that: a) the defendants were required to abstain from “medicating” with marijuana while their applications to the State of Michigan’s Department of Community Health were pending; and b) the defendants did not have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with Dr. Eisenbud.

Judge Turner indicated that the MMA was confusing relative to what constituted a reasonable amount of marijuana. The defendants in this case were found with an ounce and a half; the MMA allows 2.5 ounces.

Judge Turner made the following ruling:

For that reason, I believe that section 8 entitles the defendants to a dismissal, even though they did not possess the valid medical card, because section 8 says if they can show the fact that a doctor believed that they were likely to receive a therapeutic benefit, and this doctor testified to that. And Dr. Eisenbud is a physician licensed by the State of Michigan. And that’s the only requirement that the statute has. You don’t have to be any type of physician, you just have to be a licensed physician by the State of Michgan.

So, based on that, I find section 8 does apply. And I believe I’m obligated to dismiss this matter based on section 8 of the statute.

Under the applicable court rules, the prosecutor appealed the district court dismissal to the Oakland Circuit Court. In reversing her district court counter-part, Judge Anderson held that Judge Turner improperly acted as a finder of fact in dismissing the case. Judge Anderson also questioned whether the couple could avail themselves of the MMA’s affirmative defenses at all, due to their purported failures to comply with the provisions of the act; i.e. keeping the pot segregated and locked-up, and waiting until they received their cards from the Department of Community Health prior to growing their pot.

At the time of the Madison Heights bust, however, the couple could not have received marijuana cards because the DCH had not started issuing the cards. To date, almost 30,000 certifications have been issued.

In their September 2010 opinion affirming Judge Martha Anderson, the Court of Appeals held that the MMA’s affirmative defenses were available to defendants even though they did not have their cards at the time their pot was confiscated. The Court of Appeals held against defendants, however, on the basis that, at the time of their preliminary examination in district court, their affirmative defense under the MMA was incomplete and thus created fact questions.

The Court found the following fact issues to be unresolved at the conclusion of the exam: the bona fides of the physician-patient relationship; whether the amount of marijuana found in the residence was “reasonable” under the Act; and whether the marijuana was being used by defendants for palliative purposes, as required by the Act.

The most interesting thing about the Court of Appeals’ Redden decision is the scathing concurring opinion of Judge Peter D. O’Connell. Judge O’Connell wrote separately because he would have more narrowly tailored the affirmative defenses available in the MMA, and because he wished to “elaborate” on some of the general discussion of the Act set forth in the briefs and at oral argument.

Elaborate he did. Judge O’Connell’s 30-page opinion first notes that the possession, distribution and manufacture of marijuana remains a federal crime and further notes that Congress has expressly found the plant to have “no acceptable medical uses.”

In what will undoubtedly become a classic line from his opinion, Judge O’Connell writes, “I will attempt to cut through the haze surrounding this legislation.” The judge is skeptical that folks are really using pot to “medicate” and suspects that they are using the plant for recreational purposes.

He also takes note of the poor quality of the legislation to the extent that it conflicts with other provisions set forth in the Health Code.

Judge O’Connell next takes a tour de force through the legislative history of the MMA. Here, we learn that the act was based on model legislation proposed by lobbyists known as the Marijuana Policy Project of Washington D.C. The group advances both the medicinal and recreational uses of marijuana.

“Confusion”, and lots of it, is how Judge O’Connell views the MMA. In one of the many footnotes to his opinion, the Judge warns against all marijuana use until the score is settled, once and for all, by the Michigan Supreme Court:

Until our Supreme Court provides a final comprehensive interpretation of this act, it would be prudent for the citizens of this state to avoid all use of marijuana if they do not wish to risk violating state law. I again issue a stern warning to all: please do not attempt to interpret this act on your own. Reading this act is similar to participating in the Triwizard Tournament described in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: the maze that is this statute is so complex that the final result will only be known once the Supreme Court has had an opportunity to review and remove the haze from this act.

Euan Abercrombie, 1st year student at the Hogwarts school would probably remark; “Wow”.

For their part, the criminal defense bar, commenting via listserv, have basically gone wild over the concurring opinion, with its multiple web site references and pictures of marijuana advertisements. The consensus among the defense bar, however, is that the majority opinion is correct and that Judge Anderson, at the end of the day, got it right; Redden was not the cleanest case to dismiss under the Act.

The Oakland County Sheriff and Prosecutor correctly anticipated the Court of Appeals’ September decision. A few weeks prior to the Redden decision, they conducted a series of dispensary raids, ruffling tons of feathers along the way.

Of course, an application for leave to appeal has been filed with the Michigan Supreme Court.

For additional procedural guidance, we have prepared a legal guide for the MMA for those seeking to use marijuana for legitimate palliative purposes under the Act. Take note, however, that at least one appellate jurist would have folks managing chronic “pain” with prescription meds until the medical marijuana mess is sorted out by our Supreme Court.

Redden is not the only case causing some MMA consternation. Rodney Koon’s case has received notoriety. Koon was convicted of a misdemeanor because he admitted to police that he used marijuana to “medicate” earlier in the day that he was pulled-over by the police. Koon also admitted to consuming a beer, but his blood alcohol was within legal limits. Without sufficient funds to appeal, Koon is stuck with his conviction, even though he had a pot card at the time of his arrest.

Ordinances have sprung-up across the state to truncate the scope of the MMA. Bloomfield Hills, for example, passed an ordinance in October requiring card-carrying certified medical marijuana users to register with the Bloomfield Township Police Department. The ordinance also requires the submission of a form to the police disclosing the “patient’s” drivers license number and date of birth, whether the patient owns or rents their home, and identifying how many other patients share their home.

In addition, the ordinance limits the number of medical marijuana patients that can live at one address and prohibits growing medical marijuana anywhere in Bloomfield Township. Violation of the ordinance is a 93-day misdemeanor carrying a $500 fine.

Bloomfield Hills is among several municipalities that have passed ordinances that restrict the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Act, criminalize conduct authorized by the Act, or both.

Now the ordinance is the subject of a lawsuit filed against the township by two crafty [their "clients" are John and Jane Doe] veteran criminal defense attorneys: Tom Loeb and Neil Rockind. The lawsuit, undoubtedly heading to the Michigan Supreme Court, does not seek money damages but rather, declarative and injunctive relief.

Township by township, the MMA is coming under fire for a glaring flaw: it is a ruse for recreational pot users. Yes, there are legitimate medical marijuana users out there, in spades, for whom the MMA was designed to help. There are also many “patients” whose medical records were reviewed with a passing glance by a physician more interested in the high-volume review fees than in determining whether the person has a genuine chronic medical condition of the sort required by the MMA. The LawBlogger wonders how many certified users, among the tens of thousands of backlogged applicants, are under the age of 25; or are college kids whose only chronic condition is their desire to party down.

As these legal challenges grind through the court system over the next two or three years, the MMA will be subject to death-by-ordinance on a township-by-township basis. Attorneys Rockind and Loeb remarked in their press conference announcing their lawsuit that the ordinance in Bloomfield Hills cannot stand to the extent it contradicts a valid Michigan law.

While it may not be the best example of tightly drafted legislation; while it undoubtedly suffers from problems of perception/deception, the MMA is a valid state law. The appellate courts will have no choice but to invalidate ordinances that limit the scope of the Act, or criminalize it’s legitimate purposes.

This past fall, the recent election was a set-back for progressive marijuana laws. California’s Proposition 19 lost by a vote of 56% to 44%. If successful, the proposed law would have been the first in the country to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

In Arizona, the medical marijuana proposition lost.

In California, the pot initiative lost because too few voters under age 26 turned out and moderate voters rejected the initiative. Recent violence with Mexican drug gangs in both California and Arizona did not help either initiative.

Mixed messages float around the issue here in Michigan. Recently, a huge pot-expo scheduled for the Pontiac Silverdome, billed as the largest pot-party in the world, was canceled at the last minute.

All this raises the questions: do we really need to legalize pot? Is ours a pot-smoking nation? Does marijuana have genuine palliative properties?

One of the major problems of perception with medical marijuana laws is that folks are simply going through the administrative steps to get “medically” certified to use pot, but are smoking on a recreational basis.

No good comes of a law that sets requirements that are perceived as a farce. It would perhaps be better to legalize marijuana outright, then regulate its production, sale, and distribution.

California was really looking forward to billions in pot-derived state revenue. Here in Michigan, there is confusion about who can legally grow pot and how it should be grown and distributed to “patients”. In Arizona, the question is too close to call 3-days after the mid-term elections.

So then, what are they smoking? That’s what Detroit-based Cannabis Counsel lawyer Matthew Abel is asking of the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee, who met earlier this year, in January, in order to discuss a package of bills which would amend the public health code so that medical marijuana must be dispensed by pharmacists, and to classify medical marijuana as a schedule 2 controlled substance.

“It seems that if the legislature ever passed these bills, they would be in conflict with the medical marijuana statute,” Abel said. “So they’d need a 3/4 vote to supersede the law, and you know that they can’t even get 3/4 of the legislature to agree on lunch, let alone this.”

Southfield-based lawyer Michael Komorn, who also serves as the treasurer for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, said the bills are similar to bills introduced last year; last year, the bills which also would have allowed for 10 marijuana growing facilities to be affiliated with a pharmacy, got no traction.

This year’s incarnation of the bills would essentially make all production of medical marijuana illegal, though use would still be protected by law, Komorn said.

“It’s like the stamp act, arcane and without any understanding of what really is going on with patient needs,” Komorn said. “Bottom line, this is an attempt to repeal the Michigan medical marijuana act.”

It’s impossible, Abel said, to require dispensing of medical marijuana through pharmacies.

“They don’t have a supply, and no way to get it. There’s just no way for them to do it,” Abel said.

Still, he’s resting easy with the idea that the bills are going nowhere, and are really more about grandstanding for political popularity than they are about the Michigan medical marijuana law.

Now that the MMA has been around long enough to generate some interesting cases and controversies, we must wait until one of them percolates through the Michigan Supreme Court in order to get a true sense of this legislation. Our blog takes the position that the MMA is flawed and thus, exposed to failure, so long as it can be used to mask recreational pot use. Perhaps the most common sense thing to do at this point is what Peter Tosh called for world-wide: just legalize it.

You Plan For Parties, But Do You Plan For Your Health?

I find myself easily distracted this time of year. It’s mid November, and in my mind I am planning a Thanksgiving gathering with friends and family. Then I am fast forwarding to the smell of a fresh Christmas tree, the lights that will decorate the house, and the joyous feeling, the spirit that surrounds December and the new year.

This got me thinking…

We plan for Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday parties, vacations, our kid’s after school activities, and even our work week, but we don’t plan for our own health.

You know the saying, “prevention is key”, but in my line of work, it often takes a health emergency for someone to actually seek my services. I hear a slew of woes:

  • “I was diagnosed with (put major medical diagnosis here), and my doctor says that if I don’t change what I am doing then I will probably die in the next couple of years.”
  • “My anxiety has gotten so bad that my (significant other) said he/she will leave me if I don’t get help.”
  • “My (insert diagnosis) is so bad that I have used up all my sick days at work and I worry about losing my job.”
  • “My friends avoid me now because I am too tired / emotionally unavailable and keep declining their invites.”

Why does it take something major to happen for us to actually DO something about our health?

Here are the excuses:

  • I am too busy.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • I don’t have the money.
  • It costs too much.
  • Insurance doesn’t pay.
  • I would rather have/do ____________.
  • It is too hard to change my diet / lifestyle / habits.
  • I need something quick and easy.
  • The kids need all my attention.

The truth is, when you use these excuses, you are basically saying your health just isn’t a priority. And for some it isn’t. And that is OK. But most people I know don’t want to be sick, don’t want to feel like crap or emotionally overwhelmed, and don’t want to leave this earth prematurely.

Saying your health isn’t a priority is backwards thinking. If you aren’t physically and emotionally healthy, you can’t keep a job to make money, you don’t have the time to attend to your family, and you are shelling out more money to now address the problem.

There is a really, really, good reason that in case of an airplane emergency, you are instructed to put on your oxygen mask first and then attend to your child or loved one.

What is the cost to not buying into prevention or nipping things in the bud before they get out of control?

1. You actually end up spending more $ in the long run.

  • supplements
  • co-pay at doctor’s visits
  • extended therapy sessions,
  • lab work bills
  • pills, etc.

2. You actually end up spending more of your time focusing on your health problem.

  • doctor’s visits
  • extended therapy sessions
  • lab work
  • attempts to self-medicate
  • trying different pills or supplements, etc.

3. Your stress level increases, which in turn, just adds to your poor health.

  • Avoidance and procrastination suck a lot of energy!
  • It is exhausting carrying around emotional baggage all day long.
  • You are just too tired and don’t get anything done, which = anxiety.

4. Your family suffers.

  • If you don’t feel well, or if you are emotionally overwhelmed, you are unavailable to your kids, your spouse, and your 4-legged babies.

5. Your social life suffers.

  • If you don’t feel well or are emotionally pre-occupied, you isolate yourself from your friends, you turn down parties, dinners out, and recreational activities.

So next time when your inner voice says to you, “you know, you should probably deal with _________________ before it gets worse”, you may want to listen.

Is it time to rearrange your priorities?

Benefits For Massachusetts Health Insurance

The Massachusetts Health Care Reform was a law that had been enacted in the year 2006 for ensuring the safety of Massachusetts health insurance. According to the norms of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform, each and every member of the state of Massachusetts should be covered under Massachusetts health insurance policies.

There are provisions of free health or medical insurance for residents who earn a lesser amount than 150% of the country’s poverty line. It also provides partly subsidized health care services for those who earn as much as 300% of the federal poverty level. The extent of the subsidy is something that depends on a sliding scale based on the income of the individual. The reform is expected to cover about 440000 residents.

According to the norms of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform, the Health Connector, a liberal public body was set up. It is also called the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority. Its function is to offer subsidized coverage as well as enable purchase and selection of private insurance policies for small businesses and self employed individuals.

Residents of the state can obtain Massachusetts health insurance benefits such as tax penalty in case they are unable to obtain insurance. In 2007, the tax filers, who could not qualify for a health or medical insurance plan that was affordable for them, lost an exemption of $219 on the income tax. In the following year, the penalties were increased by monthly increments, depending on 50% of health insurance costs.

The Massachusetts Health Care Reform law had been enforced as Chapter 58 of Acts of 2006. The aim was to provide accessibility to accountable as well as quality health care standards. The bill was amended in 2006 and 2007 for making technical clarifications in the statute.

As far as the reform coalitions are concerned, there had been political leaders who advocated for implementation of major health reforms in Massachusetts. The aim is to expand the extent of coverage as well as draw attention to the number of people who are yet to be insured medically. The Governor of Massachusetts had made it clear that there should be a plan that covers all uninsured individuals in the state.

The coalition of ACT or Affordable Care Today introduced a bill for expanding the SCHIP and Medicaid coverage for Mass Health as well as highly subsidized programs. The aim was to increase the coverage subsidy and help employees out by providing medical coverage at affordable rates.

With signatures gathered from the common people, the proposal for a comprehensive health insurance coverage plan was placed. A program entitled ‘Roadmap to Coverage’ was sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield for extending the coverage to every person in the commonwealth.

The federal government pressurized the state authorities to make certain alterations to the federal rule that permits the state to operate an extensive Medicaid program. According to the previous waiver, federal funds worth $385 million were being credited to the state for implementing it wholly in healthcare.