Real People Hurricane Relief

Real People Relief is for individuals, families and groups who wish to help a person or family directly, with no "middle man" "Be The Change" Ghandi "I pray that I may not be tempted, by indifference or selfishness to withhold from others the help I have received." Author Unknown to me

Monday, November 13, 2006

Health Information

11/14 - Sent by Hancock County VOA

Dates and times for flu shots - November Schedule:

November 17 Prime Outlet Mall, South Side

November 20 Big Lots, Pass Road

November 21 Steinmart, Pass Road

November 27 Academy Sports, Highway 49

November 28 Americans Thrift Store, Pass Road

these shots are free - the times are from 8:30AM till Noon and 1:00PM till 3:30 PM

Look for the HCA Van - Memorial Hospital at Gulfport

Adult Screenings Offered:

Cholesterol
Blood Pressure
Glucose(for those adults who have fasted)
Adult screening are offered once a month for Foot Sensation and Stroke screening

IMMUNIZATIONS FOR CHILDREN UP TO AND INCLUDING AGE 18:

DTP
Hepatitis B
Hib
MMR
Polio
Meningitis
Varicella*
Pediatric DT
Influenza (seasonal)
Prevnar
Tetanus

* We administer the Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine at the hospital due to the necessity of refrigeration limitations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

228-867-4246
228-867-5210


Thanks
Dianna
Case Coordinator
HCLTRC

All found on AOL

ASK FOR A DEAL The rate that your doctor charges isn't set in stone. According to a 2005 Harris Interactive poll, about two-thirds of adults who negotiated for lower prices with a hospital or dentist succeeded, as did three out of five adults who bargained with their doctor. If you're paying out of pocket or face a high deductible, call your insurer's customer service number and ask about the rates it pays physicians in your area, which are typically lower than the sticker price set by providers. Then ask your doctor if he'll accept a similar amount.
I know this one to be true. If you have cash in hand, it's more than 30% less.

GET THE FACTS The more you know about the real cost of your care, the better you'll be able to negotiate discounts. Costs for 30 common hospital procedures can be found at www.cms.hhs.gov/HealthCareConInit, the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

LOOK FOR MISTAKES As many as eight out of 10 hospital bills contain errors, increasing the tab by 25% on average. Keep a log of every test and medication you get, and check it against your medical file, which you can order from the hospital's billing office. If you spot an error, send a certified letter requesting a corrected bill, and a copy of all documentation to your insurer.

The Insurance Maze
CHECK UP BEFORE YOU CHECK IN Radiologists, anesthesiologists and other specialists don't always accept the same insurance as the doctor who admits you to the hospital. Call your doctor to get the names of the medical providers who will be involved in your treatment, and verify with your insurer that they're in the network

TRACK YOUR SPENDING Do you know when you've met your deductibles or how much money is left in your health FSA? Programs such as Quicken's Medical Expense Manager ($50 at quicken.com) can tell you and also alert you to potential savings such as overlooked tax deductions and possible billing errors.
Tax deductions - if your medical bills exceed 7.5% of your income, you can deduct it on Federal Tax Returns. That's a high bar, but the list of eligible expenses is extensive, including insurance premiums, dental X-rays, fertility treatments, prescribed weight-loss and stop-smoking programs and even LASIK eye surgery. See www.irs.gov/publications/p502 for the details.

BE FLEXIBLE Add up your co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket medical expenses from last year to figure out how much to put into your flexible spending account (FSA) (your benefits department can tell you what's eligible). For every $1,000 you put in, you'll slash about $300 in taxes.

DON'T LOSE IT You'll forfeit any funds in your FSA that you don't use by the end of the year or by March of the following year (depending on your company). Need to get rid of some bucks? Stock up on over-the-counter medical supplies like Band-Aids, cold and flu tablets and aspirin; order a six-month supply of contact lenses and solution; or schedule an extra session with your shrink, if you've exceeded the number of therapist visits covered by your health plan.

CONSIDER AN HSA If you have a high-deductible health plan (at least $1,050 for individuals; $2,100 for families), you are eligible to fund a health savings account (HSA), which you can tap to pay medical expenses. You'll save about $1,500 in taxes for every $5,000 you put into an HSA. Any funds you don't use will grow tax-free and can be rolled over from year to year.

CHOOSE WISELY Don't just take the easy way out during open enrollment and sign up for the same health plan as you had last year. These days the difference in premiums is small, ranging from an average of $590 a year for an HMO to $637 for a PPO; the real differences lie in the plans' co-pays and deductibles. To figure out which option is best for you, estimate what your total annual costs are likely to be under each plan, depending on your family's medical needs (many companies have online calculator tools to help figure this out). If you have kids, you'll likely want a plan with low co-pays for doctor visits and good coverage for preventive care; if you're young and healthy, a plan with higher deductibles and lower monthly premiums may be a better bet.Or, take one with a higher deductible and put the extra money into a sock for when you do go to the doctor.

GET WHAT YOU DESERVE Are you paying the tab for acupuncture or chiropractic care? Check your insurer's website or call the help line to see if your plan covers alternative medicine treatments. Some 87% now do. Many also offer discounts on preventive measures like vitamins and bike helmets.

DON'T BE DENIED Your insurer refused your claim? Fight back. Begin with a phone call to customer service, and if that doesn't work, put your appeal in writing. Document everything, including the times of calls and the names of the reps you spoke with. "Every plan has an appeals process that you must follow to the letter," says Robert Bland of http://www.insure.com/, a consumer information website. For more information, download the Kaiser Family Foundation's guide to handling disputes with your employer or private health plan (www.kff.org).

HIRE EXPERT HELP Buried under thousands of dollars in bills and claim denials you can't resolve? Consider hiring a professional billing and claims specialist to help you resolve disputes. You'll pay $50 to $250 an hour, but you may save up to 40% on your bills. To find specialists in your area, go to http://www.billadvocates.com/ and www.claims.org

FOLLOW THE RULES Read the fine print on your plan to find out your insurer's requirements for referrals and pre-certification. You're likely to need them for expensive procedures like an MRI, which can cost you more than a thousand dollars if your insurer refuses to pick up the bill.

CHECK YOURSELF OUT If you're in the market for a new policy and you've applied for individual health, life, disability or long-term-care insurance in the past seven years, go to http://www.mib.com/ to see whether this insurance industry antifraud group has a file on you. Request a copy (it's free) to make sure the information provided about your health status is right. If you find a mistake, ask for a correction in writing ASAP. Errors can drive up your premiums by hundreds of dollars a year.

STAY INSURED Leaving your job next year? Switch to the lowest-cost plan during this year's open enrollment. Then, after you quit, federal rules (known as COBRA) will let you stay on your employer's health plan for up to 18 months, although you'll usually have to pay the full cost, plus 2%. Once you've tapped out COBRA, you must sign up for a new policy within 63 days or insurers can legally turn you down or refuse to cover pre-existing conditions.

FOLLOW DOCTOR'S ORDERS Roughly half of all patients don't follow instructions about taking medicine, which results in 10% of hospital visits a year, according to the Merck Manual of Medical Information. Simply doing what you're told can save you your out-of-pocket share of the average $8,200 cost of a hospital stay.

EQUIP YOURSELF Hospitals charge a significant markup on equipment like crutches or braces, so you're almost always better off buying them on your own.
Emotional Counsel If you're seeing a mental-health therapist every week, you're probably footing much of the bill: Most health plans limit coverage to 30 visits a year. You can cut the cost by going to a certified counselor or clinical social worker (average fee: $90 an hour) instead of a psychologist (around $120). A recent survey found no difference in effectiveness.

Medication Game
ASK FOR SAMPLES Drug companies give away tons of samples to physicians, so your doctor may be able to supply you with several weeks' worth of medication at no charge. Bonus: If you discover after a few days that the cream for your rash isn't working, you won't be left with an expensive tube of goo you can't use.

GRAB GENERICS Whenever you can, opt for generic drugs, which on average cost less than a third as much as their brand-name counterparts, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. If you're paying retail for one prescription a month, you'll save $863 a year by going with the generic version instead of the brand name. Got drug coverage? You'll still save $13 on the average prescription co-pay, or $156 for a year's supply. And don't forget about over-the-counter medications: By sticking to the no-name store brand, you'll save $100 of the $400 that the average American spends annually on over-the-counter drugs.

FIND A CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE... If there is no generic version of a brand-name drug you're taking, ask your doctor about a therapeutic substitute or an older drug in the same category. A drug that has been on the market for more than 10 years will almost always have a generic version available.

GO POSTAL Call your drug insurer, a.k.a. your pharmacy benefits manager, and ask if you can order your prescriptions directly from the plan. Typically you will save 15% to 35% on your monthly co-payments at the pharmacy, or nearly $90 a year on the average prescription.

OR BUY ONLINE You may find the best deal of all at an online drugstore, particularly if you order more than one prescription at a time. Recently, for example, you could order a 90-day supply of Lipitor, a popular cholesterol-lowering drug, for $306, or as much as 30% off typical retail prices, at http://www.drugstore.com/. To make sure a site is legit, check to see that it carries the seal of the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS), a quality-control program sponsored by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (http://www.nabp.net/).SPLIT 'EM UP High-dose pills are generally priced the same as their low-dose counterparts, so ask your doctor if you can safely split a higher-dosage pill in half. You'll save about $179 to $610 a year per prescription if you don't have drug coverage or 50% on your co-pays if you do.

SHOP MOM AND POP The federal government doesn't regulate prices on drugs sold at pharmacies, so your costs can vary widely depending on where you buy. In New York City, for example, the price for 30 tablets of the widely prescribed antidepressant Paxil recently ranged from $97 to $180 at various stores.

SIGN UP FOR MEDICARE PART D Open enrollment for the government's drug plan for seniors runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. If you're 65 or older and don't currently have drug coverage, sign up as soon as you can. Average savings on drug costs: 28%. If you delay and need coverage in the future, you'll get hit with a permanent penalty of 1% of your premium for every month you were eligible and didn't enroll. If you're in good health now, simply choose the lowest-cost plan in your area; you should be able to find one with premiums of less than $10 a month. Already enrolled? Now is your opportunity to switch to a different plan if you're not satisfied with the one you have. Compare plans in your area at www.medicare.gov.

GO FOR THE DISCOUNT No drug coverage? Visit the Partnership for Prescription Assistance website (http://www.pparx.org/), which has links to more than 400 patient-assistance programs offering discounts on more than 2,500 medications. Most programs require you to demonstrate financial need. But some, such as Merck's discount card, are open to all income levels.

Dental
STICK WITH THE PLAN
These days most dental insurance works much like the typical health insurance plan, in which you pay a lot less if you use providers in the insurer's network than if you go outside the plan. If you haven't yet switched from your out-of-network family dentist to a practitioner who's on your plan, what are you waiting for? Your savings: 15% to 35% on the cost of most routine dental procedures, according to Mercer, a human-resources consulting firm.

JOIN A DISCOUNT CLUB No dental coverage? Enroll in a discount dental plan, offered through major insurance companies like Aetna, Cigna and WellPoint. You'll pay about $100 a year ($150 for families) and save 20% to 30% on the cost of treatment by participating dentists. Just make sure that the network has practitioners in your area before you enroll and that the plan itself is legit (there have been a few cases of fraud) by checking to see if it's registered with your state insurance commissioner (www.naic.org).

GO TO DENTAL SCHOOL If you're looking for bigger savings than the discount plans offer, try going to a clinic at a major dental school, staffed by closely supervised students in their final two years of training. (For a school near you, search for DDS/DMD programs at http://www.ada.org/.) These clinics charge about 50% less than dentists in private practice. One caveat: You could end up spending twice as long in the dentist's chair (hey, they're still learning).

CHOOSE CHEAPER FILLINGS Many consumers opt for the aesthetic appeal of resin-based fillings, which are tooth-colored, instead of the old metallic (a.k.a. amalgam) variety. But amalgam fillings are 20% cheaper, and they last longer too.

Prevention
TAKE AN ASPIRIN...and maybe you won't have to call any doctor in the morning. If you're a man over 40, a woman past menopause or a smoker or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or a family history of heart disease, you can sharply lower your risk of a heart attack by taking an aspirin every day or every other day (consult your doctor first). The cost of aspirin: about 20ยข a day. The average cost of treating a heart attack: $25,000, including hospital, doctor and drug bills.

STRESS LESS Between 60% and 90% of doctor visits stem from stress-related factors, says Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute. So chill out: Take a yoga class, listen to music and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.

STUB YOUR BUTT $4.35 a pack on average or more than $1,500 a year if you smoke a pack a day. But consider the extra costs of lighting up: $1,600 more a year in health-care costs than for nonsmokers, plus a 10% surcharge on homeowners insurance and up to 300% on individual life policies, not to mention higher dry-cleaning and dental bills. And you may soon be paying more for health insurance at work too. By 2008, 25% of companies expect to impose penalties for bad health behavior, such as higher deductibles and premiums for smokers.

PUT A CORK IN IT If you're a binge drinker (routinely imbibing a minimum of four to five drinks at a sitting), you'll average $900 a year more in medical expenses compared with a teetotaler, according to the Lewin Group. To avoid these costs and stay healthy, have no more than one drink a day if you're a woman, two if you're a man. Plus, that $40 bottle of your favorite Bordeaux will last twice as long.

GET MOVING Obese people pay about 26% more in medical costs than those who are in shape. So joining a gym or taking a dance class is a smart investment in your health. Or buy a pedometer (about $20) and aim to walk at least 10,000 steps each day.

GET A LUNCHBOX Brown-bagging your lunch can help you lose weight since home-cooked eats contain 20% less fat on average than restaurant meals, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bonus: Skipping the $6 deli sandwich could save you about $1,000 a year.

WASH UP Americans pay about $200 a year on flu treatments and countless more for colds but routinely neglect the best preventive treatment: soap and water. So get into the habit of scrubbing your hands for about 15 seconds, especially around the nails, before eating or handling food and after contact with any potential contaminants. Turns out Mom really did know best.

LET THE BOSS HELP Take advantage of any wellness benefits that your company offers. About six out of 10 large companies now offer benefits like smoking-cessation classes, discounts on gym memberships and health risk assessments.

ADULT-PROOF YOUR HOME Home accidents rank among the top reasons for visits to the emergency room. Some easy ways to make your home safer and avoid the $560 average tab of a trip to the ER: Install handrails along both sides of the stairs, use nightlights, put nonslick strips in tubs, check smoke alarm batteries every month and keep candles at least three feet from anything that can burn. (For more tips, go to www.homesafetycouncil.org

FLOSS DAILY It's the best way to prevent periodontal disease (cost of treatment: from $200 for minor problems to $2,000 or more to replace a tooth).

QUESTION YOUR TESTS You could spend thousands a year on cutting-edge medical tests, which usually aren't covered by insurance. Or you could hold on to that cash by sticking mostly with the baseline tests recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm), which makes recommendations for patients based on recent research.

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