Are you one of the 57 percent of Americans who don’t know enough about the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” to understand how it will affect them? Check out the infographic below to find out what Obamacare’s effect will be on businesses, the medically underserved, and people without insurance. (If you already have insurance, chances are you won’t be affected.)
According to statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS), approximately 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2013 – and more than 500,000 lives are expected to be lost to the deadly disease this year alone. Many of these deaths can be prevented by avoiding risk factors and by undergoing regular screening tests for certain types of cancers.
Following are some recommendations from the ACS for when to start getting screened for cancer:
- Breast self-examination: This type of exam involves checking the breasts regularly to help detect problems or changes. It is recommended for women over the age of 20, but not required.
- Clinical breast examination: It is recommended that this type of exam be performed by a healthcare provider at least once every three years for women in their 20s and 30s.
- Mammography: Women over the age of 40 should have one done each year.
Cervical cancer screenings for women should begin at the age of 21 and can be done every three years with a regular Pap test. Between 30 and 65, tests can be done every five years with both the HPV and Pap tests, or every three years with just the Pap. Depending on different factors, women may be able to stop screening for cervical cancer after 65.
There are different tests that can be performed to screen for colorectal cancer (from a fecal occult blood test to colonoscopy); however, it isn’t necessary for men or women to start getting tested until the age of 50. How often screenings occur, depends on the type of test and recommendations from your doctor.
Past and current smokers ages 55 to 74 with at least a 30 pack-year history can undergo a low dose helical CT test to screen for cancer after being informed by their physician of potential harms and limitations. The ACS recommends smoking cessation as the foremost form of lung cancer prevention.
Men over the age of 50 should talk to their healthcare provider about prostate cancer screenings such as rectal exams and PSA blood tests, including benefits and potential risks. African-American men and those with a strong family history of prostate cancer should have a discussion with their doctor at 45.
For specific questions or concerns about the different cancers and their related screening methods, talk to your doctor.
There are a lot of buzzwords being thrown around in hospitals, physician practices and medical facilities across the United States, and it can be easy for patients to get confused about which terms matter and what they mean. With federal programs incentivizing healthcare providers for engaging patients in their health, two terms that caregivers are using a lot lately are “personal health record” and “patient portal” – both extremely relevant to patients and crucial for getting them involved in decisions about their health. But what does each one mean?
Personal Health Record (PHR)
A PHR is an electronic record of an individual’s health information that can draw information from various sources. This can include data obtained by the patient (weight, height, current medications, emergency contact information and family medical history), as well as data obtained from providers (diagnoses, immunizations and lab results).
In stark contrast to an electronic health record (EHR), which contains data entered and controlled by a healthcare provider, many PHRs are managed primarily by the patient. The patient can share the data with a physician if they choose to, but they are not required to. This type of PHR is referred to as “standalone.”
The other type of personal health record, which is slowly becoming more common, connects to a healthcare organization’s EHR system so that both the patient and their provider can access and update data contained within the record, resulting in a more accurate and comprehensive medical record.
An online patient portal is a tool that connects to a healthcare organization’s electronic health record software. It allows patients to view certain portions of their medical record, similar to a PHR. However, unlike a PHR, patients cannot always make changes to their record. Instead, they can view data such as clinical summaries and test results and benefit from features such as:
- Secure electronic messaging
- Appointment scheduling
- Prescription refill request
- Online bill pay
Though patient portals appear to be more comprehensive resources than patient-maintained PHRs, a major downside is that they do not contain data from all of a patient’s physicians. In fact, each healthcare group will have their own portal with data pulled from that organization’s own EHR.
Do your providers use a patient portal or EHR-connected PHR? Do you maintain your own personal health record? Which method do you prefer?
Search engine optimization (SEO) may have played a part in helping you find this article. In fact, most – if not all – of the websites that we find by doing keyword searches in Google implement SEO.
In short, SEO is a process that involves editing a website’s content and programming code in order to help search engines figure out:
- what the page is about
- how useful the content might be to users
The goal of a successful SEO campaign is to increase the number of visitors a website receives from search engines, by increasing the site’s visibility in search results. The higher up the website appears in search results (the first three to five listings are prime spots), the more likely someone is to click on it.
Getting a high ranking can be achieved by targeting specific keywords that users frequently search for. For example, when optimizing a website for a pediatrician in Seattle, some specific keyword phrases that might be targeted ar” “pediatrician seattle” and “seattle pediatrician.”
The words on the page, however, are not the only important aspects of SEO. Search engine optimization also involves how a website is structured and how easy it is to understand (both for people and search engine robots). But the end goal is always the same: attracting visitors to the website.
Skeptical about SEO? Consider the fact that 90 percent of Internet users never look past the third page of search results – and 62 percent never even look past the first page. If you want to attract visitors to your website, ranking high in search results is critical. And to do that you need SEO.
Terms to know
Search engine: a tool/program that people use to search for information on the Internet (i.e. Google, Yahoo!, Bing).
Keyword/keyword phrase: a word or group of words used to find information online.
Reaching retirement should put an end to stress, but many over-65s are finding that even after retiring healthcare debt collection issues and other unpaid bills just won’t let them rest.
Many of us spend our entire lives planning for retirement – from doing practical things like establishing retirement funds to doing less practical things like dreaming about what we’ll do once our permanent vacation begins. But as much as we like to idealize retirement, the fact is most of us won’t get to live out the Caribbean dream we planned out in our heads. In fact, for many, reaching retirement age won’t necessarily mean blissful unemployment; and one major reason for this is medical debt.
Healthcare expenses are often unexpected and almost always costly – and many people do not plan for them when saving for retirement. Therefore, many Americans over the age of 65 are finding that retirement isn’t all golf and poolside lounging.
To help you avoid dealing with unpaid medical bills and healthcare debt collection efforts from a medical collection agency in old age, we offer a few tips.
Don’t underestimate the importance of health insurance. Medical coverage can be expensive, and many of us don’t think it’s worth it. Why pay each month for something you never use, right? The thing is, most of us never get sick…that is, until we do. Although health insurance might not cover all of our medical fees, insurance companies cover a lot – and there’s a big difference between owing $1,000 and $30,000. For starters, the latter can be avoided by purchasing health insurance. If you want to avoid heading into retirement with towering debt, get medical coverage.
When saving for retirement, factor in medical costs. Even in retirement, you’re going to have to pay deductibles and co-pays, and maybe even out-of-pocket for some medications. Make sure you’ve considered this and have planned accordingly to cover these expenses.
File for bankruptcy if necessary. Filing for bankruptcy is sometimes the only way that many individuals are able to get clear of medical debt. If you think this might be your only solution, talk to someone about how it works and how you can start the process. Doing this before retiring can you help you start your golden years stress-free.
Do you have any other recommendations for navigating healthcare debt collection or other unpaid debts? Share them with us.