Free & Low-Cost Health & Wellness Events – August

August 3, 2011

As a part of our ongoing effort to help you optimize your health without breaking the bank, we’ve researched and compiled a list of free and low-cost health resources for the month of August, including health clinics and wellness events.

Take a look at the list below to see if there are any events near you, and be sure to check back regularly – we update the list as we find additional resources. If you yourself know of any events that aren’t on our list, feel free to let everyone know in the comments section below!

*Denotes recurring event.

Scottsdale, AZ – Anterior hip replacement screening (Free, 8/23); Bone Density Screening ($20, 8/23, 1-4pm); Heart Health Evaluation ($20, 8/24, 9am–Noon); Cholesterol & Bone Density Screening ($35, 8/30, 8-11:30am); Children’s Immunizations (Free, 8/6, 8am-Noon).

Free Support Groups: Pregnancy & Postpartum Depression (times/dates vary by subject & location)

Hanford, CANOTE: Cost is undisclosed unless otherwise noted. Most services require appointment. Immunizations* (times/dates vary by location); Reproductive Health Services* (times/dates vary by location); STD Clinic (M-F, 8-5); Preventive Care – Screenings and Referrals (Free); Women, Infant and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (times/dates vary by location); TB Clinic & HIV Testing (times/dates vary by location); Diabetes Information (Free)

Riverside, CA – Meditation Group* (Free, Thursdays, 7:30-9pm); Senior and Caregiver Expo (Free w/free transportation to the event, 8/20, 7:30-11:30am. Requires RSVP by 8/5).

Miami, FL – Cholesterol & Diabetes Screening (Free, times/dates vary by location); “For Your Health” online chats (Free, times/dates vary by subject)

Detroit, MI – Prostate Health (Free, 8/3, Noon-1pm, RSVP); Medication Management (Cost unspecified; 8/4, 10:30-11:30am); Health & Wellness Expo for Seniors & Caregivers (Free if you RSVP, $3 at the door, 8/5, Noon-7pm); Senior Summerfest & Health Screenings (Includes seminars – injury & cancer prevention and joint replacements, screenings, blood tests, blood pressure check, vision, hearing and foot checks. Free, 8/7, 1-4pm. RSVP is required); Advancements in Hip Replacement/Surgery (Free, 8/10, 6pm)

Support Groups: Mental Illness (Cost unspecified, 8/9, 7-9pm); Prostate Cancer (Free, 8/9, 7-9pm)

Queens, NYAll events are free. Yoga 50+* (Registration required, Tuesdays, 10:30 am & 11:45 am); Blood Pressure Screening (8/10, 9-10am & 8/17, 9-10:30am); Caregiver Support (8/11, 11am)

Again, we’ll be updating this list as we find more events, so check back often! To stay up-to-date on health news, wellness tips, and cost-saving healthcare advice, you can follow us @HealthSurvival and ”like” our Facebook page here.


Resources for free and low-cost STD testing

July 18, 2011

Last week international researchers identified an antibiotic-resistant strain of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea.  This discovery is both worrisome and predictable, as gonorrhea has consistently shown a capability to develop resistances to antibiotics introduced to control it.  Researchers don’t yet know if this strain has become widespread, but they realize the importance of developing new drugs and treatment programs to combat this type of gonorrhea. 

The CDC believes that as many as 700,000 people living in the United States are believed to get gonorrhea annually.  The disease’s current treatment is either a dose of an antibiotic called cefixime or a dose of azithromycin (for those who have allergies or sensitivities to penicillin, cefixime, or ceftriaxone).  Those who suspect they may have contracted gonorrhea should not try to treat themselves, but should instead get tested by a doctor and, if tests are positive, obtain a prescription from the doctor. 

But what if you can’t afford to get tested for gonorrhea (or other STDs) and/or don’t have insurance?  Check out this list of free and lower-cost resources for STD testing and sexual health.

  • YourSTDHelp.com features a list of free STD health clinics; their database of clinics is searchable by state and includes clinic names, addresses,and phone numbers.
  • HIVtest.org also features a database of clinics (searchable either by zip code or by city and state) that not only helps you find clinics that test for HIV, but also clinics that test for other diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis.  Many of these clinics offer lower prices for those who are uninsured or who have lower incomes.
  • Planned Parenthood also offers many services for sexual health, included but not limited to STD testing, for those who are uninsured or who have lower incomes.  Click here to find the Planned Parenthood clinic nearest you.
  • If you need to speak to someone about STDs and/or sexual health, there are several hotlines available.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Sexually Transmitted Diseases Hotline is 800.227.8922.
    The National AIDS Hotline is 800.342.AIDS (2437), and the National Herpes Hotline is 919.361.8488.

If you suspect you could have gonorrhea or any other sexually transmitted disease, it’s best to get tested as soon as possible for the sake of your own health as well as the health of any sexual partners you may have.  It’s also a good idea to always practice safe sex, especially if you or your partner’s STD statuses are unknown.


Tips on avoiding and managing unexpectedly large medical bills

July 5, 2011

As if a devastating diagnosis or an emergency procedure isn’t enough of a surprise, consider this: often these tests and procedures are followed by unexpectedly large medical bills.  These bills can be bewildering, especially if you’re trying to deal with them while you’re still sick and/or in the process of recovering from your ailments.  One recent study showed that out of the 83% of survey participants who had health insurance, nearly 27% of them had difficulty paying those bills; also, 43% of survey participants who had been uninsured in the past year but who had since gained coverage also reported problems paying their medical bills.  These costs can be so daunting that they can result in bankruptcy.  The study also showed that the bankruptcy rates are nearly twice as high among cancer patients one year after diagnosis as compared to that of the general population; these bankruptcy rates (highest for lung, thyroid, and leukemia/lymphoma cancer patients) increased fourfold five years after diagnosis. 

Fortunately, there are several ways you can avoid incurring these large bills that could result in bankruptcy.  The below tips can help you plan ahead to reduce medical costs and can point you in the right direction when it comes to finding help negotiating unpaid medical bills.

Plan ahead if you can.  If you know in advance that you’re scheduled for tests or surgery, do your research ahead of time. 

  • Be informed.  If you are insured, know the details of what your health insurance plan covers.  Being insured does not always mean that your medical costs are all covered.  Ask your insurer and/or provider for an estimated cost of the treatment. 
  • When your doctor recommends treatment for you, find out whether that treatment is included in your insurance plan; if it isn’t, inquire about other treatments that your insurance does cover. 
  • Verify that the provider you choose is “in-network.”  While you’re at it, make sure that any labs that provider may use in the process of various tests they’re performing are also considered in-network, as well as the facility that the provider is in.  If the provider and/or the lab and facility the provider is using are in-network, your medical bills can be much less costly than if any of them are considered out-of-network by your insurance.

Emergencies happen.  Of course, you can’t always plan ahead.  Diseases aren’t exactly considerate enough to make an appointment with you or warn you ahead of time–so you may end up in the hospital unexpectedly.  So how do you deal with costs incurred from a surprise surgery?

Look to your benefits for help.   Navigating the healthcare system and making sense of complicated medical bills can be intimidating.  There are resources to guide you through the process.

  • Many employers offer advocacy services as a benefit to their employees.  One such service is Health Advocate, whose Core Health Advocacy program helps assist employees with clinical and administrative issues that deal with their medical, dental, hospital, and prescription needs, claims, and benefits.  A complementary add-on to Health Advocate’s Core Health Advocacy service is the Medical Bill Saver, which helps negotiate employees’ unpaid medical and dental bills whose balances are over $400.
  • Even if you’re not receiving benefits from an employer, there are still advocacy resources available to you.  Health Proponent offers individuals the Core Health Advocacy and Medical Bill Saver programs, too. 

The Challenge of Obesity – Workplace Strategies

June 17, 2011

In addition to playing a role in the development of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, the toll obesity takes often extends to employers, costing ~$13 billion in medical costs and lost productivity each year. Factors are well documented – imbalanced diets, a lack of exercise, and stress – all contribute to one of the most common health threats in America. Recent studies also suggest that sedentary jobs, where little to no movement is required, are to blame as well. (Story here.)

While the legitimacy of latter has been debated, it would only benefit you and your employees to implement carefully planned wellness strategies. In encouraging a healthier lifestyle, wellness programs can help to reduce disability, absenteeism & lost productivity. It is also obvious, but important, to note that these programs should be aimed at all employees – singling out overweight workers can be discriminatory and stigmatizing. However, the program should address the aforementioned factors that contribute to obesity – diet, physical activity, and stress.

Brought to you by Health Advocate, here is a short-version checklist for workplace strategies to take on the challenge of obesity.

Build a Wellness Team – Enlist employees to participate from each level of your organization. These individuals can serve as ambassadors to the program and increase employee buy-in.

Tailor Activities to Needs – Learn about what lifestyle changes employees need to make and gauge enthusiasm. Which programs would be the most interesting to your employees?

Set Realistic Goals – Emphasis should be placed more on participation than weight loss. However, 10% weight loss is considered to be a significant lifestyle change.

Develop a “Culture of Health” – Provide a variety of options to appeal to the most employees possible. Provide healthier options in the cafeteria and vending machines. Provide de-stressing activities as options, such as Yoga classes after work.

Partner up with the Community – Monitor community wellness events and make employees aware of them. Look for local initiatives, as government and public agencies offer wellness toolkits and grants.

Communicate Effectively – Encourage health through all available mediums – intranet, posters, newsletters, etc. Emphasize the value of health.

Reward Employees – Be creative! Use t-shirts, moderate cash awards, public praise, paid days off, etc. as rewards.

Celebrate Group Success – Celebrate with congratulatory announcements or with healthy-food parties.

Click here to check out our full checklist and many of our other whitepapers on how to manage costs by promoting a mentally and physically healthy work environment for employees.

To stay up-to-date on health news, wellness tips, and cost-saving healthcare advice, you can follow us @HealthSurvival and ”like” our Facebook page here.


Attention Men: Top Ways to Take Care of Your Health Now!

June 7, 2011

Did you know that half of male-premature deaths are preventable? Or that women on average outlive men by five years? The current state of men’s health is not very good, especially in comparison to their female counterparts. One reason for this is that women on average take better care of themselves – according to Men’s Health Network, men are half as likely to go to the doctor for a check-up as women are, thus depriving themselves of a chance to catch a disease in its early stages, when it’s most treatable.

However, there is an upside: because many men aren’t doing enough to take care of their health right now, there are many opportunities to improve. Here are a few tips to start taking care of yourself now:

1. Go to the doctor! With early screenings, many diseases can be successfully treated.

2. Eat more tomatoes. They contain lycopene, which may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. (Mayo Clinic)

3. Perform self-exams regularly. Check for lumps and nodules. See your doctor for routine physicals.

4. Seek help for depression. Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. (National Institute of Mental Health)

5. Don’t ignore snoring. Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea – blocked air flow – which can lead to clogged arteries.

To stay up-to-date on health news, wellness tips, and cost-saving healthcare advice, you can follow us @HealthSurvival and ”like” our Facebook page here.


PHA Case Study: Underinsured Patient Facing Foreclosure

May 13, 2011

Situation:

Edward, a part-time worker, had insurance coverage but not enough to cover several large hospital bills. Edward’s Personal Health Advocate informed him about “hardship/charity” assistance available through the hospital and helped him fill out the paperwork. As a result of this assistance, his inpatient hospital bills were cancelled. His PHA also negotiated with his physician to reduce Edward’s medical bills by 30 percent and worked with his insurance company to successfully reprocess and pay his past bills. Edward stated that without the PHA’s help, he faced bankruptcy and losing his home.

What The Healthcare Survival Guide says:

No matter what your income or health status, there are free or low-cost government and private options available. One example: free clinics for basic check-ups and screenings (pg. 17). Healthy individuals or those with a job on the horizon might consider a short-term mini-medical/limited benefit plan (pg. 31). The take-away: comparison-shop for what you need and read the fine print carefully. “Affordable” can mean exclusion of hospitalization, leaving you with big bills in a crisis. Look for drug coverage, limitations of doctor visits and other missing parts (pg. 26).

If you would like a free copy of The Healthcare Survival Guide: Cost-Saving Options for the Suddenly Unemployed and Anyone Else Who Wants to Save Money, you can download it at www.healthcaresurvivalguide.com.


Health Advocate, Inc. to Host Free Health Reform Seminar

April 26, 2011

Health Advocate, Inc. is pleased to announce a FREE Health Reform Seminar called Outlook for Health Reform 2011-2014! Executives from Independence Blue Cross, NaviNet, and Health Advocate will explain all of the key components of the law to help employers, businesses and other organizations succeed in the new environment.

 Attendees will also learn:

The nuts & bolts of Health Reform

How reform will affect your organization

What you need to do to prepare

How to help your employees prepare

Much more

Details:

The event will be held at The Radnor Hotel (591 East Lancaster Avenue, St. Davids, PA) on May 5, 2011 at 8 am – 10 am.

RSVP by April 29th, 2011; Register by calling 866-385-8033 (prompt #2).

Spread the word, and we look forward to seeing you there!