How Good Are Health Articles?

Most people tend to appreciate that the internet carries a wide range of health article and related material, and most people would probably accept that some of this material is of a highly dubious quality.

The paradox of the internet is that anyone can access virtually any type of information about anything, and at the same time that anyone can produce any piece of information about anything.

Given the nature of health and people’s concerns and desire for information, trying to assess how reliable and good the health article is can be in fact very difficult. Anyone can write anything about any health-related issue, and publish it on-line with virtually no criticism or sanction or need to prove or verify any type of source.

Although in theory people can differentiate between different types of written material, it is also true that anything in print carries with it a degree of authority simply by virtue of it being print. This has always been acknowledged about books, newspapers and magazines, and is also true to a large extent about health articles on-line.

Health articles that are written in newspapers and magazines often appear to have a greater degree of authority by virtue of the quality of the newspaper or magazine they appear in. It is not necessarily the case, as a lot of newspapers or magazines will sensationalize a whole range of health related issues in order to gain readership and/or advertising revenue.

Trying to find out good quality health information about any specific issue can be a difficult process. It is often complicated by the fact that the individual looking for such information may have time restraints or other conditions that affect the nature of their search. It is quite likely that an individual will suddenly become aware of a health-related issue, and start looking for related articles or topics on-line to try and verify or validate their own knowledge.

There are a couple of guidelines about how to find an rely on good quality health articles on-line. It is possible to access a number of medical journals, or at least extracts from a number of medical journals that should carry quite a high degree of authority as they will be peer-reviewed. Some of them will be highly technical, but they will at least point to where good research has been done, and work as an indicator of where to go next.

If anyone is looking for information on a particular topic regarding health, one of the best places to go to is a discussion forum related to people who have experienced or are experiencing such a condition. If you want information about any particular condition, a good place to start is to talk to an individual who has such a condition. Obviously their views are going to be subjective, but someone who has a lived sense of an illness will be able to give individual many pointers. A discussion forum which retains a high degree of anonymity will help do that.

The other place to go for health-related articles on health are websites of associations or organisations of people who have a specific condition or illness. They take the value of a discussion forum one stage further, by combining the collective experience and insights of a number of people who have any type of condition or illness, along with the most recent research and good practice that exists that relates to that condition or illness.

There is an important caveat that any health article read on-line, or in any newspaper or magazine written by anyone should be assessed with a degree of caution. Certainly before acting on any advice contained within such an article independent verification of its merits should be sought.

Health articles themselves should be treated with the same scepticism as a lot of the advice that is often contained within them.

How To Save on Health Insurance

With health care costs soaring through the roof, the cost of health insurance premiums are increasing as well. Health insurance is a necessity, however, when you consider the costs of one visit to the emergency room, surgery to set a broken bone, scans, lab and other costs. When your budget is limited, how can you keep the costs of your health insurance premiums down? There are several steps you can take to reduce your health insurance costs and still maintain adequate medical coverage when you need it.

First step is to consider what health insurance options you have. Does your employer offer a group medical benefit? Many employers (and/or labor unions) offer health benefits to full-time employees. Group health insurance is usually the cheapest way to get medical coverage; an employer can negotiate with health insurance companies to get a group health plan at cheaper rates. In addition, many employers will pay part of the premium, reducing your health insurance cost even further. Another consideration is whether your spouse has health coverage available through their employer? If so, compare your health benefits plan to that of your spouse, and decide which health plan is the better buy. It may be possible to have one spouse carry family health insurance coverage and the other drop their health benefits. Many employers have multiple health insurance options, so review these plans as well. Choose the health plan that best meets your needs at the cheapest rate.

If no health insurance coverage is available through your employer, there are other ways to obtain health insurance coverage. Individual and family private health insurance policies are available. Shop and compare benefits and premiums from each health insurance plan. If you and your family are generally healthy, the new Health Savings Account (HSA) may be worth consideration. The HSA is an account that allows you to save tax-free dollars for your medical/health expenses. Similar to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), you are limited in the amount that you are allowed to contribute each year; however, with the HSA, withdrawals for health expenses are not penalized, and no tax is paid on the withdrawal. When paired with a health insurance policy that has high deductibles and low rates, the HSA may be ideal for you. Save money in the HSA for deductibles and co-pays, and you’re set.

For those over 65 or permanently disabled, Medicare is available through the federal government. The original Medicare is an 80/20 plan (they pay 80% of eligible expenses and the insured pays 20%) with an annual deductible and a monthly premium. Supplemental health plans are available to cover this deductible and co-pay. These supplemental health plans are usually private and the insured pays a premium. In addition to the original Medicare plan, there are Medicare HMOs. In these Medicare HMO health plans, the Medicare premium is paid to an HMO to provide benefits to the insured. HMO plans are more restrictive in that patients must get care through a network provider, but often these plans cover more prescription drugs and preventive care than original Medicare does.

Recently some employers have offered lower premiums to employees who do not smoke cigarettes. This is currently a controversial topic for some, but it certainly may begin a trend. In the future, employers and their health insurance providers could offer reduced premiums for employees who maintain normal weight, exercise regularly, and receive certain wellness benefits. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle lowers the risk to the health insurance company that they will be paying big bucks in health care down the road. And health insurance, as any other insurance, is all about risk.

Bottom line: going without health insurance coverage is a big risk for you. Find health coverage that you can afford just in case Murphy comes knocking at your door!

Temporary Health Insurance – Is Short-Term Medical Right For You

Short-Term health insurance often times is much more affordable than a COBRA plan or even an individual health plan. Although it may be substantially more cost effective, there is a right and a wrong time to purchase a Short-Term health plan.

Short-Term health insurance was created to fill a gap between coverage periods. As group health insurance rates have increased, the cost of COBRA has become out of reach for some people. If a person does not keep a continuation of health insurance over a period of 18 months, and try to enroll to a new group health plan, often times the new insurer will put a waiver on pre-existing conditions. Short-Term medical insurance can be a great way to keep a continuation of coverage.

There are risks involved with a Short-Term health plan. Short-Term health often will not cover any pre-existing conditions. They usually ask very vague questions about past health history. They approve the policies based on the honors system. Generally if you can answer “no” to 6-10 questions, the policy is approved. This does not mean that the insurance company is going to pay for any and all claims, especially pre-existing conditions and/or medications which are being taken at the time of enrollment. Please read and understand the contract/brochure very carefully.

Remember a Short-Term medical plan is exactly as it is titled. This is a temporary health insurance. Most plans do not give you the right to renew the policy when the policy ends. Even the ones which do allow you to renew are often not guaranteed renewable plans. This means that if there were a substantial claim while being enrolled to the original plan, they may not allow you to renew the plan. This is very important to understand. If you were to obtain cancer while being covered by a Short-Term health insurance plan, you will be covered during the period originally purchased. If you do not have a group plan lined up, and need to purchase another period to cover you, they will often not issue a new policy, you are then left uninsured at the most inopportune time, when you actually need the insurance.

If a person has another job lined up, but has a waiting period before the new health insurance plan will become effective, this is a great time to take advantage of a low cost short-term medical plan. If anything were to happen during the period of coverage on the Short-Term health plan, you will not need to renew it, because you will have a group plan starting at the end of the Short-Term health plan. Because you had a continuation of credible coverage in the Short-Term plan, the new group plan will likely not cover any pre-existing conditions you may have.

If a person was fired or laid off and does not have another job/insurance lined up, Short-Term medical may be a bad choice at this time. Again, if you have that unlucky occurrence of a major illness and/or accident, you will only be covered for the original purchase period, afterwards you are on your own, with no health insurance. Instead of Short-Term medical, a permanent individual plan may be a better answer. Most individual health plans are not able to cancel your policy due to claim, therefore if you had a major illness, you will have coverage as long as you pay your premium. If you have no major illness and become eligible for another group plan, you can always cancel the permanent individual plan.

Some Short-Term Health insurance plans now have a full year coverage option. Some agents sell the plan as an affordable “individual” health insurance option. This is likely not a good option. If you do not have another plan lined up or are not between coverage, you should not consider a Short-Term Health plan a permanent replacement insurance.

Please keep in mind, there is not one health plan which fits everyone’s need. Do your research and talk to an agent if needed to ensure you find a plan which best fits your situation.