Losing weight doesn’t have to be boring when you focus on bright, colourful meals. What does this mean? Simply by making sure your plate reflects a range of colours, you’ll naturally create more balanced and healthful menus. Not everyone has the time or the patience to count calories, but assessing the colours on your plate is something anyone can do – and it only takes an instant!
Why is colour important? Several fatty and caloric foods, such as dairy products and startchy carbs, are beige or brown. When there are too many of these drab colours on your plate, weight gain is almost certain.
That’s because these beige foods typically are high in calories and can leave you feeling hungry later. A cup of beige or brown beans can be over 200 calories. . . . but a cup of red or green vegetables is under a hundred! Add fresh greens, deep purple-reds and bright yellow-orange to a meal, and water the nutrient content go up, although calories go down! Plus, you’ll get more enjoyment from eating when there is a variety of colours and flavors on your plate.
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
1 cup peeled and cubed mango
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. Add chicken and mango and toss gently to coat. Arrange dark green lettuce leaves around a serving bowl and spoon mixture into bowl.
For extra crunch, serve with a side dish of red and green bell pepper, romaine lettuce, chopped celery and cucumber.
Makes 4 Servings
Nutritional Analysis Per Serving of Curried Chicken:
Total fat: 3 grams
Saturated fat: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 73 mg
Sodium: 170 mg
Carbohydrate: 17 grams
Protein: 30 grams
Dietary fiber: 1 gram
Chickens are currently our friend economically speaking, whether you’re thinking as a supplier or a consumer. Chickens are easy to raise, and if you’ve been to the supermarket to purchase meat, you know that chicken comes with a much cheaper price tag than some of the other solutions.
If you’re a supplier, improvements in vaccinations has made hatcheries very happy lately. Any benefit to suppliers is naturally going to trickle down to consumers, a cyclical scratching of the back, if you will. With reproductive efficiency on the rise, it’s making the market for chicken products look very appealing.
With vaccination upgrades and boosts in chicken reproduction efforts, chicken suppliers are feeling better these days. Of course, consumers are still questioning the cost of eggs, but both consumers and the food service industry is benefiting from better chicken health and reproduction.
I myself am glad that I can buy chicken for cheap when hamburger and other red meat prices seem to just take me to the bank. Of course, even with the good news, there is plenty of bad news circulating about tortured chickens and suppliers that aren’t handling their business ethically.
It has been stated that nothing is more important than your health, and there is a lot of truth to that saying. Among other things, a loss of health can mean a loss of earnings if you are not able to work, and it can also mean medical bills that are extremely expensive. Health insurance can help you avoid any of those costs and it can also help individuals to lead more healthy lives by paying for preventive measures such as regular check ups and immunizations to name just two.
There are several means by which an individual can get health insurance. A person may purchase his or her own insurance. A person may receive health insurance as part of an employment package. A person may receive health insurance through local or Federal programs.
In many instances, there might be a combining of the premiums paid. What that means is that, for example, an employer might pay a certain amount of the medical insurance premium and the employee pays the remainder of the premium, usually through payroll deduction. In other cases, an employer or government entity may pay the full amount of the premium.
Also with most types of insurance, health insurance comes in many forms and is available at differing levels of coverage. The best case scenario would be if an employer paid the full amount of the monthly premiums and there were no co-pays or deductibles charged to the patient. This type of coverage is rare, however, unless you are extremely well placed in a company or you are living below the poverty line.
Most consumers will be in a co-pay system of health insurance wherein they are responsible for a certain amount of the bill and the insurance company will pay the rest. As you might imagine, there are many different levels of coverage in these arrangements as well.
Normally, the more money the patient is required to pay from his own pocket at the time of the medical services, the less the monthly premiums will be. For those individuals who are relatively healthy and have a reasonable income this might be the best option for health insurance. For those with a limited income or for those who have health problems this might be a difficult option to live with as the co-pay or deductible of each medical visit will need to be paid for out-of-pocket by the patient.
The importance of having health insurance should not be dismissed or underestimated. Rising medical costs can wipe out a lifetime of savings with just one major medical event. Even the most routine of surgeries can cost tens-of-thousands of dollars, and more sophisticated procedures can easily run into the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars. Health insurance can help pay those skyrocketing cost and help save you from financial ruin.
Before selecting a health program to participate in you should read the contract carefully and understand all of the terms and conditions that are in it. If you are unsure about any of them, ask your employer or the insurance representative for clarification.
Technology keeps finding ways to get cheaper, and the cost of food just continues to rise each and every day, not year. Especially eggs are getting the attention of consumers, as the mainstay is breaking many people’s banks just to keep eggs on their plates.
It’s one thing for a food choice that isn’t a staple to go up in price to where it’s an ‘option.’ But when you have something like eggs costing so much, people really start to take notice. Forget about the fact that gas prices are on the way down because everything else seems to be costing more!
And with gas prices down, and chicken prices still low, why do eggs cost so much? It seems as though chicken and egg costs should be aligned as normal, and it seems that a lower cost of gas should help with transporting eggs. Was there an egg crisis that people don’t know about?
It has definitely made many people wonder just what is going on. The answer lies with the flu when it comes to egg costs. Bird flu has sent the cost of eggs soaring, and it’s going to take some time for prices to come back down.
When psoriasis flares up, it is not only irritating but also impacts a person’s self esteem and appearance. While there are prescription drugs available for treatment of psoriasis, many people are happy to find out that the condition can be treated with an array of natural remedies as well.
The Aloe Vera plant is one natural remedy, and some essential oils also help provide relief of symptoms. Additionally, apple cider vinegar is known to help with psoriasis as well. Tea tree oil and turmeric are also solutions that people suggest for treating this persistent skin condition.
Proper health management can be accomplished by good nutrition and exercise. There are many people in the world today who are struggling with poor health. In many cases the diseases and illnesses that these people have can be prevented by better eating habits and a daily exercise routine.
It is sad to say that many parents do not understand proper health management for their children. Children today have many more illnesses than children did from years ago. Many of these illnesses are caused by inactivity and junk food. Parents need to manage these important areas of their child’s life.
One of the more frustrating things about traveling to a Third World country is trying to find the right ingredients for a delicious Parmesan chicken dinner. We all know that most American grocery stores have a variety of every type of ingredient imaginable for cooking, baking, and barbecuing.
This is not the case however in a Third World country. Finding the right ingredients make something simple like Parmesan chicken is not that easy. Many of the Third World countries do not have supermarkets but only outdoor markets. I love these outdoor markets But unfortunately they do not have the right ingredients for a Parmesan chicken dinner.
Even though many people choose whether or not to take a job, as well as keep a job, based on benefits such as a great health insurance package, not all employers offer health insurance packages. And, they are not required to. If you work for an employer such as a small-business owner, chances are you’re not going to be able to get health insurance through your job. Unless you’re married and may be added on to your spouse’s health insurance, you will most likely need to look into purchasing an individual health insurance.
Other people who will be interested in finding individual health insurance include those who are unemployed for various reasons, including the return to school, and those who are self-employed. The good news for self-employed individual health insurance policy holders is that the insurance premium is tax-deductible.
Also with the seemingly steady rise of already expensive medical costs, health insurance is something everyone needs. Health insurance offers a sense of financial security as well as peace of mind. The number of people in America who are currently without some type of health insurance is always astounding. Having health insurance helps protect you and your family from financial disasters in the all too generally event of a major injury or illness. Even if the medical situation is not quite as severe, it is still better to have health insurance to help with the medical costs than not have it.
Remember, most all of us have other bills of some sort that must be paid. It will be difficult to manage payment of them all once those medical bills start rolling in and you don’t have health insurance to help with the costs. It is true that an individual health insurance company is most likely going to have much higher rates and much more limited coverage, but if purchasing individual health insurance is your last option, it is one you should definitely take.
The first time I saw Heath Ledger, it was by accident. My date and later to-be husband, Nick, took me to see ‘The Sixth Sense’, finally succumbing to peer pressure to guess ‘the big surprise ending. By now, ‘The Sixth Sense’ was off the major theater chain circuit and only screening in small suburban independent theaters, which led us to experience one of those now rare events: a double-feature matinee. The first movie was ’10 Things I Hate About You’.
Well passed ‘teen movies, even those with Shakespearian-based scripts, we shyly admitted to liking 10 Things. Wow, I really like the male lead, what was his name? “He’s Australian, you know”, replied Nick. And in typical Aussie-fashion, I was doubly impressed and now stupidly filled with national pride. Another brilliant Australian up-and-comer to join the rapidly increasing queue to grace Hollywood screens.
Years later, I would generally grab the DVD to fill a cheerless afternoon and find myself watching and rewinding the same scene. Over and over and over again. My secret guilty pleasure. Heath sliding down the pole, microphone in hand, singing “You’re just too good to be true, cannot take my eyes off of you …” The brass band kicks in. And that charmingly defiant half-run, half-prancing across the school steps. The scene is brilliant. It’s inexplicable. He simply has that old-fashioned ‘it’ factor.
I’m not a star-struck fan and was never one of those teenagers with movie-star idol posters plastered all over my bedroom walls, but this kids got talent.
And then came those scene-stealing roles that totally blew us away. The Patriot. Monsters Ball. And finally leading-man status and an Academy Award nomination. By now, we were just used to having another famous Australian up there with the rest of the world’s good talent churning out an endless array of diverse, yet illustrious film roles.
We had no idea. It was not endless. It was not what we expected.
When people whoever I’ve never met but greatly admire die, I’m sad. But I’ve never cried before. I have never before felt that heart wrenching overwhelming shock that lasted for days after I heard the news. This time it was somehow more personal. As soon as I read the detailed list of the first report of his deathbed scene, I intuitively knew how he died.
Ten days later the final medical examiners report confirmed my suspicions.
Hollywood is ‘Xanax-city. Feeling down, pop a Xanax. Feeling stressed, pop a Xanax. Need to perform at your very best, pop a Xanax. A-list stars feel the pressure to provide A-grade performances when working on multi-million dollar films. There’s too much money at stake. The intense stress, both internal and external, is immeasurable. The studios are risking billions, paying the stars millions, and the actors are unnaturally subjected to more pressure than we mere mortals can imagine.
Heath Ledger, himself, admitted that after the worldwide release of A Knights Tale with its instant paparazzi-bulb-flashing stardom, his stress levels increased ten-fold.
Xanax is the trade name of the generic anti-anxiety/tranquillizer prescription drug, alprazolam, listed in Ledgers toxicity report. The other anti-anxiety drug was diazepam, or more commonly known as Valium. These drugs are from a class of commonly prescribed tranquilizers known as benzodiazepines or usually referred to as benzos.
According to the latest National Health Study, approximately 10 million scripts of benzos are written annually in Australia alone with its meagre population of 20 million compared to 300 million in the US.
Many doctors will write a script for benzos faster than a speeding bullet. But the real danger is that too many of them do not know the long-term effects these drugs have on your system, how to give their patients the correct advice when administering or monitoring the dosages, and – more frighteningly – how to manage their patients benzo withdrawal program.
First of all, this is how benzos affect your body – or more importantly – your brain. Benzodiazepines increase, or rather, enhance your brains main neurotransmitter, commonly known as GABA. Eventually, and this can be as quickly as 3 to 4 weeks if taking a daily dose, your brain will stop producing its own GABA and rely totally on the artificial benzo.
GABA is the most important neurotransmitter because it affects just about absolutely everything else. Primarily it enhances the brains other neurotransmitters such as Serotonin and Dopamine. All of the brains neurotransmitters have important functions such as, voluntary movement of the muscles, wakefulness, sleep, memory function, sensory transmission – especially pain, and much, much more.
The problem is that from this point on your brain needs more benzo as tolerance starts the downward spiral, and the brain needs higher and higher dosages to obtain the same effect. If the patient is not given the correct dosage or management advice, that insidious and often-undiagnosed disorder known as Benzo Withdrawal Syndrome (BWS) will start its ugly and potentially dangerous descent.
BWS is known by experts in the field for its severity and prolonged nature. It may take years to fully withdraw from benzos, even with proper care and supervision. Without this knowledge, the unwitting patient can suffer from over 30 symptoms, the most typical being unrelenting insomnia, severe pain and mood changes. People whoever have been taking benzos for a relatively short time can experience withdrawal symptoms even whilst taking the drug. In addition, if you have been taking them for a prolonged time, and then suddenly stop, dire circumstances may happen. Or, at the very least, more pain, more depression and unrelenting insomnia.
When we now read about Heath Ledgers complaints, does this sound familiar? Everything points to extreme Benzo Withdrawal, but no-one is exclaiming its dangers. In fact, most GPs and even hospital doctors admit they know very little about Benzo Withdrawal. Some even refer their patients to drug rehabilitation centers – an absolute no-no according to benzo counselors. Benzo withdrawal is the exact opposite to alcohol or street drug dependency. You don’t need to abruptly eliminate the benzo from your body, as they generally do in drug rehabilitation. The brain needs the benzo. One must gradually withdraw the artificial benzo until the brain can eventually increase its own GABA. Sudden cessation of benzos can cause severe problems such as seizures and blackouts.
When in BWS, the counselors advise against taking any medication or drugs whatsoever. Paracetamol is probably the only thing the body can cope with for pain relief. Nothing else. Even codeine is forbidden. Also, one should totally refrain from alcohol, caffeine, and all stimulants. There is a strong protocol to be followed and without this knowledge, the patient is easily put at good risk.
The Ashton Manual, the acknowledged benzodiazepine ‘bible, warns:
“Drug interactions: Benzodiazepines have additive effects with other drugs with sedative actions including other hypnotic’s, some antidepressant’s (e. g. amitriptyline [Elavil], doxepin [Adapin, Sinequan]), major tranquilizers or neuroleptics (e. g. prochlorperazine [Compazine], trifluoperazine [Stelazine]), anticonvulsant’s (e. g. phenobarbital, phenytoin [Dilantin], carbamazepine [Atretol, Tegretol]), sedative antihistamines (e. g. diphenhydramine [Benadryl], promethazine [Phenergan]), opiates (heroin, morphine, meperidine), and, importantly, alcohol. Patients taking benzodiazepines should be warned of these interactions. If sedative drugs are taken in overdose, benzodiazepines may add to the risk of fatality. ”
The real problem is that there are extremely few experts in treating BWS; they will not include your local doctor, hospital, or drug clinic. However, there are good BWS specialists that can be extremely helpful, but they are mostly found in specially funded tranquillizer recovery clinics.
One must ask, why don’t doctors know about this? The problem is they simply don’t. Is it their fault or the pharmaceutical companies that profit from these addictions? There is little or no dissemination of info in the community, the medical fraternity or from the pharmaceutical companies about benzodiazepines. And, according to BWS counselors working in the field, there is insufficient research or empirical studies on the effects of benzos and BWS management to assist them with their intensive workload’s.
Why? Who is at fault? Who is responsible for remedying the situation? Why are the people whoever write the scripts uninformed about the after-effects and potential dangers associated with benzodiazepines?
Can our beloved Heath Ledgers death be at least one catalyst that will draw this devastating travesty to the public’s attention to demand more information?
I hope so.
We all love spicy chicken; except if you are allergic or you just cannot love spicy food. Being a chicken lover myself, I have collected 3 hot n’ spicy recipes for you to try out in your chicken today or anytime you would like to treat yourself for a deelicious meal; they make good family specials as well! Although they have similar names, they are very different. Perhaps their origins differ.
Hot N’ Spicy Chicken Recipe #1. Spicy Chicken Wings
– 1 lg. can Parmesan cheese
– 2 tbsp. oregano
– 4 tbsp. parsley
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. pepper
– 1 stick margarine
– 4-5 lbs. chicken wings
Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Melt margarine in small pan. Cut up chicken wings. Discard tips. Mix all dry ingredients in bowl. Dunk chicken wings in margarine and roll in cheese mixture. Place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Serve warm.
#2. Hot Chicken Wings
1/2 stick margarine
1 bottle Durkee hot sauce
2 tbsp. honey
10 shakes Tabasco
2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
Deep fry wings for 20 minutes. Drain and dip and let set in sauce. Take out to dry and then serve.
#3. Hot-N-Spicy Chicken Wings
5 lbs. bag chicken wings (drumettes)
12 fl. oz. Louisiana Pre Crystal Hot Sauce
1-2 sticks butter
Fry chicken wings until golden brown and drain on paper towel. Mix hot sauce and melted butter and pour into deep pan or crock pot. Add chicken wings to sauce and heat thoroughly.
Dental care involves taking good care of your teeth, gums and the related structures of the mouth. Dental care includes prevention and treatment of diseases of the gum and teeth, and also the replacement or repair of defective teeth. In many cases people may suffer from dental diseases due to sheer laziness and lack of knowledge towards proper dental care, with mostly the children and at times adults who often do not pay enough attention to teeth care. They fail to realize that healthy teeth and gum is extremely important to keeping you healthy and sound. Proper dental health is not only important to our healthy physical looks; it is essential to the well being of the entire body.
Maintaining good dental health can at times prove to be expensive. Therefore it is important that you go for a good dental insurance that covers the costs of your dental treatment be it a routine check up or an emergency. Purchasing dental insurance from a good dental insurance company relieves you of the hassles and worries of the otherwise expensive cost of keeping your oral cavity healthy. With dental insurance you can choose a specific dental plan that is right for you. However, before choosing a dental plan from any dental insurance company you must pay attention to the following points:
* You should ask the dental insurance company for its actual office address and not only its P. O. Box address. This step should give you peace of mind in knowing that you are purchasing dental insurance from a real dental insurance company. Ask for its office phone number so that you can contact the office any time to learn more about its dental plans.
* Ask the dental insurance company if it covers specific procedures performed by your dentist. If you are searching for a dental plan that covers teeth fillings and teeth cleanings, that dental plan should not cost you much. On the other hand, if you would like to have x-rays and fluoride paid by your dental plan, then this type of dental plan most likely should cost a bit more.
* Ask the dental insurance company about your personal dentist’s role in its dental plan. If your dentist is not on its list, then it is rather useless selecting such type of dental plan. Since your dentist is the one most familiar with your dental health, it is better to ask your dentist which dental insurance companies’ dental plans he participates in.
* You can do a thorough research on dental insurance companies online. Dental health is a new and fast growing industry and is getting very competitive. You can find several dental plans ranging from $15. 00 per month to $100 per month.
Student health insurance can be affordable, and even cheap, if you choose a plan that offers the exact coverage your student needs, and if you understand the coverage your student has. By choosing the coverage your student needs, you will not have to worry about paying for any medical costs that you know your student will acquire. And, by making sure you thoroughly understand your student’s coverage, you will not be hit with any surprise costs along the way.
The first step to finding affordable student health insurance is to ask about any health coverage offered to your student by his or her school. Several colleges and universities provide medical services via on-campus clinics to students. These medical services may be available free or at a very low cost – and what’s more affordable than that?
Next, ask about pre-existing conditions. For example, your student may be diabetic; medical care for pre-existing conditions such as diabetes may not be offered through the school. If this is the case, consider purchasing a smaller, additional health insurance policy to cover treatment for diabetes while using the school-provided services for situations such as widely seen colds. This will help keep student health insurance affordable.
Finally, find out many things you possibly can about the student health insurance plan and/or the medical services offered by the school. How much is covered if your student visits the emergency room? Is your student allowed to visit any health care professional, or is there a network of doctors from which he or she must choose? You may think you’ve purchased an affordable student health insurance plan, but if emergency room visits aren’t covered – or very little of the cost is covered – you’ll be faced with a bill that will not make the student health insurance plan seem so affordable after all.
Know which services are available, which services aren’t, as well as how to obtain each and you’ll find affordable student health insurance.
More and more progressive healthcare plan providers are offering patients preventive care options. This helps offset the number one concern of most consumers – cost.
When shopping for health insurance or any sort of healthcare plan, most consumers seek to protect themselves and their families from the potentially disastrous cost of major illness and hospitalization. Hence, preventive care is often an overlooked benefit that many consumers may not give sufficient consideration.
Following are any benefits of preventive care that you should consider when looking for a health insurance or a healthcare plan.
What is Preventive Healthcare?
A broad definition of preventive healthcare is “measures taken to identify life-threatening illnesses or habits with an eye towards curing, modifying and preventing them. ” In other words, preventive care may be anything that helps you stave off illness and live a healthier lifestyle.
Why Preventive Healthcare is Important
Preventive healthcare is important for three reasons:
Early Detection Saves Lives: This is perhaps the most important reason to look for a healthcare plan that offers any measure of preventive healthcare options.
Annual mammograms, pap smears and colon-cancer screenings are all examples of preventive measures that help to save lives. Many life-threatening illnesses have silent symptoms. They only way to detect them is through any kind of early detection test.
Take heart disease, for example. The American Heart Association estimates that roughly half of all deaths from this disease are sudden and unexpected. When you consider the good strides that have been made over the last 25 years in preventing and treating this disease, early detection can make all the difference in how well you will survive a heart attack, or whether you will even have one at all.
Also with illnesses like this, preventive care takes advantage of the advances in medical technology, detecting problems – or assessing the likelihood of problems – before they become life-threatening illnesses.
Modifying Behavior Leads to a Healthier Life: Preventive healthcare encourages many to lead healthier lifestyles. Getting regular exercise is one of the easiest things anyone can do to achieve overall better health. Many healthcare providers encourage this by offering discounts on gym memberships, yoga classes and other types of regular workout programs.
Another popular lifestyle change program that providers encourage is a smoking cessation program. Cigarettes are extremely addicting, and many smokers try for years to quite before they succeed. The benefits of quitting can prevent many healthcare problems, from lung cancer and heart disease, to stroke and heart attack, to many respiratory illnesses.
As the ultimate goal of all preventive care is to help patients live longer, healthier lives, amenities like this are natural offerings by healthcare plan providers.
Preventive Healthcare Saves Money: Preventive healthcare allows policy holders to get the most value for their healthcare dollars. This is because preventive care is mostly much less expensive than treating a disease down the road.
To encourage this, comprehensive information is needed to make informed decisions. Forward-thinking healthcare providers offer members integrated solutions, like up-to-the-minute health information, medical alerts, drug recalls, wellness assessments and more.
This puts the information that members need right at their fingertips, allowing them to be an active participant in their ongoing healthcare.
Preventive care helps people to actively manage their overall healthcare. By encouraging regular checkups, regular screenings and an overall healthier lifestyle, individuals maintain better overall health, feel better, and minimize their health care costs throughout their lifetimes.
Boots Herbal Store will help you make healthy living the way Mother Nature intended.
Established since the 1930’s, it is both well established and staffed by knowledgeable personnel.
Using only natural ingredients that are available all year round, Boots Herbal Store can help you make the right selections for your natural health diet.
Whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose weight, they are prepared to give you the right advice and to help you reach that goal without using quick-fixes and chemical compounds.
If you are trying to find a solution for your lack of energy or if you simply want to lose an extra few pounds, Boots Herbal Store will give you the right healthy products designed to help you reach that goal and make you and your body feel much better in the shortest amount of time possible.
They have been giving advice to people about their goals for years and it’s time that you asked your questions, so you can get started on a healthy diet now.
Boots Herbal Store will provide you with all the natural supplements and other natural remedies that you need to get started on the road to natural health; and at the same time, it will keep you on that objective with new health products that will make more determined to reach your goal.
Once you have tried natural health remedies, there will not be a need to go back to the old weight loss fads we have heard about dozens of times over. You will have access to real, effective remedies; and they will be far easier to implement and follow.
Boots Herbal Store is more than a place to find the foods of Mother Nature; it is the only way to realize that weight loss should not be as painful as the weight loss videos show us.
To find us, go to 5, Castle Walk, Newcastle, Staffs, ST5 1AN, or clink on http://www. naturallybest. com
Part of the reason that I initially got my insurance license, was that as a business consultant focused on change management, nearly all business owner, CFO and HR director that I spoke to asked me what I could do about the rising cost of their healthcare benefits. Up until recently, with regard to their major medical plan costs rising at double-digit rates all year, there was little I could recommend aside from biting the bullet and accepting that it would be a painful process of micro re-examination of plan costs nearly all year. Many decision makers are being forced to shift costs to their employees or do away with certain benefits altogether. Fortunately, now there is finally a sensible way to reduce costs (and taxes, by the way), give employees more choice, more security and believe it or not, keep them from storming the castle with rakes and torches when you ask them to contribute more out of their own pockets. These plans are aptly named “Consumer Driven Health Plans” (or CDHPs) because the policyholder makes as many choices about their health benefit plans as their employer.
Two key components of CDHPs have been receiving a lot of press. The first is the Health Savings Account (HSA), which must be used in conjunction with the second, a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Without going into great detail about the restrictions, the whole idea is that by enrolling in a major medical health insurance plan with a significantly higher deductible ($1000 or more), the company (and/or the employee) can dramatically reduce the premium cost. In addition, by replacing Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs require the participants to use the tax free money contributed during the plan yr or lose it) with HSAs (that allow the participants to accumulate money in their account tax free BUT the money rolls over from yr to year) eventually, the deductible is covered with tax-free dollars.
The only downside to this plan is that FSAs make the elected amount available on day one of the plan, whereas HSAs allow only the amount that has been funded to date to be made available. In other words, for most folks, the first yr of such a plan puts them at risk for substantial out of pocket expense related to the deductible.
The way to avoid this risk is to implement a third key component of the plan, Supplemental Benefits. Most often via a new or existing Cafeteria (Section 125) plan.
For several reasons, supplemental benefits should be the first step in any HDHP/HSA plan. First is that they introduce employees to employee funded, 100% voluntary plans so employees come to feel comfortable with contributing to their own financial security. Second is that supplemental plans cover deductibles and co-pays, so employees realize that by participating, they reduce their own out of pocket expense should the unthinkable happen. Thirdly, they learn the value of pre-tax dollars. And last, more choice lends itself to better education in just what those choices are. In other words, employees take more interest in learning how their overall plan fits together and what the best choices are for their family.
When Supplemental plans are introduced first, employees feel empowered by the fact that the company is giving them options to better protect their family without changing anything else. Then when the HDHP/HSA changeover is eventually made, far fewer employees will feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.
So what makes up a good Supplemental plan?
While many of the plans are similar in benefits and structure, the providers vary widely in how they work and what they actually provide in terms of customer service. Your employees trust you to select high quality benefit providers that give them financial stability and control when they need it most. As more and more players enter the game, all insurance provider will be touting their respective accolades. Just be aware that many small, unproven operations hide beneath the veil of a well-known brand. In some cases, insurance conglomerates are simply an affiliation of unrelated subsidiaries that were acquired for a specific strategic purpose; in this case, to enter the voluntary benefits market. Like the Wizard of Oz, you may find that a parent company’s financial and marketing statistics give a misleading view of the size and capabilities of the business unit that actually does the product design, underwriting, and servicing.
Nobody likes surprises. Especially, related to financial security. And the last thing anyone wants to hear from an employee who has claims issues and thought they signed up for a policy with BIG Insurance Company (whose slick marketing reps touted gazillions in financial backing and years of experience), is that they’ve now found out that the policy they were counting on to protect their family was really underwritten by the National United Smoke and Mirrors Insurance Company of Hoboken, NJ. , which did strictly Property and Casualty insurance until last year. So pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
If you ask the right questions of potential providers, you’ll be doing your company and your employees a big favor by picking the best provider for their needs.
Here are some suggestions:
Who is really underwriting the policy and how long have they been doing it?
Experience has its strength, and in the guaranteed renewable (supplemental) market, size does matter. What is the company’s history and track record? You want a company that has the depth to handle any adverse selection, and a track record of satisfied clients across industries.
What is the financial standing of the company?
Regardless of whether you use A. M Best, Moody’s, Fitch, Standard and Poors or some other rating system, make sure you choose one of the highest rated companies. There are several. A is better than B, + is better than -, and so on.
How is the company recognized?
Accolades and industry market share are some indicators, but what you’re really looking for is long-term satisfaction by clients. Long-term relationships with companies like your own are good indicators. More importantly, what is the actual operating unit that provides the underwriting classified as? A life insurance company? A property and casualty company, or a liability company?
And what are its individual ratings?
Are voluntary benefits the insurance provider’s top priority?
Are supplemental/voluntary plans the company’s only focus or are they a sidelight meant to be a means to open a door to other relationships? What percent does the insurance being offered represent of the parent company’s overall premium base? Who you choose can have a lot to do with whether you want to put all your eggs in one basket…or not.
Is representation national?
Do they have a physical presence in all 50 states or just an 800# that goes to a central office? Do they have dedicated agents in your geographic locale or is it a loosely tied, affiliation of middlemen spotted across the map? For companies with one or two local branches, this is not an issue. However, even for companies with many locations in a single state, how consistent your message is conveyed and how well your employees are serviced depends on how well the company’s representatives are trained across the geography. What is the depth and quality of backup?
How often do the rates go up? And what are the circumstances that cause rate hikes?
Some companies guarantee rates for policyholders for a period of time (usually two or three years). Do some due diligence as to how often and how high those rates increase over time. Require a written history. Past practices are a good predictor of future trends. The industry leader has never raised its rates for existing policyholders, but is still one of the top selling insurance stocks. It doesn’t make sense to get a great low rate, if in only a few years it becomes a high rate.
How complicated is the underwriting?
How far back does the underwriting go for critical illness plans? Are any disclosure documents required outside of the application? How many questions are asked during a typical enrollment and what do they require for information on pre-existing conditions? What you’re looking for is as little underwriting as possible. Guaranteed Issue is uncommon unless the group is very large, and in many cases not available at all from even the best companies. Understand what the parameters are for “knock-out” questions. Make sure they seem reasonable.
How strict is the company’s definition of disability?
In some insurance policies’ definition of disability, the insured must be entirely unable to perform each and all duty of his/her job, as well as other specific requirements. Other companies are more liberal in their definition of “total disability” before benefits are paid, often requiring that the insured only be unable to perform “material and substantial” duties before they are deemed disabled. This is one of those areas that vary widely so understand what defines “disabled” by seeing documented examples. Less stringent is better.
What is the company’s loss ratio?
Loss ratio is defined by incurred claims over the life of the average policy divided by earned premium. Meaning what is the average payout versus what the policyholder pays in? Higher is better.
How quickly does the company pay claims?
Unfortunately the landscape varies widely in this key factor. Faster is better. Less hassle is better. Do your homework on this one. Some companies have been nailed in recent years for having internal policies relating to nonpayment of legitimate claims. It’s been uncovered as common practice in other companies to deny legitimate claims pending certain documents that seem to become less and less relevant, stringing you along for months hoping that you’ll give up. Look very closely at procedures and ask for statistics on both common and uncommon claims.
Do benefits require coordination with other coverage before payment is issued?
Some companies offer plans that sound great, but if coverages overlap, all the benefits are not paid. Other providers pay over and above any other insurance the policy holder has, regardless of type or amount or to whom the benefit is payable.
How are benefits paid?
Are they paid directly to the policyholder? To the doctor or hospital? Or some combination of both? Since more choice is better than less choice, the preferable payment is directly to the policyholder who then determines where the money goes.
Does the company encourage preventive care as part of its policies?
Many companies encourage preventative care as part of their base policies and incent policyholders to seek common precautionary screenings in an effort to reduce claims. It makes good sense all around since early-detected conditions mostly result in more effective treatment and less time off work. Look for companies that make such benefits a real part of the plan, not riders or options.
Are the policies offered portable?
Portability means that the policy is owned by the policyholder and not the company. So if the policyholder leaves the company for any reason, the policyholder retains coverage at the same levels. True portability means at the same rate as well. Some companies confuse convertibility with portability, making policies truly portable only under certain circumstances. Convertibility means that the policy converts from one form to another, mostly a change in benefits offered or rates.
Group health insurance rates have been increasing yr after yr and employers have been forced to make any drastic changes in their employee benefit programs. Many employers have changed their health insurance to high deductible plans. Dental Insurance has been discontinued by any companies as well as vision care. Disability programs have been trimmed down as well as group life insurance. This has created gaps in coverage and employees have had to look for alternatives for coverage that has been omitted or decreased in their benefit package. The answer to this problem has come in the form of supplemental health insurance. Supplemental health insurance companies will enroll employees with these products and the premiums are paid through payroll deduction.
Supplemental health Insurance Products
1. Disability Insurance – Supplemental disability insurance is sold to employees to fill in gaps or replace lost benefits. Long term and short term disability insurance can be purchased with a variety of waiting periods and benefit periods.
2. Life Insurance – Supplemental life insurance includes a variety of permanent plans as well as term life insurance. There are non-medical life policies available for larger groups when a certain amount of employees participate in the plan.
3. Dental Insurance – This is one of the more popular supplemental health products because it mostly the first discontinued by the employer.
4. Cancer Insurance – The cancer policy is a single need policy with relatively low premiums.
5. Accident Insurance – The accident policy covers accidental injury and death. There are accident disability riders on any accident policies.
6. Hospital Income – The hospital income policy pays a daily dollar rate to the insured while hospitalized. These policies can pay as low as $10 per day and as high as $200 for each day hospitalized.
The need for supplemental insurance is stronger than ever before. These policies can also be purchased on an individual basis with most companies.