how your coverage can help with mental health

How Your Coverage Can Help With Mental Health

Mental Health is getting a lot more attention by our society than before.

In previous generations, if someone was having a hard time with something, they were encouraged to ignore it or think about something else. If you’ve ever struggled with mental health, then you know that it is not as simple as that. But we see a change in the way that people are responding to not only their own but others mental health needs. One of the most significant shifts came when Mental Health Parity Acts were passed. This is a law that states that health care plans cannot limit the care provided for mental health over physical health care.

In the state of California, we have the California Mental Health Parity Act which states that “Health care service plans or insurance plans must cover care for persons with “severe mental illnesses” as they do for other people with other health conditions or illnesses.” (source)

But this act does also enumerate a few key issues that are important to know. First that this act only applies to health care services that are state regulated. They also define what illnesses are considered severe and fall under this law. This list usually includes Major depression, Panic disorder,  Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder;  Obsessive-compulsive disorder; Anorexia, Bulimia, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder, Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Children’s severe emotional disturbances.  Under this law, you have the right to get diagnosed, change your doctor, get your medical records, the right to keep those records private and to get a second opinion.

When it comes to mental health, it is essential to reach out for help.
Precisely what is offered in your health insurance for mental health changes between different the plans. If you have questions about what is covered by your health insurance, please feel free to reach out to your provider or us. We want to ensure that you get all of your physical and mental health insurance questions answered.
Talking about mental health

Talking About Mental Health?

Our society is quick to talk about how we need to take good care of our physical health. It has not always done the same service to mental health. Mental health encompasses your physiological, emotional, and social well being. Mental health has historically had a stigma in our society. People didn’t know much about it, didn’t talk about it or looked down on people who had a mental illness. However, things are beginning to change. In this blog, we wanted to cover what some of the potential signs are if you or someone you love are experiencing mental health problems.
Mood Changes 

These are rapid shifts in how you feel throughout the day. You may be fine one minute and actively experience an opposite emotion the next.

Drop in Functioning and Withdrawal

This includes a drop in functioning at work, school, sports, social activities or anything that you consistently were able to maintain a certain level of performance in and no longer can. It could also be a loss of interest in something that you used to be passionate about or even a loss of interest in others. Can also be perceived as apathy and having no desire to do anything.

Increased Sensitivity 

You may experience a heightened sensitivity to individual sounds, smells, touch and may desire to avoid certain stimulating situations.

Problems Thinking

These could be having difficulty concentrating or remembering things. But this could also be having illogical thought processes that don’t have a base in reality.


Becoming more suspicious or fearing the motives of others; that they are “out to get you.” Could also show a fear to leave the house or other comfortable places.

Sleep and Appetite changes

Drastic changes to the times that you usually sleep or the length of your sleep each evening or a severe change in your desire for food.

These are just a few of the symptoms that could expose a person is suffering from mental health problems. And if they are only exhibiting one or two of these, there is usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if there are multiple of these symptoms present, it may be a good time to see a doctor.

hard hitting flu season

A Hard Hitting Flu Season

If you’ve been reading the news recently, you’ve most likely seen some articles about this year’s flu season. California is counted in one of the most affected states in the nation. The state officials look at how serious a flu season is based upon the deaths of people under the age of 65. Unfortunately, people over the age of 65 are highly susceptible to the flu, and it does lead to many deaths each year. At the time of this article being written, we have seen 36 deaths in Los Angeles County and 91 deaths in San Diego County. Those numbers are up from last year.


Why are we seeing such high death numbers due to influenza this year?
Because of the activity of the strain of the H3N2 virus which provides symptoms which are much more severe. While symptoms may be very similar to what you would expect; with this strain, they are usually prolonged, harsher and more likely to lead to death.


If you have not yet received your flu shot, it is not too late.
Flu shots help you in many ways. They may not be 100% effective in keeping you from getting the flu but they can help with the severity of the symptoms should you find yourself with the flu. It can also help you get over the flu quicker and get back on your feet. But maybe most importantly, it aids in not spreading the virus to those who are very susceptible to it. Each year, the elderly and children are hit hard with the flu and usually make up the majority of deaths related to the flu. Where you may not worry about getting the flu yourself, you can do a great help to others in your community by getting the flu shot. We hope that you have a happy and healthy February. As always, contact us if you are in need of health insurance or wish to make sure your account is all up to date. We are here to make sure you are covered where you need to be and when you need to be.

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Heart Health

Small Changes to make for Heart Health

In this blog, we want to cover some changes that you can implement to help with your heart health. Our previous blog covered just how much heart disease affects Americans and also how deadly it is. Almost half of Americans today are at risk for heart disease, and many participate in a lifestyle that puts them at higher risk such as poor diet, no or little physical activity, smoking, excessive alcohol use, and obesity.
So here are some excellent tips if you want to help lower your risk of heart disease


Eat a balanced diet with lots of colors
A balanced diet consists of lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Two diets that are highly recommended are the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet. Both are noted to be a more balanced approach to dieting allowing people to stick with their plan and not crash and burn when they start to crave foods that are not allowed. If you don’t want to follow anything as formal as these diets, a helpful approach is to watch your portion size. Try using a small plate, that will immediately help cut your portions. And you will want to make sure that you are eating a lot of colors. More colors are in fruits and vegetables which are excellent for heart health.


Stop smoking
Smoking introduces deadly chemicals into your body. It also can build up plaque and harden your arteries which can ultimately lead to a heart attack. The good news is that as soon you do quit smoking the effects are immediate and your risk for heart disease begins to lower quickly.


Get up and move!
As with all healthy lifestyles, we recommend some moderate activity. Exercise allows you to keep your weight down which in turn reduces your chance of cardiovascular disease. We suggest something that will get your heart pumping for about 30 minutes each day.


See your doctor

Your doctor can give you the best information and recommendations about your heart’s health. Let them know that you are looking to make this a priority and they can walk you through what needs to change in your life or what additions will make all the difference.

Your heart health is important. Call us to schedule a meeting if you don’t have health coverage and are interested in seeing what your options are. Or request a quote online.

American Heart Month

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month! Your heart is one of the most important organs you have because it keeps everything else working properly. Not taking care of your heart can lead to some serious health risks. Here are some statistics taken from* on where our country stands on taking care of their hearts.


  • 220.8 per 100,000:  The overall rate of death attributable to Cardiovascular Disease, based on 2014 data.
  • On average, someone died of Cardiovascular Disease every 40 seconds. That is about 2,200 deaths of CVD each day.
  • More than 65% of US adults have 2, 3, or 4 criteria at ideal cardiovascular health, with ≈20% adults within each of these categories. At any age, females tend to have more metrics at ideal levels than do males. Blacks and Hispanics tend to have fewer metrics at ideal levels than whites or other races.
  • 85.7 million, or 34.0% of US adults are estimated to have hypertension, based on 2011-2014 data.
  • 28.5 million, or 11.9% of US adults are estimated to have total serum cholesterol levels ≥240 mg/dL, based on 2011-2014 data.
  • 1 in 6 males and 1 in 7 females in the United States are current smokers, based on 2015 data.
  • On average, 1 in 3 adults, or 30.4% Do not engage in leisure time physical activity. Hispanic and Non-Hispanic black adults were more likely to be inactive.

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After seeing these facts, it may be easier to understand precisely why there is a whole month set aside to put a spotlight on heart health. Heath Disease is still one of the leading causes of death for men and women in the United States. That’s why we want to do whatever we can to help get the word out about taking care of your heart. In our next blog, you will find some critical steps that you and your loved ones can do to keep yourselves from being a high risk for heart disease.

Stay Current

Good Questions To Ask Yourself During Open Enrollment

Looking at what health insurance you need can be an overwhelming process. Sometimes you only look at one aspect, like the monthly cost, and find yourself with huge out of pocket bills to pay later. If you are looking to enroll or re-enroll in Covered California this month, these are some good questions for you to ask yourself.


Do you like your current plan?

Over the last year have there been any situations that you did not expect to happen with your level of insurance? Or did you have any unexpected bills? Were you happy with your doctor and the care of service provided to you and your family? It’s good to look and see if there were any pain points over the last year. If you know what you didn’t like, you can see if there are any easy ways to fix that for the coming year.


Are you planning on having any significant changes this year?

Are you expecting to have a child? Or are you getting married? Both of these are substantial life changes that you can consider in your health insurance. However, it is important to note that these are also considered life altering events that can put you in a special enrollment period where you can change your health insurance to better match your current needs.


Are you on any current prescriptions?

If you are on a prescription medicine it will be important to know if your new provider covers these prescriptions or if your current provider is looking to change their policies.


How much do you want to pay?

Looking at your budget is crucial. And this is not just looking at your monthly premiums. This question needs to entail what you will pay out of pocket. What does it cost to see your doctor, to get prescription drugs, to go to the emergency room? You should also know what your premiums cover.

If you need help answering any of these questions, please feel free to call us at Bernardini & Donovan.

Are You Enrolled

Open Enrollment 2018

It’s 2018! We’ve made it past the holiday craziness and now find ourselves on the other side. The whole new year stretches out in front of us, open to any number of possibilities. We can have all the best intentions of what this year will hold for us. Which is such a lovely sentiment. And then reality hits. Bills need to be paid, stuff needs to get done, and life continues.


For us, reality hits when we realize all the things that we have put off to get through the holidays with some form of sanity.
As much as we cleaned before the holiday season, the house is in shambles again and needs a good cleaning. The laundry has been relegated to the back of the closet, and somehow we are all out of food. But there could be more significant things on your to-do list. Such as health insurance. Luckily for us in California, we have until the end of the month to still sign up if you are one of the many that may have put off this task. You have until January 31st to sign up and get coverage for 2018. There may be more incentive to sign up because even though the individual mandate has been taken away through our new tax bill, that doesn’t come into effect until 2019. As of right now, you still need to have health insurance in 2018, or you may need to pay a fine on your taxes. Of course, there may be more information coming in the following months, but for now, it is smart to ensure that you have health insurance and also avoid a fine.


If you need help signing up, have questions about Covered California or want to see all of your different options thoroughly explained as well as their various costs, we would love to help you. At Bernardini & Donovan, we are health insurance experts and can help you in ways that you are not going to find anywhere else.
Dental Care

Dental Care

One of the things that people tend to overlook is their dental health. For some, they may have dental insurance, but they just don’t like going to the dentist. But more often, the people that overlook their dental health are those that don’t have dental insurance. Here are a few ways that you can help yourself if you find yourself in that situation:


Take care of your teeth!
It is essential to make sure that you are taking care of your oral hygiene. You will want to make sure that you are brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. After brushing make sure you rinse thoroughly. Another critical element is flossing daily. For some dentists, they will say that this is even more important than brushing! Of course, you should always brush your teeth, but flossing is vital. Avoid overly sugary foods and beverages. Soda is not a friend to your teeth. Water is still the best beverage for your teeth and your general health.


Find a Dentist who can work with you
There are dentists available who would be willing to do a payment plan for specific procedures. You can also look at discounted dentistry schools or events when dentists are donating their time and services.


Don’t rule out dental insurance
Most people assume that they cannot afford dental insurance if it is not being provided for them. But there are some very affordable options available to you. There are DHMO’s that allow you to pay an annual fee for regular check-ups and give you a lower price for other services. There are also Dental Savings Plans where you pay a yearly fee and can get up to 50% off of dental services at many dentist offices.


If you are in need of dental insurance we are here to help you find the best possible coverage for the price that works for you and your family.
New Year, New You

New Year, New You

‘Tis the season of the new year’s resolution! Many people will start the new year with plans of how to improve their life. Here are a few resolutions that we would like to recommend:


One of our most significant assets in life is our time. Everyone is given the same amount of it every day. But what matters is what you do with that time. At the end of every year, it is easy to reflect back and realize that much of your time was spent doing things that don’t matter. Instead, we suggest doing this reflection much earlier. At the end of each day, at lunchtime, as you wake up, reflect over your last few hours. Think about what was important, what added something to your life and goals, and what detracted. What made you a better person and what was a waste of time. What can you do differently in your next few hours so that your precious time is used wisely?


Be your best you
For some of you, this may sound like “I want to drop 20 pounds” or the even more ambiguous I want to lose weight. Some will add the more positive spin saying “I want to eat healthier” or “Workout more.” While these are excellent goals, we want to point out that health looks different on every person. We all have our unique chemistry and genetic health history that causes us to need different markers for health. One of the best things you can do is go to your doctor and speak about what you would like. They can help you formulate different diets, exercise plans and offer you various options that are better for you than what your friend Sally did that worked for her. If you need help getting in to see a doctor, that’s where we can help. Its open enrollment right now and we can help you find an insurance plan that will let you see the doctors you want for a price that works for you. We hope that your New Year’s is terrific and that 2018 brings in the opportunities to be your best you.
Healthy Christmas
Christmas is around the corner and what an exciting season it is! Everywhere you go you see lights and decor and the children are getting more and more thrilled about how soon Santa is coming. We want you to have the happiest and healthiest Christmas you can. So here are a few options on how to have a healthy Christmas:


Keep your immune system strong
One of the best ways to ensure that you are not sniffling and coughing during Christmas is in the weeks before Christmas be taking care of yourself. Make sure that you are eating healthily and exercising before the big day. You will also want to wash your hands often and if at all possible, avoid others who are sick.


Talk a Walk
It’s easy around this time to want to plop yourself down on a couch and enjoy the massive amounts of holiday specials and movies. We all have our favorites ones that bring back sweet memories. But days of sitting while eating fatty foods can add to your waistline pretty quickly. Instead, take a family walk especially after a large meal which helps in digestion. If the kids got new bikes or scooters, take them out for a test drive. Create family experiences that are not around a television, and you will help yourself in the long run with health and many good memories.


Practice Portion Control

Tis the season for sumptuous foods! We all have our favorite holiday treats; maybe yours is that dessert that you only get this time of year or perhaps it’s Grandma’s special recipe that no one can recreate. But in this season of excess, have a little portion control can seriously help you. Try eating from a small plate if you don’t think you can stop yourself from filling up a full plate. Also, be mindful of all the little snacks that you pick up throughout the day. Being mindful of what you are putting in your mouth lets you make smarter choices during this time of year. Try to not eat in front of the television. You tend not to realize that you are full until it’s too late when your mind is on the plot line and not on your waistline.

Also, if you would like some ideas on some healthier recipes to serve or share at Christmas time check out this list: