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Pros and Cons of Kaiser
Kaiser Permanente is one of the staples of our local health providers.

They have recently built a facility in Redlands and continue to provide health services to our community. But bringing up the name Kaiser Permanente can come with some very mixed results. You’ll find people who love Kaiser and feel that they have never experienced better or more organized care. You’ll also find people with vitriol and fury in their descriptions of the healthcare company. This may be because of the unique type of business model that Kaiser holds to, which is different than any other health provider.

Kaiser not only provides health care through doctors, nurses and specialists; they also provide the health insurance to help pay for that care.

Medical health insurance that is purchased through them makes all of their doctors and facilities available to you. However, you will not have access to anyone outside of their care. If it is an emergency situation, they will cover attention that was received at another hospital.

It is this system that makes people have such polarizing opinions on Kaiser.

For many, they experience a system with a lot of ease. All of your medical records are accessible and ready at any time to any doctor that you may see. The costs are usually lower than other health insurance and care providers. They are dedicated to providing your excellent, whole health care. Their website states “Kaiser Permanente was founded on the radically simple idea that everyone deserves the chance to live a healthy life. That’s why you can find high-quality care and coverage in one place.” But on the rare case that you become ill with something that their specialists cannot find an answer to, and if there is another specialist outside of their system who could better treat you, it is not likely that it would be approved.

We hope that this light perusal of Kaiser Permanente has been helpful. If you ever have questions about your health insurance and what it covers, please always feel free to call us at Bernardini and Donovan.

Get in Gear for Summer - Part 1

Get in Gear for Summer – Part 1

With June not far off, it’s time for many of us to start thinking ahead to the summer. For some, that means getting yourself beach body ready. While we may not be beach body ready, we are dedicated to pursuing good health all throughout the year. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your body healthy during the summer months.

Drink water

This really should be a common health goal. But during the summer, when temperatures spike, we sweat out a lot of our hydration and need to keep drinking water to rehydrate ourselves. If you think that soda or coffee will help keep you hydrated, sorry, that’s just not true. In fact, other beverages do an excellent job of dehydrating you. Sticking to water will make all the difference.

Keep active but not during the hottest part of the day

Maintaining an active lifestyle is a favorite ingredient for health. But during the summer there can be some high temperatures that make working out difficult and can make you lose your motivation to get going. Make it a point to work out early in the morning or after the sun sets so that you can still

Berrys for better health

An excellent way to boost your antioxidants this summer is to include berries in your diet. This is as simple as throwing some strawberries or raspberries in your smoothie each morning or having them as a midday snack. And seeing as these delicious fruits are in season, there is no better time enjoy them. They also can help you fend off age-related illnesses and prevent damage that is done to your tissue. Can’t beat that!

These are just a few of examples of how to prepare for summer. In our next blog, we are going to cover some of the less heard of tips and tricks to get your ready for summer!!

Values of B&D

Values of Bernardini & Donovan

At Bernardini and Donovan, we love serving our clients and partners. And we are dedicated to providing you,  your families, and your businesses with insurance services. We do this by following a dedicated set of values which directs our communication and service.

Helpfulness

We are here to help you. We understand that your health is vital and that many of you need good health insurance to help the cost associated with preventative care as well as care whenever illness or injuries occur. That’s why we want to do everything we can to help you. If you are tired of trying to figure out health care on your own, we are here to answer your questions and walk alongside you to ensure that you get the health insurance that you need.

Knowledgeable

Our health insurance market has been flooded with change over the last few years. To the point that many people cannot keep up. We know that it’s hard to keep up in a niche market, so that is why we do it for you. As you have questions about new policy, your best options for your business or when you are starting Medicare; we are here to give you the most up to date information.

Trustworthy  

Webster’s dictionary defines trust as the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” We strive to continue to be above board, up front and honest with all of our clients. We seek to communicate effectively and promptly especially when deadlines are so final with health insurance. And we hope to build lasting relationships with our clients. This isn’t a single transaction, but a desire to see you turn to us for any of your health insurance needs.

We want you to succeed and do everything we can to make the health insurance process as easy as possible. Please contact us today if you have questions about your health insurance.

your health insurance and taxes

Your Health Insurance and Taxes

 

Over the last year, we have seen lots of ups and downs as Washington has been looking to make changes to our health care.

We’ve seen bills get through the house to be then stood up in the Senate. There have been a load of rewrites and committees being formed to address these issues. We have seen dramatic days of voting and lengthy interviews afterward about who said yea or nay. So what changes have been made to our healthcare? You may have heard about the individual mandate being suspended under a new tax law for future years, but here is one change that will affect your tax return this year.On October 13, 2017, the IRS reversed a recent policy change in how it monitors compliance with the ACA individual mandate. For our 2018 filing season (filing 2017 tax returns) the IRS will not accept electronically filed tax returns where the taxpayer does not certify whether the individual had health insurance for the year. For paper returns that do not certify compliance with the individual mandate, they may be suspended pending receipt of additional information and any refunds due may be delayed.

To avoid refund and processing delays when filing your 2017 tax returns in 2018, taxpayers should indicate whether they and everyone on their return had health coverage, qualified for an exemption or are paying individual mandate penalty. This process reflects the Affordable Care Act‘s requirements and the Internal Revenue Service’s obligation to administer the law.

We hope that this information has been helpful for you as we are in the thick of tax season. Remember that if you ever have questions about your health care insurance, we love to be able to help you and are only a phone call away. If you have questions about taxes, we recommend talking to a tax preparer as they are equipped to help you understand the tax laws.

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.

Nervousness

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.

image source: www.npr.org

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 heart.org* 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.

image source: www.cdc.gov

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.