3 Questions For Your Doctor

Health insurance is a vital aspect of our health and well-being. And the exponentially rising cost of healthcare is insurmountable without some level of insurance. So, it is crucial that we are covered in the case of an unforeseeable ailment or injury. However, health insurance is a complicated web of pure confusion. It takes an expert, someone who has devoted their entire career to the subject, to fully understand its ins and outs. And while you do not need to comprehend every aspect of insurance or even your own coverage completely, there are some things you’ll want to be sure are made clear.
If you’ve recently moved or required specialized medical attention, you may be seeking a new primary physician. And in this process, you’ll need to consider a few questions. To help you better understand your insurance, your doctor, and choose the best avenue of care for your needs, know what questions to ask your physician’s office. These will help you know what is covered by your insurance plan and what to expect in costs before you even book an appointment. Take out the guesswork and surprises, and take hold of your health care!

Three questions to ask your doctor: 

1. Is this office covered by my current health insurance plan?

You can answer this inquiry in more than one way. You can simply call the office directly and ask. However, this might turn into quite a few phone calls to random doctors’ offices. Or you can check your health plan’s website for a provider directory. This may be a more direct and easily navigable solution. Also, check if your plan requires prior authorization before your visit. This will avoid charges that could otherwise be applied to your plan.

2. Does my health plan cover my healthcare requirements?

There are several essential health benefits covered by all private health care plans. These include prescription drugs, emergency visits, pregnancy, maternity, and newborn services. However, beyond these, each plan is a bit unique in its coverage. If you have questions about what particular services are covered, you can reach out to your plan for answers.

3. What will I be charged?

While you are free to visit an out-of-network provider, you’ll save the most money with someone who is in-network. This indicates that their office accepts your insurance, resulting in a smaller out-of-pocket fee. As discussed above, each plan is a bit different from the next. So avoid any unwelcome surprises and learn which services aren’t subject to your plan.
Insurance and finding a healthcare provider who is both in-network and compatible with your preferences and needs, can be a headache. That’s why we at Bernardini and Donovan are here for your insurance inquiries and navigation. Don’t go it alone- this is a complicated topic! So leave it to the experts. We’ll assist you in this process, finding the best options for your exact criteria.

Back to School Health Checklist

With the close of Summer, August marks the start of the next school year. And in anticipation for the first day of school, there are a few things that first must be accomplished. You’ll, of course, make your annual school supplies Target run. You might pick up a few fresh outfits. And you’ll want to be sure to make the most of these last summer days. However, it is also important that you consider your children’s health and preventative care as they enter a new grade. There are several ways to ensure their preparedness and start the year off right! Check out our checklist on your children’s’ back-to-school health!

back to school kids

9 Ways to Prepare Your Children for the Start of School.

1. Immunize.

This is a significant step in ensuring the safety of your children and those they encounter. Vaccines have eradicated several deadly diseases, making our society far safer. So, be sure to do your part and keep your children’s’ vaccinations up to date. It is also required in all 50 states, that school-aged children be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and chicken pox. Receiving immunizations can be coupled with your child’s annual doctor’s check-up.

2. Get a flu shot. 

Flu shots similarly promote the safety of your child and those around them. However, this is not only good for your children. Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot every year. So, you ought to join in on the fun as well! Take your whole family to receive your shots, ideally before the start of flu season in October.

3. Prioritize good sleep hygiene.

Summer is likely to throw off your schedule a bit. So make sure that a proper sleep routine is re-implemented before the start of the school year. Remember that children require plenty of sleep: 10 hours for school-aged kids, and 9-10 hours for teens. Without adequate amounts of sleep, your child will struggle to focus and engage in the classroom.

4. Value the lunch box.

The food your children eat at school will influence their ability to learn, interact with others, and enjoy their day. So make sure to pack with them, nutritious and kid-approved food. Include fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich items such as nuts and lean meats, and swap out white bread for whole-grain! Find what healthy foods your kids enjoy eating and cater to those preferences.

5. Inform your kids of the ways of the road.

If your kids make their own way to school, either by foot or bicycle, be sure that they are aware of traffic safety rules. Teach them to use the sidewalk when available. And in the case that there is no sidewalk, to use the shoulder of the road, facing traffic.

6. Lighten their load.

Backpacks are often stuffed with books, binders, colors, and everything in between, making them quite heavy. This load can be harmful to your child’s neck, back, and shoulders. So, to ensure their comfort and health, watch the weight of their backpacks. It is advised that their packs to not exceed 10-15% of their body weight.

7. Get their eyes checked.

One’s ability to see is integral to their learning capabilities. So, be sure to take your child to get their eyes checked in case they require glasses. Also, look for signs of any sight-impairments. If they are squinting, closing one eye to read, or they hold their book exceptionally close, you may need to check the status of their vision. A child who is unable to see properly faces a significant learning barrier.

8. Emphasize good hygiene and cold-preventing habits.

Returning to school also marks the return of abounding germs. And while your children are up against all odds, there are several ways to help maintain their good health. Emphasize the importance of thorough hand washing, cover their sneezes and using tissues, and not touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.

9. Inform your school of health issues.

Keep your school updated on special restrictions and instruction to keep your child healthy. Make sure that they are aware of all allergies and health problems.

This school year, be sure to prioritize your children’s health and well-being. From packing their lunch to scheduling doctor’s visits, you have the opportunity to give them the best start! And to insure your health care needs, do not hesitate to call on us at Bernardini and Donovan for expert advice and counsel. We are here for you and your entire family in this upcoming school year!

4 Things You Need to Know About The 2019 Measles Outbreak

One of the most interesting health issues to resurface this year has been the Measles. Which is interesting because, in the year 2000, the United States was able to declare that the Measles had been eliminated. However, in these last six months, we have seen 1077 cases. A number that is still growing. The last time we saw these kinds of numbers was in 1992. Here is what you need to know about these recent outbreaks:

1. Over 26 states have reported a Measles breakout

These states include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington.

2. Small Community Centered

Most of the reported breakouts include a small number of people affected; only a couple at a time. But the most significant reported amounts are in an Orthodox Jewish Community in New York City, specifically in Rockland County. This group has been vaccine skeptic, and the measles virus has spread wildly. So much so that the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, declared a public health emergency on April 9th. He said that anyone who has not been vaccinated within a specific zip code must get the vaccine. If they refused, they would be fined $1,000.

3. It’s an aggressive virus.

You may have the virus and not show any symptoms. A person can have it up to four days before they ever show signs, and they can easily infect another person during that time if a person who has contracted the measles were to walk into a room, cough and then leave. Hours later, an unvaccinated person could get the virus from the droplets in the air from the infected person. No other virus can do that.

4. It’s making its way into the US from tourists

Many of the outbreaks that stemmed from people that have traveled to countries where measles still is a significant problem. Outbreaks in California have originated from strains of measles found in Vietnam or Thailand. New York’s epidemic seems to come from Jerusalem. If you are traveling to another country this summer, the CDC recommends that you are up on your vaccines so that you do not contract this aggressive virus.

If more people are vaccinated, it creates what is called the herd effect. It helps the people who cannot get vaccines like small children or people or autoimmune diseases from getting the disease. If you need to check up on your vaccines, make sure to call your doctor. If you have already been vaccinated for measles, most people do not need a have the vaccine again, but if you got it before 1967, you might. Your doctor will be able to help you determine what you need as far as vaccines go.

Hold Onto Your Health: 5 Things Men Can do to help their bodies

As we begin this June, we turn our attention to men as we look at their health. This June 6 start Men’s Health Week and what is needed to help them live healthier and happier lives. Before we get into this list, we do want to give a special shout out to women. It would be easy to look at this list as there is nothing here for you. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a fact that women live longer than men. This stems from the fact that women often go to the doctor, ask lots of questions, and make informed decisions when it comes to their health. As you look over this list, we ask that you would help encourage the men around you to pursue their health and help them take these steps to a healthier lifestyle.

Make that appointment even if you feel great

One of the most significant issues the men face is that they may know that they are facing health issues, but do not seek out health experts. Here is an age guide of what you should be asking about based upon your life stage:

  • For men in their 30s

    • Complete physical every two years
    • Get blood pressure checked every year
    • Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
    • Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
    • Testicular self-exam every month
  • For men in their 40s

    • Get blood pressure checked every year
    • Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
    • Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
    • Testicular self-exam every month
    • Complete physical every two years
    • Baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam (DRE)
    • Stool test (for colon and rectal cancers) every year
  • For men in their 50s 

    • Get blood pressure checked every year
      • Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
    • Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
    • Testicular self-exam every month
    • A sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy (for colon cancers) every three to four years or as recommended by your healthcare provider
    • PSA and DRE exam every year (https://observer.com/2015/06/men-need-to-know-more-about-their-health/)

Get Moving

One of the most significant ways to help your health is to engage in 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day. Studies have shown that it can significantly improve your heart health as well as lower your stress levels. If you are having a hard time finding 30 minutes a day, any amount of exercise is helpful. You could also use this time to engage with your family by playing a sport together or going on a walk together.

Stop Smoking

This single step has one of the greatest benefits to your health. When you smoke, you are in taking over 4,000 harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer in your body. By quitting smoking, you are giving your lungs a chance they need to heal and to function correctly. The health of your lungs goes up significantly in just two weeks after you stop smoking.

Hormone changes are not only for women

While many are familiar with menopause for women, men also have changes to their hormones while they age. Testosterone levels tend to drop as men age. If you want to get an idea of where your levels are at, it is good to test them in the morning before 9 am. That will give you a good idea if your levels or high or low. If you start to gain weight, especially around your middle, this can change your testosterone levels as well. Keeping a trim waist helps keep your levels healthy.

Mental Health Matters

In many ways, your attitude about aging and your mental health has just as much effect on you as your physical condition. Pay attention if you are utilizing any unhealthy coping mechanisms or substances to help you get through a day or to deal with stress. If you find yourself in a negative place, please reach out for help. There are more options available to help men find the right work/life balance and be happier each day.

What Happens After You Lose an Organ

What Happens After You Lose an Organ
This can sound like an ominous subject.

But the matter of the fact is that many people have different organs removed on a consistent basis. We are not talking about the vital organs like the lungs or liver. But we do regularly hear of people who have their gallbladder, tonsils, appendix or pancreas removed. So what happens after that? What is life like without these organs that you were born with?

Most people have their tonsils removed after having some complications with tonsillitis or suffering from sleep apnea.

Your appendix would only be removed if it has become infected. For both of these procedures, there is not much that will change in your day to day life. You should not suffer from sore throats as much if you have your tonsils out, and there will be no change good or bad when you have the appendix removed.

If you are getting your gallbladder removed, you most likely have had some issues with gallstones.

Passing a gallstone can be an excruciating process and if it should get stuck on the way out it can lead to some severe health issues. When your gallbladder is removed, you can no longer store bile in the same way. Bile helps break down fatty foods. Therefore, after getting your gallbladder removed, you would need to plan on changing your diet. All high-fat foods can lead to some potential problems for you, but you will also want to make sure that you are cutting down on foods that can cause gas as well. One of the more severe organs to get removed is your pancreas. Because the pancreas produces the insulin that your body needs to respond to glucose levels, when you get it removed you come out of the surgery a diabetic. This change will affect your diet, exercise and health care needs for the rest of your life.

These are all issues that could have an effect on the type of health insurance coverage that you may need. If you have gone through a primary medical procedure in the last year that will require more medical attention for you in the future, please talk to us for the best insurance coverage for your current health needs.

The Numbers on Addiction

The numbers on Addiction

The Numbers on Addiction

There is much to be said about the many diseases that affect our country.
Often viewed as a disease while not given the same attention, addiction can take a deadly tole on a person’s life. Here are some addiction facts that show how widespread this issue continues to be:

 

Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction (excluding tobacco).
100 people die every day from drug overdoses. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years.
2.6 million people with addictions have a dependence on both alcohol and illicit drugs.
Rates of illicit drug use are highest among those aged 18 to 25.
Over 90% of those with addiction began drinking, smoking or using illicit drugs before the age of 18.
(source: Addiction Center)One of the fastest growing drug abuses has been the opioid Fentanyl. This is a drug that is used to treat pain after surgery. In the last 7 years abuse of this drug has grown significantly. Where it once was only associated in 14% of opioid overdose deaths, that number was raised to 50%.

Smoking and alcohol addiction still lead to some severe health issues. But addiction to these substances often goes untreated because it is legal to purchase and many do not think that they have a real problem with it. It is estimated that over 95% of people who need treatment for alcoholism do not feel they need treatment. But more people receive treatment for alcoholism than any other substance. There is a cost to these addictions. Including healthcare costs, loss of productivity and other aspects, Tobacco addiction costs the US over $190 billion. And tobacco-related deaths far exceed in number any other substance-related death.

If you or someone you know struggles with addiction, please get help. You can reach out to a variety of organizations including SAMHSA which has a 24/7 365-days a year treatment referral and information service. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free and confidential treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

If you are uncertain what your insurance covers in terms of rehabilitation or issues with mental health or addiction, please call us today

i-Tech

i-Tech

i-Tech

Technology is part of our everyday lives.

Even when you may not realize its encompassing hold on your life, it is very much present. For many, their daily dose of technology comes in the form of screens. Most likely a computer screen, tablet screen or cell phone screen. While being on a computer is not a dangerous activity, it can be harmful to your eyes.

When you are staring at a screen for extended times during the day, your eyes can become dry and overstrained.

The reason for this is that we tend not to blink as much when looking at a screen as opposed to reading a book. Every time that you blink you are replenishing any moisture that has escaped while your eyes are open. Also, when you read, you tend to look down so that most of your eye is covered by the lid. When looking at a screen, you tend to look straightforward, so more of your eye is exposed.

There is also blue light that is emitted from screens.

Blue light during the day can actually help with your circadian rhythm, and help you be more alert during the daytime. However, if you are spending a reasonable amount of time looking at a screen before bed, it can keep you up at night. There are also studies being done that blue light can affect children more than adults.

If you have noticed that you are experiencing headaches, dry eyes, eye strain, trouble sleeping or back pain; there are a few exercises you can do to help.
Make sure you are taking regular breaks from staring at your screens. A good rule of thumb is every 20 minutes stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Make sure that you are blinking regularly. You can also adjust the blue light on your phone at night. If you are still experiencing issues, please get a comprehensive eye exam. A doctor will be able to let you know what other changes you may need to make.

Seeing in 20/20 

Seeing in 20/20

Seeing in 20/20

There are many that know the value of health insurance and how it helps you to be able to get care for you and your loved ones.

There are some who go without it, but most people would at least want to have health insurance. But that thought process does not always extend to vision insurance. It is recommended that you get your eyes checked every two years, but without the insurance, many pass over this timeline. If you are in need of corrective lenses then you are supposed to have your eyes checked yearly. This is where having vision insurance is very helpful.

Vision insurance works a bit differently than health insurance in that it can be more of a discount program.

You hope to use your “insurance” to help offset cost rather than hope that insurance will cover your expenses if something should happen like you would with car or homeowners insurance.

If you are looking at vision insurance there are a few basics that you will want to make sure are covered.

Those basics include an eye exam, glasses, and contacts. But depending on the type of insurance, the discounts available or even the timing of when your coverage kicks in can change. Some plans will only offer glasses every two years for example. You should also pay attention to any extras that would come with your plan. Will it cover transition lenses or daily contacts? Small extras that cost extra may add up on your final bill and it is important to know what will come from our out of pocket expenses.

If you or a family member have a need for vision insurance please speak to us. We can inform you on all of the ins and outs of various plans to find the best fit for your needs. We love to make your insurance work for you.

Immunizations & What They’re For

Immunizations & What They're For

Immunizations & What They’re For

Immunizations have caused quite a stir in the last past and in some circles are still a point of contention.

An immunization is actually the end product but is synonymous with a vaccine. A vaccine usually comes in the form of an injection that includes small amounts of a bacteria, virus or lab-based protein. The idea behind vaccinations is that when a small amount of this harmful bacteria or virus is injected, the body’s immune system is triggered. It starts to create antibodies that will fight off whatever was in the injection. That way if the person should come in contact with a full-blown strain of the disease the body is more prepared to fight it off or completely keep the body from being overwhelmed by the illness.

 

The majority of people who are given vaccines are children from the ages of 0-6.

During that time, most children will receive a vaccine for Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus influenza type B, Pneumococcal, Poliovirus, Influenza, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chickenpox, and Hepatitis A. The reason that these are given to children is because there was a period of time not that long ago when thousands of children would suffer or die from these diseases each year. With the invention of the vaccine for these infections, many of them have become obsolete like the mumps, smallpox or polio. Another reason why these vaccines are recommended is that it is more cost effective to prevent a disease than to treat it. Most of these are highly infectious diseases and to treat a mass amount of people infected by these is very expensive.

While many of you may be aware of the mechanics of immunizations you may have also heard that there is a movement of people who do not want to give their children vaccines. To read more about this topic, please read our next blog “Will They, Won’t They.”

At Bernardini & Donovan, we are dedicated to giving you more information about your health and your health care. If you have any questions about your health care insurance please feel free to call us.

When to see a Doctor

when to see a doctor

When to see a Doctor

Whenever you start to get that scratchy throat or a runny nose; there’s always a moment that you have to decide if it’s time to go to the doctor or wait it out. Do your symptoms need to be treated with some antibiotics or is your immune system strong enough to fight it? If you go to the doctor and get drugs that you don’t need you can be contributing to an antibiotic immunity. However, if you have a bacterial cold, antibiotics will help cut your time sick quickly. So when do you know that you need to go to the doctor?

You should go to the doctor if you….

Have a high fever. 

For adults, a low-grade fever ranges around 100.8. But if you are experiencing a temperature of 102 or higher, than it is likely that your body is fighting off something that is stronger than a cold and you should be looked at by a professional.

Have a cough that lasts over ten days. 

It is most likely because you have a postnasal drip, but it could be indicative of other issues like asthma or GERD. In either case, it is best to see your doctor.

Feel like you have been hit by a truck.

If your illness has made it hard for you to get out of bed, then you may need to see a professional. The winter cold virus can produce body aches; however, if the experience is more along the lines of exhaustion or general weakness, then it is best to go to the doctor’s office. You could have the flu, and there are treatments for that illness.

Have a severe headache. 

Most headaches can be solved if you take a couple of over the counter pain relievers. But If you are having a hard time concentrating and always seem to have a fuzzy or hazy feeling, then this could be a sign of meningitis and should see your doctor right away.

If you need to see your doctor more often than you were expecting when you signed up for health insurance, please make sure to make a note of it and speak to us. We can help you find the best health insurance for your needs during open enrollment.