Health Insurance and Benefits: Know the Challenges and Solutions

The challenges of health insurance and benefits are rising alarmingly. However, with proper solutions, we can expect a healthier and happier America.

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Health insurance in the US includes any program that bears the cost of medical expenses. The medical expenses may be paid through privately purchased insurance, social insurance, or government-funded social welfare program. No doubt, health insurance and benefits are synonymous with each other. However, there is still a wide gap in the access to quality healthcare. In this article, you will understand the challenges that are contributing to the gap, what statistics suggest and the potential solutions.

Facts about Health insurance and Healthcare Spending in the US

The US government spends trillions of dollars annually on its healthcare system. In fact, the enormity of the expense can be gauged by the fact that in 2012, US healthcare spending was 17% of its GDP. Interestingly, this amount is more than the entire GDP of the UK.

Among the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, per capita healthcare expenditure of the US is the highest. However, even such huge investment does not seem to improve health conditions for many Americans. Regrettably, statistics suggest that the US has poorer health conditions compared to other high-income countries. According to a WHO report, at least 18% of US residents younger than 65 years had no any form of insurance till 2014.

The major drivers of poor health outcomes in the US are gaps in health coverage, unhealthy lifestyle and lack of appropriate access to health care.

Currently, in the US, public payers are the biggest contributor accounting for 48% of total healthcare expenditure. Likewise, 40% comes from private payers and 12% from the patients as out-of-pocket payments. Almost 30% of the total population is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

What are Health Insurance Exchanges?

Also called Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces, the exchanges are the websites that help you buy health insurance coverage. In some cases, you can also get financial aid from the federal government.

The basic idea behind creating the exchanges is to facilitate shopping for coverage. The exchanges provide a one-stop solution where you can compare different insurance policies
Typically, an exchange helps to compare a number of insurance plans that have common components such as premiums quality rating of plans, enforcement of insurance mandates, compensation payments to insurers with high-cost enrollees and regulatory oversight.

What Challenges are Affecting Health Insurance and Benefits?

According to a WHO report, the major challenges that the US healthcare system is currently facing are:
Challenges in Health insurance coverage

When Obamacare was first introduced, it was believed to cover nearly all Americans. However, the current situation is nowhere near. Unfortunately, an estimated 35 million Americans have no health insurance. Even worse, many more are underinsured.

It is a positive thing that more than half of private-sector workers have two or more health insurance options. Also, Medicare offers veterans to choose from traditional coverage or other Medicare-approved plans from private insurers (Medicare Advantage). But the choice of the most appropriate health insurance plan is often marred by insurance illiteracy and lack of information. Consequently, they end up paying for what they actually may not need.

Challenges in expenditures

Well, it might sound like we are repeating the same thing time and again. But, yes, the US government is spending far more than what it should spend. Regrettably, the results are not something anyone proud of. Looking at the current trend in healthcare expenditure, it seems quite unlikely that any change in the expenditure will occur if no reform in the policy takes effect shortly.

The major driver of rising healthcare expenditure is theadoption of new medical technologies. For instance, if a new blockbuster drug enters the market, it will surely push the cost-curve upwards. In some cases, the benefits of any of these technologies fall well below the amount you pay for them. Moreover, overspending on ineffective new technologies can affect spending on necessary things. For example, preventive care, health education, and others.

Health Insurance and Benefits: What Measures Can maximize the Outcomes?

The most critical factor to address the current crisis in US healthcare system is a reform which can include:

  • Personal health insurance. It should always be the individual’s authority to choose which insurance policy they like. But in a system where the employer chooses your policy, it is very less likely that the selected insurance will solve all your ailments. Moreover, if you leave the job, your insurance coverage might go off the air as well.
  • More competitive insurance market. More competition means the consumers can expect to have more choices and most probably pay less for their choice. As a matter of fact, the insurance market is dominated by a handful of companies that drive the fate of the market. If it was possible for the consumer to choose from a number of options, it would have been a different scenario now.
  • A wider range of practice authority to non-physician medical professionals. Like in the insurance market, competition is a good thing even when among the healthcare professionals. All non-physician professionals such as Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, naturopaths, and chiropractors should have a greater flexibility in practicing what they have learned.

Want To Know More?

To learn more about health insurance and benefits, visit http://www.FindaTopDoc.com. Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, FindaTopDoc.com and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.

 

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When to Go to the ER: Know When to Go and When Not To

Questioning when to go to the ER can be scary. As a matter of fact, we would not want, even in the distant dream, you to go to ER. But certain conditions warrant an ER visit. By not doing so, you could be putting the health of yourself or a loved one at stake.

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Included in this article are the conditions or symptoms that answer your “when to go to ER” question. Also, you will know when to take your infant to ER, take your child to ER, and the need of ER for adults.

Do You Need to Visit the ER For Common Symptoms?

Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this common question. For example, a dull pain near your navel may seem like something that you could get away without any treatment. But do you know the same pain could be indicative of appendicitis? Evidently, no symptom can be considered as each of them could be indicative of some serious underlying conditions.

In fact, there are many instances when serious conditions start with seemingly milder symptoms. These include headache, pain in the jaw, chest pain, shortness of breath, and finally a feeling that something is not right inside your body.

Moreover, ER visits are not limited to the disease conditions only. Injury, choking, burns, electrocution, and long-lasting seizures also require an ER visit.

So, is there any way that can tell you when to go to ER? There is and there is not. That being said, severe injuries, especially to the head and spine, and burns invariably require you to go to ER. This is easier than finding out if you should go to ER if you have a headache or chest pain.

For the physical symptoms, it is always a good idea to keep note of their frequency, severity and your gut feeling.

Given below are some conditions/symptoms that warrant an ER trip for any age group:

  • Choking
  • Disturbed breathing
  • Head injury with loss of consciousness, vomiting episodes, or mental confusion
  • Injury to neck or spine. Think of going to the ER if you or your loved one experiences a lack of emotion or loses theability to move after the injury.
  • Electric shock or lightning strike
  • Severe burn
  • Severe chest pain
  • Seizure attacks for more than 3 minutes.

Rush to the ER if you or a loved one is experiencing:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of consciousness for longer durations
  • Chest pain that radiates to the left shoulder and jaw
  • A sudden episode of bad headache, something you have not experienced before.
  • Sudden problems with vision, speech or movement.
  • Sudden weakness on one side of the body
  • Persistent dizziness
  • Inhaled poisonous fumes
  • Heavy loss of blood
  • Signs that your bone is possibly broken. For example, severe swelling on the affected part, loss of movement, and extreme
  • Severe burn
  • Coughing up blood
  • Unbearable pain in any part of the body with or without an obvious reason
  • Symptoms of severe allergic reaction such as breathing difficulties, swelling, hives, and rashes on the skin
  • High fever accompanied by headache and stiffness in the neck
  • A fever that does not improve even after taking medicine
  • Severe loss of fluid due to diarrhea or vomiting
  • Accidentally taken a poison
  • Persistent thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Long-lasting seizures
  • Overdosing on drug or alcohol
  • Attempting suicide

When to Take Your Infant to ER

The decision to take your infant to ER solely depends on your own assessment of the infant’s symptoms. This is because the infants and kids cannot directly tell how they are feeling. Take note of the following warning signs and symptoms.

  • Refusing food and drink consistently or vomiting up foods or liquids
  • Fever above 100.4 that lasts for longer durations
  • Crying persistently
  • Vomiting and frequent passage of loose or watery stool
  • Labored breathing, wheezing or high-pitched noise when breathing
  • Visible injury after a fall or accident like a bump on the head

When to Take Your Child to ER

If it’s the first time that you are parenting a child, it is critically essential that you identify the conditions when you should take your child to the ER. However, this, in no way, means that you can stay relaxed when something wrong happens to your second child or the first child the second time. In essence, experience and instinct are great assets that help you determine when you should take your child to ER.

Look out for the following symptoms in your child and rush them to ER if anything does not feel right.

  • Choking
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin
  • Persistent high-grade fever that does not improve with common medicines
  • Frequent or heavy bleeding, especially following an injury
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea characterized by sunken eyes, low urine output, excessive skin dryness, etc.

When to Go to the ER: Not for These Conditions in Most Cases

Not All Conditions Require an ER Visit. Know the Bad Reasons to Visit ER

If you visit ER with minor symptoms of a cold, you are definitely wasting your time and money, as well your doctor’s time. That being said, many conditions are not severe enough to warrant an ER visit. Instead, you can get relief by visiting your personal physician.

These conditions include:

  • Sore throat
  • Minor cough
  • Non-severe allergic reactions that can go away with OTC medications
  • Occasional headache
  • Minor wound or bleeding from superficial cuts
  • Sprains and strains without the signs of broken bones

Want To Know More?

To learn more about when to go to the ER, visit http://www.FindaTopDoc.com. Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, FindaTopDoc.com and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.

 

 

5 Ways to Repair a Broken Healthcare Referral Process

In this article, you will understand what factors are contributing to a broken referral process and what remedial measures can help.

Effective coordination between primary care physicians and specialists is key to enhanced patient satisfaction and high-quality health care. Unfortunately, US healthcare is currently struggling with the problem of abroken referral process.

healthcare-referral system

It is not a new thing that the US healthcare system is one of the most complicated in the world. Everyday, hundreds of thousands of physicians, dentists, hospitals, and laboratories exchange a huge amount of data. In most cases, health information travels from one professional to another in the form of paper records. Yes, this is exactly when the risk of data loss and corruption peaks.

Let’s look at the factors that are fueling the broken referral process.

  • Communication gap. The absence of effective communication between primary care physicians and specialists is by far the most influential driver of broken healthcare referral in the US. This broken link in the chain causes significant problems to the patients as well the physicians. According to statistics in a 2012 report by hitconsultant.net, 25% of primary care physicians do not receive timely information from specialists post-referral. Even worse, 68% of specialists have no idea about patients being referred to them.
  • Paper vs patient. Because referrals are yet to transform fully into electronic forms, paper records are still the most preferred medium for referral communication. As a result, EHR is also not entirely free from paper. What happens next? Thousands of patients who cannot make sense of a doctor’s handwriting make wrong choices. Unfortunately, many of them die due to preventable medical errors.
  • HIPAA violations. The HIPAA law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) requires every covered entity and its business associate to take appropriate measures to ensure privacy and security of sensitive health information. That being said, organizations using electronic referral system must comply with HIPAA. Regrettably, many organizations lack proper infrastructure and manpower to handle and back up referral data. This makes them vulnerable to data theft and loss leading to HIPAA violations and possible penalties.

What Organizations Can Do to Repair a Broken Healthcare Referral Process

In order to bridge the gap between primary care physicians and specialists, and ensure data safety, organizations can implement the following measures.

  1. Assess the loopholes and take preventive action. The first step in addressing the problem of broken healthcare referral is to identify the underlying causes. For example, if broken communication is the reason, the organization should work to enhance communication by utilizing patient referral forms. The form contains all essential information such as date, referring physician’s name, name of the specialist, and urgency of referral. Then, the referral coordinator should talk with the patient to schedule an appointment based on patient preference and specialist availability.
  2. Keeping a track of the referral process. There is an ongoing wrong concept that the role of primary care physician finishes once the appointment has been scheduled. However, this is not what actually happens or should happen. The primary care physician should know if the patienthas visited the specialist. In fact, they should also receive a notification about the visit. If the practice uses an EHR system with tracking features, the tracking process becomes easier. If that’s not the case, the referral coordinator can use a simple spreadsheet to track the process. The spreadsheet should contain at least the following essential information: patient name, physician or clinic referred to, diagnosis, and date of referral request
  3. Routine assessment of key information regarding the referral process. The key information that defines the quality of a referral process are:
  • The time required for scheduling or confirming an appointment with a given specialist;
  • The period for which a patient has to wait for actually meeting a specialist after an appointment is set up.
  • The number of times a patient misses an appointment;
  • The time it takes for a primary care physician to receive a post-appointment letter from the specialist regarding a given patient.
  1. Using HIPAA-compliant electronic referral systems. In order to protect sensitive health data and prevent their loss, it is critically important that the organizations use HIPAA-compliant referral systems. In case any data loss or theft occurs, the organizations should employ a proper reporting system. Note that those organizations that fail to report a health data breach to regulatory authorities and affected patients are liable for punishment under the HIPAA law.
  2. Take feedback from patients. Patient satisfaction is central to defining the quality of any healthcare service. For this reason, it is always a wise decision to ask the patients about their experience with the referral process. In fact, organizations should conduct routine surveys that measure the patient satisfaction. The patient feedback is a useful tool to take further actions to improve the quality of the service.

Key Takeaways

Broken healthcare referral in the US is rising despite growing implementation of EHR. Thousands of deaths occur annually due to problems with the healthcare referral process. One of the first things to address this issue is to ensure a proper communication among all the members in the chain, the primary care physicians, the patients, and the specialists.

Want To Know More?

To learn more about ways to repair broken healthcare referral process, visit http://www.FindaTopDoc.com. Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, FindaTopDoc.com and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.

 

 

8 Tips to Stop and Prevent a Nosebleed

Stop a nosebleed within 20 minutes with these simple tips. Also, learn about how you can prevent future nosebleeds.

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Bleeding from the nose is common and rarely serious. In fact, many adults, and children between the ages 3 to 10 have occasional episodes of nosebleeds. Though a non-serious condition, a nosebleed may seem scary and the sight of blood can be distressing to some individuals.

In this article, you will understand causes of nosebleeds, risk factors, and steps to stop and prevent bleeding.

What is a nosebleed?

In simple terms, a nosebleed is bleeding from either single or both nostrils. Most cases of nosebleeds involve only one nostril and such is generally harmless. However, bleeding from both nostrils can be more serious and cause loss of large amounts of blood.

The inside of the nose is covered by a moist layer which is richly supplied with blood vessels. For this reason, any injury or even a scratch can tear off the small blood vessels leading to bleeding. Blood from the nose can run down the back of the nose into the throat.

Depending on the site of bleeding, nosebleeds may be broadly classified into two types. They are:

  • Anterior nosebleed. In this type, bleeding occurs due to ruptured blood vessels that lie in the front part of the nose.
  • Posterior nosebleed. This type of nosebleed is more serious and involves blood vessels in the back part of the nose.

What are the causes and risk factors of nosebleeds?

In most cases, the common cause of nosebleeds is an injury that disrupts the tiny blood vessels inside the nose. Activities like nose picking and forceful blowing are the most common culprits. However, many other factors can also increase the risk. Risk factors include:

  • Dry air. Continuous exposure to extreme temperatures and dry air can take away moisture from the moist layer that covers the inside of the nose. If you pick or scratch the dry layer, it may cause bleeding.
  • Certain medications, especially cold and flu medications, can also dry out the moist layer and increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Presence of foreign object or irritants in the nose. Exposure to cigarette smoke, sulfuric acid fumes, ammonia, gasoline, or other chemical irritants significantly increases the risk of bleeding.
  • Allergy of the respiratory tract.
  • Repeated sneezing.
  • Cold air. Nosebleeds occur more commonly during seasonal changes when the air is cold and dry.
  • Medications that interfere with blood clotting mechanisms such as aspirin and prescription blood thinners may also cause bleeding.
  • In some individuals, medical conditions like high blood pressure, a bleeding disorder, blood clotting disorder, and cancer can contribute to bleeding.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption. Taking large amounts of alcohol dilates the blood vessels and makes them more prone to bleeding. Moreover, alcohol can also interfere with clotting mechanisms in the body.
  • A deviated septum. The septum is the wall between the two nostrils. If the septum deviates, it affects air flow in the nostrils. Over time, the nostril which gets little air becomes dry and may bleed easily.
  • Dietary supplements like feverfew, garlic, ginger, ginseng and vitamin E can impair proper blood clotting.

Steps to Stop Nosebleeds: Know These Simple Treatment Measures

Most cases of nosebleeds are not serious and you can treat them at home. However, if the bleeding is severe and unresponsive to home remedies, see a doctor right away.

The simple ways to stop nosebleeds are:

  1. Sit up straight and tip your head slightly forward. Make sure not to tilt your head back. Doing so can cause blood to run down the back of your throat. If you swallow the blood, it might cause vomiting. So, if you get blood in your mouth or throat, spit out the blood instead of swallowing.
  2. Pinch the soft part of your nose using your thumb and forefinger. Most nosebleeds occur in the soft part of the nose.
  3. Because cold temperature constricts the blood vessels, you may apply an ice pack to your nose and cheeks.
  4. Continue pinching your nose for at least 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes, release the pressure on the nose and check to see if your nose is still bleeding. If the bleeding persists, pinch for another 10 minutes.
  6. Use a water-based nasal gel or an antiseptic nasal cream inside your nose. You may also use saline for this purpose.
  7. Avoid blowing your nose for at least 12 hours after the bleeding has stopped.
  8. Rest for another few hours, avoiding intense physical activity.

How to Prevent Nosebleeds

Once you have stopped a nosebleed, make sure to reduce the chances of future events of bleeding by:

  • Avoiding forceful nose-blowing.
  • Not picking your nose.
  • Avoiding heavy lifting or other stressful activities quickly after a nosebleed.
  • Sleeping in a position that elevates your head. Use a high pillow.
  • Keeping your nostrils moist by applying a thin layer of a saline- or water-based nasal gel.
  • Avoiding aspirin or other painkillers for at least 3 to 4 days after a nosebleed. Instead, you may use Acetaminophen to relieve pain.
  • Not taking non-prescription allergy medications and decongestants immediately following a nosebleed.
  • Quitting smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.

Key Takeaways

  • Nosebleeds are common and rarely fatal or life-threatening.
  • Most nosebleeds stop after 20 minutes of applying pressure.
  • If nosebleeds start occurring frequently, talk to your doctor as they could be indicative of some serious underlying causes such as bleeding disorders or even cancer.
  • If the nosebleed is due to injury to the nose caused by a fall or road traffic accident, seek immediate medical attention.

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Want To Know More?

To learn more about the tips to stop and prevent nosebleeds, visit http://www.FindaTopDoc.com. Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, FindaTopDoc.com and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.

Nurse Fatigue: Know the Consequences and Remedies

“The greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel” –Florence Nightingale

Nurse Fatigue

No doubt, a nurse is a hero. But even a hero needs regular breaks in order to serve the people. Physical and mental fatigue take a toll on the health of a nurse. Moreover, this increases the risk of medical errors which in turn puts patient safety at stake.

According to the statistics in a 2012 report, nurses who had shifts greater than 13 hours did not communicate well with the patients and also failed to provide timely care to them. Consequently, patient satisfaction declined significantly.

Several other studies have also found that nurses working 12 or more hours were 3 times more likely to make an error compared to their counterparts who had 8.5-hours shifts. In another major study, researchers found that more than 40 hours per week increased patient care errors by 46%.

A Quick Overview of Nurse Fatigue

Nurse fatigue refers to an overwhelming sense of tiredness, lack of energy, and a feeling of exhaustion due to impaired physical and/or cognitive functioning. Long and consecutive nurse shifts along with lack of sleep are the main reasons for nurse fatigue.

Luckily, American nurses seem to be getting more rest compared to the ones in other developed countries. For example, a recent survey found that American nurses had 84 minutes more sleep on nonworkdays than work days. Note that this is more than triple the number of British adults and more than double that of other Americans.

Sleep loss can impair decision-making, initiative, integration of information, planning and plan execution, and memory. Most notably, the effects are often subtle and don’t show up until they are very severe. Interestingly, sleep loss is found to have more profound negative impacts on young individuals compared to older people

What Factors Contribute to Nurse Fatigue?

From an organizational point of view, extended work hours are a major contributor to nurse fatigue. In addition, insufficient staffing and excessive workloads also play a key role in promoting fatigue.

What are the Catastrophic Consequences of Nurse Fatigue?

Long and continuous work stress can negatively impact a nurse’s performance. But the ill effects don’t end here. Every member in the link is affected by a nurse fatigue with patient safety taking the top-most concern

  • Nurse fatigue increases the risk of many health conditions in the nurse. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), when nurses work long hours without breaks or insufficient rest periods, the risk of diseases rises significantly. The diseases include Sleep disturbances, injuries, muscle pain, digestive problems, mood problems, obesity, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cancer, and reproductive issues.
  • Nurse fatigue increases the risk of motor-vehicle accidents. Sleep loss is the most influential factor for sleep-related vehicle crashes, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Expert Panel on Driver Fatigue and Sleepiness. Long hours of wakefulness impairs reaction times, hand-eye coordination and decision-making. In essence, the effects might be similar to driving under the influence of alcohol or drug.
  • Fatigued nurses tend to have a negative perception of their clinical decision. Simply put, you might not like the decision you made during sleepless hours. From a professional point of view, this can be demotivating and lead to a further decline in performance. Because a registered nurse is a critical member of the healthcare team, such negative emotion can result in lower quality of patient care. Moreover, perceived loss of ability to make an optimum clinical decision could lead to stress and anxiety.
  • Nurse fatigue is likely to cut an organization’s revenues. The patients who are looked after by fatigued nurses have very low levels of satisfaction. As a result, the patients don’t recommend their friends or relatives to enroll in the same hospital when they become ill. Understandably, this lack of referral and tarnished brand image are more likely to drive away potential consumers.

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Finding Remedies to Relieve Nurse Fatigue and Reduce Its Impacts

Evidence-Based Recommendations

The ANA recommends the following evidence-based steps for enhancing performance and safety and patient outcomes:

  • Employers should include nurse input when designing work schedules and implement a “regular and predictable schedule” that allows nurses to plan for work and personal obligations.
  • Nurses should work no more than 40 hours in a 7-day period and limit work shifts to 12 hours in a 24-hour period, including on-call hours worked.
  • Employers should stop using mandatory overtime as a “staffing solution.”
  • Employers should encourage “frequent, uninterrupted rest breaks during work shifts.”
  • Employers should adopt official policy that gives RNs the “right to accept or reject a work assignment” to prevent risks from fatigue. The policy should be clear that rejecting an assignment under these conditions is not patient abandonment and that RNs will not be retaliated against or face negative consequences for rejecting such an assignment.
  • Employers should encourage nurses to be proactive about managing their health and rest, including getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day; manage stress effectively; develop healthy nutrition and exercise habits, and use naps according to employer policy.

Want To Know More?

To learn more about nurse fatigue and its widespread negative impacts, visit http://www.FindaTopDoc.com. Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, FindaTopDoc.com and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.

 

6 Reasons for Rising Healthcare Cost Problems in the US

The problems with rising healthcare cost in the US can be partly attributed to an aging population that has been struggling with the wrath of chronic diseases. Another thing to worry about at this moment is that the GDP growth rate is lagging behind healthcare spending.

u.s. healthcareAccording to a CMS report, healthcare cost will eat up a major share of the GDP at nearly 20% by 2025. In 2015, the amount spent was $3.2 trillion. This is equal to $9,990 per person and 17.8% of the GDP. An increasing overall spending on health and related services is making us poorer but nowhere has it seemed to slow down even after a decade.

In this article, you will learn about 6 major problems that are fueling healthcare cost and their potential solutions. Before we move forward, let’s have a quick look at the projected capital spending on health and related services through 2016-2025.

  • Over the 2016-2025 period, total healthcare spending is expected to outpace the GDP growth rate. Going by the numbers, health spending is projected to grow 1.2 percentage points faster than Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year over the 2016-25 period. As a result, the health share of GDP is expected to witness a jump from 17.8 percent in 2015 to 19.9 percent by 2025.
  • Presuming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will last until 2025, the percentage of Americans getting insured is projected to increase from 90.9 percent in 2015 to 91.5 percent in 2025.
  • Interestingly, health spending saw a decline from 5.8 percent in 2015 to 4.8 percent in 2016. The major reason being a temporary setback on the expansion of the Affordable Care Act. In the same period, Medicaid spending growth slowed down from 9.7 percent to 3.7 percent. Likewise, private health insurance spending growth was down to 5.9 percent in 2016 from 7.2 percent in 2015.
  • In 2017, overall spending on health is expected to grow by 5.4 percent. The major driver of this growth is an increased spending in Medicare and private health insurance.

(Source: National Health Expenditure Fact Sheet, CMS.gov)

These Factors are Fueling Healthcare Cost Growth in the US

  1. Uncoordinated healthcare system. In fact, our healthcare system is much unorganized. As a result, overtreatment of a health condition has become a common thing. Take an example, if you have a health condition that requires a medical test, there is a chance that you may have to take the same test several times. Obviously, this is going to create a hole in your pocket. In order to address the problem of overtreatment (or more precisely unnecessary treatment), doctors and medical systems are welcoming electronic health records in their practice, which is a positive sign.
  2. An aging population and burden of chronic illnesses. It is natural that old people are more likely to require frequent healthcare services. But what’s not natural is that many of them are obese and have more than one chronic illness. In fact, about 50 percent of US population has one or more chronic conditions. Most notably, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. Obesity which affects two-thirds of adults is a key risk factor for all these health conditions. What’s the solution? Shed some pounds, watch your diet and engage in suitable physical activity regularly.
  3. Rising cost of new drugs, technologies, and services. With the advancement of health science, many new drugs, technologies, and services are making their way into the healthcare system. While this is a good thing from most perspectives, you have to pay a hefty amount to leverage the benefits. In order to streamline the cost, you should assess a new treatment’s benefits against the cost. It is necessary because many new treatments are comparable or even less efficient than the existing treatments.
  4. Limited resources to facilitate the choice of medical care. We have a number of choices when it comes to selecting a health service or treatment. Unfortunately, we lack sufficient information that helps us make a better decision while choosing a medical care. In fact, there is no standard source that informs patients about the cost-effectiveness of a medical service and available options. Consequently, patients often end up paying more for a service which they could have used for a lesser amount.
  5. The monopoly of hospitals and providers. Big hospitals and medical insurers command a high level of authority when serving the patients. Mergers and acquisitions in thehealthcare industry are, no doubt, a good thing if you consider increased efficiency and better care. But the increasing control of big organizations can backfire as well. As a result, they have a tighter control over the healthcare cost and patients are left with fewer options.
  6. Uncertainty about the illness. Many illnesses that have vague symptoms or long-lasting nature are yet another reason why the healthcare cost is skyrocketing. If you and your doctor are not sure about the illness, you will have to take multiple tests and procedures that will ultimately add numbers to the bill. In another common practice called defensive medicine, doctors order multiple tests in an attempt to protect themselves from possible legal problems.

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Want To Know More?

To learn more about therising healthcare cost problem in the US, visit http://www.FindaTopDoc.com. Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, FindaTopDoc.com and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.

 

5 Diseases Caused by Obesity: Explore the Links and Solutions

Here’s how obesity can lead to a plethora of diseases. Also, learn how to lose weight.

obesity

Obesity is a public health problem in many parts of the world. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports about 36.5% of adults are obese. Obesity has been linked to a number of preventable causes of death. For example, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, gallstone, stroke, and osteoarthritis.

In this article, we will explore the link between obesity and these diseases. In addition, we will also look at solutions to reduce weight.

What is Obesity and What are the Diseases Caused by Obesity?

Obesity is a condition in which an individual’s weight lies above the healthy range. Generally, obesity is measured using a tool called Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI indicates the amount of fat present in your body. Thus, higher BMI means you have more fat in your body.

The normal range of healthy BMI is 18.5 to 24.9 for adults older than 20 years. If your BMI is 30 or higher, you are obese. Note that another related term overweight is slightly different. A person is considered overweight if his/her BMI lies between 25 and 29.9.

Various studies have found that having those extra layers of fat increases the risk of many chronic conditions. These include:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Some types of cancer
  • gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea which causes the person to have spells of breathlessness while asleep and asthma.

5 Diseases to Look Out for In Obese Individuals

  1. Type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, a person’s cells become unable to utilize available insulin. Remember that this is not similar to type 1 diabetes where a person’s pancreas produces no insulin at all. There is a direct link between obesity and this type of diabetes. Recent studies have shown that being obese increases low-grade inflammation in the body and higher oxidative stress. When the inflammation persists for longer durations, it negatively impacts how they utilize insulin. Moreover, chronic inflammation and prolonged oxidative stress impair the function of the cells that secrete insulin.
  2. Cancer. There is a well-known link between obesity and cancers of the colon, breast (following menopause), kidney, esophagus, and pancreas. While scientists are yet to conclude if obesity is a cause or risk factor for these cancers, they believe that most of these cancers could be caused by long-term inflammation. When inflammation persists for longer periods, the levels of inflammatory chemicals in the blood rise. As a result, there occur some changes in the DNA which could lead to cancer.
  3. Gallstone. Gallstones are hard solid particles that form in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small organ which is a part of the biliary system. It plays a major role in the storage of bile produced by the liver and thus helps in fat digestion. Gallstones can develop in various sizes and forms. For example, the stone could be a large single piece or could include several tiny stones. Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of gallstones. It is because the obese individuals have higher amounts of cholesterol in their bile, which can promote stone formation. Keep in mind that gallstones are made of bile cholesterol and bilirubin.
  4. Stroke. A stroke is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in which the blood supply to a certain part of the brain is reduced or interrupted. As a result, the brain cells do not get nutrients and oxygen and begin to die immediately. The link between obesity and stroke risk is very clear. Here’s how it goes. When you are obese, the levels of free fatty acids in your bloodstream rise. When these fat molecules travel through the vessels that supply to the brain, they may interfere with the blood flow. The risk skyrockets if you are a smoker and have high blood pressure, which is likely in most cases.
  5. Osteoarthritis (OA). Also called degenerative joint disease, OA is a chronic condition that affects the joints. In most cases, it affects the joints in the knees, hips, lower back and neck, and also small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe. It is a major cause disability and limited movement in older adults. Obesity increases the risk and complications of OA by two ways. First, being obese means you have higher levels of inflammatory chemicals in your blood. These chemicals can damage cartilage, the tough yet flexible cushion of tissues between the bones in a joint. Second, obesity increases load on the weight-bearing joints such as ankles, knees, and hips.

Tips to Overcome Obesity and the Risk of Diseases

There is no one-size-fits-all theory for dramatic weight loss. Before you enroll in any weight-loss program, make sure to keep realistic expectations and achievable targets.

The following list consists of general guidelines to follow when you are chasing your weight-loss dream.

  1. Eat a healthy diet that consists of whole grains, lean meats, healthy fats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
  2. Stay away from empty calories like soda or chips.
  3. Keep a food diary to track eating habits.
  4. Replace unhealthy foods with healthy substitutes.
  5. Exercise regularly.
  6. Obesity could result due to hormone imbalance or other diseases that affect your hormone levels. If you suspect you have any such cause, consult your doctor.
  7. Talk to a nutritionist to get a customized diet plan.
  8. A type of surgery called bariatric surgery may be an option if you are excessively obese and other weight loss measures have proven ineffective.
  9. Never take a supplement or enroll in a diet plan without first consulting your doctor.

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