What is the Health Insurance System Like in Texas?

What is the Health Insurance System Like in Texas?

Texas leads the uninsured rate in the US. Although the number of uninsured people is steadily declining, 17 percent of the population remains uninsured. The high uninsured rate partly reflects the insurance system in Texas. Bellaire ER sought to breakdown the Texas health insurance system for an in depth look.

Affordable Care Act

The ACA has a significant impact on the Texas health insurance system. Under this act, more people were able to get health insurance, and the number of uninsured people dropped to below 20 percent for the first time.

Part of the reason why there was a drop in the number of uninsured is that the ACA prohibited health insurers from refusing to grant people insurance due to a preexisting condition. Therefore, more people who had preexisting conditions were able to enroll.

The ACA also imposed a tax penalty for those who did not get health insurance. This incentivized people to get insured.

The ACA required states to create a statewide marketplace. Those that didn’t would use the federally facilitated marketplace. Texas is one of the states that have a federally facilitated marketplace. There are also private marketplaces for private insurers who don’t list their plans on the federal exchange.

CHIP

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) insurance cover is meant for children whose parents might not qualify for Medicaid. This might be because the parents’ income exceeds the maximum required income for them to qualify for Medicaid. CHIP has seen most of the children in Texas get health insurance. This has caused a large disparity between the rate of uninsured adults and children. CHIP makes it easy for children to access medical insurance while strict restrictions on Medicaid make it harder for adults to enter the program.

Medicaid

Texas is also one of the states that rejected Medicaid expansion. The expansion was meant to increase the bracket of low income earners that would be able to get health insurance under Medicaid. The expanded bracket includes adults and parents who earn less than 138 percent below the federal poverty level.

However in Texas, since the state rejected Medicaid expansion, adults who do not have disabilities and are not caring for any child do not qualify for Medicaid. Adults who have dependent children only qualify if their household income is less than 18 percent of the federal poverty level.

Private insurers

Texas has a large number of private health insurance providers. Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) is the largest insurance provider in the individual market. BCBS holds more than half of the individual market share in Texas. Other insurers include FirstCare and Baylor Scott &
White.

There are also national carriers operating in the Texas individual market. These providers include Humana, UnitedHealthcare, and Aetna.

Market plans

There are various market plans for health insurance used in Texas. Exclusive provider organization (EPO), health maintenance organization (HMO), and point of service (POS) are the most common plans. EPO requires you to visit a certain physician or facility within the plan network. HMO covers in-network hospitals and doctors. POS covers healthcare providers within the network and requires you to get a referral to see a specialist.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) was a popular market plan before 2016. The plan does not require you to get a referral from your PCP when you need to see a specialist. You can also visit other out-of-network practitioners, but you will have to cater for more out-of-pocket costs.

In 2016 BCBS realized huge losses and decided to discontinue the PPO plan for its clients. Almost all other insurers did the same. Nowadays it has become difficult to find a health insurer offering the PPO plan.

All the plans listed above are mandated to cover emergency costs whether in-network or out-of-network.

Uninsured

Texas still has a large portion of its population that is uninsured. This might be partly due to the following:

Immigration
Texas hosts a large number of immigrants. This is a major factor for the state since it is located on the border with Mexico. 17 percent of the Texas population is made up of immigrants. Generally, immigrants have the lowest rate of health insurance. Among the immigrant population is the undocumented immigrants. These people cannot acquire health insurance legally, and hence the whole undocumented immigrant community doe not have health insurance.

Medicaid restrictions
Texas has some of the most stringent restrictions on joining Medicaid in the US. The state’s refusal to expand the Medicaid program means that a large portion of low income earners cannot enroll for the health insurance. The low maximum income limit of 18 percent below FPL also locks many people out of the program.

Lack of work insurance
Many small businesses in Texas do not offer health insurance to their workers. Most of these businesses are in the retail, agricultural, and service industries which are unlikely to offer health insurance. Since this is not one of the requirements of the ACA, the rates of the uninsured remain high.

TAFEC ADDRESSES TOP 5 MYTHS ABOUT FREESTANDING ERS

TAFEC ADDRESSES TOP 5 MYTHS ABOUT FREESTANDING ERS

The fast growth of freestanding emergency care centers such as Bellaire ER in the US is helping to transform how patients receive emergency care in the country. This model, which is focused on speed, convenience, and getting the patients optimal time with doctors has continued to thrive despite numerous misconceptions.

It is especially so in Texas, which in 2009, became the first state to allow independent FECs. Today there are over 200 independent FECs and over 100 that are hospital-affiliated. These FECs are located close to patients, which helps to save critical time that could be the difference between life and death.

According to TAFEC, this growth in FECs is a testament to the fact that they are beneficial to communities and patients whom they serve. In that regard, they wanted to dispel myths that have cropped up around these facilities.

FECs are not true emergency rooms
This is a popular myth that is basd on a misconception. FECs get the same licensing rules as hospital ERs. This is done to ensure that patients can get the same quality of service. For instance, each FEC has to have a physician trained in emergency care and a registered nurse on site at all times. Besides that, they have to operate 24/7 all year and have the equipment needed to diagnose and treat an emergency.

FECs often give patients surprise medical bills, popularly referred to as balance billing
The facts show that based on numerous patients surveys, most patients are well aware of the FEC billing they are likely to get. However, in instances where patients have been hit with surprise bills, it has been due to the predatory nature of their insurer or a lack of clear understanding of what they are covered for by the insurer.

This problem can be traced back to insurance laws in Texas that say health care providers should be reimbursed a “usual and customary rate.” Since this is quite ambiguous, insurers determine their own rates that ensure they pay the least amount possible. This leaves the FEC with few options; they can collect from the patient or file a case with the Texas department of insurance.

Another reason is that the Affordable Care Act makes it illegal to penalize a person for receiving emergency care. It is left to him or her to determine when he or she is suffering from an emergency. However, many insurers flaunt this rule. They thus pay much less for out-of-network care.

The other reason for surprise billing is that the patient may not understand his or her own insurance plan. Thus, the patient ends up with a plan that has high out of pocket costs as designated in their plan. It is for this reason that TAFEC is committed to educating people on their health insurance plans.

FECs, unlike ERs, do not have to attend to all patients
This is just a myth. FECs are required to offer critical care to every patient that walks through the door. That means Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured people will all get care when they walk through the door. The law requires that they offer medical screening and stabilize every patient at the facility. This results to millions of dollars of uncompensated care every year, which makes them a crucial resource for their community.

FECs price gouge patients by deliberately making them believe that they are at an urgent care center

All FECs ensure they offer patients high-quality emergency care. They do not pretend to offer urgent care to their patients to price gouge them. Besides that, the law in Texas has provided guidelines to ensure that FECs offer the same level of care as hospital ERs. All of these facilities will have huge signs with the word “Emergency” clearly displayed on them. Besides that, it is in the billing disclosures, which patients have to sign showing they are in an emergency room. It is worth noting that the law makes it clear that only emergency care facilities can use the word “Emergency.”

The cost of healthcare rises when you use FECs

Studies have been done to show this is not true. For instance, a study in 2010 by the University of Michigan showed that average cost for admitted patients is $35,000. It has been shown by some studies that FECs could actually help to cut down the admission rates of patients. This can lead to more efficiency and reduce the cost of healthcare. The reason for this is that there is no incentive for them to push patients to hospital beds.

Who is TAFEC

It is an acronym for the Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers. It is the only such statewide association in the US. It is an organization whose only role is to represent FECs. The organization works to ensure that its members offer patients timely and high-quality emergency care at all times.

How Telemedicine will Change how we see Doctors in Future

3 Sep 2017 General Health

How Telemedicine will Change how we see Doctors in Future

The wave of telemedicine is huge and still taking over the medical scene. Telemedicine has been with us for more than half a decade, but its impact has never been felt as it is now. The segment of the population that is in need of medical attention daily is huge and constantly growing. But then we have the internet and technology that provides avenues for people to interact and share. This opens the way for telemedicine and Bellaire ER thinks that how we see doctors will be completely different in the near future.

Life is hectic enough by itself. Having to put other things on halt for you not to miss your scheduled appointment with the doctor becomes another headache in itself. To make it even worse, most of the times one has to sacrifice their lunch break or their weekend time with their family and use that time for the appointment instead. These are some of the scenarios that telemedicine could eliminate in the near future. The future presents us with doctors who have schedules that are more flexible.

Virtual appointments with the doctor

One of the ways telemedicine will improve the interaction between doctors and their patients is through virtual in-person visits. It is estimated that by 2024, about 35% of the visits to the doctor will be exclusively on the online platform. At the moment, some doctors are offering online portals and video calls to their patients from where patients can get diagnoses and prescriptions.
As time progresses, it will be possible for one to gather their own personal health data using their basic home devices like a smartphone and relay the data to their physician directly. This will eliminate the need to visit the doctor physically unless the medical condition really requires a personal visit.

Instant access to doctors

With the availability of virtual appointments, the time taken for a doctor to serve one patient will be greatly reduced, meaning that doctors will be able to serve more patients. Telemedicine will allow for patients to access available physicians instantly without having to wait. This will be an improvement from the current situation where a visit to the physician is characterized by possibly long journeys to the medical facilities and even longer waits in line for your turn, to be served.

More efficient utilization of inpatient time

In addition to the improved access to doctors, the inpatient time will also be utilized in a much better way. This begins with the elimination of the time one would have to travel to the doctor and wait in the waiting room for their turn. Form completion will also be much easier since it will be filled prior to the virtual appointment. The more flexible schedules and time in the hands of the physicians add to the list of factors that will possibly make in-patient time be utilized more effectively in future.

Telemedicine creates room for much cheaper visits to the doctor

When you come to think of it, delivering healthcare via apps, phone, email or web cam makes more sense strategically and financially. The most obvious advantage is with regards to time. It is much cheaper with regards to time resource. On the aspect of finances, the patient has more control. This means that they do not have to cater for their travel expenses and possible extra charges that are currently charged when you visit a health facility. Research has shown that more than a half of the people who visit the ER go there for minor treatments that cannot be categorized as emergencies. They end up being charged the extra equipment fee that they could have avoided. Telemedicine provides a different way for patients to access the same medical diagnosis and treatment services without bearing such additional and unnecessary costs.

Easy follow-up with the doctor

In future, you can expect more effective follow-up services with your doctor. A simple internet connection and a smart device will be enough to allow your doctor monitor your condition more effectively. You can simply collect your own health data and relay it to the doctor immediately. Live examination is actually possible at the moment where the doctor can conduct follow-up examination in real-time via a video chat, although the technology is limited.

Preventive care to help maintain patients’ health

Another possible way telemedicine is going to change the medicine landscape and how we see doctors is by changing the primary focus of the doctors. As opposed to waiting for patients to fall ill, they can offer the resources to help keep them healthy instead. Doctors around the world have been practicing this for some time now. There are a good number of doctors who have online resources for their patients like yoga studios, health and wellness channels and many other resources that help promote the health of their patients. So instead of patients just going to the doctor for treatment, they can go to them for healthy living tips too.

Do Freestanding Emergency Centers Increase the Cost of Healthcare?

Do Freestanding Emergency Centers Increase the Cost of Healthcare?

Emergency rooms are meant to cater for medical emergencies that could have serious or even fatal outcomes if not treated with urgency. Freestanding ERs help patients access this emergency care more readily. The freestanding ERs are not limited to treating emergencies as they can also diagnose other non-critical illnesses as well. However, billing differs greatly between freestanding emergency centers and urgent care centers. It is this difference in cost that has led people to accuse freestanding emergency centers of increasing the cost of healthcare. Bellaire ER looks at this matter more closely.

Taking a visit to a freestanding emergency center will cost you more than if you had gone to an urgent care center or your primary care practitioner. Some people who visit freestanding emergency centers for minor treatments that would have been conducted elsewhere complain about the huge cost of care. However, there is a reason why freestanding emergency facilities charge such high prices.

Freestanding ERs are open 24/7 to cater for emergencies whenever they arise. The facilities are also equipped with more expert human resources and better diagnostic equipment such as high-quality laboratories and advanced imaging machines. Running all these facilities requires more money, and thus the freestanding ERs include a facility fee on top of the regular medical bill.
However, it is not to say that the freestanding ERs charge exorbitant prices that are unheard of. In fact, these ERs have similar pricing to the hospital attached ERs. The primary purpose of freestanding ERs is convenience. These ERs are meant to be located in areas that cannot afford to have a full hospital on site. Thus, the people in these places can access emergency healthcare readily.

Knowing all this, it would seem that people should only visit the freestanding ERs when they absolutely have to. However, this is not always the case. Some people visit freestanding ERs thinking that they are urgent care centers. To avoid this problem, the freestanding ERs are required by law to be labeled accordingly and bear the word “emergency” in their signage. The ER nurses should also inform you of the difference between a freestanding medical facility and other primary care practitioners or urgent centers. At times, the freestanding ER might refer you to an urgent care center if your case is not an emergency.

Other people opt for the freestanding ERs due to the quality of care. Freestanding ERs offer quality care to their patients and often don’t have long waiting lines such as those found in hospital ERs. This preference further escalates the cost of healthcare.

Others have accused the freestanding ERs of attaining huge profits from their pricing systems. These ERs charge the same as the hospital based ERs but have lower overhead costs. This often translates to huge profits.

Although freestanding ERs are meant to provide emergency to mostly poor neighborhoods that do not have a hospital in their vicinity, a study has shown that most of these facilities are located in affluent districts. These are the regions with wealthy individuals who have private insurance and can afford to pay the high medical costs.

Part of the reason for this location is that the freestanding ERs do not accept Medicaid and Medicare due to legal restrictions. The for-profit emergency centers might, therefore, end up serving many patients who cannot pay since they do not accept the patient’s form of insurance. Many of the freestanding ERs are therefore located in the affluent districts to avoid this dilemma.

Medical analysts admit that this setup also creates problems in the healthcare system. The freestanding ERs get to serve the high paying clients while the hospital-based ERs are left with the low-paying and uninsured clients. This alters the balance in the healthcare continuum. As the freestanding ERs look to minimize the number of Medicare and Medicaid patients, they also shift the balance of uninsured patients to the hospital-based ERs.

Arguments from both sides of the debate have merit. The freestanding ERs have to charge high fees to maintain the overhead costs of running all the equipment and the many human resources. On the other hand, the high fees for minor cases appear unjustified and lead to high healthcare costs. Some analysts have suggested various solutions to this problem.

A new pricing model

Most of the fees charged to patients in ERs, whether freestanding or hospital based, are facility and professional fees. The freestanding ERs can introduce a new pricing model where they charge different prices based on the level of treatment. People who come in with minor non-emergency cases such as sore throats can be excluded from paying facility fees.

Such a pricing model will lower the cost of seeking treatment at a freestanding ER, although the cost will still be higher than what a primary care practitioner charges. This will encourage people to visit their primary care doctors or an urgent care center and only go to the emergency room if they really have to.

Occupational Health and Safety What Texas Employers Should Know About OHS

A lot of people in Texas work in high-risk working sites and don’t care much about the risks associated with their respective workplaces. From mining sites to chemical industries, there are very many workplaces in Texas which are categorized as high-risk. Workers and employers alike are therefore prone to injuries in these working environments. Actually, workplace injuries are very common in Texas. Between the year 2010 and 2015, there were more than 1 million reported cases of workplace injuries in Texas. More than 10% of these were fatal injuries which cost the employees their lives while more than 50% of the reported injuries left the victims maimed and physically disabled.

This is why there has been special focus on the safety of workplaces not just in Texas but the whole country at large. Companies and large organizations are now offering safety education and training to their employees to reduce the cases of workplace injuries. Companies are nowadays partnering with other companies which have a proven record in safety and have solid occupational health and safety to benchmark and educate their employees. As an employee in Texas, do you know why occupational health and safety is important to you as an employee? Do you understand the occupational health hazards in your working environment? Do you know what you should do in case you are injured while working?

Why occupational health and safety is important

Any work place, needs proper safety and health standards. Each and every employee and employer who interacts with the said environment, needs to abide and comply with said safety standards, to reduce chances of injuries and mishaps at the workplaces. Every workplace and company needs to instill safety practices to their workers to reduce the number of workplace injury victims and casualties.

Without proper workplace safety standards, injuries can affect the employees, their families and even the employers. Workplace accidents and injuries will rob companies of their servicemen and will affect the servicemen’s families as they will have lost breadwinners. Companies may be required to pay fines and compensation as well in some cases. These fines and compensation fees at times are very high and they can paralyze the finances of a company.

Too many injuries in a particular company can compromise with the total recordable incidence rate or the TRIR which is used to determine the employee compensation premiums. The more the incidents a company has, the higher the compensation premiums. Having too many reported incidences will also taint your name to other companies looking to do business with you and might even scar away potentially important employees. Employees will be scared to join your team because their safety is not guaranteed.

What are occupational health hazards?

As an employee, occupational health hazards are the things and elements of your job description which compromises with your health and general well-being in the workplace. These hazards range from toxic wastes, dangerous heights, chemicals and even the lack of proper equipment. As an employer, you should always make sure that the workplace you are assigned to, is well equipped with safety equipment and measures to protect you while you are working.

Employers should come up with occupational safety and health programs which assess and address all the potential risks that the employees will face in the workplace. The areas where injuries are more prevalent especially, should be given more priority. With the help of OSHA, this should not be very hard and there are checklists which will help you ascertain whether your workplaces comply with the required standards.

Occupational Health Clinics

Occupational Health Clinics are programs offered by other companies dedicated to the wellbeing of the employees of various companies. These companies are tasked with overseeing the safety of various workplaces, assessing the workplaces from time to time, administering pre-employment drug screening to ensure that the employees are fit for the workplace, offering constant medical care to the employees, offering therapy to the injured, offering physicals, employee training and injury prevention. These clinics are important because they help avert a lot of accidents and dangers in the workplaces because potential threats are identified early enough and addressed before they culminate into accidents and injuries.

Companies should equally have a worker’s compensation provider network which caters for the compensation needs of the workers and employees in case of an injury. These providers can be some form of insurance which companies subscribe to and pay every month or quarterly. In case of an emergency, accident or injury in the workplace, the said providers should be prepared to respond and treat the different types of workplace injuries. It actually is there obligation and they will be tasked with covering all the costs right from admission to the therapy of the employee. They might also be in charge of the compensation of the workers but this depends on the terms and plans they offer.

Inside Look MRIs, CT Scans, and X-Ray

Thanks to revolutionary technology and advancements in the medical industry, it is possible to easily diagnose complications and problems in the human body with relative ease. Gone are the day when diagnosis of problems and medical complications was vague and doctors used oral interviews and assumptions to try and ascertain what the problem with a patient is. Such revolutionary technology that has really helped transform the medical industry, is the diagnostic imaging.

Diagnostic imaging, is the use of X-Rays, CT Scans and MRIs to look into one’s body and ascertain what the deep underlying problem is. This makes it possible to quickly and accurate diagnose medical conditions and administer the appropriate medication. The diagnostic imaging technologies are however not the same and each has its own way of working. Although they are all considered as diagnostic imaging, they all have different purposes and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will explore the various imaging technologies in use today, their advantages and disadvantages, where they are suited best and how they work. Here is a detailed look at each of the imaging technologies

X-rays

These are the oldest form of medical imaging used from as early as 1900. They are a type of electromagnetic radiation that sends individual X-ray particles through the affected part of the body to try and ascertain the exact cause of damage. When the particles pass through the body the denser objects such as bones block radiation appear white on the X-ray film as images. These images are then analysed to try and find out what the problem is.

Where x-rays are most suitable

X-rays are used to diagnose problems and complications which are relatively easy to identify with the plain eye by looking at the images on the X-ray films. They are therefore typically used to capture bone fractures, bone dislocations, infections, tumours in various organs, bone degeneration and bone diseases on film.

Merits and demerits of x-rays

X-rays are the most inexpensive of the three diagnostic procedures. They are therefore available in most medical facilities. The equipment needed for X-rays are not as expensive as well and more facilities are affording the same today. They however have a few disadvantages. Yes, they may be cheap and accessible but they won’t provide as much detail as a CT scan or MRI. The images provided don’t give as much detail about a complication or bone problem. If the problem is not big enough therefore for the X-ray to capture, there may be need for the other means of imaging to be employed.

CT Scans

A Computer Tomography scan or CT scan as we know it, is a combination of X-ray images taken from different angles and powerful computers used to process the images to produce a comprehensive cross-sectional image to assess the different structures within your body, such as tissues and organs. It is more complex and provides more details than X-rays.

Where CT Scans are used

A CT scan is used to examine minute blood vessels, soft tissues, and organs to pinpoint infections, masses, clots, and brain tumours. Thanks to its accuracy and ability to pick up even the smallest of details, CT scans are ideal for detecting bone injuries and diagnosing cancer.

Merits and demerits of CT Scans

They produce images with better details and are more accurate therefore. This means that the medical doctor can comprehensively asses the problem and offer the right medication. On the flipside though, they are very expensive and even the equipment needed to set up the CT scans are very expensive to purchase.

MRI

MRI- Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI as we popularly refer to it as, is considered to be the best tool for examining soft tissues in ligament and tendon injuries, spinal cord injuries, and brain tumours. It captures high-resolution images of these type of abnormalities using strong magnetic fields and radio waves.

Where are MRI Scans used?

MRI scans are ideal in diagnosing complications which both the XRays and CT scans can’t quite pinpoint. These include problems in the soft tissues, in ligaments, tendons and in parts of the brain. They produce more detailed and clear images compared to the other two available imaging techniques. They can’t be used to diagnose pregnant women and people with metallic implants as well.

Merits and demerits of MRI scans

MRI scans are highly accurate and provide very detailed images. The images are clear and easy to interpret. On the other hand though they are very expensive. They actually are the most expensive when you compare them with the other imaging technologies available. CT scans are significantly less expensive than MRIs, with CT scans ranging anywhere from $400 to $3000, while MRIs can cost up to $4000. Procuring the equipment required is pretty expensive as well. They are very noisy as well when they are in operation.

How to Stay Young by Avoiding the One Thing Everyone Does

6 Jun 2017 General Health

We all are scared of getting old, aren’t we? I mean who isn’t scared of the life limiting conditions associating with old age? The inability to remain active and have fun are just among the many things that make us wish that there was a fountain of youth to help rejuvenate us every time we felt old. Unfortunately though, ageing is inevitable and is beyond our control. It will happen whether you like it or not. The respite we have however, is that we can control the way we age, our strength levels during our old age and the general state of our bodies when we get old. Yes, we can achieve this by avoiding alcohol, smoking, having good diets, maintaining good emotional health and of course by staying happy. One unconventional and pretty weird thing that we have all been doing that is speeding up our ageing is SITTING DOWN! Sounds absurd, right? Yes! Sitting down speeds up your ageing and you should reduce the number of hours you sit down. Here is why;

Avoid sitting down and stay young for longer

We all know the ramifications of sitting down for too long and remaining inactive. We know how inactivity and long hours of sitting down increases the likelihood of becoming obese, bringing heart complications and diabetes. Well, turns out, sitting down for too long can affect the cells and the body’s aging process according to a recent study! The study by the American Journal of Epidemiology discovered that people who sit down for too long have shorter telomeres than those of people who were more active and spent little time sitting down. In case you were wondering, telomeres are the stretches of DNA at the end of chromosomes and form the cap that protect the chromosomes from sticking to the neighboring chromosomes. As the cells divide with time, the telomeres get shorter and at some point when they become too short, the cell can no longer divide meaning that the cell is inactive and will soon die. This shortening of the telomeres has been hugely attributed to lack of enough activity and long hours of sitting down.

Relationship between exercising and the length of telomeres

The findings from the study pointed out that people who regularly exercise and don’t spend a lot of their time seated, have relatively longer telomeres. This means that remaining active counteracts the shortening of telomeres which in the long run reduces the aging process. This means that if you remain active and stretch every day for at-least half an hour, you will be slowing down the shortening process of the telomere and eventually slowing down your aging process.

Get up from that seat and be active!

Well, now that we all want to remain youthful and healthy for longer and we have the new secret of remaining young and youthful, why not remain active? Just half an hour of physical activity is seemingly enough to help slow down the aging process and render us healthy at the same time.

It is therefore imperative to try and set aside some few minutes of your time in the day to go out and jog in the evening or go to the gym. With this sedentary life we are leading nowadays, I know it can be difficult to set some time aside and practice but now you have every reason to- you will be slowing down your aging process. All you need therefore is to commit a small window in your busy day to engage in some form of physical activity and then make it habitual.

Combine this with the conventional ways of keeping fit

For even greater results, combine this trick with the other conventional means of keeping fit and remaining healthy. Avoid any form of drug at all costs. From beer, marijuana to smoking cigarettes, you will need to desist from all forms of drugs to stay fit and healthy for as long as possible.

Watch your diet as well. Don’t just eat anything because you are hungry. The reason why our parents and grandparents lived longer and remained very strong in their old age is because their diets was mainly made up of natural organic foods and very little of junk food. We should try and emulate our grandparents as well by eating as little junk food as possible. Convert that love for junk food into love for veggies and fruits and you will realize that your health will improve drastically.

All in all, you don’t have to try too much to remain healthy and fit. You don’t have to engage in very rigorous physical activity to slow down the aging process. You don’t need to fast either or avoid sitting down completely. Just squeeze in some minutes to work out and eat healthy foods. Avoid drugs at all costs and you will live to interact with your grandchildren. And that is the secret of how to stay young by avoiding the one thing everyone does!

How to Not Go Nuts by Eating Nuts Cashews for Depression, Anxiety, and General Health

Want to know how not to go nuts by eating nuts? Pun intended… well then, you will need to eat lots and lots of cashew nuts. Yes! This sounds pretty weird but it is true. Cashew nuts are essential when it comes to maintaining good mental health and staying away from stress and anxiety. At a time when depression, anxiety and panic attacks are accounting for a very big percentage of the emergency room visits in America, the cashew nuts revelation comes as a very big reprieve to many. So, why are cashew nuts regarded as important foods for good mental and general health? We want to take a deeper look at the brief history of cashew nuts, where they come from and why they are very good for you mental health.

History of Cashew Nuts

Cashews are native to Brazil, like the Brazil nut. Cashews were given their botanical name because they are heart-shaped. Both the Spanish and the Italian name for cashews include the root for the heart. The cashew tree belongs to the same family as the pistachio and is as a fast-growing, evergreen perennial. It loves the tropics and in tropical heat can grow to heights of forty or fifty feet.

 The cashew fruit has two distinct parts: the fleshy pear-shaped stalk or stem known as the cashew-apple, two to four inches in length and the heart-shaped nut, the true fruit, about an inch in length that is attached to the lower end of the apple. The nut, like other nuts, contains the edible kernel. The “apple” is not only edible but also delicious and rich in Vitamin C, but it is practically unknown outside of regions where cashew trees grow, as are its products like cashew apple wine.

The nutritional value of Cashew nuts

Cashew nuts, besides helping people not go nuts, are very good for the body. Besides being deliciously creamy, it is very health and can substitute a number of foods from our daily diets and provide the body with the nourishment it offers. Cashew nuts can substitute foods such as eggs, butter cheese and even yogurt because of their high protein levels. Just like all nuts, they have essential fats, Vitamin B and magnesium which is helpful for the mental health as we will see later on. Here are some of the body parts which benefit from the nutrients coming from cashew nuts;

The Heart

Cashew nuts have fats but have no cholesterol. This makes them ideal for the heart and blood vessels. They have antioxidants as well which help with cleansing blood. The oleic acid contained in their sap is essential from the reduction of lipoprotein cholesterol in the body.

Weight Loss

Cashew nut are essential in weight loss as well and if you replace your love for junk with a craving for cashew nuts, you will be helping shed weight in your body. To be fair, cashew nuts just taste as good if not better than junk food. They are also high in protein and low in carbohydrates which helps manage your average weight.

Blood pressure

Cashews contain magnesium, which helps lower your blood pressure and prevent hypertension. They help with the reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This means that you will be safe from the diseases associated with blood pressure such as hypertension.

Gums and Teeth Cashews contain copper and magnesium which is essential for development and maintenance of skin, bones, connective tissue, and organs. Just like all the nuts, the minerals contained in cashew nuts are important for the proper development and growth of various body organs.

Disease Prevention Cashews are rich in antioxidants that fight off toxins and diseases like cancer. They help boost your body’s immunity and the riboflavin and niacin help cure some bacterial infections in the body.

So, now that we have seen the nutritional value of cashew nuts, let’s go back to our main point; depression, anxiety and general mental health. So what makes cashew nuts good for depression?

Why cashew nuts are good for depression?

Cashew nuts are good for mental health, because they have an abundance of the following elements;

1. Vitamin B
2. Magnesium
3. Tryptophan

Here is how these elements and vitamins are helpful in boosting one’s mental health and preventing depression;

Tryptophan

The amino acid tryptophan is critical in the uptake of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the precursors to the anti-depressant hormone. Low levels of serotonin in the bodies make you feel anxious, stressed and very moody.

Magnesium

Magnesium is critical in the proper development of organs in the bodies and the nervous system is one such beneficiary of the nourishing powers of Magnesium. It helps suppress anxiety and generally keeps one calm even during tough times.

Vitamin B6

Cashew nuts are rich in Vitamin B6 which increases the uptake of serotonin in the body. This helps keep your anxiety levels and depression down. Vitamin B6 also helps improve overall brain health.

So if you want to avoid going nuts, then eat as much cashew nuts as you can.

Heart Attack, Panic Attack, or Something Else

If you are experiencing unusual chest pains accompanies by nausea and abdominal pain, it is easy to suspect a heart attack right away but is it really the only potential threat with such symptoms? A lot of people experience similar symptoms and they most of the time conclude that the dreaded condition has befallen them. They end up in the emergency room looking and sounding very worried because they think that they may pass in the next minute. They become from patient and feel like the doctors and physicians just want them to die already. When their time to be examined comes though, they discover they were suffering from a minor indigestion and the heart attack fears were all baseless. These false alarms and assumptions are very common in emergency rooms across America.

Anyone can be forgiven for rushing to the emergency room to report anything that he/she suspects to be a heart attack. I mean after looking at all the statistics and number of people who die from heart related conditions, there is no shame in trying to seek medical attention on time. The problem with heart attacks and other heart complications though, is that they share similar symptoms with a plethora of other medical conditions. This means that ascertaining when the real DEAL strikes, can be very difficult.

Considering that heart attacks are the number one causes of deaths in the world, it is more than wise to seek a doctor’s advice any time you experience symptoms which tend to point towards a heart attack. Whether or not it actually was a heart attack should not bother you much because whatever the condition you are suffering from, you still need to get medication and proper check-up. Today, we want to examine some of the conditions which can mimic a heart attack and try to differentiate the same from those of a heart attack. So, what can mimic a heart attack?

Conditions that mimic a heart attack

There are very many conditions which share symptoms with heart attacks. These conditions include;

Lung disorders
Hormone changes associated with menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause
Thyroid disorders
Muscle, bone, and joint disorders of the chest wall
Anxiety disorders/panic attacks
Digestive system issues such as acid reflux or heartburn
Oesophageal disorders
Adrenaline-releasing drugs or medications

All these conditions have symptoms which are similar to those of a heart attack. These symptoms include;

chest tightness,
weakness
nausea
cold sweat
shortness of breath
pain in the abdomen
Profuse sweating
Pain in the thorax area
Increased heartbeat

Looking at these symptoms, one can’t help but notice close similarity with the symptoms of a heart attack. So how does one differentiate these conditions from a heart attack?

Differentiating a heart attack from other conditions

Heart attacks don’t have preferred candidates. They however are more prevalent among people leading a not so healthy lifestyle. Statistics show that more than 70% of all people who experience heart attacks are either overweight or generally don’t have good healthy. This means that if you lead a healthy lifestyle and have a BMI which is normal, the chances of a heart attack hitting you are minimal.

Equally, if there is no history of heart attacks in your family and you lead a good healthy lifestyle, you should not be quick to jump into conclusion about heart attacks. Of the remaining 30% of people who are affected by heart related problems annually, more than 20% have a history of heart conditions in their family lines. This means that if there is no history of heart attack in your family and lead a good healthy lifestyle, there is a more than 90% chance that the symptoms you are experiencing are not related to a heart attack.

Smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers are at a very big risk when it comes to heart attacks. This means that if you don’t smoke and don’t drink, you reduce your chances of a heart attack significantly.

When you start experiencing symptoms named above, it is wise to think about what you ate last. Could be the last meal you ate is causing stomach upsets. Could be the pains and symptoms are as a result of the medication you recently took. These are some of the things that should help you differentiate the heart attacks from all the other symptoms.

Having said this though, it is important to stress that the only sure way of finding out whether or not the symptoms were of a heart attack or not, is to go to the emergency room and be examined. This is the only way that you can rule out all the possibilities and find out the exact cause of your troubles. It is therefore important to visit the emergency room and find out what exactly is bothering you. Understanding the symptoms will only help you to reduce worry and anxiety about a potential heart attack.

How many emergency rooms are in America

28 May 2017 General Health

I recently was reading a publication on the state of medical care in emergency and I came across some interesting facts which I want to share with you today. As we all know, the number of emergency rooms has burgeoned in the past few years. I therefore wanted to find out the approximate number of emergency rooms and some of the most significant facts. Some of the questions I was looking to answer include; how many emergency rooms are there in America? What is the annual count of emergency room visitors in America? What are some of the top reasons why people go to emergency rooms in America? What is the cost of emergency rooms in America? Here is a quick look at some of the facts that I came across that will help us answer the aforementioned questions;

The number of emergency rooms in America

As of 2015, there were more than 5200 documented emergency departments and rooms in the whole of the country. As we are speaking today, the number is estimated to have increased by more than 25% according to a recent research conducted by the National Emergency Department. By 2022 the number of emergency rooms is projected to be at more 10,000 if the current trend is anything to go by. There are emergency rooms mushrooming on every street corner and the services are getting closer to people. This is a positive sign and Americans should be glad because quicker services are coming closer to them.

What is the annual count of emergency room visitors in America?

The number of emergency room visits in the United States in 2015 was 137 million. This is an increase from 127.5 million in 2013. This year, the numbers are projected to hit the 150 million mark because there has been a steady increase in the number of people visiting emergency rooms in the country. This has been attributed to the preference people have developed for emergency rooms over the traditional hospitals. The emergency services are deemed to be quicker and come at a far cheaper price than those offered by other medical facilities. Besides this, emergency rooms offer quicker services and cases of admission are very few. This explains the love the Americans have developed towards medical emergency rooms.

Of the 137 million, 21% are under the age of 18 years while 64% are between 18 and 64 years old. The remaining 15% is occupied by people who are 65 years and older. This speaks volumes about the demographic most affected by emergency illnesses and accidents. Read on to find out more about the leading causes of emergency room visits in America;

What are the some of the top reasons why people visit emergency rooms in America?

Contrary to popular opinion that emergency rooms are meant for accident and trauma victims, they are equipped and are capable of handling any medical condition. In fact, trauma and injuries only account for 30% of all the emergency department visits in America. The remaining 60% or so comprises of medical conditions such as asthma, back pains, heart attacks, toothaches, neck pains, flu, colds, fever and many other conditions. This goes to show that more people are embracing the idea of getting general medical care from emergency rooms just like they would from a traditional hospital or clinic.

Of all these people who visited emergency rooms in America, only 17% were admitted. The 17% is mainly of people who are in critical conditions resulting from accidents or serious ailments such as heart attacks.

What is the average cost of emergency services in America?

Well, from the facts I read, it is very hard to approximate the average cost of the emergency room services because each service has its own quote. What I realized though for the facts that were presented is the fact that there has been a drastic decrease in the cost of emergency room services. Although the cost seems to be higher than the one offered in traditional hospitals, there has been a reduction in the overall cost of receiving services in emergency rooms in the past three or four years.

What is the average waiting time in emergency rooms in America?

Well, despite the increase in the number of emergency rooms in the country, there are long queues in emergency rooms. Of all the people who visited emergency rooms in 2015, only 10% were seen within fewer than 20%. The average waiting time in the emergency rooms before seeing a physician or a practitioner in America is estimated to be about 37 minutes and this is more than worrying. The average time spent in the emergency room before being sent home is about 2 and half hours or 150 minutes. This is one area of emergency rooms that definitely needs to be improved for the sake of the patients.

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