healthcare

Are Groupons For Healthcare Good or Bad? Yes

Groupons have been in the medical news lately (for example “Groupons For Medical Treatment? Welcome To Today’s U.S. Health Care” and “Groupons for medical care are helping patients save money“) with stories of deeply discounted rates for some medical tests in several local markets across the country.

Here’s the net of the good and bad from a smattering of the news reports.

Good because the lower rates may make the tests affordable for some who need them and who may otherwise pass because they simply can’t afford.  In other words, if you have to have a test and don’t have coverage or if you have coverage but your plan’s deductible coupled with your network’s contracted rate for the test are out of reach, the Groupon rate may make it affordable.

Bad because the discounted rates sometimes prompt people to undergo testing unnecessarily and often without their doctor’s input or supervision.  In some respects, it could be a cousin to a practice known as “predatory testing” (offering free initial tests designed to encourage more not so free tests and/or costly treatments…….when they may not be necessary or advisable in the first place.)

And, bad because the quality is sometimes not up to par leading to a retest which usually ends up being performed somewhere else at an additional cost.  Essentially, patients end up having to pay multiple times to have the test done right.

According to one of the reports “Groupon dictates the price for its deals based on the competition in the area — and then takes a substantial cut”…

‘They take about half. It’s kind of brutal. It’s a tough place to market,’ said a provider that signed on with Groupon to market for his testing facility.”

Makes me think we could do just as well or even better fending for ourselves with a qualified provider of our choosing without Groupon as the middleman.  If a test is needed, first talk to your doc and ask for a list of multiple qualified providers.  And/or, check your insurance carrier’s online provider network directory for participating providers. Most insurance carriers now have online cost comparison tools that you can access by logging into your account. They are simple to use and allow you to shop for where you receive your healthcare. Once you have your lists of providers, check for quality ratings and pricing information.

After you do a little homework, select a few qualified providers.  Ask each of the providers for their best rates; and, what kind of break they’ll give you for pre-payment or paying in cash.

 

bbg65Plus Certified To Facilitate National Medicare Educational Program

Medicare can be daunting and confusing and quite difficult to grasp.

This is true in the case of existing Medicare beneficiaries as well as their care givers.  And, it’s especially true for those prospective new enrollees who are about to turn 65 and have to deal with trying to understand their Medicare options for the very first time. 

The Medicare Minute was created and sponsored by the Medicare Rights Center to help address and alleviate some of the confusion surrounding Medicare. The program consists of an ongoing series of free monthly educational programs designed to equip people with the knowledge to more clearly understand their Medicare options, to make more informed decisions, and to ultimately utilize their Medicare coverage more effectively. 

Volunteers from across the country with experience in how health benefits work serve as facilitators for the Medicare Minute educational programs.  And, bbg65Plus is now certified and appointed to serve as a Facilitator of the Medicare Minute program. 

The Medicare Minute educational program is available free of charge to employers, organizations, and community groups interested in educating members on the ABC’s (and Part D) of Medicare. And now readers of our blog will be able to read a summary of some of highlights and key tips from those programs in this space each month. 

To learn more about the Medicare Minute educational programs and how you can schedule Medicare Minute presentations for your organization, contact Tom Barrett, Medicare Minute Facilitator for bbg65Plus at 866.845.8600 x130 or tbarrett@bbginc.net.

For more information — go here  1 Medicare Minute Overview and here 2 Medicare Minute FAQ

 

Medicare Minute

 

 

 

 

How Dogs Can Play a Role in Healthcare

A dog’s sense of smell can be 10,000+ times more powerful than humans. It’s no surprise that we ingenious humans have figured out how to train these loving creatures with their amazing sniffing abilities.

We’ve all seen dogs at the airport and/or in cop cars. These dogs are particularly trained to sniff out illegal drugs. However, dogs can also be an effective solution in some healthcare situations.

Disclaimer: All dogs featured in this post belong to (or previously belonged) a BBG team member. The theme photo may just happen to be the president’s dog…or should I say the dog who owns the president may just happen to be featured in the theme. 😉

Life is good!

Wait, you want me to work??

Living large

Detecting Seizures

Did you know there are seizure alert dogs? That’s right if you have a loved one who is challenged with epilepsy, there are organizations who can pair them with a trained seizure alert dog.

Here are several such organizations that we’ve come across in our research on the internet:

Ready to please!

According to Canine Partners for Life these dogs can do the following:

  • Alert its partner of an oncoming seizure
  • Stay close to its partner in the event of a seizure to prevent injury
  • Alert a caretaker
  • Fetch an alert device
  • Open a door and/or turn on a light

The Epilepsy Foundation states that “dogs can be trained as service animals for people with seizures, just like they can be trained to serve people with other disabilities. The law protects a person’s right to use a service animal in any public place.”

It’s quite amazing that these fuzzy, friendly creatures can not only be our best friend but also provide a valuable service.

Diabetic Alert

Everyone needs a best friend.

Diabetes is another health condition for which dogs can be trained to detect. The key with many medical conditions is early detection. Blood sugar levels which go too low (hypoglycemia) or too high (hyperglycemia) pose serious health risks.

Diabetic alert dogs are trained to alert their partner in advance of levels becoming dangerous.

According to the American Kennel Club, “diabetic alert dogs can function as blood sugar level detectors.” While dogs cannot give exact measurements of blood sugar levels, like a blood glucose meter, they can preemptively alert their partners when levels are out of range.

If you are looking for organizations to pair you or your loved one with a diabetic alert dog, here are several organizations and resources:

Early Cancer Detection

Did you know I have 220 million smell receptors?

So if a dog’s sniffing ability is so phenomenal at early detection of certain health conditions, what about cancer? If so, wouldn’t it seem like a grand solution to have dogs in our primary care physicians waiting room? Well, we are probably a long way from that ever happening but there are dogs being trained.

However, no one can deny that some dogs are already being credited with life-saving abilities. This article from American Veterinarian has some great stories of normal dogs alerting their owners in creative ways about cancer. Many of the owners have good reason to believe their dogs saved their lives!

According to Medical News Today, dogs can detect certain cancers in a person’s:

  • Skin
  • Breath
  • Urine
  • Feces
  • Sweat

This seems like a no brainer, right? It’s a low-risk, noninvasive method; however, there are still many inconsistencies.

The Challenges

Who me? I’d never present a challenge.

The first double-blinded studies were published in 2006. Dr. Klaus Hackner, a pulmonary physician at Krems University Hospital in Austria reports in this article on Scientific American.

First, let’s look at why/how dogs can detect cancers. Cells give off volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs. According to Hackner, each type of cancer would have a distinct smell and it would be different from a normal cell.

“Given that dogs have more than 220 million smell receptors in their noses, they’re excellent animals for sniffing out disease,” Hackner said. “In comparison, humans have a ‘mere’ 5 million smell receptors in their noses,” he said.

Most dogs can be trained, in about 6 months, to detect the odors associated with certain cancers. However, the study failed due to the lab environment being set up in a way that neither dog nor handler knew if samples selected by the dogs were actually cancerous. Dogs will lose interest without positive reinforcement.

In this same article from Scientific American, Dr. Hilary Brodie, a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of California, expounds on some arguments of why dog detection of cancer is not ideal even if the lab situation was different:

  • It would take an immense amount of time and energy to train dogs on the many types of cancer.
  • Dogs can have a bad day and misdiagnose.
  • No test is perfect but doctors know the accuracy of certain tests such as mammograms while rates would vary from dog to dog.

Both Hackner and Brodie believe it may be more feasible to think that dogs will be aiding researchers in the creation of biochemical “nose” machines, known as e-noses.

The nose knows.

Closing Thoughts

Dogs make wonderful companions and very apparently aid in improving our lives in various ways and especially with those who are challenged with health conditions. Dogs are already making a positive impact in the world of healthcare in regards to seizure and diabetic alert.

There is more research needed before dogs can be of assistance in the detection of certain cancers. However, the good news is that they possess a valuable key component (amazing sniffing abilities) and now it’s up to us to figure out how to best train and utilize them.

We are capable of more than just looking cute.

 

 

 

 

For Medicare Peace of Mind Turn To BBG65Plus

We have some very exciting news to share with you. Earlier this year, with great encouragement from our clients, we launched bbg65Plus.

Thinking about Medicare can be truly daunting. For years our clients have leaned on our knowledge, experience, and hallmark customer service for guidance on what to do and where to start when it comes to all things Medicare.

Now you can also turn to us to find the right coverage. We provide the full range of:

  • Medicare Advantage Plans,
  • Medicare Supplemental or Medigap Plans, and
  • Prescription Drug Plans

We match each person with the plan that’s right for them. And, we simplify the enrollment process making the transition to Medicare smooth and pain-free.

The age 65 and over demographic represents the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. workforce. Today, Medicare plays a much more significant role in the workplace.

Successfully transitioning to Medicare is a big deal that can also be a big cost and coverage win when done the right way. We can help.

Our goal centers on providing Medicare Peace of Mind. We remove the mystery and help you make the right decision about your Medicare coverage.

In launching bbg65Plus, we’re excited to serve the needs of our business clients as well as the Medicare needs of our families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors in the communities where we live and work.

So, for anyone needing assistance and hoping to experience Medicare Peace of Mind, please contact us. We’d love to help.

And, of course, we’d be very grateful if you’d help us spread the word.

(e) 65Plus@bbginc.net; (p) 866.845.8600 x130

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