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??
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.
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:
This seems like a no brainer, right? It’s a low-risk, noninvasive method; however, there are still many inconsistencies.
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.
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.
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
Read More >>>
- Tom Barrett
- July 18, 2019
- confusion, cost, coverage, employees, employers, federal, health plans, healthcare, HHS, insurance, medical, medicare, open enrollment
- 0 Comments
The value of SharedFunding is that it creates a gap between what you were paying for traditional insurance and what you pay with SharedFunding.
Unfortunately it’s typical for insurance costs to increase annually. However, we’ve found that by creating a gap with SharedFunding, that increase can be on less premium.
You’ll be glad you brought it! Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash
When you have traditional insurance, you need to buy the plan that you want to offer your employees. Makes sense, yes? The problem is that you are paying for this plan for every employee regardless if they use it or not.
The real benefit of insurance can be compared to an umbrella. You’ll be glad you have it with you when it downpours. Additionally, you’ll never mind when the sun comes out and you are carrying your umbrella.
At BBG, Inc., we’ve come up with a way to provide the protection of an umbrella at a fraction of the cost of traditional insurance.
With SharedFunding, you can reduce the high premiums you are paying to the insurance company by buying catastrophic coverage. You are still buying an umbrella but just with a little more gap between you & the umbrella.
Typically we recommend purchasing the highest deductible available ($5,000, $6,350, $6,650). However, BBG will work with you to determine the appropriate amount of risk.
Then we’ll build out the plan that you want to promise your employees and deliver it to them. This is called SharedFunding:
- You buy catastrophic coverage from the insurance company
- Your annual premium costs go down ↓
- We deliver the plan you want to your employees
- It’s a promise to pay rather than buying from the insurance company
But won’t we fund the difference back in claims?
Healthcare is used unevenly and in the 14 years we’ve been doing ShareFunding, no client has ever funded back the entire premiums savings in claims.
Here is a simple example:
Things are starting to look up. Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash
Let’s say that traditional insurance costs you $1.00 (haha, I know what world do I live in?? Just trying to keep it simple).
BBG comes in and recommends you buy the highest deductible possible for $0.60. Right now things are looking up as you’ve reduced your healthcare costs by 40%.
The next step involves building the SharedFunding plan you would like to promise to your employees. BBG can build any type of ShareFunding plan you’d like. Most employers choose to mimic their former traditional plan. This way employees still get the same benefit they are used to receiving.
Most likely you’ll end up funding approximately $0.20 in claims for employees who utilize the SharedFunding plan.
That brings your final cost up to $0.80 for a 20% savings. Not too bad, eh?
The Compound Savings of ShareFunding
Saving 20% on your healthcare costs when you initially set up SharedFunding is lovely, yes? But what makes it even lovelier is what happens in the years to come.
Since pictures speak 1,000 words, let me explain with a graph:
Here at BBG we tend to look at the average cost per employee per year as a benchmark. The reason is that your enrollment fluctuates each year. You can calculate your average cost per employee per year by taking your total costs divided by your current enrollment.
The above graph includes numbers from a real client who has been SharedFunding since 2012.
As you can see their average cost per employee per year were at $15,197 with traditional insurance in 2012/2013. By switching to SharedFunding that year, we were able to reduce that number by 39%. Whoa!! Then in 2014/2015 they embraced a more robust form of SharedFunding and reduced their cost another 21%.
While we are pretty good, we are not magical. Unfortunately, you’ll notice their healthcare costs did rise through the years with SharedFunding. However, the true value of SharedFunding is that your increases are on a smaller premium amount; hence, the compound savings of SharedFunding.
To show this we assumed they would have received a trend increase of 5% each year if they had stayed on the traditional route. Based on past renewal trends, this was an appropriate average increase to assume.
Firstly, they are not even close to what their average cost per employee was in 2011/2012. Secondly, while both graphs go up the gap between them grows!
Healthcare is likely one of your biggest expenses as an employer. The math of self-funding may not work for small employers, but the math of SharedFunding most likely will. Here are BBG, we have fun delivering strong benefits to your employees while reducing the amount of premium you pay to the insurance company.
Your employees will still have access to the network that the insurance carriers provide. Additionally, you will be protected from catastrophic claims with a mini stop loss in purchasing a high deductible plan from the carrier. Furthermore you can deliver the same benefits to your employees by promising to fund. Lastly, with a promise to fund, you, the employer, will be able to retain more dollars in your business.
If you are interested in seeing if SharedFunding might be a good fit for your company, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a no obligation analysis.
Lastly, we will be running a series on SharedFunding and in this series we plan to get into the details on a more granular level.
A study of spending on 12.5 million diagnostics tests by UnitedHealthcare once again revealed substantial variation in the prices patients pay for common diagnostic tests. The seven groups of common diagnostic tests included echocardiograms, mammograms and ultrasounds.
The price range for an echocardiogram — $210 to $1,830 – typifies and illustrates the wide variation in the price for common diagnostic tests. And, according to the report, the higher prices did not correspond to improved patient outcomes or to the quality of the provider.
So Why Do We Pay More?
“A more likely reason is that health care providers generally are incentivized to use their market power to increase prices, often resulting in overpriced services,” per the report.
A copy of the report can be found here.
We’ll write more in upcoming Two Minute Drill articles about what you can do to avoid the higher prices. You’ll learn how BBG paves the way for our clients via our SharedFunding program. They consistently experience lower costs without sacrificing quality of care.
“A more likely reason is that health care providers generally are incentivized to use their market power to increase prices, often resulting in overpriced services,”