Taming the Cost of Health Care – How the Health Insurance Industry Fights High Costs

For many families, finding affordable health insurance is a task akin to the search for the Holy Grail. Depending on where in the country you live, a family health insurance plan can cost as much as $800-$1000 per month. Even when you split that cost between employee and employer, that’s a major chunk of nearly anyone’s monthly budget. And while it’s popular to swear under your breath at the greed of the health insurance industry, a look at the cost of medical care is an eye-opening shock for many people. The expenses associated with a broken arm, for instance, can easily mount into several thousands of dollars.The Health Industry has a stake in keeping people healthy.The high cost of health insurance is the direct result of the high cost of medical care. It’s a simple matter of economics. The more it costs to take care of each subscriber, the more the insurance companies have to charge all their subscribers. This cost/expense ratio is what has made most insurance companies embrace the idea of providing preventive care to their subscribers. It’s a simple matter of business sense – healthy people don’t cost the insurance companies a lot of money.Accidents may be the first type of medical need that springs to mind when people consider buying health insurance, the major insurance companies all agree that accidents aren’t the major cost drain on medical resources. That place is reserved for chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure. Because of this, it makes good business sense for major players in the insurance industry to encourage their subscribers to adopt preventive health strategies. That pays off in special benefits for health conscious consumers. Preventive Health Benefits Help Keep Costs LowAmong the benefits that have become commonplace for major health insurance providers are routine physicals, medical screenings for all subscribers, discounts on health club and gym memberships, payment of dues for weight loss groups and lowered subscription fees for non-smokers.Some health insurance companies and HMO’s go even further in their preventive efforts. Because of the high risk of serious injury or fatality for infants in automobile accidents, Fallon Community Health Plan of Massachusetts has for years teamed with local organizations to provide free infant car seats to families with newborns. In the same spirit of prevention, many HMOs offer free stress management and stress reduction workshops to all subscribers because stress has been identified as a leading risk factor in nearly every major illness. Seeking a CureThe quest for affordable health care has also prompted health insurers and HMOs to help fun research and health initiatives all over the country. The industry underwrites millions of dollars of medical research annually in an effort to lower the costs of health care. Their dollars fund grants to enroll low income and other hard to insure populations, and to offer eye, dental and health care to inner city and poor rural populations. They estimate that routine preventive eye and dental care, as well as routine medical screenings and physicals can identify illnesses at early stages and prevent conditions and costs from escalating out of reach. Get the Most from Your Health InsuranceYou pay for it – you should certainly get the most possible benefit from your health plan. Here are some suggestions for ways that you can make your insurance plan work for you:
Join a gym.
Check the benefits that your HMO or health insurer offers. Chances are good that one of them is a discount good on membership at a local gym or health club. Get fit – it saves THEM money… but it saves YOUR life.

Lose weight.
Take advantage of nutritional counseling and memberships in weight loss support groups to get down to your ideal weight. Added bonus? Many insurance plans offer a lower tier cost for subscribers who are at healthy weights.

Quit smoking.
Non-smokers are another group that often enjoy lower insurance premiums. Many HMOs and health providers offer free smoking cessation programs to help you get smoke free and healthy.

Attend medical screenings and health fairs.
Many insurance providers sponsor ‘wellness fairs’ where you can have your blood pressure tested, get free medical screenings and learn about alternative medical techniques like massage therapy, acupuncture and yoga. Take advantage of special events to learn more and get healthy.
It may be popular to demonize the insurance industry, but today more than ever, these companies have a stake in keeping you healthy. Find out what your inusrance company has to offer you by visiting their web site, or calling customer service.

Here are Direct Marketing Ideas That Put Cash in Your Pocket

If you are giving your customers only what they expect, you’re in danger of being made redundant by the clever marketer who knows how to add value to his product or service. So here’s some direct marketing ideas to make sure this doesn’t happen.Or if you’re just doing enough in the way of service to get by, then lookout for the savvy entrepreneur who knows what we buyers really want. Here’s an example to illustrate my point.A couple of years ago my wife and I went shopping for swimming pools. I’d thought it would be easy. Go to a pool place, choose what I want and then they would take charge and get the job done. I had money burning a hole in my pocket and I was determined to spend it. Easy right? Wrong!You see, the pool place I chose did not offer installation of the pool. They only sold them. And what’s worse, I had to take care of delivering the damn thing myself. What?It was like I was caught up in some Twilight Zone movie where everything works back-ass-wards. I couldn’t believe what they were telling me.Did I buy the pool from these guys? What do you think?Look, I want things done for me. I don’t want to have to track down three different guys to do the one job. So let’s look at what these clowns wanted me to do. First, buy the pool off of them.Second, locate someone to install it. Third, locate someone to deliver it. Fourth, locate someone to put the fence up around it. Shit, these guys didn’t have a clue and they just blew a five figure sale.Here’s what should have happened.You buy the pool and they organise the lot. Delivery, installation and pool fencing included. The customer doesn’t have to do a damn thing. Just pay the money and then go swimming. Sheesh, how easy is that? So, think about this…What opportunities are you missing out on? What services and or products can you include to add value to your business and to make it easier for your customers to give you money?

Africa and Global Warming

Certain activities of man produce gases known as Green House gases. These activities are those that involve the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, wood, and petroleum products at oilrigs, vehicle combustion engines and factories. Part of the heat energy that comes to us from the sun is usually reflected back. Green House gases in the atmosphere trap the reflected heat resulting in increased global temperatures. This is what environmentalists refer to as global warming.The Role Of Green Plants Carbon dioxide is a major component of Green House gases. Green plants use carbon dioxide to manufacture their food during the process of photosynthesis. In return they produce a benevolent gas, oxygen. Clearing forests for wood or to construct highways thus reduces the world’s natural ability to minimize global warming by regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.Significance of Awareness CampaignsFormer American Vice President, Al Gore eventually won a Nobel Price for Peace, following his efforts to bring about progress in the fight against global warming. One of his numerous activities is the organization of concerts with the aim of raising awareness about global warming and its consequences to our planet. In the efforts of environmentalists to combat global warming, raising the awareness of people around the world on the issue is indeed the wise step since the fight against global warming is something that must be fought by the world as a community if it has to succeed. In a situation were people don’t know about the problem it would be impossible for them to know what role to play.The Role of Africa in Atmospheric PollutionIndustrialized nations have been blamed for their role in the generation of Green House gases that are responsible for global warming. Developing nations like those in Africa also have a share of the blame. Oil producing nations like Nigeria and Angola are among countries in Africa that contribute to atmospheric pollution at oilrigs through gas flaring. Uncontrolled lumbering is another cause of a setback to efforts against global warming and is common in Africa. In Africa were a lot of people live a rural life, the main source of cooking fuel is firewood obtained by cutting down forest resources.There is also the problem of corruption that frustrates forestations programmes. Since the environmental laws in African countries are generally weak, organizations whose activities result in environmental damages usually do little to minimize such damages. Corruption among public officials is another factor that complicates the issue.Level of Awareness Working to reverse the problem of global warming should be everybody’s business. The level of awareness about global warming and its disastrous outcome in Africa is unfortunately low. Programmes aimed at raising awareness about global warming are rare. Generally, awareness campaigns are carried out in English language. They take the form of workshops were the press are invited and educated. They are then expected to relay the information to the rest of the nation. Most people see the issue of global warming as an issue for the educated but issue of global warming is a complex issue that even some among the educated do not seem to grasp. Further more everything here usually ends up at the theoretical stage.Africa’s Contribution Against Global WarmingBeside Wangari Mathai who won the Nobel Prize for Peace as a result of her contribution to the struggle against global warming, the concern has not gone beyond the level of intellectual exercise by lecturers of Universities and other tertiary institutions. Most people here also think that it is the responsibility of western nations to find a solution to global warming.The Way ForwardThere is the need for African nations to make tangible contributions to global warming. The first and most important aspect of our contribution is an aggressive awareness campaign about global warming. A campaign is not just about throwing money at the programme but ensuring that the money percolates down to its target. Also important is a pragmatic reforestation programme to replace the trees cut down for timber or used as firewood. The use of alternative material for roofing and furniture making can also reduce the pressure on forest resources. We can also work to ensure that automobiles plying our roads release the minimum amount of gases that are deleterious to the atmosphere. Constant and reliable eclectic power can minimize the amount of firewood and coal used as energy source in our homes and factories.