Dalai Lama: “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health… ”
You get your car tuned-up every year. Why wouldn’t you get an annual medical check-up as well? An annual health check-up or periodic health check is useful as it can help to detect and identify diseases or the warning signs of an impending disease very early. This makes treatment a lot more effective, less expensive and less invasive. In addition to detecting such diseases before a patient turns seriously ill, such periodic check ups also give you a detailed update on various health parameters like cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and body weight. This helps to gauge your overall health and it enables health care providers to assess health risks and advise you on lifestyle on dietary measures to counter such risks.
Benefits of an annual health check up
There are several advantages of a regular complete body health check up with a doctor. One of the most important benefits is the prevention of disease. Preventive health checks are important especially for individuals with risk factors for different health conditions. A master health check up can also aid in the early detection and treatment of a health problem, which is valuable especially in cases of cancer. The examinations and laboratory tests that will be done during a health check up vary depending on an individual’s age, sex, family history, and lifestyle. Health check ups also promote better patient-doctor relationships and allow the doctor to promote healthy habits through patient education.
Composition of a regular health check-up
Besides an overall physical examination, which includes the eyes and teeth, a standard health check up is meant to assess the functioning of the heart, lungs, digestive system, liver, kidneys and, immune system status. Sometimes certain cancer-specific tests like PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) for men and mammography and some gynecological examinations in women are also included.
A body health check up primarily comprise pathology (blood and urine), imaging (x-ray and ultra-sonography), lungs function test and cardiac stress test. These tests should ideally be carried out in an accredited laboratory or a hospital which is equipped with the best diagnostic tools. It is very important that the results of these tests be interpreted and examined by qualified physicians.
Common investigations in a regular health check up
A regular health check up will comprise of the following investigations:
a) Complete Haemogram: It is a panel of tests to examine different components of blood and used as broad screening test for such disorders as anemia, infection, and many other diseases.
b) Lipid Profile: Used to assess the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
c) Liver Function Test: Used to assess the functioning of the liver or diagnose liver diseases.
d) Kidney Function Test: Used to evaluate how well the kidneys are functioning.
e) Blood Sugar: Used to measure blood glucose for checking pre-diabetes and diabetes.
f) Chest X-ray: Used to examine the chest and the organs and structures located in the chest.
g) ECG/Treadmill Test: Used as a diagnostic tool to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats and for assessing cardiac stress.
h) Ultrasonography of the abdomen: Diagnostic imaging technique used for visualizing organs and structures in the abdomen including the liver, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas and the kidneys.
i) Urine Routine Examination: Used for general evaluation of health, metabolic or systematic diseases.
Getting the right type of body health check up is important and while considering it, certain factors like age, lifestyle, family history, and risks should be taken into account. Regular health examinations and tests help detect problems before they start. Opting for a right health check up, screenings, and treatments means one is taking steps to help one live longer and healthier life.
All employers have responsibility of guiding their employees about the health benefit schemes offered by them. Even the employees on the other hand also have the right to receive information about the health benefit schemes offered to them. Therefore an employer has the right to inform the employees about certain information regarding the health benefit schemes. For this reason, organizations have created the position of Health Benefit Manager having communication as one of the responsibilities for health benefit related schemes and procedures.
Key information heads to be shared by employer
There is a plethora of information available for communication. It is the skill of the Health benefit Manager to present them in a structured manner on behalf of the employer.
- Employers need to provide a detailed list of information to the employees about what health benefit schemes are provided to them or the scheme they are entitled to.
- Providing information regarding cost sharing as well as arrangements
- To take up necessary steps to resolve problem as well as to deal with appeals.
- To provide and guide its employees about the status of accreditation, certification as well as licensure.
- Provide sufficient and necessary information about the composition of the provider network too.
- To use the emergency care services as when required by the employees of the organization.
- To obtain referrals to specialists
- Most importantly provide all the information regarding the quality, safety of the health benefit plan and the cost of the employer sponsored plan.
According to the Employer Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974, it is necessary to provide all detailed information that the employees are entitled to that includes plan rules, covered benefits, documents about the plan management and operation as well. The employees are also entitled to receive a document with the summary plan description, known as SPD. The SPD contains
- Information of the health care services that are covered in the plan.
- Description of what services are being provided by the plan and how these schemes function.
- It provides information also on how to calculate the benefits.
- Explanation on the cost that the plan covers and the cost that the beneficiary has to pay.
Tools and Methods for communicating
There are various methods by which the Health Benefit Manager, on behalf of the employers, can communicate health benefit information to the employees:
- One of the best ways is to communicate with the employees about the health coverage plan but providing too much information of it should also be avoided. The employees should be given the required time to understand the scheme and ask questions if any.
- It is best to explain the changes in simple terms to the employees to make them understand.
- Apart from the employees it is also necessary to explain the health benefit plans to the health benefit managers so that they can explain it to the employees to.
- Employers should be ready to face any questions asked by employees regarding the health benefit scheme and clear their doubts.
- It is equally important as well to be direct and honest when discussing about the coverage plan especially if employees face cost increase due to the coverage plan.
- Discussing the 5C’s too is essential with the employees. This 5C’s include cost, changes in plans, coverage of the plan, comparison of the previous year’s plan and also the current option.
- It is necessary to provide information the employees about the health care providers that are available in the revised and new plan option.
- Providing testimonials of other employees about the changes in health benefit plans can also be quite helpful for the present employees.
- Taking the help of various means like internet, face to face discussions, telephonic conversations, office intranet as well as printed materials can be helpful too. However it is also necessary to use materials that are easily understood by employees.
Using health communication campaigns
What are its advantages?
- It is important for the employers to conduct communication campaigns to educate the employees about the need of health benefit schemes and how they operate.
- The responsible manager’s aim should be to identify the objective and aim of the health care campaign.
- To develop health care message that meets the objectives and aim of the campaign.
- Setting up the criteria for evaluation of the campaign and also the degree to which it is getting conveyed among the employees.
- To implement and the campaign and make sure that the employees understand message that is being conveyed by the employer.
- It is also necessary to make sure that the employees also to address the education need of the employees with language barrier, literacy issues etc.
To conclude, an effective way to communicate about the health benefit scheme is the cornerstone of every business organization. In these schemes, employers can also guide and help its employees to select a scheme and explain every detail they should know. The authority should also explain the new health scheme option and also about the changes in the existing benefits. To improve the health plan costs the employer’s must keep in mind the factor of low health literacy. Health plans and employers should also be able to successfully communicate with employees. Lastly, employees and employers should also be able to communicate clearly about the health benefit plans.
Florida Health insurance premiums have touched new heights! Every Floridian has the common knowledge that most annual health insurance contracts will endure a rate increase at the end of the year. This trend is not new and should be expected. Every time this issue pops up it seems as though the blame game starts. Floridians blame Health insurance companies; Health insurance companies blame Hospitals, Doctors and other medical care providers, Medical care providers blame inflation and politicians, well, we really don’t know what they do to help the issue… No one seems to be interested in finding the real cause of the health insurance premium rate increase. Most individuals, self employed, and small business owners have taken Florida Health Insurance Rate Hikes as the inevitable evil.
What are various reports telling us? Why do Health insurance premium have annual rate increases?
Rate of inflation and heath insurance premium rate increase.
America’s health expenditure in the year 2004 has increased dramatically, it has increased more than three time the inflation rate. In this year the inflation rate was around 2.5% while the national health expenses were around 7.9%. The employer health insurance or group health insurance premium had increased approximately 7.8% in the year 2006, which is almost double the rate of inflation. In short, last year in 2006, the annual premiums of group health plan sponsored by an employer was around $4,250 for a single premium plan, while the average family premium was around $ 11,250 per year. This indicates that in the year 2006 the employer sponsored health insurance premium increased 7.7 percent. Taking the biggest hit were small businesses that had 0-24 employees. There health insurance premiums increased by nearly 10.4%
Employees are also not spared, in the year 2006 the employee also had to pay around $ 3,000 more in their contribution to employer’s sponsored health insurance plan in comparison to the previous year, 2005. Rate hikes have been in existence since the “Florida Health Insurance” plan started. In covering an entire family of four, a person will experience an increase in premium rate at every annual renewal. If they would have kept the record of their health insurance premium payments they will find that they are now paying around $ 1,100 more than they paid in the year 2000 for the same coverage and with the same company. The same item was found by the Health Research Educational Trust and the Kaiser Family Foundation in their survey report of the year 2000. They found out that the premiums of health insurance that is sponsored by the employer increases by around 4 times than the employee’s salary. This report also stated that since 2000 the contribution of employees in group health insurance sponsored by employer was increased by more than 143 percent.
One business man predicts that if nothing is done and the Health insurance premiums keep increasing that in the year 2008, the amount of health premium contribution to employer will surpass their profit. Professionals within and outside the field of Florida health insurance, think that the reason for increase in Florida health insurance premium rates are due to many factors, such as high administration expenditure, inflation, poor or bad management, increase in the cost of medical care, waste etc.
Florida health insurance rate hikes affect whom?
Rising rates of Florida health insurance generally affects most of the Floridians who live in our beautiful state. The highest affected individudals are the minimum wage and low wage workers. Recent drops in the renewal of health insurance are mostly from this low income group. They just can’t afford the high premiums of Florida health insurance. They are in the situation where they can not afford the medical care and they can not afford the medical insurance premiums that are assosiated with adequate coverage. Almost half of all Americans are of the opinion that they are more worried about the high health insurance rate and high cost of health care, over any other bill they have on a monthly basis. A survey also finds that around 42% of Americans can not afford the high cost of health care services. There is one very interesting study conducted by Harvard University researchers. They found out that 68% of people who filed bankruptcy covered themselves and their family by health insurance. Average out-of-pocket deductibles for people filed bankruptcy were around $ 12,000 per year. They also found some co-relation between medical expenditure and bankruptcy. A national survey also reports that main reason for people not to take health insurance is the high premium rate of health insurance.
How to reduce Florida’s high health insurance cost? Nobody knows for sure. There are different opinions and experts are not agreeing with each other. Health professionals believe that if we can raise the number of healthy people by improving the lifestyle and regular exercise, good diets etc. than naturally they will need less medical care services which decreases the demands of health care and hence the cost.( This year in Florida the smoking rate has increased by 21.7 percent) One Floridian sarcastically suggested that there are ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ in health care that are needed to reversed. That the state of Florida is to ‘high’ in cost of medical care compare to other States and ‘low’ in the quality of health care.
Florida Health insurance rate hike has attracted many frauds. These frauds float many bogus insurance companies and offer cheap health insurance rate which attract many people to them. These companies usually through assosiations that are based in other states.
Meanwhile reputable Florida health insurance companies provide different types of health insurance like employer sponsored group health insurance, small business health insurance, individual health insurance etc. to vast number of employees and their families. Still there are many people in Florida that lack any health coverage. Today the employer also has found it challenging to decide how to offer employer sponsored group health insurance to their employees, so that both of them arrive at some point of agreement.
Workplace Health Management (WHM) There are four key components of workplace health management:
Occupational Health and Safety
Workplace Health Promotion
Social and lifestyle determinants of health
Environmental Health Management
In the past policy was frequently driven solely by compliance with legislation. In the new approach to workplace health management, policy development is driven by both legislative requirements and by health targets set on a voluntary basis by the working community within each industry. In order to be effective Workplace Health Management needs to be based on knowledge, experience and practice accumulated in three disciplines: occupational health, workplace health promotion and environmental health. It is important to see WHM as a process not only for continuous improvement and health gain within the company, but also as framework for involvement between various agencies in the community. It offers a platform for co-operation between the local authorities and business leaders on community development through the improvement of public and environmental health.
The Healthy Workplace setting – a cornerstone of the Community Action Plan.
The Luxembourg Declaration of the European Union Network for Workplace Health Promotion defined WHP as the combined effort of employers, employees and society to improve the health and well-being of people at work
This can be achieved through a combination of:
Improving the work organization and the working environment
Promoting active participation of employees in health activities
Encouraging personal development
Workplace health promotion is seen in the EU network Luxembourg Declaration as a modern corporate strategy which aims at preventing ill-health at work and enhancing health promoting potential and well-being in the workforce. Documented benefits for workplace programs include decreased absenteeism, reduced cardiovascular risk, reduced health care claims, decreased staff turnover, decreased musculoskeletal injuries, increased productivity, increased organizational effectiveness and the potential of a return on investment.
However, many of these improvements require the sustained involvement of employees, employers and society in the activities required to make a difference. This is achieved through the empowerment of employees enabling them to make decisions about their own health. Occupational Health Advisors (OHA) are well placed to carry out needs assessment for health promotion initiatives with the working populations they serve, to prioritize these initiatives alongside other occupational health and safety initiatives which may be underway, and to coordinate the activities at the enterprise level to ensure that initiatives which are planned are delivered. In the past occupational health services have been involved in the assessment of fitness to work and in assessing levels of disability for insurance purposes for many years.
The concept of maintaining working ability, in the otherwise healthy working population, has been developed by some innovative occupational health services. In some cases these efforts have been developed in response to the growing challenge caused by the aging workforce and the ever-increasing cost of social security. OHA’s have often been at the forefront of these developments.
There is a need to develop further the focus of all occupational health services to include efforts to maintain work ability and to prevent non-occupational workplace preventable conditions by interventions at the workplace. This will require some occupational health services to become more pro-actively involved in workplace health promotion, without reducing the attention paid to preventing occupational accidents and diseases. OHA’s, with their close contact with employees, sometimes over many years, are in a good position to plan, deliver and evaluate health promotion and maintenance of work ability interventions at the workplace.
Health promotion at work has grown in importance over the last decade as employers and employees recognize the respective benefits. Working people spend about half of their non-sleeping day at work and this provides an ideal opportunity for employees to share and receive various health messages and for employers to create healthy working environments. The scope of health promotion depends upon the needs of each group.
Some of the most common health promotion activities are smoking reducing activities, healthy nutrition or physical exercise programs, prevention and abatement of drug and alcohol abuse.
However, health promotion may also be directed towards other social, cultural and environmental health determinants, if the people within the company consider that these factors are important for the improvement of their health, well-being and quality of life. In this case factors such as improving work organization, motivation, reducing stress and burnout, introducing flexible working hours, personal development plans and career enhancement may also help to contribute to overall health and well-being of the working community.
The Healthy Community setting In addition to occupational health and workplace health promotion there is also another important aspect to Workplace Health Management. It is related to the impact that each company may have on the surrounding ambient environment, and through pollutants or products or services provided to others, its impact on distant environments. Remember how far the effects of the Chernobyl Nuclear accident in 1986 affected whole neighbouring countries.
Although the environmental health impact of companies is controlled by different legislation to that which applies to Health and Safety at work, there is a strong relationship between safeguarding the working environment, improving work organization and working culture within the company, and its approach to environmental health management.
Many leading companies already combine occupational health and safety with environmental health management to optimally use the available human resources within the company and to avoid duplication of effort. Occupational health nurses can make a contribution towards environmental health management, particularly in those companies that do not employ environmental health specialists.