• What is a Health Advocate?

    A health advocate is a family member, friend, trusted coworker or hired professional who can ask questions, write down information and speak up for you to facilitate better understand with regard to your health issues and insurance in order for you to get the care and resources you need. Quality health care requires taking an active role in decisions and having someone who is another set of ears and eyes can provide a big advantage.

    Health Advocate Solutions through VHS’s partnership with Benefitspal helps you navigate through insurance and healthcare systems more fluidly.  Having someone who knows the ins and outs can help alleviate some of the fear and frustration felt when confronted with a major illness or accident and confusion experienced when dealing with insurance and healthcare providers.     

    Simply call toll free number anytime you have a concern.  You will be given your personal health advocate who will provide unlimited, confidential support.  

    • Help find the right doctors and hospitals
    • Make appointments
    • Untangling medical bills and insurance claims
    • Clarifying benefits and answer questions about tests, treatments and medication options
    • Coordinate care among providers
    • Assist with eldercare and related healthcare issues
    • Arrange second opinions and medical records transfers
    • Negotiate discounts on medical and dental bills on your behalf when possible
    • Negotiate payment arrangements with providers for non-covered services

    Your health advocate will work tirelessly to make sure you and your family are taken care of in the most professional way possible.  They help resolve complex issues by interacting with the health and insurance professionals on your behalf.  Your privacy is protected and nothing will be disclosed to your employer, insurance or medical personnel or your family without your permission.  

    Health Advocate does not replace health insurance, provide medical care or recommend treatment.  

    Schedule your FREE No Obligation Consultation to learn how BenefitsPal through VHS can save you time, money while increasing the healthcare experience!

  • Mandate or Not To Mandate…

    One of the many issues revolving around the ACA is the mandate that you either have insurance or pay a fine. The logic was that by forcing everyone to have coverage, although considered by many to be coercive and unfair, it would level the playing field in terms of the number of healthy people versus sick people in the market.

    The mandate or fine for Americans who do not purchase health insurance is $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever amount is larger. The fine was intended to keep insurance prices lower because more healthy people would buy in thus paying more in premiums than the insurance company pays out for their care which in terms helps subsidize the cost of treating sicker people. It was meant to be high enough to make consumers think about skipping coverage yet not as expensive as actually purchasing insurance.

    Supporters of the mandate argue eliminating the fine will likely result in a significant increase in premiums, which would in turn substantially increase the number of uninsured Americans. It is also believed that this move could drive some insurers out of the market place completely making the options available to consumers even more limited.

    On the other side of the argument, The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that repealing the mandate could lower the deficit by $388 billion over a decade, while the number of people with health insurance would decrease by 13 million by 2027, the nongroup insurance markets would remain stable and average premiums would increase by only about 10%

    So what is the answer? Yet to be determined by the CBO, JCT, the President, insurance companies, medical providers and pharmaceutical companies.

    In the meantime, individuals need to take control of their health and the way they manage their healthcare. Become proactive rather than reactive. Find ways to stay healthy NOW instead of fighting to get healthy after diagnosed with an illness or disease. Have easy, affordable access to physicians when they need them rather than having to wait days for an appointment or end up in an urgent care or emergency room after hours for the cold or flu. Virtual Healthcare Solutions provides a series of packages that address those times so you can connect with a physician when you need to from wherever you are. For more information, contact Susan Lehmkuhl @ 623.256.7270

    Sign up now to receive our weekly newsletter Lifestyle Strategies for Wellful Living in Health, Wealth and Play at www.vhsarizona.com

  • Emergency Departments vs. Urgent Care vs. Telemedicine

    The rising cost of healthcare is forcing consumers to become more involved in their health and wellness. The increase in premiums, co-pays and deductibles has caused many individuals to opt out of insurance completely or, more alarmingly, use Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Facilities as a substitute for speaking with a physician. IN 2010, a study from the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation found 35{a66db7d8a243ca4d3d701f892f2edecccc7ae52f00c761945ec7944d9d19480f} of respondents delayed care because they could not afford health care prices. According to another study completed this year (2017) by insurance.com, that number had risen to 64{a66db7d8a243ca4d3d701f892f2edecccc7ae52f00c761945ec7944d9d19480f} and attributed the delay to high costs, the difficulty in getting an appointment, being too busy or hoping whatever issue they were dealing with would resolve itself on its own.

    What’s the Difference?

    Emergency Departments are medical treatment facilities specializing in the acute care of patients that may have life-threatening illnesses or injuries which require immediate attention or are considered to be a condition which may permanently endanger the life of an individual. Examples of the types of conditions for which an ED is appropriate include (not limited to):
    Major Trauma or Accident
    Loss of Consciousness
    Heart Attack or Chest Pain
    Uncontrollable Bleeding
    Moderate to Severe Burns
    Deep Knife or GunShot Wounds
    Convulsions, Seizures
    Severe Abdominal Pain
    Suicidal or Homicidal Feelings

    Urgent Care Facilities
    are not a substitute for emergency care. They are set up to assist patients with an illness or injury that does not appear to be life-threatening but can not wait until a patient’s primary care physician is available. Some examples of conditions include:
    Flu or Cold
    Immunizations
    Fever, Headaches, and Chills
    Sprains
    After-Hour Care
    Cuts that may require stitches
    Severe sore throat or cough
    Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
    Eye Irritation and Redness
    Diagnostic services, including X-rays and Lab tests

    What’s the Big Deal?

    The misuse of EDs has resulted in more than $4.4 billion in waste annually and is a contributing factor in the high cost of healthcare. An average urgent care visit generally costs between $71-$125 dollars for basic care with additional costs added for shots, x-rays, labs, prescriptions, etc while the average emergency room visit runs about $1,318. ER patients, on average, wait approximately 2.5 hours before being taken to an exam room where the wait can be hours if a more traumatic case enters the ER. Urgent care facilities normally see patients with 15-45 minutes and while there is no specific data with regards to wait time in the exam room, it is generally agreed that patients are processed much faster.

    What’s the Alternative?

    TELEMEDICINE

    Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications. It has been increasing in popularity rapidly because it provides improved access and it also expands a physician’s ability to reach more patients. Telemedicine helps to reduce, or at the least, contain the cost of healthcare through better management of chronic diseases, reduced travel times and shorter hospital stays. Studies have shown that telemedicine provides services as good as those delivered in traditional in-personal consultation and in some cases, the telemedicine has provided a superior outcome and rated higher with patient satisfaction. Telemedicine can be used to treat a broad range of symptoms including:
    Colds, Cough
    Flu
    Pink Eye
    UTI
    Asthma
    Arthritic Pain
    Ankle and Arm Sprains
    Diarrhea
    Insect Bites
    Pharyngitis
    Cellulitis
    Sinusitis
    Sports Injuries
    High or Low Blood Pressure
    Sore Throat
    Gastrointestinal Issues
    Rashes
    Cuts and Abrasions
    Post Surgical Follow Up
    Prescription Refills
    Therapy and Counseling

    Telemedicine is a less expensive, equally effective, alternative especially when factoring in time lost from work or school, travel expenses, wait times and exposure to other illness when sitting in germ infested waiting or exam rooms. Patients can call in from the comfort and convenience of home or office and continue to work or engage in day to day activities until they connect with a board certified physician.

    Telemedicine services vary in price and quality.

    Checking out telemedicine providers is as important in choosing an online source as is finding the right physician. Some programs, like VHS, charge a monthly subscription with NO additional co-pays or limits on the number of calls that can be made or the length of those calls. Other providers charge a fee EACH time you call and some limit the number of minutes you can actually speak to the physician without paying additional fees. Virtual Healthcare Solutions Programs range in price from $12.99 to $45.99 a month depending on services. Other providers charge $15, 25, 40 per call with limits on the number of calls that can be made as well as the length of the calls.