Thursday, December 1, 2011

Smoking Driving Up Health Insurance Costs

The American Cancer Society marks the 36th Great American Smokeout today by encouraging smokers to make a plan to quit smoking.  This gives many smokers the motivation to start their path towards a healthier life.  Not only will quitting decrease their cancer risk, but it can end up saving them money on life and health insurance quotes.

The AlliedQuotes article “How the Effects of Smoking Are Driving Up Costs” points out some interesting facts about smokers and health insurance costs.  The Union Camp Corporation evaluated the health costs of 700 of their employees in 1992 and discovered that employees who did not smoke cost their company about $462 less in health care costs than employees who did smoke.  Among the 400 production workers, each nonsmoker saved the company about $284 in sick pay.  Another study of 2500 postal workers published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the rate of absenteeism was 33% for smokers.

These shocking numbers make it obvious why employers and health insurance companies want to charge smokers more for health insurance coverage.  Unfortunately, the costs typically get spread out among all policyholders which will mean higher health insurance rates for everyone.  While an individual policy may end up more expensive for a smoker, plans through employers are typically the same for everyone.  Some employers will offer cessation programs, not only to help the absentee numbers, but also to drive down the costs of health insurance packages for all employees.

Gratitude May Be Great Medicine is hoping everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving season and is here to point out the importance of gratitude on our health.  John Tierney writes about this in his article on “A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day”.  According to the article, an attitude of gratitude has been linked to better overall health, better sleep, higher satisfaction with life and kinder interactions with others.  A recent study reports that feeling appreciative even makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked.

If your interested in better health and possibly lower health insurance quotes, listen to the advice of Robert A. Emmons of the University of California who offers techniques for cultivating gratitude.  First, don’t confuse gratitude with indebtedness.  Indebtedness can be a negative emotion bringing about negative responses.  Another tip is to pay it forward.  When someone brings an act of kindness upon you, pass it on to someone else.  Kindness is contagious and breeds gratitude.

When you are faced with negative interactions from friends and family, don’t counterattack.  Practice empathy and focus on what you are thankful for.  Studies show you will be less bothered by negative interactions if you are practicing gratitude.  You can practice gratitude by making a list of everything you are thankful for or writing a letter to someone you are very thankful for and someone who had a strong positive influence on your life.  Taking the time to really focus on what we are thankful for this holiday season may be just what we need to keep our health in check as we enjoy food, drink and good company.

Does Health Insurance Cover Weight Loss Surgery?

With the obesity epidemic going strong across the US, more and more Americans are choosing weight loss surgery as a way to get their obesity under control.  This is a big decision which should be gone over in detail with your doctor and health should be carefully considered.  The other thing to consider is the cost.  It can be very expensive coming in at around $20,000 give or take thousands of dollars.  Many individual health insurance companies will cover the surgery with a letter from the patients doctor stating medical necessity, but this varies greatly from state to state and from insurer to insurer.

The MAMSI UnitedHealthcare website talks about how to choose a hospital for bariatric surgery and what key factors to look for.  The medical community has been analyzing for years the factors that can predict good outcomes from the surgery and the education and training of the surgery seems to make a big difference.  The hospital should also be able to accommodate certain situations such as the ability to deal with obese patients appropriately.  There should be a specially trained anesthesia staff that works well under pressure and fully understands the special risk factors obese people face on the operating table.

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping those looking towards weight loss surgery.  Various hospitals have responded to a request for information for Centers for Bariatric Surgery and they’ve looked at quality measures such as volume, specialized equipment, expertly trained staff, average length of stay, complication rates and the training of bariatric surgeons.  Based on this information, they’ve made informed recommendations for bariatric hospitals.  If you are considering weight loss surgery and your doctor agrees it’s a good option for you, take the time to research which hospitals are the most trained and how your health insurance will ultimately handle the whole process financially.