Thursday, May 15, 2008

Health Amazon

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Health Insurance for Expats

Health Insurance for Expats

William has been working for a pharmaceutical company for the past 10 years. The excellent service has been well observed by the bosses. A promotion is near and it is just a matter of time before the papers finally came.

The bosses called William to the office and sure enough, the promotion came. The hard work for many years paid off and there will be a salary raise and a new position. The only catch was that this was no longer to be based in the United States.

William will be sent off to France to head the office there. The entire family will also be relocated so this wouldn’t be a problem. The only thing needed now will be to get some form of insurance since this man will become an expatriate.

Expatriates or expats for short are sometimes considered consultants when given a foreign assignment. There are a lot of benefits that regular employees don’t get to have so this was really something.

The company had an insurance plan but William felt this was not enough. The hospitals in France may not honor the insurance of the American firm, which is why William asked around for international health insurance.

There are a lot of companies that offer international health insurance. These firms promise to give the expat and the family the best care possible. This means access to doctors and hospitals sometimes free of charge.

Some companies will not allow an applicant over the age of 65 to become a member. This shouldn’t be a problem of William who is just 32. The best insurance plan to get should also cover the other members of the family.

The application process starts by filling out the form. The person can get one from the internet and answer the questions there. If the individual needs time to think, this can also be printed then faxed to the number.

The company will also need a medical exam to make sure the person is in healthy condition. When all these documents check out, the individual will become a member and get the policy in 2 or 3 working days.

How much does this cost? This will depend on the type of package the person chooses to get. There are the basic plans and the more advanced ones, which also include annual physical examinations that can be availed of.

Some insurance companies may not have an office in the country where the person will be working in. This is the reason that the emergency contact number which is located on the back of the card can be accessed anywhere in the world toll free. A multilingual staff will be ready to assist to answer any concerns or problems that the expat will encounter.

There are other benefits when the expat is a member. The person can access the company website at any time to receive news and other updates which are important for the individualized plan.

First timers can start off with the basic package first. If the company has proven to be very good in its services, this can be upgraded later on.

Life as an expat and working in a different country may be challenging. The person should just be prepared with the changes that may need to take place as part of the adjustment phase.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Caregiving across the Miles—Tips for Successful Long Distance Caregiving

Caregiving across the Miles—Tips for Successful Long Distance Caregiving
by: Torey L. Farnsworth

Caring for a parent or a loved one is a difficult job. Your duties as a caregiver become increasingly difficult as the miles increase between you and your loved one. The following are a few helpful tips in order to plan ahead in the event your loved one needs your help, as well as ideas on how to become a successful caregiver once your caregiving duties begin.

1. Have a discussion with your loved one. Years before the need for caregiving arises, discuss ideas and thoughts with your loved one. Discuss with them their thoughts on possibilities of relocation, assisted living or nursing home care, and end of life arrangements. Make sure all of their legal and financial needs have been met. Talking with your loved one ahead of time will make them more comfortable with the idea of needing help down the road.

2. Design a “Family Plan of Action”. Before the need arises, get the family together and discuss responsibilities and divide them up accordingly. Devise a plan to keep in contact with those members who may be out of state by frequent phone calls, emails or set up a private chat room on the internet for family discussions. Investigate costs for care and travel expenses. Design contingency plans in the event that funds run out, level of care increases, and availability of family is limited.

3. Gather emergency contact information. Make a list of important emergency numbers such as out of town family members, family friends, physicians, attorneys, clergy, etc. To help preserve this list in the event of an emergency, place this list in a zip lock bag and store it in your loved one’s freezer where they keep their ice cubes. Place a magnet on their refrigerator with a note as to the location of this list.

4. Gather important documents. Locate important documents such as social security card, Medicare and/or health insurance cards, legal documents such as living trusts, wills, and powers of attorney, all financial statements including life insurance information and real estate deeds. Inform the family regarding the location of these documents. Keep copies of powers of attorney in the event you need to make health care or financial decisions from a distance.

5. Organize and set up a network. Contact relatives, friends and neighbors who live close by your loved one. Ask them to routinely stop by and visit your loved one, and ask them to contact you if they observe anything out of the ordinary. Find out about community programs that provide services such as meals or transportation, and get them involved. Consider hiring a geriatric care manager to help coordinate the care.

6. Make the most of your visits. Schedule and attend physician appointments with your loved one when you are in town, and keep yourself informed with your loved one’s diagnosis. Meet with members of your network, and ask them detailed questions about their interaction with your loved one.

7. Keep a journal. Take detailed notes of your loved one’s care such as their progress, medications, changes in level of care, recent injuries, personality changes, etc. A journal will help keep the family organized, as well as provide helpful information for the physician or other caregivers who might be involved in your loved one’s care.

8. Be observant. Be aware of changes in your loved one’s personality, their appearance such as lack of grooming or soiled clothing. Verify that the mail is being opened and the bills are being paid. Set up a consistent schedule for communicating with your loved one, and pay attention to what they’re “not” saying. Remember, your loved one doesn’t want to give up their independence, and they may not always tell you the truth.

9. Re-evaluate the situation. Assess your loved one’s situation and don’t be afraid to make adjustments as the circumstances change. Don’t hesitate asking for help from other family members, and investigate the potential for placement in a care facility or hiring a full time live-in caregiver if the family and physician deems necessary.

10. Care for the caregiver. Don’t allow yourself to get to the point that you experience burn-out. Get help from other family members, as well as take time for yourself. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise daily. When caregiving becomes too much for the family, and the level of care is beyond your immediate resources, seek out other options. Don’t let your guilt get in the way of providing the best care for your loved one, even if a care facility or full time caregiver must provide that care instead of you.

Above all, remember to allow your loved one to remain involved in the decision making process for as long as their decisions do not negatively impact their health or safety. Remember to discuss your concerns with their care in a sensitive manner. Your loved one deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Be realistic about the situation, and in addition to looking out for your loved one’s care, remember to look out for your own as well.

About the author:
Torey L. Farnsworth, CSA has over 12 years of experience working with seniors. Ms. Farnsworth’s vast expertise encompasses a wide variety of senior issues ranging from adult care to elder law. Most recently, Torey served as Elder Law Director and Paralegal for a Phoenix based law firm where she provided assistance in a variety of areas including long term care planning, estate planning, ALTCS eligibility and Medicaid planning. Ms. Farnsworth is also a certified caregiver with the State of Arizona as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. Ms. Farnsworth has spent her career in senior care as her family owns and operates assisted living homes.

Ms. Farnsworth currently owns her own senior care placement business called Horizon Senior Care Referral. Her placement services are free to seniors and their families in Arizona. For more information, visit

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Health insurance for small businesses

Health insurance for small businesses
Simple steps to secure coverage for your workers.
By Ging V. Valles

Medical insurance came about to fill people’s need for quality health care that should not be compromised by their limited budget. It is now more accessible to everyone, regardless of income, through the HMO or health maintenance organization — a kind of managed plan where you receive care from the HMO’s doctors at its hospitals or clinics.

The HMO provides a list of doctors and "requires you to select a primary care physician" for the specialized care you need," says German Zapanta, general manager of Fortune Medicare, Inc. Entrepreneurs and rank-and-file employees benefit from almost the same coverage as those provided executives, he says.

The HMO is especially helpful to entrepreneurs. "If your people are covered, you increase their work productivity," says Rey Samson, school owner and incoming president of the Marikina Private Schools Association. "HMO doesn’t give any burden at all to the entrepreneur and his people since payments are collected through salary deductions." It also encourages people to get a health plan to help the government expand its resources for medical care.

HMOs like Fortune Medicare, Medicard, and PhilamCare provide holders with both in-patient and out-patient services without their having to pay each time. The standard coverage for in-patient care includes room accommodation, medicines, diagnostic procedures, and operating and doctor’s fees. Out-patient services include preventive health care, dental care, annual physical exams and clinic consultations.

Some HMOs limit their coverage. "Others add [extras] to be more competitive in the market," says Zapanta. For example, Fortune Medicare’s comprehensive package includes add-ons such as laboratory, x-ray and other diagnostic tests, dressings and sutures — even hospital income. Its out-patient care includes consultations at any HMO-owned clinic for eye, ear, nose and throat ailments; treatment of cuts, sprains and other minor injuries; X-rays, ECGs and other diagnostic tests; minor surgeries; and treatment on the recommendation of the HMO director or his designate.
"For emergency treatment in a non-accredited hospital, we reimburse as much as 80 percent of what it would have cost if treatment had been done in an accredited hospital," says Zapanta.

Choosing the right plan

Some entrepreneurs say you should not jump into bed with the first HMO offering the lowest price on your medical plan. "In choosing the right health plan, you should select the best package that suits your needs and the price affordable to you. Ask about the premiums, terms of payment, schedule of benefits, list of accredited hospitals and doctors," says entrepreneur and Medicard holder Marian Aquinos.

Here are some tips to getting the best coverage:

• Compare costs by asking doctors, hospitals, friends and relatives. The annual premium for HMO membership is P3,000 for those in the 13-to-30 age bracket and P13, 000 to P30, 000 for infants and clients in their late 50s. HMOs offer monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual payment terms. Once you’ve picked out a plan, compare its price with the other plans offering the same services. Expect higher prices for the young and elderly.

• Know the different services that each plan covers and decide what kind of insurance you need. Most plans will cover only services considered as "medically necessary." "Try to know if the HMOs can adjust or customize their packages according to your company’s needs," says Zapanta.

• Verify the HMO’s service record by studying its portfolio. Does it have any plans that will work for you?

• Look at the HMO’s financial status and management team. You can inquire about the standing of various HMOs by surfing their websites or studying their profiles, which are available from the Association of HMOs of the Philippines Inc. Not all HMOs are members of the group, but the top 15 are, says Zapanta. Being backed by a large company gives you more confidence.

• Consider the HMO’s reputation. Some HMOs are frequently suspended by hospitals for delayed or non-payment of hospital bills. "Worse, there are companies on the verge of closing but are still trying to solicit coverage," says Zapanta.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Before You Look for Health Insurance

Before You Look for Health Insurance
by: Richard Keir

Shopping around for medical insurance can be a confusing business. You need to keep your wits about you and keep track of the benefits and costs of each policy and each type of policy. Too often we tend to look at the price first and the rest of the policy becomes a blur of fine print. And we're off to check the next policy.

Slow down. There some important things you should do before you start chasing around to get a policy. Doing these few things will make the whole process simpler and clearer - and you're much more likely to make a good decision.

You need to carefully consider your situation. Think about these questions and note your answers:

What's the general state of your health?

How old are you?

Do you have any serious medical problems currently or in your medical history?

Do you have any history of recurring or on-going medical needs?

Do you use tobacco? How much?

Do you drink? How much?

Are you over- or under-weight for your height, body-type and age?

Is your job hazardous?

Do you participate in any activities or sports that could affect your health?

Now this may be unpleasant but if there's any chance an insurance company could discover a history of drug or alcohol abuse or sexual behavior that might put you in a high risk group, you may want to be direct and upfront about it - especially if it's in the past. Having a claim denied later because you had failed to disclose medical information to the insurance company would be far more upsetting - and very expensive. The same goes for any significant medical condition. Insurance companies are in it to make a profit - at least most of them are. Paying large claims isn't their favorite activity, so they often do investigate.

If you're seeking a family policy you'll need to make the same analysis for everyone and consider carefully what kind of coverage you want.

Do you need dental, orthodontic, pregnancy, mental health, and/or drug coverage? Do you need long-term care coverage, either inpatient or in a nursing facility? Assisted living coverage? What about traveler's or international coverage?

If there's a possibility that you may require - or want - in-home care as opposed to a residential nursing or assisted living facility, be sure that coverage is included and be sure you understand exactly what you can expect to receive.

Think about deductibles and what you could afford pay to reduce your insurance costs. But be very careful here, because medical expenses tend to pile up quickly and reach nearly insane levels for complex treatments or inpatient stays. Many drugs in common use are ridiculously over-priced and depending on the specifics of your insurance you may not be able to use the least expensive sources.

If you will end up with multiple sources of coverage, be clear about how they fit together and what the rules are about overlapping or combined benefits.

Once you are clear on your current situation, your (and other family member's) medical history, and your projected needs, you can begin looking in a organized way with a better sense of where you're going and what will actually meet your needs. This may seem like a tedious process, but it will serve you well in finding appropriate and affordable health insurance and making sure your health care needs can be met by the medical insurance you choose.

Take some time to work through these questions. Write down your answers. Make a chart with your desired coverages and any special conditions the policy must meet. As you look at health insurance policies, note the rules, exclusions, information about pre-existing conditions, any limitations, the dollar amounts covered and especially any deductibles.

Don't try to do too much at once. If you hurry, it'll become confusing and tiring. You may hate it (I know I do), but you really do need to read all that fine print and understand it. That's not a task to rush through. You might as well face up to it, because it's a lot better to do it BEFORE you need medical services than after you get a bill for the uncovered portion that sends you into shock.

So is it an impossible job to find health insurance that works for you? Not at all. There's a world of resources on the internet to help you find the policy you need. Just be sure to do your homework first.

About the author:
Richard is a writer, educator and consultant providing services to medical, scientific and business professionals. For more on choosing a health insurance policy or finding the best medical plan for you, visit