Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Smoking Leads to Back Pain

Most people are aware that smoking can cause lung and mouth cancer, as well as heart disease, and lung disease. However, many people are not aware that it can also put a person at risk for back pain, osteoporosis, and bone fractures. Positive associations between current smoking and nonspecific back pain were found in 18 of 26 studies in men and 18 of 20 studies in women. I knew that a link existed but I didn’t know how strong it was. Quitting smoking not only greatly improve health but it could also mean the difference between weeks and months of recovery and time off work.

Most studies on the effects of smoking suggest the following…
1. Smokers lose bone at a faster rate than non-smokers as they age.
2. The longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you consume, the greater your risk of fracture in old age.
3. Smokers who fracture may take longer to heal than nonsmokers and may experience more complications during the healing process.
4. Quitting smoking appears to reduce the risk of low bone mass and fractures. However, it may take several years to lower a former smoker’s risk.

Just another good reason to quit smoking.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Works Best for Low Back Pain

The May issue of Consumer Reports looked at low back pain and what was effective for treating it. The Consumer Reports Health Rating Center surveyed more than 14,000 subscribers who had lower back pain in the past year and never had back surgery. More than half said pain severely limited their daily routine for a week or longer, and 80% said it recurred throughout the year. Many said the pain interfered with sleep, activities, and efforts to maintain a healthy weight. The respondents rated treatments they tried and their satisfaction with their health care providers.

The number-one rated therapy? Chiropractic. 58% of those who tried chiropractic said it helped a lot and 59% were completely or very satisfied with their doctor. Massage therapy was also effective. It was rated as being very helpful by 48% of consumers. The least effective treatment was seeing a primary care physician. The bottom line is…

Back Pain = Chiropractor

The link to the article is here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What those insurance terms really mean

It seems like every year insurance companies impose new deductibles and co-pays for their health insurance. The problem is some people don’t know what those terms actually mean. Below are a list of the common terms and what they actually mean.

Health Savings Account - Plan that allows you to contribute pre-tax money to be used for qualified medical expenses. HSA’s must be linked to a high-deductible health insurance policy. We accept HSA’s as payment.

Coinsurance - Money that an individual is required to pay for services after a deductible has been paid. In some health care plans, co-insurance is called “copayment.” Coinsurance is often specified by a percentage. For example, the employee pays 20 percent toward the charges for a service and the employer or insurance company pays 80 percent. Most PPO’s have coinsurance,

Copayment is a predetermined (flat) fee that an individual pays for health care services, in addition to what the insurance covers. For example, $15 copayment for each office visit, regardless of the type or level of services provided during the visit. Copayments are not usually specified by percentages. Most HMO’s have Co-pays.

Deductible - the amount an individual must pay for health care expenses before insurance covers the costs. Often, insurance plans are based on yearly deductible amounts. Most PPO’s have a deductible and most HMO’s do not have a deductible

Effective date - the date your insurance coverage begins.

In-network refers to providers or health care facilities that are part of a health plan’s network of providers with which it has negotiated a discount. You usually pay less when using an in-network provider. We are in-network with most insurance companies (Anthem, Blue Shield, Kaiser, Cigna, Aetna, etc...)

Pre-existing condition is a medical condition that is excluded from coverage by an insurance company because the condition was believed to exist prior to the individual obtaining a policy from the particular insurance company.

Pre-Authorization - some insurance requires a primary care physician to approve treatment before it will pay for it.