Affordable Healthcare Options – Dental & Medical Benefits for the Uninsured

In Pennsylvania alone, over 1.4 million people lack health insurance. My family was part of this statistic less than two years ago when my husband unexpectedly lost his job. To make matters worse, just five days earlier, we learned we were pregnant with our second child. The financial position we found ourselves in was terrifying. We dropped a full-time income and lost medical insurance in only one week’s time. Cobra was offered to us, but with the loss of income, we didn’t have the $400 it would cost for the monthly premium. Thousands of individuals and families find themselves in similar situations everyday. There are several reasons for the lack of insurance. But whatever the reason, it is important to know that you have options.

According to the Consumer Health Alliance more than 45 million Americans are without health benefits and that number is steadily growing. In most cases, for the households with no benefits, at least one person in the household is working a full-time job. The number of households that have insurance are dealing with rising premiums, rising co-pays, and a loss of benefits. In fact, health insurance costs are rising by 10% to 15% or more annually! The middle class is the hardest hit by these rising costs. They make too little to cover insurance premiums on a monthly basis, but they make too much to qualify for Medicaid. The Health Care Situation is distressing. But it’s NOT hopeless.

Consumer Driven Health Care is a relatively new concept but it should by no means be overlooked. The Consumer Health Alliance was launched in 1992 to regulate this new industry. The companies affiliated with the Consumer Health Alliance offer discount medical cards to their members. According to the Consumer Health Alliance, these discount cards are gaining popularity because they allow consumers to gain access to the healthcare they need without the exclusions, limitations, and paperwork typically associated with insurance. If you are suffering from a medical condition and can’t get insurance, a discount plan won’t exclude you! In fact, your medical history is of no concern to them. You can enroll in the plan and get affordable care immediately! And even better, the monthly membership fee is nominal.

The other benefit to these plans is that many offer supplemental packages that include dental, vision, prescription, and chiropractic benefits that are an affordable complement to insurance plans. Too many companies are having to scale back the benefits packages for their employees just to keep insurance affordable. Although a good dental plan is the 2nd most requested benefit, it’s also one of the first things to go when a company is forced to cut back.

The plans work this way. For a low monthly fee, members of discount plans gain access to wholesale rates similar to what large insurance companies pay. When care is received at a participating provider, the member pays the discounted fee at the time of service. It’s a benefit not only to the member, but also to the provider who is able to get payment up front with no paperwork to file. The services offered by the benefits companies will vary. For example, AmeriPlan Health® offers a comprehensive package for the uninsured that includes Doctors, Specialists, Ancillary care (labs, scans, hearing, etc.), Dental, Vision, Prescription, Chiropractic, and Hospitalization. They also offer a Dental Plan that includes FREE Vision, Prescription, and Chiropractic Benefits.

Should you look into a fee-for-service plan? That depends, every insurance plan is different. Some are very comprehensive and include a good dental and vision plan. Others don’t. If you’ve got kids that need orthodontic work, a discount plan could save you thousands. If you are looking into bridgework, cosmetic dentistry, or dentures, it would be worth your while to check out a discount plan. I can’t say enough about how great these plans are.

It’s my mission to get benefits to those who need them. I will never forget the stress our family faced when we didn’t have any medical benefits. If you are undinsured or underinsured, look into your options. You can get affordable care. And if you are uninsurable, there is help for you as well!

Healthcare for a Better and Healthier Tomorrow

Prevention has always been better than cure. Having annual physical examination and taking healthy food supplements are just two of the many ways to ward illnesses off. Yet there are times where illness strikes even if you are living healthily, having a great retail healthcare program will ease not only the patient’s mind but their families, caregivers and employers as well.

The Need

The moment a baby is born, health products are already needed. Nursing pillows, breastfeeding paraphernalia, and diapers are just few of the things that can be purchased in a health gift shop. As the baby reaches the toddler stage, trainer glasses and other utensils are needed. The mother needs to get fit, having exercise equipments and taking food supplements to aid in breastfeeding are needed. Stomach binders are also needed especially for mothers who underwent C-section.

Basically, in every phase of life, there is a healthcare product needed to prevent or cure illnesses.

The Solution

Health is a wealth that we must take care of, there are no cash-and-carry for body spare parts. Retail Healthcare Product is a solution to be provided for individuals, hospitals or healthcare facilities or systems.

The Benefits

Customers or patients will experience what health program or facility they need from hospitals or healthcare system. In this manner, there will be improvement in the patients outcome.

The Business Opportunity

Venturing into the healthcare business is very lucrative in the present times. Studies show that more and more people are health conscious. Succumbing to illness is not an easy ordeal. People flock in wellness centers for health seminars, fitness workshops and other healthful activities. Packaging health or fitness equipment and supplements as gift items make it one of the salable gift shop products.

The Healthcare Business Provider

If you are a hospital, clinic or a healthcare system provider – looking for the right people to trust in retail healthcare products is tough. Here are some guidelines that will identify a great provider:

must have an alliance with the leading healthcare industry experts and resources to assist in identifying and implementation of retail healthcare and e-commerce strategy
has a solid business plan
has a reward point system or point of sale to gain customer’s loyalty
has an online commerce system
can manage the implementation of a unique retail store concept
can provide successful business operation with years of experience
can provide plans and store design for the physical store (for gift shop solutions)
can provide store designs, operation instructions and management for retail pharmacy solutions
can provide the best brands of gift shop and pharmacy items
can improve retail healthcare offering

The Highlights

It is important that a retail healthcare product provider will be able to analyze the latest trend or statistics, facilities and operation to create or formulate recommendation for clients.

The Paquin Healthcare organization has a pool of consultants with expertise in retail healthcare, gift shop, retail pharmacy and e-commerce.

Drug Development Pipelines – New Alliances and Partnerships Critical to Keeping Pipelines Productive

The pharmaceutical industry is in the midst of an unprecedented change in its business model. Large pharmaceutical companies, while retaining remnants of their research divisions and some of their local manufacturing facilities, will soon cut to their core business of drug development. Emerging companies will fill the void, providing innovation and potential therapies for the development pipeline. And manufacturing will be contracted to third parties or conducted overseas where it is less expensive.

The current variants of this model-generic drug companies, contract research organizations, drug delivery specialty companies, and virtual pharmaceutical companies-will eventually fall into line, but not until large pharmaceutical companies acknowledge the new model and build a strong interface among themselves, emerging companies that provide innovative new therapies, and the regulatory bodies, such as the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

M&A Activity Hampers Innovation A debate held at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) annual meeting last November probed whether the last decade of mergers and acquisitions within the pharmaceutical industry had hampered innovation. The most compelling arguments concluded that it has. In fact, reduction in innovation is blamed for the scarcity of new chemical entities in development pipelines. As a result, major pharmaceutical companies are looking to emerging biotechs to supply compounds or technology platforms to license, acquire, or shepherd via strategic partnerships in an effort to bolster pipelines and allay shareholder concerns.

Exclusivity losses in one or more major markets will claim a number of blockbusters in the coming year, eroding innovators’ profits as the generics industry undersells them. Risperdal, Topamax, Lamictal, Depakote, and Fosamax are among those on the chopping block for 2008. And although there are 25 to 30 new products awaiting approval in 2008, 80 percent are specialty pharmaceuticals, according to IMS Health. It is hard to imagine there will be new blockbusters to replace those lost to generics. And considering the current rate of FDA approvals, it is difficult to predict how many of the new medications will even make it to market this year.

Global Market Growth The global pharmaceutical market is expected to grow 5 to 6 percent in 2008, to $745 billion, according to IMS Health. For the first time, the U.S. will comprise only one-third of the global pharmaceutical market as patients in China, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, India, Turkey and Russia gain access to better healthcare. These emerging markets are driving new growth and opportunities for pharmaceutical companies, but the widening demographic argues more for specialty pharmaceuticals than for blockbusters.

Industry analysts report rising R&D costs and reduced numbers of new drugs approved each year. The reduction in drug approvals is blamed in part on the chronically understaffed FDA, in part on the lack of innovative drugs in the pipelines of major pharmaceutical companies, and in part on the inexperience and lack of funding that hampers smaller companies’ efforts to meet all of the regulatory hurdles in a timely fashion. In fact, many licensing deals are turning out to be more expensive than anticipated as licensees are finding it necessary to re-optimize their lead candidates.

Consider Regulatory Needs Early Now is the time for both large and small pharmaceutical companies to include relevant regulatory bodies in their development plans very early on. In the U.S., the FDA has been asking companies to engage it with greater transparency regarding development plans and study results. Although this might seem risky, obtaining early agreement on the path forward is likely to save time and money and avoid the dreaded “Approvable” letter. It might even prevent the lawsuits and public scrutiny of a Vioxx debacle.

In fact, pharmaceutical companies have a perfect opportunity to establish a more open relationship with the FDA by working with the agency to develop more predictive toxicity assays that eliminate problem compounds early in the development process. In an interesting article appearing in the November issue of Pharmaceutical Executive titled “FDA’s Approvable Problem,” senior editor Walter Armstrong discusses the controversy between the industry, the FDA, and public opinion. He notes the lack of public understanding that even though a drug has been approved, toxicity issues still can arise later. People don’t seem to understand all that talk about risk/benefit that is certainly a part of the approval process.

Communicate Risks Better This is something that will probably never go away. We cannot know everything about a drug before it is approved, but the industry needs to do a better job of communicating this to the public. It must make continual, concerted efforts to establish better methods for evaluating drugs before they are approved. That’s a “win” for everybody. The effort can be communicated to the public to show the industry’s concern and can help restore FDA credibility. In addition, information shared with emerging companies will ensure that these studies are implemented early in the development process before licensing.

As evidence of the new pharmaceutical business model in the making, the Financial Times published several articles last December on GSK’s new head of R&D, Moncef Slaoui, who inherited the much-heralded Centres of Excellence for Drug Discovery that CEO J.P. Garnier and then-head of R&D Tachi Yamada created in 2001. The centers were designed to separate the research organization into specialty units simulating autonomous biotechs; the units would identify quality lead compounds which they then handed off to the international development machine. After six years of experimentation, Slaoui commented: “It’s one thing to create an organigram. It’s another to change values…We’ve done well on the structure but more is required on behavior.” His resolution for the short term is to retain about four of the centers and work to re-focus them on the science and innovation, but at the same time to look for licensing opportunities to fill as much as 50 percent of the pipeline.

Union Organizing in the Health Care Industry – New Unions and Alliances Among Rivals

Though our nation’s economy has recently lost millions of jobs, the health care industry has continued to add them. Not surprisingly, unions are eager to sign up health care workers. In the last 10 years, the rate of union wins in the health care industry has grown faster than the national average. Unions are uniting to lobby for labor-friendly legislation to promote increased union membership in the health care sector.

In addition to traditional organizing, health care union organizers are using more radical corporate campaigns that target hospital donors, shareholders, community groups, and even patients. The unions push these target groups to put pressure on hospital owners to allow unions to organize their employees. Many critics have argued that some of these agreements with employers have greatly limited workers’ power and emphasized the union’s cooperation with management.

The following article provides an overview of the major unions involved in the health care industry, as well as strategies to ensure your organization is prepared and remains successful.

Service Employees International Union
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) began in 1921 primarily as a janitor’s union and branched out to include government, security, and health care workers. By 2000, it was the largest, fastest-growing union in the United States, with much of that growth stemming from a series of strategic mergers with smaller unions. In June 2005, the SEIU and six other unions left the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to form the Change to Win coalition. Citing the need for a renewed effort to organize workers, Change to Win purports to be focused on achieving fair wages, health care benefits, and secure retirement for all employees. The coalition also encourages workers to unionize on an industry-wide basis, consolidating smaller unions within larger unions.

SEIU Healthcare
In 2007, the SEIU announced plans to launch a new health care union to serve approximately one million members, such as nurses and service workers at hospitals and nursing homes. SEIU Healthcare combined financial and personnel resources from the 38 local SEIU Healthcare unions. Of the SEIU’s 1.9 million members, 900,000 work in health care. In September 2008, the SEIU reported it would begin several high-profile projects to bring business leaders, health care providers, community organizations, and elected officials together to work on the nation’s health care system. SEIU leaders were part of a May meeting held by President Obama to discuss a health care overhaul. More recently, SEIU members attended town hall meetings to speak out in support of the proposed health care reform. In August, the SEIU was part of a group-largely funded by the pharmaceutical industry’s lobby-that launched $12 million in television advertisements to support Obama’s health care proposal. This group, the Americans for Stable Quality Care, could spend tens of millions more this fall.

SEIU and NUHW
The SEIU attempted to consolidate three local units representing home health care workers into one unit last December, taking authority away from the local units. The SEIU accused the local unit officials of financial misconduct, and in response, the leaders of the local units criticized the SEIU’s practice of centralizing power at its Washington headquarters and making corrupt deals with employers. In January, a 150,000-member SEIU local unit in Oakland was put under trusteeship by the SEIU, and the local officials of that unit were dismissed. The ousted officials formed a new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

The NUHW announced the first workers had cast votes in favor of representation by the new union in March. A majority of 350 union-represented workers at four nursing homes in northern California managed by North American Health Care wanted to end their labor relationship with SEIU and join the NUHW. The day after this announcement, the SEIU filed unfair labor practice charges against the four nursing homes, charging that administrators of the facilities had illegally withdrawn union recognition and colluded with a competing labor union. In that same month, a National Labor Relations Board regional director ruled against the NUHW, saying that the contract between the SEIU and the hospital chain prevented the effort by a new labor union to represent 14,000 Catholic Healthcare West workers. Despite the ruling, the founding convention to formally launch the NUHW took place in April 2009. According to the NUHW, approximately 91,000 California health care workers have signed petitions filed at the labor board, stating they would like be members of the new union.

The NUHW also claims that, in response to these decertification drives, the SEIU has resorted to harassment and intimidation and tactics similar to union prevention. The SEIU argues that the new group has unfairly restrained and coerced workers, as well as complained to the National Labor Relations Board. A decisive battle between the two unions will come in 2010, when the SEIU-UHW contract with Kaiser Permanente expires and the opportunity for decertification elections reopens. Kaiser, the largest health care provider in California, has 50,000 workers that could potentially become members of NUHW.

California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee
The California Nurses Association (CNA) began as a state chapter of the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1903. The ANA has a federated structure: Nurses do not typically join the organization directly, but instead join their respective state organization, which has membership in the ANA. After several years of believing the ANA was not providing them adequate financial support to increase collective bargaining activity in California, the CNA broke ties with the ANA in 1995 and formed its own union, becoming the first state organization to secede from the ANA. Since its break from the ANA, the CNA has acquired a reputation as one of the most aggressive labor unions in the country. In 2004, the CNA began establishing itself in other states under the name National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC). The CNA voted to seek affiliation in the AFL-CIO in 2007. CNA membership has doubled over the last seven years and represents 80,000 members from all 50 states.

UAN-NNOC
In February, CNA/NNOC, United American Nurses (UAN), and the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) announced the formation of another new union: the United American Nurses-National Nurses Organizing Committee (UAN-NNOC). With a combined membership of more than 150,000 affiliates in 19 states, it is the largest nursing union in the history of the United States.

National Federation of Nurses
The National Federation of Nurses (NFN) was officially launched in April at an event in Portland, Oregon. The NFN represents more than 70,000 nurses in six state nurses’ associations, including New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Based on a federated model (much like the ANA), the NFN recognizes the independence of each member organization. Membership is open to state nurses’ associations and other labor organizations that represent RNs. The NFN is tied to the ANA, which outlines standards for nursing practices, but has historically opposed nurse unionism and includes managers in its leadership. Since nurse union leaders expect many of the 15 unions with nurse memberships to flood hospitals with authorization cards if the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) passes, they want to establish their own national union to ensure nurses are organized by nurses.

SEIU and CNA: From Violent Disputes to Cooperative Agreements
The SEIU signed a neutrality agreement in March 2008 with an Ohio Catholic hospital to organize 8,000 workers. The day before voting was scheduled to begin, members of the CNA distributed leaflets to discourage workers from joining the SEIU. After the workers received the leaflets attacking SEIU and its arrangement with management for an election, SEIU called off the vote. Then at an April 2008 conference in Detroit, SEIU staff and members protested at a banquet of CNA members, resulting in violence. The two unions have also launched raids and counter-raids across the country, and both have sent mailings to thousands of nurses (including nurses in other unions, as well as nurses whose unions are currently trying to organize) attacking each other.

After more than a year of fighting, the SEIU and CNA signed a cooperation agreement in March. They will work together to bring union representation to all non-union RNs and other health care employees, as well as improve patient care standards. The unions have also agreed to refrain from raiding each other’s members and will work together toward common goals, including lobbying for congressional passage of the EFCA. SEIU and CNA will coordinate campaigns at the largest health care systems and launch an intensive national organizing campaign. Catholic hospital chains will likely be among the first targets.

In June, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the nation’s largest unions (including the SEIU and the AFL-CIO) signed an agreement describing how union organizing will be conducted at Catholic health care facilities. (The document is similar to the one Catholic Healthcare Partners and Community Mercy Health Partners created last year with the SEIU before the CNA protest canceled the vote.) This agreement is significant because Catholic health care providers represent the largest employers and providers of services in many communities. The agreement provides seven guidelines for management at Catholic health care facilities and unions, making it easier organize health care workers at these facilities.

What This Means for Your Organization
Many experts agree that expanded unionization, along with the passage of the EFCA, will negatively impact our health care system. Both health care providers and industry analysts fear that unionization could mean higher costs and more restrictive work rules, adding to the soaring cost of delivering health care. Hospital and health care facilities need to be aware of these issues and how they can educate their supervisors and workers about the threat of unionization.

Communication with your employees is a critical first step. Many issues are involved in the possible unionization of a health care facility (economic factors, working conditions, quality of patient care, employee satisfaction, etc.). To prepare for possible union activity, identify issues that are relevant to your facility and address those needs publicly. Train leadership and include information about your union-free policy in the employee hiring and orientation procedures. Assess your wage and benefit structure, and be sure to promote what you offer.

You can use brochures, meetings, video, webinars, e-mail, Web sites, or eLearning tools to reach your employees. The most effective efforts include an employee feedback system that encourages two-way communication.