Sunday, September 30, 2007

Support the Children's Health Care Program

President Bush fooled many people into voting for him in both 2000 and 2004 by promising to be a compassionate conservative. He has gone back on his promise many times by vetoing stem cell research which could save lives, not properly funding the No Child Left Behind Act, and now by threatening to veto an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which could bring in an additional 4 million children who are currently uninsured.

Suddenly Mr. Bush is concerned about excess government spending for the children’s health care program. This program would cost an additional $35 billion over a 5 year period. This additional expenditure would be funded by an increase in the cigarette tax which just might help curb smoking a bit.

You have to wonder about Mr. Bush’s priorities. He certainly hasn’t worried about the huge cost in both lives and treasury to fund the war in Iraq—an immoral war that was declared under false pretenses. This war has now cost our country over $1 trillion. Think of what this money could have done for our country. It has been said that just one day in Iraq could provide health insurance coverage for one year to 380,900 uninsured children in America, yet the president worries about the cost of extending the CHIP program.

Mr. Bush has stated that not vetoing this bill would be giving health insurance to middle income children. Well, has he had to purchase health insurance on a $20,000 to $40,000 annual income? The cost of health insurance has been increasing by far more than the increase in salaries for many years. It now costs more than $1,000 per month to insure the health of a family of 4. Only the wealthiest families can afford to pay an extra $1,000 per month on top of other living expenses. It is virtually impossible to pay for private insurance if you are just getting by. Republicasn like to look to the private sector for financing, but because of the high expense, fewer businesses are providing benefits for their employees.

Both the Senate and the House have passed versions of a new Children’s Health Insurance Program bill which will extend coverage to many children currently uninsured. A number of Republicans voted along with all of the Democrats to support passage of this bill. The plan will also strengthen the CHIP benefit package by guaranteeing dental and mental health benefits.

What can you do?

It is important to get veto proof support within the Senate and House. E-mail or phone your Senators and Representatives, particularly if they are Republicans. Tell them to support families and vote for the CHIP reauthorization bill. Let them know that you expect them not to side with the President who has been wrong on so many issues.

If you are uninsured or underinsured, visit Health Plans Plus to save money on your health care.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Animal Abuse and Mental Health

September 27, 2007 was chosen as a day for all bloggers to unite and write posts against abuse. Being an animal lover, I chose to write about animal abuse.

Animals play an important part in a healthy lifestyle and environment. We have all seen the beautiful photos of the earth from space. What is so unique and beautiful about the planet that we live on—the plants and animals that inhabit it—life itself. As humans, we are just one of the species that form a part of our environment. All species—both animals and plants—live in a delicate balance. As custodians of the environment, the human species must do all that it can to protect this delicate balance. If we do not protect the environment, the health of future generations will be adversely affected through global warming and all of its ramifications. A rise in sea levels will flood major coastal cities, reduce habitable land mass, force the extinction of many species of animals, bring on drought and desertification, and many species will have difficulty finding enough food to eat, including humans. Al Gore pointed out the dangers of global warming in his An Inconvenient Truth.

The recent dog fighting case brought against NFL football star Michael Vick, that has been in the news recently, points out the need for educating our children to respect the environment and the animals that live in it. Teach your children about the wonder of nature early on and they will grow up learning to respect the environment. Children showing signs of aggressive behavior towards animals should be referred for mental health counseling. This can be an early sign of conduct disorder or even later sociopathic behavior. Many serial killers started out as animal abusers.

Learning to respect animals is important to mental health. Pet ownership can reduce depression, be companionship for an elderly empty nest senior, and reduce tension and anxiety. It has also been shown that playing with a pet not only improves mental health but can reduce blood pressure, so there are physical benefits as well.

As I play with my chocolate lab mix, Julia, I never stop being amazed by how intelligent she is. I enjoy interacting with her. She is a companion that follows me every place that I go. She is always eager to greet me, and puts a smile on my face. She cannot talk, but she can communicate with me. It is amazing how she is able to read body language. If I go through a series of motions, she knows what is coming next. Without my saying anything, she knows that I am about to leave the house, or that she should go into the bedroom because I am expecting guests and they don’t like being barked at. She also knows how to signal her wants and needs through her own body language. Julia is also capable of expressing a wide range of emotions. Surely, such an amazing creature should be treated with respect.

For information on how to save money on mental health services, visit my website at:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What are Discount Health Plans? Part 3

In previous posts, I discussed how discount health plans could be used to provide benefits for individuals and families who could not afford dental or medical insurance. I also discussed how these plans could be used as supplemental benefits to fill in gaps in present coverage such as discounts for eyeglasses, diabetic supplies, chiropractic, or prescription drug benefits. Discount programs also provide for services not covered by traditional insurance such as cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontia, Lasik eye surgery, or alternative medicine. These plans could also be combined with high deductible major medical plans saving businesses money on their total benefit package while still providing the company’s employees with adequate coverage.

Once a decision has been made to purchase a discount health or dental plan, what are some things to consider when purchasing a plan? The Consumer Health Alliance and National Association of Dental Plans are organizations which maintain strict standards for their member dental and medical plan companies, so look for a discount program that is a member of these organizations to insure the integrity and honesty of the company that you decide to choose. Since not all plans are identical, it is a good idea to compare prices and services available for each company. It is essential to look for a plan that offers a good choice of doctors, dentists, and other health care providers in your area. The company should also provide an 800 customer service number, an easy to navigate informational website with details on services and providers, access to fee schedules for various specialties and services, and informational booklets.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Call for submissions at Take Charge of Your Health Care Carnival

This is a call for submissions to my new "Take Charge of Your Health Care Blog Carnival." This blog carnival will publish monthly and will feature articles pertaining to saving money on heath care, current issues in health care, medical and dental benefits, and alternative medicine. Please visit and look for "Take Charge of Your Health Care" for more details.

Access to good health care, especially in the United States, has become quite costly in the last 10 to 20 years. With big pharmaceutical companies and health maintenance organizations in charge of our health system, things are not likely to get any better until some changes are made. The purpose of Take Charge of Your Health Care is to blog about the high cost of health and dental care, suggest ways to save money using the present system, focus on consumer directed health care where patients can make choices for their best interest, expose attempts by the big pharmaceutical companies to lower acceptable blood pressure and cholesterol values so they can sell more expensive medications or drug our children for made up mental disorders, and seek alternative medicine solutions to health problems.

The carnival will publish each month so we are looking for article submissions on various healthcare issues such as the high cost of medical and dental care, ways to save money on health care, alternative medicine, consumer directed health care, and current issues in health care. Our first edition will be published on September 20, 2007, and we will publish around the 20th of each month. If you would like your blog article to be published in the next edition, please submit no later than September 19th.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Are Discount Health Plans? Part 2

Discount health plans offer businesses, families, and individuals a way to save money on their health care costs. For individuals and families who lack basic medical and dental insurance, discount plans can be used as stand alone programs to help save money on expensive medical costs. Often substantial discounts are given on dental procedures, physician visits, lab tests, imaging studies, vision care, prescriptions, and chiropractic treatment. Discounts on ancillary services such as hearing aids, physical therapy, mental health services, and diabetic supplies are also included. At AmeriPlan® we even include a hospital advocacy plan on our health plans which can help families and individuals avoid bankruptcy. This is how our hospital advocacy program works. As soon as the hospitalized patient reaches $2,500 or more in hospital expenses, a professional advocate is assigned to that patient. The hospital advocate negotiates the patient's fee with the hospital often achieving a substantial reduction for the patient. An affordable and convenient payment plan is then worked out for the patient.

For patients with health insurance, discount health plans can also be used as supplemental benefits. These benefits can include prescription, vision, chiropractic, and other benefits not included in the patient’s insurance plan. In addition, traditional health insurance plans usually don’t include coverage for cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, alternative medicine, or Lasik eye surgery while most discount health plans do include savings on these services.

Businesses can benefit from including discount health plans as part of their total benefits package. Businesses can purchase less costly catastrophic, high deductible, and health savings accounts. These high deductible medical insurance programs save the company considerable money. A discount health plan is purchased along with the high deductible plan to provide supplemental benefits. These supplemental benefits provide savings on routine health expenditures and dental care while the catastrophic coverage provides a safety net for lengthy hospitalizations and complex care. Companies can save money on their health insurance while providing their valued employees with the security that they need.

For more information on discount health plans, visit

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ritalin - The Truth about ADD

Now that it is back to school time, parents must become advocates for their children and be vigilant against the labeling of their children as ADD or ADHD. Even autism is not just autism these days but a whole spectrum of disorders, many of which may just be personality variants.

Unfortunately, education today takes a negative approach to teaching children. Rather than build upon a child’s strengths, talents, and multiple intelligences, all students must fit the exact same mold. Today’s approach states that a child who does not pass certain standards must be diagnosed and classified. It is not that he has a different learning style, but that he is diseased or flawed in some way. There is money to be made with this approach both in terms of State aid given to school districts for special education programs and profits for the medical and pharmaceutical establishment.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) may not be a real disease at all; however, the pharmaceutical companies as well as the medical establishment benefit financially from this classification. There are no lab tests that can diagnose ADD. A child may be labeled as ADD solely on observation by a classroom teacher or on the basis of a questionnaire rather than verifiable medical tests. Symptoms of ADD might include impulsivity, fidgeting of hands and feet, inability to pay attention, having difficulty remaining seated, excessive talking, not listening or following directions, often shifting from one uncompleted task to another, and being easily distracted. What child do you know who would want to sit still and listen to a boring lesson when he or she would rather be playing outdoors? It is quite natural for children to want to run about and play. I remember fidgeting and squirming in my seat while listening to a college history lesson at 8:00 a.m. in a large lecture hall, and I have never considered myself ADD. In fact some of the so-called “symptoms” of ADD may be signs of a creative mind. People with extra energy, and who have the ability to go from task to task are very valued in the real business world.

Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., states the following in his book The Myth of the ADD Child: It seems improbable, for example, that A.D.D. would have received such widespread support as a learning disease had not the powerful American Psychiatric Association officially named it as a disorder in 1980. Yet it should be remembered that psychiatric illnesses tend to go in and out of fashion with the social and political climate of the times.

Instead of treating this so-called disease with smaller classes and more effective teaching techniques or even homeschooling, school children are dosed with dangerous class 2 controlled substance psychotropic drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, or Concerta. The same parents that willingly go along with dosing their children with powerful stimulant medications would never permit their children to drink coffee or soft drinks with caffeine which are lesser stimulants. Some of the medications used for ADD are similar in effect to Cocaine, yet parents would be horrified to find out that their kids were taking Cocaine or Meth. It is amazing how these so called behavior problems disappear when a child is taken out of the school situation and homeschooled. It is also not unusual to find the same inattentive and distractible child who is causing so many problems at school attentive while watching television of playing a video game.

I believe that psychotropic medications should only be used as a last resort in children and only for serious psychiatric disturbance. Not paying attention to a lesson hardly qualifies for dosing a child with powerful stimulant medications with their serious and sometimes dangerous side effects. Some of the short term side effects include: nervousness and insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headaches, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, skin rashes and itching, abdominal pain, weight loss, and digestive problems. Sometime another medication such as Clonidine, a blood pressure medication, is given off label to control these symptoms. Before long the child is being given a whole potpourri of medications leading to an even more dangerous situation.

It is important for consumers to take control of their health care. This is what consumer driven health care is all about. It is always important to question diagnoses and treatment choices. Seek out alternative and natural treatments. Unfortunately some health insurance plans do not provide for equal coverage of mental illness and there are limits on the number of treatments. Alternative treatments are rarely covered which is why drug treatment has become so popular (the quick cure).

For more information on discounts on alternative medical treatments, mental health services, and consumer driven health care visit: To read our homeschooling story visit:

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Save Money on Prescriptions

I recently wrote several blog posts describing how patients with more than $90 in prescription medication expenses who were without prescription drug coverage and met certain income eligibility requirements (generally 2 times the Federal poverty level) could qualify for patient assistance programs sponsored by the large pharmaceutical companies. I also described how AmeriPlan®, a discount dental and medical benefits company, had created the Ameriplan® Prescription Advocacy Program to help patients navigate the complicated paperwork required to access these patient assistance programs.

What if you do not qualify for a patient assistance program? How can you save money on your medications?

One thing that you can do is ask your healthcare provider to prescribe the generic version of the more expensive brand name medication. Most generic drugs are cheaper than their brand name equivalents. Both generic and brand name medications must meet the FDA’s rigorous standards, so consumers can be confident that there is no discernable difference between generic and brand name drugs. According to Gary J. Buehler, Director of the Office of Generic Drugs for the FDA: “The American public can be confident that when a generic drug product is approved, it has met the rigorous standards established by the FDA with respect to identity, strength, quality, purity, and potency.

Avoid taking a new and more expensive brand name medication when an older drug is available and is equally effective. In some cases, generic drugs may prove to be safer than brand name medications. Most generic drugs have been on the market for several years, so potential side effects and problems are better known that with newer drugs. The site reports that there have been many more incidences of health problems associated with brand-name drugs than with the older generic drugs. recommends that consumers stay away from newly launched drugs for several years until both safety and efficacy are well established. For example there have been many reported serious side effects for the type 2 diabetes drug Avandia. The older drug, Glucotrol, provides equally effective blood glucose control without the serious and possibly deadly side effects of Avandia.

Do some comparison shopping. Consumers can cut their prescription drug costs by doing some comparison shopping both locally and online. Compare prices at local pharmacies, supermarkets and department stores. Also, compare different online sources as well. A study by the National Center for Policy Analysis reveals that price comparison shopping can reduce prescription costs for some common drugs up to 90%

Consider enrolling in a discount health plan with a prescription discount card. Even if you have medical insurance, you may not have adequate prescription drug coverage. AmeriPlan® offers several excellent health programs which include an Rx benefit. With AmeriPlan® you can save up to 50% on your prescriptions with even larger discounts available on mail order maintenance medications. These savings are available on all prescriptions at over 50,000 participating pharmacies throughout the Nation. For more information call 1-800-635-3394 or visit: