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Searching For The Shovel In Texas – The Young Are Digging Themselves Out Of The Healthcare Crisis

Perhaps it shouldn’t feel like suffering a personal wound when learning about the state of healthcare coverage in Dallas, Houston and throughout Texas, or anywhere else in this country – but it does. In fact, for most of us, it really does.

It tends to shatter the ideals we were taught as American children—that everyone is equal, no one suffers unwillingly, and working hard will get you somewhere—when we learn that approximately 18,000 uninsured individuals ages 25 to 64 suffer “excess” deaths annually.

Health insurance premiums have increased by 15% per year over the past five years, more than triple that of the inflation rate, 2.5% . Medical costs are through the roof, quality of it often below sewage level, and an average citizen might feel that he/she has to overwork him or herself into a coronary just to get it.

One third of firms did not even offer health insurance coverage to their employees in 2004 , most of them citing high premium costs. It does not seem a coincidence then, that one-third of uninsured adults did not fill at least one prescription, and/or receive at least one recommended test, due to cost .

In Texas alone, 9,787 deaths in 2002 were attributed to lung and bronchus cancers, arguably the most preventable cancers with proper screening and smoking cessation programs. Perhaps it shouldn’t be personal, but when young adults consider the reality of an impending personal health crisis, or their children not receiving the absolute highest quality of care available because of poor or non-existent coverage—and perhaps not even knowing the difference—yes, it tends to chafe. This is a biologically-based life, after all, and those lungs and hearts keep us in the game.

In order to address the problem, it is important to attempt to understand why this is happening. It’s not just that premiums are increasing; it’s that the economy is shifting. Texas and the rest of the United States is no longer manufacturing-based; it’s service-based, and small businesses – which cannot afford large, corporate healthcare packages – in turn, cannot offer coverage to their employees. Three-fifths of all workers provide their labor to small businesses, and less than two-thirds of these companies offer health benefits .

Even if they could, their employees might not be able to afford group health insurance; employee spending for healthcare coverage increased 143% between 2000 and 2005 . To many, it’s simply unrealistic. So what we have, without exaggeration, is a healthcare crisis—lack of or inadequate coverage, which leads to lack of or inadequate healthcare.

But let’s not be entirely gloom and doom about this, shall we? After all, whiners with no solutions are a bit like well diggers in the desert with no shovels. We can analyze the situation for days at a time (“yep, that’s a lot of sand”) —but then, of course, we die of dehydration. There are, in fact, solutions, and perfectly logical options at that.

(1) Introduce revamped, affordable health insurance plans addressing the uninsured’s actual needs.

Sounds obvious, right? Well, evidently not. Approximately 58% of uninsured adults in 2004 reported having changed or lost their jobs in 2003 , while only 7% of the unemployed could afford COBRA insurance (an extension of former employers’ health plans), at an average of $700 per month, per family. While it’s also easy to blame insurance companies for high premiums, they, too, are absorbing higher hospital and clinic bills, the consequences of malpractice suits, and a surge of baby boomers growing older. It may be more productive, for now, for the public to demand new plans that are reflective of today’s needs, than to try to tear apart the industry as a whole. This is not at all unrealistic, and pushing for such changes could make a big difference.

Many of us, for instance, need affordable interim or basic coverage while we build our careers, and would gladly pay a reasonable premium for a reasonable policy. We need these policies to cover the millions slipping through the cracks—students, entry-level workers, those in between jobs, on leave of absence, or those just starting out in their professions (and who may not be able to afford buying into group health insurance). Similarly-crafted policies need to also address the growing number of workers in contract, freelance, self-employed, and full-time positions, in which benefits are self-provided through individual health insurance plans.

These plans need to be accessible and affordable to the increasingly independent, young individual with middle and lower-middle class budget constraints. Obviously, the market is there.

(2) Purchase “portable” individual health insurance plans.

Considering the majority of the uninsured in 2004 had changed or
lost their jobs, and considering that there are many who stay in their current
positions simply for the health insurance coverage, individual health insurance may make more sense, as they are “portable,” that is, they can follow a worker from job to job. With individual health insurance policies, workers are no longer tied to a position just for the sake of health insurance, nor do they need to worry about the exorbitant cost of COBRA in the case of job loss. Many companies, in fact, are willing to offer an allotment to cover all of their employees for the purpose of purchasing individual health insurance. In this way, insured individuals can relax, knowing they will still have coverage if they switch, or lose their jobs, even with pre-existing conditions.

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Texas Credit Repair – Now, More Important Than Ever

At one time, your credit score was only used to determine credit-worthiness prior to receiving a credit card or approval for a house or car loan. Those days have all but gone by the wayside as prospective employers, landlords, and now even hospitals are poking around in people’s credit reports. My question is, when is the DMV going to use your FICO score to determine if you should have a license or not? That’s a scary thought. However, consider this. Ten years ago, who would have thought a credit score, rather than interviewing skills or resume, cost someone that dream job?

Dallas Business Journal just ran a story on Tenet Healthcare Corporation’s Texas facilities and their practice of checking patients’ credit scores, sometimes even before surgeries. According to the healthcare giant, they use the FICO scores of patients to target which patients are most likely to pay their part of any fees not covered by insurance. This practice is unbiased and affects all Texas residents whether they are affluent, middle-class or impoverished.

Much of Tenet’s success in this area has been from their big push to collect more cash at the time of a patient’s appointment or procedure. After the patient leaves, it becomes dramatically more difficult to capture those dollars. According to Tenet’s Chief Financial Officer, Biggs Porter, this move is largely responsible for Tenet being able to weather the current economic climate so well.

Many people are concerned that with a quarter of all hospitals adopting some sort of credit checking program, people will eventually be turned down in the emergency room because of substandard credit. Tenet Healthcare is stepping up its efforts to help patients determine if they are eligible for government programs such as SCHIP, Medicaid and Medicare. That is one service they do for their patients who will be receiving an elective surgery. At the time of this writing, Tenet only checks the credit of those receiving elective surgeries.This has raised a red flag for some. Patients are wondering if this practice will lead to people being refused elective surgery. This could spark a big battle between Texas hospitals, insurance companies and patients over what constitutes an elective surgery and who decides if the surgery is performed or not.

Hospitals are not the only ones who are taking a closer look at an individual’s credit report these days. Many employers are starting to check a prospective employee’s credit for signs of financial irresponsibility. Ever wonder why your co-worker has been able to afford that big house, fancy new cars and a big, name-brand boat? The answer may very well be in the credit report. A poor credit score can and will cost you thousands during your lifetime.

Credit repair in Texas is vital, so let’s talk about anyone’s biggest purchase, the house. The difference between what a prime borrower pays and what a non prime borrower pays is staggering. A prime borrower with a $150,000 mortgage at 4.25% will pay about $737.00 a month, which equates to $265,300 over the life of the loan. A non prime borrower with a 6.5% will pay $948.00 a month or about $341,200 over the 30 year mortgage period. This means the borrower with the less than stellar credit score is paying over $75,000 more than a prime borrower.

Your credit score can cost you thousands in your life time. It can impact your job,lifestyle, daily living expenses, and maybe even the quality of healthcare you receive.

It’s time to check your credit and take control of your life before some ‘suit’ in a healthcare company or insurance giant does it for you. Credit repair, it’s now more important than ever.

More Young Adults Lack Health Insurance Than Any Other Group – Texas Ranks The Lowest In The Country

For many of the 13.3 million uninsured young adults in America, it comes as no surprise that their demographic leads those going without health coverage. According to the Commonwealth Fund, a private, non-partisan foundation supporting independent research on health and social issues, in 2005, thirty percent of the forty-five million people in the U.S. who lacked health insurance were between the ages of nineteen and twenty-nine. Texas had the worst record overall, with twenty-five percent of its total population going unprotected. The state actually failed to insure even more of its young adults — twenty-seven percent.

Many of the young lacking coverage are just entering the workforce and have “aged out” of insurance programs, including state-sponsored plans that usually cut off at nineteen. They can’t afford their own, independent coverage yet, and if their employers offer health benefits — which is a big “if” considering that forty percent do not — they may not be able to afford the premiums on those, either. Two out of five college graduates went without health insurance for at least part of the year following graduation, as did one-half of those who received their high school diplomas but did not enter college.

“They [young people] are at a vulnerable place in the labor market,” said Sara Collins, assistant vice-president at The Commonwealth Fund. The individual market is “difficult…to negotiate.”

Wide-sweeping reforms have changed the performance of several states’ healthcare systems, including laws in seventeen states that forced insurance companies to cover dependent children until at least the age of twenty-four. There are plans to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which currently covers 6.6 million children — including insuring participants up to the age of twenty-five — but final details of the changes are still being debated in Congress.

The issue is not so much a lack of coverage, but, more specifically, what that lack actually means. According to several independent reports, including studies released by The Commonwealth Fund, those who lack health insurance in the U.S. have less access to high-quality healthcare. In this country, better access to healthcare means better quality, and having health insurance means better access. Ironically, higher quality of care is not associated with higher costs on the state level, debunking the theory that states simply don’t have enough money to provide for their constituents.

More efficiently organizing the healthcare system and offering more affordable insurance plans, many argue, would dramatically reduce this problem. Healthcare workers in cities like Dallas, Houston, and Austin have long argued that better organization would make a big difference, where uninsured from the rural parts of the state come to receive care, adding to the masses already in need.

Jack Hadley, of The Urban Institute, confirmed the link between lack of coverage and lack of adequate care. His study, published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association and highlighted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, proved that the “uninsured generally receive less care and have worse outcomes following an accident or onset of a new chronic condition than those with coverage.” Almost ten percent of those lacking health insurance received no care at all after discovering a new chronic condition, and more than nineteen percent of uninsured did not receive any of the recommended follow-up treatments following an injury.

If the rest of the nation could achieve the same low mortality levels “from conditions amenable to care” as the top-ranked states in healthcare, an estimated 90,000 fewer deaths of those under the age of seventy-five would occur every year. If those lower-ranking states, like Texas, could also match their betters in caring for chronically ill patients, four million more diabetics would receive basic recommended care and potentially avoid preventable complications like renal failure and limb amputations.

Texans should pay attention. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the state, and statistically, those with diabetes are actually less likely to be able to afford medical care than those not afflicted with the disease. In 2005, that meant eighteen percent of diabetic Texans could not afford health coverage. Considering that those with the condition have a greater chance of suffering from cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol, eye disease and other complications, this is, to say the least, a serious problem that eventually drives up costs for others in the state.

Over 1.2 million young people in Texas are living without health insurance coverage. Of those, roughly 229,000 are non-Hispanic whites, 830,000 are Hispanic, and 123,000 are non-Hispanic blacks. Overall, the state ranks forty-ninth in the nation for healthcare, including at the very bottom for the number of uninsured and for “access” to care. Only forty-five percent of Texans actually visited a physician in the last two years for any reason, and forty-nine percent did not see a doctor last year due to cost. In tangible numbers, that means millions are foregoing treatment in Texas alone simply because they can’t afford it.

Young people may complain less because, as many experts report, they believe they are a part of the “young invincibles,” meaning that young adults tend to believe their age will protect them from the need for coverage. But chronic and fatal diseases can happen to anyone, at any time; HIV/AIDS is affecting more and more young people every day, cancer has never been age-discriminate, and accidents are a part of the risk of simply living. It’s a shame that when a condition has the capability of affecting one for the most years of life — i.e., when it starts young — so many are going untreated due to lack of coverage. State and federally-sponsored health programs need to be more realistic, and more responsible, about addressing these needs, but so does the group most afflicted by lack of coverage: the young adults.

Being aware of issues affecting accessibility to healthcare is an important aspect of minding your health. How you take care of yourself will certainly affect you as you age, and eventually your wallet, as well. If you’re a young individual who tries to keep informed and maintain a healthy condition and lifestyle, you should take a look at the revolutionary, comprehensive and highly-affordable individual health insurance solutions created by Precedent specifically for you. Visit our website, [http://www.precedent.com], for more information. We offer a unique and innovative suite of individual health insurance solutions, including highly-competitive HSA-qualified plans, and an unparalleled “real time” application and acceptance experience.

Bush’s Veto Threats Ignored – Bill Increasing Health Insurance Coverage to Texas Children Passed

President Bush’s threat to veto a bipartisan-supported bill to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program was ignored this week by Congress, who passed the measure.

Drafted over the last six months by senior members of the Senate Finance Committee, the bill is intended to cover the millions of children who will go uninsured if no action is taken when the program expires on September 30th. Eight million children in the U.S. currently lack healthcare coverage, including more than 1.3 million in Texas alone, and 7.4 million are insured under the present program. If not vetoed, the new plan would reduce the number of uninsured children by half — 4.1 million — over the next five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Texas, arguably, may be one of the states most affected by the outcome of changes to the CHIP, with 25% of its total population going without any health insurance whatsoever. Between 2001 and 2003, 21% of Texas children were uninsured, twice the national average of 11%. Cuts in 2003 to the national program discontinued benefits for 36% of Texas’ CHIP caseload; further cuts may absolutely devastate the state’s already-strained healthcare system.

The bill, which is supported by the Democratic majority in Congress, Republican lawmakers, and many governors of both parties was approved, despite presidential protests. “There is no question that the president would veto it,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto earlier this month.

The bipartisan plan would be funded by increasing the federal excise tax on tobacco products, giving the program $35 billion over the next five years, in addition to the $25 billion already slotted. The Democrats originally asked for even more — $50 billion over the next five years.

In contrast, the President’s proposal would add only $5 billion to CHIP’s budget in the same amount of time. Spokespersons for the White House say the plan would insure non-poor children, encouraging parents to drop private coverage and depend on government subsidies. Additionally, the bill does not include Bush’s suggestions for altering the tax treatment of health insurance, making coverage more affordable to millions.

Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley (IA), says he would gladly consider tax proposals, but “it’s not realistic to think that can be accomplished before the current children’s health care program runs out in September.”

But Texas doesn’t have the luxury of losing funding to CHIP, where more children are uninsured than in any other state, according to the Texas Hospital Association. Its percentage of uninsured is the worst in the country, and 86% of Texas voters in 2006 supported making health insurance more affordable and accessible to the wider population. Nearly nine out of ten believed the state should have a responsibility in increasing health insurance access, as a portion of the costs of the uninsured are borne by those who have insurance through higher premiums. In fact, annual health insurance premiums were $1,551 higher in Texas than the national average due to unreimbursed costs of caring for the uninsured, according to a 2005 Families USA study.

The uninsured tend to seek routine care at hospitals, where they cannot be refused an evaluation. These costs, then, are often carried by local taxpayers and by those with health coverage. This is particularly a problem in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, where many travel from rural areas of the state to seek care. But, in contrast to what many believe, most of those who are uninsured in Texas — eight out of ten — are working individuals who simply cannot afford coverage.

To add to the chorus of organizations reporting poor healthcare in the state, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report stating that the uninsured are “less likely to have a regular source of care, to delay or forgo needed care, and to miss out on preventative care due to lack of coverage.” The American Hospital Association chimed in to state adults who lack health insurance are more likely to report “poor” or “fair” health than adults with coverage. In Texas, that means 27.6% of uninsured reported “poor” or “fair” health. Children are not depended upon to accurately report their own state of health, but translate those results into the juvenile population, and Texas — let alone the rest of the country — has a serious problem, indeed.

Many — uninsured and insured — eagerly anticipate the final outcome of this bill, as it will eventually affect nearly everyone, in some way or another. Premiums for those who already have health coverage may go down due to decreased deflected costs; increases in the budget to CHIP would allow millions of children to have insurance whose families currently cannot afford it. What is absolutely certain is that a response must be made, and soon, by Congress, to a healthcare crisis slowly crushing the nation.

Being aware of current government healthcare policies is an important part of watching out for you, and your children’s, health. How you take care of yourself will certainly affect you as you age, and eventually your wallet, as well. If you’re a young individual who tries to keep informed and maintain a healthy condition and lifestyle, you should take a look at the revolutionary, comprehensive and highly-affordable individual health insurance solutions created by Precedent specifically for you. Visit our website, [http://www.precedent.com], for more information. We offer a unique and innovative suite of individual health insurance solutions, including highly-competitive HSA-qualified plans, and an unparalleled “real time” application and acceptance experience.

Funding Your Own Healthcare

Introduction

More folks including both individual adults and families are on their own to provide funding for healthcare. There is a growing trend of being your own freelance business owner, being a contract employee or being employed by a business that does not offer a health insurance benefit. Many people make the mistake of buying price instead of value in a healthcare funding plan. This article provides an overview of options for funding healthcare with both advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.

How Much does Healthcare Cost?

Understanding what healthcare costs is important to deciding the best strategy for funding your own healthcare needs. Buying based only on price and not value (price vs. benefits) is a common and very grave mistake. Some examples of what healthcare can cost will help illuminate the importance of value and risk transfer (insurance) in funding your own healthcare.

Routine Care: Having an ongoing relationship with a medical doctor is important value and can help you avoid much more costly illness and improve your overall health outcome. I am an example of the benefits of routine medical care with the goals of avoiding cardiovascular disease, diabetes and managing my sinus allergies. My recent doctor visit including blood test = $248 Well Baby Check (price from local pediatrician) = $160 Annual Physical = $500? Cost depends on how elaborate a physical you get.

Rx Drug: Prescription drugs are approximately 10% of total healthcare spending [1]. Prescription drugs can be a large component of treating a major or chronic illness. These are drugs that I take with the list prices from my local drug store. OTC Claratin (equivalent house brand) = $10 / month Crestor = $137.99 / month Astelin = $115.99 / month An example of a more expensive medicine that my wife takes regularly for her chronic migraines: Topamax (generic equivalent) = $566.99 / month

Diagnostic Tests: Diagnostic tests are an important part of most disease identification, management and treatment and are a large component of healthcare costs. My recent blood test (three panels) = $152 X-Rays = $100+ Mammogram = $150+ MRI = $1000+; a complex MRI can cost several thousand dollars

Emergency Care: ER Visit = $1000+; this is based on my experience – I have never had an ER visit that was less than a $1000 in billed costs

Hospital Admission About 30% of healthcare costs are for in-patient hospitalization. The average length of a hospital stay is five days [2] with costs highly dependent on treatment. Heart Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) – Example from one of my clients = $45,000 including an ER admission and then three days in the hospital

Major Illness: Cancer (Lymphoma) – My brother over two years of treatment = $500,000+; It is hard to tell the actual total but when I called to see if my brother was close to exceeding his $1 million lifetime limit the expectation was at least $500,000 in paid benefits to complete his cancer treatment.

Texas Workers Compensation – New Certified Networks

New workers comp laws in Texas have some healthcare professionals changing the way they practice medicine and the injured workers are caught in the middle.

Early in 2006, the Texas Workers Comp legislation made extreme changes from their past operational methods. Certified networks have been established, affording better discounts for employers and insurance carriers.

Healthcare professionals in Texas have major decisions to make as far as how they are going to run their practices. Many have opted out of workers comp altogether, while others are attempting to be a part of these networks, only to be turned away with the statement “our panel is full”.

In researching these provider databases posted by the Networks/Carriers, we have found many descrepancies in providers that are listed, but are not taking work comp cases, or in some cases, it appears that company doctors or company owned medical centers, make up the majority of the healthcare panel, offered to patients and employers. It hardly seems fair, that consumers and injured workers are forced to go to providers that are not of their choosing.

New workers comp laws in Texas have some healthcare professionals changing the way they practice medicine and the injured workers are caught in the middle.

In many states there is an “any willing provider” law that allow any healthcare professional that is willing to take the insurance carrier discounts, may participate in any insurance plan without fail. Unfortunately, Texas is not one of those states.

Providers in most cases are at the mercy of these networks. Many times, former patients try to come in for care only to find that their carrier/network has not allowed their provider to be included for whatever reason. this has been very disturbing to many patients that we have spoken to. In some cases, patients may speak to their HR department or write letters to their insurance carriers, asking for their chosen provider to be allowed in their network. In some cases with some carriers, this may work.

Some healthcare specialties, chiropractors in particular, are forced to apply for network participation through outside entities to even be included in the panels with major carriers. Once again, these providers fight and struggle to be a part of these networks and are not allowed to participate due to the old statement “our panel is full”.

In this day and age of consumer rights, it seems to the author, that all providers should be allowed to participate in which ever network they choose to participate in if they meet the state criteria for participation and are willing to accept the discounts offered by these carrier/networks. Providers are losing patients on a daily basis and losing money that is necessary to continue to offer affordable healthcare to their patients. We have even found in our research where some medical doctors are even going back to “cash” practices because they are so disillusioned with the healthcare systems we are force to accept.

As a consumer or injured worker, the only answer to make sure you get to see the provider you wish to have treat you is to stand up and speak out to your legislators, employers and your congressmen.

Lack of Health Insurance in Texas is Among Critical Healthcare Shortages

Need for Texas Health Insurance Is Worst in the Nation

In 2008, Texas fell from 37th to 46th on the United Health Foundation’s ranking of the states based on healthcare statistics. According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas is among the states that are best prepared to respond to a public health emergency, but this is the same state that has the highest percentage of residents surviving with no Health Insurance in Texas.

Ironically, literally hundreds of Texas Health Insurance Plans are available, including plans from Aetna, Assurant, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Celtic, Humana, and United Healthcare. The largest health insurance providers in Texas have also added mail delivery of prescription medications to make it easier for members to obtain many of the most common maintenance medications for conditions like diabetes and heart problems. Aetna, Anthem, and Humana are providing these mail-order prescriptions.

A Critical Shortage of Nurses in Texas Is Met with New Nursing Programs

In addition to a lack of Health Insurance for Texas residents, a critical shortage of nurses has been a problem. This nursing shortage is being challenged in South Texas with plans to graduate more nurses at all educational levels.

The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio plans to transform nursing education thanks to the largest donation that their School of Nursing has received in its 40-year history. Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc. gave $3.9 million to fund new nursing education.

A co-owner in Methodist Healthcare System, Methodist Healthcare Ministries is the largest faith-based, not-for-profit, private funding source for health care services to low-income families, and those without health insurance in Southern Texas.

Hiring and supporting qualified nursing faculty had been a problem at the university since many faculty members were retiring, and state dollars failed to cover the university’s expenses. The university plans to use $2.7 million of the donation for faculty and curriculum specialists, and to teach three new nursing degree programs.

One such program will be an accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing for students who currently have a bachelor’s degree in a different field. This program starts in May of this year, and has 70 students. A second program, an accelerated online master’s degree for nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing, begins next January in 2011 with 46 students. That same month, the university is also starting a doctorate in nursing practice with 10 students.

When fully implemented, these new programs will help the school admit an additional 20 traditional undergraduate students, 70 accelerated undergraduate students, 46 additional master’s students, and 10 doctoral students.

New Hospital Opens in Dallas Area

The recent opening of Methodist McKinney Hospital exemplifies the need for nurses in Texas. Methodist McKinney Hospital is a 65,000-square-foot project in the Dallas area. The new hospital offers comprehensive diagnostic imaging with CT and MRI services, six operating rooms, and 15 private patient rooms.

The hospital will also offer a wide range of physician specialties, such as general surgery, gynecology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pain management, and primary care. Within a year, the division also expects to begin taking patients at another $60 million hospital in the Dallas-area.

Health Insurance for Texas Residents Needed to Benefit From New Hospital

Health Insurance Quotes for Texas can be found online along with contact numbers to reach expert advisors who can answer questions about how the available plans fit individual needs. Short-term and student health plans are available online, too, for temporary situations.

Texas Ranks In The Bottom Quarter Of The Nation For Healthcare

Texas ranks in the bottom quarter of the nation for healthcare, according to recent reports. As a state with one of the highest rates of uninsured — just over 25% — this comes as no surprise to many.

Just over 15% of all Americans go without health insurance, totaling nearly 48 million. This unfortunate statistic comes at a time when Medicare is experiencing historical funding cuts under the Bush administration. The concern is not so much how many lack insurance, but what kind of healthcare those uninsured receive.

Even officials from high-profile organizations, such as the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, are beginning to admit that receiving quality healthcare in the U.S. is not only dependent on where one lives, but also on whether or not one has healthcare coverage. At least one-quarter of those lacking health insurance, for instance, did not receive a recommended test in 2004 due to cost.

The devastating report released by the Fund this week openly stated a strong link between healthcare coverage and access to quality care. It evaluated such variables as uninsured breast cancer death rates and preventable hospital admissions, among others. If all states implemented wide-sweeping measures designed to grant health insurance to more individuals (such as Hawaii and several East Coast states in which 90% of working-age adults are now insured), as many as 90,000 deaths could be avoided, 22 million more could be insured, and the Medicare program could save $22 billion.

It’s strange to think that, in a nation basing its moral principles on the belief that all citizens are to be treated equally — and that everyone, regardless of citizenship, has certain “unalienable rights” — tens of thousands are literally dying due to lack of insurance.

The problem cannot be blamed on any one factor. Most healthcare professionals, for instance, are compassionate individuals working their hardest to provide quality care. But many facilities treating low-income individuals lack the proper staff, resources, equipment, and time to administer to all their patients effectively. Cities like Houston, Dallas, and Austin are experiencing enormous pressure to deliver care to more individuals than their facilities can realistically handle, due, in part, to the growing number of uninsured commuting from rural areas in the hopes of receiving more effective treatments. To make matters worse, Texas is experiencing a devastating shortage of young, qualified physicians.

Many would like to blame illegal immigrants for the Lone Star State’s healthcare standing — implying that if only there weren’t such a border-crossing problem, the healthcare system could be relieved of its pressure. And while Texas, like other border states, does take on certain financial responsibilities when caring for illegal immigrants, it’s not the worst aspect of the problem by any means. Texas also ranks high in the nation for poverty levels, unemployment, and expensive chronic conditions, such as obesity and diabetes.

Sixty-one percent of adults in Texas are obese. Thirty-five percent of children are also afflicted, and the numbers just keep increasing. That’s well over half of Texans considered extremely overweight. The condition is so costly due to its secondary effects, such as higher rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers, like breast cancer. Some would also argue that the psychological effects — depression, anxiety, social disorders, low productivity, to name a few — are rarely documented as linked with the disease at all.

The issue was once publicly avoided by officials, for fear of being accused of insensitivity, but obesity, is, in fact, a legitimate health concern that needs to be addressed. Its varied causes are only exasperated by recent reports that eating healthy is far more expensive than not. If many uninsured are of low income, and a certain percentage of those are, obviously, also obese, then it is becoming increasingly difficult for those with this problem to take the necessary steps to improve their condition. Not only can many obese Texans not afford proper healthcare, but neither can they afford health club memberships, or the healthier, more expensive foods. Neglecting the issue in the low-income population is not helping. In fact, it’s costing the state millions.

The rate of diabetes in Texas, too, deserves considerable attention. As of 2004, nearly 500,000 Texans had been diagnosed with diabetes, with the expectation that the number would grow. It’s the leading cause of kidney disease and blindness for those between the ages of 20 and 74, and is the sixth leading cause of death, though many officials believe it’s actually much higher. Diabetes can cause vascular disease, neurological problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. When we make the logical conclusion that many suffer from both, obesity and diabetes, that much statistical data on disease is based on those who actually made it to the doctor for diagnosis, and that many of those sufferers are going without insurance (and, therefore, quality care), we begin to get a true sense of this issue.

Improved healthcare in Texas is entirely within reach. Such a dishearteningly low national ranking does not need to be permanent. But better healthcare is not attainable without first addressing the situation, or the real causes of it. More effective government programs need to be instituted, a stronger recruitment plan for quality physicians put into action, and more affordable health insurance policies made available.

Watching out for your own healthcare is important in such difficult times. How you take care of yourself will certainly affect you as you age, and eventually your wallet, as well. If you’re a young individual who tries to keep informed and maintain a healthy condition and lifestyle, you should take a look at the revolutionary, comprehensive and highly-affordable individual health insurance solutions created by Precedent specifically for you. Visit our website, [http://www.precedent.com], for more information. We offer a unique and innovative suite of individual health insurance solutions, including highly-competitive HSA-qualified plans, and an unparalleled “real time” application and acceptance process.

Texas Health Insurance: Children Win In The War Over Healthcare

Texas has the lowest percentage of residents protected by health insurance in the entire country. Only one in four have any form of Texas health insurance at all. Media coverage has been scant regarding the future of more than half a million Americans who have been through bankruptcy court, largely due to medical bills. So, what will the future look like for Texas?

Although the rest of the industrialized world has left “for-profit” health insurance behind, every Texas Republican in the U.S. Congress voted no on the healthcare reform that could protect the vast majority of Texans with access to medical care.

Nevertheless, children in Texas have just gained coverage under their parents’ Texas insurance plans until their 26th birthday. Those in the next generation who suffer from pre-existing conditions like asthma finally won the right to healthcare when insurers were barred from refusing to cover these children.

If you get health insurance quotes in Texas right now, you can protect your children under your plan regardless of any pre-existing condition they may have. Fewer people are finding health insurance in Texas through employment now, but you can keep your young adult children on your own plan until their 26th birthday.

Health Insurance In Texas Has More For Adults

Even adults without growing families got something when healthcare reform kicked in this fall. Insurers can no longer limit the amount of coverage you receive over a lifetime. If you got a new plan after healthcare reform passed, your insurer cannot charge you higher out-of-network rates for emergency medical treatment, either.

Because too many people were not getting regular preventive care, like cancer screenings and vaccinations, insurers are now required to cover recommended preventive care without any co-pay charges. The catch is that you have to get a new plan after the passage of healthcare.

If you are thinking about looking into new plans for the extra coverage, you may see higher premiums when you run health insurance quotes in Texas now. Weigh that against what it would cost you to pay for preventive care out of your own pocket before you make a decision. Most importantly, do not cancel your old policy until your new Texas health insurance is effective. Adults with pre-existing conditions will not be guaranteed coverage until 2014!

Can The U.S. Afford Health Insurance For Texas?

If you were part of the middle class in 2000 earning between $50,000 and $75,000, you gave the same share of your income to the IRS as the people who made more than $87 million. Tax breaks for the wealthiest in the country just increased again in 2007.

In countries in Europe, residents may pay taxes as high as 50 percent of their income, but they are guaranteed free healthcare and a college education, including books. The people of Denmark were singled out in a Frontline documentary because more people there reported they were happy with state of their lives than people in any other country. Danes pay some of the highest taxes in the world, but they enjoy the security they feel and trust in their future.

In the U.S., states like Texas are waging war over healthcare, including expanding Medicaid to help people under 65 who are struggling with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. With the recession, Medicaid enrollment surged and that spending rose at the highest rate in eight years, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

What Is The Future Of Texas Health Insurance Plans?

New requirements that will cover more adults in Texas are scheduled to kick in by 2014, such as the Texas health insurance state exchange. The idea there was to offer more citizens coverage similar to what those in Congress already enjoy. The federal government will provide the initial funding, but states like Texas will eventually have to maintain their exchanges.

After gaining ground in the November 2010 election, Texas Republicans proposed to drop out of the federal Medicaid program. What will happen to the 3.6 million children, people with disabilities and impoverished Texans now enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP?

This battle goes far beyond the state of Texas having to spend money to protect citizens with health insurance in Texas. Why would Republican state legislators try to deny Texans billions in federal tax dollars?

How to Become a Sonographer in Austin

Austin, Texas is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World” and offers a seemingly unlimited array of music venues. Musicians play everything from Reggae and rock to classical and contemporary. People living in, attending school, and working in Austin will also find plenty of other types of activities in this Texas state capital, like the visiting the Austin Zoo and kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers will appreciate the fact that the Austin, Texas healthcare industry is dedicated to providing access to quality and affordable medical services to all in need.

Sonography Education in Austin, Texas

The best Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs in Austin, Texas are the ones accredited through the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The nationally recognized accreditation is proof each program meets the highest standards for training future healthcare professionals who plan on sitting for the ARDMS exams and eventually working in the field of ultrasound technology.

There are two CAAHEP accredited programs in Austin offering a variety of degrees and certifications. Austin Community College has strict minimum entrance requirements and limited enrollment so it is important to apply well in advance of the desired start date. The Virginia College Diagnostic Medical Sonography program takes 88 weeks to complete and has a job placement rate of 69 percent.

Austin is home to the University of Texas at Austin with over 46,000 students and the Austin Community College District with an enrollment of approximately 11,000 students. There are numerous smaller schools in the area, and Texas State University-San Marcos is only 31 miles from Austin and has an enrollment of over 23,000 students. Allied Health students specializing in sonography in 2014 will find that Austin host an active student population.

Salary and Job Outlook for Sonographers in Austin, Texas

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers are in high demand in Texas, and that includes Austin and the surrounding area. The statistics for the federally designated metropolitan area of Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas report that ultrasound technicians earned an average annual salary of $62,440 or $32.02 per hour. The average annual salaries are on a scale ranging from $49,150 to $81,350 or $23.63 per hour to $39.11 per hour, both of which are excellent rates. Healthcare practitioners and technical positions, including sonographers, make up 4.5 percent of the total metropolitan area employment, and that figure is expected to grow as Austin strengthens its efforts to make healthcare accessible to all residents.

A List of Best Schools for Diagnostic Medical Sonography Study in Austin, Texas

School Name: Austin Community College
Address: 3401 Webberville Road, Building 9000, Room 9202, Austin 78702
Contact Person: Regina Swearengin
Contact Phone: (512)223-5944
Program: Certificate and Associates Degree
Accreditation: CAAHEP

School Name: Virginia College
Address: 6301 East Highway 290, Austin 78723
Contact Person: Dianna Sequeira
Contact Phone: (512)279-2835
Program: Associates Degree
Accreditation: CAAHEP

Nearby Cities List

There are three cities within a two-and-half drive from Austin that have CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs:

Temple, Texas (closest city, approximately one-hour from Austin)
Cypress, Texas
Houston, Texas