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It’s National Healthcare Decisions Day!

Happy National Healthcare Decisions Day!!!

Wait… you didn’t know it was today?? And you don’t even know what that means??

Well then let me explain because this is really important and this is an area of health care I’m very passionate about!

The goal of National Healthcare Decisions Day is to educate and empower all individuals and doctors to complete their advance care planning.

So what is advance care planning?

Advance Care Planning means planning in advance for medical decisions just in case you are so sick that someone else has to make the decisions for you. These are your decisions to make based on your values, preferences, and conversations with loved ones.

Advance care planning is really important for the following reasons:

  • We are all mortal but prior to our time on this earth ending, we have incredible feelings, goals, and preferences on how we want our final time to play out. Some people would be happy never being able to taste food or walk again as long as they are alive. Other people would rather die than be stuck in a home in front of a TV with tubes for eating and going to the bathroom. Since you are an individual human you have your own desires and we need to make sure your family and doctors are aware of these.
  • The default of our medical society, unfortunately, is NOT to proactively have these conversations with you and your loved ones (although this is slowly changing). And then when the time comes when there is an urgent issue and no medical professional is aware of your wishes, they provide really aggressive medical care. Think surgeries and rib-breaking chest compressions and electrical shocks and tubes down throats. Now sometimes that saves a life but sometimes it actually can hurt an individual who is elderly or can be quite a shock and disappointment for those who want to die peacefully at home at the end of their life.

This Frontline episode “Being Mortal” will give you an inside look into the health care system and will really help you understand the importance of advance care planning.

So what should you do? Follow the checklist below that’s taken directly from My Health Care Transformation Handbook (available for purchase soon!) You might be the individual who needs to complete these steps or you might need to support your parents and grandparents in completing these steps. Either way, we can’t predict the future so we want to be sure that the family is as prepared as possible for whatever may come our way.

Advance Care Planning Medical Checklist:

  • Self-reflect on My Goals of Care
  • Discuss My Goals of Care with my family and friends
  • Discuss My Goals of Care with my Primary Care Provider (PCP)
  • Discuss My Goals of Care with the rest of my Care Team
  • Complete my Non-Temporary Advance Directive
  • Complete my Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form
  • Have my doctor scan copies of my documentation into my medical record

To learn more about Advance Care Planning, the Navigating the U.S. Health Care System 101 course has two lessons on this topic! And like I mentioned, My Health Care Transformation Handbook will be coming soon with an entire chapter to support you and your loved ones with advance care planning so stay tuned for more info!

In the meantime, check out this comprehensive list of more resources on advance care planning.

I hope today you take this opportunity to have open honest conversations with your family and other loved ones about your goals, wishes, and preferences in the face of an unforeseen event.

Cheers to your every health and happiness.

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Prevention

Warning: This Drug May Kill You

Hello Health Care Transformation Tribe,

Last week, the Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams made an official announcement with recommendations to address the opioid epidemic in the U.S. He recommends more individuals keep the opioid antagonist, Naxolone, on hand in order to save someone from dying who is currently overdosing as well as provides recommendations to the general public and health providers about Naxolone and how to identify an overdose.

Let me give a quick recap on the epidemic and then I’ll give you my two-cents on the announcement along with some recommendations for you to follow in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Opioid Epidemic: Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, etc. Opioids have killed more than 250,000 people in the last decade, including more than 42,000 people in 2016 alone. That equates to one person dying every 12.5 minutes due to opioid overdose. Opioids kill an individual by depressing their respiratory function so the individual literally chokes to death because they cannot get enough oxygen to their brain and other organs.

Sadly enough, this problem is very unique to the U.S. in comparison to other countries:

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Now you might notice a really interesting fact: many opioids, which lead to addiction and death, are actually prescribed to a patient by a doctor. The data show that most physicians lack confidence in their ability to prescribe opioids safely and to predict and discuss potential future drug abuse with their patients. And, in fact, large proportions of doctors are actually very concerned about opioid addiction and death.

My disappointment with the announcement is that there is such a focus on Naxolone, which is an expensive and often not readily available solution that doesn’t actually get at the root cause of the problem. The root cause of the problem is that doctors are prescribing high dosage and frequency of opioids to patients who unknowingly will get addicted and could have otherwise received a different pain intervention such as exercise, massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, etc. Unfortunately, once addicted patients turn to pill-seeking amongst different doctors to game the system and ultimately turn to getting heroin off the streets.

Therefore, it’s important that we stress the importance of educating physicians and patients on how to navigate this drug altogether to gain any potential benefit without wreaking havoc on an individual and their family.

For more background, I highly recommend the HBO documentary “Warning: This Drug May Kill You”.

The documentary will shake you to your bones but it will visualize for you how opioids can kill anyone from good kids to good mothers. 

Doctors can prescribe opioids on anything from knee surgery to a c-section. So how can you protect yourself and your loved ones?

When prescribed a pain-relieving medication, ask the following questions:

  1. Is this medication an opioid?
  2. Is there another option instead of taking a drug?
  3. Is there a non-opioid pain-relieving drug I can take instead?
  4. Is this the lowest possible dose I can take?
  5. Can I have fewer pills?
  6. How is it best to taper off the drug?

Be sure to discuss your health history, family history, and risk of addiction.

For the healthcare professionals, I recommend the following:

  • Pull your analytics on prescribing patterns of doctors so you can intervene on high prescribers.
  • Pull your data on dosage by patient so you know which patients are at risk of addiction and overdose.
  • Use these guidelines to establish protocols and procedures for your institution in order to intervene where possible.

Yes, Naxolone has the potential to save an individual who is overdosing and going into respiratory failure, but we need to start addressing the root of the problem, which begins with developing clear guidelines and operational support to physician prescribers and patients.

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Health Insurance

It’s Time for Taxes!

Hi All,

Now I know you must be so pumped about tax season so I thought I would provide you with some basics about the health insurance side of things so you don’t feel too overwhelmed!

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Here are the details on the three different types of tax forms (and you can click the link for more info):

1095-A: comes from the INSURANCE MARKETPLACE, otherwise known as the online health insurance exchanges. If you purchased your insurance on the exchange, then make sure you wait for this form before you file your taxes.

1095-B: comes from your INSURANCE COMPANY to prove you had the necessary health insurance coverage for the year.

1095-C: comes from your EMPLOYER if you worked full-time for a large applicable employer last year.

If you are going to be receiving a 1095-B or 1095-C it’s ok to move forward with filing your taxes, even if you haven’t received them yet.

For more details, feel free to play around on the IRS website and Happy Taxes!!

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The Academy

The Academy has launched!

Hello, my Health Care Transformation tribe! 

Today I have the most exciting news- The Academy has officially launched! “Open Enrollment” for The Academy begins today and to celebrate we have special sales on all courses for the rest of the week! Be sure to head to The Academy today to check out the deals!

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With the launch of The Academy, I have six courses to offer you and your loved ones.

Perhaps you have kids who are heading off to the real world and you want to make sure they are fully safe and prepared to make the right healthcare decisions. Perhaps you have parents who are aging and you want to be sure they are getting what they need at the lowest price. Or maybe you yourself are feeling frustrated and confused with your own interactions with the health care system and are looking for some key tips! 

Choose the holistic course that is tailored to you to give you the most bang for your buck:

Health Care For the Young Adults: The Basics You Need to Know

Health Care For the Adults: The Basics You Need to Know

Health Care For the Wise Elders: The Basics You Need to Know

Or, if you are interested in only one specific topic, the following courses can be purchased individually on the subject matter that is most useful to you:

The History and Current State of U.S. Health Care 101

Health Insurance 101

Navigating the U.S. Health Care System 101

Now is the time to take control of your health outcomes and reduce the price you pay to get there. My goal is that the lessons and tools within The Academy will give you the confidence you need to navigate the U.S. health care system with ease.

I’m so excited to more fully support you on your healthcare journey and, as always, Cheers to Health and Happiness! 

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Health Care Transformation

The Academy is coming!

Hey Guys,

Happy 2018! I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday and a Happy New Year! I’m excited to kick off the new year with some very exciting news: The Health Care Transformation Academy launches this month!

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The Academy consists of concise, easy-to-use lessons on how to understand and navigate the U.S. health care system in order to achieve your best health outcomes at the best price. I’m so excited to have tangible lessons available soon that really support and guide you in giving you that peace of mind you need when navigating our confusing, messy, expensive health care system.

Stay tuned for more details in the coming days and I’m so excited to kick off 2018 by supporting you in taking control over your health outcomes!

Cheers to Health and Happiness!

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Health Insurance

Intro to the U.S. Risk Pools

Hello Everyone! And Happy Holidays!!

As a final send-off before we head into 2018, I’m going to spend today giving a brief overview of the large risk pools or insurance options that we have here in the U.S. If you haven’t already checked out my prior video explaining risk pools and how they work- be sure that you do!

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So to recap: the three major ways to get health insurance in the U.S. is through:

Medicare– insurance run by the federal government for all individuals over age 65, those with disabilities, and those with two specific diseases: End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Medicaid– insurance run by the government for eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Medicaid is administered by the state governments according to federal requirements.

Private Insurance: insurance run by private companies.

We can get private insurance in a few different ways:

  1. Through your employer
  2. Through the health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges (healthcare.gov)
  3. By staying on your parent’s insurance until age 26

As you can see that leaves us with a hodgepodge of insurance options which inevitably means some people fall through the cracks and don’t have health insurance in any given year.

The current estimate of uninsured individuals in the U.S. is around 30,000,000 people.

Thankfully that is much lower than in prior years because after the health insurance exchanges were built, this allowed people who own their own businesses, work freelance, or aren’t offered insurance through their employer to be able to be a part of a risk pool and purchase health insurance.

That’s all for this week, folks!

If you still haven’t purchased health insurance for 2018 be sure to check your open enrollment dates and purchase insurance.

And keep your eyes peeled in the new year because The Health Care Transformation Academy will be launching in January! I’m incredibly excited to be offering very concrete easy-to-understand lessons through The Academy that will really give you the confidence and peace of mind to understand and navigate the U.S. health care system.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays and I’m so excited for all that 2018 will bring! xoxo

Cheers to Health and Happiness!

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