Anthem Blue Cross makes Freedom Blue Announcement!

Anthem Blue Cross of California has officially announced that it will not renew the Freedom Blue PPO Plan in California for 2012. Find an excerpt below from a recent Anthem Blue Cross “Outreach & Education” Bulletin.

Anthem Blue Cross will be offering new Local PPO Medicare Advantage plans in California to make more affordable and attractive benefits available to our members.  We also are not renewing our Medicare Advantage Freedom Blue Regional Plan 1 and Classic Regional PPO plans for 2012.  We also will remove Santa Barbara County in California from the Anthem Blue Cross Senior Secure Plan 1 (HMO) service area.  Affected members will receive a letter the week of September 19 that explains their Medicare coverage options.  Members will continue to have Freedom Blue RPPO plan coverage and Blue Cross Senior Secure Plan 1 (HMO) coverage until December 31, 2011.

The new Local PPO will be available January 1, 2012 in Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Ventura counties.

Anthem Blue Cross also will continue to offer Medicare Supplement Plans throughout California in all 58 counties for 2012.

We are working with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to help ensure our members understand all of their options for continuing their Medicare health insurance coverage, including:

  • Joining an Anthem Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plan in our service area or other Medicare Advantage plans in counties where an Anthem plan is not available.
  • Changing to original Medicare and joining a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP)
  • Changing to original Medicare, buying a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) policy, and joining a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.  Because their Medicare Advantage plan was discontinued, through March 3, 2012, they have a special guarantee issue opportunity to enroll in certain Medicare Supplement plans.  During this fixed period, Medicare eligible members cannot be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions or health status, including claims experience.
  • changing to original Medicare and using other health care and prescription drug coverage, such as employer or union plan, or VA benefits, if applicable.

The nonrenewal also triggers a “special election period,” which gives members until February 29, 2012 to choose a new Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan.  As noted above, members are also given a Medicare Supplement guaranteed issue period through March 3, 2012However, to ensure no lapse in coverage, members will need to select an alternate plan prior to January 1, 2012.

To see the complete announcement, Take a look at the “Outreach and Education” bulletin at the following link: pw_e174628

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Tips: Ways to Destress and relax

Do you need to reduce your anxiety and get some stress relief fast?  There are quick and easy ways you can feel relaxed and peaceful in just under a minute.  The following are 5 ways to feel relaxed quickly, and an accompanying video follows, which talks about the connection between meditation and breathing…

1.  Look up the ceiling and countdown from 60

Gazing upward stimulates our nervous system, which in turn lowers blood pressure and slows down the pace of our breathing.  Slow, deliberate counting helps rid your mind of distractions.

2.  Write down your worries on paper, then set it aside for tomorrow

Try writing your problems down on paper or things you need to do later as it may help take your mind off of them while you’re trying to rest.

3.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth 10 times

Deep breathing slows the heart and calms the body.  Your concentration centered on your stomach rising and falling/your breath flowing in and out… helps to concentrate you on your body, instead of outside distractions.

4.  Imagine yourself floating on a cloud

Thinking as if you are floating on a cloud, while you look at things that passes by, is a powerful meditation tool that can give you a temporary  escape from everyday stresses.  Imagine what you see, hear, and smell in this peaceful place.

5.  From your head down to your toes, slowly tense and relax your muscles

Progressive muscle relaxation reduces muscle tension and general mental anxiety.

Destress with Dr. Andrew Weil…

Credit sources: & SuccessTelevision, YouTube.

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Raising the Medicare age….to 67

Sen. Joseph Lieberman/Photo credit: website.

As bipartisan talks between Republicans and Democrats continue in Washington regarding Medicare and budget deficits, two senators are proposing something unique or let’s just say, ‘out-of-the-box’.  Case in point: Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., & Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma both proposed yesterday to raise Medicare’s age eligibility to 67.  At the same time, the two senators say their proposal will reduce our nation’s deficit (stands at $14.3 trillion) in the long run.  With both major political parties continued disputes over budget cuts, Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Coburn’s suggested plan includes the following:

  1. The age of  eligibility for Medicare would rise gradually from 65 to 67.
  2. For the first time, better financially secured seniors would be charged more money for Medicare Part A, which covers hospital care.
  3. Both proposes that insurance companies stop selling ‘Medigap’ policies, which offer first-dollar coverage in order to produce savings.
  4. The plan also includes a $7,500 limit on out-of-pocket costs for doctor or hospital coverage.

Whatever the outcome of both senators’ proposals come to be, one thing is certain: next year’s elections will make an impact, albeit a big or small one when it comes to Medicare or other government funded programs.

Credit source: AP writer Ricardo Zaldivar.

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Foods to Get You Fit and Beautiful this Summer

Summer is finally here.  Chances are, you would be out and about this season going to the beach or spending time outside doing all kinds of activities in the sun.  With that in mind, why not look good and feel good at the same time while you’re at it?  Here’s a number of Nutrient-rich foods that have been proven to keep you fit, reduce your risk of heart disease, and even protect your skin to keep you looking healthy….

1.  Strawberries

Strawberries are not only sweet, they can also keep your skin looking gorgeous.  The vitamin C in strawberries acts as an important building block of collagen–the underlying supporting structure of skin.  Just 1 cup of this fruit contains over 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.

2.  Romaine Lettuce

Just six leaves of romaine lettuce provide more than 100 percent of your DV of vitamin A, which revitalizes skin by increasing cell turnover.  Also, the mineral potassium in romaine gives skin a refreshing boost of nutrients and oxygen by improving circulation.

3.  Tomatoes

Eating red may help save your skin from turning red!  Volunteers who consumed 5 tablespoons of high-in-lycopene tomato paste daily for 3 months had nearly 25% more protection against sunburn in one study.

4.  Apples

Quercetin, an antioxidant in the peel of many varieties, provides some protection from the “burning” UVB rays that can trigger skin cancer.

5.  Water

Skin cells contain mostly water, and if you’re dehydrated, skin can look and feel parched.  Needless to say, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking when you’re thirsty.

6.  Tea

Tea is rich in antioxidants that decrease inflammation and protect cell membranes.  Some studies have shown that tea may also reduce the damage of sunburns and overexposure to ultraviolet light.

Credit source: Cooking Light.

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Diabetes: A Call to Action

Ask yourself, “Do you have prediabetes?”  A family history of diabetes?  Or, do you have risk factors associated for type 2 diabetes?  Signs of diabetes can include: unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, and can progress to blurred vision or frequent infections.  One thing is clear: Diabetes can often be prevented.  Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S., causing blindness, kidney failure, and raises your risk for heart disease, or stroke.  The following are essential factors and tips you can follow to prevent getting diabetes and steps you can take if you don’t have diabetes:

Risk factors for diabetes

You are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Are not physically active
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are African-American, Hispanic, American-Indian or Pacific Islander
  • Are older than 45
  • Have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Have a history of heart disease or stroke.

Who should get tested

  • If you are 45 years of age or older.
  • If you are younger than 45, overweight and have one of the above risk factors such as a family history of the disease-get tested now.

If you have the disease

–  If your test results come back positive for diabetes, your doctor will work with you on a treatment plan.  The goal of managing your diabetes is to keep your blood sugar levels in check.  Therefore, your doctor may suggest that other specialists treat you-such as a registered dietician, or a certified diabetes educator.

If you don’t have diabetes

You can definitely take steps to reduce your risk of the disease:

  1. Lose weight – Research shows that reducing your body weight by 5 percent to 10 percent-10 to 20 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds- can cut your diabetes risk in half.
  2. Eat right – Your diet should be rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein sources.
  3. Exercise regularly – Work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.  Always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.

Indeed, diabetes is a dangerous disease and can be prevented with lifestyle changes and knowing your own family health history.

Credit source: Jenilee Matz, MPH, Staff writer, myOptumHealth.


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How To: Sell a House with a Reverse Mortgage

Are you thinking of selling your home?  Whether you are a buyer or a seller, the video below offer insights into the whole process of selling a house with a reverse mortgage…

Credit source: ehowfinance, YouTube.

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Men’s Health: Suggested Checkups and Tests for Men

In general, the tests and screenings men needs depend on one’s individual risks, medical histories, and age.  It’s always recommended to have regular doctor visits in order to know what you need to keep up with your health.  The following serves as a general guideline to know what you need to do to stay healthy.

  1. Regular checkups.

For men, there is no general rule as to how often a man needs a physical.  As a rule of thumb, regular doctor visits is a key to prevent diseases and stay healthy.  High blood pressure are often found out at a routine checkup, and asking questions about your diet and physical activity is always good.

2.  Testicular exams.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) advise men who have cancer risk factors to consider a monthly testicular self-exam.  In addition, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) does not recommend screening teens or adult men for testicular cancer if there’s no symptoms.  Talk with your doctor about what is right for you.

3.  Cholesterol testing.

The general concensus according to health professionals for tests concerning total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides is for adults age 20 and older every five years.  More tests are needed for those with higher risk factors for heart disease.

4.  Colon cancer exams.

The USPSTF currently recommends that everyone be screened for colon cancer starting at age 50 and continuing until age 75 with one of the following screening tests:

  • Home fecal occult blood testing
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy

5.  Blood pressure.

It’s recommended to have your blood pressure checked at least once every two years.  Obviously, men with high blood pressure should visit their doctors periodically.

In conclusion, do not hesitate to ask any questions with your doctor regarding your health.  They are there for your health and well-being.

Credit source: Nancy Reid, myOptumHealth.

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