Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Save on Health Insurance

How To Save on Health Insurance
By Kay Lowe

With health care costs soaring through the roof, the cost of health insurance premiums are increasing as well. Health insurance is a necessity, however, when you consider the costs of one visit to the emergency room, surgery to set a broken bone, scans, lab and other costs. When your budget is limited, how can you keep the costs of your health insurance premiums down? There are several steps you can take to reduce your health insurance costs and still maintain adequate medical coverage when you need it.

First step is to consider what health insurance options you have. Does your employer offer a group medical benefit? Many employers (and/or labor unions) offer health benefits to full-time employees. Group health insurance is usually the cheapest way to get medical coverage; an employer can negotiate with health insurance companies to get a group health plan at cheaper rates. In addition, many employers will pay part of the premium, reducing your health insurance cost even further. Another consideration is whether your spouse has health coverage available through their employer? If so, compare your health benefits plan to that of your spouse, and decide which health plan is the better buy. It may be possible to have one spouse carry family health insurance coverage and the other drop their health benefits. Many employers have multiple health insurance options, so review these plans as well. Choose the health plan that best meets your needs at the cheapest rate.

If no health insurance coverage is available through your employer, there are other ways to obtain health insurance coverage. Individual and family private health insurance policies are available. Shop and compare benefits and premiums from each health insurance plan. If you and your family are generally healthy, the new Health Savings Account (HSA) may be worth consideration. The HSA is an account that allows you to save tax-free dollars for your medical/health expenses. Similar to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), you are limited in the amount that you are allowed to contribute each year; however, with the HSA, withdrawals for health expenses are not penalized, and no tax is paid on the withdrawal. When paired with a health insurance policy that has high deductibles and low rates, the HSA may be ideal for you. Save money in the HSA for deductibles and co-pays, and you're set.

For those over 65 or permanently disabled, Medicare is available through the federal government. The original Medicare is an 80/20 plan (they pay 80% of eligible expenses and the insured pays 20%) with an annual deductible and a monthly premium. Supplemental health plans are available to cover this deductible and co-pay. These supplemental health plans are usually private and the insured pays a premium. In addition to the original Medicare plan, there are Medicare HMOs. In these Medicare HMO health plans, the Medicare premium is paid to an HMO to provide benefits to the insured. HMO plans are more restrictive in that patients must get care through a network provider, but often these plans cover more prescription drugs and preventive care than original Medicare does.

Recently some employers have offered lower premiums to employees who do not smoke cigarettes. This is currently a controversial topic for some, but it certainly may begin a trend. In the future, employers and their health insurance providers could offer reduced premiums for employees who maintain normal weight, exercise regularly, and receive certain wellness benefits. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle lowers the risk to the health insurance company that they will be paying big bucks in health care down the road. And health insurance, as any other insurance, is all about risk.

Bottom line: going without health insurance coverage is a big risk for you. Find health coverage that you can afford just in case Murphy comes knocking at your door!

Article Source:

Article Source:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food Dyes That Can Trigger Allergic Reactions

Food Dyes That Can Trigger Allergic Reactions

Due to the magic and wonder of food dyes in the manufacturing and processing divisions of the food industry, the general consumer is led through a myriad of intense colors and textures with every trip to the grocery store. Unknown to that consumer though, many seemingly common staples we purchase repetitively are "dressed up" to awaken the senses of the buying public.

Some examples of this, oranges are not necessarily orange in color when they are picked ripe right of the tree. Many times food dyes are added to get that beautiful orange sheen. A ripe orange is actually often shades of gray or splotchy orange in color.

Tomatoes, when picked, can be a cross between shades of green to different levels of pink. That bright juicy red color though is often washed on with food dyes.

Red cherries when processed always turn gray but the buying public always visualizes a cherry as red. Enter more food dyes.

Dyes for cosmetic purposes often get utilized for processed foods because cooking, baking, heat and light, temperature changes etc. can all lead to a lack of visual appeal in the final product.

Common Man-Made Food Dyes Used In The Market

The manufacturing industry itself formerly had 100's of food dye selections which was available for their use. As the years progressed, this number has been whittled down considerably. Today, the seven most popular man-made colors used include the following:

Blue #1, brilliant blue, FCF, E133, available in the form of both dyes and lake
Blue #2, Indigotine, E132, dyes and lake
Green #3, Fast Green, FCF, E143 dyes and lake
Red #40, Allura Red, AC, E129, dyes and lake
Red #3, Erythrosine, E127, dye only
Yellow #5, Tartrazine, E102, Dye only
Many of these colors come in two versions, as shown above. They are known as Dyes (water-soluble) and Lakes (not water-soluble, generally for hard candies). Many people though show a sensitivity or an allergic reaction to the colorings used on this list. Reported complaints often include the following:

breakout of skin rashes or hives anywhere on the body
swelling, especially at the site of contact with the dye
stomach and digestive complaints
severe reactions possible ending in an anaphylactic reaction
increased rates, signs and symptoms of Autism or ADHD
Natural Food Dyes - How Do They Differ?

Just the words natural food dyes leads many to believe this group must be a step above the synthetic (man-made) varieties. Research, the medical community and public pressure has found many in the manufacturing industry willing to switch to natural food dyes for their source of colorings. This group includes:

Caramel coloring made from caramelized sugar
Annatto is a red-orange dye grown from seed
Chlorophyll- a green dye from plant pigments
Cochineal- a red carmine from an insect
Beetroot, Turmeric, Saffron, Paprika & Elderberry Juice- All taken from the plant or spice and used natural for color.
Titanium Dioxide- compound which yields the color white
Silver, Gold or Aluminum- each of these are used as themselves.
Almost every one of these has yielded an appropriate substitute except the cochineal red.

Obtaining a food dye from an entire species of insects, grown and slaughtered for the sole purpose of obtaining its red coloring has many people upset and vocal about finding even another alternative.

So, to date, protecting yourself or a family member from artificial food dyes or avoiding the carmine-colored cochineal beetle is only possible by carefully watching the ingredient labels on all packaged or processed foods.

About The Author:Kathi Robinson

Article Source: