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By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Obamacare coverage, like many private insurance plans, has a network of preferred hospitals and providers. As more Americans begin to use their plans for the first time, individuals are reporting that the network does not provide as many options as other plans have in the past.

In fact, people are reporting that insurance carriers are limiting care and excluding specialty provider coverage as a way to keep costs down. 

“A lot of these exchange plans, in order to stay affordable, have much smaller networks than people are used to,” said Nancy Metcalf, a senior editor for Consumer Reports, in a Kaiser Health article. “Just because their friend has a plan and can go to a particular hospital doesn’t mean that they necessarily can.”

Part of the Affordable Care Act ensured that Americans would not pay over $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families. These out-of-pocket costs are only applicable to patients that remain within the insurance plan’s network. Going outside the network of providers may offer more options, but it can prove to be costly.

“In many cases, consumers are shopping blind when it comes to what doctors and hospitals are included in their Obamacare exchange plans,” said Josh Archambault, senior administrator for the Foundation for Government Accountability. “These patients will be in for a rude awakening once they need care, and get stuck with a big bill for going out-of-network without realizing it.” reports that 11 of the top 18 hospitals nationwide, according to the U.S. News & World Report, are associated with one or two insurance carriers within the exchange. The other hospitals are no longer an in-network choice for many Americans.

While insurance companies were knowledgeable of the shrinking networks, there were many hospitals that declined to accept exchange plans. A Fox News article reports that many hospitals were unwilling to agree to lower rates offered to them by insurance companies.

Narrowing the network available was one of the ways that insurance companies were able to make costs affordable.

“This doesn’t surprise me,” Gail Wilensky, Bush Administration’s Medicare advisor, said in a US News article. “There has been an incredible amount of focus on the premium cost and subsidy, and precious little focus on what you get for your money.”

The public has criticized their lack of choices and even suggested that the quality of care available to them has declined. Some Americans report that their access to their current physicians is no longer an option to them.

Experts agree that it is important to be aware of what network is associated with your insurance plan, whether it is through the exchanges, your employer or has been privately attained. Before selecting a carrier, make note of what providers are included in the network to verify if your current physician is still available to you.

In order to meet the demands of the Affordable Care Act, insurance carriers have been forced to provide low costing insurance to individuals, while still affording them quality care. Reducing the network size is one way that insurance companies were able to accomplish this.


By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Aging is a part of life that many Americans are reluctant to acknowledge, but time eventually takes over and the process inevitably begins. While denial may seem like an appropriate way to approach the natural changes that occur, research shows there is a way to age healthy.

Wrinkles, declining physical fitness and more health complications are typically associated with the aging process. Experts say that individuals have an opportunity to adjust their lifestyles early on in order to essentially age gracefully.

Physical Wellness
Making healthy habits become a part of the daily routine is an important way to reduce health concerns later in life. Committing to a healthy diet and sustaining an active lifestyle will have positive benefits in the long-term.

“Exercise is known to have wide ranging benefits, from cardiovascular protection to weight loss,” said Dr. James Brown from Aston’s Research Center for Healthy Aging. “Recent research has suggested that exercise can protect people from both physical and mental decline with aging.”

Not only will physical activity reduce risks that come with aging, such as diabetes and heart disease, but it also helps keep the body stimulated.

“The brain shrinks, unfortunately, as we get older,” said Krik Erickson, University of Pittsburgh associate professor of psychology, in a SFGate article. “But research has proven that the brain remains highly modifiable into late adulthood. And exercise is one way to modify it.”

Erickson refers to a year-long study that examined patients between the ages of 59 to 81, who were suffering from dementia. Participants who exercised more frequently had a larger hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that affects memory. This benefit of exercise is a relatively new finding that may lead to greater discoveries linking brain function and exercise in the future.

Mental Health
Feeling healthy can eliminate concern and stress that can occur from having medical complications. However, researchers at the University College London report that happiness can also contribute to how healthy an individual is.

The study examined and monitored approximately 3,200 men and women that were over the age of 60 for a total of eight years. The goal was to determine if there was a link between positive and physical well-being. Questions were asked of the participants in order to rate their outlook on life.

“Our results provide further evidence that enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people,” said researcher Dr. Andrew Steptoe of University College London. “Efforts to enhance well-being at older ages may have benefits to society and health care systems.”

The results showed that the most positive group was between 60 to 69 years old with higher socioeconomic status and education. Additionally, individuals with categorically low well-being were three times more likely to eventually develop other physical problems. The study demonstrated how a negative outlook can begin to have an impact over time.

There are many components that play a role in people’s health and well-being. It is important for individuals to take the time to evaluate their personal health in order to determine what areas need improving.

Aging is a slow process that takes times for people to begin to feel the effects. Instead of waiting till health issues arise, start working towards being an overall healthier individual. Focusing on both psychical and mental well-being is a well-rounded approach to aging healthy.



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