Health insurance can be a complicated and frustrating thing to deal with. Too often, there seems to be a gap in understanding between healthcare employees who work in different areas of healthcare. For example, a pharmacy technician might be savvier on a particular aspect of healthcare insurance than a nurse, or vice-versa. This gap in understanding healthcare insurance can make it harder for different healthcare professionals to communicate with one another. This might cause delays and potential errors in patient documentation. Three of the most important areas of healthcare insurance that healthcare professionals may misunderstand are: deductibles, prior authorizations, and HSA cards.
A deductible is the amount of money a patient, or the insured, will pay before their insurance begins to pick up the cost. The amount varies among plans. Some patients will have a separate deductible for their prescription drugs. Insurance plans with a lower monthly premium typically have a higher deductible that will need to be met. Family plans will often have both individual and family deductibles. The important thing to remember is that all insurance plans are not alike. With so many variables in place, always have your patients contact their insurance company so that they understand what their insurance will cover, especially if they need to undergo a major procedure, such as a surgery for example, or a procedure that involves a hospital stay.
Occasionally, an insurance company will require prior authorization before they agree to pay for a specific prescription, surgical procedure, radiology scan, or lab test, for example. There are several reasons why. If it is a medical procedure, they may view the procedure as not being medically necessary or repetitive. If it is a prescription, there may be a less expensive generic alternative drug that the doctor could prescribe, and the insurance company may choose to cover the generic alternative rather than the brand name of the same medication. If a patient is having multiple scans or tests done, an authorization might be required to ensure that the tests are not duplicates, and the facility is not billing for tests that have already been performed at a previous visit. Most pharmacies and facilities send a prior authorization request to the doctor automatically. Because of this, the patient needs to have a clear understanding of how the doctor’s office handles administrative procedures pertaining to prior authorizations.
These days, many insurance policies come with an HSA (Health Savings Account). Such accounts come with a pool of money that can be used for medical expenses such as appointment copays, prescriptions, and procedures. They are a great resource, especially when the patient needs to pay an unexpected medical bill. This can also help the patient offset the costs incurred with a high deductible. Depending on the insurance plan, the HSA funds may expire or roll over. They also offer a number of tax benefits, making them an attractive alternative that many patients might consider when signing up for an insurance plan.
To work effectively in the field of healthcare, you must understand how insurance works, and the role that insurance plays in the care of your patients. This will give you an advantage when helping your patients, and it will make the billing and payment process easier for both yourself and your patients. Patient care is one of the most important aspects of healthcare and a little extra knowledge, especially about insurance processes and procedures, can go a long way.
You might have grown up hearing your grandmother tell you about a variety of home remedies for common medical conditions. Some of your grandmother’s home remedies might actually be very effective for treating common medical conditions that may not be serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room.
This article is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have any doubt about whether you need to see a doctor, do not hesitate to schedule an office visit or make a trip to the emergency room.
With that being said, let’s take a look at 20 common medical conditions that you may be able to treat with home remedies.
If you have stubborn acne which can occur at any age, there is a natural remedy which may help. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties. You can simply dab some apple cider vinegar onto the areas where you have acne, and do this several times a day, to alleviate the problem.
Joint stiffness and pain from arthritis can happen as we age, but there is help. You can try rubbing some flaxseed oil on your joints, for example. Flaxseed oil is a known anti-inflammatory that might help with your arthritis. Tai chi, meditation, heat packs, ice packs, yoga, and weight loss might also help as well.
3. ATHLETE’S FOOT
Athlete’s foot, caused by a virus infecting the foot, becomes worse if moisture is trapped inside your shoes.
Several different home remedies might help kill the athlete’s foot virus. You can try a mix of 25 to 50 percent tea tree oil, or 50 to 75 percent coconut oil, and apply it several times a day. You might also try applying full strength hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to your feet several times a day.
If you have athlete’s foot and you are also a diabetic, don’t try to treat it yourself. See a doctor right away. Even if you’re not diabetic, but the rash does not go away, or the rash turns into a sore that leaks fluid, spreads to other areas of your body, or affects your toenails, seek medical attention immediately.
Whether you burn yourself on an iron or a toaster, or you are burned in a fire, the condition is very painful.
You can treat small, minor burns at home. Start by running cool, not cold water, over the burn area. Then try applying a cold compress. You might also try applying some aloe vera gel, or some diluted cider vinegar to the burn area.
What’s interesting is that the old remedy of putting butter on a burn can actually harm your skin, because the grease in the butter slows down the release of heat from your skin. When you run cool water on your burn area, instead of applying butter, it releases the heat from the burn area and may soothe the burn area more quickly than applying butter.
If you have increased pain, redness, swelling, fever, or oozing, however, these are signs that you need to see a doctor. If the burn is larger than 2 inches, and it is painful for more than a few hours, or it worsens over time, get medical attention as soon as possible.
If you have a minor skin burn, try applying some honey to the burn area to get some quick relief. Honey is a great natural remedy that you can buy over the counter. It removes heat from the burn, and it is antimicrobial, so it helps to keep the area free from infection. Remember to always consult a physician immediately if your burn becomes a serious or ongoing chronic condition.
People swear by a variety of home remedies for treating a cough. You might try honey and lemon, or your might try different lozenges. You could also try covering your head with a towel and then leaning over a pot of steam, or sipping alcoholic beverages, or eating dishes made with hot peppers (if you don’t have high blood pressure).
Generally, coughing improves once you get over the cold or flu, but sometimes a cough can be serious. Seek medical attention if you experience chest pain, wheezing, or shortness of breath, or if you start to cough up blood. Green or yellow mucus, or a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, are also signs that you need immediate medical attention.
6. DARK CIRCLES AROUND YOUR EYES
Dark circles can be an annoying cosmetic problem, but not usually a medical condition. It happens because the skin under your eyelids is very thin, and when blood is pooled in the area beneath your eyes, it causes your undereye area to look discolored.
Lack of sleep, excess stress, eye strain, or other issues of general wellness can cause this problem. The Mayo Clinic says it’s okay to use home remedies to treat dark circles, but if discoloration and swelling appear under just one of your eyes, or it gets worse over time, then it’s time to make an appointment to see your doctor.
You might also want to try some popular topical treatments. For example, you might want to try closing your eyes, and applying cucumber slices or cooled wet tea bags to your eyes while you have them closed. Another suggestion would be to try placing a mask of pureed mint leaves around the perimeter of your eyes. Don’t forget that rest, stress relief, and good nutrition are essential to helping with dark circles under the eyes. Staying out of the sun can also help too.
If you’ve ever suffered from diarrhea, you’ve probably heard of the “BRAT” diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast). It is a bland diet that you can use temporarily to give your stomach a rest. Try this, and see if it helps with your diarrhea.
If you’ve ever suffered from gout, you know it can be a painful experience. Gout is a form of arthritis. Gout occurs when you have too much uric acid in your blood. It can be caused by eating the wrong foods or drinking alcohol, for example, because the alcohol causes uric acid to form in your blood. Symptoms include intense pain in the big toe, a swollen foot, or a swollen knee joint, for example.
A mild case of gout can be treated at home. If you have gout, try to ice and elevate the affected joint. Ask for help with daily tasks so you can relax as much as possible, especially if you have gout in your feet or your knee joints. Drink plenty of fluids, but no alcohol or sweet sodas. You might also try some common home remedies for gout, such as concentrated tart cherry juice, ginger, magnesium supplements, a mix of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, warm water, and turmeric.
Always call your doctor the first time you have symptoms so you can learn about ways to control your uric acid by avoiding certain foods and certain drinks for instance, to help prevent future attacks of gout. You can find additional information by contacting the Arthritis Foundation.
9. HAIR LOSS
Hair loss can occur at any age, in both men and women. Hair loss may occur for any number of reasons, including stress, low vitamin levels, anemia, or chemotherapy, for example. If you are losing your hair, you might try coconut oil hair treatments, or you might consider taking ginseng, fish oil, or Visviscal vitamin supplements (to promote hair growth from the inside out). Massaging the scalp might help also. You can find some additional tips for hair growth here.
You can get headaches for a variety of reasons. Headaches may be caused stress, or caused by a medical condition that has not been treated. High blood pressure or depression might also cause headaches. More severe forms of headaches include migraine headaches and tension headaches. Migraine headaches are often caused by stress or anxiety, while tension headaches are caused by muscle spasms in the head and neck region. The mental stress of daily life can also cause eye strain that can lead to headaches, as well as sitting or working in an uncomfortable position.
Relieving stress, getting enough rest, and healthy eating can help you prevent different types of headaches. For immediate relief without medication, try placing hot or cold packs on your forehead or back of the neck. You might also try drinking some water or a caffeinated beverage, or getting a neck massage. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or other mild pain medication often offer relief, but it’s best to avoid long term use. If your headaches are frequent or are severe enough to disrupt your life, see your physician as soon as possible. Click this link for more suggestions on how to relieve headaches.
Many of us have probably experienced heartburn, the burning pain in the upper abdomen, usually at night or after eating a heavy meal. Heartburn can be brief, or it can become a chronic condition that occurs over a long length of time.
When it only occurs once and awhile, or only when we eat certain foods (and we expect to get heartburn from eating certain foods we like), it is not usually a serious condition. But if you start to have chest pain or pressure in addition to heartburn, this might be a sign of a heart attack. In this situation, you should call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room immediately, especially if the condition persists, or if you have other symptoms such as difficulty eating or nausea and vomiting in addition to the heartburn and the chest pain or chest pressure.
To alleviate heartburn, you can also try standing up straighter, wearing loose clothing, taking a mix of backing soda and water, drinking pure organic apple cider (also available at your local vitamin store), sleeping in an elevated position, and other home remedies.
12. INDIGESTION OR UPSET STOMACH
You can get indigestion or an upset stomach from something as simple as eating or drinking too much, or can be a sign of a more serious undiagnosed condition, especially if you have indigestion or an upset stomach that lasts for a longer length of time. You might try drinking ginger ale, because the real ginger helps with queasiness. You can also try drinking some ginger tea to help settle your stomach. You might also find some good teas to settle your stomach by making a quick trip to the nearest Vitamin Shoppe, or to another vitamin store in your area.
If you have ingrown toenails, your shoes or socks might be too tight. Ingrown toenails can also be caused by wearing high heels, or not trimming your toenails correctly, so remember to always trim your toenails straight across. Don’t make the sides rounded. Training your skin is another great way to cure or prevent problems with ingrown toenails. Apply lotion every evening, and push the skin away from the sides of your toenail. Your goal is to free the tip of your nail by pulling your skin to the side. Try soaking your feet several times a day in warm water also. Another suggestion is to run a strand of thin dental floss back and forth between your toenail and your skin, once you have separated the two.
To prevent ingrown toenails, remember to wear absorbent, natural fiber socks, or socks made of modern moisture wicking materials. Change your shoes and socks as often as possible, and see your doctor if the problem does not resolve itself quickly. If you are a diabetic, talk with your doctor to confirm that it is okay to cut your own toenails, and about the best method to use when cutting your toenails if you are a diabetic, because your doctor may want you to cut your toenails to the shape of your toes, and not straight across.
14. INSECT BITES
It’s hard to get through summer, without at least a mosquito bite or a bee sting. Unless you have an allergic reaction to a bee sting, for example, you can usually treat yourself at home without making a trip to the emergency room.
Apply rubbing alcohol or ammonia immediately to the affected area to prevent pain and swelling. You can also try using cold packs to reduce swelling. If your skin is itching, try applying some calamine lotion or some rubbing alcohol to the area to stop the itching.
If the insect bite causes severe hives, redness, and heat, call your doctor. If red streaks appear on your skin, moving away from the bite site, or if you experience shortness of breath, get immediate medical attention. WebMD’s insect bite diagnosis section offers a great guide for home treatment and deciding whether you need to seek help for your insect bite.
Are you having a hard time sleeping or staying asleep? You might try drinking a cup of chamomile tea. This is an old remedy that works really well. You might also try listening to subliminal videos or downloading audio tracks from YouTube for relaxation. If you download audio tracks for relaxation, try plugging a sleep mask into your listening device, and placing the sleep mask over your eyes to block out light while you listen, to help you drift off to a peaceful night’s sleep and to block out excess noise. If you have a TV in your bedroom, consider moving your TV out of your bedroom, or turning it off before you go to sleep. Considering purchasing blackout curtains to block light from coming into your bedroom. Another suggestion would be to turn on a ceiling fan to use as white noise and to create a peaceful atmosphere for sleep.
16. MENSTRUAL CRAMPS
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus during the female monthly menstrual cycle. If you are a female and you suffer from cramps each month, try wearing loose fitting clothing. You might also try some herbal tea, such as green tea, ginger tea, or a tea that you can purchase in a vitamin store to relieve cramps. Also try a heating pad with an automatic shut-off option, in case you fall asleep after placing it on your stomach or your lower back overnight. Contrary to old wives’ tales, a hot bath might help also.
17. NASAL CONGESTION
Nasal congestion is usually caused by a cold or seasonal allergy. If you have nasal congestion from a cold or seasonal allergies, you can use natural saline spray. A few squirts to each nostril will moisten your nasal passages and help with inflammation.
18. POISON IVY
If you go camping in the summertime, for example, you might accidentally come in contact with poison ivy. Some people are immune to the effects of this plant, but if you are not immune to poison ivy, it can cause itching, skin rash, blisters, and shortness of breath, among other conditions.
A common home cure that you can try is calamine. You can also try an oatmeal bath with Epsom salt. Consider trying a paste of cold coffee and baking soda, or rubbing a banana peel or watermelon rind over your skin rash.
If your rash extends to the eyes or your mucous membranes, or if you have a fever, trouble breathing or swallowing, or puss-filled blisters, you need to see a physician immediately. Here is an excellent link for poison ivy treatment and prevention information.
19. ROUGH DRY SKIN
There are many reasons why you might have rough dry skin. You might be washing your hands frequently or dry weather may cause your skin to become rough or dry. To moisturize your skin, check your kitchen cabinet and see if you have any olive oil in your kitchen. If so, rub some olive oil lightly on your skin to get some instant relief.
20. SORE MUSCLES
If you’ve been standing on your feet all day, or you just ache all over from exercising or working outdoors, for example, try pouring some Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) into a warm relaxing bath.
Can you think of some more home remedies? Feel free to add some more home remedies to our Facebook page. If you’d like to learn more about different areas of healthcare, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog for news you can use about many different healthcare subjects. If you’re interested in pursing a career in healthcare, or you’re interested in learning about healthcare-related subjects, such as how to prevent disease by eating fruits and vegetables, enroll in the fruits and vegetables course offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy. Visit our website for more information on the many different courses that we offer.