Home Health Care Bill of Rights

Recipients of home health care in Illinois have certain inalienable rights of privacy guaranteed by the Privacy Act of 1974. Agencies who provide home health care and participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs are required by law to do a complete assessment of your current health status, which includes information which can be used to indicate your progress towards your goals. Home health agencies must use the OASIS – the Outcome and Assessment Information Set to evaluate your health. And to accomplish this, the agency must obtain information from you. This information will be used by the HCFA (Health Care Financing Administration, the government’s Medicare and Medicaid agency) to ensure that your agency meets quality standards, and administers its patients appropriate care. As a patient, you have the right to refuse to provide information to assess your agency. If you choose to provide information for the assessment, it is then protected by the Federal Privacy Act of 1974 and the HHA OASIS – the Home Health Agency Outcome and Assessment Information Set records system. You always have the right to examine, review, copy, and request corrections of your information in the HHA OASIS records system.The information which is collected will be used for a number of purposes. In the first place, it can support litigation which involves the Health Care Financing Administration, as well as support requests by constituents to Congressional representatives. The information is also used to support policy, regulatory, and reimbursement functions performed by the Health Care Financing Administration and by home health care providing agencies. The information is also used to study the quality and effectiveness of care which is provided by agencies providing home healthcare in Illinois. Assessments based on this information are used to survey and certify Medicare and Medicaid agencies; and they enable regulators to provide these agencies with data to improve the quality of their patient care. The information is also used to develop, validate, and refine the system under which Medicare disburses payments; and for health care payment related projects. It also supports the research and evaluation of epidemiological projects which relate to the prevention of disability and disease; or which maintain or restore health.The Health Care Financing Administration can release your information without your consent, but recipients of this information must agree in writing to continue the confidentiality of your information. Release of your health and independent retirement living information is permitted only to the Federal Department of Justice for litigation involving the Health Care Financing Administration; to agencies to assist them in improving their services; to state governmental agencies for evaluating the cost and effectiveness of state services; to congressional offices responding to constituent inquiries, made at the constituents’ written request; and to individuals and organizations researching epidemiological projects relating to disease or disability prevention. While you, the patient, are under no obligation to provide information on the OASIS (the government cannot instruct the agency to refuse you its services), nonetheless incomplete or invalid information can cause payment errors, and make it more difficult to determine whether the agency is providing you with quality service.

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Lower Health Care Costs

Everyone is attacking the insurance companies and rightfully so. They have been asking for it every time they come up with another excuse to deny someone the care they need. They’ve become the evil in the industry when they put a policy in place to deny, deny, deny until the people who are entitled finally give up filling out form after form.Of course, the American people are looking to the president to solve the problem. It doesn’t look as if the problem is anywhere close to being solved. In 2008, Obama said that making the American people buy their own insurance is like requiring the homeless to buy homes. In 2010, just two years later, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act he enacted did that very thing and in 2012 it was upheld by the Supreme Court even though it was immediately challenged by a majority of the States in the U.S.In all of this turmoil, I don’t hear too many people complaining about the cost of health care itself. I’m not saying I don’t hear people complaining at all. I’m saying that the squeaky wheel gets the attention and the squeaky wheel in all this is the complaint about insurance companies and what the president can do. Health care costs itself could use a little more attention.When a visit to the ER for a broken wrist costs a thousand dollars, I think we’re talking about a health care system that is literally running away itself unchecked. Walk into a hospital and look on the wall for a menu, a price list or anything that other businesses are required to provide. You won’t walk into a restaurant and order before knowing what the cost will be. Why can the hospital get away with it?So, you can’t control the insurance companies and you can’t control the mess the government is making. How about take matters in your own hands and start cutting health care costs yourself? It’s not that hard. All you need to know is that the options are available and be willing to use them.First of all, cut down on the trips you make to the hospital or the doctor’s office. This does not apply to people who have ongoing conditions that require frequent doctor’s office visits. If that doesn’t apply to you, then by all means be your own doctor.If you have a symptom, look it up on the internet. Go to the credible sites that offer solid advice. Webmd is at the top of my list. But, you should also look at a few others. Just like you might get a second or third opinion on serious medical conditions, go to several different sites and make sure they are all giving the same advice. Mayoclinic, Medicinenet and Healthline are some others that have articles written by doctors and you just might find the information you need.Remember though, if you take your health care into your own hands, you are responsible for following the advice the right way and using your own discretion if you happen to have a condition that precludes you from taking said advice. In a legal slap happy world, people love putting blame on others when they really only have themselves to blame. Quit being part of the problem, looking for that easy paycheck, and become part of the solution.Cutting down on hospital or doctor’s office visits also means that you need to stock up on certain supplies and have them in your house or in your car at all times. Make yourself a kit of common medical items that you might possibly need for non-emergency situations. Bandaids, gauze, tape, peroxide, wound cleaners and anything else that you can imagine that will make your kit complete. Make a smaller kit of only the essentials for your pocketbook or book bag.If there is a symptom that doesn’t require emergency attention and you have tried to look it up or you are unsure of what to do, go to a clinic. That’s why they are there. Clinics offer low cost solutions to getting medical advice. But you might get offered a prescription or a treatment that you can’t afford. Don’t hesitate to ask for alternatives. You’d be surprised how effective alternative health care treatments can be.In the case that a trip to the hospital or the doctor’s office is necessary, there are still great ways to cut down on health care costs. The first thing you need to know is that health care does not have to cost as much as it does. Keep in mind that it’s a business. The insurance companies look at it like a business. The doctors and the hospitals run it like a business. So, treat it like a business!If you have to go to the hospital, challenge the bill when you get it. Take it to the business office and negotiate it down. There is a sizable margin of wiggle room and you have every right to ask for it. Most of the time, you’ll get a reduced cost without even an argument. When they do argue, don’t take “no” for an answer. Climb the ladder of supervisors until you get to the decision maker. You will find that behind the closed doors is a much nicer person willing to give you a highly reduced hospital bill.If you require surgery, treatment or any health care that will be set in the future, negotiate the bill upfront. Just like negotiating the hospital bill that you’ve already received, you can negotiate future health care costs as well. Climb the ladder to the decision maker and ask them what they can do for you. If insurance companies can get discounts of up to forty percent, then why shouldn’t you be entitled to the same?Insurance companies aren’t designed with you in mind. They are money-making factories put in place to take your money and hope that they never have to pay. Looking to the government for the solution really isn’t doing anyone any good. When the government is required to find a solution, they have to find one that fits all shapes and sizes for all of its constituents. A task that is nearly impossible.Take matters in your hands when you can and make sure you follow through when you make that decision. You just might live longer anyway. After all, you should be able to figure out what’s best for you and possibly keep yourself out of the hospital or the doctor’s office altogether.

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Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

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5 Tips for Buying an Office Chair for the First Time

Since office chairs come in a lot of styles, shapes, and materials, making a choice can be quite overwhelming. For instance, some of them are made for accessional use, while others are more suitable for routine use. Aside from this, there are other factors to consider, such as price, finish, color, and style. Given below are some tips to help you make a better choice.

1. Consider your usage

These units are designed for a variety of purposes. For instance, if you get an executive chair, it will allow you to talk to your senior employees comfortably. On the other, if you are suffering from back issues, it is better that you opt for a chair designed to make your back feel comfortable. Basically, these units are designed in order to provide more support for your back and body. The good thing is that you can adjust these chairs based on your sitting posture.

If you are a heavy computer user and spend a lot of time working on your computer, we suggest that you consider an ergonomic chair.

2. Consider your desired parts

The majority of office chairs have some common major components such as armrests, the seat, and the backrest. For backrest, it all boils down to the lumbar support. Ideally, it should match the natural curve of your back so that you can relax your lower back. It is even better if the chair allows you to recline without any problem.

Another important component is the seat. Make sure that the edge of the seat is rounded and downward-sloping. This will help improve blood circulation to your legs. If you are a heavy, tall person, it is better that you go for a chair that features higher backs and wider seats.

While typing, armrests allow you to place your hands comfortably. Apart from this, an adjustable armrest is another great feature to have in your desired unit.

3. Consider the adjustment features

You should adjust the chair to perform your desired task without suffering an injury. It is easy to adjust the mentioned components using levers and knobs while you are sitting in the chair. For example, the chairs of today feature a lot of mechanisms, such as tilt angle control, adjustable lumbar support, and adjustable height control. Make sure that the unit you are looking for allows these adjustments.

4. Consider the material

If you go for an upholstered unit, you can enjoy a cushioned seat and a lot of color and style options. Apart from this, synthetic fabrics with stain resistance offer a higher level of durability. On the other hand, leather is known for comfort and durability. If you are looking for something easy to clean, faux leather is your best bet.

5. Consider the environment

Based on the type of floors you have in your workspace, you should decide on the dimensions, colors, and styles of the chair. For example, you should get a survival type if you have to move around your workspace to get access to different equipment.
If you have a small office, it is better that you opt for a chair that comes with a lower back. Lastly, you can go for a traditional or modern office chair based on your personal interest.

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