Self Health Care - Why a Medical Checkup Isn't Enough

Medical checkups are commonly seen as an excellent method of self health care. With the pink ribbon splattered on everything from tools to bracelets to buckets of KFC, women get the impression that they're doing themselves a great favor when they undergo their yearly mammogram.

Unfortunately, mammograms do nothing to prevent breast cancer. They only serve to detect tumors that have gotten large enough to be seen by the human eye (over 100 billion cancer cells). If you receive a cancer diagnosis, the available treatments have not been shown to prolong life significantly, and they come with some serious side effects. Besides all that, the risk of breast cancer for women under fifty is about one in a thousand (i.e., pretty low). The mammogram brand of self health care should not be considered, "taking care of yourself".

So if medical checkups aren't the ticket to effective self health care, then what is? To answer that question, I took a look at the scientific research. I asked, what does work to prevent illness and promote longevity in humans? Several answers popped up over and over again. I must warn you that they're not very exciting, but here they are: eat right, exercise, don't smoke, and maintain a healthy low weight. That's right, and I'm sorry there's no new magic pill to report.

But wait a minute-what does it mean to "eat right"? Well, the medical literature is pretty conclusive on that, too. "Eating right" amounts to eating copious amounts of high-nutrient foods-primarily green vegetables, fruits, seeds, and beans. For instance, a recent study published in the Journal of Cancer (2008) reported a 64% reduction of breast cancer risk in women who at mushrooms daily.

You see, whole, unrefined plant foods are supremely high in phytonutrients--plant-derived chemicals--that protect us against disease and aging (unlike pink mammograms). Study after study shows that as our consumption of these foods goes up (especially dark leafy greens like kale and collards), our disease risk decreases significantly. But the key here is volume. If you take a nutrient-deficient diet--one based on bread, pasta, cereal, milk, chicken, olive oil--and add a cup of kale to it, you probably won't see many benefits. Ideally, to get the maximum protection from the thousands of phytochemicals abounding in unrefined plants, you have to eat lots of them-12-14 servings/day! Now that's excellent self health care!

Another benefit of this diet style is that it is highly weight-loss favorable. By eating 12-14 servings/day of fresh fruits and veggies, you fill up your belly with low-calorie, nutrient-rich food, so there's no room left for all the other empty-calorie stuff (the bread, oils, etc.). A diet style high in micronutrients--vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals--allows you to eat as much as you want while still losing weight, diminishing your disease risk factors even more. And it turns out to be much easier to prevent breast cancer (and other cancers and disease) than to cure it.

Now, I'm not saying it's easy to switch from the disease-causing standard American diet (SAD) to a high-nutrient diet. And the popular media doesn't help with its emphasis on sensational news stories instead of reporting valid scientific research, so you may not be convinced that a nutrient-rich diet style can actually prevent breast cancer or take the place of a medical checkup. Many of us have to overcome years of programming about the necessity of dairy for strong bones (not necessary or even beneficial for bones) and the benefits of olive oil (an overhyped, super-high-calorie, low-nutrient refined "food") before we start to believe in the tremendous value of leafy greens (think, "elephants"-where do they get their protein?). Well, I hope this article has piqued your interest. Now go take a brisk walk around the block and have an XXL salad for supper!

What is a Health Medical Plan Deductible?

A deductible is a specific dollar amount that your health insurance company requires that you pay out of your pocket each year before the health insurance company begins to make payments for claims. As an exception, not all health medical plans have a deductible such as an HMO or a zero dollar deductible plan. However, most PPO and Indemnity plans typically do require a deductible in their plans to keep premiums affordable.

The deductible is an annual amount per insured person; there will be a maximum amount of deductibles you will have to pay in a given year. In regards to family coverage in health medical plans, your family will have an out of pocket expense by an amount of two to three times your individual deductible to satisfy first before the health insurance company pays for your claims.

For example, if the per person deductible is $1000, and you have four people in your family covered under your health insurance, the maximum family deductible will usually be $3000. Once the people in your family have paid out a $3000 deductible, no more deductibles will apply to any member of the family for the remainder of the year.

The insurance company does have a maximum of per person deductibles per policy. This can very with each policy and company is different regarding their maximum deductible and out of pocket maximum. In some health medical plans the deductible does apply to the maximum of pocket, and in other polices it is consider separate from the annual maximum out of pocket. Please be sure to read the specifics of your policy with your health medical plans company.

Health insurance deductibles can vary and will be effect your insurance premiums. By adjusting your health medical plan deductible you premiums will either increase or decrease. Typically if you increase your deductible you will lower your premium. New High Deductible Health Plans can save you and your family premium dollars over time.

The federal government regulates the detail High Deductible Health Plans limits each year. In the year 2008, the minimum deductible amount for a High Deductible Health Plan is $1,100 for individual only coverage and $2,200 for family coverage. In addition, the maximum out-of-pocket amount for individual only coverage is $5,600 and $11,200 for families. A high deductible health plan typically offers a higher deductible in return for generally lower premiums. For more detail, please contact your health medical plans broker.

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