Covered California Drops Pregnant Customers Without Warning

pregnant-woman-covered-californiaCalifornia residents that are currently pregnant and that are insured through Covered California may want to think twice about reporting their pregnancy. This is because a recent policy change in Medi-Cal eligibility has resulted in a glitch that has caused more than 1,900 women to be transferred from their Covered California health plans to Medi-Cal, which is the state’s health program for low-income residents.

A Glitch in the Covered California System

This transfer has occurred without the knowledge or the consent of those whose Covered California health plans were dropped once they were transferred to Medi-Cal. This is a serious issue, since a pregnant woman could end up missing out on prenatal care because they no longer have proper health insurance coverage. According to Covered California, all of this was caused by a computer glitch, which although identified, won’t be fixed until September.

Because of this glitch, those who are currently insured through Covered California and are pregnant should not report their pregnancies to Covered California. First of all, it’s not even a requirement to report pregnancies, so there’s no reason to do it in the first place. Secondly, by reporting their pregnancy, they could risk having their coverage dropped due to the glitch.

Similar Issues With HealthCare.gov

A similar issue has been reported with HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance exchange. The glitch has caused computer systems to immediately transition women to Medicaid after reporting their pregnancies.

The Source of the Issue

Consumers are typically placed in either Medi-Cal or Covered California, depending on their income level. They don’t have a choice between the two — but the rules are different for pregnant women whose household income falls between roughly $22,100 to $34,100 for a family of two. Pregnant women that fall in this income bracket are automatically placed in Medi-Cal, but they technically get to choose, even though they aren’t informed about this option.

Women with health insurance through Covered California should avoid reporting their pregnancies at this time. To stay up to date with important health insurance related news, be sure to visit us at The Benefits Store today.

Saving Amanda: One Family’s Struggle With Mental Illness

mental illness imageMental illness is a serious condition that affects millions of people. In fact, it’s much more common than people realize. It’s estimated that roughly 18.5 percent of American adults experience mental illness within a given year and around 4.2 percent of American adults suffer from a serious mental illness that has a drastic impact on one or more of their major life activities. Unfortunately, less than half receive treatment. Mental illness is often misunderstood and can have dire effects if not properly treated. And it’s not just those that are suffering from mental illness that have to live with the struggle—their loved ones do too. Just take for example Amanda Lipp.

Back in 2010, Amanda’s parents Pam and Doug were informed that their daughter was being held at a psychiatric crisis center. Amanda had attempted to throw herself in front of a moving car while attending college. Her parents were told that she had fallen into a state of psychosis—she was selling off her belongings and falling under the belief that she was being followed by cameras. It wasn’t until then that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Amanda exhibited signs of her mental illness as far back as middle school. She would experience extreme mood swings and would often get into huge arguments with her parents. Pam realized her daughter needed help and went to their family doctor. Their doctor provided a list of nearby therapists. Unfortunately, the list was not only out of date, but therapy was extremely expensive. They couldn’t afford the number of sessions she needed, even though she was diagnosed with depression.

After being held in the psychiatric crisis center, Amanda was moved to a hospital, which focused on treating her medically. The family were worried about expenses. Fortunately, a federal law was passed in 2008 that required mental illness to be covered without limitations.

Mental illness affects millions of people, and it’s important that a correct diagnosis is given in order to get proper treatment. For legal advice and protection in regards to receiving such treatments, consider the LegalShield plan at the Benefits Store.

Shelter Dog Rescues His Master

shelter dog imageMost people are aware of how big of an impact a pet dog can have on their lives on an emotional level. The companionship of a dog can help to diminish feelings of loneliness and stress, after all. However, what many people may not realize is that adopting a pet dog can have a positive effect on one’s physical health as well. Take for example the case of Eric O’Grey.

O’Grey was suffering from Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He also weighed 320 pounds and was spending over $1,000 a month on medication to treat his conditions. In 2010, he was in such bad physical shape that his doctor told him that he was likely to die within five years—he was 51 at the time. So he scheduled an appointment with a naturopathic doctor in the hopes of losing weight. The doctor told him to get a shelter dog.

O’Grey took his doctor’s advice and adopted an overweight, middle-aged dog—he wanted a dog that was like him. The dog, named Peety, needed to be walked on a daily basis. O’Grey began taking Peety on half-hour walks on a daily basis, while also adjusting his diet to a plant-based diet. Over just a single year, he lost 140 pounds and Peety lost 25 pounds. While the diet was an important factor in losing so much weight, so was the exercise that he was getting. More importantly, having a dog gave him an excuse to exercise—and it kept him from backsliding into unhealthy ways. It’s easy to stop going to a gym—but it’s hard to stop walking one’s dog.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, O’Grey’s story isn’t an outlier. They have stated that having a pet can help the owner to not only decrease feelings of loneliness, but also to decrease high cholesterol, high blood pressure and triglycerides. Not to mention that adopting a pet from a shelter benefits the pet as well!  Here at The Benefits Store, we strive to keep Californians up-to-date with all the latest medical news.

New Study: Californians Face High Diabetes Risk

Diabetes ImageBoth diabetes and prediabetes (which results when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but aren’t high enough to be considered full diabetes) are serious issues in the United States. A new study revealed that residents of California in particular face a high risk of diabetes. The study, which was performed by researchers at UCLA (University of California Los Angeles), revealed that almost 50 percent of all Californian adults either have elevated blood sugar levels that could lead to diabetes or have undiagnosed diabetes.

Diabetes Statistics

UCLA researchers had access to the health data of over 6,400 people from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey as well as the health data from another 40,000 people that was provided by the California Health Interview Survey.

Research revealed that around 33 percent of all Californians between the ages of 18 and 39 had the elevated blood glucose levels that are characteristic of prediabetes. Prediabetes results in a much higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is an endocrine disease in which the body can’t properly use insulin— it’s more often seen in older adults.

Diabetes Prevention

One of the problems with prediabetes is that experts are still divided as to how often prediabetes actually develops into full-blown diabetes. Many medical experts believe that medicalizing large populations based on specific health indicators is a mistake. Either way, public health advocates are trying to increase awareness of the condition in an attempt to improve access to medical screenings as well as encourage lifestyle changes to prevent the disease.

Unfortunately, California spends less on diabetes prevention than any other state—and according to a 2015 state auditor’s report, it relies on federal grants instead of state money for its programs. However, a bill was recently introduced that would require the Department of Public Health to improve its reporting on the effect of diabetes on the state as well as its efforts to prevent diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious concern for California residents. Keep up to date with the latest health news in California by visiting us at The Benefits Store.

Anxiety Leads to Poor Decision Making

Anxiety pictureIt’s not uncommon for people to experience so-called “butterflies in their stomachs” from time to time, especially when they have a big event or decision coming up. For example, it’s not unusual to be a little nervous when speaking in front of a crowd or going in for a job interview. Unfortunately, for some people, it’s more than just being a little nervous—it’s having anxiety, which can control their daily lives. And according to a recent study, anxiety can actually lead to poor decision making.

The NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has reported that anxiety disorders, which include everything from social anxiety disorder to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), affect roughly 18.1 percent of the American population. Recent research performed by Bita Moghaddam and a team of colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania’s Department of Neuroscience has revealed that anxiety doesn’t just affect individuals emotionally, but can also impact decision-making, which in turn can negatively affect everyday life. These results were recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Moghaddam and her team analyzed the brain cells in the prefrontal cortex of two different groups of rats as they performed decision-making tasks. The decision made by the rats affected whether they would receive a reward. One of the groups of rats was given a low dosage of an anxiety-inducing drug, while the other group was given a placebo injection. It was revealed that the anxiety-induced rats made many more mistakes in their decision-making than the non-anxious rats. It’s important to note that the choices the rats had in the decision-making process involved information that allowed for a logical choice to be made in order to receive the reward.

The research revealed that the decision-making mistakes were caused by the effect that anxiety has on the neurons that have the specific task of making choices. Basically, anxiety does not over-engage brain circuits like it was originally believed— instead, it disengages brain cells in a specialized manner. Here at The Benefits Store, we make sure that California residents are kept up to date with all health related news.