The Dangers of Wearing Decorative Contact Lenses Without a Prescription

shutterstock_298151288Though it may be pretty cool to wear decorative contact lenses as part of a costume, to show support for your favorite sports team or just for something different, there can be some serious risks associated with non-prescription contact lenses. There are a host of problems that wearing these unregulated lenses can cause.

The biggest problem with unregulated colored contacts is that folks who do not normally wear contact lenses do not know how to properly care for them. Because of this, they may not be cleaned correctly, and when this happens, dirt and germs get in the eye when the lenses are inserted. This can cause some pretty severe infections, and if even microscopic particles get between the contacts and your eye, they can scratch the surface of your eye. It is not unheard of for people to have severe damage to the cornea which can cause pain and even blindness.

There is also an issue with the legality of non-prescribed contact lenses. As of 2005, it is illegal for anyone to sell contact lenses to a customer without a prescription. This hasn’t stopped greedy retailers from continuing to offer them for sale however. They are also available online, but they have been made illegal for a reason.

If you want to wear colored contacts, the only way you should go about getting the product is to see an optometrist and get an actual prescription. You do not need to have corrective lenses; the eye doctor will just want to make sure that you will be fitted with a pair that will correctly fit your eye. This will also allow you to eliminate the possibility of getting an improperly manufactured pair from an unlicensed seller that could cause you pain and even blindness.

If you have any questions regarding vision insurance, or whether colored contacts will be covered under your plan, please contact The Benefits Store and we’ll be happy to help you.

Assurant Leaving California? What You Need to Know!

shutterstock_136023026Assurant leaving California?  In less than a year, Californians will have one less option when it comes to health insurance.

Assurant, the large insurance company that caters to businesses, employees and homeowners, is about to get out of the health insurance business.

The announcement was made in May 2015, but its impact is just beginning to be felt by tens of thousands of people in California who relied on Assurant Health for medical, dental and vision coverage. Today, people previously covered by Assurant Health are looking for other insurance options—and finding that there are a lot of questions to be answered.

Here’s a look at what health insurance consumers in California need to know about Assurant leaving the state:

Assurant leaving California? It’s not personal

Assurant isn’t exclusively calling it quits in California. The company is actually doing away with its entire health insurance operation. According to media reports about the decision, Assurant decided to shutter its health insurance unit because it was losing incredible amounts of money, including between $80 and $90 million in the first quarter of 2015.

Consumers might receive a rebate

Depending on when payments are made and when a plan will be terminated, consumers may be eligible for a rebate from Assurant. According to the company, rebates are based on customers’ 2014 coverage. Assurant is encouraging all customers with questions about their coverage to contact their representatives.

Consumers need to take care of their Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

People with HSAs through Assurant will continue to own the funds—but they will need to appoint a new custodian. Anyone who has questions about HSAs is encouraged to call 1-800-800-1212, ext. 8886, to speak with an Assurant representative.

There are other options available

Luckily, California is home to an array of companies that offer medical, dental and vision insurance to people in all stages of their lives. Unfortunately, understanding the Affordable Care Act and how it affects which type of health insurance coverage is right for individuals and families in California can be confusing.

For help understanding all of the insurance options available in California, contact the experts at the Benefits Store today.


15 People Charged in Huge Insurance Fraud Bust in California

shutterstock_225393481California prosecutors have charged 15 people, including a doctor, following a 5-year investigation. The charges against them involve the fraudulent billing of around $150 million from insurers. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is calling it one of the biggest insurance fraud scams the state has ever seen.

The charges involve two indictments in which a number of individuals, including attorneys, referred patients to the medical clinics that were run by Munir Uwaydah, a physician. In exchange, these individuals were paid upwards of $15,000 a month. Uwaydah documented evaluations at these clinics that never actually happened and his staff justified surgeries that were performed by falsifying records. Additionally, these surgeries were performed by a physician’s assistant who had never attended medical school. Nor were any of the surgeries overseen by an actual surgeon. As many as two dozen patients that had these surgeries performed on them now have lasting scars—and many of these patients have had to undergo additional surgical procedures in order to repair damage caused by the initial surgeries.

Those charged in the case, including Uwaydah, are facing 132 felony charges. Uwaydah is currently awaiting extradition in Germany while 11 of the other individuals charged have plead not guilty to the charges. The felony charges include aggravated mayhem and capping, insurance fraud and conspiracy. One of the physicians working for Uwaydah, David Johnson, has been charged with overbilling insurance companies for medical exams that were never performed as well as for prescription drugs. Several others have been charged for falsifying documents that are related to the case.

Uwaydah had his license cancelled in 2013 due to a case brought against him by the California Medical Board back in 2009. He has also been charged in a separate indictment for illegal patient referrals, filing false tax returns, laundering money and for conspiring to commit insurance fraud. Uwaydah and 11 of the others that have been charged could face life in prison if they are convicted.

We want to keep you informed of important medical and insurance issues as they occur. Please Contact The Benefits Store for Prompt, Professional Service for all California Medical Plans.

How Much Do Medical Procedures Really Cost? New Website Reveals Costs and Quality

shutterstock_144337669A lot of people don’t understand how much medical procedures actually cost until they have to pay them. This is why having health insurance is so important and why the Affordable Care Act was passed in order to provide everyone with health insurance. However, knowing the out-of-pocket costs of medical procedures is important too. Knowing this information can help people to determine what type of health insurance will best suit their needs. A new website, California Healthcare Compare, can help people figure out how much medical procedures will cost depending on where they live in the state.

Some California residents might think that medical procedures will cost the same no matter where they live within the state. This, unfortunately, isn’t true. For example, the costs of having a baby in California can be drastically different depending on where someone lives—even if they have health insurance. For example, the out-of-pocket costs of having an uncomplicated birth in Orange County is an average of $1,800. In San Mateo County it’s around $920.

The California Healthcare Compare website is incredibly helpful in that it provides information about five of the most common medical conditions and procedures. These include childbirth, colon cancer screenings, hip and knee replacement, back pain and diabetes. The only drawback at the moment is that the site focuses on comparing information about either the costs associated with these conditions or procedures, or the quality of care provided by the hospitals treating these conditions or offering these procedures, and not both. However, this information can still be incredibly helpful for people since it will help them determine how much they can expect to pay for medical care and procedures where they live, thereby allowing them to plan accordingly in choosing a health insurance policy that will fit their needs best.

Before choosing a health insurance plan, check out the California Healthcare Compare website for helpful information about the costs and quality of medical procedures within the area you live. For more information about healthcare insurance, be sure to contact us at The Benefits Store today.

Your October 2015 Checklist

shutterstock_141564328The fall season is in full swing now that it is October. The fall season marks the beginning of the holiday season for many, with Halloween and Thanksgiving being two of the major holidays that many look forward to. Before beginning to prepare for these holidays, check out the following October checklist first:

  • Fire safety – October marks the first real change in the weather. The temperatures are beginning to get colder, which means that people are going to begin cranking up the heat as well as making use of their fireplaces. It’s important that fire safety becomes a priority through both the fall season and the following winter season. Everyone should make sure that they have smoke alarms installed on every level of their home. Replace the batteries and test every smoke alarm in the house to make sure it’s working properly.
  • Record fall memories – Fall is easily one of the most beautiful times of the year. Begin photographing the trees as the colors begin changing color and dropping off. The addition of more foggy and misty days adds can add mystery and atmosphere to these photographs. Amateur and professional photographers alike should keep an eye out for reflections of these beautiful scenes in water, such as small ponds or lakes, in order to capture particularly striking images.
  • Begin planting for next year – For anyone that wants a bit more color on their property, plan ahead for next October by planting trees and shrubs known for their colorful aesthetic now, such as Japanese maples, sassafras, baldcypress, euonymous bushes and more.
  • Eat healthy to fight seasonal depression – The days are beginning to grow shorter and the weather does take a turn for the gloomy – especially when compared to the preceding summer season. Everyone should make sure that they eat foods that are rich in omega-3s, such as salmon and walnuts. Foods rich in tryptophan, such as spinach and turkey, can help people avoid the seasonal depression as well.

Keep this October checklist in mind this month and be sure to contact us at The Benefits Store for health insurance advice.