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The Web Provides Valuable & Trustworthy Healthcare Info

July 28, 2009 | Healthcare | Press Releases | No Comments

The Internet has become a powerful influence in health care. Eleven years ago, in 1998, The Harris Poll reported that about one-quarter of all adults, 54 million people had ever gone online to look for health information. This number increased rapidly every year until 2007, when we found that 71% of adults, 160 million people, had done this. The great majority of users find this information reliable and many discuss it with their doctors.

However, last year and again this year we have found no increase in the number of cyberchondriacs (the word we use to describe these people). A new Harris Poll find that 67% of adults, 154 million people, now report having looked for health information online. This nationwide Harris Poll of 1,010 U.S. adults surveyed by telephone by Harris Interactive between July 7 and 13, 2008 shows how much cyberchondriacs value the information they find online:

  • The overwhelming majority (83%) of cyberchondriacs report that their search for information online was successful and almost half (45%) say it was “very successful”;
  • An even larger majority (87%) believes that this information was reliable (but only 28% say it was “very reliable”);
  • Fully 44% of cyberchondriacs have discussed information they obtained online with their doctors (however, this is lower than the 58% we reported in 2007); and,
  • Half (49%) of cyberchondriacs have searched for information online based on discussions they had with their doctors.

There are two reasons why the number of cyberchondriacs has not increased for two years. One is that the proportion of adults who are online, which rose rapidly from 38% in 1998 to 79% in 2007, has not increased for the last two years. The other is that the proportion of those online who report having used the Internet to look for health information has remained remarkably steady, varying only from 71% to 84% over the last eleven years, and currently stands at 78% slightly lower than it was in 2007.

To read the entire report visit

Get Injured By Criminal, You Are Liable for the Medical Bills

July 14, 2009 | Healthcare | My Ramblings | No Comments

Recently I was watching a “Who Done it” on NBC’s Dateline.  The show was about 2 hikers who befriended a stranger.  After a night of socializing with the stranger, for no reason the stranger tried to kill the hikers.  Fortunately, the hikers managed to escape but with very serious life threatening injuries. The injured men ended up spending a few days in the hospital after surgery and both had bullets permanently left in their bodies.

Here’s the kicker, both hikers had no medical insurance and as a result were now liable for tens of thousands of dollars.  One hiker owed almost $80,000 in medical bills.  I thought that was so unfair.  These gentlemen were almost killed and as a result now had medical bills that may bankrupt them.  

The shooter if he had lived (he died after a police pursuit where his car crashed and he died of his injuries), wouldn’t have to pay anything and would have been provided free shelter, food, medical care, and clothing (although in prison).  The 2 hikers now were stuck with huge medical bills and also I’m certain will require medical care for their injuries for the rest of their lives.

This is another example of how screwed up our healthcare system is.  If you get injured as a result of a crime or even an accident through no fault of your own, you will be liable for the medical bills, especially if the other party that caused the injury have no insurance or money to pay you.

What to do if Immunization is Not Covered by Health Plan

July 1, 2009 | Healthcare | My Ramblings | 2 Comments


My wife and I just had a beautiful baby boy!  We recently had him vaccinated which we thought was covered by our insurance company, United Health Care (UHC).  To our surprise the claim was denied because UHC doesn’t cover immunization.  For 6 shots the doctor’s office billed us $565, which averages $94.17 per shot.  There is no way I was paying $565 for 6 common immunization shots.

After doing some research I found out that the state of Georgia offers the shots for free if you can prove your insurance company doesn’t cover immunization or you don’t have insurance.  This is why I think UHC doesn’t cover immunization; they know the state will.  However, they should do a better job of notifying their customers of this.

I then called the doctor’s office to complain about the bill and I was told if I had notified them that my insurance company didn’t cover immunization, the shots would have been pulled from the Medicaid stock which would have only cost $10 per shot.  (What the bleep!)  The clerk stated it was too late to reverse the charges and use the Medicaid charges.  She however discounted the bill by $130 which wasn’t enough.  

I told the clerk that was unreasonable and that I’d write a letter to the doctor (see letter below).  Well the letter worked.  I received a call from the doctor’s office yesterday saying the bill would be adjusted to costing only $10 per shot.  

One thing I’ve learned is to never let people take advantage of you.  This is also why we need Healthcare Reform in this country!  

See letter below of letter to the doctor’s office:


P. Birmingham
June 22, 2009



I am writing in regards to the bill (Statement #9149) received from your company for immunization shots given to our son (XXXXXX Birmingham) born on XXXXX XX, 2009.

To our surprise the immunization shots aren’t covered by our insurance company; United Health Care (UHC).  However, charging us $565 for 6 immunizations is outrageous!  If we had known UHC wouldn’t cover the shots, we could have gotten the shots for free from the state.  I realize as a courtesy most medical offices check with a patient’s insurance company first for coverage before giving medical services and I wished your medical office would have done this for us.

I spoke to Vicky in billing about this issue and she stated had we notified her that our insurance company didn’t cover the immunization shots; the shots could have been pulled from the Medicaid stock which would have only cost $10 per shot costing $60 instead of $565.   She stated it was too late to reverse the charges and use the Medicaid charges which I find unreasonable.  She however discounted the bill by $130 which isn’t enough.  

I am requesting that our account be adjusted with the $10 per shot.  If you have any questions please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.





P. Birmingham

Why Aren’t Americans Mad About their Healthcare System?

June 25, 2009 | Healthcare | My Ramblings | 2 Comments

It amazes me that most Americans aren’t angry about our existing healthcare system.  I consider healthcare the biggest threat to most people financial well-being.  Most Americans don’t realize that a catastrophic illness or accident can easily bankrupt them even if they have health insurance.  

Consider this; treatment of the average breast-cancer patient costs $66,489 according to a MSN Money Central report.  If your insurance covers 80% of the bill, you are left to pay 20% which is $13,297.80.  If you are fortunate to have health insurance paying 90% of the bill, then you are left to pay $6,648.90. These costs depend on your financial wellbeing.  If you are a high income earner or have $100,000 saved in the bank, it’s not that bad.  But if you are the average American living from paycheck-to-paycheck, these costs are extremely high.  Plus with the current economy where many people are out of work, these costs can easily bankrupt you!

I praise President Obama for trying to restructure our healthcare system; however, it seems that most people don’t realize the seriousness of the problem until they run into problems.

If you are healthy, have a job and money saved in the bank, and then you may not pay attention to the problem.  However, the minute something happens to you (major illness or serious accident) and the bills start to roll in; you’ll then become aware of the problem.  But the problem is, by then its too late for you to do anything.
If more Americans were upset or concerned about the serious flaws in our healthcare system, we’d vote people into office who were serious about fixing the problems and vote-out the ones that aren’t.  We’d protest, have marches and demonstrations until it was fixed!

I’m so happy John McCain didn’t win the election because it was clear that he had no desire to fix the problem.  He didn’t see healthcare as a major threat to the long term stability of the American economy.  When asked if he thought healthcare was a privilege, a right or a responsibility?   He stated it was the responsibility of the individual.  President Obama stated it was a “right” for every American.  He stated for the richest country to have people go bankrupt because of an illness is wrong.  He spoke of how his mother who died at age 53 had to argue with her insurance company in the last months of her life from her hospital room over whether or not she had a pre-existing condition is fundamentally wrong.  President Obama clearly understands the system is broken and needs to be fixed!

Last night President Obama gave a prime-time interview moderated by Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer of ABC News on healthcare and I was very impressed with the interview.  I’ve always believed the best way to get your ideas to implementation is to first sell it to the people involved.  If you try to ram your ideas down people’s throats you will fail.  President Obama’s strategy of selling his ideas in “town-hall meetings” is an excellent strategy.  When he’s able to convince the majority of Americans that his ideas will work, then it will become easier to implement.  President Obama has my full support!  I sincerely hope he succeeds.

Manage Your Health with the Mayo Clinic Health Manager

April 21, 2009 | Healthcare | No Comments

Mayo Clinic and Microsoft Corp. today announced the launch of Mayo Clinic Health Manager, a privacy- and security-enhanced online application that provides people with a place to store medical information and receive individualized health guidance and recommendations based on the clinical expertise of Mayo Clinic.

This interactive functionality extends the capabilities of traditional personal health records, using an individual’s health information to generate customized recommendations on which they can act to better manage their health and the health of their families.

People can organize health information for themselves and their loved ones, access the information from a single location, and take a proactive role in managing their health with the individualized guidance. Powered by Microsoft HealthVault, Mayo Clinic Health Manager allows users to store copies of their health records obtained from their providers, health plans, pharmacies, schools, government, or employers; upload information from home health devices like blood glucose monitors and digital scales; and share information with caregivers.

The service provides access to products and services to help improve their health. It uses this information to deliver reminders and recommendations specific to each family member’s life stage and health status. As users enter more personal health information, Mayo Clinic Health Manager delivers more specific and customized recommendations.

Mayo Clinic Health Manager is easy to use, with features designed for busy parents, adults who are managing the health concerns of aging parents and patients managing chronic conditions and multiple medications. Since the data is stored in Microsoft HealthVault, people can access their information whenever they need it – regardless of whether they change doctors, clinics, jobs or insurance plans.

In its initial offering, Mayo Clinic Health Manager will include tools and features that help manage: pediatric wellness, including immunizations, adult wellness, pregnancy and asthma. Additional features will be incorporated in the upcoming months that will help users manage Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Mayo Clinic and Microsoft will work to add new functionality and health guidance.

The health guidance was developed, reviewed and approved by a team of healthcare experts at Mayo Clinic, and will be updated regularly to reflect best practices in healthcare. The technology was built on the Microsoft HealthVault platform, a security-enhanced online environment.

Consumers can learn more about Mayo Clinic Health Manager and create their accounts at

COBRA Health Insurance Coverage Stimulus Subsidy

April 5, 2009 | Healthcare | No Comments

If you are one of the 12.5 million people out of work due to layoff, remember you are entitled to a very generous federal subsidy for your COBRA health insurance premiums per the recent economic stimulus bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.

If you were laid off from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009, the federal government will pay 65% of your COBRA premiums for nine months.  That’s not a bad deal!  

If you were laid off since September, 1, 2008 and declined COBRA coverage, you still can enroll in COBRA and your employer is required to inform you of this right. 

Additionally, laid-off employees who are currently receiving COBRA have to be informed by their former employer about the new subsidy and their premium contributions will have to be adjusted, as of March 1, 2009.

Individuals and couples with an annual adjusted gross income over $125,000 and $250,000 respectively, are not eligible for the subsidy.

It’s estimated by the Joint Committee on Taxation that the COBRA subsidy will help 7 million individual and their families costing the federal government about $25 billion.

If you want to reduce your Cobra Premiums you can get a quote

It’s Time to Fix the American Healthcare Crisis

March 4, 2009 | Healthcare | My Ramblings | 1 Comment

I am ecstatic that the new Obama administration is finally going to do something about the American Healthcare System, which is a complete mess.  Over a year ago when I saw the movie “Sicko“, produced by film director Michael Francis Moore, who also produced “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11”, it made me very angry.

If you haven’t seen Sicko, I highly recommend seeing it. Sicko is a documentary that highlights the problems and catastrophes with the American Healthcare system. The film profiles several ordinary Americans whose lives have been disrupted, shattered and in some cases ended because of the healthcare catastrophe.

The film highlights that the crisis doesn’t only affect the 47 million Americans who are uninsured, but the millions of other citizens who pay their premiums only to get strangled by the bureaucratic red tape.

Sicko details how the American healthcare system came to be such a mess and highlights countries around the world where all citizens receive free healthcare, including Canada, Great Britain and France. The film also shows how 9/11 rescue volunteers who now suffer from debilitating illnesses have been denied medical attention, however, the suspected terrorist held at Guantanamo Bay, Cub prison receive free healthcare.

Michael Moore’s healthcare proposal is as follows:

1. Every American must have full, uninterrupted healthcare coverage for life.
2. Private, for-profit health insurance companies must be abolished.
3. Profits of pharmaceutical companies must be strictly regulated like a public utility.

Hopefully, Sicko has awaken the American public as to how terrible our healthcare system is and that change is needed.

Trailer for Sicko


Michael Moore is urging people to videotape and post their healthcare nightmares on YouTube to help convince Congress that radical change is needed.

News Clip about the Movie

Resource Links: 
California Nurses Association
The FealGood Foundation
Guaranteed Healthcare
Health Care for All
California State Senator Sheila Kuehl
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
Physicians for a National Health Program