Specialized Mental Health Treatment Training – Seven Building Blocks For Your Successful Practice

Once you complete your generalist training in mental health practice, it is time to identify your practice niche. The next step after identifying your niche is to seek out specialized mental health treatment training. Specialized mental health treatment training provides the foundation to build your successful practice. When you use the following building blocks, your foundation is solid and the walls surrounding your practice are strong.

Building Block one: Builds confidence in your abilities to treat clients in your niche.

Building Block two: Builds in-depth knowledge in your client’s issues.

Building Block three: Builds skills to work with client issues. Effective mental health training includes interactive skill-building development.

Building Block four: Builds effective approaches to use with client interventions when various client issues arise.

Building Block five: Builds credibility with clients and professional colleagues. You increase referrals. You’re viewed as a specialist with a given body of expertise.

Building Block six: Builds greater competence as your caseload includes more and more clients with similar issues.

Building Block seven: Builds potential to expand your knowledge, skills, and approaches into training other therapists in your specialty niche.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each building block.

Building Block one: Builds confidence in your abilities to treat clients in your niche. When you carefully select your specialized mental health treatment training, you are prepared to learn what is most beneficial for treating your client niche. You approach the training opportunity with a readiness to learn and leave with greater confidence. Your confidence arises from the knowledge, skills, and attitudes you gain from the training.

Building Block two: Builds in-depth knowledge in your client’s issues. Mental health training in your client niche helps you gain a deep understanding of the issues and dynamics of your clients. This knowledge contributes to your ability to have empathy and patience as you work with your clients to discover resolutions to their emotional pain.

Building Block three: Builds skills to work with client issues. Effective mental health treatment training includes interactive skill-building development. When you select quality mental health treatment trainers, they include experiential or interactive elements in their training. This provides you the opportunity to gain practice in working with the tools the trainer introduces. With appropriate feedback, you hone your skills to work with your clients.

Building Block four: Builds effective approaches to use with client interventions when various client issues arise. You are able to integrate your knowledge and skills to select the appropriate intervention when you apply the approaches you learn in specialized mental health treatment training. Over time, you gain a clear understanding of which interventions are most productive when clients present with similar issues and dynamics.

Building Block five: Builds credibility with clients and professional colleagues that increase referrals. You’re viewed as a specialist with a given body of expertise. Clients stay with you to complete treatment even after their insurance runs out. Your number of self-pay clients increases allowing you to build a more lucrative practice. Managed care referrals increase with your increased credibility.

Building Block six: Builds greater competence as your caseload includes more and more clients with similar issues. Your skills and effective approaches become more refined. You are able to facilitate lasting changes with clients. Your expertise is valued within the larger mental health community.

Building Block seven: Builds potential to expand your knowledge, skills, and approaches into training other therapists in your specialty niche. Leverage your expertise when you provide specialized mental health treatment training to other therapists treating clients in your niche. You move from being trained to being the trainer.

How to Help Children Care for Their Braces

Proper care of braces during orthodontic treatment is an important part of helping them get and keep a healthy smile for their whole lives, as many of the habits they learn will carry with them even after their orthodontic treatment is over. However, young children may not understand the reasons for such a structured cleaning regime. To avoid your child’s frustration, support his or her cleaning efforts through gaining knowledge of the process and ideas to make it enjoyable.

Here are four ways to care for your child’s braces:

1. Brushing. Thorough brushing after every meal and snack will prevent plaque build-up that can cause cavities and gum disease. Children should be encouraged to brush their teeth and braces at all angles to ensure any food hiding behind brackets or wires may be properly dislodged.

Make it fun: Try purchasing a brightly-colored toothbrush or one with your child’s favorite movie character on it. Even better, let your son or daughter pick out his or her own toothbrush. This will empower your child and allow him or her to get excited about brushing. Other children may be spurred to brush more often by using an electric toothbrush at home. This tool may be a great gift if you are getting ready to go Christmas shopping.

2. Flossing. Effective flossing can be a challenge with braces but it is another healthy habit to encourage on a daily basis. As it is nearly impossible to floss normally with braces, using a “threader floss” with a stiff tip or a plastic floss threader will allow the dental floss to get behind the wire. Gently insert the threader between the teeth at the base of the gums, then thread the floss through the oval loop and gently pull it back between the gums. Once the floss is inserted, delicately slide the floss up and down the inside of each tooth.

Make it fun: A quick and easy tool to help with flossing is the inter-dental cleaning brush. The small bristle tip can be inserted between the braces and around the gums for added cleaning on top of brushing and flossing – or used conveniently and subtly when out in public when full brushing may not be possible.

3. Healthy Eating. It is important to eat a balanced diet to support oral care. Sugary foods, and even sweetened beverages such as juice and pop may cling to the teeth and cause cavities around the brackets. Hard and sticky foods, such as caramel, popcorn and gum, have the potential to crack, dislodge or adhere to the braces so they should be avoided.

Make it fun: Look for healthy treat recipes together with your child. Preparing nutritious snacks or baking together makes healthy eating a fun process and also provides an opportunity to talk with your child about the many benefits of eating well.

4. Wire-care. Regular brushing is the first step in keeping your orthodontic wire clean, but these wires have the potential to irritate the skin inside the mouth, causing sores and bleeding. To avoid this, moldable wax can be applied to the braces at the points of friction. This wax will protect the mouth while also remaining flexible for easy removal.

Make it fun: The orthodontist will offer a variety of colored elastics that will loop around the brackets and wires. This is a helpful method for children to personalize their orthodontic treatment and express their personality. Breaking out of the mono-tone metal color of the brackets and wires will encourage children to maintain their braces as they will be proud of how they look.

Cleaning the teeth and braces can become an enjoyable and routine part of your child’s oral care. Parents are a valuable source of knowledge and support for their children and will help set the tone in forming positive habits. Children should be encouraged to clean their own teeth and be praised for their efforts, no matter how small. Making the process fun and supportive will set your child up for success.

Dental Care Services and Plans

Many people usually neglect issues related to dental care such as taking good care of their gums, teeth etc. Dental care also involves treatment and prevention of diseases of the teeth and gums apart from the repair and replacement of defective teeth.

Gone are those days when dental services used to be an expensive option. Let us have a look at a few tips on how to find affordable dental care services:

1. Start by simply inquiring about a good dental plan from your co-workers, friends and relatives. Ask questions such as whether emergency service is provided, how easy it is to get an appointment, how much it costs, the different types of dental services and so on. Also inquire about whether the atmosphere of the dental care facility is reassuring and relaxing, behavior of the staff especially towards children etc.

2. Dental services are also provided at local dental schools at affordable and competitive rates. Some of these schools might offer to check and clean your teeth for free of cost. It should not be a problem to find a list of such schools in and around your area through internet.

3. In case you are new to an area, try checking out the services of the dental specialist who provides his/her services to the local hospitals. You can also search for the best dental care facilities in your area online. You can also use your insurance company’s website to search for dentists who would accept your insurance cover.

Following are the two most popular dental plan options:

1. Dental Insurance:
One of the options for oral health care is dental insurance. Apart from a few dental insurance policies which might cost less than $10 on a monthly basis, most of the available options would be expensive. It is essential on your part to read the entire terms and conditions, excluded procedures and items, what the policy covers, the annual cost for both family and individual policies which ever applies to you.

Most of the people going for such policies do not know that pre-existing conditions are not covered by such policies. Even after the completion of 1 year, most companies pay progressively, such as covering 15% the 2nd year, 30% the 3rd year and so on. Thus, such kinds of dental insurance are usually not recommended by agents currently because of their lack of coverage and high cost.

2. Discount Dental Plans:
Pre-existing plans are not restricted in case of discounted dental care plans. Substantial discounts are offered by such plans on routine dental care like braces, dentures, root canals, X-rays, cleanings, check-ups and more. The membership fees of such dental care plans usually average around $150 for families and $100 for individuals annually. At the time of your appointment, you need to pay for your visit in full.

No permission of any sort is required in case you want to change your dentist. Within the network of the plan, you can visit any provider in any state. It is to be noted that large discount dental plan networks have providers in excess of over 0.1 million dental specialists and dentists worldwide.

You might be surprised to know that over 70% of the families residing in United States do not have any dental plan. Thus, it is important for you to realize that proper dental care is essential for the well-being of your entire body.

Natural Health Medicine

Natural health medicine is a ever growing business which more people are turning to for effective health treatments. Natural medicines cover virtually any type of sickness and medical condition you might suffer with. We pump our systems with so many chemicals from prescription drugs sometimes it can overload us which can lead to more medical problems down the line. With the price of prescription medicines sky-rocketing over the last decade it is literally impossible to afford the medicines you need.

There are some alternatives to over priced medicines and can be just as effective. Some of the natural health medicines include Devil’s Claw which helps those who suffer from chronic back pain by reducing inflammation, Red Yeast Rice which helps reduce the level of your cholesterol, St. John’s Wort which comes in pill or oil form and can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression, Propolis Powder can be used to help maintain a cleaner mouth, Milk Thistle can be used to help quit smoking (keep in mind results may very), Adaptogenic herbs which include ginseng, licorice, maca, holy basil, and goldenroot, which helps treat fatigue and give to long term energy and not just a quick burst. Phototherapy is one of the more interesting natural health medicines because it deals with ultraviolet light to treat diseases.

Not to suggest a conspiracy but it would seems as if more tests and studies were conducted in these natural health medicines it would take away from the prescription drug business, just something to think about. There are natural health medicines out there to be used to help treat your problems so taking the time to do addition research to see which is right for you is highly suggested.

How To Be Sure Your Great-Grandchildren’s Children Care

What will you practice today? Will your great-grandchildren’s children care?

When I began this leadership work many years ago, my focus was a bit different versus today. You could say, quite rightly, I have evolved my thinking.

However, well before I found myself immersed in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership© and what’s been created since, the foundation was set with seven key principles. I thought I would share those with you today and let you kick them around and, hopefully, respond with your thoughts.

Principle #1: Leaders focus on themselves. Sounds kind of selfish, yes? But hold on a minute. If you are not working on your personal growth, how the heck can you be a leadership role model for others?

Principle #2: Leaders simplify their lives. In today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking world, exasperation is staring at you in the next Tweet, text or email that demands your immediate attention and action. Have you cleared your desk lately? Deleted those emails that have stacked up since email was invented? Tossed files (please recycle)? Clearing the desk really does clear the mind.

Principle #3: Leaders establish priorities for themselves. Keep in mind, that there is no great value in getting things done, if they are not valuable to do. Have you separated yourself from what is least important in your life yet? If not, why not?

Principle #4: Leaders define their destinations. Do you know where you’re going? Do you need a personal GPS (Goal Performance Strategy) guide? Take some time to stretch out and create a personal vision and some stretch goals for the several areas in your life: Personal, Family, Professional, Financial, etc. Jot down just a few ideas in each category, reflect on them a bit and then get busy adding action steps to help you reach those outcomes. New Year’s Day is not the only time to make resolutions.

Principle #5: Leaders plan their time based on importance. All of my coaching clients have heard my suggestion that they take some L.E.A.D time each day. Listen to yourself with a 10 to 15-minute planning/re-planning session; Evaluate how you are doing in each area of your life; and Adjust what needs reconsidering. Finally, Determine, once again, if the destination you set is still correct.

Principle #6: Leaders nurture their creative genius. Are you aware of your creative genius? Or, are you just stomping through each day hoping to make it back home in one piece? Ugh! Every person is a creator. You have created your life to this point. Happy? Yes? No? What are you going to do about it? Robert Fritz, an author/colleague from years ago told me, “The creative process is alive. It is improvisation. And it is one of the most powerful and intimate involvements with one’s life I know.”

Principle #7: Leaders don’t arrive, they evolve. You’ve probably heard something like that before. It’s very true. There is no end point with leadership. It takes constant practice and is a continuing saga. And, keep in mind, depending on your life story, the memory of you takes a while to slip from this Earthly atmosphere.

Live your life with purpose. Create your Masterpiece. You wouldn’t want to disappoint your great-grandchildren’s children would you?

Earn Your Child Care Credentials With An Online Degree

As the number of two-income household increase, more and more working parents are depending on day care centers to take care their children while they go out for work in day time. Parents know that children always come with surprises and they only trust child care providers that are trained to anticipate those surprises. Hence, if you want to success in this business, you need to earn your child care credentials and online education is one way to supplement your knowledge and experience with children to gain the trust of your potential customers.

What You Learn In Child Care Online Degree?

There are different kinds of children care online degree programs available. It’s range from early childhood education, children development to child study for grade 6 – 12 kids. Hence, you need to decide on one that best suit your child care business needs.

Basically, in children care related online degree programs, you will learn about education games, child growth and behaviors, child food nutrition, anticipation of children surprises and help children explore and learn about the world while developing relationships with peers and adults. If you are taking a degree related to business that focus on child care business, you will be taught on children management, activities planning and scheduling, socialization and much more.

Online Universities That Offer Child Care Online Degree Programs

There are a number of online universities that offer child care and children education related online degree programs. Among the online universities are:

  • University Of Phoenix Online University of Phoenix offers Master in Education with a Specialization in Early Childhood Education
  • Rasmussen College If you are interested to focus on children development, then Rasmussen College’s children development online degree program should be able to suit your need.

Choose Your Child Care Online Degree

Beside that, there are other online universities that offer child care online degree program, you could get most of information from internet, make a request to those online universities to send you a more details information of the course that you are interested in; request information from as many online universities as you can to make a comparison purpose on their online degree programs, information requests are free of charge; hence make use of it.

Accreditation

There are a lot of diploma mills offering “fake” degree. Hence, it is important to consider “Accreditation” when you choose your child care online degree. Make sure your selected online degree program is properly accredited by an accreditation agency that is recognized by U.S Department Of Education. Many “fake” degree programs do have accreditation but it is accredited by a “fake” accreditation agency. Hence, watch it of the potential trap of diploma mill when you choose your child care online degree program.

Summary

Your child care career will only be success if you manage to gain trust from parents. And getting an education online is an important way to earn trust or credentials as a child care provider.

Fast Food and Traditional Food

The term “cooking” includes a wide range of methods, tools and combination of ingredients to create the flavor and digestibility of food. Cooking technique, known as culinary art, generally requires the selection, measurement and combining of ingredients in a controlled procedure in an effort to achieve the desired result. Constraints on success include the variability of ingredients, ambient conditions, tools, and the skill of the individual cooking. The diversity of cooking worldwide is a reflection of many nutritional, artistic, agricultural, economic, cultural and religious considerations that impact upon it. Cooking requires applying heat to a food which usually chemically transforms it and changing its flavor, texture, appearance, and nutritional properties. There is archaeological evidence that the primitive human being used to cook their food with fire that was the most important thing discovered by the primitive human being. Cooking food and cuisine culture vary from country to country and from one culture to another and each cuisine has its specific particularity. Nowadays, because of the modern life that changes everything around us and influence our life style and eating habits, people are less preparing their own food. Eating habits tend to unify people from different society. The food production and the process of eating obtain new characteristics. Food available around us seems to be very different from the one that we used to eat.

Eating habits and modern life

Everything is running in high speed, people do not have time for cooking, don`t has the desire and patience to stay longer in the kitchen, and they don`t have the willing to prepare their own food. Old generation still prefer to cook their own food unlike young people who prefer to eat fast food because they don’t want to spend long time cooking and the desire for the cooking. The modern life shapes our eating habits and makes us like slave following its speed. It`s not hard to find fast food restaurant they are everywhere and every corner. Fast food consumption cause damages to the social and economic life of the country and leads to many health problems such as obesity and heart diseases according to many studies. Also, many nutrition experts from different countries have already declared the epidemic character of fast food. The rapid process of globalization and modern life influence our eating habits and gives opportunity to fast food restaurants to grow and flourish. Fast food seems to become very common everywhere, though some positive aspect of the fast food in easy to prepare, available in many places, and it is a substantial meal. But in other hand, we can estimate that its negative aspects are more important and bigger. I think it is easy to understand that fast food is one of phenomenon that is going to be accepted by people. We are going to see the process of disappearance of the traditional culture with the development of fast food restaurants in all countries all over the world.

How to fight fast food addiction

The best example of the fast food success to change the modern life is the invasion of the world’s food market by the giant fast food company such as McDonald, KFC and others. According to McDonald`s web site, McDonald has about 29.000 restaurants in 120 countries all over the world, and serves nearly 54 million customers each day. As well as it indicates the fact of such changing in eating preferences and even in the way of life itself. There is no doubt that right now fast food changes the face of many nations and eating habits around the world. To sum up, unfortunately, it is hard to prevent these global changes that traditional food is going to be replaced by new foods that common for all people in all countries all over the world. But the good news is that, recently there are some people and some movements which try to contrast the process of modern life and ask people to go back to their traditional food. To solve this problem we need restaurants that offers traditional food, and able to attract large amount of faithful customers. Also parents must teach their children how to prepare and cook the traditional food. Many People figure out that traditional food is much better for our health, so they want to preserve and keep the cooking tradition from evaporating. There is enormous hope of people to preserve their food preparation customs and tradition. The major obstacles are the modern life style. Some people might say that it is difficult to preserve our traditional food because it takes a long time to prepare and people today can not spend a long time in cooking. Other people, especially older people might say that, it is unfortunate to destroy culture and tradition. Those people might be right.

Conclusion

In these days, people have more health problems that are related with the new eating habits and fast food consumption. Despite some advantages of fast food the harm caused by fast food does not outweigh its benefit. I think that people should consider the negative fact of fast food consumption and the benefits of preparing their own food at home. It`s unfair that the traditional food which arrive to us from generation to generation we are going to replace it with junk food that will harm us more than benefit us. It`s unfortunate to lose the cooking tradition and eating homemade food prepared by our mothers together around the table. I am sure that all of us must think over this problem and try to find the appropriate solution to save our cultures, our traditional foods, and more importantly our health. So we should take action immediately to preserve traditional food and encourage people to prepare their own dishes, so they can stay healthy and live longer. Even though fast food is cheap, convenient, yummy and available in every corner in our cities, but that does not mean that our health is cheaper than the fast food that we eat.

Effective Mental Health Treatment May Mean Using Alternative Methods

Effective mental health treatment doesn’t have to mean prescription drugs and hours of therapy. There are alternative methods for dealing with things like stress, depression, memory issues and even age related issues like Alzheimer’s and dementia. So why don’t we hear more about them? A lack of understand on the part of many doctors keeps the public from being educated and aggressive marketing by drug companies keeps prescriptions flowing.

This is not to say that there isn’t a time and place for mental health treatments like prescription drugs or therapy. Those can be helpful for certain things, but it may be that we are too quick to turn to them for mild to moderate forms of stress, depression, etc. Often there are alternative mental health treatments available.

While the category of alternative mental health treatments can be broad, the primary method that can be of benefit is natural supplements. Secondary treatment methods would include lifestyle changes such as exercise, altering diet, etc. Research has recently been done in both those areas that has opened the door to new thinking on how to address illness of the mind. Some of the change in thinking involves treatment, the rest prevention. However, it is the primary method of supplements that is the focus of this article.

Mental health treatments that are truly effective deal both with prevention and treatment. Supplements are a powerful tool to address each. Studies have been done showing that many herbal supplements are as effective as prescription drugs in dealing with various aliments. For example, a study on Passion Flower found it to be as effective as a leading anti-anxiety medicine for helping people suffering from anxiety disorders.

Ginkgo Biloba is another example. In a study done on Alzheimer’s patients the results demonstrated that Ginkgo may be as effective as a commonly used Alzheimer’s medication in delaying the symptoms of dementia in people that have the disease. It also seems to be effective as a preventative mental health treatment to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in those who may be predisposed to it.

The thing about these alternative mental health treatments is that the findings of these studies are not likely to get public press and acceptance of the information by both medicine and the public alike is slow. However, they are far more cost effective and have fewer side effects than most prescription drugs. This is not something drug companies like very much so much is done by them to over emphasize their products.

Newer supplement products containing compounds like huperzine A, choline, L-Tyrosine and 5-HTP are also promising in their ability to support a healthy mind. They work to help the body produce and sustain neurotransmitters, the chemicals your brain needs to function. Many mental issues like depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, etc. involve reduced levels of certain neurotransmitters or destroy them outright. These compounds help counter that effect thereby sustaining brain function. Studies have been done on these, but more research is underway.

The Correlation Between Drug Abuse And Healthcare Costs

A study conducted by an organization known as Monitoring the Future, found that 47% of teenagers had involved used illegal drugs before they completed high school. This is not only a problem attributed to the youth, since it is found in adults too. Illegal drugs have a detrimental effect on the livelihoods of the people who use them, making it a national concern. People have lost their lives, and caused untold pain to those who are around them. These drugs have also led to a high level of crime, an issue, which has led to the formation of enforcement agencies, to fight the vice. There is a significant relationship between Drug Abuse and Health Care Cost.

How the abuse of drugs affects healthcare costs.

People who use illegal drugs spend a lot of time in medical facilities, due to a myriad of problems brought about by consumption of the drugs. These drugs affect your health directly by compromising your immune system. If you abuse drugs, you will always be suffering from one illness to another, thereby resulting in more visits to the hospital, than you would, if you were not abusing the drugs. This considerably increases the cost of health care per capita. Insurance companies that provide healthcare schemes are therefore forced to increase the amount of money that you pay, in the form of premiums. Government healthcare schemes are also stretched thus, providing lower cover for people. Drug abuse also has an indirect effect on the cost of healthcare. Scores of people around you will be affected when you abuse drugs. Accidents, on people who do not use drugs, caused by people who are under the influence of drugs are on the increase. These people need medical care, and therefore have to spend large sums of money, treating a condition that was not of their own doing. This is how drugs, directly and indirectly, affect the cost of healthcare provision.

Apart from increasing the cost of providing emergency medical response to people who abuse drugs, a large volume of financial resources goes into curative drug abuse programs. These are programs designed to help you stop abusing drugs. The reason why they are expensive is because they take a long time to have any measurable effect, and they are conducted by highly paid professionals. Drug rehabilitation programs have a draining effect on the exchequer. A lot of taxes are used in creating programs that help people to stop using drugs. Private medical care schemes also spend a lot of money in paying for private rehabilitation of drug addicts in clinics or at home. The costs are further increased by the fact that you still have to be monitored after you leave a rehabilitation facility. This is done so you do not suffer a relapse, and end up where you began.

How you can help lower the healthcare costs brought about by drug abuse.

The first step towards lowering this cost is to stay away from drugs in the first place. Get involved with your peers, and other members of your community, to educate people on the dangers of abusing these drugs. Your efforts will reduce the cost of providing healthcare to drug addicts. If you, or anyone you know, are abusing drugs, you should seek immediate help from a professional. The cost of rehabilitation can be reduced considerably, if you make a personal commitment to staying away from illicit drugs. If you go through a rehabilitation program, only to relapse later, you will have increased the national cost of healthcare provision.

The untold story of abusing prescription drugs

Although the abuse of illegal drugs is a primary concern, when it comes to the cost of providing healthcare, the abuse of prescription drugs, to a lesser extent, also contributes to this issue. When you are addicted to prescription drugs, you will have to spend a lot of money buying the drugs, when you do not need them. To stop this, you should use all prescription drugs according to the directions given by your physician. Do not use the drugs, for a longer period than that prescribed. If you do not get better, you should visit your physician who will give you an alternative treatment.

California Health Insurance – Independent Health Life Agent Verses Insurance Company In House Agent

You have just completed an online form requesting a free health insurance quote and moments later you are being inundated with phone calls from insurance agents hoping to get your business. Try not to become overwhelmed or annoyed by these “pesky sales people” because they are really not telemarketers. Most of them are well-trained state licensed professionals who can really help you make a good decision regarding which health plan is best and most affordable for your individual or group coverage needs.

You may be under the misconception that if you buy your health plan directly from the insurance company, and cut out the “middle person”, you will save money. This is absolutely not the case. In fact, insurance companies rely on agents for most of their business and that’s why they pay them commissions for bringing in customers. It does not cost a consumer one penny more to use a licensed California health insurance agent to obtain their insurance coverage.

There are many differences between California health insurance and other states including how it is applied for.

For example, while Blue Cross and Blue Shield are one company in other states, here in California, each is separate and applied to individually as Anthem Blue Cross of California and Blue Shield of California.

California health insurance law AB 1672 is an improvement over the federal HIPAA law that covers all states in that it includes the following with regard to California group coverage:

1. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions may change over to a new group health plan without an exclusionary period.

2. It allows small businesses and professional organizations to have access to health plans providing they have between 2 and 50 full time employees.

3. It keeps insurance rates from climbing after a claim is filed.

4. Employees who have health problems may change jobs or health plans without being rated higher for having pre-existing conditions.

That said, the very best health insurance agent for your individual and business needs is an “Independent Agent.” Why? Because they represent multiple insurance carriers, not just one. An independent agent can help you select the most appropriate cost-effective plan offering the most benefits for your dollar as available from the major carriers, rather than feeding you just one company’s line of health plans which may not suit your particular needs. Many people are too complacent and settle for what their current insurance company has to offer. They could use a good independent agent to sort through the many plans available from multiple insurance carriers to find and provide the best choice of options.

Another misunderstanding you may have is that insurance agents set the premium rates for the health insurance plans they sell. Thinking if you shop around you may get a better price for the same plan. Premium rates are based on your age, zip code or county in which you reside and are controlled completely by the insurance companies. Every agent uses the exact same rate guides set by the insurance companies. The condition of your health may affect your premium, which may be rated up after the insurance company’s underwriting department has reviewed your medical records. Again, the insurance company, not the agent, determines that outcome.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of having a good insurance agent representing you. Most consumers neither know nor understand the benefits of a health plan being offered and need the expertise of an agent to explain the benefits to them in full. For example, do you know what the difference is between an “out-of-pocket maximum” and an “annual deductible?”

An out of pocket maximum is the most you will have to pay in a given year for deductible and coinsurance for covered benefits before your insurance starts to pay 100% of most expenses until the year ends.

An annual deductible is usually the amount you pay each year before your health plan starts paying anything for covered services. Generally, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. Certain services such as prescription drugs carry separate deductibles. Plans may vary and sometimes benefits will kick in before you have to meet the deductible.

A knowledgeable health insurance agent can be a guide through the maze and help you choose the right plan to meet your needs and budget while obtaining the most benefits for your dollars spent. An agent will also make clear how the benefits for a generic prescription may differ from the benefits for a brand prescription on a particular plan.

After you have a health plan in place, a good, caring agent will remind you to pay your premium on time so the insurance company doesn’t cancel you. Your agent can also be an enormous resource for assistance if you run into a problem with a health insurance claim. Instead of waiting on hold at the insurance company’s 800 number for thirty to forty- five minutes, call your agent and explain your problem and if you have chosen the right agent, you will get help and may save yourself lots of time and frustration, maybe even some money by having an expert in your corner where your best interests come first.

So next time you or someone you know, fills out one of those on-line forms for a health insurance quote and you get several phone calls from health insurance agents wanting your business, be grateful that a professional wants to help you for free to choose the right plan and you’ll have an important friend for life.