Friday, August 31, 2012

The benefits of PMI

If you're thinking about taking out private medical insurance there will be a few things you want to weigh up like the affordability of cover, and what the advantages of PMI are going to be.

Many people have private health cover via their employer and so receive all the benefits either at a reduced rate or with their employer paying for the insurance. This makes sense for a lot of employers as it means there's less sickness absence and staff needing treatment don't have to go on a waiting list, some of which can be up to 18 weeks from referral for certain types of treatment.

If however your employer doesn't provide health insurance, then it's easy to get a quote and set it up - and there are also private medical insurance plans which are affordable since you can choose the level of cover you require, so you're not paying for anything you don't need.

Advantages of PMI include

Flexibility - more control over where and when your treatment takes place. With some types of cover you can choose to go private if the NHS waiting list is longer than a certain period of weeks.

Peace of mind - knowing that treatment will be prompt and in comfortable surroundings

Drug treatments - approved drugs and treatments are available sooner than they often are elsewhere.

Choosing PMI also means that you will be able to relax in the knowledge that in the event you need any treatment you're eligible for, that you'll have the support you need when you need it, minimising any disruption to your work and home life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cancer treatment under private health care

This video gives us some information on cancer treatment (and innovative cyberknife surgery) under private health care. Well worth a look if you want to find out more about cancer care in a private medical setting:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Health and holidays: the wellbeing balance

Are you self employed? If so, do you take a holiday in the summer each year?

A recent study has shown that many self employed people never take a holiday - and while the majority still do take some time off now and then, there's still a large minority who don't. It's highly possible that there's a link between the lower number of self employed people taking holidays than employed workers, and the similarly low level of sickness absence too.

Of course, for people who run their own business it's understandable that time off is at a premium. And that goes for time off ill as well as it does for holidays. This is one of the reasons that self employed health insurance can be useful for people whose business is a one man operation, since it means that treatment can take place more quickly and when treatment is required then if you're covered for that particular treatment then there's no need to worry about waiting lists and the delay that they cause to treatment.

And obviously - given the current economic climate since 2008 - businesses have to be their most competitive and efficient - and that means making sure staff are as healthy as possible. If you're self employed then it's imperative not to let wellbeing take second place. There are bigger SME businesses also providing medical cover for staff as a benefit - and studies have shown that health and wellbeing benefits really do have an effect on staff engagement, productivity, and even profitability.

Figures for the year so far that levels of self employment continue to rise - it's believed that this could be due in part to people going freelance after redundancy. So now is as good a time as ever to look at the challenges facing self-employed people and ways in which this mode of employment - which is very important to the economy - can look to improved work/ life balance and wellbeing.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Health months: are you ready for Blue September?

Have you heard of Blue September?

It's an awareness event that's getting more and more attention as August draws to a close and we enter the Autumn months. The idea is to deliver a serious message about the cancers that men can suffer from, including testicular cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and others.

If you head across to the site at there are loads of good ideas for fundraising events you can hold and info on how the money raised is used for things including research into kidney cancer.

Blue September is a great idea and hopefully the awareness monthwill be an even bigger success this year, so why not have a look at the site and see what events you could hold within your own workplace or with friends?

The Blue September site also has some quite enlightening statistics about cancer and men's health. For instance, did you know that 42% of men die before age 75 - and that nearly a quarter (22%) of men die before the retirement age of 65? The site also points us to this link from cancer research entitles "The excess burden of cancer in men in the UK". the document goes into some detail about male cancer in the UK, with a breakdown of the top ten most common types.

As always, early detection is important - so if you're unsure about what to look for have a word with your doctor who will be able to tell you the kind of checks you can perform on yourself and what symptoms to look out for.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Life expectancy and health

Following on from our previous post on differences in life expectancy, another survey was published recently that the majority of people in the uK would be happy to live to the age of 83, while only a quarter of us would like to live to 100.

Getting the congratulatory birthday card from the monarch was probably something of a rare occurrence in earlier times. But these days given the advances in medical technology and better health advice available from the internet - it's a fair bet that the number of centenarians will only increase in the coming decades. By how much is anyone's guess - but if these things reach an exponential track, then the concept of an ageing society could change into a reality where people post-retirement make up a very big segment of the populace.

What age do you want to live to? It's a difficult question, really, since there's never an ideal time to shuffle off this mortal coil. But given that longevity and good health are inextricably linked, the desire to have a 'good innings' is undoubtedly connected to a healthy attitude to life.

Things that could definitely help us live longer include all the usual health commands: don't smoke, keep alcohol intake well within the recommended amounts, eat your vegetables, and do on. But what else can we do to ensure a long and happy life? Things to think about would include:

- looking into the psychology of positive thinking. By many accounts positivity can have a real effect
- being mindful not just of diet, but looking at the diets of long living nations such as Japan and seeing what we could learn
- looking at the benefits of private medical insurance and what it can do in terms of prompt treatment and quality of healthcare.
- taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that takes in everything from mental health and stress management to new ways of learning and developing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Health - a class divide?

It's long been known that different socio-economic groups fare differently when it comes to health - and as one nation may have a different infant mortality rate from the next, so one neighbourhood in a city may have a different average life expectancy from its neighbours.

This reality was highlighted memorably in the recent Tube Map life expectancy - a schematic that shows the scattering of different longevity averages for areas of London. In some cases the difference of a few miles can mean as much as over a decade's difference - and this is just one city. 

Recent research by the King's Fund shows that disparities in life expectancy are unlikely to be eradicated overnight, or indeed at any point in the near future. Two of the key points in their recent paper on the subject highlight this -

First, the overall number of people in the UK who 'engage in three or four unhealthy behaviours' declined in the five years between 2003- 8 by a not inconsiderable eight percent. In terms of a nation getting healthier, that's actually a very impressive figure as long as the momentum continues. 

However, the decrease in unhealthy behaviours, says the King's Fund, were "seen mainly among those in higher socio-economic and educational groups". Further, people with no qualifications "were more than five times as likely to enagage" in all four of behaviours, whereas five years before they were only three times more likely to.

The King's Fund says that this health polarisation could lead to inequality and 'avoidable pressure' on the health service.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Health stories: Unhappy Mondays?

We're all familiar with the scenario - the alarm clock goes off, we wake up and think "oh no, it's Monday". After a few seconds of forlornly wondering where the weekend went and why did it have to pass so fast, we get up and we get on with it. And so another week starts.

But it looks like the widely held opinion that Monday is a low point in the week could actually be not entirely accurate after all. A new report published in The Journal of Positive Psychology on the subject of 'day of the week effects' suggests that there are other days when we don't feel to great either - those being Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The study does however suggest that there is a positive Friday effect but no difference in mood between Saturdays and Sundays.

In other news, it's been predicted that the rate of cancer in people over the age of 65 could treble by the year 2040 - a rise to 23%. According to NHS Choices, though, we should remember that "the figures are only predictions and have been calculated based on estimates and assumptions". Given that cancer generally affects more people of more advanced years and the population is ageing, it does seem plausible that the figures will rise. Some are arguing that the numbers could put a strain on the health service while there could also potentially be higher uptake of medical insurance as a result.

Another point the NHS choices site makes is that given futire advancements in technology for treatment are uncertain, predicting the future is never easy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

International NHS?

It's being reported today that in the future the NHS may be able to sell its services abroad. This will be facilitated by the Department of Health and the UK Trade and Investment Department and could potentially see some big NHS names such as Great Ormond Street provide treatment abroad.

The idea behind the concept is that by providing charged for services internationally, the revenue generated will help the service at home and be of wider benefit to the UK economy. Also, it's been pointed out that the momentum of the Chinese and Indian economies could mean that the international healthcare market will open up even further in time.

In terms of medical tourism, one of the top destinations right now is Dubai - which even has a "healthcare city" - basically a super-agglomeration comprised of two hospitals and 100 outpatient medical centres staffed by 3000 medical professionals. Impressive stuff.

What do you think of the plan to sell NHS services abroad, and the NHS to become a 'brand'? Let us know in the comments - we'd love to hear from you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Health news headlines this week

Here's a quick roundup from the news headlines in the health pages this week.

Baldness cure on the cards? The Telegraph reports that a treatment could be available within a couple of years. This will no doubt arouse a great amount of interest - we'll follow the story as it happens.

Rise in diabetes. It's being reported this week that Scotland's diabetes rates continue to increase, with nearly quarter of a million people suffering from the condition - or 4.7% of the population.

The effect of sickness absence from work has also been making the news, with a recent survey indicating that only just over half of employers believing they're "well equipped" to deal with the problem. Being 'well equipped' isn't defined in this context but presumably the better equipped employers will have a health and wellbeing strategy, provide group medical insurance, EAPs and so on.

The Guardian posits an interesting theory today regarding Obamacare - namely that the President's affordable care act will mean the US being short of doctors - tens of thousands of them. This is because so many currently uninsured Americans will have access to healthcare. So the possibility, according to the story, is that the US shortfall could be made up in part by UK doctors leaving for jobs across the pond. Which could then cause a shortage here.

And that's all from us just now. If you have any comments on the above stories, then please leave us a comment - we's love to hear from you!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Office fitness

Exercise is something most of us don't get enough of, for whatever reason. So why not do some exercising at work? The examples here offer a range of effective ways to keep fit at the comfort of your desk.

Monday, August 13, 2012

NHS operation rationing condemned by eye surgeons

English: Naval Station Everett, Wash (Jan. 29,...

Recently the NHS has come under fire for rationing certain procedures including cataract operations, knee operations and hip replacements.  Eye surgeons have recently spoke out against this saying that thousands of patients are being put at risk at more than half of the NHS trusts as a result of this. 

Due to the cutbacks, those waiting for treatment have to suffer unnecessarily, being left unable to read, write or drive for long periods of time as a result of the ever increasing waiting periods.  Eye specialists have attacked this move, labelling it as unfairly restricting operations for those requiring surgery and stating that is putting their lives at risk. 

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the Collegeof Optometrists and the Optical Confederation have released a joint statement urging the primary care trusts to ditch their rationing that is resulting in patients having to wait for even longer periods of time. 

According to the group, some patients with cataracts in both eyes are only being treated for one, which leaves people unable to judge distances properly and become increasingly more likely to cause accidents.  Professor Harminder Dua, president of the Royall College of Ophthalmologists, stated that he is deeply concerned about the rationing of cataracts surgeries through increasing the vision threshold required to qualify for surgery. 

He believes that if a cataract is negatively affecting a person’s life, they should be able to qualify for the relevant treatment.  It should also be noted however that the patient should know the risks involved in such a surgery and should be qualified from a health standpoint to be suitable for the operation. 

Elizabeth Wade of the Primary Care Trust Network has come back to this response detailing the massive financial strain the NHS is currently under because of the reforms.  As a result, commissioners and the primary care trusts must work within their means whilst offering the highest quality of care for their patients within those budgets.  The Department of Health does not provide guidelines for the maximum amount of time a patient should have to wait before being able to receive an operation. 

If this is a concern for you or someone you know, going private may be the solution to have these kinds of issues impact your life as little as possible.  Healthcare provider Health-on-Line offer a number of options and you can get a private medical insurance quote online now.  

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer safety abroad

Going abroad during the summer is pretty much everybody's idea of a great time. The sun, the sea, the nightlife - not to mention the food, the shopping, the sports activities. Plus the general summer happiness and fun.

But with all the fun of going abroad there are a couple of things that we all need to make sure we remember. The first one is to remember your passport and your sun screen. And the second one is to make sure you've got the right medical cover. For instance if you're doing any sports such as kitesurfing or maybe even playing rugby - then you'll need to make sure you're covered for all eventualities. Even if you're not planning on anything spectacularly energetic, health cover is still a must.

And if this is a point that needs highlighting, then recent news figures posted by the Foreign Office should help to do this very well indeed. The annual British Behaviour Abroad report published by the government shows that last year an average of seventy people a week were hospitalised overseas. Incredibly, out of 2000 people interviewed for the survey very nearly half (48%) of respondents didn't know that without travel insurance they'd have to pay for medical bills in the event of treatment being required. In addition to this, the Foreign Office say they see many instances where people have invalidated their policy by things like not declaring a pre existing condition.

The moral of the story is this: make sure you get travel or international medical insurance before you set off on your travels.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dental work and the recession

It's only natural that during times of economic squeeze people will try to save a bit of money here and there, by trading down at the supermarket for cheaper brands, or maybe cancelling a magazine subscription. However it seems that in some cases people are - due to the recession - deferring or even cancelling dental work.

Given the amount that some dental treatment can cost - even if it's just some root canal work and a couple of white fillings - it's no wonder that sometimes people are reluctant to shell out for a trip to the dentists. Sometimes it can be a pain in the wallet.

In fact, in a survey of dentists by the British Dental Association last year, two thirds of practitioners reported that they had seen customers either hold off on dental treatment or cancel it completely.

However, the BDA board chairman commented at the time that putting things off isn't the best decision either health-wise or in terms of money:

"Neglecting your oral health can increase both the complexity of the problems you face and the cost of the treatment you must eventually have."

In other words, if you decide that you will postpone treatment, then the treatment you will need in the future could well be more extensive, and costlier as a result. Making sure your teeth are in order is also important during a recession when jobs are harder to come by and we all need to present ourselves well - so it's always advisable to get the treatment that you require rather than assume it will sort itself out or not continue to develop.

Buying a dental plan is one way to ensure that you'll be able to get the treatment you require without any unexpected bumps to the bank balance. This kind of plan means that up to certain limits you can claim back the money for crowns, fillings and other things like x-rays too.

Have you ever felt tempted to cancel dental work due to the recession? Please let us know in the comments.

Friday, August 3, 2012

E-health research centres: a health care move forward

Last week it was reported that the drug testing facilities for the London 2012 Olympics will be turned into a permanent research centre - so when all the international athletes have packed up their kit and flown off home to all four corners of the globe, the legacy of London 2012 will partly be to the benefit of UK health care generally. The HM Government website's news room has this information on the purpose of the e-health centre initiative:

"The new centres will enable the UK to make more effective use of electronic health data – a field with huge possibilities for health care delivery and the understanding of disease"

The other planned e-health centres along with the London one (greater London, actually: it's based at Harlow) are to be established in Dundee, Manchester, and Swansea. Described by the Prime Minister as "an impressive example of collaboration between top-class research, the NHS and industry" the ehealth centres will use electronically stored health data to find new insights into disease and thus help with health care delivery.

This is all good news and potentially cutting edge UK research - we'll revisit this story in time when the e-health centres' work is underway and hopefully bringing some interesting results. Until then, though, the Olympics continue and the UK summer - despite a bit of rain here and there - welcomes millions of tourists to London to watch the games and also check out the history and culture available in the capital.