Bias in Health Information: Understanding the Agendas

Writers of medical advice–including columnists, insurance companies, governmental agencies, medical organizations, drug companies and even practitioners–are all biased. They always have agendas. They all choose to write about certain topics and not others. They make choices about what to include in their articles, what to leave out and how to state their cases. They’re all self-serving. They all have something to “sell,” even when there is not an immediate cash-return.

Does that mean you should throw up your hands, say the hell with it, and never read or listen to another medical message? I don’t think so, but in order to derive value from these messages, you sure as heck better understand the agendas of the people who created them. Or as the psychologists say, if you want to understand a behavior, you need to figure out what motivated it. Let’s examine some advice-givers and their biases.

What motivates health columnists? Well, how about their continued employment, the needs of their publisher-employers, and the needs of the companies the publishers wish to attract as advertisers? It’s not hard to imagine there are some subtle and not-so-subtle influences and incentives at play in framing the subject-matter and slant of the articles. Certainly, it’s hard to attract the business of potential advertisers when you have written devastating critiques of their products.

Yet don’t infer that you should ignore what the health columnists have to say. They provide a wonderful service in discussing health issues, the business of medicine and its practice. I personally enjoy reading the health columns of that great medical publication, The Wall Street Journal. In fact, I still distribute to my patients an excellent article about medication-overuse headaches that Tara Parker-Pope, one of their columnists, wrote years ago.

One of the odder chapters in the business of medicine is that certain insurance companies have positioned themselves as providers of health advice, particularly those companies paid by employers to manage their medication-benefit plans. I won’t waste the reader’s time in building a case that insurance companies have agendas and conflicts-of-interest in providing such advice. This should be self-evident.

Governmental agencies like the National Institutes of Health provide medical information which is generally reliable and useful, but influenced by the agency’s understandable needs for self-promotion and self-preservation. The same holds true for medical organizations like the American Academy of Neurology (to which I belong) and big group-practices like the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. The advice tendered by these medical organizations in their publications and web-pages is backed by their reputations, which they zealously protect. So you can be sure that the medical content is subjected to rigorous quality-control. And fortunately, although their messages are motivated by commercial needs, the linkages are obvious and easy for the consumer to take into account.

How about individual health practitioners? Giving advice is what they do for a living, so what’s the issue? Well, in the U.S., at least, there is a genuine “medical marketplace” where competition reigns supreme. So when you need help with your health, each practitioner (including me!) would like to make the short-list of advisers whose opinions you trust and value.

Let’s move on to the drug companies. In my opinion there is no medical information that is both as pervasive and biased as that created by drug companies. And in many cases the connection between the message and the drug company’s name has been obscured or hidden, so the consumer doesn’t even know to be wary.

I have written elsewhere about the comical turn of events in the “advice” that drug companies have provided to people with headaches. For many years the makers of sinus medications invested heavily in convincing people with headaches that most of them were due to sinus disease. But now that effective and lucrative drugs for migraine exist, companies are sinking even larger sums of money into the message that those headaches weren’t due to sinus conditions after all. Instead, they’ve been due to migraine. This vignette illustrates the hazard in allowing marketing departments of drug companies to diagnose one’s headaches.

Another hazard is in allowing drug companies to write the information-sheets that doctors hand patients at the ends of office visits. Every doctor gets buried in pamphlets that sales reps from drug companies leave at their offices. For years I actually looked at these things, trying to select the 30% that might be worth retaining and passing along to my patients. After a while, 30% seemed too optimistic, so I searched for the 20% that was worth keeping, and then the 10%…well, you get the idea. The pamphlets kept getting more biased and less useful. At one time the sales reps passed out some real gems that were genuinely helpful to patients and their families. But those days are gone.

So when it comes to medical advice, consider the source.

The Investment School of Rock

After over three months, the market is fundamentally level for 2016. Oil has taken brokers on a difficult exciting ride. Furthermore, the main venture that is by all accounts sparkling still is gold with its pick up of over 15% this year.

Ask any keen speculation counsel and they will all utilization one essential word: expansion.

You don’t put all your investments tied up on one place on the off chance that you need to have a few eggs for some other time.

The issue is that numerous speculation masters neglect to inform you concerning a portion of the key alternatives you have for safeguarding and consistently developing your riches, shielded from the market turmoil. (What’s more, there is still some critical turmoil coming soon for stocks.) It’s something other than stocks and bonds. I’m notwithstanding looking past having some introduction to valuable metals.

There is one key resource that is uncorrelated to the stock exchange and has indicated unfaltering development notwithstanding amid the Great Recession that excessively couple of financial specialists have in their portfolios…

Collectibles, for example, uncommon currencies, stamps, wine, craftsmanship and funnies have demonstrated enduring development in esteem paying little mind to what’s going on in the stock exchange. In any case, they are time and again ignored among speculators as excessively confused when it comes, making it impossible to utilizing them to ensure and development their riches. That is the reason we’ve propelled a support of give significant understanding into the diverse parts of the collectibles advertise.

Collectible Guitars

Today, I am talking with Ted Bauman, an energetic gatherer with a long-standing enthusiasm for off-the-matrix ventures. In the same way as other authorities, however, he has a range of boss intrigue – guitars.

Jocelynn: Why did you begin gathering guitars?

Ted: Most authorities are either speculators or players. I’m a player. As it were, I’m generally watchful for guitars that I think will enable me to convey what needs be especially. I’ve essentially limited my needs down to four sorts: Fender Telecasters, Fender Stratocasters, Gibson semi-empty bodies and strong body humbucker guitars. Each has its own particular utilize. The “twangy” Telecasters are basically for exemplary music like blues, early shake “n” roll and nation. The Strats are perfect for funkier things that require a considerable measure of tonal variety, while the empty bodies and humbucker guitars are for general utilize.

Just once I’m happy with the playability and tone of a guitar do I at that point begin to stress over vintage, provenance, and so on.

Be that as it may, venture authorities may take a gander at it the a different way. They may concentrate on guitars that aren’t in great condition yet originate from a particular year, have an uncommon trademark, for example, an odd shading or were once possessed by somebody acclaimed. From that point, they would settle on particular purchasing choices inside those parameters in view of playability.

Jocelynn: How did you pull your accumulation together? Was there something you were searching for in every thing?

Ted: Well, I gathered the greater part of my present guitars in South Africa when I lived there, so it was amazingly all in or all out since the market is so little. There may be just a couple of dozen of a specific sort of guitar in the whole nation, so in the event that I saw one available to be purchased, I needed to act rapidly. That is the means by which I gained the cream of my accumulation, my 1980 Gibson ES-335 – just observed it hanging there one day in a nearby music store and got it on the spot (on portions, which they offered to proficient players back then). It is one of the initial 200 of this model at any point delivered, as appeared by the serial number and date stamp inside the body. That makes it an authority’s thing.

Beating The Market Is Harder Than You Think

The world is oversupplied with oil, U.S. loan fees are rising and global prospects look diminish, with moderating development in China and industrious inconveniences in Europe and Japan. In what capacity should speculators respond?

At the point when resource costs decay, individuals normally need to make a move to lighten the agony. However once in a while no activity is the best response. Attempting to maintain a strategic distance from the following business sector emergency or distinguish the following hot market is a siren tune for all financial specialists, however even proficient speculators are on the whole unsuccessful when they endeavor to time getting tied up with or offering out of specific ventures. For the 15 years finishing December 31, 2014, just 19 percent of stock common assets and 8 percent of security shared assets survived and beat their files, as per information from Dimensional Fund Advisors and the Center at Research in Security Costs at the University of Chicago.

Discovering more about how the business sectors function can enable you to comprehend why keeping up a steady, differentiated way to deal with contributing is the correct logic for making long haul progress, paying little respect to the emergency of the day.

Understanding Valuation Principles

The fundamental hypothesis behind contributing is straightforward: Buy low; offer high. Be that as it may, figuring out what a venture is worth, and accordingly which speculations are underpriced and which are overrated, is not as simple as it appears.

U.S. Treasury Regulations characterize “equitable esteem” for government impose purposes as “the cost at which the property would change hands between a ready purchaser and an eager vender, nor being under any impulse to purchase or offer and both having sensible information of the applicable actualities.” Essentially, this depicts what occurs in money markets each day. Two autonomous gatherings come to a commonly settled upon cost at which to exchange a venture.

This definition likewise typifies one of the speculations of valuation: A venture is worth just as much as another person will pay for it. In the event that individuals are fascinated with tulip globules, Beanie Babies, tech stocks, land or gold, they may pay ever-higher costs that appear to have little reason. The purchasers of an apparently overrated resource may very well be trusting they locate a more prominent trick who will get it from them at a much more expanded cost. The likelihood that they are, actually, that more prominent trick alarms numerous speculators.

Assessing Your Health: Sleep May Be More Important Than You Think

If counting sheep is not working for you, here are some facts you may want to sleep on-chronic sleep deprivation can do more than make you tired. It can significantly affect your health, safety, performance, and lifestyle.

Most people are surprised to learn that sleeping less than six or seven hours a night can increase their mortality risk more than smoking, high blood pressure or heart disease.

Losing as little as one and a half hours of sleep for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32 percent. This loss can impair memory and the ability to think and process information effectively.

Decreased alertness can also affect your life by limiting your participation in activities that require sustained attention, such as reading a book or watching your favorite TV show. And the risk of receiving an occupational injury more than doubles when a person is sleepy.

Car accidents are another problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates conservatively that each year drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 automobiles crashed, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities.

As many as 70 million Americans have sleep disturbances-which include taking a long time to get to sleep, sleeping less and waking up frequently.

Sleep disturbances may in fact be a symptom of a much larger problem, especially if they are associated with irritability and mood swings. Emotional stress, racing thoughts and restlessness can be signs of something more serious, such as bipolar disorder.

“If someone is experiencing restlessness and irritability, along with sadness or emotional ups and downs for more than two weeks,” said Dr. Ellen Frank, professor of psychiatry and psychology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, “they should seek medical attention from a specialist who is trained to diagnose or perhaps just rule out depression or bipolar disorder.”

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) has launched a new Web site, www. sleeplessinamerica.org, which offers educational resources that provide screening for sleeplessness, information on when to see a doctor and a questionnaire to determine when sleeplessness might be symptomatic of a more serious illness. The Web site is also available in Spanish.

Comparison of Five Pet Health Insurance Plans

It doesn’t matter if you have already decided to purchase health insurance for the family pet or if you are simply. When you are comparing the quote of one health insurance quote to another remember that the base doller amount is not the only number you have to consider. In addition to the monthly payment make sure you also check out exactly what type of veterinary care and treatments are covered (some basic insurance plans do not include cancer treatment), what kind of deductible you, the pet owner, will be expected to pay, is there a yearly cap on medical expenses, and what type of discounts are available.
At the moment there are only a handful of companies that offer pet health insurance. Five of the most popular companies are Pets Best Pet Insurance, Veterinary Pet Insurance, ShelterCare, Pets Health and PetCare.
An insurance plan through Pets Best Pet Insurance will cost approximately $32.00 a month ($384.00 annually). Pets Best will cover pet sterilization provided the pet owner purchases an additional wellness plan. Pets Best does not cover pre-existing medical conditions a pet has so its best to insure them early in life before problems develop. Pets Best has a life time limit of $99,750 dollars per pet. Pets Best health insurance plans come with a $75.00 deductible. Multiple pet discounts are available. Pet’s Best pet health insurance does cover cancer.
Veterinary Pet Insurance is a company that offers pet owner a $14,000 a year cap on an insurance plan that only costs approximately $20.00 dollars a month. Veterinary Pet Insurance offers plans with a $50.00 deductible (after the deductible they pay ninety percent of the bill) on plans that include pet sterilization and cancer coverage. Veterinary Pet Insurance does not accept pre-existing conditions and does not offer multi-pet discounts.
ShelterCare is a pet insurance that cost pet’s owners approximately $29.95. For that $29.95 there is absolutely no deductible and cancer treatments are covered. ShelterCare will not pay for pet sterilization nor will they cover any pre-existing conditions. ShelterCare does not have a benefit cap. ShelterCare offers premium discounts for multi-pet plans, medical service, and micro-chips.
A pet health insurance policy through PetsHealth insurance company will cost the pet owner approximately $37.17 dollars per month. PetsHealth covers 80% of the pets vet bill after the $100.00 doller deductible is paid. PetsHealth has a $13,000 doller cap on each per year. PetHealth does insure pre-existing conditions after ninety days. Multi-pet discounts are available through PetHealth. PetsHealth does offer pet health insurance plans that cover cancer on a case by case basis.
PetCare is a pet health insurance company that estimates the average cost for a policy for a pet is $29.95 a month. This plan includes a fifty doller deductible. While PetCare is happy to cover the cost your pet’s cancer treatments they will not pay for any pre-existing conditions nor will they pay for pet sterilization. PetCare offers discounts for multi-pet plans and medical service.
None of the estimated monthly prices for these insurance companies include any extra insurances riders.
Any one or all of these companies can change their policies between now and the time you purchase a pet health insurance plan.
Remember to read the fine print before you sign up for a pet health insurance plan.
All five of these pet health insurance companies have their own websites where you can go to get up to date pet health insurance quotes.
There are other pet health insurance companies with different prices, discounts, stipulations, and benefit caps if you are not content with the previous five comparisons.

Answers to 5 Common Questions About Texas Health Insurance

Although Texas ranks the highest among U.S. states in the number of uninsured residents, obtaining affordable Texas medical insurance is easier and more affordable than you think. Here are answers to five common questions about getting health insurance in Texas.

1. I’m young and healthy. Why should I spend money for medical insurance that I’ll never use?

Having insurance is like carrying an umbrella. You may not need it most of the time, but when there’s a torrential downpour you’ll be glad you have it. Even young and healthy people have accidents, seasonal illnesses, and sometimes tragic health issues. If you wind up having a serious medical condition, it can become very difficult to obtain Texas medical insurance, or your preexisting condition may be excluded from your coverage. In addition, you can get much lower premiums when you’re young and healthy, so health insurance provides excellent protection at very little cost.

2. Is there a benefit to using a health insurance agency, as opposed to getting quotes for policies on my own or going through a single agent?

A health insurance agency provides a number of benefits. First, they have established relationships with many, many insurance companies. This means that they have access to all of the best Texas medical insurance plans in the marketplace, while not having a bias toward any single insurer. This is in contrast to some individual agents, who work on behalf of one or two companies, and who will try and push you to sign up with their company. While you can research various plans on your own, a health insurance agency will do the legwork for you and present you will all available options, at no charge to you.

3. What’s the most important feature to consider when buying health insurance?

There are two important features that people often overlook: the lifetime maximum coverage and the maximum out-of-pocket expense. Although your more immediate concerns might be co-payments for doctors’ visits and prescription coverage, if you or a family member experiences a catastrophic illness, your overall coverage and out-of-pocket costs are much more crucial. Look for a policy that offers lifetime maximum coverage of $3 million or more, and a yearly out-of-pocket maximum in the $2,000 to $3,000 range.

4. Can I trust online comparisons for Texas health insurance?

Yes. The law requires that identical plans have identical pricing, regardless of whether you go directly through the insurer or use a health insurance agency. In other words, if you’re looking at the XYZ company’s Plan A, you will receive the same quote whether you get it online, place a phone call, or visit an insurance agency or company. Keep in mind though, that the price you pay may depend upon a number of variables, including your age, your gender, whether or not you smoke, and any pre-existing medical conditions that you may have. The final price is in large part determined by your medical history.

5. What’s the difference between an HMO and a PPO?

When it comes to Texas medical insurance, a health maintenance organization (HMO) requires that, for non-emergency services, you use their physicians and hospitals. A preferred provider organization (PPO) allows you to visit any health care provider, but gives you more benefits if you use health care professionals and services within their network.

The One Expense of Home Ownership That Is Rarely Mentioned or Disputed

Owning a house is certainly a costly undertaking, as property assessments can be to a great degree difficult. Yearly property impose charges tend to rise consistently after some time and that is the explanation for paying the heavy sum paid in property charges. The duties continue coming even subsequent to paying off the home loan, which makes it a boundless cost. Most mortgage holders wind up paying more toward the day’s end and they don’t see how their property impose is figured! Most mortgage holders fully trust their duty appraisal and the dismal the truth is that their property might be over evaluated! Presently, it is truly essential to know how your property charges are ascertained so you can find a way to spare your well deserved money without paying a dollar more than you should.

Step 1: Know the procedure: Local government in your territory/state will send a notice inside the initial couple of long stretches of the year, in spite of the fact that the timetable may differ. You will get a particular contact number with the notice, laying out the means expected to challenge your evaluation ordinarily as telephone, email, or fax. There you can get every one of the points of interest identified with making an interest inside a particular residency of time amid which you may test or document a case. This time allotment shifts in various areas/states, so ensure you are on time. In a few areas/expresses the time span is 2 weeks while in others it might be up to a month and a half or 90 days. In any case, the one thing you have to consider is the end time of the interest window. You ought not miss it under any condition as it could genuinely hurt your capacity to claim the property evaluation or duty.

Step 2: Know your property evaluation points of interest: Make a demand for your property assess card and survey it. The property charge card dependably accompanies the appraisal see and best of all, most wards enable you to get to it on the web. You can likewise request a duplicate of the property impose card from the neighborhood property evaluation body.

The property card incorporates data utilized by the appraisal to decide the surveyed estimation of your home, for example, the measure of your property, the quantity of rooms and lavatories alongside the parcel measurements, essential structure data, get to, optional structures, (for example, a carport), and so forth.

It is truly critical to check the card deliberately and on the off chance that you discover any oversights in the evaluation then you ought to quickly ask for a change and request the property appraisal before the due date. By the day’s end it is your well deserved cash and you would prefer not to squander it without reason.

A Colon Detox Can Improve Your Colon Health

A healthy colon is a vital part of a healthy body. The colon, along with the small and large intestines, are a major area where the nutrients in food are absorbed. If the colon is not clean, it cannot fulfill this important task. Not only that, the impacted fecal material that builds up in the colon and intestines releases toxins into the bloodstream. You are in effect getting toxins instead of nutrients – not a very good trade.

Symptoms that a colon detoxification might be in order include tiredness, PMS, headaches, and of course, constipation. There are a variety of ways colon cleansing can be done, including colonic irrigation, enemas, dietary fiber, and laxative herbs. These methods can help, but each has negative points.

Another natural option for colon health is to use an oxygen based colon cleanser. This method uses magnesium oxide that has been treated with oxygen and ozone. This substance will react with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach to release oxygen. The oxygen gets into the bloodstream to nourish all parts of the body, but it does more than that. It also nourishes the favorable bacteria that live in the digestive tract.

Unfavorable bacteria in the digestive tract will give you vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. Favorable bacteria compete with the unfavorable ones for living space. An oxygen based colon detox will encourage those good microbes, for better all around health. So how exactly does it work?

An oxygen based colon health product creates a chemical reaction that releases oxygen and melts the impacted material in the intestines and colon into gas and liquid. It will make you need to stay close to a bathroom for a day or so while you eliminate the material from your colon, but you will feel much better afterwards.

Look for an oxygen based colon detox product that is available in a capsule form. Make sure it does not include ascorbic acid among the ingredients because ascorbic acid is an antioxidant. An antioxidant will undo the good that could be done by the oxygen. A good ingredient to look for, however, is GE-132. This is the germanium-132, which is good for the health of the immune system. It also facilitates and adds oxygen. It is considered to be a nutrient that is helpful for many ailments.

Cleansing the colon can help with weight loss. Many people who have eaten an average diet for years have accumulated ten to twenty pounds of impacted fecal matter in their colons. An oxygen based colon cleanse will help the body eliminate this material, resulting in a quick loss to jump start your weight loss plan. Follow up the cleanse with reasonable portions of healthy natural food. You should have enough energy after the cleanse to start an exercise program,

Dipping into your State Health Insurance Pool – What Are The Requirements?

State health insurance is a branch of health insurance that is for high-risk individuals with chronic and/or pre-existing conditions. Most common diseases to see on this type of insurance are HIV, AIDS, kidney disease, obesity, and diabetes. This high-risk pool is designed to act as a safety net to offer some form of insurance to these people but for a hefty premium. This program has fewer participants due to the cost. This plan is not low-income friendly. Rates can be as much as double what the normal market value for health insurance is. The pool does tend to offer better benefits but is definitely geared to those people that truly afford insurance. So, most people who fall under this category and require this type of plan are likely to be uninsured due to not being able to afford a plan. This plan is last resort for persons with such illnesses that land them for emergency or hospital care frequently, and it that case pays for itself quickly. Some of the few persons who cannot afford this are lucky enough to have a spouse in the work place that is able to add them to their policy from their employer, these plans cannot discriminate due to chronic or long-term illnesses. The State Health Insurance Pool knows its rates are high, and claims so are medical costs for the chronically ill. They have to charge more to be able to get ahead and stay afloat.

Most risk pools are nonprofit associations ran by the state. Usually they do not use taxes to operate their business. Most persons requiring this type of service usually are filling up the gap in cost of what their normal plan won’t cover or is a temporary pit stop till they can find a plan that accepts them at a lower cost. The people who qualify for this type of coverage must be a resident of the state they are applying in. Most states require you live there for at least six months and some up to one full year before reaching residency status. You also need one of several possible documents from other insurance companies. You will need proof of rejection from at least one company denying them benefits similar to the ones being asked for. You can use proof of insurance with a higher premium as well. You may also be eligible if you can show proof of insurance with a rider or rated policy. Any of the above mentioned could get you approved to apply for the risk pool in the state you reside in. A reciprocity agreement is when a person who is eligible for the plan and is currently on a similar plan, met the waiting period quota, and not used up the lifetime maximum benefits can still be eligible if they move to another state after they meet the residency requirement. Not all states, but most, have this agreement included into their plan.

There is a list of those who are not eligible in the high-risk pool besides non-residents. You are no longer eligible if you move to another state but if you have a reciprocity agreement, you can become eligible in the state you now reside after residency has been established. Most people who are eligible or receive Medicaid or Medicare are also not eligible. Many states do have a high-risk plan for Medicare eligible persons, but if you receive or could receive Medicaid than you don’t qualify. If a person has terminated their coverage in another plan and less than 132 months have passed they are not eligible for the pool till that time is up. Those who have used their maximum lifetime benefits for their plan are also not qualifying. Inmates of a public institution are also not eligible for the risk pool. Other specific exclusions can include state decided specific diseases or medical conditions that they just don’t want to cover. An enrollment cap may also be in affect so only a specific amount of persons may be actively enrolled at any given point of time. All other applicants who are eligible will be placed on a waiting list till there is an opening. There seem to be a higher list of those who don’t qualify then who do for this high-risk benefit that costs an arm and a leg anyway.

Baby Boomer Couples Cutting Health Care Costs

Baby boomer couples cutting health care costs by pooling resources to reduce the cost of long term care premiums. Instead of buying for one, advisers and analysts say you can sometimes slash premium costs by approaching long term care insurance as a couple.

For those willing to shop around the following three strategies are worth exploring:

1.Shared care plans

In general, sharing long-term policies doesn’t eliminate the need for both partners to buy separate plans. B…

Keywords:
baby boomer couples cutting health care costs, long term care premiums, long term care partnership, shared care plans

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Baby boomer couples cutting health care costs by pooling resources to reduce the cost of long term care premiums. Instead of buying for one, advisers and analysts say you can sometimes slash premium costs by approaching long term care insurance as a couple.

For those willing to shop around the following three strategies are worth exploring:

1.Shared care plans

In general, sharing long-term policies doesn’t eliminate the need for both partners to buy separate plans. But unlike traditional policies, a special rider is tacked on to each to allow one spouse to dip into another’s benefits.

The main advantage of shared coverage is that if you need more than your current plan allows. But what happens if both eventually go over their allotted amounts?

If you’ve bought a contract with plenty of flexibility and terms that stretch over long periods, experts say that won’t necessarily be a problem. They point out that some providers offer policies that can cover an entire lifetime. A longer time frame usually means greater premiums. A lifetime policy can translate into extra costs when compared with short-term plans covering three- to five-years of long-term care.

“That can defeat the whole purpose of buying a policy that allows you to share benefits,” says Neil Gholson, President of LTC Finical Solutions, inc..

To make sure you don’t run out of benefits, Neil suggests at least four years of coverage. The Consumers Union senior policy analyst says that’s based on data showing nursing-home use averages around 2.5 years in long-term policies.

“Very few people spend more than five years in a nursing home,” Gholson said. “So if you’re going to get a long-term plan that shares care between spouses, look at a four-year term. Fewer years could be a little shy, especially considering that policies can cover home as well as nursing home care.”

Best suited for shared care policies might be couples that want to buy shorter-term plans but still want some flexibility to reach into their spouse’s pool of benefits, he added.

2. Long term care partnership deals

Two years ago, Congress expanded to most of the country a program that had been running for years in less than a handful of states. It allows the total value of long-term-care policies to be counted against Medicaid requirements for drawing on personal assets to pay health bills.

But different states have different contingencies. For example, in New York consumers must purchase a long-term-care policy that covers at least three years in a nursing home and six years of home-based care. In return, the state pledges not to go after any personal assets once someone exhausts the benefits in their private policy, says Gholson.

“So Medicaid care becomes a free benefit without any strings attached,” he added.

States such as California and Connecticut use what’s termed dollar-for-dollar protection. In those cases, authorities count the value of a private insurance policy to determine the amount of assets that are protected against pay-down requirements in Medicaid.

It saves the states money because they’re shifting costs of long-term care to insurance companies. And it puts fewer burdens than we currently have on the entire Medicaid system.

For individuals, such partnerships can limit the size of policies they’ve got to buy. The trade-off is that if you buy less coverage than a state’s threshold to qualify for Medicaid, you’ll still wind up dipping into your savings.

“If you live in a dollar-for-dollar state, you might want to buy enough insurance to protect your entire portfolio in a partnership program,” Gholson said.

3. Ask insurance agents about discounts on bundled purchases

This could be the simplest way to savings.

Some carriers now offer promotional rates for two people that buy a long term care package at the same time.

Those are marketed as spousal discounts and can range between 15% and 25% off regular premiums. And if you qualify as extremely fit and healthy candidates, some carriers will even add another 10% discount on top.

Some things to consider:

Each of the three options presents different caveats. “People need to remember that the shared-care marketplace is a fairly new phenomenon,” said Cheryl Matheis, a health strategist at AARP. “They need to ask a lot of questions and carefully examine all of the details in each policy.”

1. Check the insurers’ history of changing prices and policy conditions. Only a few carriers haven’t hiked premiums.

2. Shared long term care benefits likely will cost you slightly more than traditional long-term-care policies of a similar term.

The alternative is that if two people aren’t sharing long-term-care insurance, they’ll probably need to buy more extensive individual policies to get the same level of coverage. The big advantage to shared care is that you reduce the term of policies.

3. If you’ve got enough money, the best option is always to buy separate longer-term plans.

4. If you’re looking at a more affordable alternative, then shared care is an option to at least consider.

5. If you choose a state partnership programs need to note any loopholes may exist, Gholson says. Even buying enough private care insurance to match asset levels isn’t a guaranteed solution.

“Depending on where you live or move, the different Medicaid eligibility and income requirements in each state, the government might still be able to come after your assets in certain cases,” Gholson said.

Spouses cutting health care costs can produce significant benefits with the right amount of research. Contact a Long Term Care Professional that represents several carriers to see what your options are.