Membership Now Available for Furloughed, Part-time and Laid Off Employees Within the US

Introducing MyDPCplus, a Direct Primary Care Membership for Individuals, Nationwide

In March of 2020, an unprecedented 701,000 Americans lost their jobs – the largest change in a single month since 1975. Restaurants, retailers, bars, and gig workers have been hit particularly hard, and the job losses are projected to get worse before they get better. It’s no surprise that workers in these industries often lack the benefits or means to get basic healthcare when they are employed, much less unemployed. If COVID-19 has taught us nothing else, it’s that people need access to affordable medical care to stay healthy and mitigate future risks for serious illnesses. They also need to be able to see a doctor or access telemedicine in times of crisis without breaking the bank.

Healthcare2U’s mission from the start has been to break down barriers and make healthcare more affordable to all. To that end, we’re excited to launch our first coast-to-coast healthcare membership for individuals: My Direct Primary Care Plus (MyDPCplus). This healthcare membership for individuals makes it possible to gain primary care benefits for themselves and families without being employed. For those recently laid off or struggling to make ends meet, this is a game-changer.

Here we’ll cover why direct primary care (DPC) for individuals is so cost-effective, what the membership includes, and how members can use it in conjunction with traditional health insurance.

Why DPC is So Affordable

The average monthly cost of health insurance (including employer and employee contributions) for an individual in 2018 was $574 per month and family coverage averaged $1,634. Simply put, a person on unemployment with a family can’t afford those premiums which don’t include the expensive co-pays for in-office physician or urgent care visits. And even if individuals can secure insurance on their own, lower monthly premiums usually mean higher co-pays and deductibles.

Since DPC isn’t health insurance, members pay a flat monthly fee for access to a primary care physician. With Healthcare2U’s membership, doctor visits are only $10 per visit, and urgent care is $25. Members can also access Virtual DPC around the clock for $0 out-of-pocket. These visit fees are considerably less than what individuals would pay if they saw a primary care doctor through an insurance provider or on their own.

What You Get for Your Money

MyDPCplus is a robust healthcare membership that provides convenient and affordable access to primary medical care, wellness, and chronic disease management for 13 disease states within manageable ranges. Here are some of the benefits offered with the membership.

  • Unlimited Direct Primary Care
    • Unlimited doctor visits with a $10 visit fee
    • Unlimited urgent care visits with a $25 visit fee
    • Annual physical ‑ with four labs: complete metabolic panel (CMP), complete blood count (CBC), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and lipid panel.
    • Patient navigation center staff­ed by bilingual medical assistants to schedule care for members and eligible participants
    • Discounted pharmaceuticals, X-rays, imaging, labs, dental and vision
  • Unlimited Chronic Disease Management
    • Unlimited treatment and management of 13 chronic disease states for the same $10 visit fee. Healthcare2U accepts pre-existing conditions within manageable ranges.
  • Unlimited Virtual DPC ­
    • Unlimited access to bilingual licensed medical providers online or by phone, 24/7/365 for minor illnesses and injuries at $0 out of pocket cost to members

How Healthcare Is Supposed to Work

It’s never been more critical to establish an on-going relationship with a primary care doctor. Primary care physicians help families maintain health through preventive care and early intervention. People who regularly see a primary care physician manage their chronic diseases better, spend less time in the hospital, and miss work less due to illness.

For those still fortunate enough to have insurance through an employer, DPC is always a great addition, especially if they can’t afford coverage for dependents. Members can utilize DPC for themselves or their families to avoid escalating co-pays and high deductibles. In the event of a catastrophic emergency, they can still use a high deductible health plan (HDHP) if necessary.

No Surprises with DPC

From discounts on prescriptions, X rays and labs, dental, vision, and more, to a knowledgeable patient navigation team, members know exactly what they’re purchasing up front. For a low monthly membership fee, families can have added peace of mind in times of uncertainty.

If you’re a broker who wants to help clients who have recently laid-off employees, resulting in lost jobs and healthcare benefits, here’s an answer for day-to-day care.

Learn more about Healthcare2U’s MyDPCplus membership by downloading the brochure.

Healthcare2U Announces the Nationwide Availability of New Direct Primary Care Program Geared for Individuals Affected by COVID-19 Crisis

MyDPCplus is a nationwide, monthly healthcare membership created to address the furloughed, part-time and laid-off employees of America, by providing access to unlimited primary care services including urgent care, 24/7 Virtual DPC and chronic disease management

April 6, 2020 (Austin, TX) – Today Healthcare2U, a membership-based, integrated direct primary care (DPC) organization, released an individual product to address the furloughed, part-time and laid-off employees of America in the form of a monthly healthcare membership. With indications that the US unemployment rate could rise to 13 percent in April¹, Healthcare2U is working to quell employee fears of going without access to healthcare by delivering their Direct Primary Care membership to individuals on a national scale.

The desire to assist those affected by COVID-19’s economic toll prompted Healthcare2U to create their first individual monthly membership, My Direct Primary Care Plus (MyDPCplus). MyDPCplus is built around a hybrid-DPC payment model and provides a comprehensive suite of unlimited primary care benefits. Like DPC, the plan is not insurance, but rather a healthcare membership available for a flat monthly fee. Benefits include unlimited services such as in-office physician visits for primary and urgent care, 24/7 Virtual DPC/telehealth consultations, and the treatment of 13 chronic disease states such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension – within management ranges.

In this initiative, Healthcare2U has partnered with Zevo Benefits to provide the MyDPCplus monthly membership to individuals across the nation. Zevo Benefits offers a complete and agile enrollment platform that offers a simple and straightforward user experience, allowing individuals a painless enrollment into MyDPCplus via monthly ACH withdraw or credit card.

And while we can’t provide hospitalization or take away the stress of this moment in history, I can do my part to provide access to primary care for everyone who needs it.
– Andy Bonner

“Healthcare2U understands those Americans who have lost their jobs are dealing with the anxiety of possibly losing their health insurance. And while we can’t provide hospitalization or take away the stress of this moment in history, I can do my part to provide access to primary care for everyone who needs it,” said Andy Bonner, CEO of Healthcare2U. “Whether these individuals are gig workers, recently unemployed, or working for employers who can no longer provide benefits – they need access to affordable primary care. Healthcare2U is proud to partner with Zevo Benefits so we can offer this essential membership to individuals, nationwide.”

Follow Healthcare2U on LinkedIn and follow on Twitter @Healthc2U.

About Healthcare2U
Healthcare2U is a membership-based, hybrid direct primary care (DPC) organization that ensures employers of all sizes and structures have nationwide access to affordable, consistent and quality primary care over 40% below the average cost of traditional DPC practices operating in the market today. Through our proprietary Private Physician Network (PPN)™, Healthcare2U promotes healthy living by detecting, treating, and managing acute and chronic conditions before the onset of serious illness. Healthcare2U is headquartered in Austin, Texas and is available nationwide. For more information, visit


3 Powerful Ways to Boost Your Immune System

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many wondering why illnesses seem to hit some harder than others. People with pre-existing conditions and people who smoke indeed tend to suffer more, especially when it comes to respiratory infections. Still, they’re not the only ones prone to viral infections. Fortunately, there are specific things you can do to boost your immune system and make you less susceptible to illness year-round. These include getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, and meditating on the positive.

Sleep Deprivation Can Make You Sick

Your body needs sleep to fight off infectious diseases. Research shows that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Sleep deprivation can also affect how fast you recover if you do get ill.

Your immune system releases proteins call cytokines while you sleep. In addition to promoting sleep, specific cytokines also need to increase when you have an infection, inflammation, or you’re experiencing stress. The less sleep you get, the less of these protective proteins you produce. Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are also reduced during periods of inadequate sleep.

Prolonged lack of sleep also increases your risks for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. To give their immune system a boost, adults need a good seven to eight hours of sleep each night, while teenagers require nine to 10 hours.

You Are What You Eat

Scientists say people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Your body needs a steady supply of many different macronutrients and micronutrients to maintain your immune system. Failing to get those micronutrients—vitamins and minerals—all but guarantees disease.

The five micronutrients that play roles in maintaining the immune system are vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. According to Harvard Medical School, these nutrients are best sourced from a healthy, well-balanced diet. Here are some of the foods that can help support your immune system.

  • Magnesium – whole wheat, legumes, nuts, seeds
  • Zinc – oysters, beef shank, Alaskan king crab, turkey (dark meat)
  • Vitamin B6 – chicken, cereals, bananas, pork loin, potatoes with skin
  • Vitamin C – tomatoes, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit
  • Vitamin E – sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, safflower oil, peanut butter

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean sources of protein, and healthy fats from nuts and olive oil can help you stay balanced.

Meditation Changes the Body

study in the journal Translational Psychiatry found meditation had positive effects on the immune system. Not only did it promote relaxation, but it also shifted gene expression and even boosted mood over time.

The study took blood samples from 94 participants to analyze what genes were expressed before the experiment, directly after it, one month, and ten months later. The participants were divided into three groups, including one group of experienced meditators. All the groups showed shifts in the expression of genes related to stress, inflammation, and wound healing. The experienced meditators had specific shifts in genes associated with fighting viral infections.

Dr. Rudolph Tanzi of Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, says, “Meditation is one of the ways to engage in restorative activities that may provide relief for our immune systems, easing the day-to-day stress of a body constantly trying to protect itself. The prediction is that this would then lead to healthier aging.”

Another study also evaluated the positive effects of mindfulness meditation on the immune system. From the research, the authors found that mindfulness meditation:

  • Reduced markers of inflammation, which are often correlated with decreased immune functioning and disease
  • Increased number of CD-4 cells—the immune system’s helper cells involved in sending signals to other cells telling them to destroy infections
  • Increased telomerase activity: telomerase helps promote the stability of chromosomes and prevent their deterioration, which can lead to chronic diseases and premature aging

With everything going on, it can be challenging to carve out time to meditate. But even 15 minutes a day can help keep you on the path of wellness.

COVID-19: Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy

As we continue to navigate through this uncertain time, moving on from COVID-19 is top of mind for all. The health and safety of our families, coworkers, and staff continue to be the top priority. Not only has this illness affected the health of many, but it also has far-reaching economic implications. Restaurants, retail operations, and others in the service industry have been hit particularly hard, and our hearts go out to all the families affected. As a business, how do you continue to provide the best service possible, while making sure your staff and clients are safe? During this pandemic and beyond, it’s important to offer consistent leadership, practice everyday prevention, and utilize services like telehealth to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Here we’ll outline tips to stay safe and healthy, including best practices for prevention, what steps to take if you begin to feel sick, and where to find up-to-date information for COVID-19.

Tip 1: Continue to Provide Leadership

If you don’t take care of your employees, you can’t serve your customers. People are looking for reassurance because this situation has caused global anxiety and stress. Consistent leadership can help ease fears and keep your business on track. As an employer, there are things you can do to mitigate risks and panic.

  • Implement a work-from-home policy when possible.
  • Keep staff updated on company status, so they feel connected.
  • Offer online wellness programs to help employees handle stress.
  • Eliminate all non-essential business travel.
  • Communicate with your customers and keep them informed.

Honest communication is vital during this time. Keeping staff and clients informed goes a long way to assuage fears and inspire confidence that we will all get through this together.

Tip 2: Practice Everyday Prevention

COVID-19 can spread person-to-person and through contaminated surfaces. Throughout the day, you can accumulate this virus and can infect yourself by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Although there is currently no vaccine available, the CDC and WHO have released precautions to avoid contracting the virus:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you often touch and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Stay home from work, school, and public areas if you’re sick. Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding, and other household items if you’re sick.

Tip 3: Seek Virtual Care When Possible

Covid-19 often results in particularly severe symptoms for seniors and those with preexisting health conditions like heart or lung disease. With all the media coverage for the coronavirus, it’s easy to panic if you start experiencing symptoms. The tendency for some is to go to the E.R. immediately. If you don’t have COVID-19, this can do more harm than good. You could expose yourself to the virus you were trying to avoid. Masses of sick people congregating in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices could help perpetuate the disease and overwhelm medical providers.

In an unprecedented move, Medicare has expanded to include telehealth services for seniors. The government felt it was essential to prevent healthy and sick Americans alike from visiting doctor’s offices in person and risk spreading or catching the novel coronavirus.

Emergency Rooms and healthcare professionals are already overwhelmed. If you have access to telehealth, use virtual care before rushing to the doctor’s office and exposing yourself and essential healthcare personnel to the virus.

Symptoms and Next Steps if you are Sick

If you begin to feel the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, fatigue, dry cough, and shortness of breath), there are IMPORTANT steps to follow to assist medical professionals in getting you healthy and keeping the virus away from others. Follow the CDC’s crucial steps if you’re feeling ill:

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
    • Healthcare2U DPC members: For our members, please call Healthcare2U’s patient navigation center at 1 (800) 496-2805 if you begin feeling any symptoms. The first course of action is a virtual visit with a licensed medical professional to diagnose your conditions before going to a physician’s office or urgent care facility. This vital step will protect our crucial healthcare providers and not make them susceptible to the virus.
    • 9-1-1 if you have a medical emergency: According to the CDC, if you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick
  • Cover your cough and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

For more information on symptoms and available options for testing, please view the CDC’s website found here, or contact your local county health department.



**Content updated on June 8, 2021

How Employee Burnout Increases Healthcare Costs

Employee burnout is the new crisis of the global workplace. According to O.C. Tanner’s Global Culture Report, 79 percent of employees are suffering from mild, moderate, or severe burnout, with 40 percent falling in the moderate to severe category. H.R. professionals can’t help but notice this disturbing trend as 95 percent say burnout makes it difficult for them to retain employees. Not only is the epidemic contributing to high turnover rates for employers, but it’s also wreaking havoc on peoples’ health and healthcare spending.

Poor management, lack of appreciation, negative workplace culture, and job stress can all play a role in staff burnout. The report attributes 120,000 deaths per year and $190 billion in healthcare spending to burnout. Physical and mental exhaustion, dread, stress, and anxiety all contribute to the development of chronic diseases, absenteeism, and an increase in trips to the emergency room.

Increased Risk for Disease

Stress can take a toll on your mental well-being as well as your physical health. Additional research cited in the report found that burnout causes an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol, and even death for employees under the age of 45.

Stress hormones in your body can affect glucose levels when activating your fight-or-flight response. To give you the strength to fight in any given situation, glucose levels in your bloodstream rise. If you can’t convert the glucose into energy, it builds up in the bloodstream.

Chronic stress has also been linked to a wide range of harmful effects on the heart. It’s been suggested that stress triggers inflammation, a known instigator of heart disease. It’s also human nature to reach for unhealthy comfort foods like pizza and desserts when stressed. High-fat, high-cholesterol foods contribute to the artery damage that causes heart attacks and strokes. Other harmful coping mechanisms like smoking or drinking too much can also damage your heart.

Absenteeism Costs 

Chronic diseases, stress, fatigue, and depression all affect employers’ revenue. The CDC Foundation says productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the U.S.—about $1685 per employee.

To remain competitive and productive, employers must encourage safer, healthier workplaces. It’s in their best interest to help employees prevent illnesses and to promote their health and well-being by fostering a positive work culture.

A Culture of Wellness is Essential

Like it or not, every employer is in the healthcare business. Why? Because the way employers operate affects the physical and mental health of their employees. Facilitating wellness, longevity, and a happier workforce requires exceptional planning and a top-down approach. There are some behaviors management can encourage to help set the right tone.

  • Unplug after-hours – Leave tech in the office if necessary, and limit emails after hours.
  • Take vacation days – Don’t work while on vacation.
  • Show appreciation – There are times when working long hours to complete a project is inevitable. When this happens, make sure employees know their effort is seen and appreciated.
  • Be strategic – Get a clear picture of the time and human resources necessary to complete a project before you start, so employees don’t feel like they’re always treading water, and long hours don’t become the norm.

It’s essential to remember positivity goes a long way. Laughter lowers levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. Empower your team to make changes as needed and encourage open dialogue and collaboration between management and coworkers. Eliminating risk factors for burnout helps employees and employers save on healthcare costs in the long run.

Coronavirus: Stay Calm and Aware, But Don’t Panic

Whenever a new illness appears seemingly out of nowhere, and the media begins reporting an outbreak and deaths, it’s cause for alarm. With the coronavirus (COVID-19), the public has been understandably anxious. In a state of uncertainty, you may  feel vulnerable and unsure of “what’s next.” It is essential to understand what the virus is, how to prevent it, and the threat it presents. To calm your pandemic panic, let’s try to keep this outbreak in the proper perspective.

As of June 7, 2021, more than 3.7 million people have died worldwide from the virus. Although vaccines have been rolled out in the U.S. and other nations, the coronavirus still continues to circulate at high rates in some places around the world. We’ve learned that serious illness only occurs in some cases, and people with underlying conditions are at higher risk. So it’s important to remain vigilant.

The latest version of the coronavirus originated from animals and, currently, not enough is known about how it affects humans to create a vaccine. What we do know is COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that presently seems to be spreading much like the seasonal flu, from person-to-person through coughing, sneezing, or talking. The World Health Organization (WHO) outlined one transmission difference between the seasonal flu and COVID-19. With the flu, people who are infected but not showing symptoms can spread the virus, masking the transmission. But, with COVID-19, data collected as of March 5 suggests transmission is only through people who are actively sick and showing symptoms. Because of this trait and others, WHO believes containment is possible through a comprehensive approach, including accurate tracking of new cases and community-based interventions. As an individual, there are prevention measures you can follow as well. With all this information in mind, here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 and how to prevent it.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can infect animals and humans. The infections are prevalent among camels, cats, and bats; the virus causes diarrhea in pigs and cows and upper respiratory infections in chickens. These coronavirus strains can evolve and infect people. In humans, it’s responsible for mild respiratory infections like the common cold but can also lead to more severe illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) are different versions of coronaviruses, and COVID-19 is a new strain that until now, wasn’t previously identified in humans.


Chances are, you’ve been infected with a human strain of coronavirus at some point in your life, as most people have. The sickness usually lasts for a short amount of time, and symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms of coronavirus disease typically appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. The elderly, babies, and people with compromised immune systems are impacted the most. Others with existing medical problems like lung conditions, heart disease, or high blood pressure are also more likely to become seriously ill. It’s not surprising that smokers also run a higher risk of developing more severe conditions when exposed to the virus.

Help Prevent the Spread

If you think you may be affected by the coronavirus, the CDC recommends the following precautions to keep the disease from spreading.

  1. Stay home except to get medical care.
  2. Isolate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  3. Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  4. Wear a facemask.
  5. Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  6. Wash your hands often.
  7. Avoid sharing personal household items.
  8. Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
  9. Monitor your symptoms.

The Concern Over Healthcare Costs

With the anxiety of the coronavirus outbreak, we can’t help but remind ourselves that the expense of tests and necessary medical care may discourage many people–even those with insurance–from seeking treatment for their symptoms. But for some, seeing a primary care physician could mean the difference between health and the onset of a serious illness. In times like these, options like direct primary care (DPC) and telehealth shine by providing convenient and affordable access to healthcare. This access is particularly vital for the restaurant, retail, service industry, and gig workers who can’t afford to miss work, don’t have health insurance, and are in public-interfacing jobs where they encounter many people every day.

Many DPC providers offer direct access to a physician via telehealth, which can be instrumental in helping families stay safe from any onset of illness, including infectious diseases. If you think you are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus or a common cold, a primary care physician or telehealth provider can evaluate your condition quickly – getting you on the road to wellness. By utilizing virtual care, people can minimize costs and exposure risks while receiving appropriate care from a licensed medical professional. Remember: while you should stay calm, also stay prepared. Check to see if your current health plan offers next-day primary care appointments or telehealth. When it comes to the health of your family, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Helpful resources:

Track WHO’s rolling updates here:

Follow the CDC for Information:

Track the CDC’s updates here:

**Content updated on June 8, 2021

The Link Between Technology and Depression

Is there a correlation between using technology and depression? Some say yes. Researchers found a sudden increase in anxiety, depression, and suicide rates among teens around the time smartphones became popular. An AMA study in 2012 also showed that constant exposure to artificial light—even low-level light from computers and TV screens—can throw off our circadian rhythms, causing depression and mood disorders.

There’s been a lot of debate about whether depression is the cause or the result of technology overuse. Do depressed people overuse technology in an attempt to make themselves feel better? Or does excessive use of technology lead to depression? While there’s a probability of both happening, research suggests spending too much time with your devices can negatively impact your social connections, sleep patterns, and mental health.

The Social Connection

As of 2019, about 70 percent of adults in the U.S. used social media. Given that it was only about 5 percent in 2005, it’s an understatement that social media has had a significant impact on our culture and our lives. A study by Jean Twenge, Ph.D., professor of psychology at San Diego State University, and colleagues found that adolescents who spent the most time on social media and the least time in face-to-face social interactions reported the most loneliness.

Add unrealistic standards for beauty, success, and fame to that limited human interaction, and you have a recipe for low self-esteem, depression, and a host of other problems. People often have a fear of missing out or compare their looks, lives, and achievements to what they see online, which can be very damaging. Spending excessive amounts of time online can also cause people to miss out on meaningful social connections in real life that could provide a greater sense of well-being.

Sleep is a Necessary Habit

Insomnia and other sleep problems also increase the risk of developing depression. Unfortunately, devices such as computers, cell phones, tablets, and televisions can wreak havoc on your sleep pattern. They emit blue light that restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm—also known as your sleep/wake cycle. Lowered melatonin levels make it difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sleep deprivation affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things, thus creating a negative impact on the brain. Not only does lack of sleep impair thinking, but it also impedes emotional regulation. In this way, insomnia can amplify the effects of mental disorders and vice versa.

According to Harvard Medical School, studies estimate that 65 to 90 percent of adult patients with major depression, and about 90 percent of children with this disorder experience some sleep problems. Another study by Baylor University in 2015 also seems to support this. They surmised heavy smartphone users tend to be “more prone to moodiness, materialism, and temperamental behavior.”

There are usually many factors that contribute to mental health issues, but getting a good night’s sleep can help the body and brain function better. If you’re using technology at night, give yourself a 30-minute window without gadgets before bedtime.

While technology gives us the ability to sift through enormous amounts of information in the blink of an eye and provides unparalleled convenience, it must be kept in the proper context. Frequent distractions and constant stimulation can have negative impacts on real-life social connections, sleep habits, and mental health.

Finding Solutions for Surprise Medical Billing

According to KFF, 20 percent of insured adults had a surprise medical bill in the past two years, and 66 percent of adults are worried about being unable to pay unexpected medical bills. Some have accused insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors of putting profit over patients.

For some patients, getting an unexpected bill for a treatment they thought was covered by insurance can be financially devastating. In fact, a Federal Reserve report found that nearly 40 percent of adults in the U.S. in 2018 would have trouble paying an unexpected $400 bill. Surprise bills are sometimes triggered when patients unknowingly see a doctor out of their network. Often, it’s from an out-of-network anesthesiologist or surgical assistant chosen by a surgeon without the patient’s knowledge.

Doctors blame the insurance companies, and the insurance companies point fingers at doctors. Many feel Congress should intervene and hold insurance companies accountable. Lawmakers are struggling for approaches to curtail the practice that can leave patients on the hook for huge medical bills.

Doctors want to be paid a fair amount for the services they provide, but patients are crying out to lawmakers for protection from unfair practices. There are a few proposed solutions to mitigate surprise medical bills. They include requiring increased transparency from insurance companies on what’s covered, an independent resolution process to solve billing disputes between doctors and insurance companies, and patients advocating for themselves.

Increased Transparency from Insurance Companies and Hospitals

Insurance companies claim they have no problem with price transparency. They say hospitals are the ones keeping patients in the dark. Although a price transparency rule took effect in 2019, many hospitals are meeting the requirements by posting generic “list” prices, which aren’t based on what the patient may be responsible for. For price transparency to be meaningful, the information provided must be individualized so that it closely represents the actual costs.

An Independent Resolution Process

One proposed solution to solving billing disputes involves setting up an arbitration process that’s independent of doctors and insurance companies. A third party comprised of healthcare experts would help the two entities negotiate payments. Doctors feel this option would help prevent them from being steamrolled by insurance giants.

Another option would be to have insurance companies pay doctors based on a benchmark—the median in-network rate for the service. While insurance companies seem to like this idea, doctors feel they’d get the short end of the stick by relinquishing too much pricing control to insurers.

Advocate for Yourself

Although some states have put measures in place, we don’t know to what degree Congress will decide to intervene. The best thing to do to avoid surprise medical bills is to be proactive. Here are a few things you can do to prevent being shocked after the fact.

  • Check whether the hospital or doctor you’re using is in your insurer’s network before you get any treatment.
  • Ask detailed questions about whether any out-of-network doctors will play a role in your treatment.
  • If you must make a trip to the ER, be sure to go to a hospital in your network and ask if the attending physician is in your network as well.

If an unexpected bill has already hit you, it’s okay to seek help.

  • Contact your state’s insurance commissioner’s office to find out if your state has laws in place to safeguard against surprise medical bills.
  • Check with the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF). They’re a nonprofit organization that helps patients file an appeal with their insurance provider.

With unbelievable charges for over the counter medications, supplies or simple treatments ($60 for a single ibuprofen, $5,751 for an ice pack, or $629 for a Band-Aid) continuously making headlines, it’s clear something needs to be done in the immediate future. People deserve to know what they’re paying for care upfront, and hopefully, policies will soon be put in place to mitigate surprise medical billing nationwide.

3 Ways Love Can Improve Your Health

Being in love evokes many emotions. Associated emotions include happiness and excitement, but is “falling in love” good for your health? Research suggests, yes! It turns out expressing and receiving love in a healthy, long-term relationship can do wonders for your well-being. Experts say being in love can lower stress hormones, strengthen your immune system, lower blood pressure, and improve mental health. Let’s explore three ways that love improves your health:

Combat Stress

Not only does having emotional support and someone to talk to or tackle life’s problems with give you a greater sense of well-being, but studies also show people in healthy relationships have significantly lower stress levels. Love can keep the fight-or-flight response from running amok and ruining your health.

Stress elevates cortisol levels, and when left unchecked, this stress hormone can cause headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, and even memory impairment. Oxytocin is the “love” hormone that lowers cortisol levels.

This powerful chemical is released by holding hands, hugging, kissing, or even just looking at someone you love. Another “feel-good” hormone called dopamine is also associated with love. It causes feelings of optimism as well as greater focus and energy.

Strengthen Your Immune System

Who knew a hug a day could potentially keep the doctor away? In a recent study of more than 400 adults, researchers found that the more often people hugged, the more their odds of getting sick declined. Hugging could indicate a level of overall social support in a person’s life, which also promotes good health. In the same study, the adults who reported a secure social support system had fewer cold symptoms than those who lacked a support system.

Researchers say people in loving relationships tend to have less inflammation and are likely to have a stronger overall immune system because feelings of love can help nurture and support the life-enhancing microbiome in your gut and help ward off harmful bacteria that can make you sick. With 80 percent of your immune system residing in your gut, this is a considerable boost.

Lower Your Blood Pressure

Love is associated with, both figuratively and literally, one of your most important organs—the heart. Not only does having a partner help encourage you to give up bad habits like smoking or eating unhealthily, but it could also have positive effects on your blood pressure.

Hypertension can be extremely hazardous to your health. It could lead to severe conditions like heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, or even cognitive decline in later years. According to experts, being in an affectionate relationship with a supportive partner can help you react better to stressful life events, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Being part of a loving partnership can reduce feelings of isolation that could lead to depression or anxiety and increase your sense of belonging and happiness. And with the powerful effects of love hormones, supportive communication, and physical affection, you can improve your health and quality of life. The Beatles said, “All you need is love.” Perhaps they were onto something.

DPC is a Better Healthcare Option for Small Businesses

For companies, providing employees with healthcare tends to be the second-largest operating expense after payroll. As a small business who may be struggling to attract top talent and pay competitive salaries, an attractive benefits package could be the difference between hiring the best in your field or having to settle for second best. More often than not, small employers that provide healthcare end up transferring the high costs to their employees by requiring them to pay high deductibles for insurance plans. And since many workers at small companies can’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses that accompany high deductible health plans (HDHPs), these benefit packages aren’t exactly enticing to prospective employees.

When you’re a small business trying to find your bearings, attract top talent, and keep your employees happy, the balance can be tough to sustain. If your employees are paying out-of-pocket for their medical bills, their costs and dissatisfaction can escalate quickly. By providing additional healthcare benefits, you help employees control expenses and address health concerns before they become serious issues that impact your premiums or retention. Studies show that employers who spend more money upfront on primary care pay less on specialized healthcare downstream. But with all the options in the marketplace, what plan is best?

A Solution to Consider 

Innovative owners are adopting direct primary care (DPC) as a healthcare option for their small businesses because it provides a better experience for employees regarding the accessibility and affordability of care. It also mitigates overspending for employers by decreasing referrals to specialists and offering prescriptions at discounted prices. DPC is also a highly effective option when paired with major medical insurance plans such as HDHPs.

Put simply, DPC is a non-insurance healthcare model where a flat monthly fee is paid for a defined set of primary care services. While services differ nationally, DPC membership typically includes timely and unlimited access to your physician via in-office visit or over the phone. The model is structured to emphasize the patient-physician relationship to improve health outcomes.

Employees enrolled in direct primary care have 59 percent fewer ER visits, are referred to specialists 62 percent less often, have 65 percent fewer radiology exams, and have 80 percent fewer surgeries. Because of this, some self-insured employers reported saving as much as $260 per member per month on health care expenses.

What that looks like for employees is having healthcare access for unexpected health crises but not having to pay out-of-pocket deductibles for primary care and management of certain chronic diseases. Instead, they utilize their direct primary care plan, avoid deductibles, and pay a small fee to their doctor for the visit.

Though it’s clear that early intervention from a primary care doctor does save money and lives, emergencies can still arise. When medical catastrophes happen, employees can then utilize their major medical (or HDHP) for more comprehensive services like specialist visits for advanced disease states or surgeries. Since the majority of medical issues people face can be handled with primary care, the instances of employees having to use their major medical is greatly reduced. Knowing they can get quality primary care affordably, while having additional coverage in the case of an emergency, provides peace of mind for employees. Keeping your workforce healthy keeps you up and running without major interruptions in customer service or business operations.

Employers know it isn’t easy to outshine competitors with second-tier talent. If they are ready to provide a benefit that saves them money and makes employees happy, it’s time to invest in an innovative benefits package. DPC is a win-win healthcare option for small businesses and their valued employees. With DPC decreasing the cost of health insurance claims and creating a healthier workforce, it’s no wonder this model is becoming so popular.

To learn more about how DPC can benefit your small business, contact Healthcare2U.