Monday, October 13, 2014

Monthly Massage Plans

Christopher Chiropractic, Teresa Ellison, LMT and Kayla Helton, LMT offer monthly massage plans to better serve you.

Package Plan A
  • Four 15 minute massages for $50, expiring in three months.
Package Plan B
  • Four 30 minute massages for $90, expiring in three month.
Package Plan C
  • Six 30 minute massages for $125 expiring in six months. 
Package Plan D
  • Six 60 minute massages for $225 expiring in nine months. 

All services must be performed by one of our independent massage therapists. Coupons or discounts cannot be used in the purchase of package plans. All package plans are non-refundable.  For more information call Christopher Chiropractic at (606) 549-4811.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Obamacare: Have you heard that health insurance is changing? (Part Three - Participating Providers)

Dr. Matt, does it matter if a patient's doctor participates with the patient's health insurance plan? 

Yes.  It absolutely does. 

Just because a doctor advertises or tells someone that he "takes insurance" or "accepts insurance" does not necessarily mean that patients will get the perks of seeing a "participating provider" if they go there. 

Also, just because a doctor is participating with one plan that an insurance carrier has does not necessarily mean that the participate with all of the plans offered by that insurer. 

Therefore, taking a few minutes to understand a few important concepts that are addressed in this blog could save some patients a lot of money down the road.

Today I want to define a few terms first, and then we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of using a participating provider versus a non-participating provider.  The details of this topic may vary slightly from one insurance plan to another, but the basic concepts generally hold true for most insurers.

Participating providers:  These providers have signed a contract with an insurance carrier.  In exchange for being listed in provider directories and being offered direct access to more patients participating providers must accept a lower fee for their services.  There may also be other requirements that the provider must meet.  Participating providers are sometimes called "par" providers or "in-network providers". 

Non-participating providers:   These providers have the same training and the same license as participating providers, so there is not necessarily a difference in the care they provide to their patients.  However, non-participating providers generally have not entered into any kind of contract with an insurer and they are not bound to the insurance company's fee schedule.  There are many reasons that providers may not participate, but it is often because they think that the fee that they must accept from the insurer is too low and they are not willing to accept that as payment in full. Non-participating providers are sometimes called non-par or out-of-network providers.

Balance Billing:  This term is often used to describe the practice of billing a patient for the difference between the provider's fee schedule and the amount that the insurance carrier allows the provider to charge  Participating providers are usually not allowed to balance bill patients or charge more than the amount allowed by insurance carrier no matter what their normal fee is.  For example, a chiropractor may charge $35 for an adjustment but the insurer only allows a $23 charge; in that situation a participating provider must accept the $23 payment as payment in full and he cannot bill the patient for the remaining $12.   

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs):  In most situations, these kinds of plans only cover care that you receive from participating providers who are "in network" with them.  There are other differences related to the requirements for referrals to specialists or  forcing patients to have a primary care provider.  However, those details are not extremely relevant to this discussion.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) and Point-of-Service plans (POS):  These plans will allow patients to see a non-participating, out-of-network provider.  However, since non-participating providers may charge a higher fee, the insurer usually makes the patient pay a larger percentage of the bill.

In the real world what is the advantage to seeing a participating provider versus a non-participating provider?

In the real world, it all comes down to how much the care may cost the patient. 

For one thing, if the provider is non-participating with an HMO the insurance carrier may not cover that provider's care at all in some situations

If the carrier is a PPO, there are some huge differences between participating and non-participating providers.  First, the patient's agreement with the insurance carrier often states that the patient must pay a higher percentage of the provider's charges.  Second, the provider is not bound to a fee schedule and there are no limits on how much the doctor can charge the patient.  Lastly, if the patient sees an out-of-network specialist there may be additional referral requirements in order to get the insurance to cover a specialist visit.

How is this relevant to Obamacare?

In a recent blog I addressed how under the new health care laws many insurance plans are moving from a "copay" system to a deductible/coinsurance system in which patients pay more out of pocket.  Even if the insurance never pays a dime for the care, one advantage to seeing a participating provider is that participating providers must accept a lower fee for the same service.  With many of these new, high-deductible Obamacare plans, the fact that a participating provider must accept a lower fee can save patients a lot of money.

As is the case with our previous blogs in this series, this information is nothing new and most of these ideas have been around for some time.  However, with the current changes that are taking place in insurance we have been getting a lot of questions from patients about their new insurance plans, so we decided to do this blog series to address these common questions.

How do I know if my doctor participates with my insurance plan?

You can always ask the provider, but don't ask if they "accept" your insurance.  Instead, ask them if they are a participating provider or if they are "in-network" with your insurance company. 

An even better way to find out is to go to the insurance carrier's website and do a search for participating providers in your area.  Some insurers also publish provider directories or have phone numbers that you can call to see if a provider is in network.

Is Christopher Chiropractic "in-network" with any insurance carriers?

We recognize that we practice in a rural area where access to care is limited to begin with.  Therefore, we strive to be "in-network" with all carriers so that quality chiropractic care is available and affordable to anyone who wishes to see us.  We do not want patients to miss out on chiropractic just because we do not participate with their insurance plan.  This is also consistent with our conscious effort to get patients well in a way that requires them to spend as little time, money and energy as possible in our office.

We are participating providers with Medicare and Kentucky Medicaid, Wellcare, Conventry Cares. We are also in-network with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Bluegrass Family Health, United Healthcare, UMR, Aetna, Cigna, the University of the Cumberlands student plans, and so many other insurance companies that I can't even list them all.  Additionally, we are in the process of becoming in-network providers with other insurers and Kentucky Medicaid managed care organizations who will soon be operating in Kentucky. 

I would encourage a prospective patient to check with their insurer or call our office at 549-4811 to see if we participate in their plan. 

If they want to talk with me about our participation with a specific insurance carrier, I would love to talk with them.  Even if I'm with patients folks can leave a message and I'll return the call within a few hours.  Dr. Liz, Jodi or most of our other team members can also answer basic questions about many of the insurance plans that we work with.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Growing Old"

We all age, unfortunately growing older is part of life. However, with age comes wisdom so we can't complain too much. I'm sure most of us are happy for the life lessons and experiences that we have had.

An interesting fact about growing older that the American Chiropractic Association reports states that:

"An estimated 4.2 million U.S. residents now fall into the age group of the 85 years and older. Centenarians (those 100 and older) are the fastest-growing sub population of the elderly, and by 2050, according to census projections, 1 million Americans will celebrate their 100th birthdays."
We are all living longer! So, its important that we take care of ourselves. Where should we start?
Here are a few tips:
  1. De-stress! Find time for yourself. Get a massage, take a walk, treat yourself to something nice!
  2. Stimulate your mind. Like anything else, if you don't use it, you will loose it.
  3. Exercise, stretch and stay active. 30 Minutes of physical activity a day is recommended for most adult. (check with your health care provider to see what activities are safe for you).
  4. Get regular health screenings such as blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol evaluations.
  5. Eat a healthy diet. Limit excess sugar, caffeine and empty calories. Add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet. 
  6. Visit your chiropractor. Chiropractic is a great way to help with low back pain, neck pain, headaches and musculoskeletal issues. Seeing a chiropractor a regular basis can help prevent joint and spinal issues such as degeneration as well as improve your overall function and quality of life. 
To schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors of massage therapists or for more information on chiropractic call (606) 549-4811. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Preventing Sports Injuries -- Overuse Injuries

Nearly 75% of  the households in the United States with school-aged children have at least one child who plays organized sports.  Participating in sports is arguably one of the best ways to help our children and young people stay fit, develop athletic skills, make friends and learn valuable lessons that will last them a lifetime. 
However, young athletes have special needs because their developing bodies are more prone to injury.  Consequently, each year more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries.  High school athletics account for another 2 million injuries each year.  

Overuse injuries are often overlooked in spite of the fact that they account for half of all sports injuries in middle school and high school students.  Here are some tips for preventing overuse injuries:

1. Follow the ”Ten Percent Rule”.  In general you should not increase your training program or activity more than ten percent per week.  This applies to increasing pace or mileage for running as well as to the amount of weight added in strength training programs.

2. Always warm up and cool down properly before and after activity.  Stretching and warming up are essential to preventing overuse injuries.

3. Don’t focus on just one activity or sport.  Regularly incorporate different strength training exercises, stretching, core stability, and aerobic training into your exercise routine. 

4. Don’t play injured.  Taking a few plays or the rest of the game off could make the difference between a minor injury and an injury that affects you for the rest of your life.

We at Christopher Chiropractic believe that chiropractic care is an important part of improving the athletic performance of our local athletes and helping to prevent lifelong complications from sports injuries. Call (606) 549 - 4811 today to schedule your athlete for an appointment and make sure they are achieving their maximum performance. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"I've Had Spinal Surgery. Can Chiropractic Help Me Now?"

We get a lot of questions about spinal surgery and whether or not chiropractic can help a patient who still suffers from low back pain following their surgery.

Most of the time with patients who have had previous spinal surgery and still have back pain chiropractic can help! A recent study published in the Journal of Manipulate Therapy (J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Jul-Aug;34(6):408-12.) found that patients who had a "failed back surgery" received significant relief in pain with chiropractic care with no adverse effects.

The doctors at Christopher Chiropractic have experience with managing many patients who have had previous spinal surgery. They take great care to make sure that each and every patient's treatment is tailored specifically to their spine and their needs by using low force instrument adjusting and none rotational techniques.

With patients who have had spinal surgery in the past it is important for the chiropractors do a few things for the patient before care begins including: a complete medical history with review of past records, review of imaging and surgical notes, a current spinal examination, and current imaging. Imaging is necessary with a patient who has had a previous spinal surgery especially if no recent pictures have been taken of the spine, there has been a recent accident or trauma to the spine, or there is hardware in the spine from the surgery.

If you have had back surgery and still suffer from pain or if you just have back pain and wonder if chiropractic can benefit you call (606) 549-4811 today to schedule your appointment or speak with one of our doctors about care.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Old Fashioned Trading Days

Stop by and visit the Christopher Chiropractic tent at Williamsburg's Old Fashioned Trading Days this weekend. Grab some water, get a massage and chat with our providers. Thursday, September 4, 2014 - Saturday, September 6, 2014.

Christopher Chiropractic. Feel better. Enjoy life.

*You have the right to rescind, within seventy-two (72) hours, any obligation to pay for services performed in addition to this free or discounted service

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When in doubt use ICE!

Most conditions respond better to ice than they do to heat, especially if there is an injured joint involved. Ice does a couple of things for an injured area. First it cools the area which helps to reduce swelling and pain. Second, by cooling the area and decreasing blood flow to the injury, once the ice is removed your body innately works to warm that area back up by sending in  fresh blood. With that fresh blood comes fresh nutrients to help the injured area heal faster. 
If your doctor has instructed you to ice the injured area, you should do so for up to fifteen minutes and then stop doing so for at least an hour before you apply ice again.  NEVER APPLY ICE FOR MORE THAN 20 MINUTES IN AN HOUR.  Always wrap a towel around the ice pack or use it over clothing because you should never put an ice pack directly on your skin.
How to purchase or make an ice pack:
· For your convenience, we sell the large, high-quality ice packs like the ones that we use at Christopher Chiropractic for $10.00.
· You can buy ice packs similar to the ones we use here at most drug stores or Wal-Mart.
· You can make your own ice pack by filling a freezer bag with a heavy-duty zip seal or a hot water bottle with 1/2 ice and 1/2 cold water.  Check periodically to make sure that the ice pack is not leaking so that you don’t make a mess.
· You can also make your own ice pack by mixing one part rubbing alcohol with three parts water in a freezer bag with a heavy-duty zip seal or a hot water bottle.  Since alcohol will not freeze this will make a slushy, but not solid, ice pack similar to the gel packs you can purchase here or at most drug stores.  Monitor periodically to ensure that the ice pack is not leaking to avoid making a mess.
· For those who really want to save money, you can use and reuse a bag of frozen peas as an ice pack.

If you have been injured from a fall, sprain/strain, auto accident or work-related injury and are in doubt about what to do next, maybe we can help. Call our office today (606)549-4811 and we will try to answer any questions that you may have.