Communication Barriers in Healthcare

A Spanish mother who spoke no English, had brought her son to a hospital for medical help. She was speaking to a physician who did not understand Spanish. There was no one available who could translate what she said. The son, however spoke a bit of English and turned into a interpreter for his mother. Luckily, the doctor managed to diagnose the child’s condition correctly and treat him accordingly. Communication barriers in healthcare are currently one of the most pressing issues plaguing hospitals and healthcare setups across the United States.

In Medical Care

This was just the tip of the iceberg related to the communication problems in healthcare. There are not only barriers to effective communication when it comes to doctor-patient relationship, but there are communication problems in nursing as well. There are variety of dialects related to each of the languages spoken. There are many different languages spoken by patients visiting hospitals, like Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, etc. These different languages highlight the importance of communication in a hospital setup.

Language barriers create problems for the physician to understand the problem of the patient. This means the doctor can misinterpret the patient and diagnose him incorrectly. The doctor needs to rely on interpreters or ad hoc interpreters like friends, family, untrained support staff, or even strangers in the waiting room. But these ad hoc or proxy interpreters are not as reliable as professional interpreters. This is because most of the time, they lack the knowledge of medical terminology. Also, if the person misinterprets or explains the symptoms incorrectly, it will lead to misdiagnosis and wrong treatment.

There was a case, where a Spanish boy fell unconscious at his girlfriend’s home before saying the word, ‘intoxicado’. The emergency staff at the scene thought that ‘intoxicado’ meant ‘intoxicated’. The actual meaning was feeling ‘nauseated’. The patient was given a wrong treatment for drug overdose and after about 36 hours the comatose patient was treated with the correct line of treatment. This wrong interpretation cost the hospital $71 million(!) for the medical malpractice lawsuit settlement. There are many such medical malpractice cases due to communication barriers.

Other problems with language barriers in health care settings involve the proxy interpreters who do not understand the need for confidentiality when it comes to discussion of medical problems. A patient also may feel uncomfortable discussing their medical problems in front of their family and friends, or a third person. This may be due to issues related to family honor, domestic violence, drug abuse, psychiatric problems, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. One may not be able to handle sensitive issues mentioned by the patient and may speak about it within the patients social network. Effective communication skills are those where even a proxy interpreter is able to communicate as fluently as a professional interpreter.

Other issues in hospitals include child patients. Children cannot explain what happened to them clearly, and may try to hide or lie to save themselves from a possible punishment from the parent. A child suffering from domestic abuse at the hands of the guardian or parent may be too scared to say what happened. Thus, this may lead to a biased diagnosis and sometimes an innocent parent may be contacted by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to take over their custody of the child.

In Nursing
There are many healthcare workers in America who come from all over the world trying to earn a living, or learn medicine with the best healthcare setups in the country. These members may not be fluent in English, and may have problems communicating with patients. Many nursing staff are from other countries with poor English skills. These nurses may not be able to understand the patient clearly or help the patient in an appropriate way. This leads to a sharp drop in patient satisfaction, and loss of clients by the hospital.

These nursing staff may misinterpret the doctor’s orders and give the patient wrong medication. The nursing staff may give the patient a solution to drink, meant to be put in the ears, or worse, misinterpret the parents of a child with fracture and have them accused for child abuse. A doctor with poor language skills may not be able to explain clearly to the patient about their condition or treatment method. This will cause confusion and panic in the minds of an already stressed out patient.

The only solution for communication barriers in healthcare setups is the appointment of professional interpreters. One needs to focus and train nurses in communication techniques. This will help bring down the number of misdiagnosis and misinterpretations. If the hospital cannot afford an interpreter, they can try and tie up with hospitals who have them. In case of any emergency, these hospitals may send over their interpreters to help them out. This was all about types of communication problems in healthcare setups. Thus, in the end, the biggest cause of communication barrier is language. Hope this article has helped you understand reasons behind this palpable issue faced by hospitals currently.

Dental and Vision Insurance for Seniors

We see a lot of insurance plans gaining space in the economical dockets for security and health. A dental and vision insurance plan will help you avoid losing your savings for your check up, diagnosis, and treatment, to the dentist and ophthalmologist (doctor for eyes). If you are employed, then your insurer will tell you about the coverage. If your benefits do not include dental and vision coverage, it is time to add them to your package. There are cases when these vision and dental issues are ignored by seniors due to low income, fixed income, retirement, etc. Seniors are more likely to encounter various problems related to dental health. Also, eye and vision issues are most likely to develop with advancing age. As these problems do not show any symptoms as such, a proper check up and examination is required from a health expert. All those who have visited for the same will know that it really costs quite a bit. So, it is better to get yourself insured so as to tackle senior health issues effectively.

Benefits

  • Dental Insurance: Dental insurance for seniors is a must have today. Most of the plans for seniors will cover yearly visits to the dentist completely. You will have to pay some amount for X-rays, but most plans reimburse a large amount of X-ray costs too. Even for fillings, cleanings, root canals, etc., it works in the same way. Special dental plans are specifically designed for seniors. There are various options covering all possible treatments and procedures. They will however vary with companies and policies. Senior citizens can take care of their dental health without worrying about the finances.
  • Vision Insurance: Senior citizens are prone to more eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. They also need glasses, especially bi-focals. These can be expensive, but vision insurance will partially cover the expenses with a certain amount of copay (it is the amount that expected to be paid by the insured person for medical expense at the first time of the visit). Many options will also cover the cost of contact lenses with a certain amount of copay. Vision insurance is the support to get through these problems with no financial difficulty.

Options

Let us look at the various plans and options that are available for seniors. These are just the types of plans and options. You can choose the type and company that suits your needs the best.

Dental Plans

  • HMO dental plans – Also known as dental health maintenance organization (DHMO) plan, this proves to be a low cost plan. The insurance company is under contract with various dental providers to provide select services. DHMO, however, has strict requirements and restrictions on insured members. Due to the low cost, many seniors opt for this plan.
  • Dental indemnity insurance – It is also known as the traditional plan. In this plan, the insured person chooses a dental service provider and pays directly to them, he/she is later reimbursed by the company. About 50-80% of total cost is covered. The claim process may take a long time. The high deductibles and expensive premiums make this plan less popular. This even makes it not a very favored option for seniors.
  • Discount dental plans – This is not typically called insurance, but is an alternative to traditional and other plans. This plan allows the person to avail a discount of up to 60% on various treatments. A monthly fee is imposed. The amount is very low and affordable, you can also opt for an annual fee. You usually get a card once you are a member, which then can be used to avail a discount. There are very good features in this plan like low cost, no hassle of claims, and less waiting period, or no limitation on benefits.
  • Insurance from employer – If the senior is employed , there will be coverage plans given to him by the employer. There are three major types : Direct Reimbursement Plans, Managed Care Plans, and Indemnity Plans. You can check the provisions of the plan that is active with the employer.

Vision Plans

A senior vision insurance plan will be different from the Medicare plan.

  • Vision benefits package – In this plan, you pay a monthly premium, and also a copay, at the time of visit to the medical service provider. It works similar to health insurance procedures. Services like eye exams may require a copay, and the rest would be covered in the plan.
  • Vision discount plan – This plan is like an alternative to insurance. The insured person has to pay fully for the treatment and other services to the provider, but is eligible for a discount. That means you will get the services at a discounted cost. The discount depends on the specific percentage that is pre decided with the service provider in the discount plan.
  • Coverage in both plans – Services like eye exams and products like eyeglasses and contact lenses are mostly covered. The plans usually have optometrists and ophthalmologists in contract. It gives you access to a network of eye care service providers.

Dental and vision insurance for seniors is important, so as to make the time after wrinkles and grays, a healthy, happy, and peaceful experience!

Dental Assistant Salary Range

A dental assistant is one who works as an assistant to a dentist or a dental hygienist in various surgical procedures, and also deals with maintaining dental records, patient history, besides other things. Dental assistants are key members of a dental clinic, as they assist the dental surgeon to provide effective service to the patients.

Today, many young career aspirants are looking forward to a career as a dental assistant. This is because the career opportunities in such medical jobs are likely to increase all throughout the current decade, with many healthcare organizations, dental clinics, insurance companies, and armed forces recruiting people with dental assistance skills and qualifications. Apart from this, the salary range of a dental assistant is also quite decent. Let us find out more about the dental assistant duties, educational requirements, certifications, and most importantly, the average dental assistant salary that one can expect.

Salary Details

Here we come to the main focus of our discussion! Actually, the dental assistant salary range depends upon the size of the organization and the range of duties to be performed. ‘On-job’ training, experience, knowledge, manual dexterity, size and location of the health care facility, and number of working hours are also considered to be vital factors that decide the salary range.
▸ On an average, a dental assistant gets paid around $35,390, and is also liable to receive employment benefits on getting confirmed on the job.
▸ With median annual salaries around $40,000, specialty hospitals and insurance carriers are the top-paying industries for this occupation.
▸ Those working for state and federal governments also make around $40,000 annually.
▸ California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois are the states with the highest employment level in this occupation.
▸ Top-paying states for this occupation are New Hampshire ($44,580), Alaska ($43,550), Minnesota ($43,160), Massachusetts ($41,590), and North Dakota ($40,990).
*Source: BLS May 2014.

▸ The salary figures for entry-level dental assistants can be in the range of US $20,593 – $36,435.
▸ For experienced candidates, the salary can be in the range of $28,288 – $47,359.
▸ Experienced dental assistants can progress to a ‘registered dental hygienist’ role, and can earn around $67K annually.
*Source: PayScale, June 2015.

Dental Assistant Salary According to Location

Alabama $59,000
Alaska $43,000
Arizona $48,000
Arkansas $60,000
California $63,000
Colorado $52,000
Connecticut $68,000
Delaware $51,000
Florida $55,000
Georgia $67,000
Hawaii $36,000
Idaho $38,000
Illinois $67,000
Indiana $56,000
Iowa $58,000
Kansas $54,000
Kentucky $51,000
Louisiana $52,000
Maine $52,000
Maryland $60,000
Massachusetts $71,000
Michigan $59,000
Minnesota $51,000
Mississippi $61,000
Missouri $58,000
Montana $49,000
Nebraska $43,000
Nevada $45,000
New Hampshire $58,000
New Jersey $63,000
New Mexico $51,000
New York $71,000
North Carolina $56,000
North Dakota $52,000
Ohio $56,000
Oklahoma $54,000
Oregon $57,000
Pennsylvania $57,000
Rhode Island $53,000
South Carolina $58,000
South Dakota $44,000
Tennessee $54,000
Texas $57,000
Utah $46,000
Vermont $52,000
Virginia $59,000
Washington $61,000
West Virginia $55,000
Wisconsin $52,000
Wyoming $48,000
*Source: Indeed as of June 2015.

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements to become a dental assistant are not too much. After completing high school with subjects such as biology, algebra, geometry, English, dental assistance, computers etc., you can move on to a college that imparts training on dental assistance studies. See that the college is accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation, and then pursue a 1 – 2 year course on dental assistance. Further, you could be able to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), on completing the examination conducted by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. With all these educational qualifications, your chances to be preferred and recruited by a renowned dental health care organization would definitely increase.

Dental Assistant Job Description

As said earlier, dental assistants are key members of any dental health care organization. The reason behind this is the wide range of duties that they need to perform under the supervision of the dentist. All such tasks and activities of a dental assistant are described here:
▸ The first and foremost duty of a dental assistant is to assist the dentist in dental operations, and also guide the patients in maintaining dental health.
▸ Prepare oral health plans under the supervision of the dentist to render effective dental care services to the patients.
▸ Maintaining medical records related to dental problems, preserving dental history of each and every patient, and producing them whenever required, are part of the dental assistant’s job.
▸ Preparing and taking care of all the dental instruments and supplies for surgeries such as dental implants and laser tooth whitening.
▸ Polishing and cleaning the teeth by removing soft deposits and tarnishes.
▸ Helping the dentist in developing dental X-rays, and preparing dental material such as composite, amalgam, impression material, and cement.
▸ Assisting the dentist in organizing, controlling, and managing the dental inventory.
▸ Removing surgical sutures, orthodontic ligature ties, also form an important part of the dental assistant’s job description.
▸ Taking out the excessive cement from the orthodontic bands and fabricated restorations.
▸ Applying the topical fluoride treatments, pit, and fissure sealants.
▸ Managing and arranging patient appointments with the dentist, calculating, and receiving bills from the patients.

Now you have a clearer idea of the dental assistant salary range, job description, and the educational requirements of the same. As a matter of fact, however qualified you might be, do not expect health care organizations to pay a lot at the beginning of your career. It is only through experience, knowledge, and improved manual skills that you would be able to increase you market value, and quote for a higher pay package in larger organizations.

Health Insurance Companies

The top health insurance companies strive hard to provide their customers with plans that would help them in times of a medical emergency. However, not all of them are considered high quality.
Buying a good and affordable health insurance plan in today’s world seems like a tough task. The cost of health insurance is increasing day by day due to the rise in the cost of health care in the US. A simple visit to the doctor’s clinic can cost around $200 to $300 and if the matter is serious, the patient can expect a large medical bill if he/she doesn’t have health insurance. The best way to be safe is to get an affordable health insurance plan that suits the investor’s profile, but for that the investor has to select a good health insurance company first.

Top Health Insurance Companies in USA

There are many health insurance companies in the US, but not all of them can be called the best choice for people. Today, people don’t need expensive plans, they need plans which can fit in their budget and protect them from uncertain situations. The following names stand out because they understand the thinking of an average American and make sure that he/she gets a plan that they can fit in their portfolio. Here are some great options.

Aetna International
I think most readers wouldn’t be surprised to find Aetna’s name on the top, after all it is the most popular health care service provider in the US. The company offers medical, dental, vision and life, disability and special insurance plans for students, pets, overall wellness, behavioral health care and pharmaceuticals and so on. Majority of the plans offered by the company are targeted towards serving individuals and their families, and some plans are focused towards various types of businesses in which employers offer health coverage plans for individuals.

BlueCross BlueShield Association
The BlueCross BlueShield Association is the parent company of 39 different companies which are independent, community based and locally operated for the benefit of American citizens. This company originated in the year 1929 in the land of Texas and was started especially for teachers as a non-profit health insurance plan. Almost 99 million people in the US are members of the BlueCross BlueShield Association and the company boasts an excellent track record for providing quality and affordable health insurance plans to its members. The company offers dental and medical coverage everywhere in the nation and some of their best plans are Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) and Health Savings Account (HAS). The company has its operation in all the 50 states of the country including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 97% of the hospitals and 90% physicians in the country are signed with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. All the 39 operating companies under the BlueCross BlueShield Association are independent, which means that there is no A.M. Best Company Rating for the entire company. However, every independent company of the BlueCross BlueShield Association has always bagged A Rating when it comes to customer service.

UnitedHealthcare
Founded in 1977, UnitedHealthcare today is one of the biggest names in the business of health insurance. Since the inception of the company, their main goal has remained the same; providing affordable and quality health insurance to US citizens. Today, UnitedHealthcare and its sister concern, Uprise Incorporated, serves more than 20 million people in the United States. They have tie ups with more than 5000 hospitals and over 4000 physicians. Their network has spread in all the 50 states and the company has received excellent reviews from many critics for its constant effort to bring in new and improved plans for its members. They offer disability, health, life, vision, dental and pharmacy plans for US citizens.

CIGNA Corporation
Another big player in the market of health care, CIGNA serves more than 10 million people in the US. CIGNA is an acronym used for a joint venture between two companies, INA (Insurance Company of North America) and CG (Connecticut General). These companies were formed in the year 1700 and 1800 respectively, which makes this joint venture one of the oldest companies in the US. They provide some excellent dental, medical, vision, behavioral, life and disability plans for clients. More than 15 million people are members of this company and the company has a large fan following in Canada as well.

Humana Health Insurance
Another name in the list of the top health insurance companies of the US. The working style of this company is very different from all the other health insurance companies. Humana has a very different approach and its health insurance plans are especially designed and fall into four categories; Group Health Insurance, Medicare Plans, Individual Health Insurance and Specialty Benefits. The company also provides consumer focused health plans which are aimed to provide maximum benefit to the members. They offer their services in 27 states mostly in the Eastern part of the US. They have an excellent rating from critics and the company is gearing up for some international expansion plans as well.

Well Point, Inc.
Well Point, Inc. is another big player in the world of health insurance. It provides affordable health insurance plans to more than 35 million people in the US. The company very well follows their motto, ‘Improving lives of the people we serve and the health of our community.’ They have a long history of providing affordable health insurance plans for people who can’t afford a big cover for their health. The company is one of the few privileged ones who give the best returns to its customers. Due to their excellent working style and a genuine effort to provide the best health insurance to America, Well Point, Inc. stands tall in this list.

Assurant
Assurant Heath, founded in 1982, is a subsidiary of Assurant Insurance Company founded in 1969. The company is based in New York and has international operations in Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. Assurant Health provides short term health insurance policies to people as well as students. Over 1 million people are covered by Assurant health insurance policies and the company has more than 200,000 agents throughout the country to provide the best service to its customers.

UniCare
UniCare is also a very familiar name in the health insurance market and now it is owned by Well Point Inc. This organization is focused on delivering quality products to its customers which are more than 13 million in number. They offer various health services such as health, life, pharmacy, dental and disability which are specially designed to satisfy customers from all walks of life. The company uses all its resources in making low-cost plans which an average man can afford.

GroupHealth Cooperative
GroupHealth Cooperative is a non-profit consumer driven health care organization which has been catering to the needs of people in Idaho and Washington since 1947. The company is considered a leader in delivering scientific driven health care products to people. GroupHealth Cooperative offers health plans for senior citizens, kids, parents, teenagers and government employees. They also have a very impressive task force which is appointed to make sure that the customers don’t face any difficulty in understanding the plans.

Mega Life and Health Insurance Company
This company is based in Oklahoma and caters to the needs of the American people. It also offers various health insurance to families and individuals through their special plans which are designed to make life comfortable. Its special plans aim at dental, vision and disability.

The US is one of the biggest countries in the world and it would be quite unfair to name just 10 health insurance companies. Here’s a list of some more big players of the health insurance market.

  • Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare
  • TUFTS Health Plan
  • Health New England
  • ConnectiCare
  • Kaiser Group Incorporated
  • HCSC Group
  • Coventry Health Care
  • The Regence Group
  • Health Net
  • Universal American Health Corporation
  • The Lifetime HealthCare Companies
  • WellCare Health Plans, Inc
  • Metropolitan Health Group
  • Green Valley Health Care
  • Geisinger Health Plan
  • HealthPartners

Health insurance companies are constantly developing new plans especially designed for customers benefit. People who want to opt for health insurance are advised to read all their terms and conditions very carefully and if they face any problems understanding the financial terms, help from a financial consultant should be taken.