Health Care Reform Is Taking A Bite Out Of Health Savings Accounts’ High Deductibles

If you have a Health Savings Accounts (HSA), you also have one of the high-deductible health insurance plans that is qualified to be combined with an HSA. A high-deductible plan used to mean that you would have to pay for preventive care, like an annual check-up, out of your own pocket.

With health care reform, that is changing as of September 23, 2010. It will no longer matter how high your health insurance deductible is. Preventive care, including flu shots, will be covered at 100 percent period. That will be true for any plan issued as of September 23, but older plans may not incorporate the new law until a plan’s annual renewal date, which is typically January 1st.

Unfortunately, flu season will be upon us before all of the high-deductible health insurance plans implement free preventive care. What else can you do to protect yourself from getting the flu? 

What Can You Do To Prevent Getting The Flu?

Besides flu vaccinations, you can do a lot to stop the flu, or colds for that matter, from making you sick. Frequently washing your hands whenever you handle anything the public touches can help keep you safe. The type of soap you use matters less than how you wash. Antibacterial soap has not been proven to be more effective than regular soap. While washing your hands may not actually kill germs, it does protect you by removing germs from your hands.

To get your hands clean, you don’t have to use hot water. Warm water will do just fine. It’s recommended to vigorously soap your hands for a full 20 seconds. Never turn the water off with your bare hands, either. Use a paper towel to touch dirty handles. Drying your hands thoroughly is just as important as washing them because wet hands are more likely to carry germs than dry hands. 

What if you don’t have access to soap and water? Hand sanitizers, according to the Centers for Disease Control research, work as well as washing your hands if the alcohol content is at least 60 percent and your hands are not noticeably dirty.

Could A Simple Vitamin Protect You From The Flu?

A national study involving approximately 19,000 Americans revealed that people who suffered from colds and the flu had low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Could something as simple as a vitamin really fight disease?

Amazingly, vitamin D creates more than 200 anti-microbial peptides, which serve as broad-spectrum antibiotics. That explains why people with low levels of vitamin D are less able to fight off colds, different strains of the flu or other respiratory infections.

Other studies (in 2004, 2007 and 2009) have confirmed the association between vitamin D deficiency and disease. How much vitamin D do you need? For optimal protection throughout the cold and flu season, you need vitamin D blood levels in the range of 50-65 ng/ml. 

Blood tests are the only way to accurately assess the amount of vitamin D in your blood, but there are general daily recommendations. For children under five, 35 units per pound are recommended per day. For those age five to ten, 2,500 units are recommended. It’s typically suggested that adults take 5,000 units daily, but some individuals require more to get their blood levels of vitamin D into the optimal range.

What Can You Do After You Have The Flu?

Of course, your best bet is to keep adequate amounts of vitamin D circulating in your blood to ward off illness, but would extra doses of vitamin D help after you get sick? 

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, who publishes a natural health newsletter, if you have not been taking vitamin D and develop flu-like symptoms, you can up to 50,000 units of vitamin D a day for three days. As Executive Director of the nonprofit Vitamin D Council, Dr. John Cannell recommends a dose as high as 1,000 units of vitamin D per pound of body weight for just three days. 

It appears that vitamin D is not the only natural way to fight the flu, either. Green tea, which should be organic, is another proven resource to fight infection because it makes antibiotics work better. Researchers at Egypt’s Alexandria University found that green tea ramped up the effectiveness of every antibiotic they tested.

Combining green tea with a range of antibiotics improved the bacteria-killing ability of the antibiotics in fighting 28 microorganisms that cause disease. In the most extreme example, the antibiotic Chloramphenicol was 99.99 percent more effective when combined with green tea than when used alone. Even low concentrations of green tea enhanced the effectiveness of antibiotics. 

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