# Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Osteoporosis Month In Canada

November is Osteoporosis Month in Canada. Approximately 1.4 million Canadians suffer from this disease, which mostly affects aging adults. Osteoporosis is a loss of bone density that causes bone fractures, deformity and/or disability. It usually affects twice as many women as men, with 1 in every 4 women over 50 at risk.

Osteoporosis occurs when bone mineral density is lost. This causes bones to become think and weak, and at high risk for fractures. It is  also known as the "Silent Thief" because there are usually no symptoms of bone loss until fractures start occurring. The most common fractures occur in the wrist, hip and/or spine. Mortality is significantly increased after hip fractures, and less than 50% of seniors fully recover from this ailment. It is estimated that 25% of seniors who have fractured a hip reside in long-term care facilities for at least one year.

Women are twice as susceptible to osteoporosis because they experience menopause. Estrogen is responsible for helping women maintain healthy bones. As estrogen levels drop significantly during menopause, women experience more bone loss. While hormone replacement therapy can help women reduce the drop in estrogen, it can increase their risk of breast cancer, as well as other adverse health effects. This is an option that should carefully be considered by a woman and her physician.

Although not as common in men, osteoporosis can occur. As well as age, there are several factors that increase a person's risk, including:

• A family history of osteoporosis
• Low calcium diet
• Sedentary lifestyle (not enough exercise)
• Low body weight
• Smoking
• Vitamin D deficiency
• Excessive caffeine intake (more than 4 cups a day of coffee, tea, and/or cola)
• Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 2 drinks per day)
• Long term use of certain medications (cortisone, prednisone, anticonvulsants)
• Osteopenia (lower than normal bone density)
• Early menopause or removal of ovaries (before 45) without hormone replacement
• Post-menopausal

If some of these risk factors are applicable to you or someone in your family, talk to your physician about a bone density test. Because bone density loss does not have symptoms until a fracture occurs, it is essential that seniors (especially women) take preventative measures. All seniors should:

• Follow a healthy diet, that includes calcium rich food. People over 50 need 200 mg of calcium per day. As the body ages, it loses the ability to absorb calcium as well as it used to, so seniors may require a calcium supplement. Calcium rich foods include milk products, salmon, beans, sunflower and sesame seeds, green vegetables, figs, and rhubarb.
• Get enough Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. All people over 2 years of age should consume 500 ml of milk every day, and everyone over 50 should take a daily supplement of 400 IU of Vitamin D.
• Regular exercise is important to keep bones strong. Seniors can do low-impact activities such as walking, dancing, hiking, etc. as part of their daily routine in order to strengthen bones. Activities such as yoga, swimming, tai chi can increase flexibility that helps prevent falls, which is important for those who already have osteoporosis.
• Quit smoking. Just by quitting you can dramatically reduce the rate of bone loss and risk of fractures.

Health concerns and needs change constantly throughout our lives. Therefore, it is imperative that our health insurance coverage reflects these changes, and adequately provides for these needs. For instance, Canadians in their 20's may not give much thought to whether or not their insurance covers such things as nursing homes and/or home care. However, for seniors, this may now be a priority in their coverage.

There are different ways to obtain health insurance that reflects these specific needs. Critical Illness insurance pays a lump sum for those who suffer a critical illness, regardless of if and when you are able to return to work. Although illnesses covered depends on the carrier, C.I. covers such health problems as:

• Cancer
• Heart Attack and/or Stroke
• Alzheimer’s
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Kidney Failure
• Blindness or Deafness
• Organ Transplant
• Parkinson’s Disease

Disability insurance pays a monthly benefit when the insured person is unable to work due to illness and/or accident, usually up to 2/3 of your current earnings. Premiums are higher for occupations deemed more dangerous. This benefit can last up until 2 years, until the age of 65. After 65, this benefit can be continued (although may be modified) but the insured must continue to work.

For residents of Ontario and Quebec there is a new product available from Blue Cross called Tangible. This insurance is a hybrid that offers Disability and Long Term Care if needed; if not it remains as life insurance coverage. With Tangible, 50% of the initial amount insured can be converted for Long Term Care.

It is important to remember that life doesn't remain constant. As our health needs change, we need to ensure that our insurance changes with it. Consult with your broker every few years in order to make sure that your current health insurance reflects your needs.

posted on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 12:11:04 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Safety Tips

Children across Canada will be flocking to the streets in a few short days for trick-or-treating. Especially for younger children, the excitement of the holiday can make it easy to forget safety tips and measures. Parents therefore need to exercise caution and make sure that their children have a safe and happy Halloween.

It is recommended that parents accompany children under 10. If your child is over 10, and will not be accompanied by a parent, ensure that they are going out in a group. Map out a route that the group should follow, so that you know where they are going to be. Try and stick to a neighborhood that you know well. Give your child your cell phone so they can call in case of emergency. Tell your child to only go to houses that are lit up; and to never enter someone's home.

Check the weather forecast and make sure your child is dressed appropriately. As masks can impair vision, try and use makeup instead. Make sure the costume fits your child properly; long costumes can cause them to trip. Also ensure that the costume isn't made of a flammable material. Brightly colored costumes make your child more visible to motorists. Costumes should be comfortable and allow your child to move easily.

If you plan on handing out treats, make sure your porch and yard are well-lit. Clear your walkway and sidewalks for things such as wet leaves that children can slip and fall on. If you use candles in your jack-o-lantern, make sure it is placed out of reach of children. Keep your pets locked in a separate room; the constant doorbell and stream of people can upset a normally docile animal. If possible, avoid handing out candy that has common allergens, such as peanuts. If your child has food allergies make sure he/she knows what is allowed and what isn't. Make sure to tell trick-or-treaters not to eat their candy before they have gone home and had their parents inspect it.

It's important to remember that children can easily get caught up in the excitement of the night, and can forget simple rules. Talk to your child about why the rules are important, such as crossing streets only at intersections, so they have a better understanding. If possible, have a few adults from your neighborhood take out a group of kids. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

posted on Monday, October 29, 2007 1:54:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Monday, October 15, 2007

Anti-Inflammatory Removed From Canadian Market

Prexige, an anti-inflammatory prescription medication will no longer be sold in Canada. The drug has primarily been prescribed to adults who have exhibited the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Health Canada has canceled the medication's market authorization after receiving additional safety information. Further testing has shown a potential for serious liver problems.

Prexige has been on the market in Canada since November 2006. It has a maximum dose of 100 mg. daily. However, Australia pulled Prexige from their market this year following reports of serious adverse liver problems stemming from doses of 200 mg and 400 mg per day. Upon reviewing the additional safety information, Health Canada has concluded that it is not possible to safely and effectively manage this risk even with 100 mg daily. Currently 2 cases of liver-related problems have been reported in Canada since the drug's approval, and 4 cases have been reported worldwide.

While the vast majority of prescription drugs are safe to use (under a physician's direction) occasionally Health Canada must recall a product. It is important to remember that all medicines carry some risk. When starting a new prescription and/or over-the-counter medication, be aware of any changes that may occur and discuss them with your physician and/or pharmacist. It is possible to have adverse affects from a medication when you mix it with other medications, vitamins, foods and/or beverages. Read and follow the instructions for the prescription carefully. Ask your pharmacist for written information and/or directions regarding your medication.

For people who are currently on prescription medication(s), the following tips may prove to be useful:

• Ask your doctor why you are being prescribed this medication. Have an understanding of why you need this medication, and how it works. Some medications require check-ups and/or tests. Ask about the possible side effects, what to expect and how long it should take to start working. Tell your physician about all other medications, supplements, vitamins, etc. in order to prevent a possible adverse reaction.
• Use the same pharmacist. By doing this, one pharmacy will have your records and be aware of your medications. This will allow your pharmacist to monitor your prescriptions and make you aware of any possible harmful interactions.
• Keep a record of all medications you take. In case of emergency, have a current list of all prescriptions, over the counter medications, vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies you take. This information can be invaluable to a physician in the event of an emergency. It is also important for your physician and pharmacist to have this information.
• Safely store your medication. Read and follow the instructions on how to store your medication. Never combine different pills in one container, as you may not remember the instructions for each one.

If you have any questions about prescription recalls, go to the Health Canada website for further information.

posted on Monday, October 15, 2007 4:57:38 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Thursday, September 27, 2007

Diabetes And Exercise: Controlling Your Sugar Levels

A new study has found that aerobic exercise combined with weight training can stabilize the blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetics who regularly do both types of exercise improved their blood sugar levels at twice the rate of diabetics who just did one form of exercise. These recent findings are clinically significant in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, also known as late-onset diabetes, usually manifests later in a person's life. This form of diabetes can be prevented and/or delayed through improving your health, as well as controlling your weight and diet. As the rates of obesity increase, so does the rate of Type 2 diabetes. The Canadian Diabetes Association estimates that 3 million Canadians will have Type 2 diabetes by the end of the decade. Over 40 thousand Canadians a year die as a result of diabetes-related illnesses.

Type 2 diabetes prevents the pancreas from producing enough insulin, the hormone that helps control glucose levels in the blood. People who suffer from this form of diabetes are at high risk of developing micro-vascular problems such as blindness, kidney problems and/or peripheral nerve problems.

This new research can significantly impact the 2 million Canadians currently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. By combining both of these types of exercise, people suffering from Type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk of heart attack and/or stroke by up to 20%. They will also lower their risk of diabetes associated illnesses by as much as 40%.

For people who suffer from diabetes, the costs associated with treatment can be significant. Insulin, testing kits and blood sugar monitors can be expensive for those who do not have health insurance. For people who have diabetes and wish to obtain health insurance coverage, HealthQuotes.ca offers several plans which do not require a medical questionnaire.

Flexcare offers the ComboPlus Starter Plan which provides coverage for dental, prescription drug and health coverage. The Starter plan also provides coverage for durable medical equipment such as pens, needles and testing strips!

If you have Type 2 diabetes, consult with your physician about starting an exercise program that can help you control your sugar levels. By losing weight, eating healthy and exercising, you can be proactive about your disease. Talk to your insurance broker as well about which coverage is right for you.

posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 1:23:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Canadian Mental Health Commission

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement has announced that Calgary will be the new home of Canada's Mental Health Commission. This newly formed commission is aimed at erasing the stigma associated with mental illness as well as sharing information about mental health issues nationwide. The 2007 Federal Budget has allocated $55 million dollars over the next 5 years towards this goal.

It is estimated that 20% of Canadians will experience some type of mental illness during their lifetime. Although most mental illness begins during the adolescent stage of life, it can strike at any time, and exhibit a myriad of symptoms. The cause of mental illness can be complex. Factors such as genetics, biology, personality and life events can all play a significant role in a person's mental health status.

Most people go through difficult times, and experience depression, sadness and/or a feeling of being isolated. These feelings are usually short-term and are emotional reactions to a specific incident (i.e. a death of a loved one, a break-up, etc.) These feelings are a normal part of life, and people learn to cope with the difficulties that come their way.

Mental illness however, is quite different. It can negatively impact a person's ability to function and/or cope with the most basic tasks of everyday life. Mental illness can be responsible for seriously disturbed thinking, moods, and/or behavior.  A person suffering from mental illness can show symptoms of significant distress and the ability to function "normally" over an extended period of time. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on the type of illness, the individual, and/or their environment.

Mental illness can assume many forms, including:

• Schizophrenia, which affects how the person perceives the world
• Mood disorders (depression, bipolar, etc.) which affects how the person feels
• Anxiety disorders, which affects how the person perceives events or situations to be
• Personality disorders, which affects how a person perceives themselves in relation to others
• Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) which affects how a person feels about their body image and food

Mental health plays a large role in physical health, and vice versa. It is common for people with physical health problems to experience anxiety and/or depression over their condition. These mental health issues can sometimes affect their recovery. Mental health issues can also increase the risk of physical problems, such as:

• Blood biochemical imbalances
• Weight gain/loss
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Heart disease
• Diabetes

Most mental illness can be successfully treated, with medication, psychotherapy, counseling, community support systems and/or education. However, many do not seek treatment due to the stigma of mental illness. The earlier treatment is sought, the quicker the effected person can begin to regain control over their life.

Another factor for people not seeking treatment may be due to finances. The Sun Life Basic, and Standard and Enhanced Plans offer compensation for psychologist visits and prescriptions. If you have group insurance through your employer, check to see if you are covered for psychology or psychiatric treatment.

It is important to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, please seek help immediately.

posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 4:58:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, August 28, 2007

West Nile Virus

Cases of West Nile virus have risen throughout the western provinces. Currently 213 cases have been reported in Manitoba, which is double the amount of infection for all of Canada last year. Peak exposure to West Nile usually occurs between late July to mid August, with more cases expected to be reported since incubation time for the virus is usually 3 weeks. While it is currently not an epidemic, some experts are warning that the worst is yet to come.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans when they are bitten by infected mosquitoes, which have previously fed on infected birds. Weather conditions can also play a large role in this virus, as mosquitoes prefer hot humid weather for breeding. As the first reported case of West Nile occurred in 2002, researchers are still uncertain about the long-term effects of this virus, but studies are showing that prolonged health concerns do occur.  This includes long term physical effects such as muscle weakness, paralysis, fatigue, headaches, confusion, depression, problems with concentration and/or memory loss. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of WN and obtain treatment accordingly.

Many people are bitten by infected mosquitoes and show no symptoms, and/or do not become severely ill. Illness usually occurs between 2 and 15 days of become infected, and generally causes flu-like symptoms. Mild cases of WN usually involve fever, headache and muscle ache, as well as swollen lymph glands and a rash. People who are otherwise in good health generally make a full recovery with no prolonged health problems.

For people who have weaker immune systems, including the elderly, WN can pose serious health risks, and can possibly be fatal. For these people, WN can lead to meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord or lining of the brain) and/or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). For these severe cases, the symptoms include the sudden onset of severe headaches, high fever, stiff neck, muscle weakness, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, loss of consciousness, and paralysis. Medical treatment should be sought immediately if you have experienced a mosquito bite and are experiencing these symptoms. West Nile virus can cause these extreme symptoms in people of every age bracket and health status.

It is important during the season to pay attention to your local news or local health agency to be informed if any WN cases have been confirmed in your area. As WN can quickly spread to different regions via  birds, it is important to minimize your risk of being bitten. Some helpful tips for reducing your exposure are:

• Try to avoid being outside at dawn and/or dusk, as this is the period when mosquitoes are most active

• Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants when outside, as well as a hat; this will deter bites

• When going outside, use insect repellent. If you are planning on being outside for a long period of time, make sure you re-apply the repellant if needed

• Make sure your windows are properly fitted with screens so mosquitoes cannot enter your house. Do not leave your doors open.

• Mosquitoes need standing pools of water to breed. Make sure you remove standing water from such places as birdbaths, pool covers, flower pots, pet bowls and wading pools. You can also clean your eaves troughs in order to prevent clogs that can trap water.

• Report any dead birds to your local health agency, as testing can be done to determine if the bird is infected.

If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, and have mosquito bites, see your family healthcare provider. As long-term effects of WN are not yet known, it is important to be aware of the virus, and to keep your physician informed. As the global climate changes, so does the habits and habitats of mosquitoes. This is also true for the birds that originally carry the virus. Check with local health agencies every summer for the latest data and information.

posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 4:37:12 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, August 20, 2007

Health Insurance for Students Studying In Canada

In a few short weeks, students from all over the world will be heading to Canadian universities and colleges. As a multi-cultural country, Canada welcomes foreign students, and recognizes their contribution to our communities. If you are not a Canadian citizen, and are planning on attending a post-secondary institution here, you should be aware of what exactly is entailed.

Non-Canadian citizens will require approximately 6 months in order to gather the required documentation and information that is needed. Make sure you allow yourself the necessary time to apply for and receive your documents and permits. You will need to allot time in order to find housing, etc. You will also need to determine how much money you will need in order to cover tuition, books, housing, etc. As you will not be covered under provincial healthcare, it is advisable to also purchase health coverage.

For those who wish to continue their education in Canada, we have provided some helpful tips to help you with the process.

• You must first choose the institution you wish to attend. Every university and college has it's own admission requirements, especially regarding language capabilities. It is important that you meet these requirements and are eligible for enrolment. It is advised that you apply a year before you wish to attend. Contact the university/college that you are interested in and obtain the necessary information and application forms. You must have your proof of acceptance before you apply for your study permit.

• Once you have your proof of acceptance, you can now apply for your study permit. In order to be eligible for this permit, you will need to prove that you have enough money to cover your expenses. This includes your tuition, living expenses for you and any family members that are coming with you to Canada, and transportation between Canada and your current country of residence. You may also need to obtain a certificate from the police stating that you have no criminal record and are not a risk to Canadian security. You must be willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary, in order to prove that you are in good health. An immigration officer may want to verify that you intend on leaving Canada upon completion of your studies.

• You are now ready to apply for your study permit. You will need to find out how long it will take to process your application. You can do this by visiting the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. This website also has the necessary forms for you to download and print. Check the List of Designated Countries to see if you also need to apply for a temporary resident visa as well as your study permit. You do not need a separate application for a visa, as a visa officer will process your application at the same time. Collect all of the documents you will need to provide, such as your proof of acceptance, proof of identity, proof of financial support and letter of explanation. Once you have all your documentation in order, submit your application to the nearest visa office. You will be required to pay a processing fee, which is non-refundable, even if your application is denied.

• Once your application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction confirming your approval. You must bring this letter with you to show immigration officials when you arrive in Canada. If you are from a designated country in which you require a visa, the Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) will be in your passport. This indicates the expiry date in which you must arrive in Canada, and also whether or not you will be allowed to enter Canada multiple times during your stay. Make sure you bring all of your necessary documents, as you will be required to show them before admittance into Canada.

The Canadian government does not cover the medical costs incurred by foreign students. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that foreign students purchase their own health insurance coverage. HealthQuotes.ca offers several Visitors to Canada insurance plans. These plans provide coverage for foreign students attending school in Canada. To qualify, you must be a full-time student during the time of coverage. These policies cover expenses such as:

•  Hospitalization
• Physician Fees
• Medical Appliances
• Nursing Care
• Diagnostic Services
• Prescription Drugs
• Dental Care
• Ambulance

For more information about health insurance for foreign students, please contact one of our brokers.

posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 3:36:18 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lyme Disease In Canada

Lyme disease can pose a serious health risk, depending where you live in Canada. Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are usually carried by mice, squirrels, birds and other small animals. This infection is transmitted to humans via certain species of ticks, who first bite the infected animal, and then bite people. For people who live in southern British Columbia, southern and eastern Ontario, southeastern Manitoba and Nova Scotia, caution should be used when being outdoors during the spring thru to the fall.

Canada currently has 2 species of ticks which have been associated with transmitting Lyme disease. The western blacklegged tick has been identified as the species that inhabits British Columbia. Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are home to the blacklegged tick, more commonly known as the deer tick. Transmission generally occurs when humans walk through tall grass or vegetation, whereupon the tick attaches itself to the skin.

If you reside in, are visiting, or plan on visiting one of these provinces, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease. Although symptoms vary from person to person, Lyme disease commonly has three stages. The most common first symptom is a circular rash that begins at the site of the bite. The rash usually occurs 3-30 days after being bitten by a tick. A person bitten by an infected tick may also experience fatigue, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. If this first stage is left untreated, the disease will progress to the second stage, which lasts several months. The second stage includes symptoms such as multiple skin rashes, migraines, painful and/or stiff joints, extreme fatigue and abnormal heartbeat. The third stage is comprised of chronic arthritis and neurological symptoms, which can include headaches, dizziness, paralysis and numbness.

Lyme disease, if left untreated, can develop into a chronic illness that is difficult to treat. If caught in the early stages, it is effectively controlled with antibiotics. Therefore, it is crucial that during tick season Canadians who live in the mentioned areas are aware of these symptoms. For those who spend time outdoors in the affected regions, there are several things you can do to minimize your risk of being bitten and potentially being infected.

• Check with your local public health office. They will have the current information on whether these ticks are currently in your area.
• When spending time outdoors, especially where there is tall grass and/or wooded areas, wear light-colored clothing that covers your entire body. Wearing light colored clothing will allow you to see if a tick is on you. In order to make sure ticks have no access to bare skin, tuck your shirt into your pants, and tuck your pant legs into your socks.
• Avoid wearing sandals or open shoes.
• Spray your clothing and exposed skin with insect repellent.
• Although cats and dogs cannot transmit the virus to humans, they can carry the ticks into your home. If you have pets that spend time outdoors, make sure you check them regularly for ticks.
• Check your clothing and body thoroughly for tick bites each and every time after spending times outdoors. If you discover a tick attached to your skin, grasp the tick's head with tweezers and slowly pull it out. Be careful not to crush or twist the tick when removing it. Save the tick in a bottle or plastic bag, in order for easy laboratory identification in case you develop Lyme disease. If you develop a rash or any other symptoms, immediately seek medical help.
• Remember that even if you don't live in one of the identified regions, migratory birds can spread the ticks into new areas.

Fortunately for Canadians, the risk of Lyme disease is fairly low. By exercising these simple precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk of being bitten, or, if bitten, reducing the length and severity of the illness.

posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 3:14:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Safety Issues Regarding Weight Loss Supplements

The rate of obese or overweight Canadians has significantly increased in the past 25 years. While the reasons for this increase remain complex and varied, the fact remains that obesity is a serious health issue. Being significantly overweight greatly increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, certain types of cancer, as well as increased probability of suffering a stroke.

As the obesity rate increases, so has the market for weight loss products. While there are several prescription weight-loss medications available in Canada, these are intended only for people who are medically at risk due to obesity. These drugs should be used under the strict supervision of a physician, and to be used as part of a medically sound weight loss plan that also includes physical activity and a balanced diet. These drugs should never be taken without the approval of your doctor, as there can be side effects and/or health risks. You should only use these medications exactly as prescribed, and never share them. It is not advisable to order these drugs online, unless you have a prescription from your doctor.

There are also various natural health products that are readily available in pharmacies, supermarkets, health food stores and/or online. While some of these products are safe and/or effective, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a magic pill that will miraculously make you lose weight. Any weight loss supplement, whether prescription or over the counter, will only work if it is a part of a weight loss plan that includes diet and exercise.

It is a common mistake to assume that over the counter diet aids are safe and effective. In fact, they could potentially lead to serious health concerns. If you are planning to use health products in order to lose weight, do some research and be informed about the potential risks of the products available. It is important to be aware of the ingredients in the health product you intend on using, and whether these ingredients can have an adverse effect when used with other drugs or foods. As well, these products may not be safe is you have other health problems or are elderly.

While it is impossible to list all the risks that are associated with all of the available products, here are some basic guidelines to help you make a wise, informed choice:

• Never use prescription weight loss medication that has not been prescribed to you by your family health care provider.  There are internet websites that will allow you to purchase these drugs without a prescription from your family doctor. Instead, you "consult" online with one of their "professionals". However, this can be very dangerous, as only your physician is completely aware of your medical history and health status. You may inadvertently be prescribed a medication that is harmful to you.

• Taking several different weight loss products together at the same time. Certain weight loss products and natural health products contain different ingredients that when combined may be harmful to you. These ingredients may also negatively interact with other medication you may be taking. Even if the product you intend on using does not need a prescription, consult with your health care provider in order to ensure that you plan on taking is safe for you.

• Be aware of who you're buying your product(s) from.  If you purchase these products online, be aware that not all websites are legitimate. Anyone can put up a website and advertise health products. These products, including prescriptions, may not be approved for sale in Canada because they are deemed unsafe and/or ineffective. Research the company that you are considering purchasing your health products from, and make sure that they are legitimate.

• Never take products in a manner for which they are not intended. Products like ephedra or ephidrene are authorized in Canada as a decongestant. However, they have been commonly misused as a weight loss supplement. Laxatives are also commonly misused in this fashion as well. These products are not intended to be used as weight loss supplements, and can cause serious health problems if used in such a manner.

• Do not assume that products are safe because they are advertised as natural.  Active components from a food substance can be extracted, concentrated and manufactured or sold as a natural health product. While the original food may in itself be safe when consumed in moderation, the higher doses found in the extract may be potentially harmful. This is especially true in the case of green tea, which is very safe, but where the highly concentrated form has been linked to serious liver damage.

• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many advertisements make claims that are not supported by scientific fact. Many supplements claim to suppress appetite, increase metabolism and/or block the absorption of carbohydrates or fat. Products that are authorized for sale by Health Canada have been assessed and determined to be safe and effective for their authorized purpose. However, unauthorized products can be harmful, and/or ineffective.

It is important to consult with your physician or health care provider before embarking on any weight loss plan. While medications and/or supplements can help you lose weight, it is important to remember that there is no pill that will melt off the pounds. It is essential to incorporate exercise and healthy eating into your lifestyle in order to shed the unwanted pounds.

If you have been denied health insurance due to your weight issue, you may want to purchase Guaranteed Issue coverage. This policy does not require any medical information or ask questions regarding your health. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this coverage.

posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:36:57 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Extreme Heat And Your Health

While most Canadians enjoy the hot summer weather, extreme heat can prove to be a problem for some. With global climate changes, certain parts of Canada are now experiencing prolonged heat waves. This, combined with exposure to smog, can cause adverse health effects in some people.

Being active outdoors is a great way to get exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, it is important to recognize the effects that extreme heat can cause in order to stay healthy. Your body must work harder in a heat wave in order to maintain it's normal core temperature. Smog can further complicate matters by making it harder to breathe normally. While some people may experience mild unpleasantness, others may be potentially suffer serious and/or life threatening illness.

A heat wave refers to three or more consecutive days with extremely high temperatures, usually combined with high humidity. It is also common for the temperature to remain high even during night time hours. This means that your body is constantly working overtime to keep cool. This pressure can aggravate pre-consisting conditions where the heart and lungs are already strained.

While most people may just experience discomfort in a heat wave, certain groups are more at risk. This includes:

• Seniors
• Infants and pre-school children
• Pregnant women
• Diabetics
• People with heart and/or respiratory disease
• People who play sports, exercise or do strenuous work outdoors for a prolonged period of time
• People who work outdoors, i.e. construction workers
• People who are currently taking anti-depressants, anti-parkinson's drugs, diuretics, sleep medications, anti-diarrhea pills and certain antihistamines
• People who are overweight

Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can cause symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. These include:

• Heat Cramps: painful spasms usually in the leg and stomach muscles. These are usually accompanied by heavy sweating. If you are experiencing this, move to a cooler place and lightly massage the affected muscles. Sip a half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
• Heat Exhaustion: even though sweating profusely, your skin is cool, pale, and/or flushed. Can be accompanied by a weak pulse rate, dizziness and/or fainting, vomiting, headache and exhaustion. People affected by heat exhaustion should immediately lay down in a cool place, and put on cool wet clothes. Slowly sip a glass of water every half an hour, unless nauseous. If vomiting occurs, seek medical attention immediately.
• Heat Stroke: also known as sun stroke. This occurs when body temperature is high, pulse is strong and rapid, and breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Heat stroke is incredibly dangerous, and can result in death. Symptoms include severe headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and the skin is red, hot and dry, with no sweating. If you suspect you or someone else may be suffering from heat stroke go to the hospital immediately.

It is a good idea to pay attention to daily local forecasts, in order to be aware of any heat and/or smog alerts for your region. If you are susceptible to extreme heat and/or smog, try to remain indoors on those days where extreme heat is predicted. If you do plan on being outdoors on incredibly hot days, try to do so either in the mornings or evenings, when the temperature is not as hot. Dress in loose clothes, and make sure you wear a hat, as well as sunglasses. Remember to hydrate often, and bring water with you wherever you go. If you do not have air conditioning, find out if your city or town has cooling centres, where you can escape the heat if the need arises. You can also go to a mall, public library, etc. Try to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and beverages that contain large amounts of sugar, and these can cause the body to lose more fluid. Drinking sports beverages is also important if you have been sweating, as sweating causes the body to lose salt and minerals.

Although you may not be unduly affected by the heat, make sure that those in your family such as the elderly, etc. are taken care of. For those with small children, it is important to remember that they may not be able to handle the heat as well as you. Plan activities that you can all enjoy while getting some exercise.

posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 11:54:09 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Saturday, June 16, 2007
Visioncare for Seniors

As we get older, it is normal to experience change in our eyesight. With age often comes difficulty reading small print, increased sensitivity to sunlight, difficulty seeing colors and contrasts, and loss of depth perception. You may also have physical symptoms such as dry eyes, or watery eyes.

It is important to be aware of these changes, and to have your eyes examined regularly to detect any potential problems early on. With the proper care, most age-related vision loss can be corrected with glasses, medication and/or surgery.

For seniors experiencing more serious vision related conditions, vision aids and/or services and support can allow them to maintain their independence and allow them to remain living in their own homes.

Just some of the vision-related symptoms that seniors often experience include:

  • Squinting, greater sensitivity to light
  • Choosing bright objects over dull colored, because it's easier to see
  • Spilling food or drinks because you misjudge where it is
  • Difficulty copying from written text
  • Clumsiness due to not being able to see what you are doing, i.e. buttoning a shirt
  • Experiencing flashes of light or rapid movement from the corners of your eyes
  • Difficulty with night driving, as well as problems seeing street signs or traffic signs
  • Experiencing uncontrolled eye movements
  • Falling due to not being able to see objects in your path

In addition to normal vision changes due to aging, several diseases or conditions can also affect eyesight. Common illnesses include:

  • Glaucoma: occurs when pressure within the eye begins to destroy the nerve fibres in the retina. Early detection and treatment includes eye drops, medication and/or surgery. Because most people do not experience early symptoms, regular eye exams are imperative in order to prevent vision loss and/or blindness.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: diabetes can cause changes to the blood vessels, starving the retina of oxygen, causing cloudy vision, seeing spots, and blindness. People with diabetes need to make their eye specialist aware of their condition in order to prevent possible blindness. 
  • Cataracts: gradual clouding of the lens of the eye, which prevents light from successfully reaching the retina, making tasks such as driving or reading incredibly difficult and/or impossible. Can be successful treated with surgery.
  • Age-related macular degeneration: occurs when the macula is damaged or impaired due to aging. It can cause permanent loss of central vision. Early detection and laser surgery can vastly slow down vision loss.
  • Floaters: tiny spots that float across your field of vision. While this is normal, and can  be shifted out of your central vision by moving the eye around, it can also be symptomatic of a more serious eye disease. Obtain immediate treatment if there is a sudden change in the amount or type of spots, or if you experience light flashes.

As many seniors will experience some vision related problems at some time in their life, it is important to have coverage that will help cover these expenses. Most of these costs are covered through employee benefits, which normally cease after retirement. HealthQuotes.ca offers a FollowMe health plan, which requires no medical examination if applied for within 60 days of discontinued group insurance. This coverage can help defray the costs of vision related treatment, laser surgery, and/or glasses.

We also offer other guaranteed issue health insurance plans (i.e. no medical exam or questions) for those seniors who have medical issues but have not recently lost employee benefits.

Your vision is essential to your well-being, happiness, and continued independence, so make sure you have the visioncare coverage you need!

posted on Saturday, June 16, 2007 1:24:20 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Friday, May 18, 2007

Canadian Mumps Outbreak

Ontario is the latest province to have reported cases of the mumps. 3 cases have  been reported in Toronto, with 6 other cases being reported in other parts of the province. Toronto health officials have issued a warning, due to the highly contagious nature of this disease. The outbreak originated in Nova Scotia, with over 200 people contracting the virus, which has also spread to New Brunswick, which has 40 reported cases. The cases in Toronto have been directly linked to a student from the Maritimes visiting the city without knowing he was carrying the disease, with 300 people reportedly being exposed to the virus.

This recent outbreak seems to have started with the student population in New Brunswick. 95% of the cases are attributed to university students. Due to the close living quarters, and social settings, i.e. classes, dining halls, etc. the virus has quickly spread. Any students traveling to or from New Brunswick need to aware of their health and any symptoms they might be exhibiting in order to stop the spread of mumps. While the mumps is typically not a serious illness, it can cause meningitis, hearing loss and inflammation of the testicles or ovaries, and inflammation of the pancreas. Pregnant women who contract the mumps are also at risk of miscarriage. For anyone who has a compromised immune system, the mumps can pose a potentially fatal health risk.

While Eastern Canada experienced a mumps outbreak in 2005-2006, Ontario has not been exposed to the mumps in recent years. Therefore, many people may not be aware of the symptoms, and how it is spread. The mumps is a highly contagious virus that is spread through saliva. It is spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing, and also through the sharing of food, cigarettes and drinks or contact with any surface that has been contaminated with the virus. Therefore, it is important to not share these items, or any other items that would put you in contact with another person's saliva. The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, loss of appetite and tenderness of the salivary glands. If you are experiencing these symptoms, and suspect you may have been exposed to the mumps virus, it is advised that you self-isolate yourself for a period of 9 days (other than to obtain medical care) in order to stop the spread of the virus.

It is assumed that people approximately of 40 years of age have a natural immunity to the virus. Depending on the province in which you reside, people between 12-17 have already had 2 doses of the mumps vaccine. It is important that you check with your health care provider to see whether or not your children have received both doses of the vaccine in order to prevent them from contracting the mumps virus. For the people that do not fall into these categories, consult with your physician to see if you have been vaccinated, and whether or not you should receive another. For the areas that are experiencing current outbreaks, you may be advised to receive another vaccination, especially students and people who work in the healthcare industry.

posted on Friday, May 18, 2007 11:57:43 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Immunization For Canadians

For most Canadians, vaccinations are something we receive as children, and then forget about. There’s a tendency to mistakenly assume that certain diseases are no longer a risk, as outbreaks rarely, if ever, have occurred in our lifetime. However, travelers can unknowingly bring these diseases into Canada when traveling to countries that have not yet eradicated these diseases. For those who have not been vaccinated, this means that they are at risk of becoming infected and becoming ill. Therefore, being current in your vaccination schedule is extremely important in order to maintain good health and to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Immunization is not just for infants and children. Adults need to be aware of their current immunization status, as maintenance vaccinations are required for certain illnesses. People in certain occupations, such as health care, child care workers, etc. are at a higher risk of exposure. For adults traveling to foreign countries, they need to be aware of any required vaccinations as well as any current outbreaks of communicable diseases. For the elderly, being immunized against such illnesses as influenza and pneumonia are essential as these diseases can be fatal for those whose immune systems may be compromised.

It is important for Canadians to realize that many countries do not benefit from the high level of quality medical care that we take for granted. Certain diseases, such as cholera and typhoid are still a serious health concern in other parts of the world. Without being vaccinated for these diseases, travelers risk being exposed and contracting these diseases. Diseases such as Hepatitis A can be contracted through contaminated water and/or unsafe food handling. Countries that do not have adequate sanitation and clean water are especially high risk for Hepatitis A. As well, some countries may require proof of vaccinations before you are allowed entry.

When making your travel plans, it is important to research whether or not you will need to get specific vaccinations, and how long in advance they need to be done. Some vaccinations require a series of shots that are spaced out over several months. Consult with your physician before finalizing any travel plans in order to ensure that you have enough time to be properly vaccinated. If you do not have a family physician, you can find a Travel Health Clinic that can provide you with the necessary information.

It is recommended that Canadians traveling outside of the country have travel insurance. An accident or unexpected illness can cost thousands of dollars in unexpected medical expenses. As well as covering hospital and doctor bills, travel insurance covers such expenses as medical transportation back to Canada, trip cancellation and/or interruption, and baggage loss. HealthQuotes.ca also offers coverage for group travel, as well as adventure travel. Discuss your travel plans with a qualified agent and find the coverage that suits your specific needs.

posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2007 6:34:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, April 16, 2007

Workplace Safety

How Stress At Work And Home Can Increase Accident Risk

Recent studies have shown that the rate of stress experienced by Canadians has greatly increased in the past 10 years. A major cause of this elevated stress stems from working longer hours while trying to also maintain a family. Many Canadians are either currently raising a family, or actively caring for elder family members, or both. With a large percent of families consisting of either single parents or with both parents working full time, demands on time, energy and concentration can be overwhelming.

A 2001 National Work-Life Conflict study showed that over half of the employees surveyed were either caring for children, the elderly, or a disabled person. 70% were active parents, 60% were caring for an elder, 13% were caring for a disabled person, and 13% were caring for both children and elders.  The survey also indicated that these employees are working longer hours with heavier workloads than those surveyed in 1991. Unpaid overtime rose substantially, as well as employees bringing extra work home. With the globalization of some companies, work-related travel has increased, as well as work hours in order to accommodate time zones. As well, one-third of employed Canadians do not take a vacation, or reduce their allotted vacation time by an average of 8 days, thereby not allowing themselves time for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Both of these factors greatly contribute to fatigue and stress, which in turn, elevate the risk of accidents. People who are fatigued and/or mentally focused on other tasks can create an unsafe environment, especially when driving or working in an environment where mental alertness is required. A study conducted by the University of North Carolina concluded that sleep-deprived drivers are comparable to drinking drivers in regards to the probability of being involved in a car accident.

As well as the higher risk of accidents, prolonged high levels of stress can be detrimental to one’s health. People who experience a high stress level for long periods of time are at risk for physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, increased levels of blood sugar and fatty acids, and increased stomach acids. These physical symptoms, if left untreated, can pose serious health risks.

This elevated likelihood of accidents on the road and in the workplace poses a risk for all. This increased risk also poses certain financial concerns. Many people would be unable to meet their financial obligations if they were suddenly injured and unable to work. Disability insurance may be one way to ensure that if you are ever unable to work due to injury or illness you will not be left without a monthly income. This coverage can be up to two-thirds of your current earnings, paid out monthly. Premiums are variable, depending on your occupation; for those in jobs considered dangerous, the premiums may be higher. Disability insurance is available either for short term or long term; discuss these options with an insurance broker to see which option is more suited for your needs.

posted on Monday, April 16, 2007 4:37:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, March 26, 2007

How Dental Problems Can Affect Your Overall Health

Many Canadians overlook the importance that oral health plays in maintaining their health. However, dental problems are more than just a cosmetic problem. Cavities and gum disease, left untreated, can lead to more serious health issues, such as heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and in the case of pregnant women, underweight babies. Poor oral health has also been linked to sleeping problems. Children who suffer from certain oral problems are also at risk of behavior and developmental problems. If a person cannot chew their food properly, or has to avoid certain foods due to pain and discomfort, there is a risk of not getting the proper nutrition.

Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums. This can not only affect the teeth and gums, but the bone supporting the teeth. Plaque that is not removed by daily brushing and flossing can harden into tartar and contribute to gum infections. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease and strokes. Bacteria from plaque can travel from the mouth into the bloodstream, and has been linked to clogging of arteries, as well as damage to heart valves. It can also travel into the lungs, causing infections or aggravating existing lung conditions. People with diabetes are more at risk for contracting gum disease, which then puts them at greater risk for diabetic complications.

Women who are pregnant need to be vigilant about their oral health. Recent studies have indicated that gum disease in pregnant women raise the risk of premature babies with low birth weight, which in turn elevate the risk for later problems, including developmental complications, asthma, behavioral difficulties, and a higher risk of infant death.

If you are a smoker, you should be aware that smoking tobacco reduces blood flow to the gums. This means that your gums are not getting the oxygen and proper nutrients that they need to stay healthy. This increases your risk of bacterial infections. Smoking has also been linked to oral cancer. If you are a smoker, it is essential that you visit your dentist regularly.

Seniors are also high risk due to the fact that many are keeping their teeth longer. Seniors who still have their own teeth may have less access to dental services due to living on a fixed income, which may not make visiting their dentist regularly affordable. For those seniors residing in long-term care facilities, frailty, poor health and dependence on others make them especially vulnerable. Many minor dental problems may go unnoticed until they escalate and the senior is complaining of pain and discomfort. For those in poor health already, these infections may pose a serious health threat.

It is therefore recommended by Health Canada that Canadians visit their dentist regularly. Regular checkups and cleanings are the best way to prevent oral health problems, or stop minor problems from escalating into major health problems. For children, it is important to learn at an early age how to properly care for their teeth, and a dentist can spot potential problems that will affect them later in life.

Health Insurance Plans and Dental Coverage

For those who do not go to the dentist regularly because of the expense, dental coverage may be an affordable option. Coverage can be obtained with or without a medical questionnaire, depending on your needs.

HealthQuotes.ca offers FlexCare, which has provisions for DentalPlus. This comes with Core Benefits, and the option of either the Basic or Enhanced Plan. The Basic plan covers fillings, cleaning, scaling, examinations, polishing and certain extractions, with recall visits every 9 months. No medical questionnaire is needed, and acceptance is guaranteed. The Enhanced Plan is the same, with the added benefit of most extractions being covered, and recall visits every 6 months. The Enhanced Plan also has benefits that in the second year of coverage allow for oral surgery, periodontics and endodontics. Year three of your coverage allows for orthodontics, crowns, bridges and dentures.

FollowMe offers basic dental services, such as exams, cleanings, fillings, scaling, polishing, root planning, diagnostic and denture services. The Enhanced Plan offers endodontics and periodontics, and the Premiere Plan offers the same along with crowns, bridges, dentures and orthodontics.

You can compare Canadian personal health and dental insurance quotes online at your leisure, or speak to an experienced health insurance broker free of charge at 1-800-474-4474.
posted on Monday, March 26, 2007 6:18:35 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, March 19, 2007

Ordering Prescriptions Online

How Saving A Few Dollars May Affect Your Health

Online pharmacies have become a popular way for Canadians to purchase their prescriptions. They offer fast, cheap delivery, and sometimes do not require a prescription from your health care provider, and instead offer a consultation with their own "specialist". While there are legitimate websites that offer prescription medications, some are not licensed for Canada, which means they do not follow our strict federal guidelines for approved usage. Canada has strict FDA guidelines to ensure that prescription drugs available for purchase here are of high quality and are safe and effective to use.

Websites that offer prescriptions from companies that do not originate in Canada may offer prescription drugs that are not approved for sale here. These shipments run the risk of being seized at the Canadian border, leaving the consumer to pay for a purchase they will not receive. It is important to remember that if you choose to buy your prescriptions online that you choose a Canadian based company that is licensed to sell pharmaceuticals and that meets the regulatory requirements in your province. All therapeutic drugs that are approved for sale in Canada have an eight digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN means that the drug has been assessed by Health Canada, and is considered safe and effective when used in the prescribed manner.

Ordering prescription drugs from a company that doesn't require a written prescription from your own doctor poses certain health risks. You cannot be properly diagnosed simply by filling out a questionnaire online. Therefore, you may be prescribed a drug that is ineffective and/or potentially harmful. The only way to ensure that you are being properly diagnosed and treated is to consult with your physician, who is aware of your medical history and health issues. Under no circumstances is it recommended to use prescription drugs without the consent of your doctor. Consumers should be aware of any website offering a "miracle cure" for such problems as weight loss, baldness, or sexual enhancement. Many of these "miracle cures" offer no legitimate treatment, and may be potentially harmful. Even if these treatments do not require a prescription, they may interact with your current medications, or have unhealthy side effects.

So why are some prescriptions more expensive in Canada than other countries? The price of a prescription may depend on whether a generic version of the drug is available for sale. As with most consumer products, generic brands can be substantially cheaper to purchase than name brand products. The availability of generic brand prescriptions depends on the licensing agreements that the pharmaceutical companies have with the country in which they are selling their product. Currently in Canada the exclusive selling rights for brand-name prescription drugs has been increased from 5 years to 8 years. Therefore, your prescription may be available in the generic version somewhere else before it is available here.

Canadians who do not have employee benefits may want to consider purchasing health insurance coverage that covers prescription drug costs. HealthQuotes.ca offers a wide variety of health insurance plans that include prescription benefits. FlexCare offers either a Core Plan or you can choose one or more Stand-Along packages. Core Plans can be upgraded with Stand-Alones as your needs change. Blue Choice has 80% reimbursement for all eligible prescription medications, with no annual or lifetime maximums.

If you have health conditions then consider guaranteed issue health insurance, which is not medically underwritten (e.g. does not have health questions or exam). FollowMe from Manulife Financial is a guaranteed issue conversion plan that is especially ideal for people who have recently lost their employee benefits coverage.

posted on Monday, March 19, 2007 2:40:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Thursday, March 8, 2007

National Healthy Pregnancy Campaign

The Canadian Minister of Health, Tony Clement, has announced the launch of a 5 week campaign to raise awareness of health considerations for a healthy pregnancy. This 3 million dollar awareness campaign will focus around raising awareness in Canadian women about health issues regarding pregnancy.

The new Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy will offer Canadian expectant mothers the latest research and scientific guidance regarding health issues for delivering a healthy baby. This guide is offering information on behaviors that can have a negative impact on a pregnancy, as well as information regarding nutrition, emotional health and a pregnancy calendar.

If you are planning on starting a family, we recommend that you check your current health coverage to see whether or not it covers maternity issues and your new infant. As your family grows, so does your health insurance needs. FlexCare offers full coverage for expectant mothers, and newborns are automatically added to the same coverage, if the application is made within 30 days.

For more information on pregnancy and health issues, please visit http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca

posted on Thursday, March 8, 2007 3:02:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Friday, February 23, 2007

Travel Insurance: Married Outside Of Canada

Traveling to exotic locations to get married can be a fun option for some couples. The concept of combining a vacation with your wedding is a great way to reunite with family and friends to celebrate. With families and friends sometimes scattered across the country, or even continent, a vacation wedding offers a fun location for everyone to meet at.

Whether you are running off to Las Vegas to get married in the Little White Chapel, or are dreaming of a sunset wedding on an isolated beach, certain factors must be considered when choosing to get married abroad. Ensure that once you have selected the location of the wedding, you understand their requirements in order to apply for a marriage license. It is a good idea to send the traveling requirements list (i.e. documentation, passports) with your invitations so your guests know well in advance what they need to bring with them.

It is also advisable that you inform your guests of the need for travel insurance coverage. You can inquire if they have current coverage through their employer, and whether or not they will be covered for this trip. HealthQuotes.ca offers trip insurance that covers families and groups, which may be beneficial for this particular circumstance.

With proper planning, a vacation wedding will be the most memorable experience of your lifetime. Along with ensuring that you have the proper travel documents, ensure that you and your guests have the proper travel coverage in order to avoid any problems in your perfect day.

posted on Friday, February 23, 2007 4:18:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Health Literacy

The Canadian Council on Learning has recently released an analysis which suggests that an alarming number of Canadians do not understand their health care instructions. They suggest that over 90% of Canadian seniors and 55% of working-age Canadians lack the literacy skills required to accurately read and follow prescription instructions, understand food nutrition labels or to give informed consent.

Failure to accurately read prescription instructions can lead to dosing errors, causing further health issues. For Canadians with diabetes, blood glucose scores may not be read properly, and therefore not be treated appropriately. This can further be aggravated by not understanding the nutrition labels on food which can determine whether that certain product is good for them, or is potentially harmful.

Seniors are statistically the population with the most complex health problems, with 9 out of 10 Canadian seniors currently taking at least one prescription drug. It is therefore vitally important that Canadians with elderly parents, relatives, or friends who have health issues to ensure that prescription instructions are understood and followed correctly.

Seniors may also not be aware of what their current health insurance policy covers when it comes to prescriptions and diabetic supplies, or whether they need to upgrade their coverage. For those who have elderly parents, relatives or friends that have medical issues, and who are not able to accurately read and assess their policy, we recommend that you read the policy with them, and ensure that they understand what their benefits cover. For those seniors who are now experiencing different health-care related costs, their policy may need to be changed in order to reflect these new changes.

If you suspect that an elderly person close to you may be experiencing problems understanding their current health coverage, please call us at 1-800-474-4474 to discuss these issues.

posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:55:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Children's Fitness Tax Credit

The Children's Fitness Tax Credit came into effect January 1, 2007.  This tax credit hopefully will encourage parents to enroll their child(ren) in organized physical activities in order to combat the alarming child obesity statistics. By defraying the costs associated with children's organized sports and other activities, the Federal Government is hoping to offset the costs of registration and membership fees.

The tax credit is available up to $500 per child under the age of 16, in registration and membership fees for ongoing, supervised programs. Eligible programs must include a significant amount of physical activity which contributes to cardio-respiratory endurance, plus an additional physical component of: muscle strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and/or balance. For parents of a child who is eligible for the disability tax credit, a separate $500 will be available, with a minimum of $100 being spent on registration fees.

By offering this tax credit, the Canadian government hopes to influence a whole generation of children on the positive benefits of physical activity and healthy life styles. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are one of the leading causes of juvenile diabetes. By encouraging children to become physically active, hopefully the rate of juvenile diabetes will start to decline.

Recent studies have estimated that a person with diabetes can incur costs for medication and medical supplies of between $1000 and $15,000 a year. These costs are not covered by your provincial health care plan. For those parents who have a child with juvenile diabetes, purchasing health insurance coverage can be an effective way of defraying these costs. HealthQuotes offers a ComboPlus Starter Plan which does not require a medical examination and covers diabetic supplies.

If your child has been diagnosed with diabetes, and you would like more information, please visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/dc-ma/diabete-eng.php.

posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 7:08:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
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