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Mold Symptoms in Your Ohio Home

Mold is a microorganism that thrives just about anywhere. It grows on almost any surface if there is enough moisture, and it is found in bathrooms and on trim in damp homes. It can look like a black stain, fur, or specks of white, black, brown or green. When mold grows in a home, people can end up breathing in spores. These can cause allergies, infections, asthma and numerous breathing problems. With certain strains of mold, exposure can even cause more serious health issues.
Mold is a serious health hazard in any state, but Ohio has a climate where mold thrives. This is why it is important to learn the signs and symptoms of mold in a house and eradicate it as soon as possible. While professionals are available to help address the problem, mold can often be eliminated with a few simple steps.
 

Where and how does mold form?

Like any other organism, mildew or mold requires nutrients in order to grow. Therefore, there are a few places a homeowner should look for mold spores. If food has been spilled on a carpeted surface, it must be cleaned right away with a disinfectant detergent. Not only will the mold grow on the surface of the rug, but it can grow beneath the rug, causing deep-rooted problems in the future. Homeowners should clean window sills and door trims regularly to remove any sticky or oily food particles that may have been transferred to those surfaces by dirty hands. Homeowners with children or pets should be particularly aware of this.

Air conditioner, heater and air purifier filters should be changed or cleaned regularly to prevent mold from taking hold. Refrigerator and other appliance filters should be switched or cleaned, too.

Clothing should not sit in laundry baskets for long periods of time, as any dampness in the clothes will facilitate mold growth. In addition, clothing items should hang loosely in closets rather than tightly packed. This will help keep moisture away and thus prevent mold. Finally, it is a good idea to open a window when showering to prevent moisture from building up in the bathroom. Even if the walls look dry, moisture can seep into the tiniest of cracks and allow mold to take hold.

Signs of Mold

The first signs of mold are not always obvious. Residents in the home may begin to experience unexplainable allergy attacks or ear infections. Then, a musty odor may be present. Once this odor is present, the mold is usually visible. However, mold can hide just about anywhere, so even if a resident is not able to find the mold, it does not mean it does not exist. To be sure if mold exists in a home, household members can purchase a mold test kit. These kits are relatively inexpensive, and they are well worth the knowledge and peace of mind they will impart to a homeowner.

How can Ohioans get rid of mold?

Finding the mold is not always the problem, but getting rid of it can be difficult. The obvious answer to a mold problem is to clean the surfaces where mold has developed. To do this, scrub all the moldy surfaces with a stiff brush. Collect the cleaning liquid with a vacuum, sponge or a mop. Rinse the area with clean water and dry it thoroughly. Always use protective equipment when working around mold.

After you have scrubbed the area clean, disinfect the surface. Tiny mold spores can remain, and they will grow if they have the chance. Wipe down the ceiling, wall and floor again with a mixture of bleach and water. If cleaning a small zone, a mixture of five cups of water mixed with half a cup of bleach will suffice. If the area is larger, then use a five gallon bucket of water and mix it with half a gallon of bleach.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the bleach label, and do not mix the bleach with ammonia as this will create toxic fumes. Open a window or turn on a fan in order to get rid of the bleach fumes. The fumes can irritate your lungs and eyes. Ideally, the surface should be allowed to air dry to maximize the power of the bleach.

Throw out anything that you cannot cleaned. When mold is in a mattress, bedding, clothes or curtains, wash them or dry clean them to kill the mold spores.

Preventing Mold

To prevent mold from growing in your household, keep your home as dry as you can. Repair any leaks immediately, and make sure the ground around the foundation of the home slopes away to prevent flooding in the basement.

If the home has a bathroom, kitchen or window fan, use them when showering or cooking. Just the moisture from a boiling pot can cause mold to build up in a home. In addition, dry clothes on a clothesline outside or in a dryer in order to prevent moisture from building up in the laundry room. If any area of the home is perpetually damp, purchase a dehumidifier.

How to Prepare Your Home for a Snowstorm

You may think of a snowstorm as a good excuse to stay inside and have a hot beverage, but snowstorms can be difficult or deadly if you are not prepared for them well in advance. The cold and snow can create hazards you may never have considered before. However, you can limit or avoid many of those hazards if you prepare your home for snowstorms ahead of time. Certain aspects of snowstorm preparedness, such as stocking up on fresh food and water, may be obvious. However, there are other steps you must take in order to guarantee that your family, pets and home get through snowstorms without any serious injuries or damage. Below is a list of steps to take before a snowstorm strikes, such as how to prepare your pipes and roof for the cold and weight associated with snowstorms, as well as how to ensure that your family will stay warm and safe.

Prepare Alternate Power and Heat Sources

A snowstorm can cause you to have a power outage in your home. When your power goes out, your home’s heating system may not work. Even if you have a gas-powered heating system, the ignition for it may be electric. It may be necessary for you to purchase a generator in order to keep your home heated during such instances. A generator can also help you to power other devices in your home, such as lights and a stove.

Other heat sources can also be used to heat your home during a snowstorm. Among them are wood- and coal-burning stoves, fireplaces and kerosene heaters. However, kerosene heaters may be illegal in your area. Check with your fire department to find out. If you have a wood- or coal-burning stove or fireplace, you must make sure that your chimneys are clean before the storm and only burn proper fuel sources. Stock up on wood or coal ahead of time to reduce the temptation to burn paper products, which can cause chimney fires.

Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detection and Fire Safety Devices

The use of space heaters, fireplaces and stoves during snowstorms can cause fires, as well as potentially lead to a buildup of invisible gases in your home. Therefore, prior to the storm, you must make sure that your smoke and gas detectors are in working order and that you have fire extinguishers on hand. Stock up on necessary batteries and purchase additional detectors.

Protect Your Plumbing

A hidden problem associated with snowstorms is that such storms cause major drops in temperature, which can lead to frozen plumbing. When your pipes freeze, they can also burst, causing flooding in your home. One way to protect your plumbing prior to a snowstorm is to open cabinets and allow faucets to run at a trickle. Exposure to warmer air and constantly running water will help to keep ice from building up. Another option is to wrap your pipes in special heat tape or pipe sleeves designed to prevent freezing. Remember to perform the same treatment for any pipes located in your garage as well.

Check Your Roof and Gutters Frequently

Debris in your gutters can easily cause ice dams to build up on your roof. The extra weight of the ice can lead to a partial or total collapse. Also, if the roof itself has any weak points, you may not notice problems during the snowstorm itself. When the snow thaws, however, the water may seep through into your attic or living space. Therefore, you must make sure you replace or repair your roof as needed before winter storms strike.

Insulate Windows and Doors

One of the best ways to reduce heat loss during a snowstorm is to cover the insides of your windows with plastic to add an extra barrier. Similarly, you can use caulk or weather stripping to insulate each door in your home. Depending on the expected severity of the impending storm, you may also need to use shutters or boards to protect your windows on the outside. Additionally, you may install storm doors for added safety and protection from the cold.

Prepare Essential Devices

If you are going to need any essential devices during the storm, such as flashlights or radios, prepare them well in advance. Charge all devices and purchase extra batteries for battery-operated machines. If you have any essential medical equipment, you may also need to purchase a generator in order to guarantee that the equipment will still function if power is lost. You will need to store gasoline for the generator.

If your cell phone signal goes out, remember that you do not need signal or Wi-Fi to call 911.

Customize Your First Aid Kit

You may already have a first aid kit with bandages and ointments in your home. However, you must customize that kit with items each of your family members may need if the snowstorm strands you for several days. Stock up on medications your family members and pets need prior to the storm. Place the first aid kit in an easily accessible place and make sure that each family member who is old enough to understand how to use it knows where to find it.

Tips for Finding the Right Neighborhood for You

When you are planning to move, you must find the right home to suit your needs. However, the process of selecting a home cannot be limited to the building itself. For example, you may find a suitable home that is within your budget but later find out that features of the neighborhood itself do not meet your needs. At worst, there may be hidden costs of living in a certain area that can cause your expenses to unexpectedly increase beyond your available budget. Certain neighborhoods may present safety concerns or have other negative traits as well. There are also personal reasons why you might prefer to live in one neighborhood as opposed to another, such as how accessible your favorite destinations will be from your new home. Below is a list of several tips for finding the right neighborhood for you, including how to narrow down your choices and identify the neighborhood features you want.

Identify Your Personal Neighborhood Needs

The first step in selecting the right neighborhood for you is to identify your personal needs. For example, if you have children, you must make sure there are good schools nearby. However, you may wish to move to a neighborhood with no nearby schools if you have no children and do not want the noise and distractions found in neighborhoods with many children. Similarly, it may or may not be important to you that your neighborhood have other amenities, such as parks, shopping centers or public transportation options.

When creating your list of neighborhood attributes that are important to you, you must also consider the general type of neighborhood you prefer. If you are looking for a more modern or urban neighborhood then you can rule out certain areas immediately. The same is true if you want to live in a historic neighborhood or a quiet suburb.

Research Neighborhood Rules and Restrictions

When you are considering moving to a neighborhood that is a gated community or has its own neighborhood association, then you must understand that such neighborhoods may have good features, such as better security. However, problems like construction and decorating rules may quickly cause friction if you want to personalize your home. You may also be required to pay annual membership and maintenance fees when living in such a community.

Conduct Neighborhood Surveillance

Any neighborhood you have interest in may look great at certain times of day and when presented in a positive light by a real estate agent. You will learn more about the neighborhood when you perform surveillance on your own time. Visit any neighborhood you are interested in at different times of day to see if the atmosphere changes. Also, keep in mind that the activity level you see in the area on weekdays may be quite different than what you will encounter on weekends. Also visit during inclement weather so that you can see how the neighborhood does when it is snowing or there is heavy rainfall.

Look for Known Problems

Certain neighborhood features are typically considered to be universally bad. For example, having an airport too close to your home could cause frequent noise disturbances. The same is true for trains or heavy machinery. If you have small children, you may want to automatically rule out neighborhoods with dangerous waterways and other common hazards.

Check the Local Crime Rate

Depending on your preferences and household, may want to avoid moving to areas where crime rates are high. Reading back issues of local newspapers can help you to better understand the neighborhood crime rate and whether it is improving or worsening.

Count the Number of Vacant Houses in the Neighborhood

Another way to judge a neighborhood is by the number of vacant houses in it. Typically, multiple empty houses in a small area is an indication that something in that area is causing people to move away from it. It is important to identify the reason for such vacancies and decide if you are willing to deal with the cause. If you are purchasing a home rather than renting one, you should also research how your property value may be impacted.

Talk to Your Potential Neighbors

The best sources for information about a neighborhood are the residents of that neighborhood. Therefore, you must take the time to talk to potential neighbors in order to learn about both positive and negative aspects of the area. Average people in the area will be more honest and knowledgeable than your real estate agent when it comes to area history, economic trends and hidden annoyances. You may also learn unexpected positive things about a neighborhood from its residents.

In addition to knowledge about the neighborhood itself, learning about the residents who may become your neighbors is important. If you talk to potential neighbors who are all friendly, then you can expect to have a close-knit community. On the other hand, potential neighbors who are rude or refuse to talk to you entirely when you are considering moving into the neighborhood are likely to be just as impolite if they actually become your neighbors.

Prioritize and Make a Balanced Decision

There is no perfect neighborhood. Therefore, you must prioritize and consider the big picture when selecting a neighborhood in which to live. It may be necessary to ignore certain items on your wish list, such as proximity to shopping centers, in order to reap other benefits, such as the ability to live in a quiet community. When making your final decision, you must also weigh your financial constraints against your preferences and absolute requirements in order to strike a balance.

Energy-Efficient Home Solutions to Consider

Having a home that is energy efficient is beneficial for several reasons and is strongly encouraged for homeowners who want to lower how much they pay every month on their utility bills. Electrical bills are the utility bills most commonly affected by energy proofing a home, but heating and cooling expenses can also decrease. In addition, making a home energy efficient positively impacts the environment by lowering the excessive amount of nonrenewable resources used to create electricity. Ohio is one of many states offering energy-efficient solutions that include sensors, upgraded appliances with energy-saving technology and better grades of insulation. Many homeowners in Ohio are hesitant about conserving energy through home upgrades, since many of the necessary products have a reputation of being expensive. However, there are plenty of smaller options for energy proofing a home that have a big impact on a household and are not as expensive to install as homeowners might think.

Using Timers and Sensors in Ohio

Technology is constantly advancing, and it is now possible to set up timers for various devices in a home. Many households save money on monthly utilities by using timers to control heating and cooling in a home. By using an automated schedule, it is possible for the household to set the heating or cooling to automatically turn off at certain points in the day, such as when everyone is out for work or school.

Many devices themselves, such as computers and televisions, also have their own built in timers. Members of the household can thus program the devices to enter a rest state or completely turn off. These devices can either be set to turn off or made to enter a rest mode at a specific time, or they can be set to turn off after a period of inactivity.

Most timers also double as sensors. Sensors have a similar purpose, but instead of using a set schedule, they can be programmed to follow specific parameters. In reference to a heating and cooling unit, these devices can be programmed to turn on or off at specific temperatures. Sensors effectively keep the house comfortable, by keep the house from becoming too hot or too cold and thus wasting energy.

Upgrading Electronic Products in Ohio

Many households, especially ones on a budget, are often hesitant about buying new electronic products. Buying new electronics is often expensive. However, some of these new products are ultimately worth the price. Recent electronics are significantly more energy efficient than older models, which leads to households paying a great deal less on monthly utilities. Households do not have to try and replace their products all at once, but even replacing a few products throughout the course of a year will have a notable impact on monthly bills. Some of the biggest offenders are older models of refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and dryers.

Insulation and Roofing in Ohio

While timers and sensors are great for cutting back on heating and cooling, there are other energy-efficient options to further reduce heating and cooling costs for a home. One area that many households overlook is new insulation. The Industrial Science and Technology Network has created a new foam insulation that uses especially designed composite materials to keep heat from escaping. Furthermore, the foam is made with environmentally friendly ingredients.

In addition to traditional insulation for the walls, there are also insulation options for windows. Window insulation is a little more complicated, and also still in the early stages of development. Insulated windows use sensors to change the shading of the insulation. These changes are based around the time of day, as well as on the amount of sunlight the window receives.

Houses in warm climates do not have to worry about keeping a house warm as much as they do about keeping it cold. These households should consider investing in cool roofs. Cool roofs contain a special material that reflect sunlight. By reflecting sunlight, the roof absorbs significantly less heat. These roofs are constantly advancing, with newer roofs using new fluorescent pigments that reflect even more sunlight.

LED Lighting in Ohio

It might seem like a very small household change, but one of the easiest ways to create a more energy-efficient home is to swap out incandescent lightbulbs with LED versions. LED lightbulbs are significantly better than incandescent lightbulbs. They provide better lighting and are much longer lasting, on top of being more energy efficient. The lightbulbs themselves are inexpensive, and even households on a strict budget should be able to replace all the bulbs in their house with minimal effort.

Dual Purpose Home Furnishings That Can Save You Big

There are many households in Ohio that benefit from dual-purpose home furnishings. Many apartments in particular use dual-purpose home furnishing as a way to save space. There are several types of dual-purpose furniture available. While many of the products are designed with smaller homes in mind, there are also some larger pieces of furniture available for purchase. In some situations, the larger the piece of furniture, the more purposes it can serve. Due to the growing popularity of furniture that can serve multiple functions, the overall price of these types of products has decreased. This is helpful for households that are on a budget, since it significantly decreases how much the household must spend on furniture. In addition, because of the growing popularity, many of the products have become easier to assemble. In some situations, it may even be possible for a particularly crafty household to build their own dual-purpose furniture.

Dual-Purpose Chairs in Ohio

One piece of furniture that can take up a lot of space is chairs. Households that frequently have guests over may have trouble figuring out where to store all of their chairs. While folding chairs help overall with saving space, it is possible to save even more space by using dual-purpose chairs instead.

One example of a chair that serves two purposes is the Bookseat chair. As the name suggests, the Bookseat is a curving chair that features a built-in bookcase. The shelves on the bookcase are relatively small, but because there are so many shelves, it is easy to store a decent number of books.

Another variant of a dual-purpose chair is the Oven Chair. The name is misleading, since the chair does not serve a second purpose as an oven. When the chair is folded up, it resembles an old-fashioned oven, which acts as a large shelving unit. The obvious downside of this chair is that it cannot function as a shelving unit when the chair is pulled out, so it is primarily recommended for homes that only have occasional guests.

A slightly larger dual-purpose chair is the Silla Guarda chair. At a glance, these chairs are a singular unit, but the interior of the chair is actually made up of a separate seat. Guests can simply slip the second chair out from under the shell of the first to get a second seat.

Built-in Storage Devices in Ohio

Although it can be tricky to install, one of the most unique dual-purpose pieces of furniture is the staircase drawer. Depending on the house, the staircase drawer can be very expensive to install, although anyone who is embarking on a home redesign can simplify the process by building the drawers into the stairs from the start.

A much simpler piece of dual-purpose furniture is the storage ottoman. These ottomans are built with a hollow center, so anyone in the household can simply take the top off and use the inside of the ottoman for storage. These ottomans are popular for households with small children, since the ottomans are the perfect size for serving as toy bins.

There are many versions of coffee tables that have built-in storage. One of the more interesting examples is the Kai Table. Nearly all of the pieces of the Kai Table are actually storage devices of varying sizes. The one drawback of the Kai Table is that it does not have built-in extensions. Tables with built-in extensions effectively act as multiple tables of varying levels, meaning a desk can also double as a dining table.

A simpler option for saving space with tables is to use stacking tables. These tables include multiple units that stack on top of each other. Guests can take one of the tables as needed and simply stack them up together when they are done. The only downside is that these tables do not vary in height, so they are more suited for anyone who needs a desk as opposed to a dining table. When they are not being used as tables, the stacked tables function as a spacious shelving unit.

The BADA table is great for households that want a larger piece of dual-purpose furniture. The BADA table is the size of a traditional dining table, but the center of the table can fold and morph into a comfortable love seat, with either ends of the table functioning as armrests. The BADA table is especially useful for apartments, as many apartments have limited space for dining areas.

Dual-Purpose Beds in Ohio

In terms of dual-purpose furniture, beds are probably the most popular. One common variant of the dual-purpose bed is the convertible chair bed. This is a bendable bed that can easily be converted into a comfortable seat when it is not functioning as a bed. Another variant of the dual-purpose bed is the ottoman guest bed. These beds are made up of a larger ottoman with a removable top. Instead of being hollow like the storage ottomans, these contain a foldout bed.

Examining Pre-Existing Conditions and Their Effects on Health Insurance

Pre-existing medical conditions have had a large impact on the American health insurance industry in the past. However, major medical reforms in the form of Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), have greatly changed how pre-existing medical conditions are perceived and treated by insurance companies. Therefore, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you will not face the same medical insurance barriers you may have faced in the past. However, prior to applying for new medical coverage, you must learn the history behind how pre-existing medical conditions have been dealt with in the past and the changes that have taken place in the health insurance industry through the ACA in order to understand your eligibility for health care coverage. Understanding the process can also give you an idea of how likely you are to be able to continue receiving health care in the future. Below is information about pre-existing medical conditions, including how they are defined, whether or not they have an impact on current health insurance prices and how the ACA has changed health insurance eligibility standards for applicants with pre-existing medical conditions.

What are pre-existing conditions?

The term “pre-existing condition” as it applies to health insurance refers to a condition that existed prior a health insurance applicant’s insurance coverage. Any diagnosed mental or physical ailment that an applicant had before applying for health insurance will be categorized as a pre-existing condition. A pre-existing condition can be a life-threatening illness such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis or heart disease. However, other illnesses that might be considered lesser in nature may also be categorized in the same way. Such ailments include chronic arthritis or acne, which are not life threatening but may still require treatment.

Depression and other mental illnesses are also categorized as pre-existing conditions for insurance purposes. Similarly, alcoholism is considered to be such a condition. The same is true of any type of illegal or prescription drug abuse. Certain conditions that are not technically illnesses in and of themselves, such as pregnancy or being overweight, are also considered for insurance purposes to be pre-existing conditions.

Prior to the ACA, many insurance companies would refuse to pay for health care costs associated with these conditions, or they would simply charge significantly higher premiums to those with the conditions. In many cases, insurance companies even denied health care coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. However, pre-existing conditions have not had the same relevancy under the Affordable Care Act that they had prior to the enactment of the ACA law because insurance companies were barred from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions.

How Pre-Existing Conditions Are Categorized

Pre-existing medical conditions are defined by health insurance companies. Each company can release a list of conditions company executives deem to be pre-existing. However, the conditions mentioned above are universally considered to be pre-existing by most health insurance companies. The reason insurance companies make such categorizations is that many pre-existing conditions are guaranteed to need treatment, making applicants with those conditions less desirable for companies that want to limit their costs.

Why Pre-Existing Conditions Matter for Health Insurance Purposes

Prior to the ACA going into effect, pre-existing conditions were stumbling blocks for many applicants seeking to acquire health insurance. Insurance companies were legally allowed to either deny coverage entirely or charge more money to insure applicants with pre-existing medical conditions. Since many applicants could not afford to pay the high premiums, the number of uninsured Americans was quite high. Many people suffered or died due to their inability to obtain affordable health care.

Before Congress passed the ACA, insurance company representatives were legally able to collect medical records and other information about applicants. Such information was used to categorize applicants prior to the acceptance or denial of insurance applications. Some insurance companies denied claims submitted by applicants with pre-existing conditions entirely, while others simply raised insurance premiums based on those conditions and medical records.

How the ACA Changed the Influence of Pre-Existing Conditions on Health Insurance Rates

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was created in part to help Americans with pre-existing conditions obtain affordable health care. The ACA was also created as a means of standardizing health care coverage across all states and, in part, regulating the practices used by insurance companies across the United States. Prior to the ACA, insurance companies had relatively few operational restrictions, and insurance applicants and beneficiaries had limited protection options.

Under the ACA, American insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny health insurance coverage to applicants with pre-existing conditions. Additionally, insurance companies may not charge higher premiums to certain applicants based solely on pre-existing conditions. Such changes have been particularly helpful to elderly consumers who tend to have more pre-existing conditions, as well as physically and mentally disabled consumers, as well as those insurance beneficiaries with serious illnesses requiring expensive treatments, such as cancer patients.

The Future of the ACA and Medical Care for Those with Pre-Existing Conditions

Although the ACA has been beneficial for many Americans with pre-existing conditions, a large number of healthy Americans dislike the fact that they have to pay higher rates under ACA than they otherwise would. Due to these perceived drawbacks, the ACA may be modified or entirely repealed at some point, in which case insurance companies may regain more control over the health insurance application and payment process. If this occurs, insurance applicants with pre-existing conditions may face difficulty finding affordable health care again.

Comparing and Contrasting Medicare and Medicaid

Over the last several years, there has been a lot of debate over various health care programs, with Medicare and Medicaid being some of the most recognizable names in the discussion. Medicare and Medicaid are often incorrectly treated as interchangeable groups, in no small part because of how similar their names are. While the programs may sound like they belong together, they are actually two completely different programs. In fact, Medicare is actually made up of four different parts. Another big difference between the programs is that Medicare is a federally funded program. In comparison, Medicaid is both a federal and state program. This may seem like a minor difference, but it directly impacts how the programs are run. Since Medicaid is a state and federal program, states are given an expanded role in how they implement the program, which is why some states have an expanded version of Medicaid, while others have the traditional version. Additionally, in terms of what services are provided, Medicare and Medicaid serve completely different purposes.

Medicaid in Ohio

When comparing the two health care programs, it makes the most sense to first look at Medicaid. Medicaid offers more extensive coverage, and because it is under one general package, it is easier to understand when compared to Medicare. The Ohio Medicaid program offers health coverage for several demographics that would otherwise be unable to receive this coverage. These groups include low-income residents, pregnant women, infants and children, older adults and also any residents who receive disability benefits. Since Ohio uses the expanded Medicaid plan, the income eligibility requirements are not as strict as with the traditional plan.

In order to receive Medicaid in Ohio, the applicant must be a legal Ohio resident, have a Social Security number, and he or she must meet all of the financial eligibility requirements. Applicants that meet all of these requirements will receive a Medicaid managed care plan, which covers a number of different medical expenses.

Some of the categories that Ohio Medicaid covers include dental care, emergency costs, family planning, general health checks, hospital visits, medical equipment costs, mental health services, vision care and many other services. While this is very extensive coverage, it is important to note that some of the services have limitations, such as only covering costs up to a certain extent or setting a maximum number of visits for beneficiaries each year.

Medicare Coverage in Ohio

Medicare is a health care coverage program that is available primarily to Ohio residents that are at least 65 years old, or residents with disabilities. Applicants must either be U.S. citizens or have been legal permanent residents for at least five years. There are four different parts of Medicare available in Ohio: parts A through D. Applicants are not limited to just one plan. In fact, some of the plans act as additions to the other plans.

Potential beneficiaries will receive a welcome packet in the mail several months before they turn 65. The packet will contain specific instructions about how to apply, as well as what plans the resident may already be eligible for. In many situations, residents are automatically enrolled into Medicare Part A. This is the most common plan because it is available for free to applicants who are eligible for Social Security. In addition, any applicants who receive railroad retirement benefits in the state of Ohio are also automatically eligible for Medicare Part A coverage.

Part A coverage consists primarily of inpatient hospital care. This includes nursing home care, hospice and other types of home health services as well. Medicare Part B covers more general medical services. Some of the services covered by Part B include doctor visits, preventive healthcare services, ambulance services, mental health services, some costs for medical equipment and also limited prescription drug coverage.

In most situations, beneficiaries are recommended to enroll in both Part A and Part B, since this offers the most extensive health care coverage in Ohio. Medicare Part C is an optional part of the program. It is sometimes known as a Medicare Advantage Plan. Part C is essentially a customized plan offered through a private insurance provider as opposed to a federal plan. Depending on the provider, beneficiaries may end up paying less in premiums or copayments. In addition, some providers offer some additional benefits, such as dental or vision.

Medicare Part D focuses solely on prescription drug costs and is highly recommended for any beneficiaries who make frequent visits to the pharmacy. All of the different Medicare programs are compatible with Medicaid, so beneficiaries are able to enjoy the benefits of both health care programs if they meet the eligibility requirements.

How to Find an Affordable Health Plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace

Although it has been around for several years, there is still a lot of confusion regarding how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has changed the health insurance marketplace. A common question is whether or not Ohio residents are legally required to get health insurance. Currently, Ohio residents are still required to have some sort of health insurance plan. The plan can be from a private insurance provider, through an employer or from a government plan, such as Medicare or Medicaid. Anyone who does not have insurance will be forced to pay a fine. Although Congress has repealed the individual mandate, which required almost all residents to have health insurance, that repeal will not take effect until 2019.

The best place to find a health insurance plan in Ohio is to go through the health care exchange. States were given the option of using their own separate health insurance exchanges, which contains all of the various programs offered in that state, or to use the federally maintained Health Insurance Marketplace. Ohio uses its own exchange, known as the Ohio Health Insurance Exchange.

Using the Ohio Health Care Exchange

The Ohio health care exchange is an online marketplace. Insurance shoppers can browse through several different health insurance plans available in the state. The market offers an initial general overview of the plans, but any interested applicant can select a program to receive a more detailed overview, including how to officially enroll for that specific plan.

Not all applicants are comfortable using a digital marketplace, which is why the state of Ohio has trained application counselors, also known as navigators, to help. Navigators are only allowed to walk applicants through the application process and help explain to them what all the different plans provide. They also help explain the plans’ eligibility requirements. Navigators are not allowed to recommend specific plans. In addition to state-provided navigators, private insurance companies typically have their own agents available. These agents are allowed to recommend plans and will most likely recommend plans from the companies they represent.

Navigators are available for in-person meetings, but applicants can also call them over the phone to receive advice or ask questions. The support lines are open every day for 24 hours. Private insurance agents vary depending on the agency, but typically they have more limited hours. Consultation appointments are always free.

Applying for Insurance Plans Through the Ohio Health Care Exchange

In order to apply for insurance plans through the Ohio health exchange, applicants are required to submit some basic information to confirm their identity and finances. Applicants should have a few different documents on hand for their application. This includes paperwork relating to their yearly income, such as payment stubs and their tax returns. Applicants also need information to confirm their identity, such as their Social Security numbers. Those who are not U.S. citizens will need to provide other identifying information.

In addition to finding out whether an applicant is eligible for a health insurance plan, he or she will also be notified if there are any discounts available through the plan. The most common type of discount is known as a premium tax credit. These tax credits are primarily available depending on the applicant’s income. In addition to premium tax credits, there are also cost-sharing reductions. These reductions provide a discount for any immediate costs associated with the insurance plan, such as monthly premiums or copayments.

Deadlines on the Ohio Health Care Exchange

One of the most important aspects of shopping for insurance plans on the Ohio exchange is paying attention to the application deadlines. Consumers who are already enrolled in a plan will receive an eligibility notice to resolve any health insurance issues. This notice will have options available for continuing the plan. In some cases, the notice may inform the beneficiary that the plan is no longer available. This typically happens when a private insurance provider pulls out of the marketplace. After receiving the notice, applicants have 90 days to respond.

These applicants are able to apply for insurance plans after 90 days, but applying late comes with a few downsides. One of the main drawbacks of applying late is that these applicants may not be eligible for premium tax credits or may receive significantly reduced discounts. If there is an extenuating circumstance, the applicant may be eligible for a special enrollment period that will negate any of the normal penalties for applying late, but this varies on a case-by-case basis.

Updating Information on the Ohio Health Care Exchange

In addition to paying attention to the deadlines, it is very important that applicants keep their account information up to date, most notably when making changes to their total income. In order to receive health insurance discounts, the exchange must contain the most up to date information. Applicants may find themselves paying more if they have not correctly reported their changes. In some cases, they may owe back money if they are reporting a lower income than they actually receive.

Seven Doctors You Should See Every Year

Identifying the doctors you should see every year is important if you want to maintain your health. Even if you feel healthy now, as you get older, your physical health can easily change. The changes that take place based on natural aging processes, as well as environmental influences, have led to medical professionals recommending annual appointments with certain specialists, as well as specific screening tests for common medical conditions. Seeing recommended types of medical specialists each year can help you to identify and treat health issues early on.
These types of appointments can simply help you maintain your physical health, while others may become a matter of life or death. Below is a list of seven types of doctors you should see on an annual basis and the tests you should undergo to keep yourself healthy.
 

Dentist

You may already know that it is recommended that you get your teeth cleaned twice per year, but you may not realize that your dentist can perform other preventative services for you. For example, once per year it is generally a good idea to get dental x-rays, as they can provide you information about the general health of your teeth and gums. In some cases, x-rays can identify problems which, if left unchecked, could allow you to develop hazardous infections.

Primary Care Physician (PCP)

Most experts agree that you should see your primary care physician at least once per year for a general physical. Physical exams can help you identify problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments. Your PCP can also help you to address other concerns such as depression, sexual health issues or general aches and pains.

In addition to seeing your PCP once a year for preventative purposes, you should also make a PCP appointment if you have illnesses or wellness concerns throughout the year. Examples of such concerns might include flu, unusual moles, arthritis, etc. You may need a referral from your PCP in order to see many of the other specialists listed below as well.

Ophthalmologist

How often you should see your ophthalmologist depends on your age and general eye health. If you wear contact lenses, for example, it is recommended that you see your ophthalmologist at least once per year. The same is true if you are over 65 years of age. However, if you are under 65 years of age and have no obvious vision problems, then seeing your ophthalmologist once every two years is generally acceptable. On the other hand, medical conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts may require you to see your ophthalmologist more than once per year.

Dermatologist

When you make an annual dermatology appointment, your dermatologist can check you for skin cancer and other issues. If there is a history of skin cancer in your family or you notice any unusual moles or marks on your skin, then you should make a dermatology appointment immediately and follow up each year. However, even if you have no such marks on your skin or history, a preventative dermatology appointment each year is a good idea. Your dermatologist can also help you to address other skin concerns, such as dry skin, flaky skin, allergies or skin sensitivity.

Gynecologist

If you are female, then you should have a pelvic exam at least once per year. Gynecological exams can help you to identify reproductive cancers, polyps or fertility issues. Your gynecologist can also screen you for sexually-transmitted diseases and other reproductive health concerns by performing pap smears and STD tests.

Radiologist

Most PCPs and other experts agree that, if you are an adult female, you should also see a radiologist for a mammogram once per year to screen for breast cancer. However, some experts may recommend that those annual exams begin when you reach 40 years of age. Others may only recommend annual mammograms when you reach over 50 years of age. Additionally, extenuating circumstances such as irregularities detected during physical exams or a family medical history of breast cancer may lead to your PCP recommending that you have annual mammograms even if you have not yet reached 40 years of age.

Proctologist

Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, you should make a proctology appointment if you have any concerns relating to your bowels. For example, if you have a family history of colon cancer, a proctology appointment may be beneficial to you. However, if you are male, then it is particularly important for you to be tested by a proctologist for prostate cancer. Your age and risk factors will determine how often you should be screened.

If you are at a high risk for prostate cancer based on your family history and other health factors, then your PCP or proctologist may recommend that you begin annual prostate screenings as early as 40 years of age. You may be able to wait for an initial screening until you are 50 years of age if your risk factors are low. In either case, the results of your initial test will dictate whether your proctologist requires you to come back for annual screenings or recommends that you to be screened every two years from that point forward.