Why you End up Paying High Health Insurance Costs for No Apparent Reason

Take out health insurance for family. Stethoscope, paper heart and silhouette of family on wooden background top view

Try to do an online search for health insurance quotes, and you’ll often find that the insurance vendors just can’t agree on what to charge for a policy. They lawfully charge wildly different prices for the exact same kind of coverage. They do this because each company has a different policy in how to deal with different kinds of risk. What your health insurance costs are in other words, completely boil down to what the formula is that each company likes to work with.

To one company, a pre-existing blood pressure situation may spell doom and destruction and they may use it as a way to charge you very high prices. At another company, their formula may require them to not even take notice of this.

If you take a look at the different kinds of physical and medical risk factors that insurance companies like to include in their formulas to determine what your health insurance costs should be, you’ll find that every health insurance provider’s there are some risk factors always remain important.

Your body mass index happens to be an important factor in how much of a risk you present to the insurance companies. Since even slightly higher-than-normal levels of body weight can put you at risk for diabetes, arthritis, heart problems and other expensive diseases, the health insurance companies handily make your insurance premiums a lot more expensive when they see a weight problem.

If there’s one thing that all the health insurance companies agree on, it’s that tobacco users need to be made to pay – make to pay for how much their habit can cost at the hospital. What they don’t agree on is if tobacco users need to be given healthcare at all.

Most major health insurance providers will completely deny tobacco users any coverage at all – at any price. They’ll even deny quitters who’ve given up the habit over the past 10 years. Because it takes the body a long time to recover. And since one-time tobacco users will always be at a higher risk of cancer, the healthcare scenario doesn’t really look good for anyone who is even dabbled in tobacco use.

What all the insurance companies don’t agree on is how to weigh your profession, or the neighborhood you live in. You’re probably thinking to yourself that you can understand how a choice of profession may be risky – a person who works in a mine or someone who pulls a night shift driving a large truck and will certainly present a higher risk.

So will people who have desk jobs (like insurance evaluators for instance) and people whose jobs never allow them any opportunity for exercise. But what did the person ever do wrong living in a certain ZIP code?

Well, it works kind of in an amusing way. They look at your zip code to see what kind of health insurance costs your neighbors carry. If your neighbors happen to pay a high price for their health insurance, the insurance company figures that there must be something wrong with your area even if they can’t figure it out. And they raise what you pay.

As you can see, your health insurance costs do depend on a number of factors that are just not easy to measure. You just have to go from company to company – shop around to try your luck.

Beating jet lag: how to travel smart across time zones

Businessman in front of a wallwith clocks of different country - Jetlag concept

Anyone who’s taken a flight which spans several time zones, whether west to east or east to west, can tell you about jet lag. Jet lag is essentially a condition caused by the disruption of what is called your circadian rhythms, the 24 hour daily cycle during which you distribute your waking and sleeping hours.

If you’re accustomed to waking at 7am and going to sleep at 11pm, local time and suddenly disrupt this cycle by getting on a plane and traveling to a destination that changes your normal 7am wakeup to 4pm, while matching up your normal bedtime to 8am, you will experience jet lag.

The symptoms of jet lag are much like that of a hangover. You’re utterly exhausted, dehydrated, suffering from indigestion and a bit disoriented. This is no way to start a vacation! Here we give you some practical tips on how to travel smart and beat the jet lag syndrome.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that ordering a drink on board, or taking a sleeping pill will help. According to The Lancet medical reports, almost 20% of deaths on board long flights are attributed to blood clots, particularly in the lungs, induced by travelers who have used an alcoholic beverage or sleeping pill in an attempt to side-step the lack of sleep factor! This strategy is a loser. What you should do instead is to make sure that you keep your circulation intact. Walk around, or just stretch your legs periodically.

As with a hangover, jet lag is a condition of extreme dehydration. One of the best things you can do to moderate the effects of jet lag is to drink water. So simple, yet effective. Typically, the airplane cabin is drier than the least humid places on earth – you’re losing, on average, 8 ounces of water per hour through your skin. You’ve got to replenish this lost water! Drinking water throughout the flight goes a long way towards avoiding the worst of jet lag. Travel smart! Avoid alcoholic beverages and drink at least a cup of water every hour you’re in flight.

Here’s another travel smart tip to reduce jet lag symptoms. To combat indigestion, as well as nausea, pack a few packets of ginger tea to sip during flight time.

The air you breathe during your flight is recirculating air, leaving you open to every cough and sneeze on board. This travel smart tip is of a preventative nature. A couple of weeks before you get on board, load up on vitamin C and an herbal supplement of echinacea, a super immune system booster. This is a good way to ward off the colds and other illnesses that might be traveling on board with you.

Dressing comfortably, in loose clothing is another travel smart way to ward off the effects of jet lag. A pair of warm socks and a neck pillow can help you catch a few z’s during your flight.

We’ve saved our best travel smart tip for last. Contrary to popular wisdom, setting your watch to your destination’s local time the minute you leave for the airport, is about as close to a magic trick as you can get. The trick to this travel smart anti-jet lag tip is to convince your mind, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that your watch is correct. On a long flight, by the time you arrive, you’re convinced! This little trick has stood me in good stead for many a trip. Mind over matter.

The Problem With Crowdsourced Hotel Reviews

cheap hotel room with bed

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One thing we have learned over the years whether running the Mountain Valley Guest Inn or other hotels such as The Craighaar Hotel,   is that the start of the year isn’t a good time to be in the budget hotel business.

Why is that? Well, TripAdvisor, HotelsCheap, BudgetTravel, and many more large portal sites all put out their Top 10 best and worst lists around that time. And boy, do people have some mean hotel reviews to share about these cut-price affairs!

take this one, for example for the premium VGP hotel in Chennai, India, “There were loud bangs outside the room. We later found out that the hotel staff was shooting stray dogs that had got in” or, what about this doozy for the Heritage Marina Hotel in San Francisco, one customer said, “It would be safer and cleaner to sleep on the streets”. It seems that nowhere is safe as a budget hotel in Virginia found out, “There was dried blood and hair in the made bed like someone had slaughtered a small animal.” Worst of all, the reviewers back up their claims with detailed facts, names of the desk clerks on duty and everything.

Hotel reviews on sites like TripAdvisor are really getting hotel owners all worked up.

Half of them claim that mean badmouthing is just a dirty business trick that competitors use to get a leg up in business. Many of them plan to sue – hardly surprising under the circumstances, after all, reviews like these can cost hotel owners their business.

If you want to pick up some interesting reading, you should probably head over to TripAdvisor.com for its 2018 Dirtiest Hotels list.

It looks like people wait all year to wallow in and enjoy the excellent insults on display. To make matters worse, the website has been advertising this list for years, and it always gets a huge reader response. Hotel owners who have been getting away with murder for decades, suddenly feel completely helpless in the face of the power of the Internet. They can protest that this is too much power taken out of the business owners’ hands but the fact remains that people can, and do, take delight in reading about this stuff. In fact, the hotel lobby in Europe is trying to get the government to regulate the review website industry, to make sure that what gets published, is real, and not evil-minded, under-the-belt sabotage.

But these websites are careful; they wouldn’t want to jeopardize the advertising relationships they have in place with the hotels that advertise on their website. Websites that publish hotel reviews have every incentive to go and say something nice about everyone. But to the casual reader, it does ring true that there should be some terrible hotels out there. Even traditional printed travel guides hate being shown up by these upstart websites. They have been joining in the protest parade against website reviews. Oyster.com, another famous hotel reviews site, is equally hated. Oyster likes to send its own journalists to check out the worst hotels, and come back with its own pictures to publish. What can people say to that?

We’ve all been to a couple of the bad ones, haven’t we? To me, the mean reviews seem to ring completely true. They have to be; hotels are notoriously difficult to maintain.