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813-381-3820

2234 Lithia Center Lane
Valrico, FL  33596
Fax : 800-910-6320

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Do you need Health Care Insurance?

GreatFlorida Insurance is committed to helping Floridians make informed decisions about their health care. Health insurance is designed to protect individuals and families from the high costs of health care.

Whether you are facing a pre-existing health condition, an emergency situation or just want preventative and wellness care, health insurance will pay part of your costs.

GreatFlorida Insurance offers coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, also known as Florida Blue.

We can help clear up any confusion about recent health reform, the Affordable Care Act, (ACA) and answer any of your questions concerning health care.

How does health insurance work?

Your health insurance plan is a contract between you and your insurance company.

You pay a monthly bill called a premium for the health plan and the insurance company agrees to pay part of the costs for covered medical services.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has four levels of coverage, bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

The plans have varying costs and coverage to meet your needs and budget. Another option includes a Catastrophic Plan for single people under 30 who qualify through financial hardships.

GreatFlorida Insurance can help you understand your choice of plans and options for health care through Florida Blue.

We will help you apply for and enroll in a plan that works best for you.

Affordable Care Act

In March 2010, President Obama signed into law, comprehensive health reform, Affordable Care Act, (ACA). The law makes preventative care more accessible and affordable for many Americans.

The health care law is designed to provide better benefits and expanding coverage while creating a stronger Medicare program.

What if I do not get health insurance in 2014?

If you can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, you will be penalized and must pay a fee. The fee in 2014 is 1 percent of your yearly income or $95 per person for the year, whichever is higher.

The fee increases every year. In 2016 it is 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person, whichever is higher. In 2014 the payment for uninsured children is $47.50 per child.

New Options Include:

Floridians can find out if they are eligible for lower costs for private insurance or health programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, (CHIP) and enroll in health coverage.

Parents can keep their children on their health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old.

Insurers can no longer deny coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions such as asthma or diabetes.

In 2014, health insurers will no longer be able to charge more or deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition.

Health insurance companies now have to spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on health care or improvements to care or provide you with a refund.

Insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more.

Insurance companies are banned from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.

Preventative services such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits and flu shots for all children and adults, will be covered with no deductible or co-pay required.

Increases funding to community health centers

Strengthens Medicare Program

Increasing coverage for brand name and generic drugs

No deductibles or co-pays for preventative services seniors and people with disabilities

Extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by ten years

Simply call 813-381-3820 or complete our online quote request form. A GreatFlorida Health Care Insurance Agent in Valrico will help you find the best deal for you.

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Florida Healthcare  Insurance Blog
by GreatFlorida Insurance
11/7/2017

In an effort to fight the opioid epidemic, Florida’s largest health insurance company will stop covering the costs of OxyContin or oxycodone prescriptions.

“We are supportive of the new policy and hope these changes can help reduce the abuse of prescription opioids across the state,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent health care insurance agency. GreatFlorida Insurance offers health insurance through Florida Blue.

Beginning January 1, 2018, Florida Blue will alternatively cover Xtampza ER. An extended-release version of oxycodone, Xtampza ER is considered an abuse deterrent.  Resisting crushing and breaking, it cannot be snorted or smoked.

The Miami Herald reports, under the new policy, Florida Blue will drop coverage of OxyContin for all group and individual health insurance plans except Medicare Advantage plans. The health insurance company is looking to reduce the abundance of opioids prescribed to its more than 5 million members, restricting the risk for abuse of the powerful but addictive drug.

Florida Blue’s change in policy is a follow-up to its 2015 policy that requires prior authorization for all oxycodone prescriptions of more than seven days. The company says, that policy led to a 20 percent reduction in the use of long-term opioids by members.

“In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic pain resulting in abuse and overdoses,” says Buck of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent health care insurance company.

The Miami Herald reports opioids killed 2,538 Floridians and contributed to an additional 1,358 deaths in 2015.

Common prescription opioids include; oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine and methadone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC explains, “Prescription opioids are used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury or for health conditions such as cancer.”

In May of this year, Gov. Rick Scott declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency allowing the state access to over $54 million in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant money to pay for prevention, treatment and recovery services. He also is moving forward to allow the distribution of the anti-overdose treatment Naloxone to first responders.

 

GreatFlorida Insurance is a authorized vendor of health insurance for Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

GreatFlorida Insurance is a authorized vendor of health insurance for Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

 

The post Florida Blue halts coverage of OxyContin appeared first on The GreatFlorida Insurance Blog.

by GreatFlorida Insurance
11/1/2017

The wintertime tradition of setting our clocks back before bed on Saturday is coming. Sunday, November 5 at 2 a.m., Daylight Saving Time (DST) will come to an end and we welcome Standard Time.

“Whether you like Standard Time or DST, the disruption seems to be what annoys people the most,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent homeowners insurance agency.

We “fall-back” and do not have Daylight Saving Time until Sunday, March 11, 2018.  About a week before spring begins.

Energy Savings?

Daylight Saving Time was originally invented to reduce energy consumption. However, a 2008 U.S. Department of Energy study reported Daylight Saving Time reduces annual energy use by about 0.03 percent.

After Indiana adopted Daylight Saving Time in 2006, The National Bureau of Economic Research examined power usage statistics. They found that electricity consumption rose 1 percent overall, with a 2– 4 percent increase during the fall. The additional power usage cost Indiana power users $9 million a year and increased pollution.

Better for our Health?

Some health experts feel our bodies never adjust to DST. They believe the body’s internal clock, (circadian rhythm) follows the sun and adjusts naturally. Despite social changes, you cannot fool your biological clock.

Researchers at the Brookings Institute found public safety can benefit from Daylight Saving Time. When DST begins in the spring, theft drops for the day on an average of 7 percent. We experience a 27 percent reduction in robberies during the evening hour that added extra sunlight.

“Being able to walk out to your car from work while it is still light outside definitely makes you feel safer,” notes Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent car insurance agency.

Brookings Institute also reports, the DST time shift reduces our response time and cognition adding extra stress on our bodies. There is an increase in the number of traffic accidents, workplace injuries and heart attacks in the days following the time change as our internal clocks are thrown off. They feel most of these costs are due to the transition between Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time, not the sunset time itself. By moving to a year-round DST and permanently shifting that hour of daylight to evening, their research suggests we would be safer.

The post The end of Daylight Saving Time appeared first on The GreatFlorida Insurance Blog.

by GreatFlorida Insurance
10/25/2017

Werewolves howl. Phantoms prowl. Halloween’s upon us now.” Richelle E. Goodrich

If you enjoy being spooked, dressing up and sweets, Halloween is your night. Of course, all the activity, fun and mischief can result in calamities. GreatFlorida Insurance wants to make sure you enjoy an amusing and safe Halloween this year by checking out the following tips.

Drivers

“Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year,” reports The National Safety Council.

  • If you plan to leave your home, try parking so you do not have to back out of a parking space.
  • Check around your vehicle for little ones before you leave.
  • Be prepared to stop at crosswalks and intersections.
  • Stay off your cell phone.

“Drive especially slow that night,” suggests Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent car insurance agency.

Trick-or-Treating Trail

Set ground rules before your kids head out. Halloween is a night of pranks. Teach your children the difference between a prank and vandalism to keep them safe and out of trouble.

  • Children under 12 years of age should have adult supervision.
  • If you are with your kids, ditch the phone. Parents need to be in the moment and pay attention.
  • Make sure to stay on sidewalks and cross the street at corners and crosswalks and always look both ways before you cross.
  • Tell your kids to never go into a stranger’s home.
  • Set a time limit for your older kids to be out and be familiar with their route.
  • Encourage kids to avoid short-cuts through alleys and backyards.

At Home

  • Create a clear path to your door. Pick up leaves, debris and garden hoses, toys and bikes so trick-or-treaters do not trip.
  • Provide good visibility. Turn on your outdoor lights and make sure to replace burned out bulbs.

“A homeowner is not liable if someone falls or trips on their property, unless the homeowner was negligent. Do your best to keep pathways repaired and potential obstacles put away,” warns Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent homeowners insurance agency.

Pets

  • Do not leave your pets in the yard, they can frighten children and entice pranksters.
  • Keep your animals confined and away from the door during trick-or-treating hours recommends The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA.
  • Halloween candy is not for pets, chocolate, especially dark chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats.
  • Pet costumes can prompt laughs, but cause stress for your animal. If you dress them up, try a test run first. Make sure their mobility, sight and ability to breath is not limited.

Costumes

  • Make sure the costume fits properly to prevent trips and falls.
  • Try using non-toxic face paint and make-up instead of masks to make sure vision is not restricted. If you use a mask, make sure the eyes and nose holes are large enough.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or a flash light so they can be seen. Using reflective tape on a costume or candy bag is also helpful.
  • Do not allow your kids to carry sharp or dangerous accessories with their costume.
  • If you or your kids are using decorative contact lenses as part of a costume, make sure to get them from a reputable eye center and try them out first.

 

The post Keeping Halloween Fun, Frightening and Accident Free appeared first on The GreatFlorida Insurance Blog.

by GreatFlorida Insurance
10/19/2017

Health trends come and go. There is an overwhelming amount of “health information” available as of late. Social media is the vehicle on which a new healthy trend will ride into mainstream. They are complete with testimonials and before and after photos but, how do you know if they are legit?

“Some trends can be healthy and some end up being dangerous,” comments, Ellsworth Buck Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent health insurance agency.

We will look at some recent health and weight loss trends that amount to much of nothing.

Apple Cider Vinegar is being touted as a practical cure-all for everything from weight loss to lowering cholesterol. Some believe the fiber-rich pectin from the ACV, can aid in losing weight. ABC News reports, most claims have never been proven. Apple cider vinegar could improve glucose control along with increasing potassium, but it is very acidic and disrupts with medication absorption.

Gluten-free diet– a gluten free diet is recommended for sufferers of celiac disease (1 percent of the population) and those with a gluten sensitivity. Gluten- free products are heavily processed and contain far fewer nutrients. They often lack vitamins such as calcium, fiber and iron.

So-called Natural Sweeteners– Those include; agave, maple syrup and honey. While agave has a low glycemic index and won’t cause erratic spikes in blood sugar, it isn’t healthy. The bottom line, sugar is sugar. According to the American Heart Association, fructose found in fruit and lactose, found in milk are the only naturally occurring sugars.

“Several studies show, sugar is the most detrimental ingredient to our diets,” says Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent health insurance agency.

Coconut oil-It seems like yesterday everyone was saying coconut oil is a super food. People were cooking vegetables in it, spreading it on toast and putting it in their coffee. However, coconut oil hardens like butter because it is a highly saturated fat. Treat it like butter and eat it in moderation.

Juicing– When fruits and vegetables are squeezed into juice, their fiber is removed.

Detoxing-Detox diets and drinks promise to flush your body of unwanted toxins. According to WebMD, “Toxins don’t build up in your liver, kidneys or any other part of your body.” Your body naturally detoxes itself when you use the bathroom. Save your money. Clean eating is the best thing you can do for your overall health.

Alternative milks– Almond milk and coconut milk have grown in popularity over the years as an alternative for the lactose intolerant. Keep in mind, it has much less protein than regular milk and contains lots of additives. Also, many are sweetened with added sugars. Make sure to purchase the unsweetened type.

 

GreatFlorida Insurance is a authorized vendor of health insurance for Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

GreatFlorida Insurance is a authorized vendor of health insurance for Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

 

 

The post Health trends to ditch appeared first on The GreatFlorida Insurance Blog.

by GreatFlorida Insurance
10/4/2017

Merchandise from beauty products to bubble wrap, are awash in pink or bearing a pink ribbon, reminding us that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“Sometimes I wonder, is the pink for marketing purposes or is the company really contributing to breast cancer research and support,” considers Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent health insurance agency.

Questioning the validity of product contributions and charities is responsible when it comes to making philanthropic decisions. Charity Navigator, a charity assessment organization, has reviewed the financial health of the largest organizations working to fight and prevent breast cancer in America. “Although these charities have been very successful at generating support, together raising more than $1.68 billion annually in contributions, the disparity in their financial health is enormous,” says Charity Navigator. Inefficient operations and the lack of accountability and transparency are the main reason many charities miss the mark. Check out their website to find out which organizations and products are truly making a difference.

A new report from the American Cancer Society find that death rates from breast cancer have dropped 39 percent in the United States, between 1989-2015. The decline is attributed to both improvement in treatments and early detection by mammograms.

“An annual mammogram is considered preventative screening. Women age 40 and older have it fully covered by their insurance no matter their deductible or co-pay,” says Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent health insurance agency.

There is a heated debate in our country over when to get a mammogram. Some experts say 40, some say 45, while others say 50. Your best bet is to discuss it with your personal doctor. Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation explains, between 40-49, breast tissue is typically still dense and dense tissue shows up on the mammogram as white, the same color as cancer. This results in false positives and unnecessary biopsies. Generally, after 50, dense tissue is replaced with fatty tissue which is gray, making it easier to identify the cancer.

While great improvements are being made in ending and curing breast cancer, it is still a frightening diagnosis to receive. There are a lot of misunderstandings about breast cancer. Below are some common misconceptions about the disease and the facts.

Myth: If you get breast cancer you will die.

Breast cancer is not a death sentence. By the end of 2017, an estimated 252,710 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. 40,610 women will die from it. African-American women have a higher death rate than white women, while Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander women have much lower incidence and death rates.

Myth: Only women with a family history are at risk.

85 to 90 percent of breast cancer patients have no family history of breast cancer. Risk generally increases with age.

Myth: Underwire bras, sports bras, tight bras or wearing a bra to bed increases your risk.

Unproven

Myth: Smaller breasted women have less chance of getting breast cancer.

Size does not matter

Myth: Breast cancer comes in the form of a lump.

Breast cancer can be in the form of a lump but women should look for other changes in the breast that may be signs of cancer. These include: swelling, skin irritation, dimpling, breast or nipple pain, nipple inversion, redness, scaliness, thickening of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk.

Myth: Breast cancer is preventable.

Unfortunately, no. Although, healthy lifestyle changes can help to lower your risk. They include: maintaining a healthy weight, be physically active, limit alcohol and avoid tobacco.

Sources: American Cancer Society, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

 

Plan ahead with affordable and dependable health coverage for you and your family. Contact GreatFlorida Insurance today.

The post Breast Cancer: Discerning fact from fiction appeared first on The GreatFlorida Insurance Blog.

by GreatFlorida Insurance
6/28/2017

Florida has the highest shark activity of any other region in the world.

In 2016, 53 unprovoked shark attacks occurred in the U.S., according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File (ISAF). Thankfully there were no deaths from the attacks. Florida, suffered the most with 32 assaults. In fact, most shark attacks happen in Volusia and Brevard counties.

“While the idea of a shark attack is terrifying, it is extremely rare,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent health insurance agency. Experts believe there is a greater chance of being killed by lightning or an asteroid. ISAF reports the chances of being involved in a shark attack are one in 11.5 million.

The species most likely to attack?

Bigger species of sharks usually inflict the most severe injuries to victims. The most common species involved in an unprovoked attack include, the great white, tiger and bull sharks. Notably, great whites and bull sharks will sometimes swim close to shore or in shallow waters.

GW shark

What if you see a shark while in the water?

Paul de Gelder, former Australian Navy Diver and shark attack survivor counseled Outside Magazine, if you see a shark, steady your breathing. He also advised, “Losing your cool and thrashing around is the easiest way to join the ocean’s food chain.”

What is the course of action if you find yourself in the midst of an attack?

“Hitting a shark on the tip of the snout is a good idea, but this is effective only prior to an actual bite. Afterwards, clawing at the gills and eyes is the best possible strategy. By this time, the shark is fully into its attack behavioral sequence, and only the weakest, most sensitive areas are vulnerable. Always demonstrate strength- there’s no such thing as playing dead around a shark!”

-George Burgess, Director of the Florida Program for Shark Research and curator for ISAF, told to Outside Magazine.

“If you are around when someone is attacked, put basic skills to the test. Call 911 and apply as much pressure as possible to the injured area,” advises Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent health insurance agency.

Preventing a shark encounter

Do not swim alone.

Steer clear of the water at night when sharks are most active.

Do not go in the water if you are bleeding.

Avoid wearing shiny jewelry. The reflected light looks like fish scales to a shark.

Keep a good distance from fishing piers or where people are fishing.

Stay away from areas where seabirds are diving for baitfish or fish are jumping.

Do not splash a lot.

Heed beach flags.

Get out of the water if you see sharks.

Be cautious swimming between sandbars and around drop offs.

 Source: Florida Museum of Natural History

GreatFlorida Insurance is committed to helping Floridians stay healthy. Our experienced agents can offer you and your family quality health insurance through Florida Blue. Call us at 888-478-7801 or go online to www.greatflorida.com for a free quote today.

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The post Shark Watch appeared first on The GreatFlorida Insurance Blog.

by GreatFlorida Insurance
6/8/2017

Living in the Sunshine State, most Floridians depend on sunscreens to remedy our over exposure to the sun.

“You cannot spend the day at the beach or on a boat without slathering up sun protection almost immediately, unless you want a sunburn,” warns Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent health insurance agency.

But are we misinformed? It seems too much value is placed on the effectiveness of sunblock.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG), points out, “Sunscreen products are not as good as they should be. Today’s sunscreens do not fully protect skin from all types of ultraviolet(UV) damage.”download (1)

After speaking with doctors who are conducting research on the use of sunscreen, Reuters concluded,” There isn’t much evidence to conclusively prove that daily sunscreen use can prevent most skin cancers.”

The reason for the lack of reliable information on sunscreen gets down to ethics. Physicians and researchers feel it is unethical to ask people to sit in the sun unprotected for hours while they record data, potentially placing them at risk.

Despite the lack of information, doctors urge the public to continue using sunscreens until more substantial data emerges. Information that is currently used is based on questionnaires from skin cancer sufferers.

The EWG recommends sunscreen as a last resort. Other ways to keep skin protected include:

Covering up with clothes and a hat

Plan activities around the sun – early morning or evening

Find or make shade

Sunglasses are essential

“Skin cancers are generally a result of overexposure to UV rays” reminds Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent health insurance agency reminds,

According to The American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other cancers combined. In fact, the number of skin cancer cases has been going up over the past few decades.

While sunscreens might not be the cure we were hoping for, it is necessary to protect your skin from the powerful Florida sun. Below you can find links to highly rated sunscreens by Consumer Reports and EWG.

Consumer Reports 2017 Sunscreen Buying Guide

EWG’s 2017 Guide to Sunscreens

If you are looking for affordable health insurance give GreatFlorida Insurance a call.

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The post Are sunscreens worth it? appeared first on The GreatFlorida Insurance Blog.