Critical Care Insurance – Is it Right For You?

While it is true that the quirky Aflac duck has brought awareness to consumers about supplemental insurance, many individuals are not clear what it is and if they need to have it. Supplemental insurance, put simply, is insurance that provides additional financial benefits to the policyholder that traditionally fall outside the realm of a typical health insurance policy. Aflac’s “specified health event protection” plan, also packaged by other companies as a “critical care” plan, is an insurance plan that pays the insured for benefits such as hospital and intensive care confinement; major organ transplantation; ambulance costs; waiver of premium benefits and transportation and lodging compensation as needed during the treatment of a critical illness. If the medical facility is within a certain mile radius of a policyholder’s home, often the insurance company will pay a small per mile fee to the policyholder for traveling expenses for extended treatment. Each company’s policy varies so it is important to ask questions and read the brochures thoroughly to see what benefits are actually covered in the plan you are considering.

Anyone that already has a health insurance policy will already have coverage for the medical expenses incurred from a debilitating accident or illness. But the health insurance policy, of course, does not include the various expenses associated with a patient’s long-term care. So, who needs a critical care policy? Let’s take a closer look to see if a critical care policy would be advantageous for you.

First of all, a critical care policy provides a layer of financial protection beyond the conventional health insurance policy much like a savings account protects an individual’s checking account balance. If an individual inadvertently overdraws the checking account, then the bank uses funds from his/her savings account to protect the consumer’s buying power. Likewise, when medical bills are mounting due to a serious medical condition, the insurance company releases funds directly to the consumer rather than to the hospital so that the insured is free to pay incoming medical bills or other expenses related to the medical condition. An insured could actually take the funds released to him/her from the supplemental insurance plan to help pay the mortgage or to buy meals at the hospital. In this way, the supplemental plan bridges the gap between a traditional health insurance policy and actual expenses occurred.

Secondly, unlike a conventional health insurance policy, an individual’s “critical care” policy is guaranteed renewable each year. Therefore, once diagnosed with a condition, such as end-stage renal failure, at policy renewal time, the insurance company guarantees to renew the individual’s policy in spite of the mounting medical bills.

To determine if a critical care insurance policy is right for you, take a personal inventory. Is there a history of chronic health problems, such as heart failure, stroke or cancer? (Please note that some policies do not include cancer as a covered peril. Aflac, for instance, sells a cancer policy separately that provides benefits that are specifically geared toward the medical procedures related to cancer treatment.) A history of chronic illness is a good indicator that critical care insurance may be an excellent option for you.

Next of all, consider your personal finances. Do you have the discipline to set aside money monthly to cover long-term medical care due to critical illness? And do you have an adequate income to prepare for such an event? Costs for a year of nursing home care can range from $50,000 and higher. A part-time aide can cost as much as $10,000 per year. That is a year’s salary for many individuals.

And finally, get at least three quotes before you purchase a policy. Compare the policies to be sure that the premium you will pay covers your greatest medical and financial needs. Don’t forget to factor your age into the equation when deciding if the monthly premiums will eventually pay off to your benefit.

What Critical Care Specialists Do?

Managing fatal injuries or illnesses is the main objective of critical care medicine. There may be various types of organ support systems needed by patients who are critically injured or ill to survive. In the intensive care unit or the ICU various equipments are fastened to the patient’s body.

People who have specialized in Critical care take care of them. There is 24 hour vigilance over the condition of the patient so as to ensure instantaneous intervention if there is any problem in the patient’s condition. There is a monitor attached to almost all patients which measures the breathing and heart rate of the patient. The staffs get alerted if they hear the beep of the monitor.

It does so only when there is a decrease in the normal range in the patient’s body functions. There may be tubes fastened to the patient’s body in the ICU. These may be inserted into their veins to administer the needed medicines into their body. These are required for the patient to recover. There may be tubes inserted into the nose and stomach of the patient too, which in order to prevent throwing out and gets rid of the gases from the stomach.

If the patient finds it hard to breath, mechanical ventilators are used to facilitate breathing by supplying oxygen to the patient’s lungs. Several problems and disorders like acute respiratory distress syndrome are treated by Critical care professionals. Here the lungs stop functioning abruptly. Infection of the lungs or illness may cause this condition.

Placing the patient in Mechanical ventilator would help the patient retrieve breathing. Trauma is also specialization of these doctors and the staff under them. Motor vehicle accidents and other types of incidents cause serious injuries to thousands of people. Intensive care for life support and further surgery are needed to make these patients survive.

People whose condition are critical and near death are treated by critical care specialists. If these doctors are not there to help they might die. Emergency care units in hospitals employ critical care to bring these patients to normal from the fatal conditions they are pushed into by accidents and illnesses. Intensive vigilance, life support, care of people with lethal diseases are done in the critical care area of the medical field.

Critical Care – Answering the Most Sensitive Call to Duty

Many times when a person has been severely injured they will be placed in the critical care unit of a hospital. This unit is designed for those people that are looking at a fatal condition or illness. These people require constant care around the clock.

The people who work in a critical care unit are considered to be the “angels” of the medical world. The people, who have devoted their lives to taking care of these ultra-sensitive patients, have made a commitment to providing care to those that are in a critical care situation.

Many of the patients consist of either people that are facing a terminal illness or have had some sort of trauma that requires special attention be given to their medical issues. These patients are often times given a low chance at recovery, but the nurses that work this unit see things in a different way, they see each patient as a chance at survival and renewal of life.

Beyond the care that they provide the patients, there is the human side that is often times shown to the family of these patients. Many times the families feel like there is no one there for them when they need someone. The nurses that work a critical care unit have a way of listening to a person and letting them know they are not alone in this issue.

This reassurance can often times be comforting to a person when they need it the most. It is the job of these nurses to be there both for the patient and the family. There have been a lot of changes that have come to the critical care unit since the early days in the 1920’s.

Today many critically injured patients are given a better chance at survival given the advancements that have been made in the world of medicine. There was a time when a person that was admitted to one of these units was not expected to recover.

There is a lot more of training that one of these nurses will need to go through. The reason behind this is due to the fact that a nurse in the critical care unit has to be in a position to provide extra care than what a standard nurse is used to. There is a longer training and certification period that is required for these nurses.

These nurses are also a vital part of an emergency room. They are often times the first ones that come across a trauma case in the ER. These nurses and staffers have a special ability, due to their work in critical care, to address the unique challenges of the ER and its patients.

As long as there are critical care patients, there will be a need for trained people to work these units. There will continue to be advancements in medicine that will help in the recovery process. This will lead to a person being able to recover from these life threatening situations and as a result will allow them to leave the hospital after making a full recovery.

The Ins and Outs of the Critical Care Nursing Field

Whenever the term critical care is mentioned – most people immediately think about severely sick patients in intensive care units or ICUs. They are not mistaken. Intensive Care Units and Critical Care specialized areas in the hospital that care for patients in need of intense and one on one attention. These are the areas where a critical care nurse Practices.

What is a Critical Care Nurse

A Critical Care Nurse or a CCN is a highly specialized nurse that has been trained to work in Intensive Care areas. They are nurses that care for patients who are severely ill and in need of individualized care. A CCN cares for patients of all diagnoses and gender. Patients may vary depending on this category. Critical care nurses also deal with complex technology that helps sustain patients.

The History

This type of nursing is a relatively new nursing specialty. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the very first Intensive Care Units appeared in the Western world. These units were created to deal with gravely ill patients. They were considered to need a more intensive form of care compared to the patients in the regular wards. The notion of an intensive care unit quickly spread. Today, most hospitals are required to have these specialized areas and in turn specialized nurses and physicians to run them.

Back then, nurses assigned in CCUs and ICUs were not seen as different from regular ward RNs. It was only a few years later that CCN was considered as a specialized nursing field.

Roles of a CCN

Like any other registered nurse, the roles of the critical care nurse are very complex. These nurses have to deal with severely ill patients. They also need to be familiar with complex technologies that are continually present in a critical care setting. The critical care nurse also has to know basic and advance life support. Such skills may be called upon at any point during his/her service.

The critical care nurse must also be skilled in the art of diagnosis. He/she must be able to diagnose and identify a patient’s immediate needs. This part of nursing is important as it may be the difference between life and death for a patient. Nonetheless, the nurse must remember that despite being skilled at diagnosis, one must not overstep her boundaries and perform roles reserved for a physician alone.

Aside from dealing with patients and their needs, the CCN also has to deal with the patient’s family. The CCN often works as a counselor that helps the family get through the crisis at hand. He/she may have to deal with questions and concerns from the patient’s immediate family and significant others.

Qualifications and Requirements

IN THE PHILIPPINES – Locally, any registered nurse can become a critical care nurse. It is only a matter of area assignment. Most of the time, nurses who are assigned in critical care units are those who have shown promise in their previous areas of exposure. They are also the ones who have worked in similar areas such as medical/surgical or pediatric units.

ABROAD – Abroad, in the US specifically, there are no specialized requirement to be a critical care nurse other than an RN License. However, there are bodies of authority that certify CCNs.

Although, certification is not required, most CCNs abroad are choosing to go for it because it increases their credibility. Employers also often require their CCNs to be certified in the field. Certification is achieved post graduation. It is not something taught in school. Some schools may expose their students to ICUs, but this is not considered enough for certification. The RNs get their CCN certificates while they are on the job. It is also often sponsored by the employer.

Work Opportunities in the Philippine Nursing Scene

There are a lot of opportunities to become a critical care nurse in the Philippines. But, nurses have to understand that these critical care units are often hard to get into. These units only require a limited number of nurses. Most of the time there are only a total of 12 nurses that work in a typical ICU with 8-10 beds.

Those who do get into these areas are considered lucky because their position opens great opportunities to work abroad. In most settings, CCNs have a lesser work load compared to nurses in large wards. Patients in ICUs need more attention but the numbers are much smaller compared to wards. A typical government hospital ward may hold 50-70 patients and with only a nurse or two to manage it.

Work Abroad

There are a lot of work opportunities for a critical care nurse abroad. The CCN can work in any area where there is an intensive care unit. Certification is often an option provided by employers to deserving and promising nurses. The employers are often the ones who fund certification seminars and the likes.

With the present shortage in nursing manpower, hospitals are clamoring to get their hands on specialized nurses. These employers would often offer big sign-in bonuses just to get a nurse to work with them. The average salary of a critical care nurse in the US often ranges from USD50,000 – USD 75,000. It is estimated that nearly 70% of the critical care nurse population earn that much. Some earn slightly lower while others earn upwards of USD90,000 to USD100,000 annually.

Critical Care Nursing Career Tips

Critical care nursing is the specialty within the nursing profession that ensures the delivery of optimal care to acutely and critically ill patients. Critically ill patients are patients who are at high risk for actual or potential life threatening health problems. These patients are highly vulnerable, unstable, and have complex healthcare needs that require vigilant and intense nursing care.

These types of nurses and nurse practitioners are essential in intensive care units (ICUs), including medical, surgical, pediatric and neonatal ICUs, cardiac care units, cardiac catheter labs, telemetry units, progressive care units, emergency departments, and recovery rooms. Critical care nurses are also part of medical evacuation and transport teams.

In the United States, most critical care nurses are registered nurses; because of the unpredictable nature of the patient population, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) rarely assume the primary care role in caring for critically ill patients.

Registered nurses can obtain certification in critical care nursing through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACCN), an advisory board that sets and maintains standards for critical care nurses. This certification, known as the CCRN, describes the holder as a certified critical care nurse for adult, pediatric and neonatal patient populations.

Several subspecialties of this type of nursing can be found in units composed of similarly aged patients. These subspecialties are in the following areas:

• Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, also called Nursery ICU or NICU. The NICU’s patients are primarily newborn and premature infants who are cared for until they reach the gestational age of one month. After this period, their care will be assumed by the Pediatric Intensive Care unit.
• Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, or PICU. Here, the patients are about one month to eighteen years of age.
• Adult Intensive Care, or ICU, takes care of patients who are beyond eighteen.

There may, however, be deviations from the above setup, such as sending newborns who get admitted in the Emergency Department to the PICU, rather than the NICU. There may be rare cases where an adult patient with congenital heart disease will be admitted to the PICU, as their current treatment is a continuation of treatment they had been receiving from their physicians since they were children.

Care subspecialties may also be based on the type of disorder, disease or primary injury of the patient population. For example, the Adult Intensive Care Unit may have a specialized unit for trauma patients called the Adult Trauma Intensive Care Unit.

There is a variety of equipment used in the critical setting with which intensive care nurses need to be thoroughly familiar. These include hemodynamic and cardiac monitoring systems, mechanical ventilator therapy, intro-aortic balloon pumps, ventricular assist devices, continuous renal replacement equipment, and other advanced life support devices. All of these are at the critical care nurse’s disposal when providing medical intervention to the critically ill.

With advances in healthcare and technology, medical conditions previously described as critical can now be treated outside the critical units. Nonetheless. critical care nurses continue to keep abreast with new treatment methods and technologies in this growing profession.