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Health Insurance Marketplace

Find the insurance plan that’s right for you.

November 15 marked the start of the enrollment season for the 2015 Health Insurance Marketplace, which was established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sorting through the rules can be daunting, and you must enroll in a plan by December 15 to receive medical coverage for the full year. To help you through the process, here’s some basic information about the Marketplace.

Who Should Enroll?

Under the ACA, everyone must have some kind of health insurance, with some exceptions. The types of accepted coverage incude:

  • Employer-provided plans
  • An individual health plan purchased either inside or outside of the Marketplace
  • A government health plan:

People who do not qualify for an exemption and are not insured pay a penalty. In 2015, this penalty increased to the higher of two calculation methods: either 2 percent of net income or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, to a family limit of $975.

What Are the Plans?

Insurance companies offer five levels of plans: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and catastrophic. The plans offered and their costs vary from state to state. In Monroe County, Florida, more than 20 different plans were listed during a recent check of the HealthCare.gov website.

Some factors to consider when choosing a plan include:

  • How much can you afford to pay every month?
  • Do you prefer a plan with a high deductible?
  • Do you anticipate regular doctor visits throughout the year or have frequent prescription refills?
  • Does your doctor participate in the plan?

Other Considerations

  • You can enroll in the Marketplace until February 15, 2015, but your coverage won’t start until March.
  • Certain life events, such as getting married or having a baby, allow you to enroll in a  Marketplace plan at any time, within 60 days of the event.
  • Tax credits to help pay for the plan are available, depending on your income.

At Lower Keys Medical Center, we want to help you get the coverage that’s right for you. We’re one of the local facilities that can help guide you through the process. Contact one of our Certified Application Counselors at 305-294-5531, extension 3254.

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Why You Should Have Your Little “Conch” at LKMC

We can provide all the pre- and post-natal care you need.

Here in the Conch Republic (the Florida Keys to the rest of the country), the conch holds a special place in our hearts. The story goes that in days past, the birth of a baby in Key West was annouced by placing a conch shell on  a stick in front of the new parents’ home. Today the babies born here are called Conchs, and at Lower Keys Medical Center (LKMC), we’re glad to help hundreds of them come into the world each year.

Preparing for the Big Day

LMKC is the only medical facility in the Keys that delivers babies, and we offer moms and their newborns the best care possible. Mothers can expect to find a range of services, starting months before their delivery date:

  • Prenatal checkups
  • Nutrition information
  • Help crafting a birth plan and choosing a pediatrician
  • Childbirth classes for both moms and their partners
  • Newborn support classes
  • Breastfeeding classes either before or after delivery

Our Birthing Center

The Labor and Delivery unit at LKMC has five labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum (LDRP) rooms and nine additional postpartum rooms. The LDRP rooms offer privacy and plenty of space for family members who want to share in the birthing experience.

Staff in the birthing center features nurses certified in:

  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support
  • Advanced Fetal Monitoring
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program

The Cuddlebug Program

LKMC takes part in the Cuddlebug Program, designed to give expectant and new mothers even more information and support. This includes monthly emails during their pregnancy outlining what to expect as their near their delivery date. After birth, Cuddlebug Conchs room with their mother until they’re discharged.

Expecting mothers can arrange for a tour of our facilities by calling (305) 294-5531, extension 4209. You can also use that number to register for classes, which are free. At Lower Keys Medical Center, we’re here to make life easier for mothers and their new Conchs.

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Make the Most of Your Health Insurance

As 2014 comes to an end, schedule recommended medical appointments, tests, and surgeries now.

As year-end holidays and celebrations fill up our calendars, health insurance benefits may be the last thing on our minds. But it’s a good time to see if you can take advantage of paid-up deductibles or available funds in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)—benefits you’ll lose in the New Year.


Most health insurance plans have a deductible requirement—a predetermined amount of healthcare expenses that you must pay before the plan begins paying the majority (if not all) of necessary medical care.

“If you have been putting off scheduling prescribed care, it would be wise to check your deductible status and plan benefits,” says David Traini, Patient Access Director at Lower Keys Medical Center. “It’s crucial to know how close you are to meeting your deductible—or if you’ve already met it.” The key is to obtain all the health services you need before December 31, because with the New Year comes a new deductible.

If you’ve met your plan’s deductible, some things you might want to do before the New Year include:

  • Refilling prescriptions
  • Buying eyeglasses
  • Completing any outstanding treatments or recommended tests or procedures

Flexible Spending Accounts

FSAs are pre-tax dollars set aside primarily for health-related expenses. In most cases,  the Internal Revenue Service requires those funds to be spent—or forfeited—by December 31. (Some companies offer plans that allow using the funds unitl the following March 15.) “It’s a ‘use it or lose it’ proposition,” says Traini. So if you’ve been putting off scheduling care, check your FSA balance to see if there’s money you can use before it disappears.

Whether you’re planning to take advantage of a met deductible or available funds in an FSA, it’s important to schedule services promptly so that a test or elective procedure is done before the end of the year.

At Lower Keys Medical Center,  we want to make sure you get all the medical benefits you’re entitled to. Whatever your health concerns, we can help. Visit LKMC.com and hit “Find A Doctor” for a free physician referral.

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3 Reasons Why Breastfeeding is Good for Mom’s Health

Breastfeeding has both short- and long-term benefits for mothers.

When mothers breastfeed their babies, they’re providing them with all the essentials nutrients an infant needs to grow. But along with helping their babies start off on a healthy path, breastfeeding moms are also doing themselves a favor. Here are some of the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers.

Immediate Physical Benefits

As a newborn baby starts to breastfeed, he or she triggers a complex and beneficial process in the mother’s body. The act of suckling stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin in the mother. The hormone has several functions:

  • Signaling the body to begin the flow of milk to the baby
  • Causing the mother’s uterus to contract, which helps prevent bleeding
  • Inducing, through those contractions, the uterus to return to its normal, pre-pregnancy condition
  • Helping a mother feel a deeper emotional connection to her baby

In the months right after childbirth, breastfeeding delays the mother’s return to a regular menstruation cycle. This means she conserves iron and lowers the risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia, compared to mothers who don’t breastfeed. This delay in menstruating also acts as a natural birth control method, meaning the mother can wait before returning to other methods.

Long-Term Physical Benefits

Studies have shown that women who breastfeed their babies reduce their chances of developing various illnesses or medical conditions later in life, including:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Osteoporosis

Other Benefits

The simple act of breastfeeding can make life easier for mothers and their families and help the planet. Here’s how:

  • Breastfeeding is cheaper than buying formula.
  • Parents don’t have to prepare formula in the middle of the night.
  • Breastfeeding mothers tend to lose weight gained during pregnancy faster than mothers who use formula.
  • Breastfeeding conserves water and energy, compared to using formula.

At Lower Keys Medical Center, the health of expecting and new mothers and their infants is a top priority. We offer a variety of medical servicesclasses and the Cuddlebugs program. To schedule your delivery here or to register for a class, call (305) 294-5531, extension 4209.

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Sports Injuries: 101

Learn the basics about the injuries that athletes of all abilities face.

Whether you’re a sports “weekend warrior” or a pro athlete, you’re bound to experience some kind of sports-related injury. Here’s some basic information on sports injuries and what athletes can do to treat them.

Common Sports Injuries

The most common sports injuries are:

  • Injuries to soft tissue, such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles, resulting in:
    • Sprains
    • Strains
    • Contusions
    • Tendonitis
    • Bursitis
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Knee injuries
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Pain along the shinbone
  • Rotator cuff injuries

Less common, but generating increasing concern in the sports world, are concussions. They can occur while taking part in a wide range of activities, and a person might suffer one without necessarily losing consciousness.

What to Do When They Occur

People who feel pain while participating in athletics should immediately stop what they’re doing. Depending on the injury, it might be necessary to call 911 and seek emergency treatment. With many sports injuries, however, the athlete or someone nearby can begin the RICE treatment method:

Rest – Stop using the injured body part and cut down on regular activities.

Ice – Place an ice pack or bag on the injured area for 20 minutes, at least four times per day.

Compression – To reduce swelling, put even pressure on the injured area. Some tools for doing this include elastic wraps or splints.

Elevation – Rest the injured area on a pillow at a level above the heart.

Preventing Sports Injuries

Some ways to prevent the injuries in the first place include:

  • Warming up before playing a sport or doing exercises
  • Stretching after a warm up
  • Using the proper equipment, which can mean:
    • Having the right shoes for each sport
    • Wearing protective gear such as helmets, pads, or braces
  • Not taking part in a sport when already experiencing pain
  • Resting when tired

At Lower Keys Medical Center, we acknowledge all the benefits physical activity has for our health. We also know that even after taking precautions, sports injuries do occur. We have orthopedic specialists on staff that are trained in sports medicine who can diagnose and treat the wide range of injuries that athletes experience. For a free referral, please visit LKMC.com.

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Common Signs of a Heart Attack

Knowing these symptoms can save lives.

Heart disease is a killer—it’s the leading cause of death for Americans. One sign of heart disease is a heart attack. Each year, about 500,000 people experience their first heart attack, while several hundred thousand more have a repeat attack.

The first signs of a heart attack vary. Here are some of those symptoms.

The Common Signs

  • Chest pain – typically, someone experiencing a heart attack has pain or discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. The pain might last for a few minutes. It can also go away and then come back. The sensation in the chest can feel like a squeeze or fullness. Sometimes it feels like heartburn or indigestion.
  • Shortness of breath – having trouble breathing can occur alone, or along with chest pain. It might happen without doing any strenuous physical activity.
  • Upper body discomfort – this may be pain or discomfort in the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or one or both arms.

Other Signs

While most people associate a heart attack with pain in the chest or other parts of the upper body, these are also signs that someone might be having a heart attack:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Sudden dizziness or feeling light headed
  • Unusual level of fatigue

Heart Attacks and Women

Women don’t always have the same heart attacks symptoms as men. They are less likely to experience chest pain and are more likely to experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • A tired feeling that lasts for several days
  • Back or jaw pain

Other Considerations

  • Have a doctor check out any chest pain.
  • Call 911 immediately if experiencing any of the signs of a heart attack.
  • The symptoms of second heart attack may not be the same as the first.
  • The more of these signs someone experiences at one time, the more likely a heart attack is happening.

If you or a loved one shows symptoms of a heart attack, the Emergency Medicine staff at Lower Keys Medical Center is ready to help. And our Heart Care Services can treat all forms of heart disease. Call (305) 294-5531 for more information.

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New Patient Portal — ‘My Health Home’

Introducing the easy way to keep track of your health online.

At Lower Keys Medical Center, we’re always looking to use technology to enhance our patients’ experience with us. To help keep you informed about your hospital health information, we’ve introduced the My Health Home patient portal. Using this secure online application, you can access a variety of information from any device with an Internet connection. My Health Home is easy to use, and best of all, it’s free!

Why Use My Health Home?

With My Health Home, you can access INPATIENT information such as:

  • Lab results
  • Medications prescribed
  • Diagnoses
  • Allergies
  • Physician reports
  • Discharge instructions

In most cases, information about your inpatient stay is available 36 hours after your discharge.

Using the portal, you can easily review and update personal information. And if you need to access records of family members, with proper authorization you can create representative accounts that let you do that.

Getting into My Health Home

You can set up an account while you’re in the hospital by following these easy steps:

  • Present your photo identification at Registration.
  • Provide your email address.
  • After your stay, open the link to the portal that we’ll send you by email.
  • Finalize your account set-up online by:

    • Entering your name as it appears in the email you received, and your date of birth
    • Creating a password and choosing a security question
    • Logging in to view, download and send your information
  • Bookmark the site for easy, future access.

What About Security?

Protecting your information is paramount to us. My Health Home’s security measures include:

  • Sending data on encrypted connections that meet the highest industry standards
  • Storing data on a secure server
  • Sending you an email when your password is changed to verify you made the request
  • Only sharing information with third parties that you have authorized to view your account

At Lower Keys, we’re excited about this new way to keep our patients informed about their health history. We’ll be adding features regularly to make the portal more useful. If you have questions about setting up your or a representative account, call our toll-free help line at (877) 456-9617.

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Water Safety

Enjoy the water safely all year round.

Whether it’s spending a day at the beach or taking a dip in a pool, most of us love to beat the Keys’ heat in the water. But water-related accidents—whether accidental drownings or boating mishaps—cause almost 4,000 deaths each year. June is National Safety Month, but following these tips for water safety is important throughout the year.

Safety at the Beach

  • Swim in areas with lifeguards.
  • Swim with another person.
  • Always have an adult watch young children.
  • Learn the meaning of beach flags that indicate swimming conditions.
  • Watch for rip currents; if you get caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until you can escape it, then swim on a diagonal to the beach.

Safety at a Pool

For residential pools:

  • Put up fences at least four feet tall around all sides and install self-latching gates.
  • Install drain covers that meet federal regulations.
  • Supervise children.
  • Provide life jackets for young children or beginning swimmers.
  • Consider installing an alarm that goes off when someone enters the pool without your knowledge.
  • Have a cell phone nearby when using the pool

At community pools, check to make sure these safeguards are in place:

  • A lifeguard is on duty
  • Safety rules are prominently posted
  • Life-saving equipment, such as rings and reaching polls, are nearby
  • Drains are properly covered

Safety on a Boat

  • Check weather conditions before going out on the water.
  • Have everyone on board wear a life jacket at all times.
  • Keep the minimum required safety equipment on your boat, which varies according to its size. These include a:

    • fire extinguisher
    • sound-making device
    • visual distress signal
  • Get a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or the United States Power Squadrons.
  • Take a boating safety course.

Some General Tips

  • Have everyone in your family learn how to swim.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before swimming or boating.

At Lower Keys Medical Center, we want everyone to have a safe and fun time in the water. But if an accident happens, our Emergency Medicine staff is ready to help. Call 911 during an emergency. For help finding a doctor here at the medical center, visit www.LKMC.com and hit "Find a Doctor."

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Eating Disorders in Men

Men are not immune from anorexia and other eating disorders.

Eating disorders–anorexia, binge eating, and bulimia–are often seen as problems only for women. The reality is, about 10 percent of people with an eating disorder are men. That number might be low, because men are less likely to seek treatment for an emotional disorder and to be diagnosed with an eating problem. The percentage of gay men with eating disorders seems to be even higher. Adding to the problem is that few scientific studies have examined men and eating disorders.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

As with women, the reasons why some men choose to binge, binge and purge, or eat less than their bodies need are wide ranging. Some relate to sports, others to self-image or emotional issues. Some of these include:

  • To avoid being teased for being fat
  • To make weight requirements for a competitive sport, such as wrestling, weightlifting, or rowing
  • To achieve a certain type of musculature perceived as masculine or socially desirable

Some character traits of or existing health problems in men who develop eating disorders include:

  • Perfectionism
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Attention defecit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Issues with abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Past physical abuse
  • Emotional stress

Possible Health Problems

Depending on the type of disorder, men can experience a range of physical issues, incuding:

  • Slow heart rate
  • Muscle loss
  • Irregular heart beats
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Increased risk of type II diabetes

Seeking Treatment

Because eating disorders are often perceived as a women’s health issue, many men are reluctant to admit they have a problem. But once they do, they can undertake a variety of treatments, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Other forms of outpatient therapy, including family or group therapy
  • Inpatient care at a facility that focuses on eating disorders, if the disorder has led to serious physical problems

The goal of the treatments is to find and deal with the underlying cause of the disorder and address any physical issues it may have caused.

At Lower Keys Medical Center, we know the physical and emotional pain associated with eating disorders. If you think you might have one, our behavioral health professionals can help. Call (305) 294-5531 for more information.

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What Are the Different UV Rays and How to Protect Your Skin from Them

Keep your skin healthy while enjoying the outdoors.

By now most people know that prolonged exposure to sunlight increases the risk of developing skin cancer, the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer in the United States. Despite all of Florida’s sun, the state has fairly low skin cancer rates compared to other states. Maybe that’s because folks here take the necessary precautions. But since May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, let's review the best ways to protect yourself from the sun.

Harmful Rays

You need to focus on two forms of radiation emitted by the sun: ultraviolet (UV) A and B rays. A makes up a greater part of UV radiation, while B is the stronger of the two. Each can lead to cancerous changes in skin cells.

Protecting Yourself from the Sun

Since both UVA and B play a role in promoting skin cancer, you need to choose sunscreen products that specifically say they block both forms of radiation. Some of the products you can use include:

  • Sunscreen lotion, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15
  • Wrap-around sunglasses
  • Special sun-protective clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of at least 30

When using sunscreen, remember that even a product with an SPF of 50 can’t block all of the UVA and B rays. And a sunscreen loses its effectiveness over several hours.

More Steps to Take

Here are some other things you can do to reduce your exposure to the sun:

  • Seek the shade as much as possible.
  • Avoid being in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, preferably of at least three inches.
  • Wear clothing made of fabrics that naturally screen out more UVA and B rays. These include:

    • Denim and other tightly woven fabrics
    • Synthetic fabrics such as rayon and polyester
    • Heavy fabrics, such as corduroy
  • Choose clothes that cover your arms and legs.

For severe sunburns our Emergency Room is open 24/7 and our wait time is online at www.LKMC.com  For a physician referral, please see our Find a Doctor page at www.lkmc.com/find-doctor

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