Low Cost Health Insurance Can Come with Priceless Peace of Mind

As parents, we can agree that the real value of health insurance for our children may not present itself on a daily basis. Sure, we’re glad that we have it when the kids need to see a doctor, get a prescription, schedule a dental cleaning, receive their necessary back-to-school vaccinations or get glasses to see the classroom board–-but it’s when the unexpected happens that this benefit can prove its worth. The trouble is, at that point, it could be too late to get it. That’s exactly why Kids Oughta Be Covered with Florida KidCare—at all times!

Through Florida KidCare, the State of Florida offers health insurance for children from birth through age 18, even if one or both parents are working. If you have a child or teen, Florida KidCare would be pleased to have them join the millions of other kids who receive the best, quality health benefits at an affordable price.

Florida KidCare’s coverage is comprehensive and includes doctor visits, immunizations, dental care, vision, emergency care, hospital stays, mental health and much more so your children have less sick days and more time to shine in the classroom, in the studio, and on the field. And for all of this—most families pay only $15 or $20 a month, and some even pay nothing at all!

Assuming that monthly health insurance premiums could far outweigh the cost of a few unexpected doctor visits or medical services? When you actually crunch the numbers, the results can be eye-opening. Still skeptical? Consider this cost comparison:


Florida KidCare is not just for low-income families. What’s so remarkable about its coverage is that any parent can apply, regardless of employment or income. Despite how much money your family is bringing in, who wouldn’t want to pay less for comprehensive and quality care?

Luckily, the price of Florida KidCare health insurance is low, but the peace of mind you’ll gain with its coverage is absolutely priceless. Interested in enrolling? Visit http://www.floridakidcare.org/ or call 1-888-540-KIDS (5437). Let’s continue to cover Florida’s most precious champions and future leaders!

Nutritious and Delicious Choices for Kids

Good nutrition plays a very important role in the growth and development of healthy kids. Research shows a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with increased daily physical activity, helps kids perform well in school.  Good nutrition can prevent diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important in staying fit and active. The availability of nutritious, affordable food options often depends on where a person lives. Try to choose in-season vegetables and fruits in order to decrease costs and ensure freshness. A balanced diet and a lifetime of healthy habits starts with making small changes each day.

The Fab Five

Fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium-rich foods and lean protein are the rock stars of daily nutrition. Add these to your plate, get creative and mix it up for tasty, healthier eating!

  • Vary the veggies – Fill half your plate with a variety of vegetables and bright colorful fruits to lower the risk of heart disease, obesity and certain types of cancer. They can be fresh, canned (reduced sodium or sugar), frozen or dried.
  • Focus on fruit— As mentioned before, fruits help to lower the risk of disease and keep you healthy. The more colorful, the better!
  • Make half your grains whole grains – Use whole-wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal instead of white bread, rice and sugary cereals to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Serve calcium-rich foods – Low-fat or fat-free milk or soymilk, soft cheeses and low-fat or fat-free yogurt help build strong bones and lower blood pressure.
  • Go lean with protein – Fish, poultry, beans and nuts help form red blood cells and build muscle.

Decrease Costs and Ensure Freshness

Healthy foods don’t have to be expensive. As a matter of fact, many foods are low cost with high nutritional value and can be enjoyed in a variety of delicious ways. To keep foods longer, choose packaged, frozen or dried foods which are easy to store.

Check out these affordable AND healthy after school snacks!

  • Fresh apples, bananas, oranges and pears make great snacks. You can toss in a salad, make a parfait with low-fat yogurt or blend for a smoothie.
  • Raw baby carrots and broccoli are great for steaming or snacking with a low-fat yogurt or hummus dip.
  • Sweet potatoes are great baked, roasted, mashed or steamed for a yummy side dish.
  • Spinach is great for salads or steamed as a side dish. Toss in hard boiled eggs for added protein.
  • Cooked brown rice, lentils and pearled barley are great mixed with veggies or added to soups, stews, salads and casseroles.
  • Choose canned beans (kidney, pinto, garbanzo or navy), rinse off and add to salads and other main dishes.
    • A peanut butter and jelly (no sugar added) sandwich on whole wheat bread is a classic – the kids won’t notice the difference!
    • Whip up a turkey sandwich – throw some veggies on top for added fiber.
    • Whole grain crackers and hummus are the perfect crunchy and flavorful snack.

Continue this discussion on social media platforms throughout March, National Nutrition Month, to help spread #HealthyHabits awareness.

Written by Dr. Eina Fishman, Amerigroup Florida Chief Medical Officer.

Be a Healthy Heart Advocate for Your Child

Teaching your children heart healthy habits now will help them prevent heart disease in adulthood. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease accounts for 1 out of 4 deaths in the United States each year. It is important to understand that heart disease is preventable. Through education and healthy eating and activity, you can increase the chances you and your children will live happier, healthier lives.

A great way to help children learn heart healthy habits is to make it fun and easy.  Together, parents and children can prevent serious health problems such as childhood obesity which can lead to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, higher blood cholesterol levels and low self-esteem.

Make Exercise “Fun”

Encourage your kids to turn off the computer, TV and video games.

  • Have a Dance Party: Turn up the tunes and bust a move—you’ll be surprised how much of a workout this will be
  • Build an Obstacle Course: Great activity both inside and out—you can really get creative with this one. The options are endless…
  • Pillow Fight!

Let’s get active and help our kids build strong bones, control weight, reduce stress and sleep better.

Eat Better—Even When It’s Quick

Fast food is convenient, and when there’s no time to plan a meal it may be the only option. Choose healthier menu items for yourself and help your kids do the same.

  • Choose grilled food instead of fried food
  • Choose fruit and vegetables instead of fries
  • Order just what you need—classifying foods as “super” or “happy” cost more, usually contain too much sodium and the “sides” are more than a person needs
  • Choose healthier options—a  burger, baked potato or a salad are healthy choices as long as you choose one topping for the potato and low or fat-free salad dressing
  • Ask for a wheat bun if it’s available
  • Skip the regular and diet sodas—drink water

Remember: A healthy meal can be a happy meal—you can always ask to buy the toy separately.

Continue the healthy heart discussion with your local community and other organizations. Use the hashtag #HealthyHeartAdvocacy on social media platforms during February, American Heart Month, to help spread awareness.

For more information about heart health visit the American Heart Association online.

Written by: Dr. Eina Fishman, Amerigroup Florida Chief Medical Officer

Stay Well With a Flu Shot

Though it can be tough to anticipate how active the flu will be this year, getting a flu shot is your best defense against the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5-20 percent of the U.S. population gets the seasonal flu. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications every year.

While the CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommend everyone more than six months of age to get a vaccine each flu season, some people are at a higher risk for serious health complications and should receive the vaccine as early as possible, including:

  • Patients age 65 or older
  • Children age 6 months-18 years
  • Women who are pregnant or expect to become pregnant
  • Patients with certain chronic diseases and illnesses

Have concerns like these below?

I am afraid the flu shot isn’t safe or will make me sick.

You can’t get the flu from a flu shot. Talk to your doctor about your concerns.

I don’t know where to go to get a flu shot.

Call your Primary Care Provider (PCP), local health department or clinic.

I am healthy, so I don’t think I need a flu shot.

Even healthy people can get the flu. A mild case of the flu can make you feel awful and you can pass it on to others. By protecting yourself, you can help protect them, too.

I am too busy or can’t take time to go for a flu shot.

Some clinics or PCP offices may offer flu shots after hours or on weekends. Consider how much time you’d lose or what you’d miss if you or your child got sick.

I don’t like needles or shots.

Ask your PCP about the nasal spray flu vaccine.


Last year’s flu hit unusually early and hard across the country, leaving many people wishing that they’d been vaccinated. Take precautions to prevent the flu this season by avoiding close contact with infected people, keeping hands away from the face, washing hands with soap and water, getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of liquids and eating nutritious foods. Anyone with flu symptoms should contact their health care practitioner immediately to start antiviral treatment.

For more information about the dangers of flu and the benefits of vaccinations, talk to a health care practitioner or visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu.

Written by Dr. Eina Fishman, Amerigroup Florida Chief Medical Officer


Crucial Dental Care for Children

Dental cavities are entirely preventable in children; however, up to 40 percent of children will have experienced tooth decay by kindergarten.  In fact, cavities in childhood are so prevalent that they are the leading chronic disease amongst elementary and high school students.

These unfavorable statistics underlie an important fact: Too many children aren’t getting the dental care they need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 19 percent of children who are between age two and 19 have untreated cavities.  No parent wants their child to suffer, but they are putting their child’s health at risk by ignoring the need for good oral care. Untreated cavities don’t go away; they get bigger and can be the source of severe pain, need for root canals, and loss of teeth.

In worst cases, poor oral health in children can affect learning, speech development, and self-esteem. A study by the U.S. Surgeon General found that 51 million school hours are lost each year because of dental-related illness. Young children may be unable to verbalize discomfort caused by toothaches.  Studies show they are also likely to score lower on tests and have trouble concentrating.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that tooth brushing should start in babyhood and the first preventive dental visit by a child’s first birthday. Children can have a high likelihood of remaining cavity-free through good oral hygiene at home and regular preventive dentistry.

From baby teeth to the teen years

To appropriately develop dental care regimens for children, start by understanding the importance of the baby teeth. These are the primary teeth that start to erupt when babies are about six months old. It’s true that baby teeth will eventually fall out, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important for how the permanent teeth develop.

When a decayed baby tooth is lost too early, it will leave behind an empty space that allows the permanent tooth to drift. Other permanent teeth emerge in or near that space, resulting in the crooked or crowded adult teeth.

This is of utmost importance: Never put a baby into the crib with a bottle of milk or juice. When the infant falls asleep while sucking on the bottle, sugars and proteins in the milk or juice will linger on the teeth. Over time, the result is a mouthful of decay; in some cases the teeth must be extracted.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends gently cleaning a baby’s teeth with a soft cloth or baby’s toothbrush twice daily. Once a child can spit and not swallow, usually by age two or three, introduce a dab of fluoride toothpaste.

Babies should be taken to the dentist for a well check-up by their first birthdays. The first visit is likely to be short and not involve treatment. It allows the dentist to look for any abnormalities and helps introduce the baby to dental care in a non-threatening way.

One of the payoffs of early preventive care is the likelihood of financial savings. A study reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that dental costs were 40 percent lower over a five-year period for children who received dental care before age one compared to those who were taken at an older age.

Regular brushing and flossing every day needs to become second nature for children as they grow older.  Additionally, step up reminders about good oral hygiene for teenagers. Adolescence is when cavities can spike; some research shows that the adolescents have the highest rate of cavities compared to other age groups. Part of the problem may be decreased attention to oral hygiene.

Few teens can imagine being middle-aged, but once in their 40s and 50s may look back and be grateful for the encouragement.  The benefits of establishing good oral health habits early on extend far into adulthood. Dental problems such as gum infections and tooth loss that can plague adults are far less likely to occur.

Dental health affects overall health

Further, it is now well established that the mouth is a window into overall health, another plus for going into adulthood with good dental care established in childhood. Gum infections, for example, arising from poor dental hygiene may worsen diabetes. Gum infections also have been associated with heart disease.

The bottom line: Good dental care is crucial for children from infancy to adolescence. None should have to suffer needlessly from painful tooth decay.

Parents should be helping their children learn good oral health habits that will last a lifetime and taking them regularly to a dentist for preventive care. Every child needs the best opportunity for good oral health.

About the Author

Nicholas M. Kavouklis DMD (“Dr. Nick”) is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry.  Dr. Nick maintains a general practice in Tampa and is founder of two dental insurance companies that have serviced over 1,000,000 policyholders since 1997.  He currently serves as President of Argus Dental Plan, which offers Prepaid Dental Plans, Dental Discount Plans and Dental PPO as well as packages for individuals, families, employer groups, governmental agencies, associations, and large HMO Medicare/Medicaid recipients.  Dr. Nick also developed a line of natural oral care products and specializes in comprehensive dental care for seniors in nursing homes