Using Game Applications for Reaching Mobile Users Widely

New smartphones are launched every year with new features and attractions to allure a wider market. People are using smartphones to create a connection with their peer groups to interact and share their views at anytime, anywhere. However, the craze for new mobile devices among people has stiffened the competition between different mobile phones manufacturers.

The mobile devices have different attractions for different set of people. The mobile users can download the applications from the app store to improve their mobile’s functionality and usability, too. Some of the common features that are found in different mobile phones are game applications, instant messaging, business applications, social networking applications, high-resolution camera and other types of applications to store, share and organize data.

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In the high pace world, businesses have found an interesting way to create a connection with their target group by using mobile applications. As different applications are targeted to different set of people, the game applications are a common area of interest that binds people of all age groups. Hence, the businesses are looking out for smartphone game development services wherein they can develop interesting and engaging game applications for different age groups.

Such game application solutions are designed to work with different mobile operating systems such as Android, Blackberry, Apple, Windows and Symbian. The businesses can work on their strategy to find out the most suitable mobile operating system for reaching out a wider market.

There are different mobile game development companies that are providing cost-effective game application development solutions. The developers have experience to work on different mobile operating systems for developing quality solutions. The entrepreneurs can take their help in understanding the different game solutions that can help them to spread the word in a better way.

When they are sure, they can start working on the solution by taking assistance of mobile developers. It is usually recommended to choose a company that has experience to develop variety of game applications for smartphones. This gives an assurance to businesses that they are making a wise investment. If the solution is compatible with different mobile phones, the business can improve their presence by engaging a wider market easily.

Many businesses are developing different game solutions and are launching their applications in the apps store. Based on their respective strategies, they are making such applications available for free or at reasonable charges. If you are also planning out a similar solution, you can take help from a mobile development company that can work with you to plan out your perfect strategy.

Bounce Houses Get Your Kids Up, Out And Moving

Everyone has heard of “moon rooms” or “moon houses. They are large inflated “houses” at carnivals with a pillow-like floor that people can go in and jump around on. They are a combination of a trampoline and a big air pillow that you can go in and bounce all around on and kids of all ages absolutely love them. Small, kid size versions of these are available for back yard playgrounds and are called either a bounce house or jumping house which give kids hours and hours of safe entertainment during the summer.

The best thing about bounce houses is the fact that kids have a blast playing in a safe environment. Not only are the floors a soft, bouncy pillow like those in a moon house, but with the posts and rails being inflatable also, it is virtually impossible for a child to get hurt while they are playing in one. Knowing that your child has a safe environment to play in is important, especially when discussing all outdoor toys, safety is always the big issue. However that’s not the only great thing about bounce houses.

Since kids love to play in them and that means they’re not inside your house, being mindlessly entertained by the TV, spending hours on Xbox or PlayStation, or being in the way while you’re trying to get things done. And not only are they burning off tons of energy, which means they’ll be good and ready for that afternoon nap or ready for bed at bedtime, but they’re getting that much needed exercise they need to be healthy. Playing outside also lets them take in the fresh air and sunshine, which gives them that much needed absorption of Vitamin D that is essential for good health.

Bounce houses give kids hours of safe, healthy play and they love to be outside playing in them. And because the parents know that the kids are getting some much needed exercise in a safe environment and gets them out of the house into the outdoors which lets them do all those parent things like laundry, cleaning or just relaxing, they love them too. And at the end of the summer, all you have to do to store it is simply deflate it, fold it and pack it away for next year. To see which ones you and your kids will love, check out all the awesome bounce houses, slides, play houses and water toys you can get. Everyone will get a lot of great benefits from having a bounce house in the back yard.

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How To Choose The Best Dental Services

A good smile is always said to have a positive impression of a person over others. Adversely spotted and uneven teeth give the impression of a very poorly managed and unhealthy impression of an individual. Dentists are professionals, dedicated to provide excellent services for all your dental and oral needs. It is a wrong impression that only people who are suffering from dental problems require dental assistance, rather even people who have had shiny white teeth from the very beginning require to visit dentists regularly for the cleaning and examination of their teeth.

Not every person has bright, shiny teeth but through regularly visiting a local dentist you can acquire the services of these specialists in your area and achieve a brighter smile. There are no dental flaws today that cannot be fixed by an expert dentist, the only need is to visit them regularly. Dental services are available very easily today and you can walk in any clinic in your town for expert treatments and consultations for almost any problem of yours.

When you initially visit a dentist, you will be examined and diagnosed by skilled dentists and in case you are found with any dental problem,a perfect dental treatment program is designed based on your health conditions, age and the current condition of your teeth. Expert dentists are often very costly almost everywhere, but through acquiring the right dental plan or insurance, some leverage can be achieved in the area.

You may even come across less expensive dental treatments in the area, but make sure the dentist you are dealing with is experienced and offers quality services in all areas. Dental insurances are taken for the purpose to cover related expenses. These insurances come under dental services. These insurances are needed not only to cover the overall wellbeing of your teeth but also any tooth treatment that you may require. There are however some restrictions to dental insurance plans.

Normally dental insurances do not pay for any existing problems you may have, as it only covers any unforeseen event. Also cosmetic dental services are not included in the dental insurance such as it will not pay for any braces you get to fix your teeth. All orthodontic related dental care is excluded from general dental insurance and these services are required to be purchased separately. Many dentists provide many appealing dental plans at very affordable prices and the requirement is only to check them out on what they cover and what they exclude. Some very beneficial offers are available with the expert dentists which can be checked on the net through the various comparison sites available.

There is no arguing on the expert and skilled services provided by dentists and you can easily find one near you that can serve to all your dental and oral needs at the best prices. You may even come across a dental clinic which will perfectly blend with your dental insurance requirements and make your treatment a financial bliss for you.

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Family Fun in Odessa TX

Bounce House Rentall Odessa TX

Moon walk rentals mean fun no matter what the occasion when children are grouped together for a party, a family reunion or other event.

These are fun and safe for children because they are made from materials that are strong, have no sharp corners, edges, nails, or screws that children can be injured on. What makes it even better is these are large yard toys that children of all ages enjoy and will keep them having fun for hours is they are a rental.

The moon walk is constructed of air filled chambers that are a type of house children are able to jump, bounce and have fun in while outside. These moonwalk rentals can be found in different types of structures like houses, castles and other fun things for children to ride, play, slide and jump in.

Because these are inflatable not only is like having a carnival ride in the yard, but it is safe without sharp corners, nails, screws or other things that children can be hurt on. Instead these are inflatable air chambers made of vinyl and nylon and this also means that when the event is over and the moon walk rental is no longer needed the yard can easily be returned to its usual appearance.

A bounce house rental will be the hit of any type of party, church event, school carnival, or other gathering that includes children. This is something that children have hours of safe fun in and since it is a rental when the event is over the inflatable house can be taken away, rather than needing to remain in the yard, parking lot or stored.

The different sizes of these fun houses mean that there is one to fit any size area and as much space as needed for the amount of children that will be at the gathering, even when the children are not so young. That is one of the advantages of these air filled chambers of fun, they are not only large and in shapes like castles, slides or jump houses they are also tall, which means that it brings out the child in everyone.

The colors also attract attention of children; they are brightly colored to interest every child’s imagination no matter what the child’s age is, because adults and teens have an imagination too.

This is an experience that children and parents will enjoy and remember the fun had in the moonwalk experience that was at the event, whether it was a school, church or private event. The air inflated fun can be the hit of any party or event and make it extra special for the children and adults. That means fund raisers make more money, private parties are the hit of the season and everyone has a great time.

Outdoor Living – How To Turn Your Summer Patio Into A Winter Activity Area

Those of us who live a bit further north, in Canada and the northern U.S., are very aware that winter sets in early and can seem long and restrictive with respect to making use of our patios and outdoor living areas. Often we close them up in late fall, put things away and wait for Spring. But why?

Let’s face it: we are also accustomed to going outdoors to enjoy the activities that winter has to offer. We skate and play hockey on outdoor rinks, we ski down hill and cross-country, we toboggan, snowmobile and make snowmen and forts with our children, and we even organize games of softball, soccer or volleyball in the snow. In many ways, we enjoy this season as much as summer. So why do so many of us then retreat indoors when these activities are done to escape the cold? Why can we not simply turn our patios into a winter entertainment centre to extend our outdoor living activities.

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Here are some suggestions about how to adapt our summer patios to winter entertainment centres:

Furniture: Most good outdoor patio furniture materials such as cedar, rattan and teak stand up very well to the elements and can be used all winter long. However, cushions will need to be stored away and it is a good idea to cover chairs and tables with inexpensive vinyl tarps when not in use. The tarps can easily be removed and stored in a storage bin or garden hutch.

Snow: More maintenance will naturally be required as snow will need to be removed on a regular basis to keep the area clear – wise not to fall behind on this chore. Simply pile the snow around the perimeter of the patio to create a berm; as the pile grows it will actually be quite attractive and form a natural wind break.

Heat: A propane patio heater can make the area quite cozy. A built-in fireplace is ideal but a portable fire pit or chiminea will also enhance the outdoor experience provided they are not burning under a roofed-in patio that is not high enough to insure safety.

Wind: Bitter winter winds will always be a factor that will drive people indoors. However, lighter wind can be controlled enough to enjoy the outdoors. A snow berm will do part of the job. Vinyl, or better yet, canvas tarps can also be tied to existing posts to assist in this problem; they may detract somewhat from the aesthetic appeal of the summer patio but remember that the winter patio experience is by nature more rustic.

Lighting: For nighttime use lighting may already exist but if not outdoor, plug-in pole lamps are relatively inexpensive or, to keep the rustic theme going, resort to camping lanterns that use fuel. Moving indoors when the sun sets is not a must.

Entertaining: The barbecue can of course be used all year. A propane cooker with a large stew pot is another ideal tool for winter cooking. Hot soup, stew or chili is always welcome on a cold day; mulled wine or cider provide another option. Cold beer, soda or other beverages will not require a fridge or cooler; if it is very cold, stick them in the snow bank to keep them from freezing.

Remember then that there is no need to close up the patio once the cold weather sets in. Outdoor living can be an enjoyable experience all year. Give it a go and enjoy.

Affordable Locksmith Services – Top Quality Locksmith Work Can Be Inexpensive

All good things in life come at a price. Or so is it said. However we believe hat where locksmiths are concerned, this has not to be the case. Cheap locksmiths are not cheap in the way they work or the way they go around making keys. It is just that these locksmiths charge much less and hence often fall prey to suspicion. We believe that affordable should be a second name to every locksmith service available. There is no point in hiring a locksmith who charges you a very high fee. Hence cheap locksmiths, affordable and inexpensive that they are, are a much better option available to the so called costlier locksmiths.

Cheap locksmiths are often looked upon with suspicion. Cheap locksmiths, however good they might be, often fail to get the gleam of recognition in the service requirer’s eyes. Cheap locksmith services suffer from the problem of plenty, ironically. Cheap locksmiths, preferably called affordable locksmiths, as the name suggests, are inexpensive. An old adage goes that everything in the world comes for a price. Well locksmith services are no exception to this. What we are saying is simply that locksmith services, good locksmith services, often are very less expensive.

Cheap locksmiths, the world over are regarded to be just that, cheap locksmiths. Cheap locksmiths have to handle the most delicate locks of some of the most prized cars, houses, bungalows etc. Cheap locksmiths the world over are regarded to be masters at their tricky and often tiring work. Cheap locksmiths gather enough bangs for their buck in the recognition they get. Cheap locksmiths guarantee you the best treatment to your car and the great freedom of worry of being locked out of it. Even though they do so much, and handle all their work with so much care, cheap locksmiths are often ridiculed and called also called ‘cheap’.

Finally, and unfortunately, there are many locksmiths out there who are not licensed locksmiths. Many times these unlicensed locksmiths who are often also inexperienced, very unprofessional and simply call themselves “locksmiths” are simply trying to earn as much money as possible. These locksmiths therefore will give deleterious and very misguided advice. Most of the times, these people do not have any real experience in locksmith services. They also lack training in the security industry. They are often very greedy individuals. These are not cheap locksmiths. These are not locksmiths at all. Cheap locksmiths offer the same services offered by other locksmiths, but at a much lesser rate. We prefer to call these locksmiths, inexpensive locksmiths or discount locksmiths rather than us calling them cheap locksmiths and thus degrading them.

There should be a word of caution though. There are many touts posing to be locksmiths, who claim to charge you just a fraction of what he other locksmiths are charging you. The main intention of these so called ‘cheap locksmiths’ is to enter your house and relieve you of your valuables. Hence you should take care and verify the license of the locksmith given to him by the local governing body to be doubly sure.

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Business Benefits of Custom Software Development

All businesses and organisations will typically need some form of software during their lifecycle. The types of software utilised by most companies range from applications that will enable better management of key organisational functions – Human Resources, Finances and Accounts, inventory and stock and even running projects, to more specific items of software that have a key purpose such as Content Management Software for use on company websites. Although these software applications can be purchased “off the shelf”, there are many business benefits that can be associated with choosing custom software development.

Custom Software Development is created for you

Developing custom software is a bespoke, made to measure process, which means that any applications and software programmes created as a result of the process will be entirely made for your company and its individual needs and requirements. Basically, a piece of custom made software is flexible and has the potential to fulfil your specifications meaning that it is easy to use and can be deployed throughout your entire organisation. Instead of having to make do with a ready made software programme or application, with customised software you can be sure that what you will receive will be entirely fit for purpose. There are also significant financial benefits that can be associated with custom made software despite it costing a little more to purchase than off the shelf packages. Software applications that have been made for you don’t require any licence fees, so you can distribute them across your entire organisation without needing to pay extra.

Custom Software Developers will work with your Company

When creating software designed for your company, custom software developers will design and code it to integrate properly within your organisation. The software won’t just help you achieve what you need it to achieve, it will be rich in features and tools that will make it usable by the people who will be operating it. With a piece of custom software all the requirements of your company will be considered, and developers will meet these both in the way that they develop the software and the after care that they provide properly. Although some training and support is available with off the shelf software to a certain extent, with custom made software your developers will continue to work with and support your company whether that’s through training staff members in the use of the software or providing maintenance and technical help to remedy any errors that might occur in the software.

Customised Software is Safe and Secure

The ready made software packages available to businesses and organisations today are certainly a lot more secure than the ones that have been developed in previous years, however they don’t compare to the security levels of customised software. Because customised software has been created for your company it will only be usable by individuals in your company. When you purchase custom software you will be given administrator rights to the software ensuring that you can change and alter user profiles and passwords to be in accordance with your own internal data protection policies. Custom software development used on the web is also a lot harder to hack than standard, off the shelf software, and you can be sure that a reputable custom software developer will work hard to keep your application or programme and the data it contains as safe and secure as possible.

Customised Software is Adaptable

Ready made software is designed to be adaptable and flexible, meeting your company’s needs and requirements both now and in the future. Even if you need a few different software programmes to accomplish organisational tasks, a custom developer will be able to integrate the different processes that you need into a single, usable application. Custom software is also much more likely to be cross-platform suitable, so you can be sure that when your company goes mobile you have the software that will support it.

The 5 Key Steps to Receiving a Massage That Will Help You to Feel Better

1. You are always right and should get exactly what you want. Many massage consumers assume that you are going to a professional massage therapist and therefore whatever they say goes. The old adage that the consumer is always right also applies to the massage therapy industry. Of course, you want to work with a “trusted expert”, but that does not mean that if you think you need more focus on a particular area or altered pressure that you should not receive exactly that.

A “trusted expert” will listen to exactly what you want and apply the techniques that are going to help you achieve that goal. When you go out to buy something that you have already decided to purchase you are not going to let a salesperson sell you on something different than what you had in mind (although this happens all too frequently in the marketplace). The same is true for your massage therapy experience. If you are not sure what you need but have a specific complaint, your massage therapist should listen to your chief complaints and provide a solution that helps you achieve your desired outcome (more on this later).

If you sense that the massage therapist you are working with is not listening to your needs, it is perfectly alright for you to end the massage session. This may seem a bit harsh, but wasting your time and money on ineffective treatments is not an acceptable option.

2. What you should expect from your massage therapy treatment. The massage therapy treatment should specifically fulfill your desired result. You should expect that you are going to work with a skilled massage therapist that is going to listen to your issues and help you receive a massage that is very satisfying for you. From the moment you call in to schedule your massage treatment you should have a sense that you are going to work with a therapist that is going to treat you as an individual and respect your individual needs. It is appropriate to ask for the massage therapist’s credentials and experience.

You may also want to speak with an existing client to ensure that they have had a pleasant experience an existing client that they work with that has had a pleasant experience with the practitioner you are about to have a massage with. You can ask to come by and see the facility where you will be receiving your massage. Does it look clean, relaxing, and therapeutic? What does the energy of the facility feel like? Does it align with your energy and feel like a place that you will be comfortable with? It is also appropriate to ask to meet with the therapist who is will potentially be working with you prior to the massage treatment so you can be assured that you will be comfortable with the massage therapist.

When you have set up your massage treatment and arrive for your massage you will be asked to fill out some paperwork. Allow for enough time to fill out the paperwork so it does not interfere with your massage time. After all, if you are seeing a massage expert, chances are they are very busy and they have clients before and after you.

When you arrive at the establishment you should be warmly greeted and offered water while you fill out the paperwork and wait to meet your therapist (if you did not meet them prior). Your therapist should introduce themselves to you and welcome you and direct you back to the massage room. The therapist should then ask you about your specific goals for the session and listen to you before proceeding. You should feel that the therapist cares deeply about your goals for the session and is interested in helping you achieve them. The treatment room should be relaxing and comforting. The massage therapist should explain that you can disrobe to your level of comfort.

Note: For some people their level of comfort may be to keep all of their clothes on. This is perfectly fine. I have worked with clients who started with me working with me fully clothed and as their comfort level increased they began to remove some clothing so I could massage directly to their skin. The fact is that massage therapy feels better when it is applied directly to the skin. The other fact is that a skilled massage therapist can work with you with all your clothes on and still provide a great massage.

You should be covered or draped with sheets properly during your massage. This is not only a law, but is intended for your comfort. This means that only the area of your body that is being massaged will be exposed. The rest of your body will be covered by a sheet and when you are cold a blanket as well.

Note: I have had massage at establishments that have used very little towels to cover my naked body. I am very comfortable with my body, but in one session in particular (at a San Diego establishment) I was very cold during the session and the draft made the massage very uncomfortable. I have come to find out that this particular establishment may not be a legitimate massage practice but a front for prostitution. You would never know this as it is marketed as a day spa, so be wary of where you set up your appointment. I can guarantee that if I would have implemented these 5 steps I would have known that this establishment was not legitimate and I would have saved myself the uncomfortable experience and the waste of my time and money.

The practitioner will leave the room once they explain where you should place your clothes and they will indicate that they will be back in a while to start your massage.

Note: We implemented a “relaxation switch” in our clinics that when pressed by the client turns on a light outside to know you are ready. I have had numerous experiences of opening the door on clients who were not comfortably under the sheets. If the establishment does not have the “relaxation switch” make sure that you are quick to get on the table to avoid any uncomfortable racing to the table scenarios.

Once you are on the table you should not have to wait too long for the therapist to come and start the massage. The therapist should enter the room and ask you how you feel on the table. How is the temperature of the room? How does the table feel? How do the pillows or bolsters feel?

Before therapist begins doing the massage they should tell you that if at any time during the massage you would like more or less pressure to just let them know and they will accommodate you. If you are getting the massage for general relaxation the massage therapist should not talk with you during the session. This is one of the chief complaints I hear from massage consumers across the country when they tell me about their massage experiences. I have heard of therapists who will tell the client about all their personal problems while the client is “held hostage” and is paying good money to council these therapists on their personal issues.

Remember the first step, You are always right and should get exactly what you want, so tell the therapist that you prefer to just listen to the music or zone out during your massage. If your therapist is a massage expert you will find that they will have listened to you describe your goal of relaxation and therefore they would be quiet during your massage session.

NoteIf you are receiving a massage for a goal of reliving pain or a specific injury then your massage therapist will need to discuss your history with you and explain what they are doing. You also may be asked to move around on the table from face down, side lying to on your back.

After the massage your therapists should thank you for the session and discuss their assessment of your muscular health. Your therapist will explain what they recommend for a treatment plan for you to achieve your goal. It may be as simple as you needing to receive massage once a month to keep stress levels low enough to help you to better manage your life; or it may require that you come in as often as 2X a week for 6 weeks to aggressively treat a specific issue you are dealing with.

Whatever the case is, the therapist you work with should give you a plan that will help you achieve your massage goals. It may be that massage therapy will not be the best method for helping decrease your pain. In this instance, your therapist should refer you to the appropriate group or therapy that will help you achieve this.

3. Why massage modalities are a thing of the past and what a massage modality is. If you are new to massage you will peruse the massage menu and wonder what all these treatments are. A massage modality is a massage technique that has a specific purpose for the massage receiver. There are literally hundreds of massage modalities and they can seem daunting to someone who has never received a massage before. There is also misrepresentation of massage modalities by therapists who are not adequately trained in the modality they offer. This is due to the third point I discussed in the potential problems massage consumers can experience when receiving massage.

The fact is that the only people that know what a shiatsu, reiki treatment, deep tissue massage or Swedish massage are massage practitioners. As the massage consumer you care about one thing: that you will receive a massage that will help you achieve your specific goal for that particular session. Whether that is stress management, sports performance, injury prevention, injury rehabilitation, pain relief, or just overall wellness, the modality that is used to achieve these goals is not of importance to you. Most of the time you do not even know what the modality is. So, if you are faced with having to choose between a Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, thai massage or trager, then you know that you may want to look elsewhere to get your massage treatment. You want to work with a massage expert that will listen to your needs and integrate a variety of modalities that fulfills that outcome.

4. How to effectively communicate with your massage therapist. As you recall from the first step you are always right and you should always get what you expect from your massage treatment. Before, during and after your massage treatment you should have an open communication line with your massage therapist. If at any time during the session you would like more or less pressure you should only have to say a little less pressure and your therapist should immediately respond to your requests.

If for any reason you feel uncomfortable during the session you should be able to state it and have the therapist validate your feelings by making the necessary changes. So, it’s as easy as just speaking up. Unfortunately, I have heard from too many massage consumers who have received a massage that they were uncomfortable, but they did not speak up because they did not want to upset the therapist.

Here’s the deal, if your therapist responds in a defensive manner to your feedback, you can end the session right at that moment. You should not have to pay for the treatment. When you work with a massage expert they will be able to sense what you are feeling and address your concern before you have a chance to express them. I have trained our therapists to watch body language and listen for any cues to change the direction of treatments with clients. If you do not experience this, I urge you to politely end the massage session and seek out an expert to help you with your massage needs.

5. You may be able to get massage for Free (that’s right, I said it, for free)

I know I don’t mind paying for something when I get exactly what I ask for. I usually buy things based on a problem I would like to solve (a pain I would like to avoid). Massage therapy is exactly the same.

If you are stressed and your stress is relieved, your head is clearer, and you are able to enjoy a more relaxed life, then you are happy to pay for the service. How about if you could get the service that relieves your pain or stress and get it for free? Sound too good to be true? Well, some massage establishments have referral incentive programs where they will give you a massage or money towards a massage when you refer a friend, family or colleague. At the clinics I own we offer $35 for every referral that our wonderful clients honor us with. We have some clients that get a couple of free massages a month because they enjoy the service and they encourage their friends, family and colleagues to come in to our clinic and get a massage. The end result is that you end up getting massage for free.

Medicare Explained

The Basics

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD). If you or your spouse have worked full time for 10 or more years over a lifetime, you are probably eligible to receive Medicare Part A for free.

Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. What Medicare covers is based upon, Federal and state laws, National coverage decisions made by Medicare about whether something is covered, local coverage decisions made by companies in each state that process claims for Medicare. These companies decide whether something is medically necessary and should be covered in their area.

Medicare Part B is available at a monthly rate set annually by Congress ($121.80 in 2016 for incomes $85000.00 or less for an individual). Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Some seniors are eligible to receive the medical insurance portion (Part B) free as well, depending on their income and asset levels. For more information, inquire about the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Special Low Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), and Qualifying Individual programs through your county social services office. Remember, in most cases, if you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you will have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B. Your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn’t sign up for it. Also, you may have to wait until the General Enrollment Period (from January 1 to March 31) to enroll in Part B, and coverage will start July 1 of that year. Usually, you don’t pay a late enrollment penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part B during a Special Enrollment Period.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private insurance company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO’s), Private Fee-for-Service Plans (PFFS’s), Special Needs Plans (SNP’s), and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans (MSA’s). If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, most Medicare services are covered through the plan and are not paid for under Original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans have prescription drug coverage included.

Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) adds prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare.

Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer prescription drug coverage that follows the same rules as Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. Keep in mind, you may owe a late enrollment penalty if you go without a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), or without a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage, or without creditable prescription drug coverage for any continuous period of 63 days or more after your Initial Enrollment Period is over.

How Medicare Works

Original Medicare is coverage managed by the federal government. Generally, there is a cost for each service. In most cases, you can go to any doctor, other health care provider, hospital, or other facility that is enrolled in Medicare and is accepting new Medicare patients. With a few exceptions, most prescriptions are not covered in Original Medicare. However, you can add drug coverage by joining a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). With Original Medicare you don not need to choose a primary care doctor. In most cases, with Original Medicare, you don’t need a referral to see a specialist, but the specialist must be enrolled in Medicare. You may already have employer or union coverage that may pay costs that Original Medicare does not. If not, you may want to buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy.

How to sign up for Medicare

If you are receiving Social Security benefits before turning 65, you should automatically receive notification of your enrollment in Medicare shortly before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of disability. Other individuals must apply by calling or visiting their Social Security office to receive Medicare. If you are not yet receiving Social Security or if you have not received a Medicare enrollment notice, you should contact the nearest Social Security office for information. Applications for Medicare can be made during a seven-month period beginning three months prior to the month of your 65th birthday.

It is best to apply during the three months prior to the month of your 65th birthday. If an application is made during that time, your coverage will begin on the first day of your birth month. Applying later will delay the start of your benefits. You may also apply for Medicare during the General Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 31 every year after your 65th birthday. Your coverage then starts July 1 of the year you signed up and you will pay a 10 percent surcharge on the Part B premium for each 12 months you were eligible but not enrolled. If you have limited income and resources, your state may help you pay for Part A, and/or Part B. You may also qualify for Extra Help to pay for your Medicare prescription drug coverage.

If you continue to work after age 65 or your spouse is working and you are covered by an employer group health plan (EGHP), you may want to delay enrollment in Part B of Medicare. Enrolling in Medicare Part B will trigger your open enrollment for Medicare supplement insurance at a time when you do not need supplemental coverage. The penalty for late enrollment in Part B does not apply if you are covered by an EGHP because of your or your spouse’s current employment. If you do work after age 65, you may apply for Medicare Part B at any time prior to retirement, but you must apply no later than eight months (the Special Enrollment Period) after your formal retirement in order to avoid paying a premium penalty. Even if your employer offers a retirement health plan, you will want to sign up for Medicare Part A and probably for Medicare Part B when you retire. Most retirement plans assume you are covered under Medicare and will not pay for services that Medicare would have covered. Veterans may be eligible for special medical programs. However, eligibility and benefits are very restrictive and are subject to change. The Department of Veterans Affairs advises veterans to apply for both Parts A and B of Medicare to ensure adequate medical coverage.

How Medicare Pays

The way Medicare pays is, you generally pay a set amount for your health care (deductible) before Medicare pays its share. Then, Medicare pays its share, and you pay your share (coinsurance / copayment) for covered services and supplies. There is no yearly limit for what you pay out-of-pocket. You usually pay a monthly premium for Part B. You generally don’t need to file Medicare claims. The law requires providers (like doctors, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies) and suppliers to file your claims for the covered services and supplies you get.

Medicare pays for only a portion of your hospital and medical bills. As with many private insurance plans, the government expects beneficiaries to pay a share of their bills. Medicare Parts A and B both have deductibles and coinsurance. The deductibles for 2016 are $1288.00 per Benefit Period, for Part A. A benefit period begins the day you are admitted as an inpatient in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF). The benefit period ends when you have not received any inpatient hospital or SNF care for 60 days in a row. Therefore, it is possible to have multiple Part A hospital deductibles in the same year. The Part B deductible is $166.00 per year. Private insurance is available to cover all or part of these out-of-pocket costs. These insurance plans are called Medicare supplements (also called Medigap or Med Sup plans).

Accepting Assignment

Most doctors, providers, and suppliers accept assignment, but you should always check to make sure. Assignment means that your doctor, provider, or supplier agrees (or is required by law) to accept the Medicare-approved amount as full payment for covered services. Participating providers have signed an agreement to accept assignment for all Medicare-covered services.

If your doctor, provider, or supplier accepts assignment, your out-of-pocket costs may be less, they agree to charge you only the Medicare deductible and coinsurance amount and usually wait for Medicare to pay its share before asking you to pay your share, and they have to submit your claim directly to Medicare and cannot charge you for submitting the claim.

If your doctor, provider, or supplier does not accept assignment they are “Non-participating” providers and have not signed an agreement to accept assignment for all Medicare-covered services, but they can still choose to accept assignment for individual services.

If your doctor, provider, or supplier does not accept assignment, you may have to pay the entire charge at the time of service. They can also charge you more than the Medicare-approved amount, called “Excess Charges.” Excess Charges have a limit called “the limiting charge.” The provider can only charge you up to 15% over the amount that non-participating providers are paid. Non-participating providers are paid 95% of the fee schedule amount. The limiting charge applies only to certain Medicare-covered services and doesn’t apply to some supplies and durable medical equipment.

Your doctor, provider, or supplier is supposed to submit a claim to Medicare for any Medicare-covered services they provide to you. They cannot charge you for submitting a claim. If they do not submit the Medicare claim once you ask them to, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

In some cases, you might have to submit your own claim to Medicare using Form CMS-1490S to get reimbursed.

For information on Medigap plan N premiums click here.

Medicare Supplement Insurance

Medicare Supplements are standardized by the Federal Government. They are labeled A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. Each standardized Medigap policy must offer the same basic benefits no matter which insurance company sells it. Cost is usually the only difference between Medigap policies with the same letter sold by different insurance companies. Plan A pays the Medicare hospital and physician coinsurance, the first three pints of blood, and 365 days of hospitalization beyond Medicare. Plans B through N provide these benefits and add more benefits such as coverage for Medicare deductibles, excess charges and limited preventive care, and foreign travel. You can only have one Med Sup plan. No one should try to sell you an additional Med Sup plan unless you decide you need to switch policies.

Open Enrollment for Medicare Supplement Insurance is at age 65 for all consumers, including those already receiving Medicare due to disability. The Open Enrollment period is a six-month period. For six months beginning when you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B, companies must sell you any Medicare supplement plan they offer. After this limited open enrollment period, companies can pick and choose whom they will cover and how much they will charge based on your health. If you have an individual or “bank group” insurance policy, becoming Medicare eligible does not require you to cancel it and purchase a Medicare supplement. Doing so may save premium costs but it is important to compare benefits before deciding which will work best.

If you are eligible for employer retirement insurance, review the plan carefully to understand what benefits are available and how it works with Medicare. Be aware that employer plans are not standardized and are not subject to the requirements governing standardized Medicare supplement policies. Also, it is important to remember, if you leave an employer plan you may not be able to go back on it.

Your New Staircase Will Provide a Stunning Focal Point to Your Home or Workplace

From a simple but elegant straight flight to beautiful hardwood spirals or the most complex sweeping helical design a new staircase will provide a stunning focal point to your home or workplace. But sometimes the terminology involved can be a little confusing, so here’s my step-by-step guide to your new staircase.

General: Staircase step: The staircase step is composed of the tread and riser.

Stair Tread: The tread is the part of the staircase that is stepped on. It is constructed to the same specifications (thickness) as any other flooring. The tread “depth” is measured from the outer edge of the step to the vertical “riser” between steps. The “width” is measured from one side to the other.

Stair Riser: The riser is the vertical portion between each tread on the stairs. This may be missing for an “open” stairs effect, subject to building regulations

Stair Nosing: An edge part of the tread that protrudes over the riser beneath. If it is present, this means that horizontally, the total “run” length of the stairs is not simply the sum of the tread lengths, the treads actually overlap each other slightly.

Starting step or Bullnose: Where stairs are open on one or both sides, the first step above the lower floor may be wider than the other steps and rounded. The balusters typically form a semicircle around the circumference of the rounded portion and the handrail has a horizontal spiral called a “volute” that supports the top of the balusters. Besides the cosmetic appeal, starting steps allow the balusters to form a wider, more stable base for the end of the handrail. Handrails that simply end at a post at the foot of the stairs can be less sturdy, even with a thick post. A double Bullnose can be used when both sides of the stairs are open.

Staircase Stringer or String: The structural member that supports the treads and risers. There are typically two stringers, one on either side of the stairs; though the treads may be supported many other ways. The stringers are sometimes notched so that the risers and treads fit into them. Stringers on open-sided stairs are often open themselves so that the treads are visible from the side. Such stringers are called “cut” stringers. Stringers on a closed side of the stairs are closed, with the support for the treads routed into the stringer.

Staircase Winders: Winders are steps that are narrower on one side than the other. They are used to change the direction of the stairs without landings. A series of winders form a circular or spiral stairway. When three steps are used to turn a 90 corner, the middle step is called a kite winder as a kite-shaped quadrilateral.

Stair Trim: Trim (e.g. quarter-round or baseboard trim) is normally applied where walls meet floors and often underneath treads to hide the reveal where the tread and riser meet. Shoe moulding may be used between where the lower floor and the first riser meet. Trimming a starting step is a special challenge as the last riser above the lower floor is rounded. Flexible, plastic trim is available for this purpose, however wooden mouldings are still used and are either cut from a single piece of rounded wood, or bent with laminations Scotia is concave moulding that is underneath the nosing between the riser and the tread above it.

Flight: A flight is an uninterrupted series of steps.

Floating stairs: A flight of stairs is said to be “floating” if there is nothing underneath. The risers are typically missing as well to emphasize the open effect. There may be only one stringer or the stringers otherwise minimized. Where building codes allow, there may not even be handrails.

Staircase Landing or Platform: A landing is the area of a floor near the top or bottom step of a stair. An intermediate landing is a small platform built as part of the stair between main floor levels and is typically used to allow stairs to change directions, or to allow the user a rest. As intermediate landings consume floor space they can be expensive to build. However, changing the direction of the stairs allows stairs to fit where they would not otherwise, or provides privacy to the upper level as visitors downstairs cannot simply look up the stairs to the upper level.

Stair Runner: Carpeting that runs down the middle of the stairs. Runners may be directly stapled or nailed to the stairs, or may be secured by specialized bar that holds the carpet in place where the tread meets the riser.

Spandrel: If there is not another flight of stairs immediately underneath, the triangular space underneath the stairs is called a “spandrel”. It is frequently used as a closet. Staircase: This term is often reserved for the stairs themselves: the steps, railings and landings; though often it is used interchangeably with “stairs” and “stairway”.

Stairway: This term is often reserved for the entire stairwell and staircase in combination; though often it is used interchangeably with “stairs” and “staircase”.

Spiral stairs: Spiral stairs wind around a central pole. Spiral stairs typically have a handrail on the outer side only, and on the inner side just the central pole. A squared spiral stair assumes a square stairwell and expands the steps and railing to a square, resulting in unequal steps (larger where they extend into a corner of the square). A pure spiral staircase assumes a circular stairwell and the steps and handrail are equal and positioned screw-symmetrically. A tight spiral stairs with a central pole is very space efficient in the use of floor area. The term “spiral” is used incorrectly for a staircase from a mathematical viewpoint, as a mathematical spiral lies in a single plane and moves towards or away from a central point. A spiral staircase by the mathematical definition therefore would be of little use as it would afford no change in elevation. The correct mathematical term for motion where the locus remains at a fixed distance from a fixed line whilst moving in a circular motion about it is “helix”. The presence or otherwise of a central pole does not affect the terminology applied to the design of the structure. Spiral stairs in medieval times were generally made of stone and typically wound in a clockwise direction (from the ascendor’s point of view), in order to place at a disadvantage attacking swordsmen who were most often right-handed). This asymmetry forces the right-handed swordsman to engage the central pike and degrade his mobility compared with the defender who is facing down the stairs.

Helical Staircases: Helical staircases or circular stairs do not have a central pole and there is a handrail on both sides. Helical staircases have the advantage of a more uniform tread width when compared to spiral staircases. Helical staircases may also be built around an elliptical or oval platform. A double helix is possible, with two independent helical stairs in the same vertical space, allowing one person to ascend and another to descend, without ever meeting if they choose different helixes. Fire escapes, though built with landings and straight runs of stairs, are often functionally double helixes, with two separate stairs inter twinned and occupying the same floor space. This is often in support of legal requirements to have two separate fire escapes. Both spiral stairs and helical stairs can be characterized by the number of turns that are made. A “quarter-turn” stair deposits the person facing 90 degrees from the starting orientation. Likewise there are half-turn, three-quarters-turn and full-turn stairs. A continuous spiral may make many turns depending on the height. Very tall multi turn spiral staircases are usually found in old stone towers within fortifications, churches and in lighthouses.

Bespoke staircases: staircases are available in various kit and “off the shelf” formats. However, these types of ready made staircases never fit as well as a true bespoke staircase which has been professionally designed and manufactured by craftsmen to fit into a specific location. In order to make a bespoke staircase it is essential to first carry out a full on site survey. Boss stairs will visit the site with a professional surveyor and a staircase designer to take accurate measurements and give advice on the various design options available. These options would include; the plan or layout, the materials to be used in the construction of the staircase and also the type and style of railing system. First we would determine the layout and plan which in many cases is dictated by the space available. Then decide what type of timber to be used for the flight itself. For a hardwood flight we recommend Oak stairs, Walnut stairs, Ash stairs, Sapele stairs or Mahogany stairs. Contrasting timbers can be used to give a contemporary design, for instance Walnut treads with Oak or even painted risers look very effective. There is also the choice of a straight or cut string as well as the type and style of railing system to use, be that traditional wooden spindles and newel posts or perhaps a glass balustrade or even wrought iron can be used to make a very attractive feature. There are many designs of wooden spindles and an infinite number of patterns of wrought ironwork. Finally, we would determine the use of any additional details such as special starting steps or volutes. Back at the office the designer will draw up a CAD plan and provide a detailed estimate of the costs involved. These costs will include for manufacture and supply plus any installation and/or finishing, if required.

The Staircase Railing System: The balustrade is the system of railings and balusters that prevents people from falling over the edge.

Banister, Railing or Handrail: The angled member for hand holding, as distinguished from the vertical balusters which hold it up for stairs that are open on one side; there is often a railing on both sides, sometimes only on one side or not at all, on wide staircases there is sometimes also one in the middle, or even more. The term “banister” is sometimes used to mean just the handrail, or sometimes the handrail and the balusters or sometimes just the balusters.

Volute: A handrail end element for the Bullnose step that curves inward like a spiral. A volute is said to be right or left-handed depending on which side of the stairs the handrail is as one faces up the stairs.

Turnout: Instead of a complete spiral volute, a turnout is a quarter-turn rounded end to the handrail.

Gooseneck: The vertical handrail that joins a sloped handrail to a higher handrail on the balcony or landing is a gooseneck.

Rosette: Where the handrail ends in the wall and a half-newel is not used, it may be trimmed by a rosette.

Easings: Wall handrails are mounted directly onto the wall with wall brackets. At the bottom of the stairs such railings flare to a horizontal railing and this horizontal portion is called a “starting easing”. At the top of the stairs, the horizontal portion of the railing is called a “over easing”.

Core rail: Wood handrails often have a metal core to provide extra strength and stiffness, especially when the rail has to curve against the grain of the wood. The archaic term for the metal core is “core rail”.

Baluster or Spindle: A term for the vertical posts that hold up the handrail. Sometimes simply called guards or spindles. Treads often require two balusters. The second baluster is closer to the riser and is taller than the first. The extra height in the second baluster is typically in the middle between decorative elements on the baluster. That way the bottom decorative elements are aligned with the tread and the top elements are aligned with the railing angle.

Newel: A large baluster or post used to anchor the handrail. Since it is a structural element, it extends below the floor and sub floor to the bottom of the floor joists and is bolted right to the floor joist. A half-newel may be used where a railing ends in the wall. Visually, it looks like half the newel is embedded in the wall. For open landings, a newel may extend below the landing for a decorative newel drop.

Baserail or Shoerail: For systems where the baluster does not start at the treads, they go to a base rail. This allows for identical balusters, avoiding the second baluster problem.

Fillet: A decorative filler piece on the floor between balusters on a balcony railing.

Handrails: Handrails may be continuous (sometimes called over-the-post) or post-to-post (or more accurately “newel-to-newel”). For continuous handrails on long balconies, there may be multiple newels and tandem caps to cover the newels. At corners, there are quarter-turn caps. For post-to-post systems, the newels project above the handrails. Another, more classical, form of hand railing which is still in use is the tangent method. A variant of the Cylindrical method of layout, it allows for continuous climbing and twisting rails and easings. It was defined from principles set down by architect Peter Nicholson in the 18th century.

Measurements:

Rise: The rise height or rise of each step is measured from the top of one tread to the next. It is not the physical height of the riser; the latter excludes the thickness of the tread. A person using the stairs would move this distance vertically for each step they take.

Tread Depth: The tread depth is measured from the edge of the nosing to the vertical riser.

Going: The going is measured from the edge of the nosing to the edge of nosing in plan view. A person using the stairs would move this distance forward with each step they take.

Total Run or Total Going: The total run or total going of the stairs is the horizontal distance from the first riser to the last riser. It is often not simply the sum of the individual tread lengths due to the nosing overlapping between treads.

Total Rise: The total rise of the stairs is the height between floors (or landings) that the flight of stairs is spanning.

Slope or Pitch: The slope or pitch of the stairs is the total rise divided by the total run (not the individual riser and treads due to the nosing). It is sometimes called the rake of the stairs. The pitch line is the imaginary line along the tip of the nosing of the treads. In the UK, stair pitch is measured in degrees from the horizontal.

Headroom: Headroom is the height above the nosing of a tread to the ceiling above it.

Walk line: For curved stairs, the inner radius of the curve may result in very narrow treads. The “walk line” is the imaginary line some distance away from the inner edge on which people are expected to walk. Building code will specify the distance. Building codes will then specify the minimum tread size at the walk line. To avoid confusion, the number of steps in a set of stairs is always the number of risers, not the number of treads.

For information on glass staircases click here.