Yearly Archives: 2019

  • It’s apparent that what is meant to be transparent needs parenting

    December 30, 2019

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    To pro­mote com­pe­ti­tion and push down health­care costs, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion issued new rules in Novem­ber to require insur­ers and hos­pi­tals to dis­close upfront the actu­al prices for com­mon tests and pro­ce­dures.  Not sur­pris­ing­ly, there is an almost open revolt from the health­care indus­try.  The rules for hos­pi­tals take effect in 2021 – it is not out­lined when this applies to health insur­ance com­pa­nies.  It is expect­ed this will go to court, but in the meantime:

    Hos­pi­tals must pub­lish in a con­sumer-friend­ly man­ner nego­ti­at­ed rates for the 300 most com­mon ser­vices that can be sched­uled in advance and pub­lish all charges in a for­mat that can be read on the web.  For health insur­ance com­pa­nies, it is required that they cre­ate an online tool so pol­i­cy­hold­ers may get a real-time per­son­al­ized esti­mate of their out-of-pock­et costs, and a pub­lic dis­clo­sure of nego­ti­at­ed rates for their in-net­work providers.

    Charge lists will include:

    • Gross charge
    • Pay­er spe­cif­ic nego­ti­at­ed charge
    • Dis­count­ed cash price
    • De-iden­ti­fied min­i­mum nego­ti­at­ed charge (low­est of all prices the hos­pi­tal has)
    • De-iden­ti­fied max­i­mum nego­ti­at­ed charge

    The for­mal title is “The 2020 Out­pa­tient prospec­tive pay­ment sys­tem and ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter price trans­paren­cy require­ments for hos­pi­tals to make stan­dard charges pub­lic final rule” and it is under CMS 1717-F2 issued 11/15/19.

  • Celebrate the Season Safely

    December 16, 2019

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    Last year’s 2018 Hol­i­day Par­ty Sur­vey by Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas found that just 65 per­cent of com­pa­nies were hold­ing hol­i­day fes­tiv­i­ties last year, the low­est rate since the 2009 reces­sion, and this trend is expect­ed to con­tin­ue into the 2019 hol­i­day sea­son (the 2019 report has not yet been released). While in 2009, hol­i­day par­ties were skipped for finan­cial rea­sons, today’s caus­es are more com­plex. Andrew Chal­lenger, VP of Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas, spec­u­lat­ed that the two biggest fac­tors are #MeToo and an increase in the num­ber of remote employees.

    If your com­pa­ny is among those cel­e­brat­ing the hol­i­day sea­son this year, what can you do to avoid lia­bil­i­ty from sex­u­al harass­ment, alco­hol con­sump­tion, and oth­er cat­e­gories of risk?

    Risk: Harassment Allegations

    • Com­mu­ni­cate behav­ior expec­ta­tions to employ­ees ahead of time. Con­sid­er using this lan­guage to set stan­dards of con­duct. You may even choose to redis­trib­ute your sex­u­al harass­ment pol­i­cy. Be sure to empha­size that all employ­ee poli­cies apply at the par­ty, even if it is off-site or after work hours. Racial or sex­u­al jokes, inap­pro­pri­ate gag gifts, gos­sip­ing about office rela­tion­ships, and unwel­come touch­ing will not be per­mit­ted dur­ing the hol­i­day par­ty, just as they are not allowed in the office.
    • Do not allow employ­ees to get away with bad behav­ior. Remind your super­vi­sors to set a good exam­ple and keep an eye out for employ­ee behav­ior that needs man­ag­ing at the event.
    • Fol­low up imme­di­ate­ly on alle­ga­tions of inap­pro­pri­ate behav­ior and con­duct a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion of the facts, even if the alleged vic­tim does not file a com­plaint and you only hear about the behav­ior through the grapevine. If cor­rec­tive action is war­rant­ed, apply it promptly.
    • Invite sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers or fam­i­lies. Employ­ee behav­ior tends to improve at com­pa­ny events when spous­es or part­ners and chil­dren are present. If your bud­get allows, include the entire fam­i­ly in the cel­e­bra­tion. Be sure to review your lia­bil­i­ty cov­er­age with your bro­ker first.
    • Avoid inci­dents relat­ed to relaxed inhi­bi­tions by fol­low­ing the tips for reduc­ing alco­hol-relat­ed risks (see below).

    Risk: Alcohol-Related Incidents

    • Take steps to lim­it alco­hol con­sump­tion. If alco­hol will be served, pro­vide plen­ty of food rich in car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein to slow the absorp­tion of alco­hol into the blood­stream. You can also have a cash bar, lim­it the num­ber of drink tick­ets, or close the bar ear­ly to deter over-con­sump­tion. Also have a good selec­tion of non­al­co­holic bev­er­ages or a tasty sig­na­ture “mock­tail” avail­able. Make sure water glass­es are refilled frequently.
    • Get bar­tenders on board. If you have under­age work­ers or invite chil­dren of employ­ees, be sure that servers ask for ID from any­one who looks under age 30. Ask servers to cut off any­one who appears to be intoxicated.
    • Make sure employ­ees get home safe­ly. Offer incen­tives to employ­ees who vol­un­teer to be des­ig­nat­ed dri­vers, offer to pay for ride shares or taxis, or arrange group trans­porta­tion or accom­mo­da­tions. Plan­ning for safe trans­porta­tion can poten­tial­ly min­i­mize your lia­bil­i­ty if an employ­ee caus­es an acci­dent while dri­ving under the influence.
    • Do not serve alco­hol if your par­ty is at the office and your poli­cies do not per­mit drink­ing on com­pa­ny premis­es or dur­ing work hours. Deter employ­ees from an infor­mal after-par­ty at a bar or restau­rant where the alco­hol could flow.

    Risk: Workers’ Compensation Claims

    • Keep the par­ty vol­un­tary and social. Typ­i­cal­ly, work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion does not apply if the injury is “incurred in the pur­suit of an activ­i­ty, the major pur­pose of which is social or recre­ation­al.” If the car­ri­er deter­mines that the com­pa­ny par­ty was tru­ly vol­un­tary and not relat­ed to work, you may not be liable for injuries sus­tained at the party.
    • Go off­site. Host­ing your hol­i­day par­ty at an off­site loca­tion is a smart idea. Your employ­ees will be thank­ful for the change in set­ting, and this could reduce insur­ance lia­bil­i­ties for your com­pa­ny, espe­cial­ly when it comes to third-par­ty alco­hol and injury policies.
    • Check with your bro­ker before the par­ty. Review your insur­ance poli­cies and par­ty plans to make sure you do every­thing you can to avoid risk and know how to han­dle any inci­dents that result from the party.

    Risk: Perceptions of Unfairness

    • Deter­mine how to han­dle pay issues in advance of the par­ty. You’re not required to pay employ­ees who vol­un­tar­i­ly attend a par­ty after hours. How­ev­er, nonex­empt employ­ees need to be com­pen­sat­ed if they are work­ing the par­ty or if atten­dance is manda­to­ry. If the par­ty is held dur­ing reg­u­lar work hours, then all employ­ees must be paid for attend­ing the party.
    • Decide in advance whether and how to include remote employ­ees, inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors, tem­po­rary employ­ees, or agency work­ers. Be con­sis­tent in send­ing invi­ta­tions, and if a cat­e­go­ry of work­ers will not be invit­ed to the par­ty, con­sid­er oth­er ways to reward them for their hard work through­out the year, such as gifts.
    • Do not penal­ize employ­ees who choose not to attend. The mes­sage may be mis­in­ter­pret­ed and could cre­ate employ­ee rela­tions con­cerns. Be con­sid­er­ate of those who do not attend the event due to reli­gious beliefs, sobri­ety, men­tal health issues, fam­i­ly oblig­a­tions, child care con­flicts, or any oth­er rea­sons. Avoid reli­gious sym­bols or themes as they could offend indi­vid­u­als of dif­fer­ent faiths.

    By Rachel Sobel
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on

  • Holiday Travel Safety Tips

    December 9, 2019

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    Hav­ing just wrapped up Thanks­giv­ing, we are now only 2 ½ weeks out from Christ­mas! While we start plan­ning the per­fect gifts for every­one spe­cial in our lives, we are also think­ing of trav­el­ing to vis­it fam­i­ly and friends. Whether you go by car, bus, or plane, trav­el­ing dur­ing the hol­i­days needs to be safe. Fol­low these tips to help you get to your hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion safe­ly this season.


    Car Trav­el Safety

    • Make sure you get plen­ty of sleep the night before you trav­el. Being sleep deprived results in slow­er reac­tion times and dis­tract­ed driving.
    • Buck­le every­one up in your car—not just those in child-safe­ty seats. If you are rid­ing, you need to be buck­led in.
    • Put your phone away. That text or that phone con­ver­sa­tion can wait. If you need to com­mu­ni­cate while trav­el­ing, have your pas­sen­ger han­dle your phone.
    • Make a road­side emer­gency kit. Include essen­tials like jumper cables, phone charg­ers, flash­lights, bat­ter­ies, water, snacks, and blan­kets. Make sure your spare tire is undam­aged and you have a jack and tire iron in your vehi­cle should you need to change a tire.


    Apps to Help with Hol­i­day Travel

    • Hotel Tonight—If you find your­self get­ting tired as you dri­ve, con­sid­er stop­ping and get­ting some sleep. Hotel Tonight helps you find last minute hotel open­ings near you.
    • Gas­Bud­dy—Don’t spend your time dri­ving around in unfa­mil­iar areas to find the cheap­est gas prices. Use Gas­Bud­dy to find the cheap­est gas in your imme­di­ate vicinity.
    • Waze—Most every­one knows about Waze by now. This com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven nav­i­ga­tion tool allows you to see where slow­downs are hap­pen­ing near you as well as road debris, acci­dents, and alter­nate routes.
    • iEx­it—Try­ing to remem­ber all the food places list­ed on the high­way exit signs is hard! iEx­it gives you a list of what’s near each high­way exit from food to hotels to gas stations.
    • SitOrSquat—One of the top com­plaints of hol­i­day car trav­el is find­ing clean bath­rooms when you need them. This app rates pub­lic bath­rooms by their clean­li­ness. Brilliant!


    Air Trav­el Safety

    • This goes with­out say­ing, but lis­ten to your flight atten­dants. They give valu­able infor­ma­tion to pas­sen­gers in case of an emer­gency. Pay atten­tion to the pre-flight instruc­tions includ­ing where to locate emer­gency exits.
    • Get up and walk around a lit­tle dur­ing long flights. This keeps the blood mov­ing in your legs that are prob­a­bly cramped into the tiny space between seats.
    • Skip the next drink of alco­hol. You want to be clear-head­ed in case an emer­gency hap­pens. Wait and have that glass of wine once you land and are safe­ly at your destination.
    • Put the oxy­gen mask on your­self first. If there hap­pens to be an emer­gency mid-flight, you need to first place the mask on your face and then help oth­ers around you. This ensures that you are able to clear­ly hear instruc­tions and are able to help some­one near­by who may not be able to get the mask on themselves.


    Fol­low­ing these sim­ple trav­el tips will help get you to your des­ti­na­tion safe­ly this hol­i­day sea­son. Remem­ber, sur­round­ing your­self with the ones you love and val­ue is the goal. Get to those loved ones safe­ly and your hol­i­day will be memorable!

  • Men’s Health Awareness is Lifelong

    November 25, 2019

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    Novem­ber is Men’s Health Aware­ness Month and the Movem­ber Foun­da­tion uses the month to bring aware­ness to and sup­port of those tack­ling prostate can­cer, tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, men­tal health, and sui­cide. June is Men’s Health Month; the pur­pose is to height­en the aware­ness of pre­ventable health prob­lems and encour­age ear­ly detec­tion and treat­ment of dis­ease among men and boys. The fol­low­ing are rec­om­men­da­tions that are sup­port­ed by evi­dence from schol­ar­ly jour­nals and pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions and asso­ci­a­tions to improve men’s health.

    Through­out the world, women live longer than men, although this gap varies tremen­dous­ly in less devel­oped coun­tries. Accord­ing to the CIA World Fact­book, in the Unit­ed States, aver­age longevi­ty for women is 82.2 years for women and 77.2 years for men, a five-year gap.  Many men have the men­tal­i­ty of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” so if they can­not see or feel an exter­nal stim­u­lus, they will think there is noth­ing ever wrong.  A major­i­ty of men are just not aware of what they can do to improve their health and live health­i­er and hap­pi­er lives.

    At a very least, get vac­ci­nat­ed. Every­one needs immu­niza­tions to stay healthy, no mat­ter their age. Even if you were vac­ci­nat­ed as a child, you may need updates because immu­ni­ty can fade with time. Vac­cine rec­om­men­da­tions are based on a range of fac­tors, includ­ing age, over­all health, and your med­ical his­to­ry. Ask your health care provider or a phar­ma­cist about the rec­om­mend­ed vaccinations.

    Rec­om­men­da­tions for men’s health begin­ning at age 20 and beyond

    • Get an annu­al phys­i­cal exam by your pri­ma­ry care provider, includ­ing blood pres­sure, and height/weight checks.
    • Annu­al­ly screen for tes­tic­u­lar can­cer that includes month­ly self-exams.
    • Have cho­les­terol test­ing every five years.
    • Screen for dia­betes, thy­roid dis­ease, liv­er prob­lems, and anemia.
    • Depend­ing on risk fac­tors, screen for skin can­cer, sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­eases and HIV infec­tion, and alco­hol and drug misuse.
    • At 30, screen for coro­nary heart dis­ease, espe­cial­ly with a strong fam­i­ly his­to­ry of the dis­ease and/or risk factors.
    • At 40, screen for thy­roid dis­ease, liv­er prob­lems, ane­mia, and prostate cancer.
    • At 50, screen for cho­les­terol every five years; annu­al­ly screen for Type II dia­betes; lipid dis­or­ders; and skin, colon, and lung can­cer. Obtain a shin­gles vaccine.
    • At 60, screen for depres­sion, osteo­poro­sis, demen­tia, Alzheimer’s dis­ease, and abdom­i­nal aor­tic aneurysm. Have a carotid artery ultrasound.
    • At 70, depend­ing on pre­vi­ous find­ings, some screen­ings may be done every six months.

    Rec­om­men­da­tions for men’s health regard­less of age

    • Men have more dif­fi­cul­ty han­dling stress than women, par­tial­ly because women have bet­ter social net­works and more friends with whom then can con­fide. Thus, men should seek out more friends, whether they are male or female.
    • Laugh­ter increas­es endor­phins, there­by increas­ing longevi­ty. Get a sense of humor and engage with oth­ers with whom you can laugh.
    • Avoid tobac­co prod­ucts and non-pre­scrip­tive drugs.
    • Avoid exces­sive sun exposure.
    • Research the reli­a­bil­i­ty of vit­a­mins or herbs before start­ing them. Make sure it is rec­om­mend­ed by pro­fes­sion­als, not just the man­u­fac­tur­er of the item.
    • Don’t become a worka­holic; it increas­es stress and can lead to health con­cerns such as hyper­ten­sion and weight gain. Get a hob­by that helps you decrease stress, exer­cise in the man­ner you pre­fer, and seek help with diet to main­tain a desir­able weight.
    • Men, espe­cial­ly young men, are known for engag­ing in risky behav­iors. Wear seat­belts, hel­mets when rid­ing bicy­cles or motor­cy­cles, don’t text or talk on the tele­phone when dri­ving, and avoid friends who encour­age illic­it drug use and high alco­hol consumption.
    • If sex­u­al­ly active, get test­ed reg­u­lar­ly for sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tions. You might think you are safe if you engage in sex­u­al activ­i­ty with only one per­son, but that per­son might be hav­ing sex­u­al rela­tions with oth­ers, a con­cept called ser­i­al monogamy.
    • The Guttmach­er Insti­tute reports that some boys start hav­ing sex at the age of 10 and that num­ber increas­es each year until by the age of 20, 75 per­cent of men and boys engage sex­u­al activ­i­ty by the age of 20. There­fore, start safe-sex edu­ca­tion at home and in school begin­ning at age of 10.

    Dis­claimer: The Men’s Health Aware­ness views expressed here are sole­ly those of the author(s) and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent or reflect the views of Excel­sior Col­lege, its trustees, offi­cers, or employees.

    By Lar­ry Pur­nell, PhD, RN, FAAN

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on

  • Pet Insurance

    November 20, 2019

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    We’ve all heard the say­ing “A dog is a man’s best friend” and we know it’s true! Pets give us uncon­di­tion­al love, com­pan­ion­ship, and joy. But, are we will­ing to pay the price when a hefty vet bill comes along? Pet insur­ance may help you stom­ach that unex­pect­ed emer­gency room charge due to Fluffy’s uncan­ny abil­i­ty to eat any­thing with­in reach—even if it’s rotten!

    In 2017, over $16.62B were spent on vet­eri­nar­i­an bills in the Unit­ed States. In that same year, Amer­i­cans also spent over $1B on pet insur­ance. This begs the ques­tion “is pet insur­ance worth buy­ing?” While this mar­ket con­tin­ues to grow, 99% of pet own­ers report NOT hav­ing pet insur­ance. The num­ber one rea­son? Cost. Pre­mi­ums are at their low­est when you own a pup­py or kit­ten and increase as the pet gets old­er. This results in the insured only keep­ing pet insur­ance for an aver­age of 3 years. The cost of insur­ance can increase 5‑fold between the pup­py and adult years.

    Pet insur­ance is one of the fastest grow­ing mar­kets in the US. This insur­ance can be pur­chased with increased lev­els of cov­er­age. The most basic lev­el may cov­er treat­ments for some com­mon ill­ness­es or acci­den­tal injury. The mid-range cov­er­age could cov­er pre­ven­ta­tive care as well as immu­niza­tions. An exam­ple of pre­mi­um cov­er­age is sur­gi­cal cost and lia­bil­i­ty for if the pet injured some­one. Prices for these lev­els range from $15/ month to $45/month.

    Pet insur­ance is now becom­ing a more com­mon­place employ­ee ben­e­ says that 6500 employ­ers in the US and Cana­da offer pet insur­ance to its employ­ees. A report by SHRM says that of those offered pet insur­ance as an employ­ee perk, only 6% of pet own­ers uti­lized that ben­e­fit in 2012. By 2017, that num­ber rose to 9%. Employ­ees say this is an impor­tant ben­e­fit because, for many, pets are con­sid­ered part of a fam­i­ly and if you insure a human mem­ber of a fam­i­ly, why wouldn’t you also insure your pet?

    If your com­pa­ny does not offer pet insur­ance, here are some tips on what you should look for when con­sid­er­ing pur­chas­ing pet insurance:

    1. How much do my pre­mi­ums increase as my pet ages?
    2. What is cov­ered and not cov­ered? Does the plan include pre-exist­ing conditions?
    3. Can you pur­chase just acci­dent cov­er­age for if your pet injures someone?

    With our pets being a vital part of our fam­i­ly, hav­ing pet insur­ance can give you peace of mind that you don’t have to shoul­der the entire cost of an injury or ill­ness of a pet. Not hav­ing to make deci­sions for their care based on mon­ey is a bless­ing to their fam­i­lies. For over 6,000 com­pa­nies and their 80,000 employ­ees this perk is worth every penny.

  • What Diversity Looks Like in the Workplace

    November 13, 2019

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    Diver­si­ty isn’t just a moral issue.  There is a busi­ness case that can be made for pro­mot­ing diver­si­ty and inclu­sion in the work­place.  From recruit­ment to men­tor­ing, human resources has a main role in the strategy.

    Defining Diversity

    What is diver­si­ty?  That’s a two pronged answer.  There is inher­ent diver­si­ty.  It involves traits a per­son is born with… gen­der, eth­nic­i­ty, and sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion for instance.  Then there is acquired diver­si­ty.  These are traits gained from expe­ri­ence.  For instance, an employ­ee who has worked abroad will be more inclined to appre­ci­ate cul­tur­al difference.

    The Har­vard Busi­ness Review con­duct­ed a study focused on two-dimen­sion­al diver­si­ty.  A per­son with 2‑D diver­si­ty is said to have least three inher­ent and three acquired diver­si­ty traits.  In the study, com­pa­nies with 2‑D diver­si­ty out-inno­vat­ed and out-per­formed those with­out it.  Those com­pa­nies were 45% more like­ly to report growth over the pre­vi­ous year and 70% more like­ly to report cap­tur­ing a new market.

    Diversity in Practice

    Tran­sUnion con­tin­ues to focus on diver­si­ty and inclu­sion ini­tia­tives and has even made key changes in lead­er­ship.  Instead of posi­tions being held by just men, the com­pa­ny has added some women to the ranks.  But it isn’t some­thing that hap­pened overnight and the work con­tin­ues into 2019.  Debra Wasser­man is the Senior Direc­tor of Com­pen­sa­tion and Ben­e­fits at Tran­sUnion.  She said Tran­sUnion used a top-down approach.

    “We start­ed with the senior-most lead­ers and fol­lowed it down through­out the orga­ni­za­tion,” Wasser­man said.  “I think to some degree, there need­ed to be some aware­ness.  So, we had to get this front and cen­ter in front of everyone.”

    From there, Wasser­man says the com­pa­ny has start­ed look­ing at pay equi­ty.  She said some states already require this, but they’ve start­ed look­ing at it as a glob­al issue as well.

    “We don’t have all the answers.  We’re just start­ing to ask ques­tions at this point, but we’re try­ing to make a move toward a more diverse sit­u­a­tion,” Wasser­man said.

    Impacting Diversity

    Diver­si­ty and inclu­sion con­tin­ues to be one of the dom­i­nant top­ics for HR pro­fes­sion­als.  There are some way’s HR can real­ly impact change for their respec­tive companies.

    In most com­pa­nies it can be dif­fi­cult to get a clear pic­ture of what diver­si­ty is like for that par­tic­u­lar organization.

    To com­bat this, HR teams should mon­i­tor diver­si­ty.  This can be done through audits.  This should be done, not only for cur­rent employ­ees, but in recruit­ment prac­tices as well.  This will allow for progress to be mea­sured effectively.

    When it comes to diver­si­ty, HR should focus on build­ing a diverse work­force through recruit­ment or devel­op­ment. There are a myr­i­ad of ways of doing this.  Some can be through inter­nal or exter­nal partnerships.

    Like recruit­ment, men­tor­ing can be inter­nal or exter­nal. For instance, some HR pro­fes­sion­als work with schools or local youth groups. This helps with fos­ter­ing tal­ent ear­ly and mak­ing sure more diverse indi­vid­u­als are aware of the opportunities.

    HR teams should under­stand it is vital to ensure the diver­si­ty of your sup­ply chain.  Fur­ther­more, it should reflect your con­sumer base, but also that there is a busi­ness case for sup­ply chain diversity.

    In Summation

    It is clear HR has a role in diver­si­ty.  Com­pa­nies should start, if they’re not already, think­ing about mak­ing these changes to recruit­ment, but they will have to imple­ment them as soon as possible.

    That said, these steps can help pro­pel the com­pa­ny onto a pos­i­tive tra­jec­to­ry.  Even with pos­i­tive changes in recruit­ment, oth­er areas such as men­tor­ing, sup­pli­er chain diver­si­ty and pro­gres­sion and lead­er­ship still need to be focused on to ensure com­pa­nies are aid­ing eth­nic minor­i­ty pro­gres­sion with­in their organizations.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on

  • New HSA Limits

    November 8, 2019

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    For 2020 the min­i­mum annu­al deductible is $1,400 for an indi­vid­ual and $2,800 with depen­dents. The max­i­mum deductible and out-of-pock­et costs are $6,900 and $13,800, respec­tive­ly. The max­i­mum con­tri­bu­tions are $3,550 for an indi­vid­ual and $7,100 with depen­dents. Those aged 55 or above are still allowed to con­tribute an addi­tion­al $1,000 per year.

  • Diabetes Education and Prevention

    November 6, 2019

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    Dia­betes is a long-last­ing health con­di­tion that affects how your body con­verts food to ener­gy. Dia­betes patients are unable to make enough of the hor­mone called insulin or can­not use the insulin that is made in their body effi­cient­ly.  When this hap­pens, your body can respond in some seri­ous ways that include liv­er dam­age, heart dis­ease, vision loss, and kid­ney disease.

    There are two types of dia­betes. Type 1 dia­betes is an autoim­mune dis­ease where the body just stops mak­ing insulin. These patients are usu­al­ly diag­nosed as chil­dren, teens, or ear­ly adults. Type 2 dia­betes is a result of your body not using the insulin pro­duced in an effi­cient man­ner. About 90% of all dia­bet­ic patients are type 2 cas­es. But, through edu­ca­tion and pre­ven­tion, the effects of dia­betes on a person’s body can be lessened.

    How is food con­vert­ed to energy?

    When you eat food, most of it is con­vert­ed to sug­ar (glu­cose) and released into your blood­stream to pro­vide you with the ener­gy you need to do dai­ly tasks. When your blood sug­ar lev­els increase, your pan­creas is then acti­vat­ed to release insulin into your body’s cells and use it for ener­gy. Insulin not only helps con­vert glu­cose to ener­gy, but it also helps our body store glu­cose for future ener­gy use.

    Dia­betes = Bro­ken Process

    In some peo­ple, the con­ver­sion process is inter­rupt­ed and the mes­sage to the pan­creas to release insulin into the cells to use for ener­gy is done inef­fec­tive­ly. These patients have trou­ble bal­anc­ing the cor­rect amount of insulin in their cells and so there­fore have a hard­er time main­tain­ing ener­gy lev­els. Dia­bet­ic patients try to get rid of extra sug­ar (blood sug­ar lev­el of 180 +) through the kid­neys and there­fore have the need to uri­nate more often. When releas­ing large amounts of sug­ar through urine, it means that there is less avail­able to con­vert to ener­gy and leads to lethar­gy, loss of appetite, and excess burn­ing of body fat.

    Edu­ca­tion & Pre­ven­tion is Key

    For peo­ple with either type 1 or type 2 dia­betes, under­stand­ing how your body process­es sug­ar and main­tains healthy blood sug­ar lev­els is para­mount. Those with type 1 dia­betes require dai­ly insulin shots to keep blood sug­ar lev­els even. These patients are unable to reverse this autoim­mune dis­ease and sole­ly rely on insulin shots to lev­el out glu­cose lev­els. Those with type 2 dia­betes can con­trol the pro­gres­sion of this dis­ease by mak­ing healthy diet choic­es and exer­cis­ing reg­u­lar­ly. In some cas­es, type 2 dia­bet­ics also have to include insulin shots or dia­betes pills.

    Novem­ber is Nation­al Dia­betes Month and is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Main­tain­ing blood sug­ar lev­els through diet and exer­cise as well as becom­ing aware of the effects of the eat­ing choic­es you make is key to under­stand­ing this dis­ease. For more infor­ma­tion on dia­betes and how to make good choic­es, vis­it the Amer­i­can Dia­betes Asso­ci­a­tion website.

  • The big get bigger…will it provide bigger opportunities for savings on health care?

    November 6, 2019

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    Humana already has a mail-order phar­ma­cy, with over 230 pri­ma­ry care clin­ics and a large home health care provider.  These ser­vices are part of Humana’s shift from “an insur­ance com­pa­ny with ele­ments of health­care to a health­care com­pa­ny with ele­ments of insur­ance” accord­ing to their chief strat­e­gy offi­cer, as they build more pri­ma­ry care clin­ics while stitch­ing togeth­er oth­er pri­ma­ry care inno­va­tors.  Now Humana is launch­ing a new dig­i­tal health and ana­lyt­ics unit, Stu­dio H, which will focus on tech­nol­o­gy designed to man­age provider work­flow, expand­ing tele­health into the home health and pri­ma­ry care set­tings and bring­ing voice recog­ni­tion tools to mem­bers in their homes.  One of those ser­vices has already been built out, a vir­tu­al pri­ma­ry care ser­vice launched with Doc­tor on Demand (now called On Hand).

  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Life Insurance

    October 30, 2019


    Life insur­ance blah blah blah. Is that what you hear when some­one men­tions it as part of your new job’s employ­ee ben­e­fits round-up or when you see some­thing about it on TV or social media? Not to wor­ry: we’ve got the low-down on what you need to know. And it’s real­ly not as over­whelm­ing (or under­whelm­ing) as you might think.

    1. It’s part of a sound finan­cial plan. You know about sav­ings, you know about retire­ment. You might know a bit about invest­ments and long-term finan­cial plan­ning for your health and hap­pi­ness. And life insur­ance helps with plan­ning for your loved ones’ long-term health and hap­pi­ness, espe­cial­ly those who depend on your income, in case some­thing were to hap­pen to you.

    2. There are dif­fer­ent kinds of life insur­ance. In addi­tion to employ­ment-based life insur­ance (which typ­i­cal­ly only lasts as long as your employ­ment at your job), there’s term and per­ma­nent life insurance.

    Term life insur­ance: You typ­i­cal­ly pay low­er pre­mi­ums for term life insur­ance, but your cov­er­age is just for a spec­i­fied amount of time, say 20 years, for exam­ple. At the end of the term, your insur­ance cov­er­age ends.

    Per­ma­nent life insur­ance: With per­ma­nent life insur­ance (whole, uni­ver­sal, vari­able) you typ­i­cal­ly pay high­er pre­mi­ums in the short term, but then these poli­cies gen­er­al­ly allow you to accu­mu­late cash val­ue over time. Your cov­er­age is designed to last as long as you con­tin­ue to pay premiums.

    3. Life insur­ance is sur­pris­ing­ly afford­able for most peo­ple. Sure, there are forms of life insur­ance that get prici­er the more fea­tures you add on to it, and the price goes up if you’re a smok­er or deal­ing with health prob­lems. But most peo­ple think life insur­ance costs about three times as much as it real­ly does, accord­ing to the Insur­ance Barom­e­ter Study by Life Hap­pens and LIMRA. Just as a gen­er­al guide, a healthy non­smok­ing 30-year-old man can get a $250,000 20-year lev­el term pol­i­cy for about $16 a month.

    4. Key life events are often the best time to get on board. Get­ting mar­ried? Hav­ing kids? Chang­ing jobs? Bought a house? Sig­nif­i­cant life events are often the time you become most aware of the need for life insurance—and on that note…

    5. You can change your life insur­ance. Per­haps you have a life insur­ance pol­i­cy that your par­ents got for you when you were a baby. Per­haps you have a term pol­i­cy from when you bought your house but now you have a big­ger fam­i­ly and you’re con­cerned about get­ting them all through col­lege. Or per­haps you want to bump up your cov­er­age because your over­all cost of liv­ing has changed. And on *that* note …

    6. You may well need more cov­er­age than you think. Some­times peo­ple think life insur­ance is to pay off their own debts and funer­al expens­es. But a key advan­tage of hav­ing life insur­ance is to ensure that the peo­ple who depend on you will be OK with their ongo­ing and future finan­cial needs if some­thing hap­pens to you. Need help fig­ur­ing this out how much? Go to this online cal­cu­la­tor:

    7. Life insur­ance pays out quick­ly. Because life insur­ance doesn’t get tan­gled up in estate claims, it gen­er­al­ly pays out quick­ly, some­times in days or weeks, usu­al­ly inside of a month.

    8. Life insur­ance pro­ceeds are gen­er­al­ly tax-free. Com­pare this to, say, crowd­fund­ing options like “GoFundMe” that have become so pop­u­lar yet cre­ate tax con­se­quences for the peo­ple they’re meant to help (to say noth­ing of fees and the lack of guar­an­teed ben­e­fit). It’s also help­ful when you’re try­ing to cre­ate an inher­i­tance for a beneficiary.

    9. Life insur­ance pro­tects your fam­i­ly, but only if you let it. Keep your pre­mi­ums paid up and your ben­e­fi­cia­ries up to date, and the door with your agent open so that your loved ones know who to call if they need to. Keep your paper­work with your oth­er vital documents.

    10. Life insur­ance can be more than just life insur­ance. Using “rid­ers,” or an adden­dum to a life insur­ance con­tract, or even a spe­cif­ic kind of pol­i­cy, life insur­ance ben­e­fits can become “liv­ing ben­e­fits,” mon­ey you can access before you die, or use to pay for long-term care, as two examples.

    If you still need help get­ting a han­dle on all this, talk to an agent. They can help you under­stand the ins and outs and the best pol­i­cy for your bud­get and needs. Because of course—the most impor­tant thing to know about life insur­ance is that it’s there to help the peo­ple you love the most.

    By Helen Mosher

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on

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