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Lower Your Health Care Costs

May 8th, 2019 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Improving Your Well-being May Help Lower Your Health Care Costs

Health care costs continue to rise, and it can feel as though there is nothing you can do to combat the expenses—but there is. Taking control of your overall well-being can greatly lower your health care costs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 86% of the nation’s health care costs go to treating chronic conditions. Obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes are a few of the most common chronic health conditions. Medical care for obesity alone costs the United States roughly $147 to $210 billion every year.

Risk factors for chronic diseases and other health problems can be managed through your lifestyle choices. According to the CDC, risk factors include: inactivity, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, elevated blood pressure and diabetes. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, found that people who have four or more of the listed risk factors rack up an average of $3,116 more on medication costs alone than those with one or less of the risk factors.

Making changes to your lifestyle can help prevent or lessen the severity of health issues, which may result in fewer health expenses and a greater well-being.

What Is Well-being?

According to the CDC, 86% of the nation’s health care costs go to treating chronic conditions.

At its most basic level, well-being refers to feeling good and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Achieving total well-being may seem unattainable, but it’s a continuous goal that everyone should be striving for. Physical, mental, social and financial well-being are four components that make up your overall well-being.

  • Physical well-being—Whether you’re taking a 30-minute walk after work or joining an adult sports team, staying physically active is imperative to your overall health. Eating a well-balanced diet to fuel your body, as well as getting enough sleep, are also necessary to maintain physical well-being.
  • Mental well-being—How your mind feels directly affects how your body performs. One common theme of mental well-being is the impact of stress. The American Institute of Stress reported that 1 in 4 employees consider their jobs to be the top stressor in their life. Reducing stress in your work and personal life may greatly improve your ability to focus and think more clearly.
  • Social well-being—Your social well-being plays a big role in your overall well-being. Joining a club or an adult sports team is a great way to meet new people and stay active in a way that’s low commitment, yet extremely beneficial to your overall well-being. Being social can create long-lasting support systems or even form connections in your professional life.
  • Financial well-being—According to a Gallup survey, 46% of working employees are very or moderately worried about paying off normal medical expenses. Being financially literate and establishing a healthy relationship with money can lead to increased financial stability and better well-being.

For more information on well-being, contact HR for resources that may be available to you.

Download and Save this Know Your Benefits Tip: here

2019 Live Well Planner

January 3rd, 2019 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

These days, you may feel overwhelmed with all the health information available to you. However, there are really only a few basic tips to keep in mind for your optimal health. According to experts, leading a healthy lifestyle can help you achieve total wellness and keep costly, chronic conditions at bay.

Living a healthy lifestyle, though, is easier said than done. That’s where the Live Well Planner comes in. The Live Well Planner provides you with the tools you need to feel and live healthier than ever before. Each month features exercise, diet and overall wellness articles, while each week provides you with plenty of space to plan your meals, log your workouts, plan your daily activities and appointments—or all of the above!

Each week also offers a “Tip of the Week” designed to help you stay on track and includes a section where you can write down your goals for each week. As an added bonus, the last page of every month will feature two healthy, easy and delicious recipes for you to try. The nutritional information for these recipes are also included. Staying organized, planning your days, workouts or meals, and having access to wellness information and healthy recipes is a great way to get yourself on track to achieve your wellness goals.

However, please remember that you should speak with a medical professional before you begin a diet and fitness regimen. You and your doctor together can decide the best diet and fitness plan, plan reasonable goals and establish a safe, tenable timeline for you to achieve your wellness goals.

Click to Download

Managing Holiday Budgets

December 7th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety, inSIGHTS

Often, a leading cause of stress during the holiday season stems from money problems. If you are like most consumers, you have not planned ahead and may find yourself struggling for cash come January. Proper budgeting and smart shopping techniques will help you stay within budget while finding something special for everyone on your list.

Consider the following tips:

  • Write down a maximum dollar amount that you want to spend for your entire list, and then track how much you are actually spending.
  • Set aside money throughout the year to use for holiday spending.
  • Take advantage of online ordering to save money and time by comparison shopping. Make sure to take advantage of Cyber Monday sales and free shipping codes.
  • Buy gifts using cash. This will help you avoid putting too many expenses on your credit card.
  • Give personalized gifts instead of expensive gifts. A less expensive, thoughtful gift can be worth more than a costly gift that the recipient may never use.

Keeping in mind the above tips will ensure that you can enjoy the holiday season without worrying about money.

View more InSights here.

Holiday Depression & Stress

November 5th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

While many look forward to the holidays, others dread the season. If you feel stressed, the obligations at holiday time can take their toll on even the most cheerful of people. Here are some tips to help you minimize holiday stress.

Causes of Stress

Ask yourself what exactly about the season makes you feel stressed. Your feelings may be triggered by the following:

  • Unhappy childhood memories
  • Difficult familial relationships
  • Negative feelings about your life over the past year
  • Seasonal monotony—seeing the same faces, eating the same food and going through the same motions
  • Lowered immune defenses because of colder temperatures, high incidence of the flu, eating more and sleeping less
  • Financial stress

Minimize Holiday Stress

Consider the following tips to help reduce stress this holiday season:

  • Enjoy the present and try not to worry about what may be lacking.
  • Don’t feel you must meet all family obligations. Do not simply do something or go somewhere because of tradition, especially if it makes you unhappy.
  • Ask others for assistance. For example, ask a relative to host the family get-together, or make it a potluck and have everyone contribute to the meal.
  • Make a to-do list in chronological order to minimize stress.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Stay active and continue to eat a balanced diet.
  • Create a new tradition, such as volunteering, especially if you feel lonely.
  • Make time for yourself and your needs, even when hosting guests in your house.
  • Keep tabs on your holiday spending. Make a budget and stick to it, no exceptions.
  • Don’t feel you must meet all family obligations. Do not simply do something or go somewhere because of tradition, especially if it makes you unhappy.
  • Ask others for assistance. For example, ask a relative to host the family get-together, or make it a potluck and have everyone contribute to the meal.
  • Make a to-do list in chronological order to minimize stress.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Stay active and continue to eat a balanced diet.
  • Create a new tradition, such as volunteering, especially if you feel lonely.
  • Make time for yourself and your needs, even when hosting guests in your house.
  • Keep tabs on your holiday spending. Make a budget and stick to it, no exceptions.
View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Health Savings Account

April 5th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

10 Reasons to Love a Health Savings Account

Many consumers are eager to learn more about health savings accounts (HSAs), which continue to generate buzz as a growing trend in health care coverage. The general assumption is that a financial tool with this much potential must be complex and difficult to understand. However, HSAs are simple to outline, and can be broken down into a list of ten basic points for consumers to easily digest.

  1. HSAs fund health care needs

The HSA is first and foremost designed to fund health care expenses in conjunction with a high deductible health plan (HDHP). An HDHP is a requirement to set up an HSA. The HSA is a savings account that secures pre-tax dollars in a fund for future medical needs, and helps meet the deductible on one’s health insurance plan, should something happen that takes medical expenses beyond what is readily affordable.

  1. HSAs utilize pre-tax funds

HSAs may be set up through employers or through financial institutions like banks, insurance companies, or third-party administrators. Contributions to HSAs through employers are set up as pre-tax investments. HSA accounts created through financial institutions are designed so that consumers can take an “above-the-line” deduction on personal taxes. One asset for many is that taxable income is decreased, so fewer taxes need to be paid out.

  1. HSAs come with significant premium savings over traditional insurance plans

High deductible health plans also come with much lower premiums than a traditional plan. This is especially apparent to someone who pays the premiums all year long but doesn’t actually go to the doctor or utilize medical services very often. For this person, the premium can feel like money out the window. Based on premium savings alone, some HSA consumers see 20 to 40 percent savings each year.

  1. HSAs offer expanded coverage options for consumers

Unlike typical insurance plans that have a highly negotiated list of medical products or services that are covered, HSAs allow many additional health-related expenses. So doctors’ visits, hospital expenses and prescriptions are covered, but coverage also extends to some dental and vision services, and certain “non-traditional” treatments such as acupuncture and deep tissue massage.

  1. HSAs allow negotiating power to secure discounts on medical services

Because an HSA is a “cash” account, it empowers consumers with an option to negotiate pricing on many medical services, which can lead to substantial savings on medical expenses. For example, standard imaging services can vary widely in price depending on location and payment method. An MRI, for example, can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,800 for the exact same service.

  1. HSAs offer control and choices regarding health care needs

With these plans, consumers have unlimited choices regarding services, service providers and medical expenditures. With an HSA, one can go to the doctor of his or her choice.

  1. HSAs are portable

If a consumer switches jobs, the HSA account follows. And, unlike traditional insurance plans, consumers do not lose unused funds in these accounts at the end of the year. The consumer “owns” this account and all benefits that come from its good management.

  1. HSAs create financial incentives for managing health care expenses

There are always unfortunate cases where a catastrophic event occurs and emergency medical services are required that do not allow time to “shop around.” But the majority of medical transactions faced in the course of a lifetime are more predictable. Since the HSA is a consumer-controlled cash account, that consumer is encouraged to think about whether a particular expense is worth it or if a cheaper alternative, like a generic medication instead of name brand, might work just as well.

  1. HSAs are a powerful tool for retirement investing

Over time, a relatively healthy person or someone who is a decent financial manager can save a good deal of money and investment earnings in an HSA. Consumers who are between the ages of 55 and 65 also have the opportunity to make additional “catch-up” contributions to the fund. Increased access to this fund begins at age 65. The account can continue to be used for medical expenses with no penalties, but withdrawals for other purposes are also possible (after age 65) and often face fewer penalties than withdrawals from an IRA.

  1. HSAs create a health-conscious community and put market forces to work that drive down health costs for everyone

Because of the incentive to save and earn money, consumers are encouraged to become educated on health care and medical services to become active participants in the control of their health and wellness. Providers of medical products and services are forced into a healthier competition for consumers. Additionally, there is a personal incentive to make smarter decisions about the use of the health care system, then decreasing the likelihood of its abuse. Overall, it becomes a more efficient system, and the costs of medical services decrease to meet the new market realities.

The HSA is an easy-to-use tool that offers consumers a way to take control of their health investments. It puts all of the financial incentives in the right place to encourage the consumer to make healthier lifestyle choices, better health care-related financial decisions, and to invest and save money over time for future medical needs. Consumer driven health care has the power to change a family’s financial future while also catalyzing positive change in America’s health care system as a whole.

Spring Maintenance Checklist

March 6th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Too many homeowners believe spring maintenance is all about the cleaning. Sure, spring cleaning comprises a big chunk of any spring home maintenance schedule, but maintenance aimed at various structures, appliances, and systems within the home is, arguably, just as important. Nearly all homeowners love to see spotless windows for that first sunny, 70-degree day, but you can’t forget your roof and the possibility that ice dams formed over the winter. Indeed, just as much as that first spring day should provide an excuse to go for a hike or a picnic, it should also provide a reminder that your outdoor spring maintenance is waiting. Follow this spring maintenance checklist to ensure your home is in optimal condition for the rest of the year.

Spring Maintenance Checklist

  • Gutters and downspouts: Pull leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts. Reattach gutters that have pulled away from the house. Run a hose on the roof and check for proper drainage. If leaks exist, dry the area and use caulking or epoxy to seal the leak.
  • Siding: Clean siding with a pressure washer to keep mold from growing. Check all wood surfaces for weathering and paint failure. If wood is showing through, sand the immediate area and apply a primer coat before painting. If paint is peeling, scrape loose paint and sand smooth before painting.
  • Exterior caulking: Inspect caulking and replace if deteriorating. Scrape out all of the eroding caulk and recaulk needed area.
  • Window sills, door sills, and thresholds: Fill cracks, caulk edges, repaint or replace if necessary.
  • Window and door screens: Clean screening and check for holes. If holes are bigger than a quarter, that is plenty of room for bugs to climb in. Patch holes or replace the screen. Save bad screen to patch holes next year. Tighten or repair any loose or damaged frames and repaint. Replace broken, worn, or missing hardware. Wind can ruin screens and frames if they are allowed flap and move so make sure they are securely fastened. Tighten and lubricate door hinges and closers.
  • Drain waste and vent system: Flush out system.
  • Hot water heater: Lubricate circulating pump and motor.
  • Evaporative air conditioner: Clean unit, check belt tension and adjust if needed. Replace cracked or worn belt.
  • Heat pump: Lubricate blower motor.
  • Foundation: Check foundation walls, floors, concrete, and masonry for cracking, heaving, or deterioration. If a significant number of bricks are losing their mortar, call a foundation professional. If you can slide a nickle into a crack in your concrete floor, slab or foundation call a professional immediately.
  • Roof: Inspect roof surface flashing, eaves, and soffits. Perform a thorough cleaning. Check flashings around all surface projections and sidewalls.
  • Deck and porches: Check all decks, patios, porches, stairs, and railings for loose members and deterioration. Open decks and wood fences need to be treated every 4-6 years, depending on how much exposure they get to sun and rain. If the stain doesn’t look like it should or water has turned some of the wood a dark grey, hire a deck professional to treat your deck and fence.
  • Landscape: This is a natural for spring home maintenance. Cut back and trim all vegetation and overgrown bushes from structures. Limbs and leaves can cut into your home’s paint and force you to have that side of the house repainted. A little trimming can save a lot of money and time.
  • Sprinklers: Check lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves, exposed lines, and improperly working sprinkler heads. If there is an area of your yard that collects too much water or doesn’t get enough, run the sprinklers to figure out the problem. If it’s not something you can fix yourself, call a professional before your lawn needs the water.

Prevent Frostbite

January 4th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Purchasing Medications Online

January 4th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Kitchen Appliance Safety Tips

November 9th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

The kitchen is home to a number of appliances that are used on a daily basis. And while these appliances are incredibly useful, they can also be dangerous if they are used incorrectly or break down.

In order to protect your home and family from injuries caused by kitchen appliances, consider the following safety tips:

  • Unplug appliances when they are not in use to reduce the risk of electrical shock. If this is not an option, ensure that plugs are kept away from sources of water, like sinks.
  • Ensure that appliance cords are tucked away neatly and out of general walkways. Hanging cords can create tripping hazards or endanger small children that might tug on them.
  • Store countertop appliances like toasters and microwaves away from sources of heat, like stoves. Some kitchen appliances are made of plastics and can melt if exposed to excess heat, creating a fire hazard.
  • Only use microwave-safe utensils and cookware when reheating food items.

Above all, it’s important to install fire alarms in your kitchen and avoid using outdated appliances.