HealthNews June 2015
Men’s Health Month – Keeping Dad Healthy
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads! With all you do for your families, taking care of yourself should be at the top of your list. Whether you are a dad or not, being healthy means being actively engaged in your life both at work and at home. Preventive screenings can recognize potential problems before they become unmanageable and could save your life. Below are important screening guidelines for men to take note of, as well as how often they should be done.
- Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years unless you have certain conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. If so, you should have it checked more often. If the top number is over 140 and the bottom number is over 90 you should make an appointment with your doctor.
- Cholesterol Screening: Men over 34 should have it checked every 5 years. If you have risk factors for heart disease you should be checked more often.
- Diabetes: If you are over 45 you should be checked every three years. If you have a body mass index over 25 you should be screened regardless of age.
- Colon Cancer Screening: If you are between ages 50-75, you should be screened for colorectal cancer. This may involve: a stool test every year, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5-10 years, and a colonoscopy every 10 years. You may require a colonoscopy more often if you have risk factors involved such as a family history of this type of cancer.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Most men age 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their provider. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should discuss screening at age 45. Prostate examinations are no longer routinely done on men with no symptoms.
- Physical Exams: Men should have a preventive health visit every 2 years until age 50, and then once a year.
Along with the listed health screenings, stay active, eat a sensible diet, and do not smoke. We wish the very best in good health and well being to all dads this Father’s Day. Thank you, not just on Father’s Day, but for the role you have each and every day.
New HSA Limits For 2016
The IRS stated it is raising the maximum allowable contribution to an HSA (health savings account) by $100 in 2016. This increase is only for families.
The IRS announced last month that the maximum contribution that can be made next year to an HSA linked to a high – deductible plan will be $6,750 for employees with family coverage, up from $6,650 in 2015. The maximum contribution for those with single coverage, however, will remain unchanged at $3,350.
Last year the maximum HSA contribution for individuals jumped $50.
For calendar year 2016, a HDHP (high deductible health plan), will be defined as a health plan with an annual deductible that is “not less than $1,300 for self-only coverage or $2,600 for family coverage.” Also, annual out of pocket expenses – such as deductibles, copayments, and other amounts that do not include premiums – will not exceed $6,550 for self-only coverage or $13,100 for family coverage, the IRS said.
The increases are to take effect January 2016.
5 Bad Work Habits to Avoid
Time is our most valuable resource and we should use it wisely. Since over-scheduling and busyness can consume the day, the “not-to-do” list seems every bit as important as our “to-do” list. Bad habits can be changed and by doing so we gain back our precious time as well as boost our productivity. While all of these tips may not apply to you or may not be possible to implement in your environment, any small step towards changing bad habits is a step in the right direction. Below is a list of time wasters and energy drainers and how to avoid them.
Bad Habit #1: Multitasking Anywhere/ being on your cell phone
Recent studies have found that when you over multitask, you’re actually losing focus and either doing things halfway or decreasing the quality of your work, this involves the overuse of cell phones.
How to change it: Recognize that you’re multitasking if you are not being productive with the tasks. Go back to what you were working on or focusing on and finish the project. Cell phones are a blessing and a curse at the same time. Make sure to manage your time wisely on your phone and be respectful of where you use your phone. To prevent distractions, avoid doing business on your phone in your car (calling, emailing and texting – remember, car accidents are the #1 cause of death in the US for ages 5-34), at work (if cell phones are not permitted) at restaurants or during meals with your family.
Bad Habit #2: Being Late
Being late is a bad habit anytime. Being consistently late to work will not endear yourself to your coworkers or boss. Tardiness shows you are not compliant with time management and actually sets the tone for your day.
How to change it:
Track the times you were late and the reason for it. Within a week or two you will have figured out if you need to leave your home earlier or take an alternate route, wake up earlier, or take a later lunch for example.
Bad Habit #3: Planning Poorly/ Not Delegating
It can be difficult to let go of the control, but if you have supportive co-workers/team, you should be able to delegate effectively. Poor planning also falls under this heading. If you find yourself unorganized and unprepared, you need to change this habit quickly.
How to change it:
Delegate tasks and trust your team will follow through. Follow up throughout the process and trust the team will do the jobs they were hired to do. If you find yourself in a planning haze, make sure you plan your next day before you leave for home. Write a to-do list and follow through with the tasks and make sure you prioritize them.
Bad Habit #4: Saying “yes” or “no” All the Time
Either one could be unhealthy and unproductive. Saying yes all the time does not set realistic expectations and saying yes to something you don’t want to do may set you up for failure. Saying no all the time will make you seem too rigid, closed off, or close minded.
How to change it:
Life is about keeping a dynamic balance so if you find yourself saying too much of one or the other, try saying either yes or no more for a week and see how it feels. Small steps will help replace the bad habit. Make sure you set up healthy boundaries and down-to-earth expectations with your clients and co workers from the beginning. Remember that you can’t please everyone all the time.
Bad Habit #5: Waiting/ Procrastinating
Anything worth doing is worth doing right now. Every day we allow hesitation and uncertainty to stop us from acting on our ideas. Fear of the unknown and fear of failure stifle us from reaching our full potential.
How to change it:
Pick one idea or one goal and get started. The first step is the hardest and each successive step will become easier. Put more effort into the things that will have the greatest impact on you reaching your goals. If it doesn’t contribute to one of your goals, consider not pursuing it because it can be a waste of your precious time.
Time is the one thing nobody can get back, no matter how wealthy you may be. Spend it wisely and always consider yourself fortunate for the time you have been given.
2016 Exchange Expecting Steep Premium Hikes
The main insurers on health exchanges in six states, where rate requests have already been filed, for 2016 are looking to raise premiums by an average of 18.6% next year. While the data is still somewhat limited and preliminary because rate requests may change, experts note that the Congressional Budget Office was right on target in projecting a significantly larger increase than what occurred in 2015.
Current reports range from a 7.7% average hike in premiums in Connecticut to an unfathomable 36% hike in Tennessee requested by BlueCross and CareFirst in Maryland is requesting a 30% hike for nearly 80% of its exchange members. According to the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, the average proposed increase for Oregon in 2016 will be a whopping 23%. The state hasn’t been subjected to rate hikes this large since 2010.
The Congressional Budget Office has projected that rates will increase, on average, by 8.5% per year for the next three years. A part of this increase is due to the phasing out of the government programs that were put into place on a temporary basis to help protect health insurers from the potential fallout of absorbing high risk/high cost enrollees.
As Investor’s Business Daily notes, these increases will be a major shock to anyone that does not receive subsidies. The majority of people that do receive subsidies, however, will be protected from the increases because they only are required to pay a fixed percentage of their income, and the government will be left to pay the difference. This protection could come crashing down if the Supreme Court rules against state exchange enrollees receiving federal subsidies. These type of rate hikes will be untenable for low income participants.
A Good Night’s Sleep Begins the Moment You Wake Up
Sleep is imperative. Getting enough sleep makes you feel better, eat less, and have more energy and helps to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation and serious illness. Of course, for some, getting enough “shut-eye” can be difficult. It is not always as simple as just closing your eyes and falling sound asleep. According to Michelle Drerup, PsyD, a sleep specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, the quality of your sleep is a result of how you spend your time from morning to night.
Follow the steps below to make a good night’s sleep an all day affair:
- Get up and Get out. Go out and walk in the morning. Natural sunlight in the a.m. hours will help to normalize your body’s natural sleep – wake cycle so that you are tired when it is time to go to bed. It will also help your mood too.
- Move as much as possible during your day. Physical activity helps you not only fall asleep but helps you to stay asleep. Rigorous physical activity should be completed at least an hour and a half before your bed time.
- Remove stress from your to-do list. Stress is a sleep-stealer. Help alleviate stress by sticking to your limits (once you have defined what they are), drop “shoulds” from your daily list, and work on ways to reduce stress (yoga, deep breathing, exercise)
- A small snack before bed. A nighttime snack (at least 2 hours before sleep) that contains the amino acid tryptophan may help. Turkey, chicken, eggs, peanut butter, and nuts contain tryptophan.
With great respect,
Douglas-McCarty Insurance Services
We are dedicated to the highest standards of business ethics with a commitment to excellence in the health insurance industry – Douglas-McCarty Insurance Services