Listen to what your mouth tells you

Going in for regular dental cleanings and exams is highly recommended, even though some 100 million Americans don’t visit a dentist each year.

Regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental diseases and can help alert you to other problems at an early stage.

Whether or not you get regular dental cleanings and exams, here are a few signs or symptoms that you should always get checked out:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Gums that start to pull away from your teeth
  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Changes in how your top and bottom teeth align with each other
  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Mouth sores that don’t heal
  • Ongoing bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth

Learn more at Jul.HopeHealth.com.

Source: American Dental Association

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Be a good sport with coworkers

sip-teamJoining a company sports team can build camaraderie, as long as you use some etiquette and common sense when it comes to exercising with fellow employees.

  • Leave any workplace grievances at the office. If you have an issue with someone or just don’t have similar personalities when it comes to your professional life, put those feelings aside on the field or court.
  • Remember you’re part of a team. Work together; don’t try to hog the glory.
  • Don’t be a sore loser if you don’t come out on top. Remember, you’re representing your company and the rest of the people on your team. Congratulate your opponents and thank them for the game.

Learn more at Jul.HopeHealth.com.

Need an exercise idea to get started?

sip-exerciseIf you’ve never thought about trying to push yourself in physical activity, consider coming up with a specific goal. Then, go about getting your body in the shape to do it.

Many goal experts recommend making goals measurable, which usually means number-oriented. With that in mind, here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Walk for 30 minutes without stopping.
  2. Bike 10 miles.
  3. Complete 100 sit-ups in 5 minutes.
  4. Do 3 pullups.
  5. Jog or run 1 mile without stopping.
  6. Hold a yoga plank position for 1 minute.
  7. Do 20 jumping jacks, crunches, squats, lunges or pushups during commercial breaks while watching TV.
  8. Take the stairs if you have 3 or fewer floors to go.
  9. Try 1 new activity each month – yoga, bike class, Pilates or something else.
  10. Go for a family walk after dinner 3 times a week.

Learn more at Jul.HopeHealth.com.

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Leveling the Self-Funding Field

The article below, titled Leveling the self-funded field, written by Robert Bull, was originally published by Employee Benefit Adviser on July 18, 2017.

Technology is changing every aspect of the way businesses operate — and that includes health plan self-funding.

It used to be that self-funding was limited to only the largest companies that could afford the manpower to either administer their own plans or develop their own proprietary administrative software. Today, new data technologies are leveling the playing field, making it affordable for virtually all employers to self-fund.

For too long HR teams have shied away from self-funding due to the perceived administrative burden. But technology has removed this barrier, making it easier to track eligibility and generate billing information. What used to be a painstaking manual process has been automated, and HR teams at self-funded companies can now provide richer benefits at a lower price. A good healthcare plan goes miles in attracting and keeping quality employees — and ensuring that they’re productive by minimizing absenteeism due to a lack of care for either themselves or their family members.

self-funding'Here’s what to look for when shopping for a top-notch self-funding solution:

1. The ability to consolidate information and manage all healthcare-related data from a single system. Most employers deal with multiple service providers — stop loss, vision, pharmacy, dental, medical, wellness, and third-party administrators, just to name a few. But they should insist that all of the relevant data is consolidated onto one system. For one thing, it’s much simpler and less time consuming to administer and pay all of their providers from a single source. For another, it takes much less time and effort to master a single application — as opposed to having to learn the ins and outs of each provider’s software.

When the data from multiple vendors are integrated onto a single platform, the time-consuming process of having to reconcile across providers every month is eliminated. The plan’s administrator can instantly determine counts and claims. Likewise, multiple payment processes can be eliminated in favor of a single, consistent payment method.

Best of all, HR can take all this data, which reflects employee behavior and everything related to treatment, and use it for predictive modeling. With that level of insight, the employer can develop a plan that truly meets its — and its employees — needs.

2. Data transparency. For an employer to take on the added risk of self-funding, it needs to be able to closely examine its data and determine the underlying trends. Without pricing and transaction transparency, it is impossible to perform a meaningful cost analysis.

As opposed to fully-insured plans, where the data is the property of the insurance carrier, with a self-funded plan the employer owns the plan’s data. And once the employer can access its claims, demographic and pricing information, it can make accurate decisions about what is best for the company and its employees.

The data can also be used to influence employee behavior. By educating a workforce about those behaviors that are wasteful and ineffective, the employer can reap significant savings for itself and its employees. And by analyzing the response rate to different messages and campaigns, HR can then determine what incentives would be useful to obtain even greater compliance.

3. Real-time data access. It’s not enough to have healthcare plan data; it needs to be timely or its utility is diminished. The best way for employers to be proactive is for them to be able to see what is happening with claims and cash flow on a monthly, weekly or even a daily basis. At a minimum, the employer should review its data at least quarterly. And the larger the employer, the greater the number of employees and claims, the more frequently the data needs to be examined.

Three years ago, it would have taken three weeks to scrub a mid-size employer’s claims data. Now it can take just two hours.

4. Safeguards. Data is power. That’s why an employer wants to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to healthcare plan data and analytics. There are legal and privacy considerations as well. That’s why it’s crucial to have robust security that maintains an audit trail of who touches what data and when. In case of an error or a breach, the event can be traced back to the people involved at the moment where it occurred.

Self-funding will continue to be transformed by technology. Cloud-based software is making it possible for ever smaller employers to implement and administer self-funded plans. Embracing and utilizing these tools can lead to lower premiums, greater access to health care and reduced costs for employer and employee alike.

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What is your health?

health-blogHealth is personal. Everyone has his or her own idea of what health means. Sure, there are some common elements – such as absence of disease or illness – that many people would include in their definitions, but likely no 2 descriptions of health would be the same.

So, with that in mind, thank about what your health is and how you might want to improve it. Taking inventory of what matters to you when it comes to health is the first step toward making changes.

Maybe you’d like to have more energy to do more things. Ask yourself, “Why don’t I have energy? Is it because I’m not getting enough quality sleep or not eating the right foods?” You may not be able to answer the questions on your own, but you have identified what it is that you want and can take the next step, which could be making an appointment to visit with your health care provider.

Learn more at Jul.HopeHealth.com.

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Use July to add healthy habits that will last all year long

healthy-habitsHere are some healthy living ideas to incorporate into your routine. Give each a try for a week and see if it works for you. Warning: These changes could be habit-forming.

July 1 – 7: Take advantage of free entertainment. Have fun without having to pay for it. Take your family to a local park or lake instead of an amusement park. Check your local newspaper or conventions and visitors bureau for free festivals or other events in your community.

July 8 – 14: Wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside, even on cloudy days. Although you may not be able to see the sun through overcast skies, ultraviolet rays are still present and can increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

July 15 – 21: Swap out salt with herbs and spices – flavorful alternatives that are healthy, too.

July 22 – 31: Instead of meeting friends for coffee, walk together.

Learn more at Jul.HopeHealth.com.

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How Are You Feeding Your Heart?

healthFor those who simply cannot do without their favorite foods, here’s a list of the things that many of us love, but our hearts wish we would avoid.

Fast Food – Most of it has poor nutritional value, including plenty of fat, calories and processing.

Candy – Go with a small quantity of dark chocolate if you must have some candy, but the sugar just isn’t a good thing for your heart.

Ice Cream – Cardiologists warn that even small amounts of ice cream provide too much fat and sugar – it’s that simple.

Pizza – Pizza nights are tough to beat, especially in cities like Chicago and New York. But unless you make your own, using healthier ingredients, you’re consuming too much fat and salt.

Soft Drinks – These are simply full of sugar and while they may be refreshing on ice, soft drinks are lacking in nutritional value.

Pastries – Few things taste better than cookies, pies and cakes but in high doses, the sugar, fat and gluten can lead to obesity.

Processed Meats – Ham, bacon, hot dogs and other deli meats usually contain lots of salt, fat and even nitrates. Too much salt can boost blood pressure, another risk factor.

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