Gender-Affirming Care

fsaMany states have adopted laws or regulations prohibiting health insurers from discriminating against people based on gender identity, but Colorado is the first state to build the requirements into its essential health benefits (EHB) package. Colorado defines gender-affirming care to include a minimum of 12 covered services related to medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria, such as hormone therapy and genital and non-genital surgical procedures.

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Strength or Cardio?

healthIf you included exercise in your New Years resolutions, you may be conflicted as to how to begin and what will really promote weight loss. Educational resources at Mayo Clinic remind us that while it is good to include 20 to 30 minutes of cardio training in your workout routine, strength training is equally important. Strength training builds muscle and enhances your cardio routine. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn. Another healthy reminder is to take it slow when it comes to weight training. Again, starting slow and adding weight will help build muscle and burn calories.

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Taking Stress Seriously

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The American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2021 Work and Wellbeing Survey showed that 44% of Americans plan to change jobs in the coming year because of stress. The APA advises employers that offering more flexible hours, helping employees take better care of their health and encouraging workers to use their paid time off will better position organizations to recruit and retain quality staff.

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Making 3 Minutes Count

diabetesA new study led by researchers in Stockholm involved 16 middle-aged, white-collar workers at high risk for Type 2 diabetes. Half of the group continued doing their desk jobs for 3 weeks, with no change in their daily routines. The other half took a 3-minute break every half hour to get up and do something physical. Some walked around the office while others marched in place, hopped or otherwise moved around the office.

While the control group continued to show problems with insulin resistance, blood sugar control and cholesterol levels, those who had moved around showed lower fasting blood sugar levels in the morning and more stable levels during the day. Those who achieved 75 or more steps in 3 minutes improved their metabolisms most, but everyone in the mobile group showed some improvement in their metabolic health.

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Lower Blood Pressure and Lower Costs

286785548HRThe CDC reports that compared to heart healthy workers, those with heart disease cost health plans a week of absences plus $1,100 in lost productivity per year. Controlling high blood pressure is a huge part of maintaining heart health. It can reduce health risks associated with conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmias, elevated blood cholesterol, obesity, heart failure, kidney disease and other related conditions.

Confirming that heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the U.S., the CDC states that nearly half of all adults have high blood pressure. Sadly, less than one in four has their blood pressure under control. With February being American Heart Month, take time to educate employees on the risk of heart disease and the need to get their blood pressure under control. It can make a huge difference in their quality of life and everyone’s cost of healthcare.

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Go Easy on Screens

screensAs winter weather keeps more young people indoors, pediatricians recommend limiting the time children spend staring at tablets, smart phones, game consoles and television. One suggestion is for parents to designate technology-free times such as family dinners and overnight in their bedrooms.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children age 18 months to 5 years have an hour of quality programming a day with parents involved. Older children should have consistent limits on the types of media and time spent, making sure that screen time doesn’t infringe on physical activity or sleep. Board games, cards games, arts and crafts are great options when its simply too cold to spend some time outdoors.

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Quarantine Periods Shortened

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On December 27th, the CDC lowered its recommended isolation period from 10 days to 5 days for asymptomatic individuals who test positive regardless of vaccination status. Following the 5-day isolation period, the individual no longer needs to quarantine but should wear a mask for the next 5 days when in contact with others. If symptoms appear, the individual should remain in isolation for 10 days, mirroring the previous CDC recommendation.

Other recommendations apply to those who are either unvaccinated or have completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines more than 6 months ago without having received the booster. While not discussed in the CDC’s announcement, the shortened periods seem to be aimed at helping businesses overcome short staffing issues that have arisen since the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Finally, unless prohibited by applicable law, employers may adopt stricter isolation and quarantine requirements, including testing before an exposed or infected individual may return to the workplace.

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Penalizing the Unvaccinated

boosterWhile some employers are considering surcharging employees who remain unvaccinated for Covid-19, Nevada recently became the first state to act when it said a $55 monthly penalty would take effect in July of 2022. The penalty will apply to state workers and adult dependents to offset the cost of weekly testing. Consultants caution that adding a premium penalty could cause employees to seek coverage on the exchange, exposing employers to costly penalties under the ACA.

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More Resignations

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With Covid-19 having changed the way millions of people work and a huge number of job openings still unfilled, many workers are weighing their options. In a June survey by search company Monster, 32% of respondents said they would consider a change to escape the burnout experienced in the past year. Burnout was an even greater concern in research by employee experience software company Limeade. Monster Worldwide lists flexibility, remote work options and mental health as keys to retaining people in an over- heated job market.

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