Telehealth Physicals

HealthOne telehealth company recently announced a partnership enabling patients to imitate an in-office visit and examine the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, throat and more at home and share the exam prior to, or during, a telehealth visit. These steps are expected to help doctors make diagnoses with the same confidence as an in-person visit.

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Millennials Welcome a Personal Touch

millenialsAfter numerous articles advocating technology and social media as the only sources of information valued by young workers, a recent study by MetLife has shown that nearly two-thirds of millennials favored a one-on-one discussion with a benefits specialist when trying to understand their employee benefits.

Believe it or not, millennials even lead other generations in consulting with family and friends on benefit-related issues, showing that they value the personal experience when it comes to complex matters. Because they have become accustomed to the way technology streamlines information, they are looking for the facts without a lot of fluff. Nonetheless, one-on-one consultations and phone conversations are proving to be effective in giving young people the personalized information they need to understand their healthcare benefits and make informed decisions.

More Move to Self-Funding

The Employee Benefit Research Institute reports that nearly 20% of mid-sized employers made the jump to self-insurance from 2013 to 2015. A major attraction is the availability of data and analytics, enabling the employer to learn how healthcare dollars are being spent. A growing number of employers are using this data to incentivize employees who lower claim costs by choosing more efficient hospitals or free standing imaging centers when tests such as an MRI are needed.

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No Shortage of Germs at Home

Objects in your home may not be as clean as they appear. In fact, germs that cause disease are found all over household items. Here are the items found to have the highest germ counts (from least to most dirty):

10.Cutting boards
9. Stove knobs
8. Kitchen counters
7. Pet toys
6. Bathroom faucet handles
5. Coffee makers
4. Pet bowls
3. Toothbrush holders
2. Kitchen sinks
1. Dish sponges and dishcloths

The kitchen is the biggest area of concern because of dirty crevices and the fact that many foods can hold highly contagious germs. But, bathrooms should still be paid attention to. Using over-the-counter cleaning products that contain bleach can be most effective and should be used multiple times per week.

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Talk to Your Doctor and Save

doctorThe U.S. healthcare system is changing as many consumers are trying to be proactive, make financially smart and healthy choices and find more ways to get a better handle on costs. Taking charge of your health and saving money on medical expenses can truly begin with knowing how to talk to your doctors and medical providers. Here are tips to maximize communication:

  • Write down the top problems you are experiencing to help your doctor focus on what to treat first.
  • Bring a list of all current prescription medications as well as over-the-counter medications, vitamins or supplements and include dosage and how often you take them.
  • Keep a handy record of recent test results, lab reports, surgeries and other relevant health information.

Costs should also be a part of every conversation and patients should be not be afraid to bring up the subject. While doctors are typically not afraid to discuss costs, they simply may not know exact costs or projected out-of-pocket expenses.

Another area of concern is the rising cost of prescription medications. If your doctor does not bring up a generic alternative, then you should. Here are ways to save on prescriptions:

  • Skip chain drugstores and consider shopping at a warehouse store for lower prices.
  • Go local to your neighborhood pharmacist and ask them to beat a competitor’s price.
  • Know that some chain and big-box stores offer common generics at low prices for people who pay out-of-pocket and not with their insurance.
  • Ask your pharmacist if any discounts, programs, cards or coupons could make your price lower.
  • For long-term drugs, consider buying a three-month supply so you pay one co-pay rather than three.

Remember that walk-in clinics are suitable for common procedures like flu shots, sports physicals and minor injuries and they are always more cost efficient than emergency rooms. Staying healthy is still the optimal way to save money on healthcare, so take time for your own health. Know your blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol and family medical history and always make efforts to control weight.

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House Passes Legislation Protecting Access to Affordable Health Care Options

Press Release from Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwomen Virginia Foxx on April 5, 2017.

The House today passed the Self-Insurance Protection Act (H.R. 1304), legislation that would protect access to affordable health care options for workers and families. Introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), the legislation would reaffirm long-standing policies to ensure workers can continue to receive flexible, affordable health care coverage through self-insured plans. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 400 to 16.

“By protecting access to self-insurance, we can help ensure employers have the tools they need to control health care costs for working families,” Rep. Roe said. “Millions of Americans rely on flexible self-insured plans and the benefits they provide. Federal bureaucrats should never have the opportunity to limit or threaten this popular health care option. This legislation prevents bureaucratic overreach and represents an important step toward promoting choice in health care.”

“This legislation provides certainty for working families who depend on self-insured health care plans,” Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said. “Workers and employers are already facing limited choices in health care, and the least we can do is preserve the choices they still have. I want to thank Representative Roe for championing this commonsense bill. While there’s more we can and should do to ensure access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage, this bill is a positive step for workers and their families.”

BACKGROUND: To ensure workers and employers continue to have access to affordable, flexible health plans through self-insurance, Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) introduced the Self-Insurance Protection Act (H.R. 1304). The legislation would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Public Health Service Act, and the Internal Revenue Code to clarify that federal regulators cannot redefine stop-loss insurance as traditional health insurance. H.R. 1304 would preserve self-insurance and:

  • Reaffirm long-standing policies. Stop-loss insurance is not health insurance, and it has never been considered health insurance under federal law. H.R. 1304 would reaffirm this long-standing policy.
  • Protect access to affordable health care coverage. By preserving self-insurance, workers and employers will continue to benefit from a health care plan model that has proven to lower costs and provide greater flexibility.
  • Prevent bureaucratic overreach. Clarifying that regulators cannot redefine stop-loss insurance would prevent future administrations from limiting a popular health care option for workers and employers.

For a copy of the bill, click here.

For a fact sheet on the bill, click here.

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Heart Deaths Increase

healthThe death rate from heart disease rose 0.9% last year, per U.S. mortality data released by the CDC. Researchers link the increase to obesity and diabetes. Death rates from heart disease were declining due to anti-smoking campaigns and medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol. The findings signal a reversal of a trend that has been improving for decades.

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