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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Taking Stress Seriously

stressed-women

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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Nothing Like Home

eat-earlierResearchers at Ohio State University’s College of Public Health found that adults who reported never watching television or videos during family meals had significantly lower odds of obesity. Home cooking also makes a positive difference according to Dr. Allen Mikhail of Advocate Aurora Health. The bariatric surgeon says that cooking meals at home enables us to control what we’re eating by using less fat, sugar and salt. Over time, this will translate to fewer calories consumed and ultimately a lower risk of obesity. Dr. Mikhail also believes that conversation adds structure and social interaction to meals and helps us enjoy eating more.

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Work Less, Live More

familyA study reviewed by the Cleveland Clinic reports that more than 40 percent of Americans work more than 50 hours a week. The study showed that in addition to diminishing levels of productivity, working long hours has been shown to increase risk of health problems including heavy drinking, depression and heart disease.

On the flipside, putting boundaries on your work hours and keeping a balance between work and the rest of your life can benefit your heart. Spending time with family and friends, exercising and relaxing will keep you refreshed, more energetic and ready to be productive in the morning.

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More Women Avoided Care

health-blogThe Kaiser Family Foundation reports that more women than men failed to receive preventive care during the pandemic. Statistics show that 38% of women skipped their annual checkup compared to 26% of men and nearly one in four women failed to get a recommended medical test or treatment versus only 15% of men. Income did not appear to be a big factor, leading consultants to believe that fear of exposure to Covid-19 and the inability to access medical facilities were big contributing factors.

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Quantity Over Quality

waterDietitians recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces per day – that’s 75 ounces of water daily if you weigh 150 pounds. But what type of bottled water is best? The International Bottled Water Association offers the following descriptions.

Spring water comes from underground, flowing naturally to the earth’s surface.

Purified water is produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other approved process.

Mineral water is natural and contains a constant level of mineral elements coming from its source. No other minerals can be added.

Sparkling bottled water is treated but can only contain the same amount of carbon dioxide it had when it emerged from its source.

While well water is derived from a hole in the ground that taps the water aquifer, artesian well water comes from a source above an underground layer or rock or sand.

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than tap water, meaning that it is less acidic.

While many choices exist, health experts say the amount of water you consume is far more important than the type of water. No matter what water you prefer, keep a bottle handy and stay hydrated!

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Blueberries and Your Heart

blueberriesCleveland Clinic, regarded as the number one healthcare system for cardiac care, wants you to know that a new study shows that in addition to great flavor, blueberries are good for your heart. Vitamin C and a wide array of healthy phytochemicals and anthocyanins help lower existing risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and more. In the six-month study, people with these and other characteristics who ate a cup of blueberries daily for six months were in better shape than those who did not. Vessels and arteries were in better condition with a 12 to 15 percent lower risk of heart disease. To receive the therapeutic benefits of blueberries, add a cup to oatmeal, a smoothie, salad or just enjoy your blueberries as a mid-day snack.

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New Ways to Benefit Mental Health

woman at desk

Many of us have read about actions some larger employers are taking to help employees struggling with psychologi- cal effects of Covid-19. Indications are that many small and mid-size organizations are taking positive steps as well. LinkedIn, a social media platform used by millions of businesses and individuals, is offering online courses to help employees address high levels of stress and fatigue. Meditation and how to deal with grief and loss are just two topics covered. A few regional banks are expanding telemedicine options to address some of the isolation experienced by those working at home.

Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that in November of 2020, 42 percent of Americans reported symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder. While many employers plan to introduce programs supporting mental health, only about a third of employees surveyed in the PwC Workplace Pulse Survey said their employer was doing so.

The National Council for Behavioral Health’s Mental Health First Aid program offers a great deal of information and resources to help employers and individuals cope. To learn more, visit https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/covid19/.

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Making Your Hotel Stay Safer

shiny hotel sign with starsBusiness and pleasure travel came to a serious halt in 2020, but industry representatives say bookings for later in 2021 are soaring. If you’re considering a hotel stay, a few questions suggested by the Infectious Diseases Society of America may be worth asking. For example…

  • Ask about current occupancy levels and limits the hotel or resort may have imposed.
  • What Covid-specific policies has the hotel or resort put in place?
  • Are face masks and social distancing measures required and enforced?
  • Are there limits on the number of guests allowed in the lobby and other public spaces?
  • How often are employees tested for the virus?

Finally, you may want to ask if the hotel’s HVAC system has hospital-quality filters and how long the hotel keeps a room empty between guest stays. Doing so for at least 24 hours is recommended as a way to clear the air of any aerosol transmissions. Other small measures to look for include sealed water glasses and strapped toilet seats in your room as well as self-parking, automated check-in and check-out, no-touch elevators and easily accessible staircases.

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