New Dietary Guidelines for Americans

 

 

 

The foods and beverages you consume have a significant impact on your health. Diet-related chronic diseases—such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer—are prevalent among Americans and pose a major public health problem. In fact, 60% of adults have one or more diet-related chronic diseases.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture publish nutrition advice. The newest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) offers science-based nutrition advice to develop healthy eating habits and reduce chronic disease risk. For the first time, this edition provides recommendations by life stage, from birth through older adulthood.

2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines

The latest guidance provides four overarching guidelines that encourage healthy eating patterns while recognizing that individuals will need to make shifts in their food and beverage choices to achieve a healthy pattern.

Make every bite count and consider the following four overarching guidelines:

1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. Dietary needs and recommendations vary based on your age, sex and stage of life. Review the guidelines to ensure that you and your loved ones—whether they’re infants, teens, adults or older adults—are following a healthy diet.
2. Customize your foods and beverages to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions and budgets. A healthy dietary pattern can benefit all people regardless of age, race, ethnicity or current health status.
3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages while staying within calorie limits. Keep in mind that 85% of your daily calories should meet food group recommendations for vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein. Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, without too much-added sugars, saturated fats and sodium.
4. Limit foods and beverages high in added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. Be mindful of the nutritional facts of the foods and beverages you consume—including alcohol. For example, men should limit alcohol to two drinks a day and women should consume no more than one drink per day.
Everyone can benefit from a healthy eating pattern, so start simple with modest changes each day.

 

For healthy recipes or to learn more about the current guidelines, visit MyPlate.gov.

Benefits Breakdown

Benefits Breakdown

Benefits Breakdown

Understanding Prescription Drug Pricing Trends

In 2019, the United States spent nearly $370 billion on prescription drugs, keeping trend with significant increases year over year. Although prescription drug spending has historically been a small proportion of national health care costs compared to hospital and physician services, it has grown rapidly in recent years—comprising about 10% of national health care spending. Below are the two major factors contributing to the rise of prescription drug costs:

  • Influx of specialty drugs—Specialty medications account for a smaller portion of U.S. prescriptions than non-specialty drugs, yet they command nearly half of the pharmaceutical market. In 2021, experts predict an 11.5% increase in specialty drug prices, compared to a 2.8% rise in non-specialty drug prices. These manufacturer price increases are often cited by insurers as reasons for rising insurance premiums.
  • Price inflation—According to a Segal report, 40% of new products recently launched by drug manufacturers were specialty medications. These drugs are now being pushed at a higher rate than non-specialty drugs, contributing to price inflation. Specialty drug utilization increased by nearly 6% in 2020, whereas non-specialty drug usage remained relatively the same. And there is little recourse for anyone seeking an alternative to these specialty drugs.

Yet, despite these trends, there are cost-cutting strategies available to employers. These include managing drug usage, utilizing rebates, and educating employees. Reach out to learn more about these and other budgetary tactics.

3 Voluntary Benefits Trends to Watch in 2021

Voluntary benefits have always been great tools for rounding off employee benefits offerings. And that value isn’t lost on employers—at least 50% offer some sort of voluntary benefits, according to an Alera Group report. Employers can expect to see voluntary benefits grow in these three key areas in 2021:

  1. Expanded offerings such as eldercare and critical illness insurance
  2. A focus on financial wellness, including budget counseling and financial planning
  3. Greater customization, allowing employees to pick and choose what’s best for them

Voluntary benefits include dental, vision, critical illness, pet insurance, and similar offerings that are paid for partially by employees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, having additional benefits options like these could be exactly what employees need. Specifically, these trends indicate employees want more control over the benefits that are important to them.

Reach out to learn how to help employees maximize their voluntary benefits.

Covid-19 Vaccine Misinformation

Identifying Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccines

Free workouts at home

Free Ways to Workout this Year

Free workouts at home

Although we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and many are working from home or quarantines are keeping you away from the gym, there are several ways you can get that daily workout in for FREE.

Working out is not only good for the body; it is excellent for the mind. We must do our best to keep our spirits up and our bodies healthy during these trying times.

Here are a few ideas:

Walking/Running-it may seem obvious, but walking and/or running just 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart disease, burn calories, and elevate your mood. Additional good news, you don’t need any special gear or equipment to do it. A good pair of comfortable shoes will do the trick for walkers and a decent pair of running shoes for runners. Getting outside is literally a breath of fresh air, which we all need, especially mask-free if possible.

Meditation-with so many apps and even podcasts available on meditation, even the novice can practice this mindful technique. In just 10 minutes, you can clear your mind, soothe the soul, and reduce stress. There are also many videos on YouTube for free that you can access on your devices.

YouTube fitness classes– YouTube has an array of videos offering free workouts. From kickboxing to HIIT training and yoga, there really is something for everyone. Subscribe to your favorites and get a new workout each day.

 

New year, new goals? There has never been a better time to get moving within your own space or in the great outdoors while social distancing.

Uninsured COVID-19 Patients, Hospital Bills are Covered

Covid-19 hospital bills

 

Most major health systems around the country are part of a program through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services that provide payments for uninsured patients who have COVID-19.

Medical bills are covered through the pandemic legislation relief, the CARES Act.

 

Patients may not be informed of this upfront; ask the question if it is a concern.

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

If you missed the Open Enrollment period and have had a “life” event, read on.

 

Did you know that certain life changes may qualify you to enroll in health insurance coverage outside of the standard enrollment period?

Did you or anyone in your household lose qualifying health coverage in the last 60 days? If so, you would qualify for the special enrollment period.

Here are some other examples of qualifying events:

  • Marriage
  • Birth of a child
  • Gained or became a dependent
  • Divorce or legal separation resulting in loss of health insurance
  • Death
  • Change in income
  • Change in zip code/primary place of living
  • Denied Medicaid or CHIP
  • Gained citizenship in the United States
  • Released from incarceration

 

If any of these apply to you or your family, please give us a call for a quote today!

 

 

 

 

Single Mom's Guide to Health Insurance

Open Enrollment Begins November 1–Five Factors to Consider.

Health Insurance

 

Did you know there are five factors that can affect how much your health plan’s monthly premium is under the health care law?

However, individual states can limit how much these factors come into play.

These five factors are:

  • Age: Premiums can be up to 3 times higher for older people than for younger people.
  • Location: Where you live has a big effect on your premiums. Differences in competition, state and local rules and cost of living are the reasons why.
  • Tobacco use: Insurers can charge tobacco users up to 50% more than those who don’t use tobacco.
  • Individual vs. family enrollment: Insurers can charge more for a plan that also covers a spouse and/or dependents.
  • Plan category: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Catastrophic. The categories are based on how you and the plan share costs. Bronze plans usually have lower monthly premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs when you get care. Platinum plans usually have the highest premiums and lowest out-of-pocket costs.

In addition, insurance companies may offer more benefits, which could also affect costs. Furthermore, insurance companies can not charge women and men different prices for the same plan, nor can they take your current medical history or health into account when otherwise known as pre-existing conditions.

 

Five Insurance Tips for Millennials

 

 

Millennials find themselves in the stage of life that may require them to purchase their own insurance. After having aged out of their parent’s insurance coverage and buying or renting a place to live, coverage needs may not be as black and white as one might think.

Knowing these five tips will help navigate through the sometimes-complicated policies out there.

  1. Shop smart for adequate coverage- Although cost is an important factor, having the coverage you need is equally important. You may be tempted to choose the least expensive plan but when it comes time to make a claim, you will see less of a financial benefit. In fact, a high deductible could cause a unexpected financial burden.
  2. Look for discounts- Often insurance carriers will offer discounts for bundling services, such as your home or rental insurance and your car insurance. In addition, there are discounts for being in school and getting good grades. Be sure to ask your agent about these and other possibilities.
  3. Fill in the gaps- An average policy will provide basic coverage but that may not be enough for all your coverage needs. For instance, a rental or homeowner’s policy may not cover personal items such as jewelry over a certain dollar amount.  Be sure to ask if you have collectables or higher value items. 
  4. Purchase life insurance- Life insurance is important, no matter how old you are. For a millennial, it may also save you money on a policy in the long run. It is especially important if you have children. Life insurance can help your family cover unexpected costs in your absence. If you have children, a life insurance policy can support their education or child care expenses.
  5. Consult an independent broker or agent- Talking with an independent insurance agent is the first step in finding the coverage you need and can afford. An independent broker works with multiple providers and can help you navigate the different policies and coverage. They can also help explain some of the terms and conditions that may be difficult to understand.

 

Health Care Guide For The Self Employed

Tip 5, The Singles Mom’s Guide to Health Insurance

Beware anything that looks too good to be true!

 

Yes, your parents were actually right on this one.

Insurance is just math. If it’s cheaper, there is a reason. I have found that most of the time those reasons look like limits on care.

For example, many “cheaper” policies limit cancer coverage to $500,000. Sorry, but many
forms of cancer can eat that up in a month or less. In those types of plans, you would be
left holding the bag on the remaining cost of treatment, or WORSE, having the hospital or
physician refuse to treat you.

If you are looking at insurance options and one is much cheaper than the others, find out
why before you sign up! They often have clauses that lock you in for a year or may not be
qualified coverage so you can’t get in through the marketplace. It may be cheaper because
it excludes something you don’t care about (like maternity when you are done having kids),
but you need to read the fine print. And I mean the 130+ page document that outlines
everything.

Or ask a knowledgeable local agent who has probably read the contract for fun,
like the insurance nerds we often are.

 

To download the entire guide, click here.