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How to Talk About COVID-19 Vaccines with Family and Friends

COVID-19 vaccinations are a major tool to help us return to normal. There is a lot of information out there about the COVID-19 vaccines—and many people you know may have questions or concerns, or lack accurate information about the vaccines. You can play a key role in helping those close to you navigate this topic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following guidance for how to talk with friends and family about COVID-19 vaccines.

Listen to Their Questions With Empathy

COVID-19 vaccines are new, and it’s normal for people to have questions about them. The sheer amount of information—and misinformation—about COVID-19 vaccines can be overwhelming to anyone. You can help by listening without judgment and identifying the root of their concerns.

Acknowledge their emotions so they know they have been heard. For example, you can say, “It sounds like you are stressed at work and home, and concerns about the vaccine are another source of stress. That’s really tough.”

Ask Open-ended Questions to Explore Their Concerns

Open-ended questions are meant to elicit more than a yes-or-no answer. Asking open-ended questions can help you understand what your friend or family member is worried about, where they learned any troubling information and what they have done to get answers to their questions. For example, you can ask, “How did watching that news report make you feel? What did you do next?” Try not to sound judgmental, and ask questions that help you understand their concerns. For example, avoid things like, “That’s a silly concern,” or “Why would you be worried about that?”

Ask Permission to Share Information

Once you understand your friend or family member’s question or concern, ask if you can provide some information, and tell them where you get information you trust. If they agree, they will be more willing to listen to you instead of feeling like you’re pushing unwanted information on them. You can find answers to common questions from reputable sources, including the CDC or local health department websites, or other trusted sources such as a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Sometimes, sharing quick, accurate answers to common concerns your family or friends might have can go a long way toward moving someone from worry to confidence. If you don’t know the answer to their questions, consider offering to help look for information.

Help Them Find Their Own Reason to Get Vaccinated

Everyone who chooses to get vaccinated does it for a reason—to protect their family, to protect their children, to be less anxious, to visit their parents or to get back to activities like seeing friends, resuming work or returning to school. After addressing concerns with empathy and facts, you can steer the conversation from “why not” to the important reasons that matter to them—their “why.” You may choose to share your reasons for getting vaccinated or discuss common goals you may have, like visiting with others safely. The reasons that someone may choose to get vaccinated will always be those that are most compelling to them personally.

Help Make Their Vaccination Happen

Once someone decides on their “why,” help them make a commitment to get vaccinated. Help make the path to vaccination shorter, easier and less stressful for them. Offer to help your family member or friend make a vaccination appointment at a location nearby, and, if needed, go with them to the appointment. Offer to help with transportation or to babysit if they need child care.

Remember, every person who chooses to get vaccinated brings us all a step closer to moving past the COVID-19 pandemic. As a trusted messenger to your family and friends, you can play a role in their decision to vaccinate.

To Learn More

The CDC updates its website regularly with new COVID-19 vaccine information and provides information about vaccine availability. For more specific health guidance, speak with your doctor.

Source: CDC

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.

Covid-19 Vaccine Misinformation

Identifying Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccines

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.

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.

 

Single Mom's Guide to Health Insurance

Tip 4, Single Mom’s Guide to Health Insurance

Single Mom's Guide to Health Insurance

Know your max liability

 

So many times, people get hung up on getting a lower deductible and having copays for something to be considered a “good” plan. However, most Americans miss the absolute most important thing in their health insurance documents: The Out-of-Pocket Maximum.

This is the most you would pay in one calendar year if everything went horribly wrong. If
you have health insurance, this is the maximum of liability and it’s a number you need to be
aware of!

For example:

I often have clients tell me they want the “best” plan and are willing to pay for it! They want a
$250 deductible. In my state, the $250 deductible plan has a $7,900 out-of-pocket maximum
and is often 30% higher than an HSA plan for monthly premiums.
However, if they enroll in an HSA they can often get a lower out of pocket maximum. My plan
is a $4,500 deductible, but that is also the out-of-pocket maximum. At 30% less expensive
per month, it’s an absolute bargain! But most people ignore this plan because all the see is
the deductible.

Let’s look at an example:

Johnny needs a $60,000 heart surgery.

Plan 1: He’s paying $500 a month to get the lower deductible. That equates to $6,000 a year
in insurance premiums. When he has his surgery, he will pay $7,900. So, in total he spent
$13,900. Which beats the pants off $60,000 any day! But it’s not the best he could have done.

Plan 2: He is now enrolled in the HSA plan. He is paying $350 a month. That equates to
$4,200 a year in insurance premiums. BUT when he has his surgery, he pays $4,500. That
means he spent $8,700 less than on the “best” plan. But wait! He also got to put that $4,500
through an HSA account and gained the additional tax savings.

 

Read more here: The Single Mom’s Guide To Health Insurance

 

Reflections on Ark Insurance 10 Year Anniversary

Ark Insurance Solutions Team

I quit my job in the fall of 2009. The next week my daughter and I contracted H1N1. I spent the first actual week of ‘self-employment’ (it was unemployment at that point, let’s be honest!) in quarantine for a pandemic in the middle of the worst recession our country had ever seen. Sound familiar?

I had been working for a large brokerage firm. The company that had pulled me into the insurance industry had sold and lost much of its heart in the transaction. Suddenly I was being told only to help clients that could justify the cost. I knew that if I was going to stay in this industry, an industry that I had grown to love (and be pretty nerdy about), I had to leave. For me, it was never about the dollars, it was always about taking care of my people. As a single parent, the idea of leaving a stable job with a steady paycheck was terrifying, but I had become miserable in the year that the new company had taken over and had to go.

Then the most amazing thing happened. My clients, in a show of loyalty that still brings me to tears, stuck with me. They encouraged me. They fought with me and listened to me cry. They pushed me to make sure I read and understood all the new laws going into place at the time (Obamacare or Affordable Care Act). They helped me stand strong and grow. By the time I was ready to file my corporate documents on April 10, 2010, I had enough revenue to sustain myself and my daughter, and even more, amazing, Ark was already growing.

Soon I realized that I couldn’t do this alone, and in one of the scarier steps in my life, I decided to make my first hire. In February 2011, I posted on Facebook that I needed some help. I believe he posts included something to the effect of I need an intern. Or a college kid who is willing to work on the cheap. Even if it’s only a few hours a week! I’m in desperate need but can’t pay much.Enter one of my former clients. She messaged me and asked why I hadn’t reached out to her. My honest answer was, “I know how much you make, and I can’t afford you.” We still laugh about this. She let me know that the ability to work from home was more important to her than the money and agreed to work with me until we found a budget that fit for us both.

I knew I had gotten lucky but had NO idea HOW lucky I had gotten in that hire. When we lost our biggest client due to an acquisition, BOTH of us cut our pay to make it through. She was unafraid to tell me the truth, willing to suffer with me, and give all she had to make sure our clients, and I, were supported. I can honestly say this company would never have survived if MaryAnn hadn’t joined it when she did. Fast forward after a few expensive learning moments, times when the cash got so tight I was surfing for change in the couch to make payroll, and growing our team to 10+ folks and here we are today. We have won international awards, been given genuinely amazing opportunities to participate in conversations at a federal level that deeply impacted the lives of Americans, and have done it all growing closer as a work family.

We have a team of amazing humans. Our entire company culture has been built on the same principles that brought MaryAnn into the fold: Always do what’s right for the client first, and be supportive and flexible with our team. All of us work different hours and in different locations according to what we need in our lives. Because in the end, our business is here to support and make lives better, both ours and those of our clients.

We’ve built lasting relationships with our clients, and they have given us the most amazing gifts in the form of referrals. We’ve never done extensive marketing. We’ve never had to push or buy leads. We’ve never even been in a place where we were worried about an empty pipeline. We’ve seen massive changes in our industry. We’ve had massive cuts in pay, changes in how we are regulated, shifts in every aspect of how we do business, and through it all our clients have stood by us and helped us grow. Our clients have become our friends. An extension of our work family that we care for like we would make our favorite aunt. We fight for them, cry with them, and celebrate when they have a new baby or get a new job. Serving our clients is an honor, and we are all so grateful that they allow us to be a part of their journeys.

We were supposed to be having a party for the Ark team. We were going to have lunch and then go axe throwing. With social distancing, we have had to postpone our celebration. But the opportunity look back and see where we have come since the last pandemic and economic crisis is one that shouldn’t be passed up. Things feel scary and uncertain. They did before too. What it tells me is while the moment feels bleak, the people are showing up for each other, just like they did in the recession.That even though we are all afraid, we are pushing through, and when we work together, we will come out together, better than before. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next 10 years will take us!

Don't lose your health insurance.

Did you lose your job? Don’t lose your health insurance.

Don't lose your health insurance.

If you lose your job you need to act fast to get the insurance figured out.

There are multiple options for people who have recently lost insurance, but you only have 60 days to enroll through the federal exchange.

COBRA may not be the only option and you may even qualify for Medicaid.

Let us help you navigate the options.

If you’ve recently lost your health insurance (or are in danger of losing your insurance) due to a layoff or job loss, we can help.

Please give us a call or complete the form below and we’ll get back to you within 4 hours (Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm) for a phone consultation.

Tip # 3 From the Single Mom’s Guide to Health Insurance- Look at your income and cash flow situation.

There are two basic types of plans.

Traditional plans, which often have low copayments for regular visits, and High Deductible health plans.

Traditional plans are what many people used before healthcare reform. They had copayments
(a small amount due at the time of service) for regular Dr. visits and medications. They have
a deductible and coinsurance for unusual things like MRI’s, CT Scans, and hospital visits.

These plans tend to be more expensive every month, but generally require a smaller portion
to be paid by you when a claim happens.

High Deductible health plans are paired with a tax-protected savings account called a Health
Savings Account or HSA. These plans require that your deductible come first unless it is a
preventive service.

 

To download the complete guide, click here.