Tips to Reopen Businesses Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

Weeks after lifting stay-at-home orders, some states are seeing record numbers of hospitalizations from #Covid19 as thousands more Americans get infected each day. Here are some essential factors to consider as businesses seek to reopen.

According to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost 25 percent of adult workers are vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19. Most people, including at-risk workers, can’t afford to miss work for long periods of time. Some people at risk have continued to go to work outside their homes due to the nature of their jobs, many as essential workers. Others may have been able to work remotely, but this option isn’t available to all workers. Many have lost their jobs or may be at risk of losing them. How can we reopen businesses safely?

As more workplaces reopen there will be increasing pressures for all workers, including those at higher risk, to return to jobs or seek new jobs outside of their homes. This will raise issues both for employees concerned about their safety and for employers concerned about how to keep these workers safe. As you consider reopening your business, here are some best practices recommended by the CDC to reopen businesses safely:

  • Practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others when working in a shared space
  • Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available
  • Wear cloth face coverings
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Stay safe and healthy!

Direct, Virtual, Telehealth: A 360 View of Three Primary Healthcare Alternatives for 2020

Article: Direct, Virtual, Telehealth: A 360 View of Three Primary Healthcare Alternatives for 2020

Publication: America’s Benefit Specialist Magazine

Author: Andy Bonner

With accessibility and convenience waning in traditional healthcare, three primary care alternatives have entered the picture: direct primary care, telehealth, and virtual care. These three solutions were born out of a need to make the doctor-patient relationship more effective and efficient. In the process, they’ve created impressive returns for employers as well.

At face value, direct primary care, telehealth, and virtual care may seem interchangeable or redundant – but they aren’t. They’re more like three walls of a triangle: each one strengthening the other. They’re powering the future of healthcare while driving down costs in surprising ways.

Read the full article at BenefitsSpecialistMagazine.com

Interested in learning more? Let’s get in touch

3 challenges facing benefits brokers in 2020

A new age is dawning for health benefits

Publication: BenefitsPro
AuthorAndy Bonner

There’s a great deal of business buzz around getting more “focused” in 2020. The reality is that, for benefits brokers, it’s not just a snappy catchphrase. Focusing your services and providing clarity within the increasingly murky waters of health benefits will be critical for your business’ survival. Only those who are willing to get creative, be change-makers, and meet employee’s needs will come out ahead. Read the full article at BenefitsPro.com

Interested in learning more? Let’s get in touch >

DPC Brings Non-Benefited Employees into the Fold


Article: DPC Brings Non-Benefited Employees into the Fold
Publication: BenefitsPro
Author: Andy Bonner

Dear brokers: You’re ignoring a huge segment of non-benefited employees during open enrollment and, in the process, you’re leaving thousands of revenue dollars for yourself on the table. Direct primary care has become a key enrollment strategy to fill the non-benefited gap. If you’re new to the conversation, the good news is that direct primary care is an easy sell. Employees need it to fill their gaps in coverage, and employers are surprised at how affordable it is.

Read the full article at BenefitsPro.com

Interested in learning more? Let’s get in touch

Health Insurance Literacy: Employees Need More Resources

Without a doubt, healthcare is a complex entity that includes multiple constituents beyond the patient and care-provider. From various carriers to government regulations, the intricacies of healthcare can turn-around even the most informed consumers. So, what happens when consumers become overwhelmed by options and guidelines? Among other factors, the complications lead to a lack of health insurance literacy.

Health insurance literacy is the degree to which an individual has the knowledge, ability and confidence to find and evaluate information about health plans, select the best plan for their own financial and health circumstances and use the plan accordingly. Related to the public health term “health literacy,” it focuses on individuals’ ability to make well-informed health decisions based on their plans.

Employees Speak Up

A recent study by Maestro Health surveyed 1,000 employees with employer-sponsored health plans about their sentiment towards the current state of healthcare as well as how it impacts their care-seeking decisions. The survey concluded that 35 percent of the employees either somewhat understand, don’t understand or know nothing about their healthcare coverage. Even if they do fully understand, 62 percent of respondents feel their employer does not serve as a resource for their healthcare-related questions.

Employer-sponsored insurance covers over half of non-elderly Americans – approximately 152 million adults. Therefore, this lack of understanding is detrimental to not only employee health and finance, but to an employer’s bottom-line and the nation’s growing healthcare deficit. Group plan premiums begin to skyrocket with the increase of unnecessary claims and absenteeism can set-back a productive business. Diabetes, alone, costs U.S. employers $20.4 billion in unplanned absenteeism and the nation $246 billion in extra healthcare costs.

Providing Care and a Resource

Employee communication is a valuable factor. When done properly, it can leave employees feeling well-informed and confident in their care-seeking decisions. Therefore, healthcare professionals and companies must share the duty of providing transparent and insightful information. At Healthcare2U, we strive to do just that.

All Healthcare2U members seek better health and wellness with a phone-call. Our bilingual Medical Assistants triage their symptoms and schedule either an in-person doctor visit or virtual telehealth. Should care be provided outside of Healthcare2U’s partner-clinics, our staff walks the member through their plan to explain alternative options and how to use them.

To learn more about how Healthcare2U serves as a resource to shield claims from employer-sponsored health plans as well as navigate patients through their coverage, contact us!

Are High-Deductible Plans Placing Employee Health at Risk?

Chronic disease management is not only expensive and complex but it’s key in improving patient outcomes and minimizing overall healthcare expenditures. Currently, the price tag of chronic illnesses accounts for 72 percent of the $2.2 trillion spent on healthcare in the U.S. each year. Diabetes is one such chronic condition that is so common, 30 million Americans are affected by the disease which can lead to blindness, kidney disease, amputations and heart disease. With the prevalence of chronic diseases, what happens to ill employees when their employer raises health insurance deductibles?

In the article, Getting the Diabetes Care You Need on a High-Deductible Plan, a study follows 34,000 diabetic employees through their transition from a $500 maximum low-deductible health plan to a high-deductible insurance plan that boasted out-of-pocket costs of $1,000 or more. Compared to individuals who remained on low-deductible plans, employees who switched to high-deductibles waited longer to seek various treatments because of expenses. For example, patients waited an average of 1.5 months longer to seek care for chest pain – the first major symptom of atherosclerosis, a high-risk condition for diabetic patients. Employees also delayed treatment by two months for the first major diagnostic test, and three months (or longer) for the test result’s recommended medical procedure.

The study didn’t include research of the health outcomes of these individuals or how the delay in care affected their pre-existing diabetes. However, it is important for employers and healthcare professionals to note the value in time-sensitive decisions for care. If left untreated, diabetes can create numerous health complications to include heart attack, stroke or amputation of extremities. With atherosclerosis, in particular, a delay in treatment can result in heart attack, stroke or another medical emergency.

End Delayed Care with an Affordable Solution

Many factors can contribute to delayed care – however, it’s a fact that the cost of healthcare is a huge concern for patients. Employees with less-than-adequate health coverage/insurance may decide to “wait-out” their symptoms, increasing their risk for serious health complications in the future. If your clients utilize a high-deductible option, their insurance plan is at-risk for serious health expenditures down the line.

To offset an employee’s health expenses from a high-deductible health plan, employers may to offer gap plans that include affordable and convenient access to care. Gap insurance is a supplemental health plan that cushions expenses for employers and employees who utilize high-deductible health care plans. By offering a gap plan, employers improve the entry point to healthcare and encourage their employees to seek treatment at the onset of an illness, reducing urgent care and emergency room visits.

One gap solution is to provide employees a membership to Healthcare2U’s No-Claims Healthcare™. Through unlimited access to our patient-navigation platform, Healthcare2U shifts care away from traditional insurance and towards membership services, avoiding claims. By directing members towards affordable and convenient care, Healthcare2U can educate employees about their health and their next steps towards wellness. Healthcare2U works with employers of all sizes and there is no exclusion of pre-existing conditions. Benefits include – but are not limited to – same or next-day acute care with a board-certified physician for $10 a visit, 24/7/365 bilingual telehealth for no additional cost and chronic disease management for 13 of the most prevalent chronic disease states for the same $10 visit fee. Because of Healthcare2U’s cost-containment nature, employers have seen an ROI of 15 percent within their first year of implementation.

With DPC, members create a trusting relationship with their primary care physician, unaffected by budgeting concerns. This educates them to lead a healthier lifestyle, minimizing future insurance premiums for their employers. Are you interested in learning what Healthcare2U can do for your employer groups? If so, let’s talk.

National Women’s History Month: Five Influential Women in Medicine

For decades, various female-activist groups advocated for the inclusion of women’s history in classrooms across the nation. It wasn’t until 1980 that President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation to declare a National Women’s History Week. By 1986, 14 states were honoring women’s accomplishments throughout March, and a year later Congress officially declared March as the National Women’s History Month. Today, galleries, memorials and museums across the nation are commemorating the contributions women have made in American history and contemporary society.

For decades, men represented the majority in medicine. In 1860, there were only 200 female physicians in the United States, but today there are more than 376,000. Although it was challenging, the following five exceptional women have made major contributions to the medical industry. From breakthrough pharmaceuticals to advanced research discoveries, these women deserve applause for progressing healthcare in America.

National Women's History MonthRebecca Lee Crumpler, MD (1831-1895)

Dr. Crumpler became the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. She graduated in 1864 from New England Female Medical College and published her book, Book of Medical Discourses, in 1883. Her work included providing medical care to free slaves through the Freedman’s Bureau, as well as poor women and children.

 

National Women's History Month

Margaret Higgins Sanger (1879-1966)

Sanger was a controversial and well-known birth control activist, sex educator and nurse. Around 1910 she coined the term ‘birth control,’ causing a backlash that forced her to flee the U.S. until 1915. In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic in the United States and was arrested nine days after it opened for violating the Comstock Act. In 1921 the American Birth Control League was established, an earlier adaptation of Planned Parenthood. Her passion for women’s reproductive rights inspired her to push forward towards what resulted in the first oral contraceptive, Enovid.

 

National Women's History MonthVirginia Apgar (1909-1974)

Dr. Apgar was an American obstetrical anesthesiologist and the first woman to become a full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Apgar was known for contributing the Apgar (Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration) score – a standardized method of evaluating newborn health after birth. The Apgar score also helped Apgar and researchers quantify the effects of obstetrical anesthesia on babies which improved the fight against infant mortality.

 

National Women's History MonthGertrude Elion (1918-1999)

As an American biochemist and pharmacologist, Elion shared the 1988 Nobel Prize for the development of drugs used to treat several major diseases. After retirement, she oversaw the development of azidothymidine (AZT), an AIDS treatment that prevents pregnant mothers from spreading it to their fetuses. Elion was also responsible for the first immunosuppressive drug used for organ transplants, as well as the first antiviral drug to treat viral Herpes infections.

 

National Women's History MonthMary-Claire King (1946-present)

As an American Cancer Society Professor, Dr. King studies human genetics and complex traits. Her work involves studying the interaction of genetics and environmental influences in various diseases. Her contributions to medicine include identifying understanding the genetic susceptibility of breast cancer, demonstrating that humans and chimpanzees are 99% genetically identical, and using genomic sequencing to identify victims of human rights abuse such as illegal adoption.

 

These influential scientists, doctors, and activists represent only a fraction of the impact women have made in medicine throughout the course of history. From progressing societal expectations to introducing new pharmaceuticals, these women have left their mark in the history of healthcare. Today, America remains a leader in medical research thanks to their dedication to innovation. Therefore, this National Women’s History Month we honor their multiple accomplishments and contributions.

Telehealth: Transforming the Value of Employee Benefits

 

When implementing a telehealth program into a benefits package, it has the potential to transform an employee’s access to healthcare. Instead of waiting weeks for an in-office visit, employees can now address concerns quickly and reduce the utilization of unnecessary emergency services. Telehealth is a common benefit these days, but industry professionals weren’t always so keen on the idea.

Originally, there was a concern that telehealth would not make a difference in an employee benefits plan because of the assumption consumers would prefer face-to-face interaction with their physician. However, despite anticipated concerns, telehealth has proven its value and more employers are offering telehealth year-over-year. Studies show that, recently, an estimated ninety-six percent of large employers provided telehealth services to their employees.

The Value of Telehealth

Here’s a common scenario: it’s a weekend and an employee is developing a swollen throat and low-grade fever. With his history of strep throat, he knows he’s due for another fight with the same contagious infection. To kick it, he needs antibiotics and rest as soon as possible. Instead of utilizing an urgent care facility that doesn’t fall under his health plan or waiting days to visit his physician in-person – he simply calls his telehealth provider to explain his symptoms, discuss treatment options and receive a prescription.

Telehealth has become an important element in providing convenient care to consumers for many reasons. For example, a dangerous winter storm in Michigan kept many residents at home while wind chills dropped below zero. Since residents were advised to avoid unnecessary travel, a local telehealth provider saw a spike in telehealth utilization. The patient’s accessibility to a physician saved some from attempting to drive to the hospital in dangerous road conditions.

Another example is from 2016 when Frederick Memorial Hospital launched a Chronic Care Management Program that targeted 150 patients with “high-risk” chronic conditions, such as COPD, chronic heart failure, hypertension, and diabetes. The program was instrumental in identifying health issues and offering medical direction before the patient seeks emergency care. The results cut their emergency room visits in half and lowered the number of rehospitalization and treatment costs by nearly 50 percent.

Telehealth’s Value is in Utilization

Currently, of the 96 percent of large employers that offer telehealth, only 20 percent report that at least 8 percent of their employees are using services. Since the value of an employer’s telehealth program is based on utilization, employees must be educated on its benefits, how to access it and when. Changing employee behavior takes employer dedication but by implementing awareness campaigns through email, posting information in break rooms and providing a simple way to access their benefits, employers can see results quickly.

Now, imagine if a component of your benefits plan did all of this for you, provided a Direct Primary Care membership that further diverted claims, and decreased overall healthcare expenses. With Healthcare2U | No-Claims Healthcare™ employers receive just that. By integrating into a current or new benefits package, we provide a cost-containment service that does not generate claims against a health plan. With our patient navigation feature, we provide members with one point-of-contact for their entire healthcare experience, directing them towards the appropriate avenue of care. In 2018 alone, our patient navigation diverted 25 percent of members seeking physician appointments towards our 24/7/365 bilingual telehealth service, minimizing claims from the emergency room and urgent care utilization.

If you’re interested in providing your clients with unlimited physician access that includes telehealth at no additional out-of-pocket cost, contact the nation’s fastest-growing, integrated Direct Primary Care network – Healthcare2U at contact@healthc2u.com or (512) 900-8900.

Heart Failure Awareness Week

As a continuation of Heart Month, this week is dedicated to raising awareness for Heart Failure. Heart Failure is a common condition resulting from a damaged or weakened heart, often from a heart attack or years of cardiovascular disease. While there is no cure for heart failure, it is preventable. Honor Heart Failure Awareness Week by spreading awareness about the stages of this disease and by making heart healthy choices for yourself and your family!

 

Heart Failure Awareness Week

 

 

Our Hearts are Healthier Together

In 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson named the month of February as American Heart Month to raise awareness about Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) within the American population. After many decades, CVD is still prevalent. Affecting nearly 48 percent of the American population, CVD is the underlying cause in 1 out of every 3 deaths. For American Heart Month 2019, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) encourages you to join or create a heart-healthy pact with family and friends.  

Living a healthier lifestyle is easier when you have a support system. From work, home, to your physical community – you can inspire numerous people to live their healthiest life. As CVD remains the number one killer among U.S adults, we challenge you to use this month to make new habits that encourage heart-healthy decisions with the people closest to you. 

What is Cardiovascular Disease (Heart Disease)? 

CVD (Heart disease) causes a waxy substance (referred to as plaque) to collect in the arteries over time. This plaque eventually deprives oxygen-rich blood of reaching necessary areas of the body. CVD also weakens the heart muscle, leading to numerous complications that can include heart failure or arrhythmias.  

To understand the nation’s cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association tracks seven behaviors and health factors that increase the risk of CVD development. In response, AHA created “Life’s Simple 7”; seven modest lifestyle changes that will make a big difference in your cardiovascular health:  

    1. Manage Blood Pressure – High blood pressure (hypertension) gradually increases the pressure of blood flowing into your arteries. By correctly managing your blood pressure, you reduce the strain on your heart, brain, eyes and kidneys.  
    2. Control Cholesterol – High Cholesterol contributes to fatty deposits that build up in your blood vessels. By controlling your cholesterol, you are helping your arteries stay clear from blockages and reducing your risk of heart attacks and strokes.  
    3. Reduce Blood Sugar – It’s important to treat high blood sugar quickly to prevent future complications. High levels of blood sugar can lead to diabetes which damages your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. 
    4. Get Active – The World Health Organization recommends that adults aged 18-64 get at least 150 minutes of moderately-intensive physical activity throughout the week. Physical activity helps to keep your heart muscles healthy, gives you more energy, makes you feel better and can add years to your life.  
    5. Eat better – Even for people at a healthy weight, a poor diet can cause major health concerns. Eating a healthy diet assists with all the steps above, allowing you to feel positive and stay healthy.  
    6. Lose Weight – Being overweight increases the risk of heart complications, high blood pressure, and even cancer. When you lose weight, you also reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, muscles and skeleton. 
    7. Stop Smoking – Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which can cause cancer. Smoking damages blood vessels, leading individuals to develop heart disease, stroke, respiratory problems, cancer, etc. Even older smokers can reap health benefits when they quit
      smoking – it’s never too late to quit! 

Participate in #HeartMonth! 

Are you ready to change your habits and modify your behavior to become a healthier, happier you? Encourage your community of friends and loved ones to join you in taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle and away from CVD. Here are a few suggestions of activities that can help you build a stronger, healthier heart: 

  • Join an interactive workout class in your community 
  • Take a walk with co-workers during your lunch break 
  • Play in the yard with your family 
  • Make a pact with friends to quit smoking 
  • Host a heart-healthy potluck focused on lower sodium and fats 
  • Bike or walk to your local park  

Although heart disease remains the number one killer among Americans, it is preventable. You can lower your risks by changing unhealthy habits and behaviors. Gather your community for social support and accountability along the way. By sharing your stories and adventures on social media with the hashtag #OurHearts, you can encourage your online community as well!