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, 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!

 

**Content updated May 7, 2021

Employers Seek Alternative Solutions to Solve Rising Benefit Plan Costs

 

Rising prices for benefit plans have employers considering creative solutions to lower healthcare expenses. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation,  annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 4 percent to average $21,342 in 2020. The cost of health benefits continues to increase year over year with no signs of stopping. With these increases, what should employers do to protect their bottom line?

In his recent article, Jim Blanchek – co-founder of The Benefits Group – encourages employers who are unhappy with their benefits plan to implement alternative solutions before their renewal date. According to Blanchek, there are countless opportunities for growth hiding in your benefits plan, and there’s no need to wait another year to unlock them.

“There are countless opportunities for growth hiding in your benefits plan, and there’s no need to wait another year to unlock them.”

With an expensive market, the fear of employers has become reality: expensive health plans with minimal benefits have sent their workforce searching for employment opportunities with better benefits. The Center for American Progress claims that losing just five mid-level employees in a single year can easily cost an employer $50,000. To increase employee retention, employers are looking for alternative solutions that help contain their healthcare costs.

One of the popular solutions available is Direct Primary Care (DPC). By providing membership for a flat monthly fee, DPC eliminates all traditional fee-for-service claims that would be collected for an employee’s primary care. DPC saves money and encourages healthy living by ensuring a patient-physician relationship that is no longer affected by billing codes.

As an integrated DPC organization, Healthcare2U provides members with affordable and unlimited access to primary care services, chronic disease management, and 24/7/365 telehealth. Besides our outstanding service to our members, another differentiator between Healthcare2U and other DPC organizations is our footprint across the United States.

If you are a benefits broker looking for ideas to help your groups, contact Healthcare2U today. We offer our integrated DPC solution to employers of all sizes, large or small. Whether your clients are self-funded, fully insured or looking for a valuable Minimal Essential Coverage option – we can help you meet their needs today.

If you’re interested in learning more about our Direct Primary Care solution to include all our products, email us at contact@healthc2u.com or call us directly at (512) 900-8900.

 

**Content updated May 7, 2021

The Real Impact of Chronic Diseases in America

A recent poll shows that a majority of people aren’t aware that over half of all Americans are affected by a chronic disease or of the economic impact it has in our country.

 

When thinking about illnesses that impact a person’s health, we often think of common ones such as a cold. For most people, the symptoms and illnesses are typically infrequent and inexpensive to treat. However, what financial burden do Americans experience when they have an illness for an extended period of time? What is the associated cost to manage an illness whose symptoms might come and go for years, requiring constant treatment? 

The majority of Americans are aware that the term “chronic disease” includes conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma and mental health illnesses. However, few are cognizant of the sheer number of people affected by these diseases. In a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, participants were questioned about their knowledge of people living with chronic diseases. Of the participants, only 29 percent were correct to assume that “more than half” of all Americans currently live with a chronic disease. In addition, a majority of the participants were unaware that “more than three-quarters” of the U.S. healthcare budget is spent treating chronic diseases.

 

 

With this data, it’s apparent that most Americans have an inaccurate idea of the effect chronic diseases have on the people of our nation. To uncover the true impact, we’ll look at the three most prevalent chronic diseases within the United States: cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.  

Cardiovascular Disease 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has, for many decades, remained the number one killer of Americans. CVD continues to be an issue in our nation, largely due to the growing obesity epidemic, poor diet and a rise in Type 2 diabetes. The disease itself represents several chronic conditions related to the heart and blood vessels such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation and stroke. In the United States, over 102.7 million people have at least one of these conditions. Its projected that by 2035, that number will rise to 131.2 million, which will represent about 45 percent of the total U.S population.  

Not only is CVD pervasive, it’s costly. Expenses regarding this disease include medical services via a physician, hospital and/or healthcare system. It also represents corresponding costs such as prescription drugs, home health or nursing home care. With its wide-spread impact in America, cardiovascular disease totaled $555 billion in 2016, making it the most expensive disease to treat. 

Diabetes 

Diabetes is not only a major chronic disease, but is also a contributing factor to the rising number of CVD victims. In America, 30.3 million people live with this disease, in addition to 84.1 million prediabetic adults. Individually, it’s estimated that diagnosed diabetics have medical expenditures 2.3 times higher than those without. In 2017 the national estimated cost of diagnosed patients was $327 billion. This total included $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in indirect costs such as absenteeism and reduced productivity. Overall, diabetes has increased economic costs by 26 percent within the past five years.  

A contributing issue to both cardiovascular disease and diabetes is the rising epidemic of obesity among Americans. In 2017, the prevalence of adult obesity was greater than 20 percent across every state and over 30 percent in the South and Midwest regions. 

Chronic Respiratory Disease 

As for chronic respiratory disease, three-quarters of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s poll participants were aware that asthma is a chronic disease. However, asthma is only one of the chronic conditions that obstruct airflow and breathing. Chronic respiratory disease is a general term used to group diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Of these, COPD is the third most common cause of death in the U.S. It’s understood that over 12 million Americans have COPD, but up to 24 million have relatively impaired lung function.  

The primary risk factor is smoking, but also includes occupational dust and chemicals, air pollution and family medical history. For many individuals with progressive COPD, end stages include worsening respiratory symptoms that limit the patient’s ability to perform daily tasks or even rest without exacerbation. The cost of this disease can add up quickly, often causing 1 in 5 hospitalized patients to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of their release.  

 

Together, these three chronic diseases make up the nation’s top killers and consume a vast portion of the healthcare budget each year. Without innovative treatment, goals and intervention plans, these diseases will continue to burden the economic climate and reduce patient’s quality of life. Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated a Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) like these we’ve discussed. The targets of this initiative include: 

  1. Reduce deaths from NCDs by 25 percent before 2025
  2. Reduce the prevalence of tobacco use in individuals older than 15 years-of-age by 30 percent 
  3. Reduce the prevalence of insufficient physical activity by 10 percent.  

These are just a handful of target goals that can improve lives and limit the negative impact of chronic diseases in America. What can you do to improve these conditions? If you are a Health Insurance Broker or Benefits Agent interested in providing unlimited chronic disease management for the three diseases listed above, give Healthcare2U a call today.

Conquering Your New Year’s Resolutions

 

The New Year is approaching, prompting declarations and New Year’s resolutions from the masses. Although many people don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions, most of us promise ourselves – with good intentions – that we will eat healthier, get more exercise or save more money. But, unsurprisingly, four out of the five people who make New Year’s resolutions end up breaking them. One-third of those people won’t even make it to the end of January before slipping back into comfortable habits. If you are determined to stick to your guns this year, you can tackle your resolutions with these helpful tips.

1. Create the right resolution – Use the SMART Goal process to help you make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Don’t allow your goals to be vague or unclear. If you truly want to accomplish them then you need a clear idea of how success will be measured in the end. For example: if you want to save more money this year, set a specific amount you’d like to see in your savings account by the end of the year. 

2. Make a plan – Since change isn’t immediate, make sure you have a step-by-step process on how to achieve your resolutions. If you’re trying to form or break a routine, look at the three ingredients of a habit by Charles Duhigg. He describes these as the cue, the routine and the reward. For example:

Bad habit: I check Instagram too often.

Cue: I feel bored. 

Routine: I check Instagram. 

Reward: I am entertained.  

Way to change the behavior: Instead of checking Instagram, try talking to colleagues or peers around you when you’re bored. You can also think of what you’d like to accomplish or do more of – like reading books, working out, or spending time with family. Every time you feel that cue, consciously act on whatever you’re trying to accomplish.  

3. Conquer your obstacles – It’s probable you will encounter obstacles as you work towards your resolutions. Be realistic and proactive by thinking through the potential difficulties before you begin. How will you stay positive if you don’t see results right away? What do you do if progress diminishes? Find the answer to questions like these and you’ll be more inclined to overcome the complications when they occur! 

4. Find accountability– Confide in others about what you’re trying to accomplish – you don’t have to do this alone! If your friends have similar goals, hold each other accountable as you work towards them together. Even verbally stating your goal to others will make you more inclined to commit and accomplish them. Make a reminder to yourself to check back in on your progress at a specific point in the year. This gives you the opportunity to correct any poor behaviors that may have allowed you to slip back into your old habits before it’s too late.  

Keeping your New Year’s resolution is not for the faint of heart! It takes hard work and dedication to make a resolution into your reality. If you fail at this year’s resolution, don’t allow negative thoughts to ruin your determination. You can always try again without having to wait for New Year’s.  

Healthcare2U wishes you and your family a happy and healthy New Year!  

Winter Wellness

 

As the earth tilts the Northern Hemisphere farther away from the sun, we experience less daylight and chilly weather – encouraging us to stay indoors and allowing our appetites to indulge in rich seasonal meals. According to studies, people tend to gain weight during the winter months due to several potential factors such as survival instincts, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and holiday culture. If you notice that your habits are influenced by the season, know that your health and wellness doesn’t have to suffer. By incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet and a few at-home workouts into your schedule, you can keep your body healthy this season.

Fruits and Vegetables

Even though heavy comfort foods are typical during winter months, there are fruits and vegetables in season at your local grocery store that you can incorporate into your diet. By using the following fresh produce, you can cook healthier versions of your favorite comfort dishes, saving yourself from excess carbs and calories.

  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Date plums
  • Dates
  • Grapefruit
  • Kale
  • Kiwifruit
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Passion fruit
  • Pear
  • Pomegranate
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Turnips
  • Winter squash

Not only does produce present healthier options, but it also provides your body with vitamins and nutrients that can help you fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The omega-3 fatty acids, folate and various vitamins found in brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and winter squash can fight seasonal depression symptoms. Since the body doesn’t naturally produce omega-3 fatty acids, it’s important that you substitute them into your diet.

If you are looking for antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins – you can incorporate citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines. The soluble fiber is 60-70 percent of the fruit and lowers cholesterol while preventing blood sugar spikes. The fruit’s remaining insoluble fiber prevents constipation and promotes healthy digestive waste. Citrus is also an excellent source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C has many roles in the body such as assisting collagen production, immune support and the absorption of iron. It also prevents damage from free radicals, provides elasticity to the skin, reduces inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Of this list, kale has the most amount of vitamin C, with one cup containing 4.5 times more than an orange!

At-Home Workouts

Cold weather and less daylight often mean fewer outdoor activities. If long runs or walks were once part of your workout routine, winter could leave you looking for an alternative. Let’s not forget that our bodies can be just as beneficial as a great piece of equipment when exercised correctly. If you are staying indoors this season, it’s time to get creative and try out a few movements that can keep you active and healthy. Take a look at these 53 ways to move your body which can all be done within the space of a yoga mat.

Don’t assume that because you aren’t in a gym, you aren’t improving your health. Bodyweight exercises provide great benefits to a body’s overall health. They are natural movements that use additional muscles to stabilize yourself where a machine would not. They’re also incredibly functional for your body, allowing you to build muscles that will help you in your daily life.

This season is a great opportunity to get creative and try new things. So, mix up your winter meals with a few new veggies and dedicate yourself to a 30-minute at-home exercise a few times a week. Unlike past behavior, your wellness isn’t hibernating this year!

Employer Provided Healthcare Isn’t Making the Cut

A new study shows that after years of modestly-growing premiums, 2017 brought a sharp price hike – increasing the economic strain on many Americans.

 

The study from The Commonwealth Fund shows that beginning in 2017, employees started to spend a larger percentage of their income on employer-sponsored healthcare. For example, the 2017 average employee premium contribution for single and family health plans consumed nearly seven percent of the median income, while wages remained fairly stagnant. From 2016 to 2017, median wages grew only 0.2 percent. 

Across the nation employee contributions vary greatly but, between 2016 and 2017, the average employee premium contribution rose 6.8 percent for individual plans and 5.3 percent for family plans. For single policyholders, the lowest deductible was found in Hawaii at $836 while the highest was tied between Maine and New Hampshire around $2,300.  

These facts and figures led Sara Collins, Vice President of Health Care Coverage and Access at The Commonwealth Fund, to predict, “People with low and moderate incomes may simply decide to go without insurance if it competes with other critical living expenses like housing, food and education.” 

With these startling statistics, how can producers provide benefits that promote affordable and convenient healthcare for employees across the nation? The answer is simple: it’s time to get creative with your portfolio and smart about which products and services you promote to clients. Research services that provide a return on investment. For example, Direct Primary Care (DPC) through Healthcare2U is a monthly membership that shields an employer’s health plan from claims, containing healthcare spend. 

As a membership, Heathcare2U empowers employers by offloading claims from their health plan towards DPC services within Healthcare2U clinics, such as unlimited primary care, same or next-day treatment for acute illnesses, and unlimited chronic disease management. With the nation’s fastest-growing, integrated DPC network, members are encouraged to build positive patient-physician relationships to offset future healthcare costs for both the member and their employer.