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WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2014
By: Nicola Crean, CHS Marketing Coordinator

The coming year will be particularly important for the success of Obamacare. While many challenges were faced in 2013, the New Year will determine how effective the law is and how well it can operate as a whole. Since the majority of the law’s provisions will be activated in 2014, the public awaits results to see if the health care reform has, in fact, lived up to its promise to provide more affordable insurance to Americans.

A Kaiser tracking poll from Dec. 20 reports that only 34 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act. The coming months are important to demonstrate to the public that this approach to health care has the ability to be successful and beneficial for all. Gaining public support is a major component to making Obamacare a success.

Enrollment Concerns
It is not a secret that the federal enrollment site experienced problems when it first launched. Obama’s administration responsible for the website have struggled for weeks to fix HealthCare.gov. Now that it is up and running, the site has seen a surge in enrollment numbers over the past month.

"October and November were essentially lost months," says Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, in a Washington Post article. "December is the first month where we're getting an indication of how things are working. It's starting to track with what people, particularly the CBO, projected originally."

For Americans wanting to be covered by Jan. 1, the government extended the enrollment date to Dec. 24. However, enrollment through the federal marketplace can occur through the end of March. Once enrolled by that time frame, then people will avoid the “individual mandate” fee that will be charged if you are an uninsured American.

The government has a goal of having 7 million Americans enrolled within the new marketplaces. The enrollment numbers so far appear sluggish, but the Obama administration still remains positive that more Americans will sign up in the coming months.

Transition Period
Like any other major change that occurs in an organization, health care experts and the Obama administration expect that there will be some challenges that will occur once Jan. 1 is here. This will be the first test to determine if Americans have enrolled properly and the insurance companies have appropriately set them up to be covered by their policy.

In emergency rooms on Jan. 1, “there are going to be people out there who think they are insured … but who can’t connect with an insurance plan,” says Timothy Jost, a professor at Washington & Lee University, in a CBS article. “These transitions are always bumpy. This one is going to be particularly bumpy.”

Jan. 1 represents the first day that Americans with insurance bought through the exchanges will receive care under these policies. Many companies have worked to try to make the transition as smooth as possible. Some insurers have even provided temporary insurance cards to allow individuals to receive medical care immediately, if needed.

Additionally, the Centers for Medical Services have committed to working with insurance companies and providers to ensure that those who have enrolled will be eligible for coverage in a timely fashion, reported a Health Affairs.org article. Overall, the goal is to expect that some operational glitches will occur, but having a system in place to address challenges will help overcome these obstacles.

Upcoming Election Year
Even in a non-election year, Obamacare sparked heated debate from both sides of the political aisle. In the upcoming year, the nation’s health care system will undoubtedly be a major issue for politicians running in the mid-term elections.

“It will be an election year, and the GOP has pledged to make the Affordable Care Act one of its top issues. So yes, I think we can expect even more politics,” says Sabrina Corlette, senior research fellow at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, in a CBS article.

Republicans have not been shy about their disdain for Obama's health care reform. Many were in support of defunding programs, or repealing the entire act as a whole. If there is a shift in power after the elections, it is likely that Americans may see changes to the Affordable Care Act.

Overall, 2014 proves to be a very pivotal time for the U.S. health care system. With many provisions being activated, the first marketplace insurance policies being put to use along with 2014 being an election year, there will be much to discuss on Obamacare's performance in the future months.

HEALTHY WAYS TO START THE NEW YEAR

By: Nicola Crean, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Traditionally, the New Year is when many Americans make resolutions and set new goals for themselves. Getting a fresh start in 2014 allows individuals to discover ways to better themselves whether it is being more fiscally responsible or attempting to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Weight loss is usually one of the top resolutions among Americans. After coming off the holiday binge of food, many will adjust their diets to get back to eating healthy. Additionally, many individuals look at including exercise into their schedule in order to get rid of holiday excess weight. Both are very important goals to have going into 2014 in order to meet the resolutions set at the beginning of the year.

Various trends develop annually to help individuals reach their weight goal. Although these fads may have short-term effects, many experts believe that creating a healthier lifestyle as a whole will be more beneficial in the long run.

Create Healthy Diet Plan
Everyone has different approaches when to comes to losing weight. While many believe that utilizing a diet plan is beneficial, dieticians suggest creating an overall nutritious meal plan to ensure that you are losing weight the healthy way.

“It may not sound like the most exciting way to lose weight,” said Sironia Care and Health dietician Rachel Cooke in a Bath Chronicle article. “But health eating, activity and long term behavior change not only works, but helps you maintain weight loss too.”

In order to lose weight and keep it off, utilizing portion control and avoiding missing meals is an important factor. Making the mistake of skipping breakfast will result in a slower metabolism. Instead, eating a nutritious meal at the beginning of the day will help to jolt the metabolism.

Additionally, eating food in moderation and practicing portion control will help to keep you feeling full, but not overstuffed. Taking note of what type of foods you are ingesting will ensure that you are consuming correct servings of all the major food groups. Allowing yourself to have the occasional treat is important because it can provide motivation to avoid binging.

“There are many varied fad diets available and any weight loss that occurs is simply due to the user eating less calories than they were doing previously and not making any last change to everyday eating behavior, no other magic reason,” said Cooke.

Make Exercise Count
Including exercise and physical activity into your weekly routine will complement a healthy diet and increase the overall physical results.

Many Americans who already work out may feel frustration if they are not seeing the results they want. CNN published an article written by Jennifer Cohen, a best-selling author and TV personality, that addresses many bad workout habits that are enabling individuals to maximize on the benefits of physical activity.

According to Cohen, here are the top seven workout mistakes that are commonly made.

  • Using the Elliptical: The elliptical does not use natural body motions, which is why running or jumping can be more beneficial. It is better to do 20-minutes of cross country training, instead of 45-minutes on the elliptical machine.
  • Long Workouts at a Moderate Pace: It is important to get the heart rate up. Putting in a sold 30-minute intense workout is better than a slower work-out that lasts over an hour.
  • Socializing Instead of Exercising: When you attend a gym, it is easy to get wrapped up in socializing with other members. It can help to write down your regime to avoid getting off track.
  • Focusing on Cardo Exercise: While cardio is definitely valuable, it is important to pay attention to building up your muscles. Building more muscle will make them work throughout the day and help burn more calories.
  • Too Much Sport Drinks: Drinks, such as Gatorade, may provide an energy boost, but they should be avoided. Unlike water, they are high in calories and sugar content, which is not ideal during workouts.
  • Keeping the Same Exercise Routine: Keeping the same routine will allow your body to get used to the workout. Adding new exercises will challenge your body and essentially, trick it into working harder.
  • Working Out Alone: Sometimes it can be helpful to work out alone because it allows you to focus. Having a workout buddy can be helpful since it will provide you with motivation and moral support when you want to skip a day.

Experts all agree that a combination of healthy eating and regular activity is the best way to approach weight loss. Not only will this method help you achieve your goals, but it will also ensure that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long-term.

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