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THE TRUTH ABOUT PENALTIES FOR UNINSURED AMERICANS

By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Penalties are coming to those Americans who choose not to enroll in health insurance plans in 2014. When people begin to start filing their taxes, the fines will be assessed. New this year, there will be a box asking whether or not the individual has been enrolled in an insurance plan over the past year.

The fee for being uninsured is one aspect of the Affordable Care Act that has been scrutinized since the law was first enacted. For those who did not feel that insurance was necessary, they will face a $95 fee or 1 percent of their annual income, whichever is greater.

“I hate the idea that you have to pay a penalty,” said Ryan Moon, a new graduate from Iowa in an Associated Press article. “But at the same time, it helps other people. It really helps society, but society has to be forced to help society.”

Many Americans did not sign up for health care knowing that they would end up paying a penalty at the end of the year. What experts are concerned about is that individuals are not aware that the fees will go up for 2015 and 2016.

At this point, health insurance open enrollment runs through February 15. After this date, people have two months to file their 2014 taxes. If individuals are unaware of penalties existing or the increase in fines for 2015, it will be too late to change their outcome for the future year.

“We could be looking at a real train wreck after Feb. 15,” said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert at the nonpartisan Urban Institute, in the Associated Press article. “People will file their tax returns and learn they are subject to a much larger penalty for 2015, and they can do absolutely nothing to avoid that.”

According to a poll published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 3 percent of respondents were aware that there will be an increase in the uninsured penalties for 2015.

In 2015, the fine will increase to two percent of a person’s annual income or $325. Based on government reports, Americans could be paying an average of $1,100 in fines by 2016. The increase is an effort to continue to encourage people to take advantage of health insurance opportunities.

Similar to last year, experts are expecting a big push for insurance enrollment towards the deadline date. Many professionals and businesses within the insurance industry are working at making it more public knowledge of the increase in fines to help boost enrollment numbers.

“You have to remember that most people will sign up for this benefit in the very last weeks before they have to, so you wouldn’t want to message negatively until the end,” Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson said in an article published in The Hill. “They have a choice about whether to motivate by fear or by benefit. I think the fear might come late.”

Educating the public will be essential to help increase insurance numbers in the U.S. and eliminate Americans being faced with hefty fines for being uninsured. The ultimate goal of ACA is to increase the number of insured individuals and imposing a fine for not doing so is one way the law plans to motivate.

FEELING YOUNGER CAN CONTRIBUTE TO OVERALL HEALTH

By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Feeling and looking healthy can be related to many things such as diet and activity levels, but recent studies show that state of mind can also play a contributing role. Mentally feeling younger than the biological age can make individuals more inclined to push themselves to live healthy, active lifestyles.

A research summary posted on JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that self-perceived age played a large role in people’s health later in life, especially when it came to cardiac health. How old people feel can affect their overall physical, mental and emotional well-being. 

The study examined 6,489 participants with an average age of 66, but an average self-perceived age of being 57-years-old. The University College of London examined this group of people for eight years.

The study’s results indicated that only 4.8 percent of the participants felt at least a year older than their actual age. During the course of the research, 14 percent of individuals who felt younger had died, in comparison to 24 percent of the group who felt older than their biological age.

“Self-perceived age has the potential to change so interventions may be possible,” reported the study. “Individuals who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with health messages promoting positive health behaviors and attitudes toward aging.”

Although this study does not conclusive suggest that feeling younger automatically means someone is healthier, there is certainly a correlation between how one feels and their overall health. Feeling younger can give people drive to do more things and remain active instead of acting older then they truly are.

Researchers in San Francisco have collected data from 1,500 people for the course of 80 years to examine their lifestyles and behaviors in a study called The Longevity Project. Results have focused on a variety of aspects in order to see how lifestyles, emotions and mannerisms affect well-being.

“The Longevity Project discovered that those who worked the hardest lived the longest,” said lead investigator Howard Friedman in a Best Health Magazine article. “The responsible and successful achievers thrived in every way, especially if they were dedicated to things and people beyond themselves.”

Additionally, the project notes that people who tend to be cautious were less likely to participate in risky situations such as binge drinking, doing drugs and driving without a seat belt. Social connections were another factor that played a role in both physical and mental health.

“Optimism in many ways is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said James Maddux, professor emeritus of psychology at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University, in a Philly.com article. “If you feel your life and your health is largely under your control and you believe you are capable of going things like managing stress, eating right and exercising, then you are more likely to do those things.”

According to an article published in Red Spirit Energy Healing, there are six health secrets that make it possible for individuals to continue feeling young.

  1. Do resistance training to build up and maintain muscle
  2. Avoid dehydration by increasing intake of water
  3. Eating fruits and vegetables instead of nutritional supplements
  4. Include essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6 in diet
  5. Aim for a diet with 60 percent alkaline food and 40 percent acid foods to maintain balance
  6. Decrease stress and aim for a positive outlook

Experts believe that there is more to being healthy then eating the right food and working out. Spending time on emotional and mental health is also important because it contributes to one’s overall well-being. 

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