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SELECTING THE CORRECT HEALTH PLAN IS IMPORTANT FOR AMERICANS
By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

The Affordable Health Care Act has made significant changes to what plans are available to the American public, in addition to how much everything costs. As people try to adapt to the new options available to them, it is important to gain an understanding of what each plan is offering.

Every individual has different needs and expectations for their health coverage to meet. The new law provides more options for people through the Insurance Exchanges, yet shifts the responsibility to the individual to determine which plan is more suitable for them.

“You know you’ll likely need something, even if you’re a totally healthy person,” said United Policyholders Executive Director Amy Bach in a FOX Business article. “For most people, it’s about comparing deductibles, co-pays, benefit limits and reimbursement rates – basically, everything you could be responsible for – and then any portion of services that would fall to you, such as hospital stays.”

A survey performed by the Kaiser Family Foundation concluded that 79 percent of uninsured people are aware that they must carry health insurance in order to avoid a fine. A large percentage of individuals surveyed were unaware that subsidies are available for those with lower incomes.

The Insurance Exchanges also provide five different levels of coverage, which help to contain costs. Bronze is considered the basic package, while silver is a step-up. Gold and platinum level plans are the most expense, but will have a lower deductible. The lowest and most economical is the Catastrophic plan, which has very limited coverage.

“It is important to make sure when you’re selecting a plan that it’s affordable to you,” said Kelly Chavez, Brown and Brown Insurance Broker in a KLEWTV.com article. “That it’s within your budget, and you can continue paying the premium on a regular basis because it really doesn’t do you any good if it gets so expensive that you have to drop it mid-year.”

Bach and other colleagues comprised a list of important factors to consider before choosing a plan for the year. Below is a summary of their checklist.

  1. Look at your Lifestyle: Determine how your overall health is. Can you anticipate upcoming medical challenges that you may face? Are you considered at risk for chronic diseases?
  2. Study 2013 Expenses: Take a look at how often you went to the doctor last year. Analyzing you recent medical history will help determine what you can expect for this next year.
  3. Compare Plans: Analyze all of the options that are available to you. Develop a greater understanding of what each plan covers, and what you can expect to pay out of-pocket for.
  4. Determine Top Priority: Based on your health, it is necessary to determine what is most important to you. For a young, healthy individual, a lower costing plan may be required. However, another individual suffering from a chronic illness may need lower deductibles.
  5. Select Best Plan: Choose a plan that meets the majority of your requirements. After looking at your health priorities, select a coverage option that financial makes sense to you.
  6. Consult with an Expert: Get a second opinion from an insurance agent. Having a knowledgeable professional provide guidance is a good way to ensure that you are choosing the best, most affordable option available to you.

PRECAUTIONS NECESSARY TO SAFELY FACE RECENT COLD TEMPERATURES

By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

As many parts of the nation deal with record setting cold temperatures, Americans are faced with how to maintain their lifestyle under such extreme conditions. Schools and businesses have been forced to shut down, while experts continue to urge individuals to stay indoors until the temperatures warm up.

Although staying home is recommended, it is also not a very realistic solution for many Americans. As the cold stretch continues, people are learning how to safely handle these conditions, while continuing to go about their daily activities.
It is undeniable that there are risks when it comes to being outside in severe temperatures, but if people take the right precautions, they will be able to bear the circumstances.

Physical Effects
Hypothermia and frost bite are just a few of the risks that can occur from over exposure to cold temperatures for an extended period of time. The more extreme the weather, the quicker it will begin to negatively affect the body.

“You’ve got to be very careful,” said Dr. Island Othman, a cardiologist with WakeMed Faculty Physicians in an article published in WRAL.com. “As the weather gets colder, blood vessels narrow and when that happens, the workload on the heart increases. You want to be vigilant of your time in these elements.”

For individuals who already have existing heart conditions or asthma, they must be careful to limit exposure and be aware of their symptoms. Any signs of chest discomfort or tightening, shortness of breath or nausea require immediate attention for any person, regardless of their health.

Othman also recommends that people avoid ingesting alcohol in colder weather. It can create a false sense of warmth, which can hinder a person’s ability to truly be aware of how their body is reacting to the climate.

Outdoor Exercise
“As far as the temperature goes, if you are just warm enough and you are used to exercising, there is no temperature you can’t work out in,” said Canadian exercise psychologist Michael Bracko in a Time article.

If you are someone who typically runs or exercises outside, it can still be possible to continue that routine if the proper precautions are taken. The type of clothes worn during an outdoor workout is an important thing to consider before heading outside.

Layers are necessary because they act like insulation, instead of just putting on a thick, bulky sweater.  Using synthetic fabrics will allow your sweat to dry versus getting wet and cold like cotton and other materials would. Bracko says that covering extremities to prevent frostbite and wear a hat to eliminate heat from escaping are the two most important ways to stay protected in these severe conditions.

Once dressed appropriately, it is essential to get prepared prior to the workout. Being sure to spend time stretching your muscles before going on a run in subzero temperatures is best practice.

According to a CNN article, at least 10 minutes of stretching is needed for temperatures between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. For every ten degrees colder than that, another 5 minutes is added on to the pre-workout time. Getting the blood and oxygen flowing and warming up your muscles is important to prepare for the extreme weather conditions.

Americans across the country have been hard hit by colder than average temperates over the last month. Staying indoors may be possible for a limited time, but individuals must continue their daily routine and face the temperatures eventually. Taking precautions and being aware of the bodies’ reaction to the cold will help to keep people safe this chilling winter.

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