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By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

In 2009, approximately 59.2 percent of Americans under 65 years old are being covered under their employer-sponsored insurance plans. The rate of participants enrolled in this type of coverage is on a steady decline with experts estimating that individuals with job-based coverage are quickly becoming a minority.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2018 fewer than 8 million Americans will have health insurance plans through their employers, according to the Bloomberg View article. This pattern suggests that people are independently looking for insurance opportunities outside the workplace.

“When they push those costs onto the employees, they aren’t seeing their wages rise as fast as their health insurance cost,” said Ryan Barker, vice president for health policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health, in an article published in STL Today. “At some point, families have to weigh where dollars go from my pay check, and rent, wages and food are more immediate and they often trump health insurance.”

As insurance rates continue to rise, employers are putting more of the financial burden onto their staff. According to the STL Today article, the average cost of family insurance plans was $16,834 in 2014. On average, employees cover 25 percent of the cost, in addition to financing high out-of-pocket costs.

“High deductibles can be just fine if you’re relatively young and healthy, but it can be a concern and the reason people don’t get the care they need,” said President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation Drew Altman.

Obamacare has presented Americans with more insurance plans outside of their employer chosen health insurance plan. The insurance marketplace has created more options for health care coverage that can be directly tailored to individual needs instead of a enrolling in a plan without having any input.

According to the research firm S&P IQ, there will be a huge decline in employees signing up for corporate health insurance plans. In fact, in the next ten years the firms expects that less than 10 percent of those currently enrolled in employee-sponsored insurance plans will still get it through their companies in the next ten years.

“We will expect some companies to hold on to their health care plans, just as some private companies still have pensions,” said Head of S&P IQ Michael Thompson in a CNN article. “But we think that the tax incentives for employer-driven insurance are not enough to offset the incentives for companies to transition people over to exchanges and have them be more autonomous around management of their own health care.”

Corporate plans may see a decline in the future due to the increase in options for Americans. Signing up for their employer-sponsored plan is no longer the only route to take. Health insurance marketplaces on both the federal and state level have seen large enrollment numbers in the short time it has been available.

A new survey published in HealthDay reports that the number of Americans who did not receive care they needed dropped in 2014. According to the survey, 66 million reported that they declined health care because of the cost compared to the 80 million people in 2012. This is the first decline since 2003.

“The new report provides evidence that the Affordable Care Act’s new subsidized options for people who lack insurance from employers are helping to preserve national trends in health care coverage and affordability,” Commonwealth Fund President Dr. David Blumenthal said in the HealthDay article.

With more coverage plans becoming available to Americans, they are able to be more selective when it comes to choosing a health care plan. Instead of spending the majority of their pay check on providing health insurance for their family, people are able to choose a plan that they can afford, while still enrolling in coverage.

Employers are also seeing the financial gain of not having to provide their staff with insurance benefits. Instead, companies are looking at other incentives, such as providing an allowance or subsidies towards their employees’ selected insurance plan. Even if businesses have to pay a fine for not providing insurance to their staff, they are still saving money in the long term.


By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Along with colder temperatures comes the flu virus that infects tens of thousands of Americans every year. The virus has several different strains that range in the level of severity. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, release a vaccine that can be taken annually to help decrease the likelihood of contracting the flu.

Organizations like the CDC and World Health Organization, WHO, research and gather data to help predict how the flu will affect people in the coming year. The severity of the flu strains vary each year, along with the occurrence of it.

“I think we’re right in the meat of the season right now,” said Dr. Joe Bresse, chief of the Epidemiologist Division, in a USA Today article. “You never know with the flu. It’s unpredictable, but I think we’re in the peak period right now.”

The CDC released the latest data on the flu in mid January. The results demonstrated that the flu has reached an epidemic level in many states. Classifying the flu as an epidemic simply means that the number of cases is higher than what is considered normal.

The number of cases that the CDC has tracked is more in line with the 2012 – 2013 flu season. CDC Director Dr. Tome Frieden said that the H3N2 strain is commonly being found in patients, and this particular type of the flu can be “nastier” than other forms.

“The most concerning thing about the flu season this year there is a mismatch between the predominant strain that is circulating and what we put in the vaccine,” reported Trish Perl, head of Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Epidemiology and Infection Prevent, in a Washington Post article.

Typically, the flu vaccine will protect individuals from the more serious versions of the flu between 60 and 65 percent of the time. This year, however, the vaccine is only effective 23 percent of the time.

Because the disease and strains are unpredictable, it becomes difficult to produce a vaccine that will protect against all types of the flu.

In order to create the annual vaccine, the WHO meets to determine what three to four strains will be strong in the next season and then make recommendations. Research and data is studied to make decisions, but then effectiveness of the vaccine tends to change from year to year, according to a CNN article.

Research is underway to create a universal flu vaccine that would not change annually, and might not even need to be taken every year.

“We need a vaccine with components of the influenza virus that don’t change,” said Dr. Peter Palese, chair of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine, in the CNN article. “Forcing the body into making a response in those conserved domains. It requires insight and technology we didn’t have available to us five years ago.”

As research continues to make progress to help predict the flu strain patterns and prevent people from contracting the most serious and life threatening versions, there are other things individuals can do to protect themselves.

On, an article was published to highlight the top five things Americans can do to stay protected and prevent contracting the disease.

  1. Wash hands to disinfect skin from potentially harmful germs.
  2. Get the flu vaccine to decrease likelihood of getting flu, or reduce severity of symptoms.
  3. Clean commonly used items like door handles, computers and telephones to remove germs.
  4. Avoid direct contact with those who have already contracted the flu virus.
  5. Keep hand sanitizer readily available to be prepared.

These simple steps can dramatically reduce the likelihood of contracting the disease. Being sure to avoid contact with germs in addition to getting vaccinated can help protect people from the flu. Even if individuals get sick, taking precautions can reduce the risk of getting severely sick.



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