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HAS OBAMACARE BEEN EFFECTIVE IN REACHING GOALS?
By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Obamacare has been active since the start of 2014, and recent polls show that there may be a shift in Americans view about the new health insurance programs. Although the law continues to face criticism, early results demonstrate that progress is being made to achieve some of the reform’s objectives.

In a CNN poll, which was conducted in early July, 53 percent of Americans reported that Obamacare has been beneficial for either their family or other Americans. The results demonstrate that improvements have been made to the system, which faced many operational challenges when it was first implemented.

“It will be better when we’ve got a whole year behind us, so we can tell how much {in the surveys} was noise and how much was reality,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, member of the American Action Forum, in a Politico article. “Having said that, it sure looks like there are more people covered, and that’s a good thing.”

Although it is early to speculate on Obamacare’s future, experts have looked at the early results and effects that the insurance marketplace has had. Preliminary results show that there is an decline in uninsured Americans in addition to an increase in spending.

Enrollment
Numbers vary from one reporting agency to another, but sources have come to a general consensus that there are less uninsured Americans since the exchanges were created. A Gallup-Healthways survey reported that the number of Americans without health insurance has dropped to 13.4 percent of adults, which is the lowest level since 2008.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation study examined individuals who have signed up for the marketplace in an effort to determine who was uninsured prior to the exchanges.

“There has been considerable debate about how many people signing up for coverage in the new exchanges were uninsured,” said Kaiser Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman. “Our survey reveals that the majority of people who enrolled in the new exchanges were previously uninsured.”

In fact, the study’s results indicate that six out of 10 people were uninsured prior to the existence of the insurance marketplace. 72 percent of this group report being without insurance for at least two years.

Although there are still many Americans who do not have insurance, early results are demonstrating that uninsured individuals are taking advantage of the new marketplace by enrolling in insurance plans.

Health Care Spending
The Bureau of Economic Analysts found that U.S. health care spending has jumped 9.9 percent, the largest increase since 1980. Although experts anticipated an increase in spending with more people having insurance, no one expected there to be such a dramatic change.

“A lot of the utilization was people who didn’t have health insurance who are now able to go to the doctor and afford drugs,” said Jason Furman, chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, in an article on TheWire.com. “That’s a good thing for families and was a goal of the Affordable Care Act.”

In the long run, the fact that Americans are taking steps to visit a doctor and get their health in control is a positive factor. This influx of new patients may be expensive up front, but the hope is that health care costs will level out.

“What you’re seeing here isn’t the cost curve bending up,” wrote Phillip Klein in the Examiner. “It’s a one-time increase in the level of spending.”

After overcoming many obstacles during the exchange roll-out, the marketplace appears to be operational and providing Americans with more insurance options.  Early results demonstrate that Obamacare has made an impact within U.S. health care. What type of an impact the marketplace has made will be more defined at the conclusion of this year.

HOW TO MAKE VACATION BENEFITS LAST AFTER RETURNING TO WORK

By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Deciding to take time away from work can be more challenging than it might seem. Many employees struggle with losing control of projects, being out of communication with colleagues and finding the right time to be away from the office.
Although work demands might interfere with vacation plans, experts agree that it is important to spend time out of the office in order to recharge and remove stresses from the workplace.

Glassdoor.com reports that that average U.S. employee will only take approximately half of their allotted paid time off. Additionally, three out of five employees will do some work, while they are out of the office.

“Workers who don’t take what they’re eligible for could be shortchanging themselves in terms of benefits to their health,” reported Steve Blake, vice president of Clinical Operations at Managed Health Network, Inc, in a Healthnet.com article.

Many Americans have the luxury of receiving paid time off as a benefit to their job. Often times, vacation time is used to incentivize employees to remain at the company and accrue more time. Opting to not take this time is a disservice to the individual, and, in the long term, their employer.

Benefits of Vacation
“We really feel the physical and mental benefits of even a brief getaway,” said Dr. David Posen, author of Is Work Killing You?, in a BenefitsCanada.com article. “Vacations can lower blood pressure and ease stress and tension in the body. Vacations are a prescription for health, stress relief, more energy, improved productivity and overall happiness.”

A survey was conducted by Expedia.ca to determine how participants feel after vacation. The results demonstrated that 78 percent of respondents felt more focused after returning to work, while 93 percent felt refreshed and relaxed after returning from a trip.

Taking vacations and removing yourself from the workplace is beneficial both mentally and physically. Studies demonstrate that risks of cardiac disease and depression can be reduced. In addition, vacations can be valuable tools to help reduce stress, while increasing productivity, according to an ETurboNews.com article.

How to Battle Post-Vacation Blues
After living a life of relaxation for an extended period of time, it can sometimes be difficult to get back into the everyday routine and catch up on work. To avoid coming back to the office more stressed then before, it is important to take steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed returning to work after time off.

Instead of coming back to work the day after vacation, it might be beneficial to have a day in between. Coming back from a trip on a Saturday instead of a Sunday will make is possible to catch-up and ease back into reality.
Prior to departing for a trip, employees will commonly prepare for being out of the office, but rarely do they prepare for coming back.

“You’ve got to set yourself up so there’s the minimum pileup while you’re gone,” said Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check Email in the Morning, in a Forbes article. “Once you invest in that process once, it becomes an automated process.”

Scanning email prior to coming back to the office, creating a to-do list and avoiding meetings the day you are back are a few ways to avoid feeling overwhelmed when you return. Creating a catch-up priot to leaving for vacation is a great way to get back into work mode.

The last thing Americans want to do is comeback from a relaxing trip and be more stressed then ever returning home from their first day back at work. Reversing the effects of time away from the office can be avoided with some preparation and outlook adjustment.

“No armies were waiting for my word to invade countries,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, in a Forbes article. “I missed a few things, but I could apologize to a few people when I got back. I missed a few opportunities. There will be others.”

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