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By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Reducing the number of uninsured Americans by providing competitive, affordable insurance rates was a major objective behind the new healthcare law. As the insurance enrollment deadline approaches, the number of individuals reporting to still be uninsured remains high compared to the Obama administration’s original estimates.

“We’ve got more work to do,” said President Obama at an Organizing for Action event held in early March. “The fact is that we want everybody covered, not just some. That was always the intention and everybody now has the opportunity to get covered.”

The government, along with other outreach organizations, has put a lot of effort into spreading awareness to the public about the upcoming deadline. Despite these efforts, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 76 percent of Americans surveyed were unaware that the March 31 deadline exists. 

If these individuals do not know that there is a deadline in place that requires them to be covered under an insurance plan, it is likely that they are also unaware that there is a penalty that will be assessed. For any American that does not have medical insurance on April 1, they will receive a $95, or 1% of their salary, penalty at the end of the year.

“They may or may not have looked for insurance, they may or may not have talked to somebody who has insurance, but I'm guessing the overriding reason is that it's just not a priority for them," said Deborah Chollet, a health insurance research leader at Mathematica Policy Research.

Although White House officials expect there to be an enrollment surge at the end of March, a report suggests that at least one third of Americans have no intention on signing up or researching health care coverage. The primary reason for this thought process is that these individuals have a perception that insurance is too costly.

“This is a staggeringly high percentage,” reported insurance analyst Doug Whiteman in a statement. “The government has spent over half a billion dollars promoting the Affordable Care Act, and more than two-thirds of Americans still don’t know about the subsidies.” 

With over 40 million Americans reported as being uninsured, there is a realistic concern that these individuals will not take advantage of government subsidies and a competitive marketplace that has be implemented to provide more coverage options.

Since last year, there is a growing number of Americans who do not support Obamacare. Up 9 percent since February, a Kaiser Family Foundation study demonstrates that 56 percent of Americans have “unfavorable” views toward the health care law.

Experts believe that this negative sentiment is contributing to Americans decision to opt out of health insurance. According to a CBS article, there are four primary reasons why the uninsured are not enrolling.

  • Marketplace Errors: Technical difficulties, as well as human error, have caused people to give up on the Obamacare insurance exchange.
  • Not Affordable: Many who have suffered setbacks in their jobs have been forced to cut expenses, and unfortunately, providing food for their families trump investing in insurance plans.
  • Against Obamacare: Surveys show that some Americans feel so negatively about the new health care law that they are choosing to not participate in it.
  • Worth the Risk: Younger enrollment was important for sustaining rates, but many young, healthy individuals do not feel that the investment into insurance is worth the expense right now.

"It's hard to generalize, but for some of these folks, it's a case of, 'I'm in pretty good health, I don't think about these things, I know I can't afford it now,'" says Michael Morrisey, professor of health economics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, in a Fox Business article. "I think it's just rolling past them, and they're not giving it a whole lot of attention."

Whether Americans are avoiding health insurance based on principle or lack of funds, experts agree that the countries problem when it comes to uninsured individuals will not be solved in a year. Over time, with the right outreach, the public should become more aware of what type of options are available for their particular circumstance.


By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Tracking fitness habits and monitoring food intake is a frequent step taken in the road to becoming a healthier individual. New technology has been introduced that monitors food, activity and sleep habits with very little input from the person.

The latest trend to hit the health industry, fitness trackers are computerized devices that are able to track your physical activity, along with your sleep patterns by monitoring your heart rate. Many manufacturers have released small wristbands that can be worn around the clock to monitor this information.

“It’s really accurate, from what I’ve seen,” said Matthew Lee, an exercise physiologist and professor at San Francisco State University, in a LiveScience article. “At higher intensities of exercise, it went off a little bit, but it was still reasonable.”

The style of the wristband may vary, but overall, the technology is the same. Each device has sensors that shine a small light directly into the blood vessels. The light detects blood volume that occurs when the heart is beating. Best Fitness Tracker Brands report that less reflected light means a high blood volume, for example.

“What’s important is consistency,” reported Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic professor of medicine, in an ABC News article. “Even if step tracking is off by 10 to 20 percent, as long as it’s off by the same amount every day, the consumer can still track movement from day to day and that should be enough to help people increase their activity levels.”

The popularity of these fitness trackers have grown tremendously in the last few years. According to NPD Group, a market research company, the overall digital fitness-device market was worth $330 million in 2013.

Many companies are starting to incorporate the fitness trackers into their wellness program. Experts report that the devices allow individuals to get a true picture of the type of activity they are doing throughout the day, especially in sedentary work environments.

In order to promote wellness, SSG, a software firm, provided an incentive to their employees. If they purchased the Fitbit, one of many trackers available, the company would reimburse employees for half of the $99 once they reached 50,000 steps.

“I had no idea the effect it would have,” said Steve Steinheimer, a president and CEO of SSG in a Dallas News article. “What we’re seeing is people getting up in the middle of the day and going for a walk. I see them outside, out behind the building, out and around the building and back.”

Not only was the motivation to receive the monetary reimbursement, but the company observed a shift within employees. They were more competitive when it came to the tracking results, while also using each other as a support system. The social aspect of the tracking device is extremely important to its ultimate success.

“Manufacturers have tweaked the idea so you don’t need to hide the tracker,” said Levine. “They are the coolest thing to wear in a night club. When people think they look cool and hip, then they will become interested in moving more and becoming healthy.”

Experts agree that group settings are the ideal way to utilize the fitness trackers. Celebrating achievements and sharing frustrations is a great way to overcome fitness or dietary obstacles. Companies that are incorporating this into their wellness program hope that it pays off in healthier employees, and lower insurance costs.



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