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Here's where you can find out about what CHS is up to, what's coming in the future and events. Keep up to date with CHS happenings and find out what's on our calendar.

SIIA NATIONAL EDUCATION CONFERENCE AND EXPO

It is time for the 34th annual SIIA National Educational Conference and Expo. As in years past, Complete Health Systems will be exhibiting at the show, which will be held on October 5 - 7, 2014 in Phoenix, AZ.

Be sure to stop by booth #500, so we can show you how CHS can help improve how you manage self-insured programs.

RBS (REGULATORY BUDGET SENTINEL)

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING INSURANCE OPEN ENROLLMENT SEASON

By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

As the federal government and insurance providers start making final preparations for open enrollment season, it is important for Americans to do some research to gain an understanding of changes that are coming. Even if there are subtle changes made to current plans, being knowledgeable about additional options is vital to enrolling in the most suitable insurance plan.

Open enrollment season, which begins in mid-November, is the time when next year’s coverage plans are unveiled and participants have the option to retain their existing plan or change coverage options. Evaluating health needs along with financial means is important when selecting insurance plans. 

Insurance consumers will also have to consider changes that have been made to their current plan and determine how it will affect them. Adjustments in income could change subsidies received through Obamacare for one individual, while a smaller network offered through an employer-sponsored plan could have a large impact for another person.

“The question is, how will consumers understand what they should do,” said Maria Youdelman, managing attorney with the National Health Law Program, in an article published in Modern Healthcare. “There will need to be a tremendous amount of education and outreach to help consumers understand the multiple notices they may be getting, the new choices they may have and the benefits of coming in and updating their information.”

Adjustments to Healthcare.gov and the Marketplace
Although the federal marketplace had 8 million Americans apply for medical coverage, the roll-out of the website caused major issues during the height of open enrollment last year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the Americans can expect “visible improvement, but not perfection” when it comes to the Healthcare.gov site.

Adjustments have been made to provide users with an easier application system. For individuals with uncomplicated households, they will be able to utilize the shorter application, which could account for about 70 percent of new applicants.

“In the improved online application, account creating is completed on one, long screen, instead of using a separate screen for each section, “ according to a memorandum released by the Department of Health and Human Services. “This requires fewer clicks and makes the account creation process simpler and faster.”

In addition to a new application process, those currently enrolled in the federally subsidized insurance plans must update their information to receive an accurate subsidy amount. If new applications are not sent in with current information, the participants will be enrolled in their current plan for next year.

The benefit to providing a new application with updated information is that it will automatically re-access that subsidy amounts that the individual qualifies for. If they are earning more, but do not change their income level, they will be required to repay the IRS what was overpaid to them.

Potential Changes to Employer-Sponsored Plans
Experts do not anticipate major changes to happen within employer-sponsored insurance plans. Although new trends appear to be gaining in popularity, the majority of companies are continuing to stick to the traditional model.

“The trend that we’re seeing here overall is that employers are increasingly subsidizing coverage,” said Craig Rosenberg, practice leader of Health and Welfare Benefits Administration, in a Dallas News article. “They’re starting to cut back on how much they’re subsidizing the portion of coverage that relates to dependents.”

Reduction on dependent coverage will inevitably cost employees more money out of pocket to provide health insurance for their spouse or children.

A survey released at Aon Hewitt demonstrated that 22 percent of employers have decreased subsidies allotted for dependents. In addition, 18 percent of companies have started a surcharge for employees that are including an adult dependent on the plan.

The Aon Hewitt survey suggests that more companies are looking at ways to decrease the amount they are paying towards employing their employees and their families. Knowing that this could be a possibility in the future helps to plan and prepare for how to make these changes work financially.

The insurance marketplace is constantly evolving and Americans need to work on educating themselves so they are knowledgeable of the changes that are coming. In order to receive the best plan for your individual needs, it is necessary to shop around to get a sense of what options will be available to you this November.

ARE DIET DRINKS REALLY HEALTHY?

By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Diet soda continues to face scrutiny regarding the health effects that artificial sweeteners can have on an individual. Although the drinks have little to no calories in them, research shows that the body’s reaction to the sweeteners can have a negative physical effect in the long term.

According to an article published on MSN.com, the average American consumes two cans of caffeinated drinks a day.  This statistic includes both diet and regular soda drinks.

Although many people try to avoid the calories and sugar by switching to diet drinks, studies reveal that the body ends up reacting to the sweetener in a similar way. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that consumption of diet drinks is up by approximately 25 percent.

The beverage industry as a whole has been criticized for continuing to sell products that can cause people to develop diabetes, experience kidney problems and weight gain. The largest manufacturers of these drinks – Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper – have committed to reducing the consumption by 20 percent over the next ten years.

“Full calorie or regularly sweetened beverage consumption is going down and has been going down in the last couple of years,” reported the American Beverage Association spokesman Christopher Gindlesperger told CNN in June. “Our companies continue to innovate, to offer options and consumers are taking advantage of them.”

Although beverage companies are promising for a reduction in sales, they are still not acknowledging the potential harm that can be caused by promoting these sugary drinks. Instead, they offer the low calorie, no sugar option to consumers in order to still provide them with a sweet, carbonated drink option.

The growing concern is that while many Americans are making the switch to “healthier” drinks, the sweeteners used in diet drinks are just as bad, if not worse, than regular drinks.

“There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar sweetened beverages, may result in an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases,” reported the World Health Organization in a statement.

A study performed at the Weizman Institute of Science examined what physical effects consuming artificial sweeteners had on the body. Two major findings came out of the study, which was published in the journal Nature.

After being exposed to the sweetener, the mice and human individuals that participated in the study began to show signs of glucose intolerance, which can be a precursor to serious diseases like diabetes. Additionally, the participants had changes in their gut bacteria composition and metabolism. Bacteria found is consistent with someone who suffers from diabetes.

Although the study’s results are just a starting point for researching the effects of artificial sweeteners, the evidence definitely suggests that there is a change to the body when exposed to this substance.

“You’ve messed up the whole system, so when you consume real sugar, your body doesn’t know if it should try to process it because it’s been tricked by the fake sugar so many times,” said Susan Switchers in a CNN article.

If Americans are looking at getting healthier, expert suggests that eliminating carbonated drinks is the best approach. Focusing on drinking water, green tea and cranberry juice are just a few alternatives that can have positive effects on the body.

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