Prep Your Family for Disasters During National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, a time for you and your loved ones prep for and practice how to handle disasters. This year’s theme: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.

When disaster strikes, time is of the essence. That’s why it’s crucial for you to only have a plan of action but to also have materials you may need gathered in a safe location and to practice your plan with your family before it’s too late.

From wildfires to hurricanes to tornados to earthquakes, you could find yourself and your family in need of life-saving tactics such as first aid and CPR. You could also need provisions such as food and water, cash and important documents such as insurance policies, utilities such as water and gas shut off.

The Department of Homeland Security’s yearly awareness campaign invites you to use the month of September to get your plan and your provisions prepared so you can be ready to face possible natural disasters.

Here are the campaign’s weekly themes:

Week 1 September 1-8: Make and Practice Your Plan

Cover the basics:

  • Make an emergency plan
  • Sign up for alerts and warnings in your local area
  • Learn evacuation zones
  • Practice your plan

Week 2 September 9-15: Learn Life-Saving Skills

Focus on valuable skills and tactics:

  • Know basic home maintenance
  • Learn how to turn off utilities
  • Test smoke alarms throughout your home
  • Learn life-saving skills such as CPR

Week 3 September 16-22: Check Your Insurance Coverage

Consider how to manage possible aftermath:

  • Check your insurance policies for adequate coverage
  • Learn about other types of insurance you may need for your loved ones and your homes

Week 4 September 23-29: Save For an Emergency

Think about your financial well-being:

  • Plan your finances for possible disasters
  • Maintain emergency savings

In times of disaster, quality health insurance may help you and your family face challenges brought about by hazardous conditions. Talk to your insurance agent about choosing policies that make sense for your health and your lifestyle needs.

Ask your insurance agent about:

Visit the National Preparedness Month campaign website for more information on this significant opportunity to raise awareness.

*Note that STM and limited benefit insurance do not count as minimum essential coverage required by the Affordable Care. They are not sufficient forms of coverage to avoid facing a tax penalty. They are not suitable to serve as sole medical coverage. Review policy terms, conditions, limitations, and/or restrictions prior to making a purchasing decision.


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Contact Lens Health Week: 3 Tips to Protect Your Contacts and Eye Health

Contact lenses are like underwear. According to the Centers for Disease Control, that means you shouldn’t over-wear, you should avoid a sketchy pair, and you should carry a spare1.

From August 20-24 this year, the CDC is highlighting Contact Lens Health Week, an annual campaign to increase public awareness about proper wear and care of contact lenses. This year’s mantra is simple and to the point: cover your butt and take care of your eyes.

Your vision is just as important as the health of the rest of your body, and it’s best protected when you have regular access to an eyecare. Many insurance carriers are now packaging vision insurance – as well as dental insurance – with healthcare insurance because they recognize the value of providing a “well-rounded offering” that focuses on preventive care2.

When you’re considering your contact lens and eyecare routine this week, think about this3:

  • Almost 90% of Americans with vision coverage will get an eye exam within the next 12 months
  • Less than 70% without vision coverage will get an eye exam
  • Almost 70% of those with coverage will also get new eyewear
  • Less than 35% of those without vision coverage will get eyewear

Check out 3 tips to help you and your loved ones protect your vision during the week and all year long1:

  1. Don’t over-wear: Replace your contacts as often as your eye doctor tells you, and don’t sleep in them (unless your eye doctor says otherwise).
  2. Avoid that sketchy pair: If a contact comes out and you can’t disinfect it with fresh solution (never water or spit) right away, throw it out. Don’t buy contacts from costume shops or anywhere that doesn’t require a prescription.
  3. Carry a spare pair (of glasses): If you need to take out your contacts for an unexpected late night or trip to the pool, or if a contact comes out, have a pair of glasses as a backup.

Also recommended: clean your case with solution daily, get a new case at least every 3 months, and take out your contacts before showering, swimming, or hot tubbing.

Look out for you and your loved ones’ vision by:

  • Scheduling regular eye exams
  • Eating a healthy diet full of leafy greens such as kale and spinach
  • Know your family’s eye health history
  • Wear sunglasses that block out 99% – 100% of the sun’s rays
  • Quit smoking or don’t start

Make informed decisions about your eye health and that of your loved ones. Learn more about healthy contact lens habits by clicking here. Learn more about the basics of vision and eye health by clicking here.

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1: “Contact Lenses are Like Underwear.” The Centers for Disease Control.×11-contact-lenses-underwear.pdf

2: “Popular vision benefits moving beyond commodity product label.” Employee Benefit Adviser.

3: “Evidence Links Vision Benefits to Healthy Vision Habits, NAVCP Reports.” Vision Monday.


Have Questions About Health Benefit Insurance? Let Us Clear Up These 4 Common Misconceptions

Health benefit insurance plans, also known as limited benefit medical plans, indemnity plans, and fixed cash plans, are plans that provide a fixed benefit payment for covered services. They can offer a range of benefits to help meet you or your family’s needs. But do you have all the right information about this type of coverage before you enroll?

Familiarizing yourself with this type of coverage as a viable option may be a good idea for you and your loved ones, especially in the face of skyrocketing healthcare costs. It can help supplement your major medical coverage and can provide you access to options that may bring you the benefits and features you’ve been looking for.

Take a look below as we debunk common misconceptions about this level of coverage.

Misconception #1: Health benefit insurance plans work the same way as major medical or short-term medical insurance.

Health benefit insurance plans have some important differences from major medical policies. Understanding those differences will help you decide if this type of coverage is right for you.

These plans pay fixed indemnity benefits towards covered procedures as well as offer discounted rates for using in-network providers. There are no deductibles or copays with health benefit insurance plans, and they can provide another layer of financial protection if you need to supplement your major medical coverage. They are not a replacement for major medical insurance. Policies do have limitations, restrictions, and exclusions to consider.

This coverage provides the most benefit to those who are proactive about using in-network providers and taking advantage of the services and features provided. It can also offer guaranteed acceptance.

Misconception #2: Health benefit insurance plans don’t provide quality benefits and have a small network of doctors.

Health benefit insurance plans can often have lower premiums than major medical insurance since they are not providing comprehensive coverage. But they can also provide a host of valuable benefits to help you and your family with medical needs.

The core benefits of a limited benefit medical insurance plan can include fixed benefit payments for the following services:

  • Hospitalization*
  • Emergency care*
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Surgery*
  • Diagnostics and labs
  • Wellness care

*Typically not covered for pre-existing conditions

Fixed benefit health insurance plans can also come with a wide network of doctors nationwide. If the doctor you choose does not accept the insurance, you can pay upfront and submit your own claims for reimbursement, but you may be subject to higher out-of-pocket costs.

They may also provide supplementary non-insurance benefits to serve your needs in other areas of healthcare.

These may include:

  • Prescription savings program on generic and brand-name medications
  • Ability to speak to a licensed doctor over the phone or mobile app to diagnose common illnesses
  • Patient advocacy service that can help you find procedures for the lowest cost and can negotiate medical bills

These benefits combine to create coverage designed to help you and your family with high medical costs or to supplement other insurance. When considering health benefit insurance plans, make sure to learn about all the features that can help you manage healthcare costs and save time.

Keep in mind that there are often exclusions with health benefit insurance plans that are important to look into before choosing a policy.

Exclusions may include:

  • Pre-existing conditions (12-month waiting period)
  • Prescription benefits
  • Maternity benefits

If you have decided on this type of coverage, we provide access to key information to help make the most of your benefits. Your Member Portal access is secure, and you can access it anytime with the username and password sent in your welcome email. The portal will provide you access to a range of information such as your ID cards, claims status, and contact information for your carrier, claims administrator, and MyBenefitsKeeper.

Misconception #3: Hospital indemnity insurance plans are only beneficial for young people or as supplementary insurance.

Health benefit insurance plans can be beneficial for people of all ages with varying medical needs.

While these plans are designed to be supplementary to major medical policies, you can use them in a variety of circumstances.

This type of coverage may fit the needs of those who:

  • Are priced out of major medical coverage, but seek a limited level of coverage for basic needs
  • Want additional benefits to help cover deductibles and copays of a major medical policy
  • Are seeking limited coverage until they are eligible for a major medical policy during Open Enrollment or through their employer

Making the decision about whether health benefit insurance coverage is right for you can be challenging, so talk to your agent about the specific benefits, conditions, and exclusions of any policies.

Note: Health benefit insurance plans are not intended to be a replacement or alternative to ACA or other major medical plans nor does it provide the minimum essential health benefits that are required, and it won’t help to avoid the fee for not carrying health insurance. These plans can have exclusions and limitations, which may not make them a valid option for some.

Misconception #4: Health benefit insurance plans can satisfy ACA requirements.

Fixed benefit insurance plans do not meet the minimum essential coverage required under the Affordable Care Act, so you would likely be subject to a tax penalty. Because they do not have to follow the guidelines for the ACA, premiums tend to be lower as more limited and/or restricted benefits are being offered. Still, these plans can be useful solutions for some who may need to supplement a high-deductible plan or who may otherwise go uninsured.

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“The Rising Cost of Health Care by Year and Its Causes.” The Balance.


It’s National Health Center Week: Learn How Health Centers Can Revolutionize Your Healthcare

From August 12th -18th, National Health Center Week will celebrate the contributions of health centers to their communities and raises awareness about their mission and accomplishments. These centers could be the ideal access to your healthcare realities, as they offer a wide range of affordable services.

The mission of health centers across the country is “to provide access to high quality, cost-effective health care services to everyone, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. These centers work to serve special patient populations and find creative solutions to healthcare problems that could benefit you and your family.

Consider this:

  • Health centers serve 27 million patients, and that number continues to grow.
  • There are health center locations in all 50 states and the District of Colombia.
  • Health centers serve everyone – even those who are uninsured or underinsured.

What can health centers do for you?

Health centers are designed to serve you and hear your voice, as a majority of the Board of Directors must be patients who use the health center’s services. These centers are an essential part of communities nationwide that help to meet the serious need for cost-effective health care.

Health centers offer a range of services, including both primary and preventive care, that aid the community in the face of rising medical costs.

Centers near you could provide services such as:

  • Check-ups
  • Immunizations and disease screenings
  • Family and/or internal medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics/gynecology
  • Vision and dental services
  • Mental health counseling

In addition to these medical services, health centers offer a number of enabling services including transportation, translation, case management, and health education. These aids help all patients receive an equal and high-quality level of care.

Health centers are located across the country, particularly in areas of high need without enough physicians and resources. These centers are working hard to provide the best medical care possible, and they are succeeding. Health centers compare well to private practices, illustrating their commitment and ability to offer their patients the best care possible.

If you have never been to a health center or aren’t familiar with any in your area, you can search for facilities near you at:

Get involved in National Health Center Week

It is important to support and promote the great work done by health centers everywhere so they can continue to provide top quality care.

Take this week as an opportunity to learn about how health centers could benefit you or your family and spread the word about the great things they are doing for your community.

The week is organized into “focus days” to promote and enhance events taking place across the country. Take a look at the National Health Center Week website to learn about the focus day events you could get involved in.

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“National Health Center Week”

“Focus Days” :

“Fact Sheets”:

“Find a Health Center”:

“How Health Centers Make a Difference”:

“Community health centers compare well with private practices, researcher finds”: 



World Breastfeeding Week Highlights the Need for Food Security

Did you know that breastfeeding can help to improve food security around the world?

Check out our infographic with information from the #WBW2018 campaign below:


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Protect Your Family During National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), an annual initiative sponsored by the National Public Health Information Council (NPHIC) to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up to date on vaccinations recommended for them. Vaccinations can help you protect your health as well as the health of your loved ones and community.

How vaccines help you, your children, and the community

Did you know that vaccines save more lives than seat belts in the United States? Vaccination is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy.

Vaccines are important at all ages. Here’s why:

  • Vaccination allows children to gain immunity without having to get sick from the real diseases
  • Immunization of children helps the overall community by protecting those who are too young or are medically unable to be vaccinated
  • Adults are at risk for different diseases than children, and it is important to keep up with immunizations because vaccines can wear off over time
  • Booster shots are necessary in continuing the effectiveness of the original vaccine
  • If we stopped vaccinating, diseases that are essentially gone may come back, and we are likely to eventually see epidemics of diseases that vaccines prevent today

Vaccines are essential to maintaining the safety of our community. Wellness and preventive care is the first step to healthy living, and vaccines are important to keep in mind when choosing a health insurance plan.

Understanding potential coverage options

No matter which style of plan you choose, it is important to take advantage of preventive benefits and remember to get immunized.

  • Affordable Care Act medical coverage: This type of plan provides coverage for pre-existing conditions and preventive care for individuals and families. They also provide the minimum essential coverage required by the ACA. There are subsidies available that may lower costs and annual options to change plans. Vaccines are required to be included among the covered preventive services in ACA plans.
  • Short-term medical: This type of plan provides benefits for a specific time period. They’re typically used during times of transition, such as graduating college, waiting for employer insurance to being, or waiting for Medicare coverage to become effective. These plans have a range of deductibles, copays, and cost sharing options to fit you or your family’s budget and lifestyle needs. You may find these plans to be useful for vaccines because they can provide you access to wellness/preventive care visits. Note: they typically do not cover pre-existing conditions.
  • Health benefit insurance: HBI plans (otherwise known as limited medical benefit plans) can be useful if you who are looking to supplement your major medical coverage or are not able to afford major medical insurance. These plans provide pre-determined cash benefits based on a covered service. They may also provide little to no waiting periods, which may be useful for a loved one who is need of benefits sooner rather than later. They are not comprehensive medical plans and are not intended to replace a major medical plan.

Disclaimer: STM and HBI plans do not count as minimum essential coverage required by the Affordable Care Act and are not suitable to serve as sole medical coverage. They are not sufficient forms of coverage to avoid facing a tax penalty. Review any terms, conditions, limitations, and/or restrictions carefully prior to any purchasing decision.

Learn more about how vaccines can protect your family

Get involved in National Immunization Awareness Month and learn more about how to best protect you and your family as well as to raise awareness in your community by visiting

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“Vaccines & Immunizations”

“Immunization Resources”

“Traffic Safety Facts”

“Vaccines bring 7 diseases under control”

Celebrate Nutrition and Health During World Breastfeeding Week

Did you know that breastfeeding helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms?

Check out our infographic with information from the #WBW2018 campaign below:

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4 Things You Should Know About Telemedicine

Telemedicine is an emerging service in healthcare technology positioned to skyrocket in popularity through 2018 and beyond. With a market value climbing from $14.3 billion in 2014 to a projected $36.2 billion by 20201, telemedicine is poised to transform the way millions of American receive healthcare in the not-so-distant future.

So, what is telemedicine?

“The remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology. This includes a wide array of clinical services using internet, wireless, satellite and telephone media,” according to the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) telemedicine definition2.

“Telehealth” and “telecare” are often used to describe this service, so if you’re wondering “what is telehealth?”, the ATA considers the telehealth definition to be the same as the telemedicine defintion2.

As healthcare costs continue to rise in the U.S.3, tech services like telehealth can save you time and money, especially when it comes to non-emergency medical services. These services are often available on-demand and can range from video consultations with a certified physician to counseling with a licensed psychotherapist via your smartphone, tablet or computer.

In fact, more than 70% of urgent illness conditions—colds, flus and skin infections, for example—can be treated with the help of telemedicine4.

We’re only scratching the surface when it comes to the history, applications and benefits of telemedicine.

Did you know…

1. Demand for telemedicine is growing—fast

Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to see why providers and consumers are using telemedicine more and more every year: convenience and cost.

The average consumer in a U.S. city spends 18.4 days between making an appointment and actually visiting their doctor’s office5. The average in-office visit takes 121 minutes—20 of which are spent actually seeing the doctor, while the rest spent traveling to/from the office and sitting in the waiting room5.

In contrast, consumers who opt for video visits spend about five minutes waiting and eight to 10 minutes seeing their doctor according to a case study on Southwest Medical Associates, one of Nevada’s largest multi-specialty medical groups6.

Providers seem to be in favor of telemedicine’s cost-reducing services as well. Over 70% of healthcare providers are currently using telemedicine solutions or services—a drastic rise from 51% in 20147.

Telemedicine can help to reduce costs8 by use of remote analysis services like physician video visits and specialized fields like telepathology (the study of diseases) and teleradiology (the transmission of radiological images like x-rays MRIs and CTs).

Furthermore, telemedicine companies often utilize a pool of healthcare providers across the country that work as one resource for the consumer. This gives consumers, especially ones in rural areas9, the freedom to receive care on their own schedule, opposed to the restrictive business hours of the brick-and-mortar healthcare facilities in their area.

2. The history of telemedicine dates back to the 1920s 

Oftentimes, it’s amusing to look back at old media predictions of a retro-future with flying cars and robot butlers. Sometimes, they’re not far off. In 1925, Radio News published a speculative cover story by Hugo Gernsback, an American inventor who hypothesized that physicians would soon be able to hear, see, and examine their patients by way of a machine he deemed the Teladactyl with a two-way video screen and other diagnostic features10.

While Gernsback’s machine never made it to production, the seeds of telemedicine had been planted in the minds of doctors and scientists across the nation.

The American scientific community quickly built off Gernsback’s dream, culminating in 1959 when clinicians at the University of Nebraska used a two-way television system to disperse neurological examinations and related information to medical students across campus—widely considered the first medical use of video communication in the U.S.11.

Advances in telemedicine remained constant through the latter half of the century, but public interest was generally limited to residents in rural areas with small medical facilities that relied on telemedicine services like teleradiology to send and receive x-rays to radiology specialists and who could now analyze and advise doctors on the patient’s condition faster than ever before.

3. Future applications of telemedicine could be absolutely game-changing

Just as researchers did in the 1920’s, today’s medical science and technology researchers are looking to the future of telemedicine and its’ potential applications.

The use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices has gigantic disruptive potential, which could change the way healthcare providers offer their services and receive continuing training throughout their careers.

AR mobile devices and apps have already given consumers the power to self-monitor health data points like heart rate, amount of daily physical activity, and more. Further advancements include contact lenses that provide visual prompts to diabetics when their glucose levels start fluctuating to wearables like the Apple Watch that uses near-field communication to remind users to take their prescription medications when they’re nearby12.

While VR technology is currently used for laparoscopic surgery and colonoscopy training, many hope it will eventually give medical students more opportunities to virtually perform invasive procedures and emergency resuscitations, all before they can do so on real-life patients. A number of U.S. medical school have made big changes to their anatomy curriculum by incorporating VR glasses and displays to allow realistic rotation and manipulation of anatomic models13.

This hope extends to robotic laparoscopic surgery as well, which would allow surgeons to go from monitoring a 2-D video screen before using their hands/tools to viewing live 3-D video, allowing them to perform surgery without ever diverting their gaze from these 3-D consoles14.

4. Your health insurance agent may already offer coverage that comes with telemedicine features

As telemedicine continues in popularity, many insurers may cover services or offer reimbursement. The extent of coverage will vary by insurer and state. Talk to your agent about your available options today.

Learn more about the benefits of telemedicine by:



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1: “Five Telemedicine Trends Transforming Health Care in 2016.” Nathaniel M. Lacktman.

2: American Telemedicine Association. “About Telemedicine.”

3: “U.S. healthcare spending to climb 5.3 percent in 2018: agency.” Yasmeen Abutaleb.

4: “The Importance and Value of Telemedicine.” Karandeep Virdi. ElectronicHealthReporter.com

5: “Paying for Health Care with Time.” Jake Miller. Harvard Medical School.

6: “Case Study: Southwest Medical’s winning strategy for telehealth.” Beth Principi. American Well.

7: “71% of Healthcare Providers Use Telehealth, Telemedicine Tools.” Thomas Beaton.

8: “5 ways telemedicine is driving down healthcare costs.” Steff Denches. Healthcare IT News.

9: “Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare.” Rural Health Information Hub.

10: “Telemedicine Predicted in 1925.” Matt Novak.

11: “Telognosis.” J. Gershon-Cohen, A.G. Cooley.

12: “How augmented reality and virtual reality devices are boosting medicine.” Chris Newmarker. Medical Design and Outsourcing.

13: “Virtual Reality Check.” Nicholas Genes, MD, PhD. Telemed Magazine.


If You’re a College Student or Recent Grad, These Healthcare Solutions Got You Covered

Summer has settled in across the country, and we’ve all got something to celebrate in this warm weather. As a college student or recent grad, you certainly have your fair share of reasons and opportunities to celebrate as well. But according to a recent poll, 72% of those in your shoes – or in your caps and gowns as the case may be – are facing a challenge: finding affordable health insurance.

With 40% of your fellow college students and recent grads mostly concerned about the cost of premiums and 20% concerned about high out-of-pocket costs, you will undoubtedly have questions about your options this summer. You may be coming off coverage through your university or your parents’ health plan or you may be waiting for coverage sponsored by your new employers to begin. You may also be priced out of traditional major medical coverage as well. Short-term medical plans may help you address your healthcare needs.

STM plans can include benefits and features such as:

  • Flexibility in length of coverage  in cost depending on benefits selected
  • Variety of deductible and coinsurance options
  • Benefits that are paid in a similar manner to traditional major medical plans
  • Wellness options
  • Little to no waiting periods
  • Next day coverage for some carriers
  • Relatively inexpensive premiums due to lower and more restricted benefits
  • Low-cost doctor and specialist copays depending on the plan selected
  • Open network of physicians, specialists, and hospital depending on the plan selected

Your family may also have concerns about your coverage options as well. When you research your options, talk with them about what STM plans can offer. This level of coverage is available at any time in the year and you can cancel it at any time as well. It can also offer access to providers of your choice, including providers you visited through their parents’ health coverage. If you’re looking to change providers, STM plans can provide you the opportunity to file your own claim and submit for reimbursement if needed.

However, STM coverage does not provide the minimum essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will not help you avoid the penalty for not carrying health insurance. At this time, STM plans have a maximum duration of 3 months at which point you must re-apply to continue coverage. There may be limits on how many times you can re-apply as well. In addition, pre-existing conditions are not covered. Benefits vary by plan and state and may not include those that are listed above. Before making a purchasing decision, review any plan details carefully.

If you find that you aren’t eligible for STM coverage and that you’re priced out of ACA coverage, you may find health benefit insurance plans (commonly known as limited benefit medical plans) to fit your lifestyle and healthcare needs.

Health benefit insurance plans provide a basic insurance coverage that is capped at specific amounts for services provided due to accidental injuries, sickness, inpatient surgical care, outpatient care, and even pre-existing conditions. Plans vary as to the specific, fixed amounts provided and which specific medical services they will provide benefits for, but often times, this level of coverage may provide little to no waiting periods and benefits for critical illness and/or accidental death.

HBI coverage can also offer benefits and features such as:

  • Guaranteed issue coverage
  • Next day coverage or little to no waiting periods for accidental injuries or sickness
  • 12 month waiting period for pre-existing conditions
  • Ability to supplement existing coverage
  • Access to non-insurance benefits such as a prescription savings program, 24/7/365 video and phone access to quality physicians, and a patient advocacy service

But remember: like STM plans, HBI plans do not count as minimum essential coverage required by the Affordable Care Act and is not suitable to serve as your only medical coverage. Although the premiums may be lower than a major medical plan, the benefits are also lower and more restricted.

Benefits offered vary by plan and state. Not available in all states. Make sure to review any plan details carefully prior to making a purchasing decision.

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