Healthcare

What Is Blue Light? Why You Need to Protect Your Eyes

If you spend any time during the day looking at a screen, whether it be a smartphone, tablet, e-reader, LED TV, or computer, your eyes are exposed to blue light.

 What is blue light?

Natural sunlight is made up of many colors of light, from red to indigo to violet. We can’t see these colors because they blend together to make white light. Because the light looks white, it is hard to tell if your eyes are exposed to blue light. On the color spectrum, blue light is right next to UV light—both can be dangerous and damaging to the eyes.

But it’s not all bad. Blue light has some benefits. It can help you feel more alert and awake, improve your mood, and help you sleep better. We need blue light to feel healthy and happy.

The problem is when you spend too much time looking at a screen, you increase your eye exposure to blue light. Too much exposure to blue light can cause tired eyes, sore eyes, and difficulty focusing. Studies have shown that too much exposure to blue light can also cause age-related macular degeneration which can lead to blindness.

Most of us use computers and other electronic devices not only in our jobs every day, but at night when we get home. In other words, it is difficult to reduce our screen time! So how can you protect your eyes? Here are a few tips:

  • If you can’t reduce your amount of screen time, try to take breaks at least every hour to rest your eyes.
  • Filters or computer glasses are available that can reduce how much blue light is reaching your eyes. There are filters for nearly every electronic device that can help alleviate eye fatigue.
  • Avoid looking at a bright screen for two or three hours before bedtime, and sleep with the lights off rather than leaving on a lamp or night light. This will help you to improve your quality of sleep.

Thanks to Brooke Ellis, Director, Strategic Sales Communications at Solstice Benefits

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Preventive Care Benefits Expanded

A new IRS notice expands the list of preventive care benefits that may be covered. Expansion provides coverage without a deductible for some chronic conditions.

“This notice expands the list of preventive care benefits permitted to be provided by a high deductible health plan (HDHP) under section 223(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) without a deductible, or with a deductible below the applicable minimum deductible (self-only or family) for an HDHP.”

Carriers / Plan Sponsors can now use a lower than the minimum deductible for the preventive care benefits, but still need a minimum deductible for the other services. The new change doesn’t affect what is generally considered “free preventive” but instead simply allows carriers / plan sponsors — if they wish — to start offering CDHPs which cover these additional items, while not endangering their ability to be combined with an HSA.

Thus, employees could still contribute to an HSA now that these services are considered to be preventive. These services would not need to be “free”; for non-HDHP group plans, it will not make a difference to the participant, but for someone in an HDHP plan who wants to contribute to an HSA, it’s a big deal.

The following treatments have now been classified as preventive care for the chronic conditions indicated.

  • Angiostatin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (for congestive heart failure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease);
  • Anti-resorptive therapy (for osteoporosis and osteopenia)
  • Beta-blockers (for congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Blood pressure monitors (for hypertension)
  • Inhaled corticosteroids (for asthma)
  • Insulin and other glucose-lowering agents (for diabetes)
  • Retinopathy screening (for diabetes)
  • Peak flow meter (for diabetes)
  • Glucometer (for diabetes)
  • Hemoglobin A1c testing (for diabetes)
  • International normalized ratio testing (for liver disease and bleeding disorders)
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) testing (for heart disease)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (for depression)
  • Statins (for heart disease and diabetes)

The change is effective July 17, 2019.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Is transparency coming to healthcare pricing?

President Trump recently signed an executive directing federal agencies to increase healthcare price and quality transparency. The order specifically directs the of Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services to issue guidance and propose regulations that would disclose negotiated rates, cost-of-care and de-identified federal healthcare data, and to expand the availability of Health Savings Accounts.

The order includes five main provisions instructing federal agencies to issue guidance that would:

  • require hospitals to disclose information about their negotiated rates in a format that’s understandable and usable by patients.
  • require insurance companies to provide patients with information about cost of care, including out-of-pocket costs, before they receive services.
  • develop a comprehensive roadmap for consistent, limited, consumer-centric quality metrics.
  • disclose de-identified federal healthcare data that protects patient and consumer privacy, enables transformation of the healthcare marketplace, and allows researchers to develop tools and analytics to allow patients to be at the center of their healthcare.
  • expand the availability of HSAs to cover direct primary care arrangements and healthcare sharing ministries, include more preventive services and products that can be covered in the deductible period, and issue guidance on the amount of funds that can be carried over at the remainder of the year for FSAs.

Employee Benefit Advisors has long advocated greater price and quality transparency in healthcare and we commend the Trump Administration for putting forth this proposal.

The executive order is the president’s third major executive action on healthcare since taking office, after the order issued on his first day in office directing federal agencies to ease the regulatory burden of the ACA, and the order issued in October 2017 that led to the development of the rules on Association Health Plans, short-term plans and HRAs..

As with previous executive orders issued by President Trump, this order does not immediately trigger any executive action apart from the instructions issued to the federal agencies to develop regulatory actions. These will need to go through the traditional rulemaking procedures of providing a proposed rule for public comment before being able to enact any final rules.

It’s a good start.

Thanks to the National Association of Health Underwriters, NAHU,  for the blog content.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

E-cigarettes: an effective quit smoking aid?

This may seem like a common sense Q&A. However, with the increasing popularity among younger employees you might want to arm yourself with solid stats and a good non-smoking educational program.

Part of the appeal is pod vapes look like a sleek high tech. Users try pod vapes because of the flavors. Problem is with every puff of flavor comes a high dose of nicotine. Some pod vapes have as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Nicotine damages blood vessels and increases the risk of heart disease. Nicotine also affects the development of brain circuits and may increase the risk of mood disorders and problems with impulse control.

Users report feeling hooked on nicotine within days. Once hooked, there is a greater risk of using regular cigarettes or other tobacco products. Vape devices are also being used to smoke marijuana, which can affect how the brain develops in teens.

Many e-liquids contain nicotine and e-cigarettes deliver nicotine directly to the lungs. Vapes don’t have tar and some of the other chemicals that regular cigarettes have, they do have toxins that can harm your health. Toxins found in vapes include heavy metals, diacetyl – a chemical that can cause serious lung disease when inhaled, ultrafine particles that can damage lungs, and chemicals known to cause cancer.

The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a tobacco quit aid. There are seven FDA-approved cessation aids and medications that are proven safe and effective. Three types of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) are available without a prescription: the patch, gun and lozenge. Two types of NRT are available with a prescription: the inhaler and nasal spray. There are two non-nicotine medications: Bupropion (Wellbutrin) and Varenicline (Chantix). None of the approved, regulated cessation aids deliver nicotine to the lungs.

Need help developing a cessation program? Tobacco Free Florida offers FREE nicotine replacement patches, gum or lozenges and FREE community, worksite, and clinic groups

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Telemedicine – Impact your health care costs

Group health insurance premium are expected to rise 15-18% in 2019 and Telemedicine can be an important cost containment tool, for both employer and employee.

In a study of 17,000 telemedicine participants, hospital admissions dropped by 30% and doctor visits were reduced by 60%, for a savings of 45% in unnecessary doctor and emergency room visits. The American Medical Association states that 70% of doctor visits can be handled over the phone, and 50% of the emergency room visits are non-emergencies. Telemedicine’s savings in claim costs range from $300 for a single employee to more than $1,000 per year for a family of 4.

Telemedicine provides 24/7 medical access to employees as part of their benefit package. Advances in communication technologies make accessing professional medical opinions easier. This is particularly important if the network is strictly local, employees live in rural areas, or employees are worried about access to doctors while traveling.

In addition to the obvious convenience – patients/employees do not have to take time away from work for a medical appointment, sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, eliminating travel time – patients/employees have increased access to medical experts in many fields. Telemedicine puts the employee in touch with US Board Certified physicians in their state to treat common ailments; cold/flu, sinus infections, allergies, pink eye, etc.

What can employers do? – Employee Benefit Advisors recommends companies build a communication program to educate employees. In addition to informing employees the services that can be accessed via telemedicine be sure to include instructions on downloading your health insurance carrier’s app and login.

Interestingly, a bill submitted in New York proposes creating a task force to study how telehealth and telemedicine might help employees in workers comp. The task force would examine how connected health technology could improve outcomes for workers on worker’s comp, increase access to care providers and enable those providers to improve compliance with worker’s comp guidelines. The committee would also explore how telehealth and telemedicine could help employers and reduce fraud.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Group health insurance premiums to rise by 15-18% in 2019

Actuaries are predicting group health insurance premiums to increase 15-18 percent increase in 2019 due to a rise in health inflation.

Medical inflation is in the range of 18-24 percent across the country due to a rise in costs for medicines, medical equipment and hospitalization. Inevitably this will lead to a direct impact on the insurance costs for companies.

The premiums under group health plans are significantly lower than those of individual health insurance products. This is because of the number of people covered under the master plan and because the incidence of claims are lower.

Group health insurance loss ratios are almost 140 percent since some insurers were involved in heavy discounting to retain clients.

Increased non-communicable diseases are expected to increase employer-sponsored healthcare costs over the next three years. These diseases include heart disease, cancers, stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, mental illness and kidney diseases.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

HealthKOS is Health in Your Hands

With a click of a button, patients have access to their health history from any mobile device and share it with physicians or patient care members.

HealthKos is a solution which shares information via automated interactions, within the patient care network. The processes optimizes medication use and care coordination. Health data points can be recorded and monitored for around the clock assistance. This includes all vital signs, weight and BMI, health wellness activities, and a complete updated medication list. The stored data on the HealthKOS platform allows for automated and timely communication with the health care team and family members to provide critical help in time of need, thus preventing an urgency from becoming an emergency, or even worse, an emergency from becoming a catastrophe.

HealthKOS empowers the patient to monitor their health through Bluetooth enabled devices and empowers the health care team to monitor patient progress outside the physician’s office, leading to timely interventions and preventing unnecessary disease progression and hospitalizations.

“Better Engagement → Leads to Better Compliance → Better Quality of Care”

HealthKOS, developed by doctors, allows the workflow to become patient centric, easy to use and provides lower cost quality health-care.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Rx Management – CoPay Accumulator Programs

With Accumulator Programs the manufacturer’s payments no longer count toward a patient’s deductible or out-of-pocket maximum. Employers and health plans could potentially save big money because accumulators shift a majority of drug costs to patients and manufacturers.

Normally, a manufacturer’s payments from a copay program count toward a patient’s deductible and annual out-of-pocket maximum. Once these annual limits are reached, the plan pays for all subsequent prescriptions.

Problem is the Accumulator Programs will lower a plan’s drug spending by discouraging the appropriate utilization of specialty therapies and reducing adherence.

You may recognize Copay Accumulator by other names; UnitedHealthcare uses the term “Coupon Adjustment: Benefit Plan Protection program,” Express Scripts uses the term “Out of Pocket Protection program.” Choose your poison, both are misleading, especially to the patient.

For a deep dive into the potential impact of CoPay Accumulator Programs I recommend reading the article (link below) from Adam J. Fein, Ph.D. (Drug Channels) that highlights many potential concerns to Copay Accumulator Programs. Copay Accumulators: Costly Consequences of a New Cost-Shifting Pharmacy Benefit

IRS Guidelines – Indexed for 2018

FICA
Social Security Tax is 6.2% on income up to $128,400 up from $ 127,200
Medicare Tax unlimited 1.45% to Unlimited

High Deductible Health Plans
Minimum Annual Deductible (Individual/Family) $1,350 / $2,700
Maximum Out-of-Pocket Limit (Individual/Family) $6,650 / $13,300

Health Savings Accounts
Individual / Family $3,450 / $6,900 IRS announced change to $6,850 March 5, 2018
Catch-up Contribution $1,000

Flexible Spending Accounts
Health Care Flexible Spending Account Maximums $2,650
Dependent Care Spending Account Maximum $5,000

Mileage & Transportation
Standard Mileage Rates
54.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
18 cents per mile for medical or moving purposes
14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

Parking (monthly) $260
Mass Transit Passes (monthly) $260

Compensation
Compensation Limit $275,000
Highly Compensated Employee Salary Amount $120,000
Annual Compensation for Key Employee $175,000
Defined Benefit Plan Limit $220,000
Defined Contribution Plan Limit $55,000

Retirement Plans
401(k) $18,500
401(k) Catch-up $6,000
403(b) $18,500
457(b)(2) and 124(c)(1) $18,500
457(b) Catch-up $6,000
IRA Limit $5,500/$6,500 for age 50+
Simple IRA Limit $12,500/$3,000 Catch-Up

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Obamacare Driving New Wave of Hospital Bankruptcies

Health-care bankruptcy filings have more than tripled this year according to Bloomberg, and an index of Chapter 11 filings has reached record highs (industry companies with more than $1 million of assets). It’s expected that for 2018 the trend will increase; hospitals and other medical companies are likely to restructure their debt or file for bankruptcy.

How is Obamacre contributing to the hospital failures?  Obamacare’s architects were so certain their legislation would completely eliminate uninsured citizens in the U.S., they decided to offset the costs of the “Affordable Care Act” by eliminating subsidy payments to hospitals that had previously been used to cover losses from treating uninsured patients. Regulatory changes, technological advances and the rise of urgent-care centers have created a “perfect storm” for health-care companies.

Content source, ZeroHedge by Tyler Durden.

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