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5 ways you could be causing diabetes without knowing it

by Sam Kraft

November is National Diabetes Month, and a global spotlight is shining on a deadly disease that affects more than 29 million people in the United States.

Which makes today an opportune time to ask yourself: Could you be causing (or living with) type 2 diabetes…and not even know it?

Before you dismiss that notion, look at the facts:

  • 1 out of 4 people don’t know they have diabetes
  • At least 1 out of 3 people will develop diabetes in their lifetime
  • Most cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthier lifestyle

The goal of National Diabetes Month is to help promote the importance of type 2 diabetes screenings, which help ensure early diagnosis and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.

To help you decide whether you should book a screening, we’ve outlined five ways you could be putting yourself at greater risk.

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You have a major sweet tooth.

As a response to the low-fat “revolution” launched in the 1970s, sugar – particularly added sugar – became a staple of America’s food industry. The result? Millions of Americans have been unknowingly eating and drinking massive amounts of sugar for decades.

Those extra servings of sugar have taken their toll. In this case specifically, research shows that regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Worried your sugar intake may be too high? For starters, start avoiding products with added sugar near the top of the ingredient list, such as fruit juices, soda, sweetened yogurt, baked goods, processed foods, and anything including the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup.

You’re stressed out.

Look, we’re all stressed. Jobs, families, money problems – no one’s immune. A little stress is normal, but research indicates that chronic stress can cause high blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol, all of which are linked to type 2 diabetes.

On the same note, a Dutch study concluded that depression increases the risk for type 2 diabetes by 37 percent.

Stress can certainly seem overwhelming, but there are proven methods to build up control. Check out this post from Diabetes Self-Management for some helpful tips on stress relief.

You’re unknowingly triggering inflammation.

Though it may not be a direct cause, we can say for certain that internal inflammation plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

If you’ve ever sprained your ankle or been bitten by a mosquito, you know how inflammation works. However, you may not be aware that certain behaviors can cause inflammation within your body, which sometimes lead to insulin resistance.

As people with type 2 diabetes already have issues producing enough insulin and using it properly, inflammation can create a vicious cycle inside your body if you’re at risk for the disease.

The best ways to fight off inflammation? Get regular exercise, adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, and practice good oral hygiene.

You’re on the couch too much.

Obesity is widely recognized as a primary risk factor for diabetes, as are the primary contributors to obesity like poor diet and lack of exercise.

But this may surprise you: a University of Missouri study concluded that people who lead sedentary lifestyles are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, regardless of diet or weight.

My advice is simple: get off your couch, ditch your office chair, and move around. Not only does physical activity help with weight control, but it also uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.

You’re not getting your full 8 hours.

According to NIDDK, you’re at greater risk for type 2 diabetes if you’re living with untreated sleep problems, especially sleep apnea.

Like diabetes, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, which is why you may not even know you’re at risk. So if you’re frequently feeling bleary-eyed, read up on common sleep disorders and what you can do to prevent them.

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What we know so far about Trump, Republicans, and the future of Obamacare

by Lauren Mandel

Over the past year – and now, over the past few days – President-elect Donald Trump has made his intentions concerning Obamacare relatively clear. However, the Republicans do not hold the necessary 60 seats in the Senate for a full repeal of the health law, so while that is unlikely, changes are sure to come.

Below, we’re sharing what we know so far, and most importantly, what you can do now to make sure you’re as protected as possible for the future.

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No matter what the changes may be, they won’t happen immediately.

Last year, the Senate passed a reconciliation bill that was also passed in the House and then eventually vetoed by President Obama. But with Trump now set to take office in January, that bill could come back into play. The bill may be a good indication of which Obamacare provisions could eventually be eliminated, but these things take time. Even if this is the path the new administration chooses to take, it will take months for anything to be finalized.

Certain provisions of the health law will very likely remain in tact.

Even if Trump does revive this bill, certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act cannot be repealed with reconciliation. For example, those with pre-existing conditions (like cancer, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses) should know that health insurers will likely still be required to cover you, regardless of your health history. The same goes for young adults still on their parent’s health plan; you will most likely still be able to keep this coverage until age 26.

Even still, it wouldn’t hurt for women to look into birth control options.

Under the Affordable Care Act (and according to regulations more recently issued by the government), insurers are required to cover birth control at no additional cost to the individual. However, Trump could end up repealing this part of the health law, ending access to free contraceptives. So what are your options right now? Many women will choose to start paying for their birth control out-of-pocket, while others are seeking out alternatives that could outlast a Trump presidency. No matter your decision, we encourage you to consult with your doctor to find an option that makes sense for your health.

No matter what, get a health plan now to ensure you’re covered for the immediate future.

It’s clear changes are coming, but for now, it’s still important to get health insurance for 2017. As we said above, there’s no telling when exactly these changes to Obamacare might happen. And even with these changes, you could still have the option to hold on to your current coverage, so it’s arguably more important than ever to secure health coverage now.

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Review Obamacare metal levels to understand your plan costs

by Lauren Mandel and Adam Tock

Now that Open Enrollment is in full swing, you may have started browsing for health plans. Have you noticed metals – like Silver and Bronze – next to the plan options? There’s an important reason for this.

While these metal levels have little to do with the quality of care, they do indicate how you and your health plan provider will share in the plan’s costs. For example, while a Bronze plan may have the lowest premium available, you may face high costs when you go to access health care. A Gold plan may have higher monthly premiums, but the cost of care will be more affordable.

It’s important that you consider all of your options when choosing a plan. To better understand metal levels and their associated costs, we’ve created the following infographic.

For more information or to speak with a licensed sales agent about your coverage, please call 888-322-7557 now.

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How to save more money and get better Obamacare benefits

by Lauren Mandel

Open Enrollment for individual health insurance officially begins today, and while you may think you’re set with your current health plan, we’re here to tell you why it’s important to actively return to shop this year.

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We’re now in the fourth year of Open Enrollment, and like any other new law or policy implementation, a lot has been learned over the past four years. Changes have been made with other changes on the way. But one of the most important things for consumers to know throughout this change is that you still have options. And if you keep your current plan without returning to shop, you could be missing out on better and more affordable benefits.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just released information that shows 2.5 million Americans who currently have individual coverage could be missing out on lower costs. Do you know if you’re eligible for tax credits, which can help lower the cost of your health coverage? Even if you already take advantage of tax credits, bigger savings could be available to you this year. The only way you’ll know if you’re eligible for new or bigger tax credits is to check back in with our licensed agents during Open Enrollment.

You may have read about Obamacare rate increases, and although rates have increased in some parts of the country, millions of Americans can still access affordable coverage. Analysis from HHS also showed that even with a massive 25 percent rate increase, almost 75 percent of Americans would still be able to purchase coverage for $75 a month or less thanks to tax credits.

And what about plan selection and availability? Are you certain you want to keep your same plan from last year? Throughout the year, health care needs of individuals often shift or change. Perhaps you needed specific prescription medications last year that you no longer need for this year. Maybe your current health plan covers you and your children, but moving forward, you only need coverage for yourself. No matter your situation, it’s always important to shop around in order to find the right coverage for your health care needs.

And for those of you who think you don’t need health insurance at all, think again. In the past, we’ve written about the high costs associated with going without health insurance. A health plan might seem expensive to some people, but it can be even more expensive to go without one. If you end up at the emergency room or need last-minute surgery, you’ll also end up with costly medical bills that could have been lessened with the help of health insurance.

Ready to get started? We’re ready to help. Call 888-322-7557 to speak with one of our licensed agents now.

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Obamacare sticker shock may not be what it seems thanks to tax credits

by Lauren Mandel

Recently released Obamacare rates are yet another example of why we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

On the surface, Obamacare rates for 2017 seem to have skyrocketed compared to past years of Open Enrollment. However, the rates alone don’t tell the full story. A piece published by NPR outlines that while yes, rates are increasing in many states, tax credits (the government subsidies that lower costs for most Americans) are also increasing. So while premium estimates might seem high, they’ll likely be lowered significantly once tax credits are applied.

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The government confidently states that more than 70 percent of people buying Obamacare plans can actually pay less than $75 per month for their coverage, assuming they take advantage of tax credits. Like we’ve mentioned before, 2.5 million Americans are actually missing out on tax credits to help lower their monthly costs. If you think you might be eligible, it’s important to investigate before enrolling in a 2017 plan.

Similar to sentiments we’ve expressed in the past, the government agrees that shopping around could also help save consumers money. More than 75 percent of shoppers could save just by switching to the lowest-cost plan within their level of coverage. This further proves the importance of exploring all plan options for 2017, rather than sticking with your current coverage. If you don’t come back to shop, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars.

The bottom line: Don’t let recent news stories scare you away from finding an Obamacare plan. You still have choices, and those choices might even involve lower costs. Last year, 85 percent of enrollees qualified for lower costs, and that number has the potential to be even higher.

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re eligible for tax credits, call 888-322-7557 to speak with one of our licensed agents who can help you find out.

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5 easy ways to find the right Obamacare plan

by Lauren Mandel

On November 1, the fourth year of Obamacare Open Enrollment officially begins. Many of you may already have an Obamacare plan from last year, while others have never had to shop for individual coverage. No matter your situation, the most important thing is that you find a health plan and stay covered.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a list of tips to reference while you shop? Lucky for you, we’ve created that list. Below you’ll find 5 helpful tips to consider while shopping for your Obamacare plan starting on November 1.

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Come back to comparison shop, even if you think you’ll stick with the same plan.

Don’t assume your current plan is the best one available to you for 2017. There have been some changes since last year’s Open Enrollment Period, which means there may have been changes to your current plan. The only way to make sure you don’t miss out on lower costs, better benefits, and new plan options is to check in to see what’s changed since you last enrolled.

Update your personal information to make sure you don’t overpay.

Did you know that last year, 85 percent of Americans received tax credits to lower the cost of their coverage? Unfortunately, only about half of all Americans know that this financial assistance exists. And new information released by the Department of Health and Human Services reveals 2.5 million covered Americans could be missing out on tax credits altogether.

Why would you pay more than you have to? While it might seem unnecessary, updating your personal information each year ensures you get the financial assistance you deserve.

If you’re eligible for tax credits for 2017 coverage, your plan could cost less than $75 per month. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re eligible for a tax credit, GoHealth can help you find out.

Keep a list of your preferred doctors and necessary prescriptions. 

You may find a health plan that seems perfect for your budget, but it may not cover your favorite doctor who you see regularly. Different health plans also cover different prescription medications. So, while all health plans must cover the same essential health benefits, the details of each plan can vary. Make sure you’re referencing a list of your preferred doctors and necessary prescriptions while shopping for health coverage this year.

Consider all of your options before making your final decision. 

While Open Enrollment begins on November 1, you actually have until December 15 to get coverage that starts on January 1, 2017. This means you have time to browse plan options, get expert advice from one of our licensed agents, and take your time before enrolling in your plan of choice. Purchasing health insurance is a big decision, and you should consider all of your options carefully.

It’s also important to remember that there are additional options to help you complete your coverage. GoHealth Access is a health care tool that can help you better use your coverage and save you even more money on things like prescriptions, dental work, and more.

When in doubt, take advantage of the help that’s available to you.

Finding the right health insurance plan can be confusing, even for someone who’s done it before. But what sets GoHealth apart from other enrollment options is our expert licensed agents. These professionals are standing by to help you find the right plan. They can estimate your tax credit, make plan recommendations based on your health care needs and budget, and get you enrolled quickly and easily.

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Our top health care tips for National Health Education Week

by Lauren Mandel

Do you prioritize your health on a regular basis? Do you know all there is to know about your personal health? And most importantly, are you your own biggest advocate when it comes to your health?

If you answered “no” to even one of those questions, now is the time to learn more information to be able to answer “yes.” Today marks the start of National Health Education Week in the United States, and to help raise awareness for health care, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite blog posts. This roundup shares posts about health care accessibility under the Affordable Care Act, quick and easy-to-understand answers to your health care questions, and more.

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There are covered health care services specifically for women.

You may have heard by now that the Affordable Care Act covers certain preventive care services, but did you know there are quite a few specifically for women? Now women can go to the doctor, get birth control, get mammograms, and more at no additional cost to them.

Don’t forget about the 10 health care benefits all plans must cover.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there are now 10 Essential Health Benefits that all health insurance plans must cover. Things like maternity and newborn care, hospitalization, and prescription drugs are included in this list. So you’ll experience fewer medical surprises and rest easy with your coverage.

Reference this handy health insurance shopping guide.

Did you download our eBook last year? If not, now is the time to do so. This guide walks you through how to navigate all the health plan choices, how to estimate your tax credit, who to call when you’re ready to enroll, and more. And the best part? It’s free to download.

Telemedicine might be the health care answer you’ve been searching for.

Did you know the average wait time to see a doctor in the United States is more than 18 days? Luckily, you have other options. Telemedicine tools – like GoHealth Access – can help you see a doctor in a fraction of that time. You can also access health care discounts that can help you save money on products and services.

And sometimes, you might just need a quick refresher.

One of our most popular blog posts from last year was this health insurance refresher, and almost all of the information still applies to the upcoming Open Enrollment Period. You can learn the basics about health insurance coverage, pre-existing conditions (note: you can’t be denied for them anymore), tax credits, and more before enrolling on November 1.

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Medicare Open Enrollment dates you need to know

by Lauren Mandel and Adam Tock

Medicare Open Enrollment begins this Saturday, October 15, and we’re sharing dates and information to know before choosing Medicare coverage for the upcoming year. Call 1-877-568-1851 – TTY: 711 to speak with a licensed sales agent now.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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Breast cancer awareness resources for October and beyond

by Lauren Mandel

In the United States, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. That’s a scary statistic, and unfortunately, it’s also a reality for far too many women.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and although you may want to help or learn more about the disease, you may not know where to start. In order to do our part to help raise awareness for breast cancer, we’re sharing 3 educational resources that can help you understand your risk factors, treatment, early detection and prevention, and more.

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Susan G. Komen

The Susan G. Komen organization was established in 1982, and since then, they’ve funded almost $100 million in breast cancer research. If you’re a patient looking for support, their national toll-free hotline offers support and services and message boards offer an immediate community for patients and survivors. You can also get involved with the organization by donating, organizing or volunteering at a fundraiser, or paritcipating in the annual Race for a Cure.

Bright Pink

This Chicago-based organization was founded by Lindsay Avner, who (at the time) was the youngest woman to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. After finding out she had the BRCA1 gene and undergoing this procedure, she knew she had to help others just like her. Today, Bright Pink promotes early detection of breast and ovarian cancers in young women by hosting various educational workshops (often taught by survivors themselves) and events.

American Cancer Society

While you may perceive the American Cancer Society as too broad, the organization has dozens of resources dedicated to breast cancer awareness. Whether you’re looking for inspiring stories from breast cancer survivors or the latest news and scientific developments about this disease, the American Cancer Society can help. Similar to the others, you can get involved by volunteering your time, donating, or attending one of their many events.

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This World Heart Day, reasons to celebrate and need for improvement

by Catherine Tims

What if millions of worldwide deaths could be prevented just by making a few simple lifestyle changes?

While World Heart Day is a day of awareness and celebration in the United States, for much of the rest of the world, it’s a chance to spread the message that there’s still much to be done.

In the United States, we’ve made significant progress when it comes to fighting heart disease, but cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death worldwide. Every year across the globe, 17.1 million people die from heart disease and stroke.

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But the real take-away here is that, according to the World Heart Federation, the organizer of World Heart Day, most of those 17.1 million deaths are completely preventable. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that one of the easiest ways to do so is by addressing certain lifestyle choices, and World Heart Day is only a small part of raising awareness.

The United States has (some) reason to celebrate

In the United States, there is some good news to share when it comes to heart disease. A recent twelve-year study performed by researchers at Yale and Harvard should make our public health officials and medical community proud. The study – which analyzed Medicare data – shows that from 1999 to 2011, hospitalization rates for heart-related problems actually went down. And in the past decade, deaths from cardiovascular disease have decreased dramatically.

But let’s not get too carried away.: heart disease is still the top killer in our country, according to the CDC. To keep things in perspective, 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S. can still be attributed to heart disease. We’ve made progress, but especially on World Heart Day, we still have work to do.

Heart disease in the developing world

In China, 1 in 5 deaths is due to cardiovascular disease, and by 2030, that number is expected to increase by 50 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

In India, where a high-fat diet, low fruit and vegetable intake, and physical inactivity are becoming more prevalent, cardiovascular disease has become an epidemic. Did you know that India is now considered the coronary capital of the world? According to an Indian Heart Watch (IHW) study, cardiovascular disease awareness is very low, even among middle-class urban Indians who are literate.

Overall, almost three quarters of non-communicable diseases (of which heart disease represents the bulk) occur in developing nations. From the same source, we learn that the “globalization of unhealthy lifestyles” is to blame, along with out-of-control urbanization and of course, aging.

Awareness is the key to reversing this terrible global trend. World Heart Day is one way to start spreading the word that cardiovascular disease is, in most instances, preventable. So today, let’s all think of even more ways we can build a healthy lifestyle, and combat heart disease here and around the world.

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