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Which coverage should I choose: Medicare or Medicaid?

by Lauren Mandel

In the health insurance world, it seems there’s endless terminology to describe consumer coverage options: Obamacare, individual plans, group plans, employer-sponsored coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, and more. But it’s the last two that can lead to a different level of confusion: What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

While they might appear to be similar, Medicare and Medicaid are two vastly different health insurance options for different groups of consumers. The below chart highlights just a few of the differences, and you can read more about Medicare basics here.

Medicare vs. Medicaid

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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5 leafy green vegetables you should eat now

by Lauren Mandel

We’re sure you’ve heard it before, at least dozens of times when you were a kid: eat your vegetables. But to get even more specific, you should really be eating your leafy greens.salad leafy greens

While vegetables in general are one of the healthiest choices you can make, leafy greens are the true stars of the produce section. They’re packed full of nutrients, super low in calories, and taste delicious.

So when browsing in the supermarket, which leafy green vegetables should you choose? And which have the best health benefits? Here are 5 of the best (and most delicious) options.

Mustard greens

Popular in the south, mustard greens are a bit spicy and give off the scent of mustard when cooking, hence the name. This green can help lower your cholesterol, boost your fiber intake, and help detoxify your liver and blood, just to name a few health benefits. Eat the leaves raw in salads for a little kick, or wilt them down in soups or stews.

Kale

It may be the trendiest green, but for good reason. Kale comes in all different types, from Dinosaur to curly, and all are some of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. It has impressive amounts of lutein, an antioxidant which protects eyesight, and its sulforaphane helps fight cancer. Don’t like the taste? Throw a few leaves into your morning smoothie for an extra punch of power with mild flavor.

Swiss chard

When you’re in the grocery store, do you ever notice that beautiful leafy green with red or purple veins? That’s Swiss chard, a slightly bitter vegetable that’s perfect for flavorful side dishes or baked vegetable chips. This green has more vitamin K than any other, a nutrient that helps with blood clotting and developing healthy bone strength.

Spinach

Arguably the most common green on the list, spinach is an easy one to incorporate into your every day diet. Wilt it down with garlic and shallots, toss it together with other vegetables for a quick salad, or chop it up and combine it with Greek yogurt for a delicious dip. No matter how you eat it, spinach will give you important levels of folate, a vitamin that helps protect against breast cancer.

Collard greens

Another Southern favorite, collard greens are big leaves with a mild flavor. They are most commonly found cooked down to a faded green color, because their rough texture is difficult to eat raw. So if you’re going to eat the fried chicken, at least pair it with a side of healthy and delicious collards.

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4 Obamacare tax-season scenarios: Will you pay the fine?

by Lauren Mandel

Tax season is just around the corner, and for some Americans who chose not to get health insurance, that may mean paying the Obamacare tax penalty. But even if you do have health insurance, there may be new details you should be aware of when it comes to filing your taxes.taxseason

We take a look at four different scenarios to help you prepare to file your taxes before the deadline.

You had individual health insurance last year.

Congratulations! You made the safe and smart choice to get health insurance, which means you’ll also avoid the tax penalty.

There are a few things you should note when it comes to filing your taxes. One thing you should look out for is a 1095-A tax form. If you received a tax credit – like 85% of people did – to help you afford your plan, you’ll need to file this form when doing your taxes. This form outlines the details of your health plan.

There’s also another form, known as Form 8962, which allows you to see whether the tax credit you received was accurate. If it wasn’t accurate, you may owe the government money or you might receive additional reconciliation funds.

You had employer-sponsored health insurance last year.

You will receive a certain form from your employer depending on the size of your company. If your company is more than 50 full-time employees, you will receive a 1095-C form. If your company is smaller than 50 full-time employees, you will receive a 1095-B form.

Both of these forms are only for your records, and you do not need them to file your taxes. However, with all tax forms, it’s important to verify that all information is correct.

You had Medicare or Medicaid last year.

If you had Medicare last year, you won’t have to do anything when it comes to your health insurance coverage during tax season. However, starting next year, you will receive a 1095-B form for your records.

When it comes to Medicaid enrollees, you will receive this 1095-B form for your records, and you’ll simply check the box on your tax forms saying you did have health insurance.

You were uninsured last year.

The Affordable Care Act requires that all Americans get health insurance or face a fine. So unfortunately, if you did not get health insurance, you may have to pay up come tax time. The tax penalty for this year is either $325 for each adult and $162.50 for each child or 2 percent of your income, whichever is greater.

You have two options when it comes to calculating your fine: You can either use tax software or calculate it yourself using Form 8965. There are some exceptions when it comes to the tax penalty, so be sure to see if you qualify for an exemption before paying.

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4 basic facts about Medicare

by Lauren Mandel

Are you preparing to celebrate your 65th birthday? Has it already come and gone? Congratulations! You now qualify for Medicare.old people

But what exactly is Medicare? What are your coverage options? And why do you need it? We take a look at four basic facts you need to know before enrolling in Medicare coverage.

Different plans cover different benefits.

So what are your different Medicare insurance options?

Original Medicare – or Parts A and B – covers hospital and basic medical care. Once you turn 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Part A.

Medicare Supplement – or Medigap – plans can help you pay for some health care costs not covered by Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage – or Part C – is a private insurance option which covers the benefits of Parts A & B. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage.

Lastly, a prescription drug plan – or Part D – offers coverage for different prescription medications.

The basics are required to move forward.

If you think you might want Medicare Advantage, you must first have Original Medicare, or Parts A & B. While you’ll automatically be enrolled in Part A once you turn 65, you must actively enroll in Part B.

Medicare is different than Medicaid.

They might sound similar and both start with the letter M, but Medicare and Medicaid are very different programs. We’ve already established that Medicare is health insurance coverage for those over age 65. Medicaid is a federally-funded health insurance program mainly for individuals and families with low incomes. Pregnant women and people with disabilities may also get coverage through Medicaid.

Note your needed prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Part D offers different plan options that cover different prescription medications. If choosing a Part D plan, make note of which prescriptions you or your loved ones will need in the near future. Medicare Advantage also offers some prescription drug coverage, so it’s important to review your specific needs before choosing between Part D plan options and Medicare Advantage.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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Brain Injury Awareness Month: How you can prevent brain injuries

by Lauren Mandel

Every year in the United States, an estimated 2.6 million children and adults sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Almost 1 million more sustain an acquired brain injury (ABI) from non-traumatic causes. And everyone – even the healthiest individuals – is at risk for brain injuries.braininjury (2)

However, many people aren’t aware that there’s a difference between TBIs and ABIs, and more importantly, that brain injuries are more common than we might think.

To help raise awareness during National Brain Injury Awareness Month, we took a look at some common questions when it comes to brain injury and how you can avoid them.

What’s the difference between TBIs and ABIs?

TBIs are caused by an external physical force, such as a car accident, physical assault, or blow to the head. This type of injury causes the brain to move, which can then lead to damage. ABIs include all types of TBIs, plus non-traumatic injuries sustained from within the brain, such as stroke and brain tumors. ABIs are most often associated with damaging brain pressure or neurological disorders.

What can cause brain injury?

Permanent or semi-permanent brain damage occurs when the brain is starved of oxygen for a prolonged period of time, either due to external or internal force.

For example, you may sustain a TBI after being involved in a serious car accident where you bang your head against the side of the car. Football players also often suffer from TBIs simply from getting tackled on the field.

A stroke is a common cause of an ABI, as are brain tumors or other various neurological diseases. And while ABIs occur from within the brain, they can be self-inflicted, like damage that comes from a drug overdose.

What are common symptoms of brain injuries?

There are four categories of brain damage symptoms, and we’ve included common examples within each category:

  • Cognitive: memory loss, difficulty concentrating, impaired decision-making
  • Perceptual: difficulty balancing, disorientation, blurry vision
  • Physical: headaches, slurred speech, bruising, stiff muscles
  • Behavioral or Emotional: aggressive behavior, irritability, overall change in mood

How can you prevent brain injuries?

Many brain injuries – especially those attributed to an accident – are preventable. Preventing a brain injury can be as simple as wearing a seatbelt when you’re in the car or wearing a helmet while riding a bike. When it comes to children, it’s important to monitor their playtime on playground equipment and while playing organized sports.

For more information on brain injuries and how you can get involved this month, please visit the Brain Injury Association of America.

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4 real-life problems GoHealth Access can fix

by Lauren Mandel

We’ve talked about GoHealth Access in a few different ways on the blog: we’ve explained the health care tool, we’ve talked about how it can help if you’re underinsured, and we’ve weighed in on why all Americans can benefit from telemedicine.

Now, we’re showing you (yes, showing) how GoHealth Access can help you and your family in real life. Through digital animation, we outline four challenging scenarios that are applicable to most Americans, and then we explain how using GoHealth Access could help you minimize or avoid the problem completely.

Do you have a child who’s had chicken pox? What about a spouse who’s missed work due to an injury? These are just a few of the scenarios we examine. Learn more information by downloading our GoHealth Access animated infographic here.

GoHealth Access overview infographic final2 clip

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20 Years of Achievements in Women’s Health

by Lauren Mandel

It’s difficult to cover all the significant milestones in women’s history without talking about women’s health care. So because March is Women’s History Month, we took a look at some of the top achievements in women’s health, put forward by the Centers for Disease Control, over the past 20 years.

womensHistoryMonth1 (2)

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5 apps for better mental health

by Lauren Mandel

A recent New York Magazine article took a look at how mobile apps are changing individuals’ approaches to mental health treatment. And in the past, we’ve discussed how telemedicine and our very own app, GoHealth Access, is changing the way people access health care.Facebook - jan sleep

While mental health should be taken seriously, there are apps available to help you overcome certain situations. So what are the best apps when it comes to mental health? What do they do, how much do they cost, and could they be effective for you? We took a look at five of our favorite mental health apps – and why you should start using them now.

Elevate

Cost: Free

Feeling sluggish or uninspired? Looking for a challenging, yet fun break from your day? Elevate is advertised as “your personal brain trainer” and can help you improve your memory, name recall, pronunciation, and more with more than 35 training activities and games.

Pzizz

Cost: Free

After taking advantage of its built-in alarm, nap and sleep modules, high-quality audio, and more, you’ll never be able to sleep or nap without Pzizz again. Available for both Apple and Android, Pzizz calls itself the “world’s most advanced sleep and power nap system.”

Koko

Cost: Free

Do you ever listen to someone else’s problems and think, “Wow, sometimes I feel that way, too.” The idea behind Koko, a stress management app, is that we are each other’s best advocates. Sign up and get anonymously grouped with other users to discuss your thoughts and help each other overcome everyday stress.

Way of Life

Cost: Free

We all struggle with our own bad habits, but what if there was an effective way to break them? Now, there is. Way of Life is an app that lets you track, identify, and change the habits you want to quit, all by focusing for less than a minute a day. Whether you’re a nail biter or a smoker, Way of Life may be able to help.

Buddhify

Cost: $2.99

We’ve all heard of the benefits of meditation, but sometimes, we just don’t have the time or convenience to take a quiet moment for ourselves. Buddhify shares over 80 meditation options that are convenient for anyone and any situation. You can even choose from multiple voices and track your progress.

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Choose telemedicine for your family’s health care needs

by Lauren Mandel

Moms and dads: Do you have a son or daughter who routinely uses your sleeve as a tissue? What about a child (probably soon-to-be multiple children) with the chicken pox? Does it seem like your little ones are home sick more than they’re in school?Facebook august - baby

It’s inevitable that with blustery winds and freezing temperatures, winter also brings cold, flu, and everything else season. It’s hard to predict exactly what your children are going to come down with and when, but what you can do is prepare with a plan to tackle sickness head-on.

In the United States, the average wait time to see a doctor is more than two weeks. And while some still value human interaction when it comes to doctor-patient relationships, most – 76 percent – would rather have easy access to health care, according to an American Hospital Association study.

This is where telemedicine comes in: When your child is running a temperature of 102 degrees, wouldn’t it be great to have immediate access to a board-certified doctor? Well, now you can.

There are different tools and apps now available that give you 24/7 access to doctors, who can diagnose conditions and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Some of these tools can also save you money on other health care needs, like prescription drugs, vision care, dental procedures, and more. And if you’re interested in completing your current health insurance coverage, you can get up to $10,000 in additional insurance benefits.

So the next time you’re thinking of packing sick kids into a card to make the long commute to the doctor, download an app, like GoHealth Access, instead.

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GoHealth answers your top 13 Obamacare questions

by Lauren Mandel

Now that Open Enrollment is over, you’d think the confusion surrounding Obamacare would dissipate, right? Not quite.Facebook Oct - mental

You guys still have questions. A lot of them. And if one person has a question about their health plan activation or how to use their coverage, we bet a few more of you also need the answer to that exact same question.

As your go-to health insurance resource, we’ve provided answers to 13 of your top Obamacare questions.

  1. What is Obamacare?

It’s important to first understand the context in which you’re talking about the term “Obamacare.” You may also hear the terms “Affordable Care Act” or “health reform” when talking about Obamacare, which means the United States law that gives more people better access to the health care they need. This law also mandates that all Americans get health insurance or face a fine. Alternatively, if you’re talking about Obamacare as a type of health insurance, this means private health insurance that you can buy through the government or a private exchange, like GoHealth.

  1. How much is the tax penalty for going uninsured?

The tax penalty – sometimes referred to as the “Obamacare fine” – usually varies from year to year. For 2016, the tax penalty will be 2.5 percent of your income or $695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child in your household, whichever is greater. In many cases, paying the tax penalty and facing your own medical bills is much more expensive than getting health insurance.

  1. How can I avoid the tax penalty now that Open Enrollment is over?

In order to avoid the tax penalty, you must have an ACA-compliant health insurance plan with minimum essential coverage, also known as a major medical health insurance plan or Obamacare plan. If you did not enroll in coverage during Open Enrollment, you may still be able to get major medical insurance if you experience a Qualifying Life Event, such as having a baby or moving.

  1. How can I get an exemption from the tax penalty?

Depending on various details, you may qualify from an exemption under the Affordable Care Act, meaning you won’t have to get health insurance and you won’t have to pay the tax penalty. Those who may qualify for an exemption include members of a recognized Native American tribe and individuals who are currently incarcerated. For the full list and more information, take a look at our recent blog post.

  1. Can I enroll in Obamacare whenever I want?

Most Americans must get health insurance during the annual Open Enrollment Period, which most recently ran from November 15, 2015 through January 31, 2016. An exception to this rule is anyone who experiences a Qualifying Life Event, including moving, having a baby, or adopting, which means those people have 60 days from the time of the event to find new coverage.

  1. Do I need to purchase dental and vision plans?

While dental and vision insurance aren’t required by law, they are encouraged. The same way major medical insurance can help you afford your medical bills, dental and vision insurance can help you afford those corresponding bills, as well. To save even more money on dental and vision services, check out GoHealth Access.

  1. Can I keep my doctor with the Obamacare plan I chose?

Maybe. Some health insurance plans require patients to visit only in-network doctors, meaning doctors who are pre-approved. Other plans give patients flexibility, which means you may be able to go out-of-network and see any doctor you choose. It’s important to note that going out-of-network is much more expensive than staying in-network. If your current doctor does not take the plan you chose, you may want to consider finding a new in-network doctor.

  1. Why don’t I qualify for an Obamacare tax credit?

While most people (last year, 85%) qualify for financial assistance, it is true that not everyone will qualify for a tax credit. Tax credit eligibility is based on a few factors, including the number of people in your household and your household income, so it’s important to regularly update your personal information.

  1. How and when do I make my first premium payment?

Once you have a health plan, you should make your first payment as soon as possible directly to your health insurance provider. Even if you bought your plan through a private exchange like GoHealth, you will still need to contact your health insurance provider directly to make each payment.

  1. Why is short-term health insurance not compliant with the Affordable Care Act?

Short-term health insurance is not ACA-compliant because it does not include minimum essential coverage as outlined by the health law. If you have minimum essential coverage, then you can avoid the tax penalty.

  1. Will I avoid the tax penalty if I have short-term coverage?

Unfortunately, no, you will not avoid the tax penalty with just short-term coverage. As outlined above, short-term health insurance does not include minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act. You will still face the tax penalty, even if you feel short-term coverage is substantial enough for your lifestyle.

  1. What’s the point of purchasing short-term if I won’t avoid the tax penalty?

No matter what, you should have health insurance. Short-term is a great option for those who missed the Open Enrollment deadline, but who still want some sort of coverage. Having short-term coverage and paying the tax penalty could still be less expensive than going uninsured and facing medical bills on your own.

  1. Does a short-term plan cover essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions?

Unlike a major medical plan, short-term health insurance does not cover essential health benefits or pre-existing conditions. But short-term coverage is usually an inexpensive option that helps bridge the gap in times of transition.

Still have questions? Leave us a comment, and we’ll get you an answer!

 

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