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3 fitness goals for National Senior Health & Fitness Day

by Lauren Mandel

The goal for the 23rd annual National Senior Health & Fitness Day is to help keep older Americans healthy and fit. Thousands of older adults will participate in activities across the country today that will help teach them how to reach this goal.

We want to do our part to help our Medicare-eligible customers reach this goal, so we’re providing 6 tips on workout safety and the best exercises you can do during your golden years.

Senior couple on cycle ride in countryside

Focus on flexibility

As you get older, you may experience more issues with your body, specifically joint issues. The best type of exercise you can do to help manage and prevent these problems is something that focuses on flexibility. Try a low-impact yoga or Pilates class, and also be sure to stretch for at least a few minutes every day, even the days you don’t do a full workout.

Keep your heart rate up

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, seniors should continue to engage in regular aerobic exercise, even as they age. Choose a workout that boosts your heart rate to about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Logical aerobic fitness options include water exercises or long walks.

Put your safety first

No matter what fitness choices you make today and in the future, your safety should always come first. Whether that means wearing a helmet while bike riding, stretching properly after a strenuous workout, or staying hydrated throughout your day, you should never compromise your safety for the sake of a workout.

Make sure you have coverage

Accidents do happen, and without Medicare coverage, you could face expensive medical bills when facing an injury. You can explore your Medicare options, and find the plan combination that works best for what you need. And that way, when you’re practicing yoga or participating in a water aerobics class, you can rest easy knowing you’re financially protected.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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The truth about 2017 Obamacare premium rates

by Lauren Mandel

Criticism surrounding Obamacare is nothing new. Since it was signed into law in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has faced its fair share of backlash.

The newest concern is that next year’s premium rates will increase so much that no American will be able to afford health insurance. Not only is this hyperbole, but it also may not be true. While health insurance premiums may increase overall in 2017, Americans shouldn’t panic. In fact, most wouldn’t be affected at all by these supposed increases.

the hands with some us dollars isolated on white

A recent piece from Vox outlined what Obamacare premium changes might look like for the upcoming year. Insurers will request premium increases, because many initially set rates too low to make a decent profit. It’s important to remember that health insurance increases are nothing new; they happened long before the Affordable Care Act came into play, at often higher increases than we’ve seen the past few years.

And if premiums do increase, there will also be adjustments to how tax credits are calculated. Tax credits help most Marketplace enrollees – 85 percent last year – afford their coverage. These tax credit adjustments will help these individuals continue to be able to afford their coverage in 2017 and beyond.

As we’ve noted in the past, premiums have actually decreased in certain areas of the country, even when they were predicted to increase. Premium prices also depend on where you live, from which state to which city to which county.

For example, if you lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma last year, you likely saw an average premium decrease of 35.2 percent. People in Portland, Oregon saw an average decrease of 22.9 percent. So to generalize and say that everyone in the United States will see more expensive premiums next year just might not be true.

Like much of the news surrounding the Affordable Care Act and the future of the law itself, premium increases are hard to predict. While we wait for official confirmation concerning premium changes, let’s not forget the good the law has already done for millions of Americans.

For more Obamacare news and updates, be sure to follow along with us on Twitter.

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Why all women need regular checkups

by Lauren Mandel

We all could use reminders sometimes, and we’re here to share one of the most important reminders when it comes to your health: to get regular checkups.

As part of National Women’s Health Week, today is National Women’s Checkup Day, an effort initiated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help women prioritize their health.

So, what can you do to prepare for your next well-woman visit? We’ve outlined a few tips to help you feel comfortable and confident.

Double-check your health insurance.

An annual trip to your doctor – or a well-woman visit – is a preventive care service under the Affordable Care Act, which means if you have health insurance, your visit will be covered. If you don’t have health insurance, however, these visits can get pricey.March - womensHistoryMonth

You also want to ensure the doctor you choose to visit is in your provider’s network. Going out-of-network is another detail that could cost you a lot of money.

Review your family history.

Do your parents have high blood pressure? Does breast cancer run in your family? Did your grandparents have any specific conditions? Questions like these are important to ask yourself before visiting the doctor. Your doctor will want to know these details so that he or she knows what to look out for during your appointment.

Evaluate your own health.

Yes, you see a doctor to be properly diagnosed, but there are certain abnormalities or discomforts only you can identify initially. Go through any significant changes to your health or your body before your appointment, so that when the doctor asks, you’ll have answers to share.

Remember why you’re there.

You may think you only need to visit the doctor when you’re sick, but the reality is, that can often be too late. Health insurance is required for all Americans so that everyone will be proactive about their health, rather than reactive. Scheduling and attending regular checkups will ensure you receive the necessary vaccinations, screenings, and tests, and well-woman visits can help you live a long and healthy life.

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GoHealth answers your top Medicare coverage questions

Whether you’re a first-time Medicare buyer or a long-time enrollee, finding the right Medicare coverage can be confusing. In an effort to help you find the right combination of plans, we’re answering the top consumer Medicare questions, including what your first step should be, your prescription drug coverage options, and much more.

  1. If I have Part A, how do I add Part B?

In order to complete your Original Medicare coverage and enroll in Part B, you must contact the Social Security office and actively enroll. Once you have both Parts A & B, you can complete your Medicare coverage with additional options.

medicare old people

  1. What is a Medicare guaranteed issue right, and do I have it?

A Medicare guaranteed issue right is your right in certain situations to be granted a Medicare Supplement plan – or Medigap policy – regardless of certain other details concerning your health. In these specific situations, insurance companies must sell you a Medicare Supplement plan, cover all your pre-existing conditions, and not charge you more for a policy because of any health problems. Most commonly, you may have a guaranteed issue right if you lose coverage or your current health coverage changes.

  1. If I only have Part A, what other types of Medicare can I get?

If you only have Part A, you are eligible to also get Part B. You cannot move forward with exploring other types of Medicare coverage until you have both Parts A & B.

  1. Can I enroll in Part D without having Part B?

Unfortunately, you cannot. In order to move forward with additional Medicare options (including Part D), you must first have both Parts A & B.

  1. What are my coverage options when it comes to prescription drugs?

If you need prescription drug coverage, you have a few different options. Once you get Parts A & B, you can choose to switch to Medicare Advantage, which sometimes offers prescription drug coverage. You can also choose to enroll in a Prescription Drug plan – or Part D – which offers different coverage options depending on which drugs you take.

  1. How do I find my Medicare claim number?

You can call Social Security, and a representative there can help you locate your Medicare claim number.

  1. How do I enroll in Medicaid?

You should call your state’s Medicaid department if you’re interested in Medicaid health insurance coverage.

  1. What is the difference between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans?

Medicare Supplement – or Medigap – plans help you complete your coverage. They can help you pay for health care costs that may not be covered by Original Medicare, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Medicare Advantage is a private health insurance option that is required to cover all the same benefits as Parts A & B, plus additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage. You cannot have a Medicare Supplement plan and Medicare Advantage at the same time.

  1. Why would I enroll in Medicare Advantage instead of Original Medicare? Aren’t they the same thing?

While they are similar, there are also differences between Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare. By law, Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover all the same benefits as Original Medicare, or Parts A & B.

However, there may be some differences in how you pay your out-of-pocket costs with a Medicare Advantage plan, or you may have a smaller or larger deductible. There also may be some differences in the coverage itself. For example, while Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs, some Medicare Advantage plans do offer that coverage.

  1. How do I avoid gaps in my Medicare coverage?

There are many different types of Medicare coverage available to help you avoid any gaps in your coverage. It’s important to explore all of your options and coverage combinations with a licensed agent.

 

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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Know all the facts during World Immunization Week

by Lauren Mandel

In 1955, a vaccine for polio was introduced, and the United States has been polio-free since 1979. Smallpox was eradicated in the United States in 1972, though enough vaccine exists to vaccinate every American if needed. Today, it’s hard to imagine having to worry about either of these diseases recurring.    vaccine

However, many people thought the same thing about measles. That is until the first confirmed measles death in over 12 years happened in August 2015. What could have potentially prevented this death and any others? The measles vaccine.

While there have been a number of impressive immunization breakthroughs in the past few years, the world still has a ways to go to “Close the Immunization Gap,” a goal set by the World Health Organization for this year’s World Immunization Week.

While vaccinating is a personal choice, it’s important to learn all the facts before making your final decision. Immunization helps avoid up to 3 million deaths every year, but an additional 1.5 million deaths could be prevented if immunization coverage was more widespread and understood.

Nearly 1 in 5 children worldwide are still missing routine immunizations for diseases like tetanus and pertussis. If you’re concerned about how vaccines will affect your children’s safety, it’s important to note the CDC has confirmed on multiple occasions that there are no links between vaccinations and autism.

How can you learn more this week and in the future? Visit the World Health Organization’s World Immunization Week website for more information.

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Obamacare can save you money. So, why are people still uninsured?

by Lauren Mandel

A recent piece from TheUpshot states that “having [health] insurance can mean the difference between financial security and financial ruin.”

We’ve written countless blogs to support this statement, including pieces about the costly fine individuals face when they choose to go without health insurance, the high out-of-pocket costs you could face as an uninsured American, and real-life scenarios to help people better understand medical costs you could face without coverage.taxseason

And now, it seems, getting Obamacare coverage can also lower your medical debt.

It was originally reported that about one in five Americans struggle to pay their medical bills, but that number has since declined. And the correlation between that decline and the expansion of Obamacare cannot be denied.

So, why are people still uninsured? Perhaps Americans initially leaned on talk about the failure of Obamacare, but more and more, that’s proving to be just talk and nothing more. New data is making it more and more difficult for consumers, politicians, and any other doubters to deny certain successes of the health law.

Sure, affordability is a common Obamacare complaint, but there are solutions for many of the issues consumers may encounter.

Think you can’t afford monthly premiums? Last year, nearly everyone – 85 percent – qualified for financial assistance in the form of a tax credit. Once you get health insurance, do you find your deductible to be high? There are health care tools available to help you fill in the gaps in your coverage, including options that offer prescription drug, vision, and dental discounts.

And as a reminder, many Americans don’t realize how different – and potentially, more expensive – their health care costs could be without Obamacare.

Prior to Obamacare, if you were insured but suddenly had a heart attack, you could be dropped by your provider, leaving you and your family to cover all associated medical costs. Providers can also no longer set lifetime and annual limits, meaning they can’t limit how much they choose to spend on your covered health care benefits. Here’s a full list of reasons to celebrate Obamacare, rather than ignore it.

While the future still may hold some uncertainty for Obamacare, one thing is clear to us and to many: Americans are better off with it than without it.

How do you view Obamacare and affordability? Has the health law helped lower your medical debt?

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5 real-life life events that let you get Obamacare now

by Lauren Mandel and Adam Tock

While you may have heard of Qualifying Life Events (QLEs) – the experiences that allow you to get health insurance outside of Open Enrollment – you may still be wondering how they could affect you. When “marriage” is listed as a QLE, what exactly would that mean if you got engaged? What about moving? Do you need to move down the street or to a new state?

To help you better understand Obamacare QLEs and how they could provide you a unique opportunity to get health insurance outside of Open Enrollment, we put together 5-real life scenarios that help explain the most common life events in more detail.

QLEs photographs

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Your Obamacare tax penalty reminder

by Lauren Mandel

Tax Day is quickly approaching, which means you (should have) filed your taxes and can cruise into the rest of the year without any surprises. Right? Hopefully yes, but for some people, there’s additional information you should know about your taxes and your Obamacare health insurance coverage now and in the future.tax penalty

Did you have to pay the tax penalty?

If you could afford health insurance coverage, but instead chose not to enroll in a qualified health plan, you probably saw a fine appear when filing your taxes. This is the tax penalty, or the Obamacare fine all Americans face if they go uninsured. The fine is expected to increase every year, so next year, make sure to get covered instead.

Why does the tax penalty exist?

The individual mandate – the Obamacare provision which states all Americans must have health insurance or face a fine – exists so that people get health insurance before they get sick to avoid high out-of-pocket costs. While it might seem more affordable to pay the fine instead of getting health insurance, that can end up being false for most Americans. Even if your deductible appears high right now, it will be worth it in the long run if you get sick or need an expensive medical procedure.

If you still think you can’t afford it, there are new tools available that can help you better afford your health care. GoHealth Access is a health care tool that can help you complete your coverage, and it includes things like prescription savings, dental and vision discounts, and doctor lookup.

How can you avoid the tax penalty for next year?

It’s really simple: The easiest way to avoid the tax penalty is to get health insurance. If you have a qualified health plan, you will not face a fine for that year. Your next chance to get coverage is this fall when Open Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act begins again.

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Help prevent diabetes on World Health Day

by Lauren Mandel

Each year, the entire world comes together to celebrate the importance of health on World Health Day. This year is no different, but for 2016, there is a specific health initiative associated with the holiday: diabetes awareness.Facebook - April World Health

According to the World Health Organization, around 350 million people worldwide have diabetes, and that number is expected to double over the next two decades. But did you know that of those diabetes cases, 90 percent are type 2 diabetes? Do you know the difference between type 1 and type 2? Could you use more information on diabetes in general?

To help support the mission of the World Health Organization and health care organizations around the world, we’re sharing important information about diabetes and how you can prioritize your health today – and in the future.

What exactly is diabetes?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that diabetes is a chronic illness. Diabetes occurs when your body has too much glucose, or too much sugar, in your blood. Normally, your pancreas creates insulin to help regulate the amount of sugar that goes into your bloodstream. But when you have diabetes, you either don’t produce enough insulin or what you do produce is not used properly.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

People with type 1 diabetes produce no insulin at all, which is why they must take insulin injections to help control their glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in people under the age of 20.

Type 2 diabetes means insulin is produced, but either not enough or the insulin that is produced can’t be used properly. This type of diabetes can largely be prevented, which is why programs like Medicare are introducing diabetes prevention programs.

How common is diabetes?

Nearly 1 in 10 adults has diabetes, but 90 percent of all diabetes cases are type 2. Like mentioned above, most cases of type 2 diabetes can either be delayed or entirely prevented.

What are possible side effects of diabetes?

If left untreated, diabetes can have some very serious side effects. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and the leading cause of new vision loss in adults in the United States. The disease can also affect your heart, nerves, gums, and teeth.

Can diabetes be prevented?

Diabetes is predicted to be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030, but most cases of diabetes can be prevented. While type 1 diabetes cases are out of the person’s control, type 2 cases can almost always be delayed or prevented. Try getting 30 minutes of exercise a day, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco products.

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4 tips for parents during Medication Safety Week

by Lauren Mandel

Whether you take over-the-counter pain killers for headaches or prescription drugs to treat a chronic illness, most of us have taken medication at one point or another. And when it comes to keeping medication in your house, there are some important best practices you should know to help protect your family.medsafetyWeek-unstyled (2)

This week is Medication Safety Week, which is a great time to learn how to build a safe space for you and your family. To help raise awareness, we’ve outlined 4 tips about medication safety for parents.

  1. Never leave children unattended. This one might seem obvious, but an estimated 53,000 toddlers are brought to the emergency room each year for ingesting something they shouldn’t. Ensure children are supervised and medicines are out of reach.
  1. Give medicine as directed. While you might think your larger-than-normal child can handle a higher dosage of cough syrup, medicine should be given only as directed, unless told otherwise by your doctor.
  1. Use the measuring device that comes with the medication. Think a kitchen teaspoon is the same as the measuring teaspoon included with couch syrup? Think again. Those two devices can provide very different measurements.
  1. When in doubt, consult your doctor. Children under 4-years-old generally shouldn’t be given medicine, but depending on the situation, your doctor might suggest otherwise. If you’re not sure what to do, give your trusted physician a call or in-office visit.

If you don’t have a pediatrician for your children, GoHealth Access can help you find an in-network doctor near where you live. Learn more about this health care tool here. 

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