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Zika Update: Should pregnant women avoid travel to Miami?

by Lauren Mandel

In a historic announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a specific warning against traveling to certain areas of Miami. Fourteen women were diagnosed with Zika in a neighborhood just north of the popular travel destination in Florida, which means that some mosquitoes in the United States now have and can spread the virus.

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But what does this mean for travelers and even residents of Miami? And most specifically, are pregnant women in the Miami area – and across the country – in danger of contracting the Zika virus?

Until recently, the CDC had only issued travel warnings for areas outside the United States, including Rio de Janeiro and a majority of the Caribbean. But Monday morning, the CDC advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to a specific area of Miami.

If you live in or must travel to this area of Miami, the CDC suggests waiting at least 8 weeks after leaving the area to try to get pregnant.

However, there are many people – including pregnant women or male partners – who live in this area of Miami. If you or someone you know think they may have been exposed to the Zika virus, it’s important to get tested right away. In addition, it’s important to protect yourself from possible infection by wearing long sleeves and pants, using air conditioning when possible, and liberally using bug spray if you’ll be exposed to mosquitoes. You can view the full list of suggestions here.

GoHealth will continue to provide updates about Zika as they become available. You can read more about the Zika virus and its origin here.

 

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Moving this summer? You could get new health insurance

by Jenny Fliegel

The average person will move almost 12 times during his or her lifetime. That’s a lot of boxes, a lot of packing tape, and a lot of things to think about during each move. There may be a lot on your mind, but if there’s one thing to prioritize it’s health coverage. Knowing your options when it comes to health insurance will give you peace of mind during a not-so-peaceful time in your life.

Under the Affordable Care Act, moving is considered a Qualifying Life Event, which gives you the opportunity to find health coverage outside of Open Enrollment. If your health coverage is affected by your change in residence, you could qualify for a Special Enrollment Period and be able to enroll in new coverage within 60 days of your move.moving

But how do you know if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period? If you move to a new area that offers different coverage options than your previous ZIP code, you will qualify. This remains true even if your current plan is still offered in your new location. Plans are usually based on region, and your new location may offer health plans with different or more affordable prices.

Some situations that would help you qualify might include moving to a different ZIP code or country, a student moving to or from the place they attended school, a seasonal worker moving to or from the place they lived and worked, moving to or from a shelter or traditional housing, or moving to the United States from a foreign country. Keep in mind that moving solely for a medical treatment or vacation doesn’t qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.

In order for your move to be recognized as a Qualifying Life Event, you’ll need to provide documentation proof that the event occurred. And be sure to pay attention to the start and end dates of both your old and new plans to avoid a coverage gap or double payments.

GoHealth can help determine your eligibility for a Special Enrollment Period and help you find a health plan for your new location. Compare plans and learn more about the enrollment process at GoHealthInsurance.com or by calling 888-322-7557 to talk to a GoHealth licensed agent.

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GoHealth acquires Connected Benefits to move into group insurance

by Lauren Mandel

Late last week, GoHealth announced its acquisition of Connected Benefits, a provider of employee benefits management software and group insurance solutions. The reason for the acquisition? GoHealth will now offer a seamless marketplace solution to address the growing health insurance needs of both individuals and employers. Facebook - jan tax penalty

In the United States, 90 percent of workers are at a company that offers health benefits to at least some employees. Average annual premiums are also rising at more than double the rate of employee wages, and individuals who do not have access to employer-sponsored coverage may struggle to afford it on their own. Employers and brokers need a platform that is easy to understand, quick to implement, and offers affordable employee health benefits.

GoHealth’s new all-in-one technology platform will enable brokers to help employers establish employee benefit levels, access available tax subsidies, determine their employer contributions, offer voluntary products such as disability, and implement their chosen benefits quickly and accurately.

GoHealth CEO, Clint Jones, said he’s “confident that our innovative technology platform will help employers better navigate changes in the health care industry.”

You can read the full announcement and more about the acquisition here.

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Election 2016: Health Care and the Affordable Care Act

by Lauren Mandel and Adam Tock

The Republican National Convention came to a close this past week in Cleveland, and the Democratic Party is hosting their own convention this week in Philadelphia. These events are just the beginning of Election 2016 and a long race toward the presidency, and both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are letting their policies be known.

Health care will be a particularly important topic for the candidates, and Clinton and Trump are still revealing the specifics of their potential plans for the Affordable Care Act.  In the chart below, we outlined each candidate’s thoughts on the health law, plus what they intend to change if they become the next President of the United States.

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Why telemedicine is the future of health care

by Adam Tock and Jenny Fliegel

Telemedicine future of health care

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What are my Medicare prescription drug options?

by Jenny Fliegel

Did you or a loved one recently turn 65? Are you approaching your 65th birthday? Now is the time to prepare for Medicare.

You might be surprised to learn that Original Medicare – Parts A & B – doesn’t cover prescription drugs. But between plan types with multiple names and a variety of options to choose from, finding the right prescription drug coverage can be confusing.

It’s important to know that all Medicare-eligible individuals are entitled to prescription drug coverage, regardless of income. Fortunately, you cannot be denied for health reasons, income, or due to the fact that you take a variety of prescription drugs.Medicare

Even if you aren’t currently taking prescription drugs, keep in mind that these plans will give you the peace of mind that you have coverage if you suddenly need it. Before you decide whether or not to sign up for Medicare prescription drug coverage, it’s important to understand all of your options.

You need Parts A & B before moving on to Part D.

To get prescription drug coverage, you can either enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) or a Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Part D). However, be aware that in order to be eligible for Part C, you must first have Original Medicare, which is both Parts A & B.

Original Medicare covers hospital and basic medical care. Although you may be automatically enrolled in Part A once you turn 65, you may not know that you will likely need to actively enroll in Part B. To enroll in Part B, you should contact your local Social Security office.

Option 1: Medicare Advantage plan (Part C)

One option to help you get prescription drug coverage is to choose a Medicare Advantage plan, or Part C. If you choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll receive your Medicare benefits in one package, usually through a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover all the same benefits as Original Medicare, while also offering additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage and the possibility of lower copayments. You may notice differences in out-of-pocket costs with Plan C in comparison to Original Medicare.

Option 2: Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Part D)

If you’re looking for prescription drug coverage, you can also choose to enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan, or Part D. Medicare Part D is a stand-alone plan that provides outpatient prescription drug coverage. You can simple add Part D to the coverage you have already.

Before choosing between Part C and Part D, review your specific prescription drugs. Each Part D plan may vary not only in cost, but also in specific covered drugs.

Option 3: Medicare Supplement

While they don’t necessarily cover specific prescription drug costs, Medicare Supplement plans fill in the gap for some costs that aren’t covered by Original Medicare. These plans can complete your coverage by helping you pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.

It’s important to keep in mind that you cannot have a Medicare Supplement plan and Part C at the same time.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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Meet GoHealth’s 2016 Summer Interns

by Carrie Murphy, Director of Human Resources

GoHealth was excited to welcome five college-level interns to our offices this past June! During their 10-week internships, the interns will gain exposure to the technology and startup industries in Chicago, all while training and learning directly from their managers and teams. GoHealth is excited and honored to bring on such talented young individuals who will eventually become great assets to the local community.

Now that the interns are halfway through their internships, we thought we’d check in to see how their experiences have been so far. Here they share how they first heard about GoHealth, what attracted them to our business, what their internships entail, and what they plan to do after graduation.

 

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Full name: Jenny Fliegel

Internship title: Consumer Marketing Intern

College or university: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

What interested you about GoHealth, and why did you apply for this internship?

GoHealth’s exciting company culture was what really drew me in to apply for this internship. I was interested in working for a tech company where I could gain hands-on experience in the industry while improving my skills.

What are some of the day-to-day tasks you’re responsible for in your internship?

I write weekly posts for GoHealth’s blog, conduct internal and external competitive research for the GoHealth brand, and think of engaging content for our social media platforms.

What has your experience been like so far at GoHealth, in your internship and with the company?

My experience at GoHealth has been great. My coworkers have been very welcoming and treat me as if I’ve been part of the team for much longer than just the summer. Working directly with the Senior Manager of Consumer Marketing has been an exciting experience, as I have been able to gain exposure in the industry by being involved in a variety of relevant tasks for the company.

What do you hope to do after graduation, and how has your internship at GoHealth helped you work toward that goal?

After graduation, I hope to begin my marketing career at a tech-related company or advertising agency. GoHealth has provided me with a variety of skills and real-world experiences that I can apply toward my career goals.

 

Full name: Jack Gergets

Internship title: Carrier Onboarding Team Intern

College or university: University of Notre Dame

What interested you about GoHealth, and why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I’m interested in the tech industry, and I wanted to explore something outside of my major.

What are some of the day-to-day tasks you’re responsible for in your internship?

I work on carrier onboarding, which means preparing a carrier’s information and forms to be available and usable on the GoHealth website.

What has your experience been like so far at GoHealth, in your internship and with the company?

So far, I have enjoyed my time here, because everyone around me is helpful and my work is interesting.

What do you hope to do after graduation, and how has your internship at GoHealth helped you work toward that goal?

After graduation I hope to work in the automotive industry. GoHealth is a great starting point for me because it allowed me to get my feet wet in the corporate world, learn problem-solving skills, and explore an interesting field.

 

Full name: Dominique Lotz

Internship title: Business Development Intern

College or university: Miami University in Ohio

What interested you about GoHealth, and why did you apply for this internship?

I was interested in GoHealth because Brandon and Clint, the President and CEO, graduated from my school, and I wanted to learn more about how they created such a large and successful business. I applied for this internship because I felt like I would fit in with the company culture and gain great experience from GoHealth. I wanted to be exposed to various sides of business, including marketing, management, and finance.

What are some of the day-to-day tasks you’re responsible for in your internship?

My daily tasks involve working on various long-term projects, including editing and uploading RFPs, creating competitive analysis, and working on planning for the next Open Enrollment Period. I also attend weekly sales meeting.

What has your experience been like so far at GoHealth, in your internship and with the company?

My experience at GoHealth and in my internship has been a very positive one. I have learned a lot about the health care industry and have gained a general understanding of how a business runs successfully. I work with amazing people who are always willing to help.

What do you hope to do after graduation, and how has your internship at GoHealth helped you work toward that goal?

After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in finance, particularly in the investment banking industry. GoHealth has helped me work toward this goal because I have been mentored by people who have a banking background and have given me advice on how to get my foot in the door.

 

Full name: Jenny Marks

Internship title: Digital Marketing Intern

College or university: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

What interested you about GoHealth, and why did you apply for this internship?

What interested me about GoHealth was that it was an innovative tech company. It seemed like a company growing larger and smarter very quickly. Everything about it seemed like the perfect fit for me, including the company culture and values and all of the things I would be learning.

What are some of the day-to-day tasks you’re responsible for in your internship?

Some of the day-to-day tasks I work on are daily reporting for paid search revenue and costs, learning how to optimize paid search accounts, and being able to implement ideas that I create.

What has your experience been like so far at GoHealth, in your internship and with the company?

My experience so far this summer has been everything I thought it would be. I am learning so many skills that will be useful to me after this internship ends and will help me when looking for jobs. Everything I’ve learned here aren’t things I could have learned in school.

What do you hope to do after graduation, and how has your internship at GoHealth helped you work toward that goal?

After I graduate next spring, I would like to continue with digital marketing and paid search and get a full time job in Chicago using all of the skills I have learned here.

 

Full name: Daniel Stiefel

Internship title: Marketplace & Sales Intern

College or university: University of Southern California

What interested you about GoHealth, and why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I wanted to get a firsthand view of a business workplace, and especially one that is growing and succeeding. I also wanted to get an internship after my freshman year of college so I could get experience early in my business career.

What are some of the day-to-day tasks you’re responsible for in your internship?

I do a lot of research on current marketplaces and innovative health care models. I am responsible for a few different commission and policy database audits, as well as calling many of GoHealth’s clients to update them on our upcoming updates and features.

What has your experience been like so far at GoHealth, in your internship and with the company?

I am very impressed and comfortable with GoHealth’s casual environment, yet they still preach hard work and dedication. In regards to my internship, the projects I have been receiving are challenging and help me learn common everyday business practices. More specifically, I have been gaining lots of Excel knowledge and presentation formatting skills.

What do you hope to do after graduation, and how has your internship at GoHealth helped you work toward that goal?

I hope to have a job in the business world and have a profession that requires lots of interaction with clients and innovators. This internship has definitely helped me, especially with communication skills. I have also worked with a lot of data, and I know that most businesses require employees who can handle and organize data.

 

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How millennials could help decide the future of Obamacare

by Jenny Fliegel

The fourth Open Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is just a few months away, and changes are still being made to the controversial health law. However, no matter your views on Obamacare, it’s clear the law has changed the health care industry. But could the enrollment of one group – specifically millennials – affect the entire marketplace even more than before?

Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, the overall uninsured rate has fallen by more than 40 percent, and the uninsured rate among young adults has fallen by nearly half. Younger demographic groups generally have the best health, which helps insurers control costs and balance the risks of covering less-healthy individuals. Weak risk pools contain a disproportionate share of Millennialscustomers who are costing coverage plans more in health benefits claimed than they are paying in monthly premiums.

In order to further improve the market place risk pool and lower costs, there will be new email outreach efforts to enroll those who are still uninsured, particularly millennials. Data from the 2016 Open Enrollment Period concluded that young adults are about twice as likely to enroll in health insurance in response to email outreach when compared to older adults. Enrollment of younger adults could help control premium rate increases in future years by offsetting the cost of older, less-healthy enrollees.

Certain millennials can stay on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) until they turn 19 or on their parents’ health insurance plan until they turn 26. Census data from 2014 showed a nearly 7 percent increase in uninsured rates of 19-year-olds, and a 4 percent increase of 26-year-olds; lowering these uninsured rates would benefit all Americans in more ways than one.

Individuals who paid an Obamacare tax penalty this year for not having health insurance last year will receive mail encouraging them to enroll. About 7.9 million Americans paid a penalty for lack of coverage in 2014, and 45 percent of those people were under the age of 35. This year, the penalty for not having qualified health coverage will be 2.5 percent of household income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, whichever is higher. It’s generally less expensive — and safer – to get health coverage than to pay the fine.

If you have questions about your current coverage or how to get coverage this fall, call 888-322-7557. And be sure to follow along with us on Twitter for all the latest Obamacare news and updates.

 

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Outdoor safety on Independence Day


by Jenny Fliegel

Independence Day is right around the corner, and we’re anxiously awaiting the upcoming parades, picnics, barbecues, and most importantly, elaborate fireworks displays. Whether your celebration will take place at the beach, a park, or even in your own backyard, have you considered including outdoor safety in your plans? In between your grilled hot dogs and cold beverages, keep these tips in mind to ensure your Fourth of July is both safe and enjoyable.

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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 230 people go to the emergency room every day due to fireworks-related injuries in the weeks surrounding July Fourth. The majority of these injuries are burns on the hands, fingers, head, face, ears, and eyes.

The best way to protect your loved ones is to leave lighting fireworks to the professionals. Although sparklers may seem like a safer option, it’s important to consider that they burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals. If you plan on using fireworks, check the State Law Directory to make sure they’re legal in your area. Keep in mind that even if fireworks are legal, they can easily cause injury if not handled properly.

If you do want to use them on your own, only purchase fireworks from a licensed dealer and read all instructions before igniting. Fireworks activities should be supervised at all times, especially if children are around. Wear safety glasses while lighting, and be sure to point fireworks away from homes, buildings, vehicles, areas of dry grass or leaves, and other flammable substances. Light one firework at a time, and then quickly move several feet away from the area.

If your device doesn’t go off, you should never stand over it to see what went wrong. Keep a bucket of water, fire extinguisher, or garden hose close to dispose of spent fireworks. If you or a loved one is injured by fireworks, immediately call 911.

Grill responsibly

Who doesn’t love a charred hot dog or grilled hamburger on July Fourth? While grilling safety might seem obvious, it’s important to pay close attention to these tips during your barbecue.

If you’re grilling, make sure your grill is out in the open and away from your house or any enclosed area. You should never leave your grill unattended when in use, and be sure to keep children and pets away from the area. And always keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup.

It’s also important to monitor the temperature of your food to avoid food-borne illness. Use a meat thermometer to ensure all meat and poultry is properly cooked before serving to guests. The U.S. FDA suggests never leaving food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and no longer than two hours at other temperatures. Also cover food and beverages when outdoors to keep away bees and other unwanted insects.

Swim safely

We all love playing in the pool or on the beach, but be aware of the local weather conditions and forecast for the weekend. Even if a lifeguard is present, children should be supervised by a responsible adult around water at all times. Always use life jackets and have secure personal flotation devices handy, and pay attention to lifeguards and posted instructions around swimming areas.

Watch out for the sun and heat

The sun might feel great, but it can have damaging effects if you don’t prepare properly. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF15 or higher 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply often.

Drink water periodically throughout the day, even when you’re not thirsty to stay hydrated. During hot weather, take frequent shade breaks to cool off and avoid the possibility of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, clammy skin, pale or flushed complexion, and fast and shallow breathing. If you notice someone who exhibits these symptoms, move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing, and give them water to slowly drink.

Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, red skin, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headaches, rapid pulse, high body temperature, slurred speech, and confusion. If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, immediately call 911, and cool the person with available means such as a garden hose, a sponge with cool water, ice packs, or cold, wet towels.

Drive defensively

Driving to your holiday party? Do so with caution. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ranked the Fourth of July as the deadliest day of the year when it comes to car accidents. An average of 161 people die in car crashes on this day, which is 12 more deaths than the average on any other single day of the year.

Allow plenty of time to get to your destination to avoid feeling the need to speed. There will most likely be more traffic on the road than usual. Stay alert and use rest stops to take breaks when you’re feeling tired. Program your GPS prior to leaving for your destination, and put the distractions — such as cell phones — away.

Always remember to buckle up, and place children in appropriate safety seats. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent. If you’re going to a place where you know there will be alcohol, choose a designated driver before you arrive.

Drinking alcohol slows reaction time and impairs judgment necessary in order to safely operate a vehicle. Driving under the influence is the single largest cause of motor vehicle fatalities. Be sure to drive defensively; even if you’re not driving under the influence, there is always a possibility that other drivers might be.

It’s never too early or too late to consider purchasing health insurance to prepare for those unavoidable accidents. Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our customers. Individuals can compare plans and learn more about the process at GoHealthInsurance.com or by calling 888-322-7557 to talk to a GoHealth licensed agent.

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Zika and the Olympics: Who Should Stay, Who Should Go?

by Catherine Tims

The State of Delaware recently announced its fifth case of the Zika virus. That same day, a student at the University of Alabama tested positive for Zika. And although there have only been three Zika-related cases of microcephaly in the U.S. so far, these reports are enough to make Americans stop and think about how they could be affected, specifically if traveling to the Summer Olympic Games.

The CDC Warns Pregnant Women to Stay Home

The CDC first issued Zika-related travel warnings this past January, in which it warned that pregnant women should not travel to areas with widespread cases of the Zika virus.

Although only a fifth of people who get Zika see any symptoms, the danger lies in what it can do to a unborn child. The virus been linked to microcephaly, a terrible condition where a child is born with a very small head, causing brain damage and sometimes death.

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This CDC warning has people wondering about the Summer Olympic Games, since they’re being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this summer. Zika is a big problem in Brazil, where instances of microcephaly have increased significantly. There’s even a special page on the CDC website dedicated to 2016 Summer Olympics information. This section includes a clear warning for pregnant women, urging them to skip the events altogether.

But what about the rest of us? Should we go? And what about the athletes? What are they saying?

Zika Can Linger in a Traveler’s Body for a Week – or Longer

The problem for U.S. citizens is that if they visit a location where Zika is rampant, they risk bringing the virus back home with them. The CDC informs us that the virus can stay active for about a week – sometimes longer – once someone comes in contact with Zika.

That information, combined with the fact that many people don’t even know they’ve contracted the virus, is making people worry about the state of public health. This is a main reason why some have decided to completely skip the Olympic Games this summer; they simply don’t want to put loved ones back home in danger upon their return.

What Do the Athletes Think?

There’s a very wide range of reactions among the Olympic athletes themselves. First, there’s Usain Bolt, an Olympic gold medalist, who jokes that he’s not worried because he can outrun the mosquitoes that carry Zika.

Others are showing more serious concerns. The husband of Maria Michta-Coffey will skip the games while his wife competes. They plan on starting a family after the Olympics are over.

And while many athletes insist they’ll still compete, others are now starting to drop out. Recently, a cyclist was the first U.S. athlete to announce he’d be staying home from the Olympic Games because of Zika-related concerns. His wife is currently pregnant.

While the risk of attending the Olympic Games may not be solely individual, there still remains the risk of spreading Zika across the world once the competition is over.

Tell us: Are you concerned about Zika and the effects it can have in the United States? If you were an Olympic athlete, would Zika-related concerns cause you to drop out of the Games?

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