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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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ABCs (and Ds) of Medicare

by Lauren Mandel

When you’re searching for a Medicare plan, do know which plan types have multiple names? And do you know the difference between them? If not, don’t worry: You’re not alone.6

From previous blog posts, you probably know there are different options when it comes to your Medicare coverage, but now it’s time to understand which names correspond to which coverage.

Let’s go through the ABCs (and Ds) of Medicare coverage.

Part A

This type of Medicare coverage is one of two parts of Original Medicare. It covers different hospital services and procedures, including inpatient stays, skilled nursing facility stays, home care, and hospice care. Once you turn 65, you are automatically enrolled in Part A.

Part B

The other part of Original Medicare? That’s Part B. You must actively enroll in this part of Original Medicare by calling Social Security. Part B covers other medical needs, like doctor visits, outpatient services, and preventive care.

Part C

When shopping for private Medicare insurance, you may hear Medicare Advantage, which is also known as Part C. All Part C plans are required to cover all benefits from Parts A & B, plus other benefits, like prescription drug coverage. In 2015, 31 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Part C.

Part D

If you’re searching for a Prescription Drug plan, you’re also searching for Part D: They are one and the same. Part D plans help pay for prescription drug costs, and you have multiple plan options to choose from depending on which drugs you take.

Plus one “S”

Further down the ABCs is the letter “S,” which stands for Supplemental Insurance. This type of Medicare coverage, which is also known as Medigap, is sold by private insurance companies that helps fill in any gaps in your coverage. Medigap policies typically help cover deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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Happy April Fools’ Day! From GoHealth

by Lauren Mandel

If you saw our Facebook post about cheeseburgers and salads, don’t be fooled! The truth is, we completely made up the calorie counts for each of these meals, and vegetables are usually a healthier and smarter alternative to fatty meat and dairy. We posted this as an April Fools’ Day joke, and we hope it helped you realize even more ways to make healthy eating choices.

aprilfools

Looking for more healthy eating and lifestyle tips? Check out a few of our recent blog posts: 6 ways running can improve your health, 5 leafy green vegetables you should eat now, and how you can prevent brain injuries.

And if you’re ready to take your health into your own hands, check out your health insurance options or explore more ways to save money on your health care.

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GoHealth answers Google’s top health & wellness questions

by Lauren Mandel

When you have questions, where do you go to find the answers?Facebook Oct - mental

Millions of Americans turn to Google to find information on different topics every day, and health and wellness are no exception. If you scrape your knee, you may do a search for the best healing ointment. If you want to start a new fitness regimen, you might search for the most popular internet workouts. And the list goes on and on.

So to help you get some answers even faster, we took a look at the top Google searches in three different health and wellness categories – mental health, diet, and disease – and provided you with specific facts about each term or phrase.

Mental Health

Depression

When you search for the term “depression,” you may want to know fast and effective ways to manage your symptoms. But did you know exercise can actually be the easiest and least expensive way to help with depression? Well, now you do.

Schizophrenia

If you’re searching for “schizophrenia,” chances are you don’t know much about this mental illness. One of the first things you might want to know is who is at risk: 75% of people with schizophrenia develop the illness between ages 16 and 25.

Anxiety

As is the case with many forms of mental illness, anxiety can be stigmatized and misunderstood. But did you know anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in the United States?

Bipolar disorder

When you think of bipolar disorder, do you think it’s a rare mental illness? Well, think again: In the United States alone, about 5.7 million adults live with bipolar disorder.

OCD

If you’re a young adult, are you worried that your obsessive behavior may actually be OCD (or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? It’s true that the average age of OCD diagnosis is 19-years-old.

 

Diet

Weight loss

Sure, unhealthy snacking can be bad for weight loss, but healthy snacking between meals might actually help you lose weight in the long run.

Vegan diet

Thinking about going vegan? A plant-based diet can work for many people, but if you don’t do it properly, a vegan diet can also cause you to maintain or even gain weight.

Diabetic diet

While focusing your efforts on a diabetic diet can be difficult for some people, a diabetes diagnosis does not have to mean giving up all your favorite foods.

Detox diet

Diets come in all formats, but recently, detox diets have become more and more popular. If you’re thinking about trying it, it’s important to get the OK from your doctor before practicing a detox diet.

Fat-burning foods

If you’re looking to lose weight based on diet alone, there are certain foods that might work better than others: Whole grains, green tea, and hot peppers are some of the top fat-burning foods.

 

Disease

Lyme disease

If you’re concerned about contracting Lyme disease, know the facts about when you’re at risk: Most cases of Lyme disease occur in late spring or early summer.

Diabetes

When it comes to diabetes, it’s important to know the difference between the variations. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 percent of all diabetes cases worldwide.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is nothing to ignore. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, and even lymphoma.

Breast cancer

As a woman, it’s important to understand your chances of getting breast cancer. The average risk of breast cancer just for being a woman is 12%.

Lung cancer

Did you know 1 of every 4 cancer deaths is attributed to lung cancer? Lower your risk by not smoking and practicing overall good health.

Want more like this? Check out our answers to Google’s top 3 Obamacare questions.

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4 lesser-known reasons to celebrate Obamacare’s 6th anniversary

by Lauren Mandel

Today marks six years since the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – was signed into law. It’s no secret that the government hit a few bumps while implementing and perfecting Obamacare, but it’s hard to deny the successes and safety it has brought to the American people.Balloons

The most obvious successes have been widely publicized: the uninsured rate is now below 12%, individuals can no longer be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, and health plans must now cover preventive care services at no cost to the policy holder. All of these are important, but we wanted to share 4 lesser-known reasons that make us proud to celebrate Obamacare’s sixth anniversary.

Clarification on contraceptive coverage

From the beginning, the Affordable Care Act clearly stated that health insurance companies must cover contraception. But until recently, many insurers found ways around this provision, refusing to cover birth control for policy-holding individuals. Last spring, the government finally released a document with a specific list of contraceptive methods insurers must cover. If you are still paying out-of-pocket for your preferred method of birth control, speak with your doctor and then, if necessary, with your insurer.

No annual or lifetime limits

What if you were suffering from an illness that required consistent medical treatment for the rest of your life? What if your child faced a similar struggle? Millions of Americans are in this type of situation, and the Affordable Care Act fought to ensure they would never have an issue retaining health coverage. The Affordable Care Act prohibits lifetime and annual limits, meaning an insurer can no longer set a dollar amount they’re willing to spend on covered health care benefits. So if you or a loved one is facing a serious illness, you don’t have to worry about hitting a dollar limit on covered benefits and paying the rest out-of-pocket.

Improved coverage for young adults

College students and young adults just starting out in the real world have enough to take on without worrying about their health insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, kids and young adults can rest easy knowing they have multiple health insurance options. If you’re in college, you may have access to affordable student health insurance. If you’re a recent graduate who will soon lose your student coverage, you also have the option to stay on your parent’s health plan until you turn 26 years old. And if you’re searching for your first job, you can rest easy knowing even if your future employer doesn’t offer coverage, you can still find a plan through the Marketplace.

Widely-available financial assistance

For years, Americans heard about financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act. But was it really widely available, and how much would it actually help people afford their coverage? Six years later, we can confidently say that tax credits and cost-sharing reductions have helped millions of Americans obtain health insurance. Last year, nearly 8.7 million (85 percent) enrollees qualified for tax credits to help them afford their coverage, with the average tax credit coming out to $272 per month. And nearly 4 out of 5 of those people could find coverage for less than $100 per month.

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6 ways running can improve your health

by Lauren Mandel

Spring has officially sprung, and we can’t wait to get outside and get moving. And although it may seem like a challenge, going for a light jog or run is one of the best workouts you can choose for your mind and body.Facebook Oct - parks

If you need a motivational boost, here are 6 reasons to lace up those running shoes and hit the trails this spring.

Boost your mood

While running can also help you live longer, many runners choose this form of exercise because it helps them feel good on a daily basis. Regular exercise, like running, can even help reduce depression and anxiety. Specifically, running boosts body temperature, which can be relaxing, and it releases feel-good chemicals to your brain that can minimize depression.

Lose more weight

While this might be stating the obvious, running – and many other forms of exercise – can blast fat and burn calories, which can lead to weight gain. You can burn off even more calories by choosing an uphill running path or running against the wind.

Strengthen your body

While some may be concerned that running can be too hard on your body, for many runners, the exercise actually has the opposite effect. Pounding the pavement puts pressure and stress on your bones, cartilage, and muscles, which forces them to bounce back stronger than before.

Reduces risk of disease

While there is no cure for cancer, it’s clear that regular exercise can definitely help prevent it. And if you’re a runner who already has cancer, even more reason to stay running: regular exercise can actually help improve your quality of life while going through treatment.

Lengthens lifespan

This point is really a combination of all other reasons to take up running, but regular exercise is proven to add years to your life. A 2014 study revealed those who ran just 50 minutes a week or less at a moderate pace were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t run at all.

Get in alone time

Between work and social obligations, sometimes it can be hard to fit in some alone time to rest and refuel. While some find running buddies, others choose to run alone to get in daily exercise and take advantage of alone time.

 

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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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