Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Health Insurance Rates and Premiums Demystified

Health Insurance Rates and Premiums Demystified

No matter what you call them, health care premiums, rates, “bills,” are made up of the same things. Like many other critical services, health care costs are based primarily on how much the service costs and how much people use it. But, like anything as complicated as health care, there’s more to the story.
Rates submitted by health plans, and how those rates impact the premiums people pay, will receive significant attention. To fully understand why premiums may go up or down in 2017, consider the following factors:
Rates reflect medical costs: Medical costs make up most of the costs that go into the premiums people pay. By law, health plans must spend at least 80 cents out of every $1 of premiums on medical costs. Medical costs are higher in some places than others. Costs are higher when doctors and hospitals charge more, or when people go to the doctor more often, have more tests or fill more prescriptions. Medical costs also go up when drug prices go up (prescription drugprices jumped by more than 10 percent in 2015 alone) and often when new treatments are found.
On average, the people in plans on the public health insurance Marketplace or Exchange have been older, sicker and use more health care than people in other plans. This has been especially true for people who don’t join a plan at the start of the year, but wait and join later. This is one reason Exchange plans can cost more than plans offered through employers.
For all plans, medical costs continue to increase faster than the general rate of inflation and wage growth, and continue to be the driving force behind rate increases.
Risk pool and changes to government programs: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included financial protections to maintain a stable marketplace and affordable premiums. However, two of the three programs that provided this financial protection now are set to end in 2016. When these programs go away, premiums need to rise even more.
So how do we make premiums more affordable? At Aetna, we’re working in many ways to help hold down our members’ costs. We’re working in new ways with many doctors, hospitals and health care systems so they get paid for the quality of care, not the quantity of services. We’rereaching out to members earlier to address potential health issues, so they can enjoy more healthy days. We’re emphasizing preventive care and cost-effective treatment locations in our benefit plans. And we’re giving members better online tools to understand their plans, find doctors and hospitals and estimate how much care will cost them. We’re even creating new kinds of health plans, such as our Leap plans that help remove barrier to care for people with chronic conditions. All of these things help hold down costs for people.
That’s not all. You can start by reading what Aetna is doing to build a better health system.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Why do the Wealthy Need Life Insurance?


3 Powerful Secrets the Wealthy Know About Life Insurance

 06/03/2015 03:55 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2016

At my company, we regularly work with high-net-worth individuals and some of these folks have tremendous wealth. Earlier in my career, I would be somewhat intimidated by them because they had amazing stories of success, and they could hop on their private jets and travel anywhere in the world with the same level of ease that the rest of us go to the grocery store.
Yet as time wore on, I started to learn that even the wealthiest people in America are generally down-to-earth folks who have worked very hard to earn their money, build their fortunes and retain their wealth. And just as Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, drove a pickup truck until the day he died, many extremely wealthy people wear jeans, shop for bargains and don’t like to overpay - for anything.
Aside from learning about wealth creation, high-net-worth people can also teach us a great deal about many financial tools, including life insurance.
Lesson One: They have it, even though you may think they don’t need it.Though they may not be living from paycheck to paycheck, high-net-worth individuals still have life insurance. Here’s why:
  1. Liquidity. When someone passes away, their assets may not be easily transferred into cash. The principle holds true for a mansion in the Hamptons or a ranch house in the suburbs. Life insurance enables surviving families to cover costs associated with the death of a loved one — as it may take time to sell the family home or turn other assets into cash that is more easily divided among heirs.
  2. Income replacement. Wealthy folks worry about money too but maybe just on a different scale. How families will continue if a primary bread winner passes away is a relevant concern across all income groups.
  3. Wealth transfer. While the average person may not be considering trust funds for their grandchildren, we all work hard for our money and we hope we can pass down the money we don’t need to our loved ones.
Lesson Two: Financial plans for the future should include life insurance
High-net-worth people consider life insurance a powerful tool that helps them hedge against the knowns and unknowns in life.
It’s true that many wealthy people buy life insurance to help pay future estate taxes: something most of us don’t worry about. The important lesson is that we should all be looking down the road at the future costs that will impact our heirs when we pass away. If you have accumulated a certain amount of wealth, a portion of your estate may be taxable and you may not want your heirs to have to pay extra taxes. If you own a business with a partner, you may want to use insurance to fund a buy/sell arrangement if you pass away unexpectedly. If your family business is reliant upon you in order to survive, perhaps a key-man policy is in order. Life insurance is a tremendous tool that has value far beyond the traditional reasons.
Wealth individuals also recognize that their goals and needs change, so life insurance should be regularly evaluated. Needs change and sometimes better insurance products come along or circumstances change so that coverage should be modified.
Lesson Three: Life insurance is an asset
Savvy and wealthy individuals recognize that life insurance is not just a tool but also an asset. In some instances, it has a precise cash value but always carries an intrinsic value. When a life insurance policy is no longer needed, it can often be sold through a transaction known as a life settlement. This is not an option solely for the super rich but one that any senior or baby boomer with an insurance policy can explore. Holders of whole or term insurance may be eligible to sell a policy on the open market for an immediate cash payout.
While we can’t all expect to join the ranks of high-net-worth Americans, we can employ the same financial tools to protect our personal fortunes and pay for retirement.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Heat Stress in Older Adults

It's June! Time for fun in the sun, but also time to be extra cautious about too much time in the heat... 

Heat Stress in Older Adults

Older adults (that is, people aged 65 years and older) are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:
          • Older adults do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
          • They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
          • They are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Warning signs vary but may include the following:
  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Warning signs vary but may include the following:
  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

You can follow these prevention tips to protect yourself from heat-related stress:
  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages. (If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Also, avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause cramps.)
  • Rest.
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
  • If possible, seek an air-conditioned environment. (If you don't have air conditioning, consider visiting an air-conditioned shopping mall or public library to cool off.)
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • If possible, remain indoors in the heat of the day.
  • Do not engage in strenuous activities.

What You Can Do to Help Protect Older Adult Relatives and Neighbors

If you have older adult relatives or neighbors, you can help them protect themselves from heat-related stress:

  • Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level.
    Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Take them to air-conditioned locations if they have transportation problems.

What You Can Do for Someone With Heat Stress

If you see any signs of severe heat stress, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the affected person. Do the following:
  • Get the person to a shady area.
  • Cool the person rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the person in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the person with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101°–102°F
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the person alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Benefits of Being Happy:

Happier people more likely to live longer...

"We can train ourselves to have more positive emotional qualities like happiness, kindness and mindfulness."

Happier people have an unusual amount of activity in one area of their brains – the left prefrontal cortex, scientists have found. Happier people are more likely to live longer and tend to be healthier, more successful and more socially engaged than people who describe themselves as less happy.
In the field of psychology, there’s been a lot of emphasis on figuring out people’s problems – what causes depression, anxiety or stress. It wasn’t until the 1990s when Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, realized we were missing a big piece of the puzzle. He asked the important question we’d all been missing, “What makes people happy?” It’s because of his question, that Dr. Seligman is considered the founding father of positive psychology.

“If we exercise that part of our brains, just like exercising a muscle, we can train ourselves to have more positive emotional qualities like happiness, kindness and mindfulness,” says Hyong Un, M.D,of Aetna Behavioral Health.

Want to be happier? 

To see for yourself try practicing one, or even all four, of these proven methods suggested by Dr. Un. You might be happy that you did.
1. Savor
Notice the good stuff. Good things happen to all of us, but so often we’re busy rushing through our day that these moments aren’t appreciated. Dr. Fred Bryant, a researcher at Loyola University in Chicago, coined the term “savor.”  He found that people who regularly pause to savor positive moments are more satisfied with life and are happier. You can savor the past, present or the future.
2. Gratitude
According to one study, simply having an attitude of gratitude can increase happiness by 25 percent. Being gracious can lead to optimism and self-confidence, while also deepening our relationships with one another.
3. Optimism
Optimism is linked to increased happiness. People who are optimistic are more likely to tackle their problems and persevere until they meet their goals. This results in increased feelings of success, improved self-esteem and productivity.
4. Generosity
Being generous leads to all kinds of great results. In one study, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky divided participants into two groups. She asked one group to commit five random acts of kindness per week for six weeks. The control group went about their lives as usual. The control group reported back feeling more stressed and less happy. But the random act of kindness group reported a 42 percent increase in their happiness levels.
“Life can throw a lot of curveballs,” Un says. “Positive thinking can’t prevent bad things from happening. But if we are essentially a happy person inside, it can help us make it through the rough spots.”
Brought to you by: Aetna
Read more: https://news.aetna.com/2016/05/happier-people-more-likely-to-live-longer/#.V1cDaI2OklE.facebook