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August is National Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

August is National Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. While you’re likely focused on back-to-school shopping and planning, this is a reminder to schedule your annual eye exams as well. Eye exams are especially important at a young age, since good eyesight leads to better learning.

How can an eye exam help my child?

Eye exams can identify a number of complications that are easily treated early on. Children’s eye exams can not only tell you if your child needs corrective lenses, but can also spot astigmatisms and “lazy eyes” and correct them.

When should I schedule my child’s first eye exam?

The American Optometric Association (AOA), recommends that a child’s fist eye exam should be at six-months old. At this age, doctors can ensure that your child’s eyes are developing normally.

The AOA suggests school-aged children receive annual examinations, especially outside of school-offered vision screenings. As children grow, their eyes can change quickly, so annual checkups are a great way to spot and track any changes.

How can I pay for my child’s eye exam?

Paying for glasses and contacts can be expensive. However, vision insurance can help cover the costs of eye exams, as well as part of the costs associated with glasses and contacts.


How can I get the most out of my vision insurance?

There are multiple ways to get the most out of your vision insurance aside from scheduling annual checkups. At your checkup, ask to try on glasses so a doctor can give you accurate measurements for your glasses size. Consider buying glasses and contacts online rather than at the eye doctor. Purchasing online is most often the cheaper route, and sites like Warby Parker even offer a free home try on package.

Have questions about vision insurance? We can help! Call (888) 322-7557 or visit our website to speak with a licensed agent who can explain your options.

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Health insurance terms you should know

Have you ever felt intimidated by health care and health insurance terms? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that only about one in 10 people in the U.S. have a proficient level of health literacy. However, understanding health terms can save you time, money, and stress.

That’s why we created a health insurance dictionary including important terms to know. Happy learning!

 

GoHealth’s Health Insurance Dictionary

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Known officially as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the ACA is the healthcare reform legislation signed into law by President Obama is 2010.

Coinsurance

Similar to a copay, but it’s a percentage of the cost you owe to see your doctor, not a set price. Coinsurance can end up costing you more money, because unlike a copay, you don’t know how much any given doctor’s visit could cost. Like copays, coinsurance does not count toward your deductible. However, they both count toward your out-of-pocket maximum.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA)

COBRA is a federal law that enables you to temporarily keep a group insurance plan through your employer should you leave your job or change to part-time hours.

Copay

The set amount of money you pay when you go to the doctor. Your copayment will depend on the type of plan you choose. Copays do not count toward your deductible but they do count toward your out-of-pocket maximum.

Deductible

The amount of money you have to pay out of pocket when you see a doctor before your health insurance starts to help with costs. Your deductible amount will depend on the type of plan you choose. Plans with lower monthly premiums usually have higher deductibles, but plans with higher monthly premiums have lower deductibles. If you anticipate going to the doctor often, a plan with a lower deductible could be in your best interest, since you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket until you reach your deductible. Keep in mind that deductibles reset and can change every year.

Dependents

Dependents are those that receive coverage on their family members plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, dependent coverage for children must be made available until age 26.

Essential health benefits
The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover benefits in ten categories. Non-grand fathered health plans must cover pediatric care, hospitalization, maternity care, newborn care, care for mental health and substance use disorders.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Money that is taken out of your paycheck and put toward an account owned by your employer. This money can only be spent on your health care expenses, but it does not roll over year to year or if you change jobs. Therefore, if you know for certain you will have health care costs this year, this might be an option.

Grandfathered health plans
Health insurance plans that were purchased on or before March 23, 2010. These plans do not have to abide by any provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Health Insurance Marketplace

Otherwise known as the affordable insurance exchange, these exchanges exist at the state and federal levels and allow individuals, families, and small businesses to evaluate their health coverage options and compare plans based on prices and coverage. You can enroll in coverage during Open Enrollment, which happens once per year.

Health insurance plans in the health insurance marketplace are divided into four categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. To find out which type of plan is right for you, visit our website or call (888) 322 – 7557 to speak with a licensed agent.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

Money that is taken out of your paycheck and put toward an account you own that can be spent only on health care expenses. The money taken out of your paycheck is tax-free and can roll over year to year.

In-network provider

A doctor that is approved by your insurance company. You can look online or call your insurance provider to find a doctor in your network. Going to a doctor in your network can save you money, but how much money depends on your plan.

Medicaid
Government-funded health care program that helps provide coverage for individuals and families with low incomes and with disabilities.

Medicare
Federal health care program for people over the age of 65 and younger people with specific disabilities.

Open Enrollment

The time period in which you can choose and sign up for next year’s health insurance. This year, Open Enrollment for coverage in 2018 starts November 1, 2017. Outside of Open Enrollment, the only way you can purchase health insurance is if you’ve had a qualifying life event.

Out-of-pocket maximum

The maximum amount you can spend on health care in a given year. Once you reach your out-of-pocket maximum, you’ll no longer have to pay copays and coinsurances for essential health benefits. However, for non-essential health benefits, the insurance provider might have limits on how much of your care it will cover.

Out-of-network provider

A doctor not in your network. Seeing a doctor outside of your network outside of an emergency may result in higher out-of-pocket costs.

Premium

Your monthly bill for health insurance. To activate your health insurance, you must pay your first premium. Your monthly premium will depend on the type of plan you choose. Failure to make premium payments could result in loss of health coverage.

Preexisting condition
Specific illnesses or conditions that you had prior to purchasing health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans can no longer deny coverage or charge you more due to pre-existing conditions.

Preventive services
Preventive services are services that prevent illness and disease. Preventive services include routine check-ups, mammogram screenings, colonoscopies, blood pressure screenings and certain vaccines. The Affordable Care Act requires that preventive services be 100% covered by your health insurance plan.

Qualifying Life Event

A specific change in your living situation – like getting married, having a child, or losing health insurance – that can make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

Special Enrollment Period

The time outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period where you can sign up for health insurance if you experience a qualifying life event.

Have questions about any of these terms? Visit our GoHealth.com or call (888) 322 – 7557 to speak with one of our experts.

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How to choose between a PPO and HMO health plan

PPO, HMO, POS, EPO… SOS! Understanding health insurance terminology, abbreviations, and deadlines can be overwhelming when trying to choose a health insurance plan. Understanding the details, however, can save you time, money, and stress.

Below, we discuss the differences between the two most popular types of health plans: Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) to help you make an informed decision about which type of health insurance plan is best for you and your family.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

These plans include coverage for both in-network and out-of-network doctors. With a PPO plan, you don’t need to choose a primary care doctor, nor are you required to get a referral in order to see a specialist. While you have the freedom to go to any doctor or clinic, you will likely have to pay more during an out-of-network visit. For this reason, look for doctors and services in your network whenever possible.

PPO plans are generally more expensive because of their flexibility. You will likely pay copayments or an annual deductible with a PPO plan.

 

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) 

These plan require that you choose a primary care doctor who you will have to contact first should you need a referral. This means that if you need to see a specialist, get lab work, or need preventive screenings like colonoscopies and mammograms, you’ll need to go through your primary care doctor first. Emergencies do not require a referral, but typically out-of-network coverage is not covered by HMO plans.

HMO plans typically have less out-of-pocket costs and lower deductibles, as well as lower costs for prescription drugs and office visit co-pays. However, keep in mind that if you see a doctor or go to a clinic that is not in your network, you will have to pay for every expense out-of-pocket.

Do you still have questions or are you unsure which plan is right for you and your family? You can call (888) 322-7557 to speak to a licensed agent or visit gohealth.com for more information.

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Three of the most popular travel insurance options for 2017

Are you planning a big trip in the near future? Before you get preoccupied booking hotels, Airbnb’s, airfare and sight-seeing activities, it may be worth your time to look into your travel insurance options as well. Whether you’re going across the country or across the world, having travel insurance could save you money should your travel itinerary change before or during your trip. Below, we take a look at some of the most popular travel insurance options for 2017.

 

Baggage/Personal Item Loss and Delay

Whether you’re traveling with designer clothing, expensive camera equipment or memorable gifts, having baggage and personal item loss insurance can cover lost, stolen or damaged personal items. However, it’s important to remember that this type of insurance is often included in travel insurance policies or by your airline, so do some research before you purchase additional coverage.

Trip Cancellation

Trip cancellation insurance can reimburse you for flights, hotels and more should you need to cancel your trip altogether. However, it’s important to read the details of your trip cancellation policy because there are some reasons trip cancellation will not cover you. Regardless, it’s better to pay a little extra to be safe rather than sorry.

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation

Traveling to a tropical destination that may be prone to natural disasters? If you’re the adventurous type, you could benefit from having medical evacuation and repatriation insurance. This insurance covers transportation costs to appropriate medical treatment or your return home in the event of an emergency.

 

If you’re wondering when to purchase travel insurance, research says the best time to buy is between 10-14 days before you take off. Curious if travel insurance is right for your upcoming trip? Visit gohealth.com or call (888) 322-7557 to talk through your best options with a licensed agent.

 

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5 Simple Tips for Healthy Travel

by Elyse Janikian

Whether you’re staying local, or going cross country for a getaway, travel often has a way of bringing your health and fitness streak to a halt. The purpose for travel is to escape everyday life, whether that is lounging in your hotel room for some quiet time, or indulging in local foods. So you might be asking: “What is the point in trying to stay healthy on vacation anyway?” Here are some easy ways to keep your health and fitness streak strong, no matter where you go.

1: BEFORE YOU LEAVE, HIT THE GYM

While it’s easy to skip gym sessions you planned a few days before vacation, sticking to your routine before vacation could allow you to slack off while you’re away! Try spending an extra 30 minutes in the gym to make up for some additional downtime you might take in the days to follow. Fueling your body with exercise, hydration and healthy food before you leave will allow you to indulge once you’re on vacation.

2: RESEARCH HEALTH & FITNESS OPTIONS IN YOUR DESTINATION CITY

Find out if the hotel or Airbnb you booked has an onsite gym or workout room. Does the area you are staying in have any outdoor fitness activities nearby? Does the room come stocked with any sort of snacks? If you are staying in a hotel or Airbnb with a kitchen, stop at a local market and buy fresh, local food to avoid junk food temptations. This is also a great way to save money!

3: FOOD PREP

While meal prepping is something many people do to save time during the work week, prepping snacks for vacation is a great way to save money and stay healthy. Try packing a bag of almonds or protein bars ahead of time for a long day of air travel.

4: BRING THE GYM WITH YOU

Even if your hotel has a gym, there’s a chance it could be small, crowded, or not stocked with the workout equipment you’re used to. To avoid these obstacles, bring a small bag with some exercise bands, light weights, or a yoga mat. Bringing the gym with you allows you to work out wherever and whenever you can.

5: TAKE IT ALL IN

Health and fitness aside, you are on vacation! Take in all the city has to offer. If certain places on your list are nearby, walk there instead of taking public transportation. Even though it might be faster to order an Uber, walking to your destination allows you to stumble upon some places you may have not planned on seeing (this also is a great way to come across local markets and food).

 

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National UV safety month: What you need to know about UV rays

Summer is arguably the best of the four seasons: warmer weather, longer days, and shorter work hours (if you’re lucky) make for more time outside and in the sun. Whether you’re at the pool, the beach, or going for a run in the sun, it’s important to know how to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.

Did you know that July is National UV Safety Month? Ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes from the sun and is invisible to the human eye. However, it is responsible for both sun tans and sunburns. Knowing UV levels and what they mean for your skin could save you from a sunburn or skin cancer down the road.

UV rays are measured on a scale of 0 to 11+. The strongest UV possible is ranked at 11 or above. UV rays are strongest in the summertime between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. UV strength also increases in higher elevations. Unlike the sun, UV rays can easily pass through some types of clouds, so it’s important to protect your skin even on cloudy days.

The amount of UV a person is exposed to depend on the strength of the UV rays, the length of time spent in the sun, and whether the skin is protected. If you plan on spending time in the sun this summer, get familiar with the UV index scale. You can check the UV index at any time on your weather app or on your local weather channel’s website.

Read more health education on our blog and Facebook.

 

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Why following the Mediterranean diet is better than a quick-fix cleanse

With trendy diets and cleanses widely available and advertised online, a healthy diet with lasting results can be hard to find. Diets that promise extreme weight loss or cleanses that promote great skin rarely produce lasting results. In fact, drastically cutting calories or drinking vegetables for a week could leave you with nutritional deficiencies and negatively impact your weight and your skin. For weight loss and a healthier body, you should choose a diet or lifestyle that is manageable and not restrictive.

If you want to be healthier, prevent disease, and lose weight, try the Mediterranean diet. In recent studies, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, depression and heart attacks. In addition, the Mediterranean diet is said to promote a longer life and is relatively easy to follow.

So, what can I eat?

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes a heavy intake of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, nuts, fish and seafood, herbs and spices, and red wine in moderation. In addition, the diet recommends exercising often and portion control. You can find the recommended portions of each food group online.

What can’t I eat?

The Mediterranean diet doesn’t restrict food groups entirely, but encourages limiting foods like butter, red meat, and sweets. All and all, the Mediterranean diet models the saying: “everything in moderation.”

The Mediterranean diet is proof that eating a well-rounded diet can be healthier than any quick cleanse or strict diet. Would you try the Mediterranean diet? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Why healthy people should have health insurance

Accidents happen. Even if you are a healthy, young individual who rarely goes to the doctor, you can’t predict the unpredictable. You can however, make sure you are covered in the event of an accident or unexpected illness. Paying for coverage now is a small price to pay should you end up needing to see a doctor or go to the hospital in the future. Below, we outline the major benefits of getting health insurance, even if you’re healthy now.

Access to free preventive care and primary care

Under the current health care law, annual checkups, as well as preventive care such as mammograms, contraceptives, vaccinations, cancer screenings, and more, must be covered by your health insurance provider. Routine checkups can help find and treat health issues in their early stages or even before they start. Without health insurance, these free services could cost thousands out of pocket, and health problems could go undiagnosed.

Affordable peace of mind

A common reason young adults forgo health insurance is that they believe they can’t afford it. However, based on your income, you may be eligible for tax credits, lower premiums, and lower out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, there are different types of Obamacare plans that can get you the coverage you need at a lower cost. Paying monthly premiums for your health insurance could cost thousands of dollars less than paying for an unexpected medical bill without health insurance.

Responsibility – and the law

Lastly, it’s important to remember that the Affordable Care Act is still the law, and most individuals are required to have health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance coverage, you may have to pay a tax penalty.

Open Enrollment is just a few months away, so now is the time to start planning which type of coverage is best for you. If you have questions, visit gohealth.com or call (888) 322-7557 to speak with a licensed agent.

 

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The freelancer’s guide to health insurance

by Brooke Jarchow

Freelancing might seem like a dream: setting your own hours, choosing your own projects and working from home. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss?

However, a major advantage to working in a salaried position is having access to employer-sponsored benefits like health insurance. While freelancers may have more flexibility in their schedules as opposed to salaried employees, they also have to figure out health insurance on their own.

Paying for health insurance on your own can be costly, but fortunately, the benefits provided by health plans often outweigh going uninsured when it comes to cost. In addition, if you’re a freelancer, your schedule may allow you to use your health plan in ways a salaried employee might not be able to. Below, we outline benefits and tips to remind freelancers why finding health insurance doesn’t have to be difficult.

Get free preventive care

Health insurance plans cover the costs of preventive care, including an annual physical, contraceptives, some vaccinations, and routine screenings. Without health insurance, an annual physical could cost as much as $200 dollars. Consider this: Can you really afford this cost on your own without coverage?

Use online resources

Most health insurance plans allow you to access your medical information online. In addition, you can set up auto-payments, book appointments, and access help online. These tools can save you time and prevent you from accidentally missing a payment.

Some health insurance plans offer telemedicine services, as well. If you’re unsure if you need to see a doctor, you can pick up the phone and speak to your primary care doctor without leaving your home. Keep in mind that some prescriptions can be refilled over the phone and some conditions can be diagnosed and treated without ever leaving your home.

Schedule appointments at off-times

With your flexibility as a freelancer, you can avoid scheduling appointments at peak times, when most people who work a 9 to 5 job wouldn’t necessarily have this luxury. You’ll likely have to wait less time to be seen by a doctor if you schedule during mid-morning or mid-afternoon when most people are at work.

Ask questions about treatment and medications

A major way to save at the doctor’s office or at the hospital regardless of your health plan is by asking questions. All too often, people assume the treatment they are receiving is necessary and fail to ask for a cheaper alternative. Ask your doctor how the results of any test, surgery, or exam might change your treatment. Remember, you can decline treatments that will not impact your condition, and you can decline equipment such as slings, braces, and wheelchairs. Most equipment can be purchased outside of a doctor’s office for much less money. In addition to asking questions about your treatment, asking your doctor about medications can save you money, as well. Keep in mind that generic medications are often less expensive than name brands and may be covered under some health plans.

Do you have questions about health insurance? Visit gohealth.com or call (888) 322-7557 to speak with a licensed agent today.

 

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Health insurance options for recent college grads

by Brooke Jarchow

Recent graduates face many challenges as they enter the real world, including looking for their first jobs and moving out of their parents’ homes. So, while recent college graduates don’t need additional responsibilities, there’s one more thing all of them should focus on: getting health insurance.

While having health insurance may not seem like a high priority, it could protect you financially in the event of an accident or unexpected illness. Additionally, having health insurance allows you to get preventive care, like contraceptives for little to no cost.

Luckily, young adults graduating from school have options. But if you have multiple health plan options, which one should you choose? While there’s no universal solution for everyone, we outline helpful guidelines below.

Stay on your parent’s plan

Under the Affordable Care Act, you can stay on your parents’ plan until age 26 and receive all of the plan’s benefits. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey in 2015, this was the most common type of coverage for young adults.

Get coverage through your employer

Employer-sponsored plans are another common type of coverage for young adults. One benefit of choosing employer-sponsored coverage rather than staying on your parents’ plan includes privacy. If you stay on your parents’ plan, the policyholders typically receive insurance notices that may describe your medical care and treatments you received. If you prefer this information be kept private, electing a plan through your employer may be the right choice for you. Another benefit of employer-sponsored coverage over your parents’ plan is that there might be a higher likelihood of finding doctors and hospitals nearby that are in your plan’s provider network. If you moved to a new state, it could be difficult to find doctors in your parents’ network.

If you are not on your parents’ plan and employer-sponsored coverage isn’t an option, you can consider the Marketplace. You can shop for different types of coverage during Open Enrollment or if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

There is also the possibility that you qualify for Medicaid. If you don’t have a job or if you earn a certain level of income, you could qualify for Medicaid, which provides comprehensive coverage at lower costs. In addition, there’s no Open Enrollment period for Medicaid.

We recognize that every situation is different and are prepared to help you find the coverage you need. If you have questions or if you would like more information about which type of coverage is right for you, visit gohealth.com or call (888) 322-7557 to speak with a licensed agent today.

 

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