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1306, 2021

Executive Order Extends Open Enrollment

By |June 13th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

On January 28, 2021 President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order to, among other things, create a special open enrollment period on the Healthcare Marketplace. This special enrollment period is enabling those who could not enroll previously. The previous enrollment period was to run from February 15, 2021 until May 15, 2021.  Then in March, President Biden announced an extension to the special enrollment period that extended until August 15, 2021. This allows more people to enroll or to update their application to partake of additional subsidies. In this article, we review the changes that Joe Biden made with his executive order.

Special Enrollment Facts

It is worth noting that the Special Enrollment period applies to all states participating in the federal health insurance marketplace. States that have their own health insurance marketplace can set their own special enrollment period. If you are currently participating in or applying for coverage under your state’s marketplace, please make a note of the state-specific deadline and coverage effective dates. This will help you submit your application in time.

As of the first week of April, over 500,000 people have signed up for coverage under the special enrollment period. This number demonstrates a higher rate of enrollment through the marketplace than the last two years. Of those who have enrolled and have provided their race, there was also a demonstrable increase in the number of minority enrollees.

American Recovery Act of 2021

Effective in March, additional subsidies have been approved for the federal marketplace. These subsidies allow for many Americans to obtain a higher tier health insurance plan at a lower premium. The special enrollment period was extended as a result of this Act to allow for a greater number of people to apply who could not qualify for enough subsidies in the past. These people found that they were now eligible for subsidies that made health insurance more affordable. Those who already had health insurance coverage through the marketplace can apply for these subsidies under the special enrollment period. Simply resubmit your application in the exchange before August 15. If you qualify for the additional subsidies, your insurance premiums will adjust accordingly.

Polls estimate that more than half of currently uninsured Americans can find quality health insurance coverage at little or no cost under the American Recovery Act of 2021. To find out if you qualify, go to healthcare.gov and start your application today. You can begin an application at any time during the open enrollment period with no obligation to select a plan. However, under the American Recovery Act, many people are finding that health insurance coverage is possible and affordable for them and their families. Keeping you and your family healthy is a top priority. With a newly selected health insurance plan, that dream can become a reality at little to no cost out of pocket. See what you can qualify for today.

606, 2021

ARPA and COBRA Coverage

By |June 6th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

Effective in March of 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 provides additional subsidies to those who are seeking health insurance coverage. One of ARPA’s major provisions is the changes to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) coverage. COBRA provides a way for recently terminated employees to maintain their existing employer-sponsored health insurance plan. While COBRA can be beneficial, many find that maintaining their coverage without assistance from their employer can be quite costly. This is one of many things that the American Rescue Plan Act addresses.

Subsidies

Under ARPA, employers subject to COBRA mandates must provide 100% subsidized COBRA coverage between April 1 and September 30, 2021. There are some stipulations and additional details that determine whether or not an employer must provide this coverage. If you are an employer, it is essential that you follow up with your business attorney, the Department of Labor, and the IRS to determine what subsidies, if any, you must provide. Some states have additional COBRA requirements. If your business is not subject to federal COBRA statutes but falls under state COBRA laws, this also affects you. Once again, it is critical that your follow up with the necessary institutions to determine your responsibilities.

Who Does it Cover

If an employer is subject to these subsidies, then those who are covered include any qualifying plan participants who have lost coverage due to reduction of hours or involuntary termination of employment. If the termination of employment was the result of gross misconduct, then this does not apply.  Employees whose COBRA election period ended before April 1, 2021 are still eligible to apply under ARPA. That is, as long as they were eligible for COBRA coverage and would have received coverage during some portion of the 6-month subsidy period (April 1-September 30, 2021).

Additionally, those who previously declined COBRA coverage or elected another plan then terminated are also eligible under the American Rescue Plan Act. What this plan does not do is extend the maximum COBRA coverage period, which is 18 months. This means that there are some people who may initially be eligible for the extended enrollment period. However, their 18-month coverage period expires before September 30, 2021. This means they will not be eligible to enroll for the entire 6-month subsidy period.

Business Tax Credits

If your business is responsible for these COBRA subsidies, the business can claim them on quarterly payroll tax filings. Any amount that exceeds the taxes owed is overpayment and the government will refund it to the business. In addition, employers can seek repayment in advance of these tax credits if the subsidies probably will exceed tax owed. The IRS needs to provide additional guidance on how to apply for this tax credit advance payment.

2805, 2021

Sleeping Problems and Health Risks

By |May 28th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

All of us have had days where we struggled to sleep and made do with a cup of coffee instead. However, when this becomes a pattern, there may be more at risk than a groggy day on the job. Insomnia and other sleeping problems can interfere with your day, but they can also be signs of more serious underlying conditions. Additionally, the longer you suffer from poor sleep, the greater your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes or contracting cardiovascular disease.

Long Term Risks

Sleep is an essential part of the body’s natural healing process. Lacking sleep puts us under stress. Perhaps because of this, when we aren’t able to get sleep, our bodies produce stress hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol can cause the liver to release glucose into the blood. If this happens for an extended period, your body can develop insulin resistance, leading to Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that changes over time. The longer a restless state persists, the more glucocorticoids like cortisol continue thriving in your blood, the worse the condition can become. Poor sleep can even interfere with treatments for diabetes because of the effects it has on the body’s hormonal levels.

The hormones released can also stimulate appetite, which can cause overeating and weight gain, which also increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes. This can also present a risk for sleep apnea over time, which further complicates rest and feeds into a cycle of declining health.

Sleep deprivation also harms the immune system, which weakens the body’s ability to fight germs. Sleep is when your body produces most of its antibodies and cytokines, which are essential parts of the immune system. High blood pressure risk also presents itself, and people with poor sleep are more prone to accidents and memory issues.

Neglecting to get treatment for sleep issues can cause or worsen these conditions – And many more. Depression, anxiety, a wide range of conditions can be affected by sleep because it is essential to our body’s function.

Getting Better Rest

Healthy adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble getting this much sleep, it is a sign that a visit to the doctor may be necessary. It is essential to recognize and address any sleeping problems before more issues manifest. This recognition is critical to beginning treatment. Frequently, a poor sleeping schedule won’t go away on its own.

While getting treatment and arranging appointments with a sleep specialist is essential, there are certain things that you can do to help make the process of falling asleep easier. Avoiding afternoon naps or caffeine after the middle of the day can help prevent snacking near bedtime.

Set your alarm every day – Even on days off – to prevent oversleeping, as oversleeping can also have a negative impact on your health and dramatically disturbs your ability to fall asleep regularly. Try to keep your bed sacred – Nightly reading, television, or cellphone and electronic device usage can make the bed a place of wakeful activity and make it harder to fall asleep. The blue light of electronics also stimulates wakefulness, and avoiding it can go a long way to falling asleep easier.

Being active during the daytime will also help your body produce hormones that help you fall asleep. Working in at least twenty minutes of exercise daily helps your body fall asleep at appropriate times. All these things can help you sleep better and live healthier.

In Conclusion

Chronic sleeplessness and other sleeping problems should always be brought up to your doctor. While healthy personal habits can contribute to a healthy sleep cycle, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to ensure that your trouble sleeping hasn’t contributed to any more significant health concerns.

2105, 2021

Gardening as a Physical Activity

By |May 21st, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

For many adults and seniors, gardening becomes a lifestyle very quickly. With the growing season approaching, there is no better time to consider how a garden can improve your health and well-being. Whether you intend to grow food or plant beautiful flowers to increase your home’s loveliness, you will find that gardening is a low-impact way to stay active that doesn’t have to feel like work. Getting out and enjoying the sun and fresh air can do wonders for your muscles, your cardiovascular system, and your mood.

Muscles and Flexibility

One of the first things you might notice about maintaining a garden is the strength required to move baskets of weeds and goods around your plot. It should never be rigorous, but it will prove to be more than enough to maintain and build on your strength.

Rather than moving single items, it may be beneficial for your muscles to wait until you have a load that’s challenging to move but still workable. Be sure to exercise moderation, as well! Though your goal is to grow stronger, there is no need to strain yourself, split very challenging jobs – Such as moving heavy bags of fertilizer – Into manageable chunks, making sure to lift heavy loads with your legs and not your back.

When shoveling or raking, be sure to switch hands often to ensure your entire body is used rather than allowing yourself to favor and over-develop – And possibly strain – One side over the other. Be sure to take breaks between tasks to allow your muscles time to settle, as well.

Make sure to stretch as you rest with smooth and controlled movements. Don’t bounce when stretching, and avoid pushing yourself so hard you pull a muscle. Hold stretched positions before slowly returning to your resting position for the best effect. Over time, you will increase the amount you stretch as your flexibility and muscle health improve.

Cardiovascular Health

Exercise is essential to keeping your heart healthy – this almost goes without saying we hear it so often. Gardening is no exception. As gardening is an activity done close to home, it is a great time to test yourself and see how far you can take each activity. Walking, shoveling, pulling weeds, raking – Many of the repetitive motions of gardening work the heart into shape and can increase your heart rate and use up your calories.

At first, it may be hard to keep up with your planned activity, but the more you do it, the more the muscles in your heart will develop. This is true even for seniors, who often have difficulty developing their aging muscles. However, the longer you stick with your routine of gardening and maintaining your daily activities, the longer your heart will be able to keep you going without needing rest. It is crucial, however, to take a measured approach to increase your endurance as well. If you feel faint, find a shady place to rest until you can catch your breath, and call your healthcare provider if you cannot do so on your own.

Mood

Interacting with nature helps to increase mood, reduce anger and stress, and increase self-esteem. As you successfully maintain a beautiful garden, you will have more in your life to be happy about. Working with water especially seems to have therapeutic effects when gardening. Working with a garden and keeping a mindful journal has also been demonstrated to reduce depression levels in adults.

By safely and mindfully tending a garden, you can take better care of your body and mind. Be sure to talk to a doctor before starting any new physical routine, and make sure you are healthy enough to begin gardening. Though it may prove challenging at first, the health benefits are numerous enough that it’s worth your time to talk about.

1405, 2021

Breast Cancer: Know Your Risk

By |May 14th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

Knowing the warning signs and lifestyle risks associated with breast cancer can save not only your life but also the life of a friend or loved one if you can recognize the symptoms in them. Even outside of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, healthcare providers are quick to remind women of the importance of screenings through mammograms. Equally important is being aware of your risk factors and staying consistent with your screenings. In this article, join NHIA as we explore the most essential components of breast cancer awareness: knowing and mitigating your risks.

Knowing Your Risks

An unfortunate reality is that some genes can make somebody more prone to developing breast cancer than others. Suppose you have already been diagnosed with a type of cancer before turning 50 years old. In that case, if your family has a history of developing cancer, or if someone in your family has developed multiple cancers, you may be at a higher risk than average.

Genes play a significant role in determining our risk factors for cancer. Some people have a much higher chance of developing it than others, which is why knowing your personal risk factors is so important. Asking your healthcare provider about taking a genetic test is one tool that can help determine these risk factors. As much as 10% of cancer cases are due to genes, as you get a mammogram, be sure to inquire about a genetic assessment.

You will want to speak with your primary care provider about long-term risks and develop a personal wellness plan as well. In general, women over 40 should begin talking to their providers about when and how often to get screened. If any women in your family have suffered through breast cancer, consider starting those talks much sooner.

Managing Your Risks

Besides genetics, numerous things help mitigate your risk of developing cancer based on behaviors and habits. The American Cancer Society has several guidelines about how to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer.

It would be best if you avoid smoking. Smoking contributes to lung and mouth cancers and other forms of tissue cancers in the body, including breast cancer. Smoking for more than ten years can increase the risk of developing cancer by over 20%. Among the many reasons to avoid tobacco, breast cancer is one of the largest.

Regular exercise is also essential. Around three hours of light exercise per week, or half that much time of vigorous exercise, helps to reduce your risk of developing cancer compared to those who live a less active lifestyle. Consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and maintaining a generally healthy diet that is low in calories also reduces your chances of developing breast cancer. Sweetened foods and fatty, salty foods can also contribute to risk as adipose (fatty) tissue multiplies and can be prone to cancerous developments.

As you go through menopause, maintaining your optimal weight and avoiding lengthy hormone treatments further reduces your breast cancer risk.

In Conclusion

It would help if you were talking to your doctor about breast cancer. Even living a life free of external risk factors cannot eliminate risk enitrely. Medical experts estimate that one in every eight women will develop breast cancer. Early diagnosis is the key to survival. Survival rates continue to climb as patients work closer than ever with medical experts to catch and stop breast cancer. This is why establishing a screening schedule is so important to do as soon as possible.

705, 2021

Common Arthritis Myths

By |May 7th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

Arthritis is an unfortunately common part of growing old; as many as a quarter of all adults in America have arthritis. One would hope that information about easing the pain would be just as standard as common as it is. Unfortunately, there is a wealth of misinformation and unhelpful folk remedies. Telling facts from fiction can be tricky, but NHIA is here to help. Read on to learn the truth behind the most common arthritis myths.

Common Arthritis Myths

1) Vaccines Cause Arthritis

This is perhaps one of the most damaging arthritis myths. As people speculate about conventional medicine, vaccines are blamed for an increasing number of problems. There is no evidence that vaccinations cause arthritis. The most common cause of arthritis is simple wear and tear on the cartilage that cushions the space between bones, causing the bone to grind against bone, resulting in pain and hindered movement.

2) Young People Can’t Get arthritis

Wear and tear is not the only way that bodies develop arthritis. The damage can build up over time, but it can also present after an injury that damages the cartilage. Even in the absence of an injury, arthritis can develop in young people as arthritis affects people of all ages.

3) Acetaminophen Doesn’t Work on Arthritis

Following the instructions on the packaging and taking acetaminophens – Such as Tylenol – Can relieve many arthritis pain cases. Aspirins such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, etc.) can negatively impact the kidneys and blood pressure when taken over a long period. Even taking acetaminophen regularly is safe and can have long-term positive effects on arthritis.

4) Most Cases of Arthritis Require Surgery

Surgery is a rare treatment for severe arthritis and is considered a last resort when all other treatments have failed. Diet and exercise are often able to diminish the effects of arthritis entirely or reduce its severity. The immune system is strengthened by eating foods rich in vitamin D or taking a vitamin D supplement. This reduced inflammation can make arthritis symptoms less painful.

Processed, salty, and fried foods can increase inflammation and make the problem worse by causing the body to retain water. Even losing weight can help reduce the pain of arthritis, and your doctor can help recommend a diet – Such as the Mediterranean diet – which will help reduce inflammation and ease arthritis pains. Omega-3 fatty acids in foods such as fish (like salmon), avocado, or supplements also help to reinforce cartilage and prevent your bones from grinding together. Tumeric powder and accessories also help to strengthen your cartilage.

Aside from diet and exercise, options can be limited – But don’t discount the effect that a healthy diet and active lifestyle can have on easing your pain. Start with a little at a time, and ease yourself into a new dietary and physical routine.

5) Arthritis Can be Cured by Wearing a Brace

Braces and splints for too long immobilize joints and lead to inflammation, making arthritis pains worse. Diet and exercise are a much better options.

6) Arthritis is Another Name for Fibromyalgia

The pain can be similar, but the two conditions affect different parts of the body. The joints are affected by arthritis, while fibromyalgia affects the nervous system.

Straightforward Steps To Reduce Pain

As discussed, formulating a healthy diet and exercise plan can help set you on the path to easing long-term arthritis pain. Acetaminophen can help reduce inflammation as your body adjusts to your new routines, and the pain can be managed in a variety of ways from a variety of sources. As your health improves, so will your symptoms related to pain.

Taking vitamin D supplements will help your immune system better reduce swelling that contributes to the pain, and exercising in a way that helps you lose weight will help your body function more smoothly. As anyone can get arthritis, it is crucial to know how to prevent the symptoms and manage them when they do appear.

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