Back To School Health Tips

It’s that time of year again where the kids are headed back to school and you may be making doctors appointments left and right. Not only do you have to get the immunization shots before starting school but germs seem to spread faster than ever in the classroom. We’ve put together some of the top back to school tips to keep your kids healthy this year.

  • Don’t forget the immunizations. Most districts will not let students start the year off if they are not up to date on all of their medical vaccinations. Check your insurance policy to make sure that the vaccinations are covered by your plan and set up an appointment with your primary care physician or pediatrician.
  • Get to know the school nurses or the teachers if your child has a medical needs. This will ensure that your child takes the required medications throughout the school day and makes the school staff aware of the situation. This includes informing any teachers, staff, or students of any dietary restrictions like peanut allergies that could affect the child’s health.
  • Set up an eye appointment. Going to the eye doctor each August is a great way to start off the year and make sure you child’s vision is in OK. Vision changes with age so it’s important to have a routine check up.
  • Pack tissues and hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack. This will help them clean up quickly after kickball or a physical education class.
  • Make sure to prepare balanced, nutritious meals for your child which will help classroom performance, boost immunity, and impact everyday activities. Nutrition is extremely important as childhood obesity is on the rise. Help your child make the right choices when deciding on snacks and healthier options.
  • Make certain that your child gets eight hours of sleep. This is the recommended amount of sleep for proper growth. Sleep may also affect classroom behavior, extracurricular activities, and overall health. Sleep since this is a key ingredient to preventing health issues later in the school year.

What other back to school health tips do you have? Share them with us in the comments below.

 

 

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What is the Benefit of Purchasing Vision Insurance?

Vision Insurance is a policy that offers coverage or discounts on eye exams, glasses, contacts, eye procedures, and more. Almost 40% of Americans over 40 who are visually impaired do not routinely get eye exams because they either don’t think it’s necessary or do not have coverage. Vision insurance is a supplement to your regular health insurance policy that can help reduce the cost of regular eye exams which can add up year over year. It is an important benefit to consider if you have degenerative eye diseases in your family history or experience changes in your vision.

Where can I obtain Vision Insurance?

Vision Insurance is sometimes offered as an additional health benefit by an employer. If it’s not covered under your employee benefits package, you can get an individual policy through most plans. It is often covered on indemnity health insurance plans where policyholders can access medical providers of their choice. In addition, it is usually seen as an added benefit on most HMOs and PPOs that have partnerships with vision care provider networks to offer eye care services. The top five largest provider networks for Vision Insurance include: EyeMed Vision Care, VSP Vision Care, Davis Vision Inc., OptumHealth Vision and United Healthcare Vision, and Cigna Corp.

What does Vision Insurance cover?

  • Routine eye exams
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Eyeglass lenses
  • Contact lenses
  • Discounts on sunglasses (prescription)
  • Discounts on contact fittings
  • Discounted rates for eye surgeries including LASIK and PRK

What is the Cost of Vision Insurance?

Vision Insurance packages can vary depending on the services you want covered. Most plans include the basic benefits listed above. Typically a vision package is anywhere from $100-$200 for individuals. That annual premium usually covers the full eye exam (after the $15 co-pay). Benefits include covered eyeglass lenses after the $25 co-pay and up to $120 to be used on contact lenses or eyeglass frames (including the fitting). Discounts of 20-25% on lenses options or  an extra pair of glasses/sunglasses are also typically included.

Do you have questions regarding Vision Insurance? Give us a call if you think this may be a good benefit to add to your health package and we’ll help you find the best plan for you, your employees, or your family.

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California Signs 90 Day Waiting Period

California originally had a 60 day waiting period in order for employees to be eligible to receive health benefits. However, confusion spurred amongst employees because this was not in line with the 90 day waiting period established by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. In order to better comply with the federal exchange, Governor Jerry Brown signed a piece of legislation stating that California will now move forward with a 90 day waiting period.

What does this mean for employees?

  • Employees in California will now have to wait a maximum of 90 days before receiving health benefits compared to the previous 60 day maximum waiting period
  • New employees may have to wait longer to get access to employee sponsored healthcare

What does this mean for employers?

  • Employers have up to 90 days to provide health benefits to employees

Did California make any other changes?

According to California Healthline, while other federal insurance exchanges gained carriers, Covered California lost a few smaller ones including Ventura County Health Plan, Alameda Alliance, and Contra Costa Health Plan. This leaves California with 10 carriers. However, the big four carriers represent 95% of the participants. While 10 carriers would be enough for some states, 10 is minimal for California. The dilemma involves less choices for participants residing in areas with less access to medical facilities. The fewer carriers, the harder it is for these participants to have access to affordable health care.

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IRS Breaks Law Under the ACA

As mentioned in a previous post this month, the D.C. Circuit Court was looking at the Halbig v. Burwell case which looks into the issue of whether premium subsidies should be authorized on the federal exchange in states where the government set up the insurance marketplace. The court has now made a decision.

What’s the verdict?

The court has ruled that “an exchange established by the State means an exchange established by the State.” Therefore, according to the language in the Affordable Care Act, the government cannot legally give premium subsidies to states that did not develop their own state run exchange. However, individuals and families enrolled in Obamacare have been receiving federal subsidy premiums both from state run exchanges and from states where the government set up their exchange.

What am I missing?

The ACA was intentionally written in a way to entice lawmakers and governors to set up their own state run insurance marketplace. Jonathon Gruber is one of the experts in Obamacare and helped write the law. It was purposefully written so that states would understand that if they didn’t set up their own exchanges, there would be billions of dollars at stake and their constituents would not receive benefits like subsidies.

What happened next?

The advocates of the ACA did not predict that the law would be so unpopular among so many Americans and that nearly 40 states would revolt against the government and refuse to establish their own insurance marketplace. Now, the White House has attempted to protect the Democratic lawmakers by ignoring this main clause in the ACA. They have ignored the wording stating that the federal government will not give premium subsidies to states that do not set up their own exchange in order to protect the millions of Americans that would not receive subsidies. The IRS has been ignoring and breaking the law by giving premium subsidies to states without their own exchanges.

How does this affect you?

The legal review of the ACA may now go to the Supreme Court. The IRS has not complied with the law and people received premiums and tax credits even though they legally were not entitled to them. Thus, these individuals and families may lose those premiums and tax credits and be forced to pay more for health coverage.

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Vision Care on Covered California Marketplace

California lawmakers will be considering an option for vision care on the marketplace. The California Vision Care Council Act is a bill that seeks to make eye care accessible on the California marketplace. This would enable more individuals, families, and employers to have access to vision benefits and options.
How will would this marketplace work? The marketplace would operate through a trust funded by vision care providers so there wouldn’t be mandated contributions from California. The marketplace would have a set number of plans from participating carriers. Qualified individuals and employers could then purchase a vision plan from those participating carriers though a facilitator on the marketplace (such as licensed insurance agents).

How will this impact employee benefits?

  • Employers may have an opportunity to offer more robust benefits with vision included on the Affordable Care Act. Thus, they are giving their employees more access to other services.

Covered California currently only offers dental and vision coverage for children. These added benefits would be supplemental plans for adults. Still, the timing is not determined.

Overall, this bill could have a positive impact on the small to medium size business community. Vision care is not always needed or sponsored by employers but this would give people the option to get the coverage they needed. It provides more value to the employee.

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