Pink Prevention: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign that raises awareness of breast cancer risks, the importance of screening and early detection, and treatment options available to women and men who are diagnosed with one of several forms of breast cancer. In 2016, an estimated 246,000+ new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women throughout the United States; roughly 2,600 new cases will be diagnosed in men.1 Continue reading

Time for a Heart-to-Heart

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February is Heart Health Month—which raises awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 610,000 Americans die every year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths! Protecting our heart is one of the most important things we can do—if we don’t, we put ourselves at a higher risk for heart disease. On a happier note, heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Continue reading

Financial Literacy Month

financial-literacy-monthApril is Financial Literacy Month – a time to reevaluate and establish better financial habits. There are lots of different areas to consider when it comes to making financial-savvy decisions, such as how you spend money at the grocery store, utilize your health plan, or anything in between.  Don’t get caught up in thinking you need to adjust your entire life to achieve better financial success; simple changes like making gifts instead of buying them or brown bagging your lunch can make a big difference!

To help you get a jump start on improving your financial situation, let’s chat and chew about money-saving tips that will help you now and later in life.

General Tips for Saving Money

  • Budget your way to better habits.  One of the best ways to stay on target with your spending each month is to budget.  If you don’t currently track your expenses, write down what you think you should spend for the month on things like transportation, food, entertainment, etc.—or, use past months’ receipts to see where you’re spending your money.  Not only will you realize how quickly things add up and be able to adjust accordingly, it will help you avoid wasting money and instead allow you to start saving.
  • Set short-term goals.  Savings goals are far less daunting—and easier to accomplish—when you do them in sprints.  Rather than try and save $1,000 a year, start by setting aside $20 a week or $50 a month to save up for a vacation or something you need for the house.  Keeping your eye on the prize is much easier when you have small triumphs along the way.
  • Shop with a list and stick to it.  The easiest way to overspend at the grocery store is to forgo the food list.  Also, never shop hungry!  The reality is, some studies note between 14-25% of the food we bring home from the grocery store ends up in the trash.  Use apps such as Food on the Table to help you plan meals ahead of time and buy only what you know you need on your next grocery-shopping trip.
  • Cancel unused memberships.  There’s nothing more frustrating than having an annual charge show up on your statement for something you not only never used, but also simply forgot you even had.  If you have a Costco or BJ’s membership, make sure you’re shopping there, or use the gym every week to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.  So much money is wasted on things we think might get used one day, when we can simply renew the membership at a later date if it turns out we actually need it.
  • Go generic.  Whether it’s prescription drugs or peanut butter, generic versions are much cheaper and provide the same level of quality as brand name products.
  • Free yourself from admission costs.  Spend time researching free or inexpensive entertainment around your community.  Local newspapers or a quick online search will lead to several options such as low-cost parks, museums, film showings, sporting events, or other places you and your family can enjoy together.

Tips for Compass Rose Health Plan Members

  • Home Delivery:  Save money through our home delivery program by receiving three months of prescriptions for the cost of only two months.  Learn more at www.express-scripts.com/Pharmacy.
  • QuitNet:  Smoking is not only bad for your health, but it is also a very expensive habit.  Get help quitting today—use the free QuitNet program automatically included with your health plan coverage.  Learn more at www.compassrosebenefits.com/QuitSmoking.
  • LabCorp:  Utilize LabCorp and receive 100% coverage for all covered lab work.  Learn more at www.compassrosebenefits.com/LabCorp.
  • Vision and Dental Discounts: Access discounts on dental and vision needs, such as teeth cleanings, x-rays, eye exams, eyeglasses, LASIK and more.  Learn more at www.compassrosebenefits.com/Careington.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate improvements from financial changes you make now – they will definitely affect the future.  Always start small and work your way up to bigger goals.  Share some of your own money-saving tips below to help others fight the same financial fight!

 

Oh, for tooth’s sake.

When it comes to little kids and teeth, the first thing that comes to mind is fun flavored toothpaste and the Tooth Fairy. However, there’s more to that story…

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of oral health. Taking care of your pearly whites is necessary at all ages, but teaching your kids about proper oral care while they’re young is even more essential.

So, let’s chat and chew about simple steps you can take to help your child properly care for his or her teeth.

THE FACTS

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in baby teeth; 21% of those ages 6 to 11 have had cavities in permanent teeth.”   The CDC also says, tooth decay is the most common childhood disease—five times more common than asthma to be exact. It’s also almost entirely preventable.

The root of the problem doesn’t stop there though. Check out this infographic to learn more.

THE TIMELINE

Research shows that good dental habits should start before your child’s first tooth comes in—certainly before the age of two. FamilyDoctor.org suggests, “wiping your baby’s gums with a soft damp cloth after feedings [to help] prevent a buildup of bacteria.” As your child begins to age, they become more susceptible to oral hygiene issues. Don’t delay when it comes to teaching your kids about proper dental health! See the image below for a timeline of your child’s dental health.

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Image source: Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of the Main Line / Bryn Mawr, PA 

THE COLGATE WAY

While the following steps may seem obvious, the facts paint a different picture. Shockingly, young children miss 51 million hours of school each year because of oral disease! So, rather than have your child sit in a dentist chair instead of a desk chair, remember these simple, yet important, reminders provided by Colgate:

  • Brush twice a day for 2 minutes
  • Begin flossing for your child at age 4 / floss on their own by age 8
  • Use dental products (i.e. fluoride)
  • Make sure your child’s drinking water is fluoridated
  • Always take your child to the dentist for regular check-ups (twice per year)
  • Avoid carbonated beverages, which can wear down the enamel on teeth; sport drinks and juice pouches have high acid levels and are also bad for teeth

Maintaining a balanced diet is another key part that is necessary for your child to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth. Chew on these suggestions from WebMD to help protect your child’s teeth.

  • Eat fruits and vegetables. Consider options that have a high volume of water, such as pears, melons, celery, and cucumbers. If your child likes bananas or raisins, always brush right after eating.
  • Say cheese. Eating cheese as a snack or with lunch triggers the flow of saliva, which in turn washes food particles away from teeth. Try cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, or other aged cheeses.
  • Mix-in the sugar. It’s hard to convince a adult, let alone an child, to cut out all snacks. If you plan on giving your child sweets, do it immediately following a meal. Since there is an increased amount of saliva already in your child’s mouth, it will be easier to wash away the sugar.
  • Avoid foods that linger. Foods that tend to overstay their welcome include hard candies, cough drops, and mints. They constantly coat the teeth with sugar, which can lead to tooth decay.
  • Drink milk. Simply put, calcium is essential to build strong teeth.

As with most habits, the younger you start, the more likely you are to stick with them as you grow up. Help your child develop great oral hygiene skills to avoid any long-term, painful, and expensive health issues down the road. In the end, your child will thank you for their million dollar smile!

Compass Rose Health Plan members have access to a Discount Dental & Vision Program through Careington included with coverage. For more information, visit www.compassrosebenefits.com/Careington.  

References:

  1. WebMD
  2. Colgate 
  3. Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of the Main Line
  4. USA TODAY
  5. American Dentist Association

Health Literacy 101

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October is National Health Literacy Month – a time to reflect upon the importance of understanding health care lingo as it pertains to you and your insurance benefits. 

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education (2006), more than 90 million Americans have basic or below-basic skills for handling health information; however, experts also contribute this to the lack of responsibility placed on the organizations and health professionals to provide easily accessible and understandable information.

Poor health literacy has led to higher rates of hospital readmission, misuse of medication(s), poor management of chronic disease, and other complications.  Moreover, research from the University of Connecticut estimates health literacy issues are costing the U.S. economy as much as $238 billion a year!!

If you or someone you know struggles with understanding their health care information, here are a few tips to ensure that communication improves in the future:

  • Prior to any doctor’s appointment, make a list of your symptoms and when they started, as well as any medication you’re currently taking.
  • Always ask questions if something is unclear.
  • Request any necessary contact information in case you have questions or experience problems later on.
  • Ask for written materials in plain language.

Although a significant gap still exists between how health professionals communicate issues and how their patients understand them, more is being done to resolve this matter.  One way is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacyclick here for a plan summary.  

At Compass Rose Benefits Group, we make every effort possible to ensure the information our members receive is clear and concise: 

Health insurance is often a dry and technical topic that can be hard to make sense of, yet health insurance coverage is easily one of the most important things people should know about. From the newsletter to member letters, I strive to ensure that our members understand all of the communications we put out.”

̶ Lindsay V., Communications Coordinator

Compass Rose Benefits Group

Don’t be in the dark when it comes to your health! Can’t find what you need?  Our Member Services Team is only a phone call away – call (866) 368-7227. Or, members can check out the Compass Rose Health Plan brochure’s list of terms, which defines key words used to explain coverage and benefits information.