Helpful Tips to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

At Marketplace Agency and Elder Care Associates, we have been providing the greater Harrisonburg area with high quality health insurance coverage. We are committed to providing you with the highest quality customer service that the industry has to offer, and our professional agents work hard to help you find a plan that perfectly fits the needs of you and your family. For more information about our health care insurance services, contact Marketplace Agency and Elder Care Associates today!

With the holidays almost here, one of the biggest things to be conscious of is staying healthy as you gather with friends, family and other loved ones. In this blog, we will look at just a handful of things that you can do to ensure that you stay healthy this holiday season. Read on to discover more!

Wash Your Hands

With the holidays comes the many gatherings that we will host and attend. Friends and family come from far distances to spend time with us all, and with all this meeting, greeting, dining and laughing comes germs. Surely you can’t stop others from getting sick, but you can do many things to ensure that you stay healthy, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to make sure that you’re washing your hands on a semi-regular basis. All the handshakes and highfives add up, and with flu season coinciding with the holidays, it’s very easy to get sick just by attending and hosting gatherings. Washing your hands before you eat, after greeting people and before and after using the restroom will greatly cut down on the amount of germs you are exposed to and transmit. Remember, though, we said to wash your hands semi-regularly, as washing your hands too much can actually wear down your immunity to germs and viruses and actually increase your chance of getting sick. Be mindful, but don’t go overboard.

Try to Reduce Stress

One of the unfortunate byproducts of the holiday season is the added stress that comes with it. The pressures of travel, having to entertain guests, cook meals and buy gifts can certainly lead one to feel a great amount of stress at times. While some level of frustration is going to be common at some point this holiday season, trying to reduce your stress level will do wonders for your health. Heightened stress levels can affect your mental, emotional, and physical health, and not doing anything to treat it can actually make you get sick. The last thing that you want this holiday season is to be sick and/or unable to spend time with friends and loved ones. If you found yourself feeling the pressures of a holiday shopping trip that took far too long, take time to relax at home with a warm bath and some tea. For all the time that you will be spending with others, make sure to find moments for yourself so that you can unwind, breathe and recharge.

Get Adequate Rest

Along with all the gatherings, activities, and preparation that comes along with the holidays, at times it seems as though there aren’t enough hours in a day to accommodate for all the holiday fun. Regardless of the fact that you will be finding yourself busier than usual, it’s more important than ever for you to be getting adequate rest. Things like travel, hours in the kitchen, and late nights spent with friends and family can all take a physical toll on us, and for this reason, you need to make sure that you’re getting an adequate amount of rest each night to provide you with the necessary energy needed for you to be able to wake up the next day and do it all again. A lack of sleep can reduce the function of your immune system, and if you’re keeping busier than usual on top of this, that can only make the situation worse. With this in mind, be sure to get as much sleep as possible to ensure that your holiday season is as relaxing as it is enjoyable.

Eat Well, Eat Healthy

One of the best things about the holidays is the food. From the fantastic meats to the endless casseroles, bakes and desserts, sharing a meal with our friends, family and loved ones is easily one of the best things about the holidays. In some cases, however, holiday foods may not always be the healthiest, especially for those of us suffering from high cholesterol and diabetes. With that in mind, we don’t necessarily have to completely abstain from enjoying these delicious foods, we just need to closely monitor our eating habits. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet will help offset these delicious diversions.

Finally, as we’ve mentioned so many times in previous blogs, exercising regularly is never a bad idea, and getting in some physical activity between gatherings will provide a balance to some of these holiday treats.

These are just a few ways that you can help yourself stay healthy this holiday season. At Marketplace Agency and Elder Care Associates, we are proud to provide the greater Harrisonburg area with high quality healthcare plans, including Medicare, Medigap and Medicaid Insurance. We want nothing more for you to be happy and healthy at all times, especially during the holidays. For those times when you need it, however, our Professional Agents work hard to help you find a plan that perfectly fits the needs of you and your family. For more information on our health care insurance services, contact Marketplace Agency and Elder Care Associates today.

Do I Need Vision Correction? 5 Quick and Easy Ways to See How

At Marketplace Agency and Elder Care Associates, we are committed to providing you, the customer, with the highest quality health insurance. Our agents work closely with you to find the plans that work best for you individually. We put our clients’ interests first and have been providing clients with affordable health insurance options for the last 40 years. For all your health insurance needs, including Medicare and Medicaid, contact Marketplace Agency and Elder Care today!

Having perfect vision, while not entirely uncommon, is certainly not something that you encounter every day. According to the Vision Council of America, it is estimated that roughly ¾ of the American adult population need some sort of corrective eyewear, be it glasses or contact lenses. That being said, needing vision correction is probably more common than you think, but how do you know if you need vision correction? We’ve put together this handy guide to help you figure out whether or not you may need glasses, contacts or corrective surgery.

Generally Blurry Vision

This one is pretty obvious, though some may dismiss this as a natural byproduct of aging. Don’t fret, there is hope, and lots of it! If you find your vision generally being blurry from time to time, this may just mean that you are developing either farsightedness or nearsightedness. If you are experiencing blurry vision at any distance in any capacity, it’s certainly worth having it checked out, as it’s certainly something that can be corrected, and quite easily.

Frequent Squinting

This one is also a bit obvious, but again, some tend to dismiss this and give it little thought. If you find yourself squinting a lot, think about this — you’re squinting because you’re finding it hard to see. When viewed that way, it probably seems a bit obvious. Quite simply, if you notice that your vision improves significantly when squinting, or that you can only see clearly when squinting, you may be in need of vision correction.

Fatigue and Headaches

If you find yourself feeling more tired than usual or experiencing frequent headaches during the day, these could both be signs that you may need vision correction of some sort. In a way, these are tied to squinting, in that squinting puts additional stress on your eyes in order for you to see clearly, and that constant stress can lead to headaches or added tiredness. Regardless of the correlation, if you find yourself experiencing a higher than average level of fatigue or headaches, glasses or contacts may be worth looking into.

Computer Related Difficulties

Given, using a computer in and of itself can be tricky, but do you find yourself having trouble reading on your computer or tablet? Struggling to read the text on a computer screen may actually be a symptom of farsightedness, something that could require vision correction. Try and distance or position yourself closer or further away from your screen to see if it either improves or worsens your ability to read. Based off of this basic test, you may need glasses or contacts.

Most importantly, however, you should consult an eye doctor before making any decisions, as they will be able to properly test you to see if you do indeed need vision correction. Finding an eye doctor that works for best for you can sometimes be difficult, but thankfully you don’t have to go through entire health insurance process alone. At Marketplace Agency and Elder Care associates, we are here to help you find a vision plan that accurately suits your needs, be it through Medicare, the healthcare marketplace, or otherwise. Contact us today to find the best plan for you.

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Health Insurance Guide

A Simple Guide to Health Insurance Terms

Deductible? Max Out-of-Pocket? Medicare-Covered services? Guaranteed Issue?

What do all these terms mean and how do they affect your coverage?

We all know what it’s like to discuss insurance options and quickly become confused over the endless terms. Here we have a simple guide to these words, their definition, and how they work in your policy.

Allowable Charge: This is the dollar amount allowable to be considered payment-in-full by an insurance company and an associated network of healthcare providers, or by Medicare, known as the Medicare Allowable. The Allowable Charge is typically a lower, contractually negotiated rate that the provider agrees to accept. If your doctor is Out-of-Network or does not accept Medicare Assignment as a contracted provider, you may be billed the full amount, or Actual Charge.

Coinsurance: The amount that you are obligated to pay for covered medical services after you’ve satisfied any copay or deductible required by your health insurance plan. Coinsurance is often assessed as a percentage of the allowable charge for a service rendered by a healthcare provider. For example, many health insurance plans require that you pay 20% of the allowable charge for Ambulatory Surgery procedures like a stint or a hernia repair.

Copay: A specific cost-sharing payment that your health insurance plan requires that you pay for a specific medical service, drugs, or supplies. You often will pay this prior to receiving the service. An example would be a $25 copay you pay as you check in for your appointment with your primary care doctor.

Covered Services: A health care service to which an insured person is entitled under the contract terms. This also includes any Medically Necessary service, drugs or supplies, and services outlined in the ACA Minimum Essential Coverage, including Preventive Services. Other types of coverage for healthcare services may be required as well, and are defined in legislation and required to be covered by federal and state laws.

Deductible: A specific dollar amount that your health insurance company may require that you pay out-of-pocket each year before your health insurance plan begins to pay claims for services. For example, if you have a $1216.00 deductible under Original Medicare and go to the Hospital, you will be billed for this amount first, then Medicare will come in and pay their agreed cost-sharing for the remainder of your visit.

Guaranteed Issue: Insurance coverage that must be issued regardless of health status. In Medicare, a supplement policy that is Guaranteed Issue must not only issue your policy, but is also required to provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, and they cannot charge you more for your policy because of past or present health problems.

Max-Out-of-Pocket (MOOP): An annual limit on all cost-sharing for which patients are responsible under a health insurance plan. This limit does not apply to premiums, balance-billed costs from out of network health care providers or non-covered services.

Minimum Essential Coverage: The type of coverage an individual needs to have to meet the individual responsibility requirement under the Affordable Care Act. This includes individual market policies, job-based coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE and certain other coverage. 

Open Enrollment Period: A time period during which eligible persons or eligible employees are required to review, change or choose their health insurance coverage.

Premium: The total amount paid to the insurance company for health insurance coverage. This is often paid on a monthly basis.

Underwriting: Each insurance company has its own set of underwriting guidelines to determine whether or not the company will accept the risk of insuring an applicant. The applicant’s health status, age, and occupation are also considered in Life, Health & Annuities Insurance. The insurer then calculates the monthly premium based on projections of the risk of insuring the applicant.

Affordable Care Act, ACA Insurance

The ACA may create a new and dynamic employee relationship.

A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) details that the amount of labor supplied would fall by 2% from the effects of ACA.

Their analyses concluded that many employees would reduce their time, or even quit working entirely, if they didn’t rely on their employer-provided health insurance so heavily. This reduction in the amount of labor supplied naturally could mean an increase in the amount of money an employee is able to earn, as the cost for labor rises accordingly. This projected slight declination of workers will also provide an ease in the competition for jobs, and thus, employers need to provide their employees with a rich & competitive benefits package to avoid losing them to a more attractive offering.

If you’re tempted to stop offering coverage altogether, you must consider opting for a private exchange solution by giving employees the ability to choose the plans that suit their needs while taking a huge management burden off your shoulders. The employer will simply decide how much to contribute toward each employee’s benefits and then the employee can shop and choose between all of the plans offered in the healthcare marketplace.

Medicare

If you are aging into Medicare, start reviewing your plans early to avoid delayed coverage!

People aging in to Medicare, turning 65, must review both their retirement and Medicare plans to know when to enroll and what coverage to choose.

Everyone’s retirement situation is unique. Even a husband & wife will need two separate plans to meet the needs of each individual’s situation. If you draw your Social Security income benefits before age 65, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B and should receive your Medicare card three months before your 65th birthday.  Medicare will become effective on the 1st day of your birth month. You’ll have the option to refuse Part B, as it requires you to pay a monthly premium. You may consider this if you are receiving benefits from another health insurance policy. It is recommended that you discuss the benefits and compare your plans and options side by side with a professional, like your Marketplace Agency H.E.L.P Agent,before turning 65, even if you plan to continue to work.

If you haven’t started receiving your Social Security benefits by age 65, you will have an Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP) to review your plans and options that will begin 3 months prior to your birth month. If you don’t elect coverage during this time, you may have to pay late penalties and risk coverage being delayed.

If you decide not to enroll in Medicare Parts B and D because you have coverage from your employer’s plan, the late enrollment penalties mentioned above won’t apply if the plans are determined to be “creditable coverage”. Generally, you will need to enroll in Medicare Part B within eight months of your retirement date, and you must enroll in a Medicare Part D plan no more than 63 days after your retirement date to avoid penalties.

This is a complex and difficult decision, with many factors involved. To make sure you’re choosing the right plan for your situation, our Marketplace Agency H.E.L.P Agents will review your current coverage and show you a number of options available to you as you near your Medicare and Retirement milestones.

Affordable Care Act, ACA Insurance

Obamacare, ACA, Healthcare Reform, the Affordable Care Act, whatever you want to call it…

The way we all get our health insurance is going to change.

Americans will all be required to obtain coverage that meets Essential Minimum Coverage standards, or pay a penalty. Beginning in 2014, the penalty for an individual is $95 or 1% of their household income, whichever is greater. By 2016 the penalty for an individual is $695 or 2.5% of their household income, whichever is greater. The penalties assessed for employers are a little more complex, and require calculations and specific analyses. Your Marketplace Agency H.E.L.P Agent will work with you in your unique situation to determine possible penalties you could face, as an individual or employer, and work with you to find the right solution.

If you’re already insured:

Insurance companies will have to update many of their health plans to include all of the protections from the health care law. If you already have coverage on your own, you may be able to keep your current plan. You may want to closely compare your current plan with your other options, as you could be paying too much, and you will have the opportunity to find a new plan that suits your needs. If you have coverage from your employer or group, you may find that your options are changing as well.

If you’re uninsured:

You can find a plan through your state exchanges with a Marketplace Agency H.E.L.P Agent. It is possible that you may also qualify for subsidies that can help pay for your coverage. We can qualify you and your family members for subsidies. There are three types of subsidy provided under ACA:

Medicaid/CHIP for those making less than 138% of the FPL (Federal Poverty Level).

Cost-sharing/out-of-pocket Reduction for those making up to 250% of the FPL.

Advanced Premium Credits for those making up to 400% of the FPL.

Make an appointment with a Marketplace Agency H.E.L.P Agent, or if you would prefer, shop here on your own. Remember, we are here to help if you have any questions along the way while comparing your plans and options, and applying for subsidy on your own. It’s great peace of mind to know that you have our experts always on your side.

If you’re an employer:

The employer mandate goes into effect in 2015. This requires all employers with 50+ full-time employees (including FTEs) to provide “Minimum Value” and “Affordable” coverage options for their covered associates. “Minimum Value” means that the plan is expected to cover at least 60% of a plan participant’s covered expenses. “Affordable” is defined as a plan when the employee’s contribution for single coverage with the lowest cost option available (that also provides Minimum Value) does not exceed 9.5% of the employee’s household income. Many companies have already made strategic decisions and either eliminated coverage entirely, eliminate spouse eligibility, or offered contributions for their employees and retirees to obtain their coverage on their own. There is a plan that is right for your business or group. A Marketplace Agency H.E.L.P Agent will provide you with the peace of mind you need to offer a competitive solution for your business, organization, or group benefits.