children eating ice cream cones on a park bench

Two Things Your Teeth Want You to Avoid This Summer

Summer is finally here. This is the time of year where families all over the country can sit back, relax together, and enjoy the warm weather. But while you and your family are trying to keep cool, there are a few summer staples you should avoid in order to prevent tooth decay and the resulting costly dental procedures.

Fruity Drinks

No summer is complete without at least a few fruity drinks by the pool. And while the fruit may be good for you and help keep you hydrated in the summer heat, the excess sugar won’t do you any favors. Despite the main ingredient being fruits and/or veggies, smoothies can contain lots of hidden sugar which can wreak havoc on not just your waistline, but your teeth as well.

According to WebMD, “tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feeds on sugars from food and drinks. That bacteria — called plaque — can stick to your teeth, producing acids that eat through the enamel on your teeth.” So, while a fruity drink or smoothie may sound great, don’t forget that water can be just as refreshing.

Chewing Ice

When it comes to ice cubes, those frozen cubes are best left melting in your cup.

Chewing on ice may seem like a harmless zero-calorie way to keep cool but it can lead to enamel damage. Like all hard foods, chewing on ice cubes can cause chips and cracks to your teeth and create a passageway for bacteria to get in and cause infections.

Aside from the potential for dental damage, chewing or craving ice can also be a sign of a larger health concern such an iron deficiency, or an eating disorder.

Keeping Your Mouth Protected

When it comes to maintaining good oral health and protecting yourself from costly dental work, the best thing you can do is to get covered.

Want to learn more about what dental plan options you have access to as an FCA member? Visit https://fcachiro.memberbenefits.com/dentalvision/ to learn more and to pick a plan that best fits your needs.

businessman in cafe talking on cell phone smiling at his lap top

I Missed Open Enrollment and Need Health Coverage — What Are My Options?

The next official ACA Open Enrollment period isn’t slated to begin until November 1, 2019. But depending on your circumstances, you may not have to wait that long to obtain coverage.

Qualifying Life Events and Special Enrollment Periods

Sometimes our circumstances change, and if they change due to specific events, you and your dependents may be able to secure health insurance through a Special Enrollment Period. When this occurs, it is called a Qualifying Life Event, otherwise referred to as a QLE.

There are several types of Qualifying Life Events that may grant you a Special Enrollment Period. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Loss of health coverage
    • Losing existing health coverage – including job-based, individual, and student plans
    • Losing eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP
    • Turning 26 and losing coverage through a parent’s plan
  • Changes in household size
    • Getting married or divorced
    • Having a baby or adopting a child
    • Death in the family
  • Changes in residence
    • Moving to a different ZIP code or county
    • A student moving to or from the place they attend school
    • A seasonal worker moving to or from the place they both live and work
    • Moving to or from a shelter or other transitional housing
  • Other qualifying events
    • Changes in your income that affect the coverage you qualify for
    • Gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe, or status as an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholder
    • Becoming a U.S. citizen
    • Leaving incarceration (jail or prison)
    • AmeriCorps members starting or ending their service

Non-ACA Health Plans

Haven’t experienced a QLE but still need health coverage? A non-ACA health plan could be the answer. Also referred to as Short Term Medical Plans, recent legislative changes have loosened the restrictions surrounding these plans and have increased their appeal.

Previously, a Short-Term Medical plan could only provide coverage for up to 90 days. But due to recent regulatory changes, these plans can now be continued for up to a year.  Additionally, in some cases applicants may now renew their plan for up to three years.

Because Short-Term Medical Plans are considered non-ACA health plans, it is worth noting that they may not cover all that an ACA health plan would. For example, applicants could be denied coverage due to a pre-existing medical condition, maternity care may not be covered, and there could be an annual dollar limit on coverage. However, these plans are also typically less expensive than ACA plans and could be a good alternative for individuals seeking more affordable options.

Know Your Options

Do you think you may qualify for a Special Enrollment period? Are you interested in hearing more about non-ACA plans and if they may be the right fit for you? Our Benefits Counselors are always on hand to help answer your questions and guide you in the direction that will make the most sense for your unique needs.

Visit your association website to learn more about the Health Insurance offerings that may be available to you, or schedule an appointment with one of our licensed Benefits Counselors today.

mother and child practicing good dental hygiene in bathroom

Helpful Dental Hygiene Hacks for Kids

A common question among parents is when they should begin teaching their children oral hygiene. Many dentists assert that parents can start laying the groundwork for good brushing habits before their child’s first tooth even breaks the surface.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tooth decay is the most common chronic disease found in children and adolescents, and is four times more likely to affect teens between 14 and 17 than asthma.

But for many parents, getting their kids to brush their teeth is a battle not unlike getting them to eat their broccoli or go to bed on time, But it doesn’t need to be this way. There are many ways parents can set their children up for success when it comes to their oral health without needing to resort to bargaining or threats.

Start Early

For newborns, it is common for parents to use gauze or another type of clean cloth to wipe down their gums down after feedings to discourage germs and bacteria from lingering and developing into problems down the line.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), a child’s first trip to the dentist should coincide with the arrival of the first baby tooth, and should happen no later than their first birthday.

Early exposure to dentist visits and cleaning their mouths can help get your child used to these activities in the future. Starting good oral hygiene habits early can help show them that these activities are not out of the ordinary and are just part of the routine and nothing to be afraid of or anxious about.

Lead by Example

Whether it’s what you say or what you do, kids love to imitate adults. So, when it comes to oral hygiene, make sure you’re setting a good example. Try dancing, making funny faces, or even singing or humming a song while brushing. No matter what you do, just be sure that your child sees you enjoying brushing your teeth. This will teach them that brushing is a fun activity that they can look forward to.

Make It Fun

Toothbrush makers know that the more fun they can make brushing for kids, the more likely those kids will grow into adults with healthy brushing habits. That’s why so many toothbrushes now come in flashy colors – some with cartoon characters, some that play music, and others that light up.

And while you won’t be able to find any toothpaste to sing songs to your kids, you will find it available in a variety of colors, flavors, and some even with glitter or other special effects.

Having a cool toothbrush may be half the battle but using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage your toddler to keep brushing also helps. Sticker charts, a special snack, and even an extra ten minutes of play time are all great ideas.

Find What Works

No two children are the same and what works for one, may not work for another. Some children’s gums may be more sensitive than others which will force parents to opt for soft or silicone bristled toothbrushes. Ultimately, it is up to you, the parent, to figure out what works best for your child and hygiene structure.

For parents with children who struggle with developmental disabilities such as autism, the process for learning good oral health habits may prove even more challenging. And with roughly one out of every 40 children in America diagnosed with autism, there is a growing need for more dentists and dental practitioners to be both better equipped and knowledgeable when it comes to serving patients with developmental disabilities.

If your child falls into this group, and getting them to practice good oral hygiene proves too strenuous for both of you, a Board-certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) may be able to help.

The Right Choice for Your Family

When was the last time your child made a trip to the dentist? With our Comprehensive PPO dental plan, your family will have the freedom to visit any licensed dentist in the country. You can save even more when you visit one of over 135,000 preferred dentists and 32,000 specialists nationwide. Make your family’s oral health a priority by visiting https://fcachiro.memberbenefits.com/dentalvision/ today.

boy carrying happy lab puppy down the street

3 Ways Pets Keep Us Happy And Healthy

According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households (about 85 million families) own a pet. This number is up a whopping 56% since the first survey conducted in 1988 and has led to a steady increase in the amount of money people are spending to keep their pets happy and healthy.

In 2018, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimated that Americans were on track to spend approximately $72.13 billion on their pets, up $2.62 billion from the confirmed numbers of 2017.

But aside from spending our hard-earned money on our four-legged friends what do pet owners really get out of the relationship?

Read More
professional african american holding jaw experiencing dental pain

5 Most Common Dental Problems And How To Avoid Them

According to American author William Arthur Ward, “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” Smiling is something we do instinctively as infants and something we carry with us all throughout our lives. Unfortunately for some, their smiles may not prove to be as warm and welcoming as they would hope. Problems such as gum disease, yellowed teeth, and chronic bad breath can have a negative impact when meeting new people and could be a sign of a deeper issue due to the close link between oral and overall health.

Many people learn the importance of oral hygiene at a young age. Those who don’t may face a variety of oral health problems down the road, some being scarier than others. So, what are some of the most common dental diseases?

  1. Bad Breath

While some cases of bad breath can be the result of eating foods like onions, garlic, or hard-boiled eggs, other cases may prove to be more serious. Bad breath, otherwise referred to as, Halitosis, may be something that even a good solid brushing won’t be able to fix. Halitosis can be a symptom of larger problems such as gum disease, infection, dry mouth, or even other seemingly unrelated issues like gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. In some instances, Halitosis may even require a trip to your doctor.

  1. Gum Disease

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are over 3 million cases of gum disease each year. And while gum disease, otherwise known as Periodontitis, may be common, that doesn’t make it any less serious. In fact, those with gum disease have a higher chance of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and other ailments. In order to lessen your chances of developing gum disease, it is advised to practice good oral hygiene and schedule regular cleanings with your dentist, who may decide whether more preventative action is needed.

  1. Yellow Teeth

While not exactly a disease, yellow teeth can be a sign of poor oral hygiene and can, in some cases, indicate other dental issues that may be lurking just beneath the surface. Visiting the dentist once every six months for a thorough cleaning can help prevent yellowing teeth due to diet or lifestyle choices. In some severe cases, veneers may be recommended.

  1. Toothaches

A toothache should never be ignored. While some cases of a toothache may be related to minor inflammation, other cases could indicate the presence of gum disease, cavities, pulpitis, a broken tooth, or more. When confronted with a persistent toothache, the best course of action is to have a dentist find the underlying cause.

  1. Tooth Erosion

There are few substances within the human body that are stronger than our enamel. This is why everyone from our dentists to television commercials are constantly urging us to protect it — because once our enamel is gone, it cannot be brought back. The loss of enamel is referred to as tooth erosion. Soda, sugar, and some acidic foods can eat away at our enamel. In order to combat the chances of experiencing tooth erosion, brushing with a soft-bristled brush is suggested as well as reducing the number of acidic drinks consumed.

Taking Control of Your Oral Health

When was the last time you visited the dentist? Could you be at risk of developing one, or even all, of these potentially costly dental problems?

Members can secure dental and vision insurance coverage for the whole family. Visit https://fcachiro.memberbenefits.com/dentalvision/ to learn more about what our dental and vision insurance plans can do for you.

young business man explaining group health insurance options to business group at a table in an office

New Strategies to Save Money on Group Health Costs in 2019

As group health insurance costs continue to increase, many employers are looking for new, creative ways to save money while still providing their employees with coverage.

Reference Based Pricing

Reference Based Pricing is a rapidly growing strategy that a number of employers are using to save money on group health insurance costs. This technique gives the employee the ability to choose any provider without the limitations and higher costs of a traditional provider network. By choosing to take advantage of this method, employers have the potential to save between 15 and 20 percent on group health insurance costs.

Association Health Plans

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Association Health Plans are defined as “group health plans that employer groups and associations offer to provide health coverage for employees.”

In April of this year, the federal government will begin to allow small employer groups to form new associations based on industry and finally receive access to group health insurance plans typically only reserved for larger companies. While many association health plans already exist, the new legislation eliminates the geographic barriers previously in place.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, “four million Americans, including 400,000 who otherwise would lack insurance, will join an AHP by 2023.”

Direct Primary Care

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is an alternative payment model to third-party billing. With DPC, there is a flat monthly membership fee and nothing else. Employees have access to a physician of their choice and the physician remains accountable to only their patients. This option can also exist alongside a comprehensive major medical plan.

Level Funding

For groups of five or more, level-funded plans are becoming increasingly popular. These plans boast a nationwide network of hospitals and physicians and are offered by a number of reputable insurance carriers. Designed to offer more flexibility to employers, level-funded plans are ERISA complaint and partially self-insured with a savings potential of 10 to 15 percent. Many also offer return-of-premium potential.

Learn More

Want to learn more about these strategies? Tune in to our free webinar on March 7th at 1 pm EST. Jason Cleary, a licensed Benefits Counselor with over 18 years of experience, will be sharing information on how to utilize these tactics and save on group health costs in 2019.

Click to register today.

mother and daughter discussing the need for long term care

How To Know When A Loved One Needs Long-Term Care

Studies show that roughly 70 percent of individuals aged 65 or older will require long-term care at some point.

But determining just when a loved one may need long-term care can be difficult both mentally as well as emotionally. To help make things easier, here are some key factors to look for when determining if your loved one could benefit from long-term care:

  1. Recent Accidents

Accidents and medical scares are a key indicator that your loved one may need additional help. Falls, fender-benders or car accidents, mismanaging prescriptions can all be scary and stressful for loved ones, caregivers, and everyone involved.

Has your loved one been suffering more falls lately? If you’re not sure, have you noticed them trying to cover or hide bruises and scrapes?

According to the National Council On Aging, “one in every four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.” While it’s easy to trip and fall for anyone regardless of age, to the elderly, it can be especially painful as well as concerning. Unlike younger individuals, the bodies of seniors are increasingly frail and prone to experiencing more cuts, bruising, bone breaks and fractures. When combined with any pre-existing medical conditions and oftentimes the inability to heal as quickly as they once may have, some falls can even prove fatal.

  1. Increasing Difficulty Managing Daily Activities

With age, daily activities can be harder to manage. Sometimes referred to as “activities of daily living” or ADLs, these are the daily activities that we often do without thinking— but to an elderly person, these same activities might be more difficult than before. They include:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Shopping
  • Laundry
  • Medication management
  • Cleaning

If you suspect your loved one is having increased difficulty with any of these things, or perhaps other daily activities that previously gave them no problem (such as managing finances), expressing your concern is important. When in doubt, consulting with a doctor, or geriatric consultant or expert may be able to offer some suggestions on how to make things easier on your loved one or suggest a functional assessment to determine just where your loved one’s skill level may be at.

  1. Personal Care and Hygiene

When your usually-put-together loved one starts to look a bit more unkempt, it may be a sign of more just the average “off-day.” As people get older, they may run into more difficulty dealing with, not just the above mentioned daily activities, but also activities relating to their overall hygiene and personal care.

If you’ve noticed your loved one not quite looking like themselves lately it may be worth mentioning it to them to see what they say. Other changes such as sudden weight gain or loss should also be noted as this could be a sign of over or under eating. This may not be complete accidental as your loved one could be forgetting when they last ate.

Changes in body odor could also be a sign of difficulty bathing, depression, or other health problems that may require medical attention and be a sign of a larger problem.

  1. Signs of Lax Housekeeping

With age can come mobility issues, arthritis, lessening senses of touch, smell, vision, and more. This combined with memory problems can sometimes lead to basic housekeeping issues and may be a sign for a housekeeping to be hired or other long-term care solutions to be explored. Things to look for include:

  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • Missed bills or payment deadlines
  • Thank you letters from charities not previously given to
  • Bugs
  • Expired food
  • Unnecessary multiples of same food items
  • Bathroom and kitchen grime: toilet, counters, floors, showers, musty towels
  • Wearing the same clothes every time you visit
  • Inappropriate clothing with holes, rips, and tears
  • Piled up miscellaneous clutter
  • Accumulation of takeout or delivery boxes and containers
  1. Animals That Appear Neglected

Does your loved one have a pet? Studies show that elderly individuals who have a pet have a higher quality of living. According to AgingCare.com, “pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn” they can also help to reduce depression (something very common in the elderly) and lessen loneliness.

But what happens when it becomes apparent that your loved one’s faithful furry friend isn’t getting quite the attention it needs? Things to look for that may be an indication your loved may be having problems caring for their pet include:

  • No food or water
  • Potty accidents throughout the house (could be a sign of not going out for walks)
  • Matted fur
  • Changes in weight (could be an indication of not enough or too little food)

If any of the problems are present, it may be worth looking into having someone come to the house and attend to your loved one’s pet or moving your loved one into a facility that will help them care for their animal.

  1. Caregiver Burnout

caregiver daughter concerned for elderly motherCaring for an aging loved one can be a difficult task to undertake and there may come a point where you find that you just can’t do it anymore. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, Caregiver Burnout is real and can happen to anyone who is caring for a loved one and who willingly undertakes additional daily stress. Caring for an elderly loved one is an admirable and noble undertaking but it is equally admirable to able to be able to take a step back and admit when you need help or, admit when you can no longer administer the care and attention that your loved one needs on a daily basis.

If you find yourself experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms, it may be time to look into other Long-Term Care options:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Excessive use of alcohol and/or sleep medications
  1. Escalating Care Needs

Similar to the above point, there may come a point where you can no longer provide the necessary medical attention that your loved one may require. The progression of chronic or pre-existing health problems, a slow recovery from a previous illness or injury, as well as a sudden onset or worsening of a condition, may also be signs that your loved one may need increased medical assistance.

In cases such as these, it may be worth looking into having a nurse come and check on your loved one periodically or a more drastic measure (depending upon the severity of the condition) may be to move your loved one into a nursing or assisted living facility for long-term care.

Planning For The Future                                                                                      

According to an article from Forbes, “A private room in a nursing home now costs consumers more than $8,000 per month, or $97,455 per year, according to the report, which provides national median figures. That’s an increase of 5.5 from just one year ago and a nearly 50% increase since 2004. A semi-private room is less expensive, but still carries a hefty price tag: $85,775 per year.”

Assisted living facilities are more affordable but the national average for a private room will still run approximately $45k a year— which is actually proving to be more affordable than in-home health aids ($49,192) and standard homemaker-type services (47,934), according to the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Study.

With the yearly cost of Long-Term Care only continuing to rise, Long-Term Care insurance can help both you and your family cover the cost of your care should you need it in the future.

To learn more about what Long-Term Care Insurance can do for you, please visit www.fcachiro.memberbenefits.com/long-term-care/ for more information.

To find an aging life care expert in your area, please visit www.aginglifecare.org.

elderly man enjoying visiting with his family

Dispelling 4 Myths of Long Term Care Insurance

Did you know that 70% of people over 65 will require some care at some point in their lives? Nearly 44% of early and late Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are expected to fall short of meeting their basic financial needs in retirement – that is including their nursing home or home health needs. Based on these statistics it appears that a very large portion of us are entirely unprepared for retirement. Long-term care insurance can help ease the financial and emotional burden on you and your loved ones.

Why is it that so many of us do not purchase long-term care insurance? Let’s dispel the myths!

My life savings will cover it.
Once long-term care is needed, the average American loses their entire life savings within nine months. The average American between the ages of 55 and 64 will have accumulated about $104, 000 in retirement savings. $417,900 is the approximate average cost for 5 years in a skilled nursing home faculty. Many families will struggle with this often unforeseen expense.

I’m too young.
You are never too young. This isn’t something you should look at in your sixties – for most people, the best time to buy may be in their mid-to-late 50s. Applying at a younger age can provide you with the ability to save money and have the best chance of getting approved for coverage. By waiting you risk paying higher premiums, needing to buy more coverage and paying future rates.

It will never happen to me.
Young or old, LTC insurance picks up where your health insurance leaves off. Long-term care insurance is not for only nursing home coverage, the ultimate goal is to help pay for alternatives, to keep you out of nursing homes for as long as possible!

The most common causes for LTC include…   

  • Auto & motorcycle accidents
  • Activities like skiing, horse-back riding, diving
  • Extreme sports: fractures, falls
  • Stroke & heart attack
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis & Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer, Parkinson & MS
  • The aging process

It is covered by traditional health insurance or government programs like Medicare.
It is very important to understand the limitations of Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare focus’ on cure versus care. It covers doctors, skilled care and hospitals. Medicaid pays health care for the poor. Many are not “eligible” and some must “spend down” their assets to qualify. Medicaid will typically only pay for care in a nursing home. For more in-depth information on long-term care, watch our webinar or visit www.fcachiro.memberbenefits.com to request a quote.

If you have any questions regarding long-term care, our benefits counselors are here to help!

 

Sources
US Census Bureau
Social Security Administration
* 
The National Bureau of Economic Research
*
UCSF Research 
Forbes

elderly couple during the holidays

The Holidays are the Perfect Time to Discuss Long-Term Care

The holidays will be here before we know it, and for many, this time of the year presents the opportunity to gather with family and loved ones. Specifically, if you have a loved one who you’ve been meaning to speak with about long-term care, the holidays could be the ideal time for you to do so. Of course, having the conversation with a loved one about long-term care isn’t always easy, which is why there are important guidelines to keep in mind before you initiate the discussion.

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elderly disabled man being comforted

Long Term Disability vs. Long Term Care Insurance

There are a number of different insurance options that can assist you and your family if you become impaired or disabled. Two of the most popular options are long-term disability and long-term care. Both of these are designed to protect your assets and interests in distinctive ways, so knowing the differences between the two is key in determining how each one can be beneficial to meet your needs.

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