Be Better About Packing Your Lunch!

August 24th, 2016

School lunchA new school year looming on the horizon means the start of packing school lunches. It could also mean the start of being better about packing your lunch.

Make Packing Lunch Part of Your Routine

Getting take-out for lunch the majority of the work week can be a time-saver, but it isn’t the best for your health.  When you prepare your own meals, you can use healthier, more natural ingredients. It can also help to reduce your chances of overeating due to better portion control. According to a 2016 study published in the journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 92 percent of restaurant meals have too many calories.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the thought of cooking both lunch and dinner every day? Here’s a tip: lunch isn’t really about cooking, but assembling. Lunch doesn’t have to entail all the slicing and dicing that dinner does.

When it comes to lunch prep, you have three choices:

  1. Prep and package your midday meal over the weekend so you can just grab and go during the week.
  2. Make your lunch every evening.
  3. Get up a little earlier and do it all in the morning.

What happens when you bring lunch is that you see it as primary, and the restaurants, fast food joints and company cafeterias as backups, rather than the other way around.

According to Forbes, the average American spends $936 annually on store bought lunches alone. Help improve your wallet and your health by bringing back those brown bag lunches.

Take That Lunch Break

Trying to pack lunch during the work week is important, but taking a lunch break is important too. Employees need to take a lunch break because it can be counterproductive to not take a break. How breaks are handled has a huge impact on how a person feels the rest of the day. Finding it hard to find time for lunch? Try:

  • Eating at a nearby park if the weather is nice
  • Eating in your car if you drive to work
  • Politely asking your managers and colleagues to respect the fact that you are on a break

Add a healthy little extra to your lunch break by trying some of the following:

  • Do some stretching exercises
  • Get out into the daylight
  • Play a quick mentally challenging game
  • Take a walk

 Take a lunch break without guilt. It could be exactly what you need to be a better employee.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to bring out your lunchbox! Packing your lunch on a regular basis can help improve your health (and it doesn’t hurt your wallet either). Just think of IAA as your third party kitchen helper. Bon appetite from IAA!

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here and here!

Health and the Olympic Games

August 17th, 2016

Olympic ringsThe 2016 Summer Olympics are well under way and the United States is racking up those medals. Besides the medal count, the media has also been reporting on health issues dealing with the Olympics. Here are some health topics that have been encountered so far.

Zika Virus

Many athletes decided not to participate in this summer’s Olympics due to concerns over the Zika virus. The mosquito born virus has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect among babies whose mother’s had the virus when they were pregnant.

Officials reported before the games that the risk of getting Zika virus at the Olympics is low and has been overcome. With dry and cooler weather in Rio de Janeiro (where the Olympics are being held) the incidence of Zika and other mosquito born diseases has declined sharply in recent months.

Keep Your Mouth Closed

Brazilian health experts have some advice for swimmers, sailors and windsurfers at the Olympics: keep your mouth closed.  Despite the fact that the Brazilian government promised seven years ago to stem the waste that is in Rio’s Guanabara Bay and the city’s beaches, officials acknowledged efforts to treat the sewage and clear out household garbage fell short of expectations.  Environmentalists and scientists have said Rio’s waters are more contaminated than previously thought.

Government officials and the International Olympic Committee acknowledged that in many places the city’s water is filthy. They do say, however, that the areas where the athletes are competing meet the World Health Organization’s safety standards.

Numerous pathogens can be found in many of the city’s bodies of water, from rotaviruses that can cause diarrhea and vomiting, to drug resistant super bacteria that can be fatal to people with weakened immune systems 

Ancient Medicinal Therapies

Many Olympians have been sporting large circular bruises. They have taken to cupping—an ancient therapy that has mostly been used in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, especially China.

The therapy consists of having round glass suction cups that are warmed, and then placed on sore spots of the body. Sometimes an air pump is used to create suction between the cup and the skinThis suction pulls the skin slightly up and away from the underlying muscles. The suction typically lasts for only a few minutes, but it is enough time to cause the capillaries just beneath the surface to rupture, creating a circular and eye catching bruise.

Physiologically, cupping is thought to draw blood to the affected area, reducing soreness and speeding up the healing process of overworked muscles.  It may be that cupping, by causing local inflammation, triggers the immune system to produce cytokines, small proteins that enhance communication between cells and help to modulate the immune response

The practice of cupping has been mentioned in ancient Greek and Egyptian texts. In traditional Chinese medicine, cupping dates back at least 2,000 years, according to a 2012 analysis published in the journal PLOS ONE. In recent years, cupping therapy has been used for people suffering all sorts of ailments, including shingles, facial paralysis, cough and difficulty breathing, and acne. But cupping is most commonly used to treat pain, according to the analysis.    

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America loves cheering on Team U.S.A.!  The Olympics has brought interesting health news to the world’s attention and IAA is here to break it down for you. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Ice Bucket Challenge Helps Fund ALS Discovery

August 10th, 2016

Bucket of iceIn July of 2014 a campaign encouraged millions of people to dump buckets of ice water on their heads to help fund research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).Two years later; the Ice Bucket Challenge raised enough money to help researchers identify the gene known as NEK1.

A New Discovery

The NEK1 gene has given researchers a new target for possible treatmentNEK1 is among the most common genes that contribute to the disease, according to the ALS Association. The discovery was published in Nature Genetics.

In the end, 17 million videos of people dumping ice water on themselves helped researchers make an important discovery.

What is ALS?

ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles (muscle action we are able to control, such as those in the arms, legs and face).

The disease belongs to a group of disorders known as motor neuron diseases, which are characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons. Motor neurons are nerve cells located in the brain, brain stem and spinal cord that serve as controlling units and vital communication links between the nervous system and the voluntary muscles of the body. Messages from motor neurons in the brain (called upper motor neurons) are transmitted to motor neurons in the spinal cord (called lower motor neurons) and from them to particular muscles. In ALS, both the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons degenerate or die, and stop sending messages to muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken and waste away. Eventually, the ability of the brain to start and control voluntary movement is lost

In 90 to 95 percent of all ALS cases, the disease occurs apparently at random. Individuals with this sporadic form of the disease do not have a family history of ALS.  About five to 10 percent of all ALS cases are inherited. The familial form of ALS usually results from a pattern of inheritance that requires only one parent to carry the gene responsible for the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

The onset of ALS may be so subtle the symptoms are overlooked. The earliest symptoms may include:

  • Cramps
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty holding the head up or keeping good posture
  • Fasciculation  (muscle twitch)
  • Hand weakness or clumsiness
  • Muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg
  • Slurred and nasal speech
  • Tight and stiff muscles

Researchers are studying possible causes of ALS, including:

  • Chemical imbalance: People with ALS generally have higher than normal levels of glutamate, a chemical messenger in the brain, around the nerve cells in their spinal fluid. Too much glutamate is known to be toxic to some nerve cells.
  • Disorganized immune response: Sometimes a person’s immune system begins attacking some of his or her body’s own normal cells, which may lead to the death of some nerve cells.
  • Gene mutation: Various genetic mutations can lead to inherited ALS, which appears nearly identical to the non-inherited form.

ALS is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases world-wide.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America congratulates everyone who took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Thanks to you an important discovery was made! IAA is here to keep you informed on all the latest health news. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Like this blog post? Let IAA know by going to our Facebook page and clicking the Like button!

Are Reality Mobile Games Improving Health?

August 3rd, 2016

Father and daughter playing mobile gamePokémon Go, the newest augmented reality mobile game seems to be the next big craze. But can it help players improve their health?

Reality Mobile Games

You’ve seen them around town, Pokémon Go players of all ages popping up everywhere you are. While this may seem odd to some people, it could be considered a healthy activity.

The game requires players to actually move from one location to another. Some experts have noted that it might be a fun way for gamers to walk the 10,000 steps per day that are typically recommended to help lose weight. Exercise and outdoor activities should be performed for a minimum of 30 minutes a day for healthy adults.

While Pokémon Go may be the latest craze, there are other mobile games that require physical activity:

  • Geocaching: An outdoor game app in which people discover hidden containers around the world.
  • Spec Trek: An augmented reality ghost-hunting game in which users must walk or run to various locations.
  • Superhero Workout: The game requires users to complete exercises in the real-world, from abdominal crunches to arm punches.
  • The Walk: Gamers must carry a package that could save the world to a mysterious destination. As the player walks during the day, he/she gets closer and closer to the destination.
  • Zombies, Run: An immersive running game app in which gamers are tasked with surviving a zombie apocalypse. The app requires gamers to jog.

Grownups may have their Fitbit to get to their 10,000 steps, but these games could help your child (and maybe the entire family) get in on the action!

Be Healthy and Safe

While these mobile games get people out into the world (you can’t catch Pokémon just by sitting on your couch) there have been some concerns regarding safety.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons is urging gamers to be mindful of their surroundings and not injure themselves by walking with their eyes glued to their cell phone screen. Generally, nearly four out of 10 Americans have personally witnessed a distracted walking incident, in which people on their phones have bumped or tripped into something, according to a recent academy study.

While keeping an eye out for where you are going is crucial, being aware of the people around you is also important. Parents may want to consider discussing “stranger danger” with their children and their own family’s rules on interacting with people they do not know. It could help to play the game in a group or pairs to ensure safety.

What IAA has to Say

It is still early to tell if Pokémon Go and games like it can make a difference to a person’s health. It is however getting people off the couch and into the world. Insurance Administrator of America wants you to find an activity that gets you out of the house and moving! Make this the summer that you get out and move. Just think of IAA as your third party health monitor, cheering you on to make it to the next mile.

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Many Insurance Companies No Longer Providing COBRA Coverage

July 27th, 2016

Group of people in business clothesRecently many insurance carriers have decided they will no longer provide COBRA services to their clients.  This leaves businesses with the trouble of having to manage COBRA related matters on their own. Insurance Administrator of America can relieve companies of this costly and time consuming burden.

How IAA can Help

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)of 1985 requires most employers with group health insurance plans to continue offering employee health coverage under the employer’s plan on a temporary basis in the event of any change in employment status.

IAA COBRA Smart administrative services handle your COBRA administration by providing the following notifications and services:

  • Qualifying event notification by first class mail with proof of mailing certification by U.S. Postal Service to qualified beneficiaries for qualifying events
  • Online qualifying event notifications and history detail
  • Certification of coverage notification: Initial certificate included with qualifying event notification and second certificate following termination of COBRA.
  • Update notification by first class mail to covered employees, COBRA participants, and/or qualified beneficiaries as required by amendment to the regulations, or changes to covered benefit plans
  • Non-payment termination notification and/or end of COBRA termination
  • Billing, premium collection and remittance to the company
  • IAA maintains a database of qualifying beneficiaries to whom any notifications have been sent
  • IAA provides employer reports via email, website or through an IAA Account Executive  

With IAA’s smart, innovative, member-based system you can:

  • Control administrative costs
  • Deploy your labor force more efficiently
  • Minimize the risk of penalties and fines for non-compliance
  • Save time, money and headaches by eliminating COBRA hassle

Any new plan information or enrollment applications should be sent to COBRA participants by the broker or employer at the time that the active employees are notified.

General Process

The standard process when working alongside IAA for your business’ COBRA administration is:

  1. The employee participant experiences a COBRA qualifying event.
  2. The employer notifies IAA to send the COBRA letter. The employer has 30 days to notify IAA of a COBRA event.
  3. The employer terminates coverage with the insurance carrier.
  4. IAA sends the COBRA packet to the participant.
  5. The participant has 60 days from the loss of coverage or 60 days from the date of the COBRA letter to elect COBRA.
  6. Once IAA receives the written election and first payment, IAA notifies the employer/broker to reinstate the COBRA coverage with the insurance carrier.

IAA should be notified which plan the COBRA participant elects if there are any new options so that the proper rates and coupon notices can be sent.

 Please feel free to contact IAA for your COBRA administration needs!

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