Contraceptive Mandate Question Thrown Back to Lower Courts

May 25th, 2016

Law signThe much debated contraceptive mandate has made headlines once again. Only this time it is for a decision not being made.

The Supreme Court vs. Contraceptive Mandate

On May 16, 2016 the Supreme Court of the United States deferred deciding whether faith-based groups should be required to provide contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The justices unanimously returned religious groups' appeals to the lower courts, saying both sides should work out their differences.

The Obama administration wanted insurance companies and plan administrators to handle coverage of religious groups that don't want to provide birth control to their employees or students. But some faith-based groups said they would still play a role in providing something that is linked to abortion. Their argument is the accommodation forces them to violate their religious beliefs or pay ruinous fines. 

The decision to send the case back to the appellate level appears to be a direct impact of Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February of 2016. 

This is the second case the Supreme Court has heard challenging the contraceptive mandate. In 2014 the court ruled in favor of closely held for-profit companies that objected to providing certain contraceptives.  The court ruled 5-4 that these types of for-profit corporations whose owners objected to the mandate, could have their insurance plans deliver the benefit directly to the employees.

Background on the Contraceptive Mandate

The ACA requires most employer supported health plans to cover certain preventative care. This includes all FDA approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures prescribed for women. This includes oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices, implantable devices, barrier methods, and emergency contraceptives, but not abortifacients.  

Plans must cover these services without charging a copayment or coinsurance when provided by an in-network provider, even if you haven't met your deductible.

Some non-profit religious organizations, like non-profit religious hospitals and institutions of higher education, that certify they have religious objections  to contraceptive coverage ,don't have to contract, arrange, pay, or refer contraceptive coverage.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America is here to keep you up-to-date on what's going on in the world of healthcare. Stay with this blog to learn more about ACA changes and other health information updates. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.  

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Make Your Summer Vacation a Healthy One

May 18th, 2016

Luggage with vegtables on itSummer is just around the corner, which means it's time to plan a vacation. Summer trips can be great, but if you're not careful they could turn your health upside down. Make sure your next vacation is a healthy one.

Eat Healthy While on Vacation

Don't let your diet go on a downward spiral just because you are on vacation. You can still have great food and eat healthy:

  • A treat a day: Just try to keep your treats to one a day. After that, opt for a healthy choice instead.
  • Have it your way: Restaurant customers are asking to have it their way more and more, according to a National Restaurant Association report.
  • Resist the urge to splurge: Women tend to splurge when they eat out, then eat normal amounts during their other meals that day. This means that they end up with an abundance of calories and fat that day. 
  • Walking is your secret weapon: Sightseeing usually means walking all day. So take an after dinner stroll, swim in the hotel pool, or take the kids on an early morning bike ride.
  • Water is your friend: Keep all systems going by drinking your daily water requirement. Traveling can dehydrate you, and so can being out in the sun more than your body is used to. Bring water everywhere you go.

Plan family activities around fitness, so if you do indulge you are making up for it!

Healthy Travel Tips

While vacation can be relaxing, traveling to get to your destination can make you feel sick. Make sure you're in tip-top shape for your vacation:

  1. Get a full night's rest: Make sleep a top priority the night before your trip. Get the packing and preparations done early in the day, so you're not driving drowsy on the road or slugging through the airport with a fatigue headache.
  2. Stay active: Exercise will boost your mood and energy while traveling. Wear comfortable shoes so you can walk around the airport terminal. In the car, take breaks every two to three hours for a quick burst of fresh air and a brisk walk around the service station.
  3. Skip the in-flight cocktail, coffee and caffeinated beverages.
  4. Prepare for unexpected delays: Delays can be stressful since they're largely out of your control, but preparing for them can help you deal better.

Traveling can take a lot out of a person-- don't let it ruin your fun time when you actually get to your destination.

Take Your Health Information With You

Stay well while your away from home by making sure to:

  • Check your insurance coverage: Emergencies such as broken bones or heart attacks are usually covered outside your network area, but doctor's visits may not be. In foreign countries, you may not have any coverage at all.
  • Download your health records: If your doctor has a patient portal you can access part of your medical records. Take it with you in case of emergency.
  • Find where to get medical help: Knowing the quality of medical care you'll have access to is important.
  • Stash medicines  in your carry on: Even if you don't have to take a dose during your flight, it's best to have the medications with you instead of in your checked bags, in case the luggage is lost. 

Vacations take us away from our regular daily routine. This is beneficial to our mental wellness because experiencing new scenery can help rejuvenate the body.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to have a nice relaxing vacation this summer, just make sure to have a health checklist. Have your health information packed and ready. Feel free to contact IAA before your trip if you have any questions about emergency services while on vacation. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here!

Playground Related Brain Injuries on the Rise

May 11th, 2016

Kids on playground equipmentPlayground related brain injuries have risen significantly in the United States over the last decade, health officials say. While children can recover from these injuries, there is the potential for lasting damage.

Injuries on the Playground

Despite improvements in playground safety and design, between 2001 and 2013, emergency rooms treated an average of 21,000 playground related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) annually  among kids 14 and younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Monkey bars, playground gyms and swings were the pieces of equipment cited most often with these types of head injuries.  About two-thirds of the injuries occurred at schools and recreational sports facilities, according to a new study.

For the study, researchers looked at national injury surveillance data and found ERs treated more than 29,000 children for concussions and other serious head injuries in 2013, up from 18,000 in 2001.

Adult supervision is crucial to reduce this injury rate. Adults can help protect children by:

  • Checking the equipment over to make sure it is in good condition
  • Checking the playground surface to make sure  there is a soft landing space
  • Making sure your child is playing on age appropriate equipment

Most children do not have long-lasting injuries, the overwhelming majority of these pediatric patients   were treated and released without further care.

TBIs in Children

Infants and young children with brain injuries may lack the communication skills to report headaches, sensory problems, confusion, and similar symptoms.

In a child with a TBI  you may observe:

  • Change in ability to pay attention
  • Change in eating or nursing habits
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities
  • Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Unusual or easy irritability

A TBI is the leading cause of disability and death in children and adolescents in the U.S.  A TBI can impair a child in multiple ways. Impairments are classified into three categories:

  1. Physical
  • Balance
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Hearing
  • Motor coordination
  • Seizure disorders
  • Spasticity of muscles
  • Speech
  • Vision

2. Cognitive

  • Communication skills
  • Impaired concentration
  • Impairments of perception
  • Judgment
  • Limited attention span
  • Planning
  • Reading
  • Short-term memory deficits
  • Slowness of thinking
  • Writing

3. Emotional

  • Anxiety
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Self-centeredness

While symptoms of brain injury in children are similar to the symptoms experienced by adults, the functional impact can be very different. The brain of a child is continuing to develop. The assumption used to be a child with a brain injury would recover better that an adult because there was "plasticity" in a younger brain. More recent research has shown that's not the case. A brain injury actually has a more devastating impact on a child than an injury of the same severity has on a mature adult.

What IAA has to Say

Playgrounds are a great way for children to run around and get some exercise in! Insurance Administrator of America just wants you to keep an eye on the kids while they're having fun. Don't let your child become a TBI statistic. Just think of IAA as your third-party playground monitor.

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here!  

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month

May 4th, 2016

Bread productsEveryone loves bread products: cake, pizza, pasta, who can resist those delicious treats? There are people who suffer from a syndrome called celiac disease, which can make them sick from eating these types of foods. May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. When the body's immune system overreacts to gluten in the food, the immune reaction damages the tiny hair-like projections that line the small intestine.

Celiac disease affects about one in 141 people in the United States. The precise cause of celiac disease is unknown.

Signs and Symptoms

Both adults and children can have celiac disease, but show different signs and symptoms.

Common symptoms for adults include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bone loss or osteoporosis
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Iron deficiency
  • Mouth sores
  • Seizures
  • Skin rash
  • Tingling numbness in hands and feet

Infants and children with celiac disease tend to have digestive problems. Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal bloating and pain: These symptoms result from a failure of the small intestine to absorb nutrients from food.
  • Chronic diarrhea and constipation
  • Decreased appetite and failure to gain weight
  • Fatigue
  • Growth problems
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting

For teens with celiac disease, symptoms may not occur until they are triggered by something stressful, such as, leaving home for college or suffering an injury/illness.

Some patients will not have any symptoms of the disease because their intestine is still able to absorb a sufficient amount of nutrients to prevent their occurrence.

What IAA has to Say

Celiac disease can be a life-altering diagnosis as the patient has to rethink their entire diet. In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Insurance Administrator of America encourages you to send this blog post along to friends and colleagues. 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.

Healthy Garden; Healthy Life

April 27th, 2016

Woman gardeningThe days are longer and the weather keeps getting warmer, which means it is a perfect time to start gardening. In addition to being a source of fresh healthy produce, gardening can ease stress, keep you limber and even improve your mood.

Make the Most of Your Garden

There are many benefits to having a garden. Gardening can offer:

  • Better mental health: Focusing your mind on gardening rather than other stressors in your life helps to eliminate stress. Rigorous chopping and pruning can help relieve pent up anger and frustration.    
  • Brain health: For people who are experiencing mental decline, even just walking in the garden may be therapeutic. The sights, smells and sounds of the garden are said to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Enhanced self-esteem: Knowing that your hard work and dedication can create beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables, gives you a sense of competence and accomplishment.
  • Exercise: Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine-- it also gets your blood moving. Digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise, especially for people who find more rigorous exercise a challenge.   
  • Nutrition: The food you grow yourself is the freshest food you can eat.
  • Stress relief: Gardening can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities.

Gardening offers more than just a pretty view from your window!

Dress to Protect

Gardening is a great healthy activity, but you still need to be careful! Here are some tips to prevent any injuries:

  • Follow instructions and warning labels on chemicals and lawn and gardening equipment.
  • Stay outside for 30 to 60 minutes, then quit whether everything is planted or not.
  • Stretch first, just like you would for any other workout.
  • To lower your risk of sunburn, wear long -sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, sun shades, and sunscreen.
  • Use insect repellent to protect yourself from diseases caused by mosquitoes and ticks.  Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into your socks.
  • Wear gloves to lower the risk of skin irritations, cuts and certain contaminants.

Take a nice hot bath afterwards, you earned it!

 What IAA has to Say

Gardening is a great leisure activity, especially since it can help improve your health! Insurance Administrator of America hopes you will get started on your garden. Healthy food, exercise, what more could you ask for? Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Reminder: This Saturday, 4/30/2016, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day for unused prescriptions. Help this cause by going to your nearest drop off site to dispose of unused medications. Click here to find your local drop off site!

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