Medicare Basics Without an App

Vantage Point: There’s Not an App for That – But We Can Help!

Personal fitness trackers—like the Fitbit® or Jawbone®—are popular devices to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions and stay fit all year long. The fitness tracker collects data and sends it to a phone app that tracks physical activity, calorie intake, and sleep quality. Wouldn’t it be cool if the device included an insurance tab to help people navigate their Medicare benefits, too?

Could you imagine how you’d feel slipping on the device if it said,
• “You have adequate coverage for your current health.”
• “Your doctor is in-network, and the out-of-pocket cost for your upcoming appointment is $10.”
• “Warning, you are nearing the prescription coverage gap.”

Until that technology comes along, Health Alliance Medicare can help explain Medicare basics. Most people paid for Medicare Part A through their payroll taxes while they were working, so they don’t pay a premium now. Part A covers inpatient hospital procedures, but not the doctor who does the procedure.

Medicare Part B covers the doctor and requires a monthly premium. Both A and B have deductibles (what you pay before your coverage kicks in) and coinsurance (a percentage of total cost that you pay). Figuring out coinsurance is tricky because it’s hard to plan what the overall doctor visit or hospital cost will be.

Medicare Part D is for prescription drug coverage. If you don’t choose Part D when you become eligible for Medicare, you could pay a penalty, called the Late Enrollment Penalty, if you add it later. If you pay a lot for your medicine, it’s important to read your monthly Explanation of Benefits to see if and when you’ll fall into the coverage gap.

Medicare Advantage plans, like Health Alliance Medicare, are called Part C and cover every benefit of Original Medicare and more, plus you can add prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans can be an easy transition for those turning 65 because they look a lot like employer insurance plans.

Until someone invents a Medicare app, consider Health Alliance Medicare your source for information. Helping people get started with the right information to avoid common and costly pitfalls later is the best part of our jobs.

Healthy Life Choices

Being the Healthiest Version of Yourself

As you make your New Year’s Resolutions this year, we want to help! Not only do we help you get the medical care and preventive care that keep you healthy, we also want to help you make healthy life choices. 

Eating Healthy

A healthy diet and good nutrition can both help you be the best that you can be, a key part of making healthy life choices.

  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke
  • Eating a diet rich in certain vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancer
  • Diets rich in healthy fiber can reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes
  • Eating vegetables rich in potassium can lower blood pressure, decrease bone loss, and the risk of kidney stones

We know that knowing what to eat or finding healthy recipes can be hard. But making small changes in diet can affect your health in a big way, and we have people to help.

Members can call our Quality & Medical Management Department at 1-800-851-3379, ext. 8112 for more information. You can also check this blog regularly, follow our Twitter and Facebook for weekly recipes, or look at our Pinterest for hundreds of recipes and resources.

Getting In Shape

Exercise is also an important part of being the healthiest you can be. Regular physical activity provides a variety of benefits, like:

  • Controlling your weight
  • Reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reducing your risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Reducing your risk of some cancers
  • Strengthening your bones and muscles
  • Improving your mental health and mood
  • Improving your ability to do daily activities or prevent falls as an older adult
  • Increasing your chance of living longer

Clearly fitness can improve your health, but we know that gym memberships and workout equipment can be expensive.

That’s why we have teamed up with a number of gyms and fitness locations to give our members discounted memberships and rates. Look at that list and find a location that fits into your budget.

Learn more about health and wellness with Health Alliance.

Fresh Beginning

My Healthy Journey: Beginning Fresh

I don’t normally make resolutions for New Years. But this year, in the spirit of My Healthy Journey, I’m beginning fresh with goals that I both think I can succeed with and that would make me really happy for 2015.

  • Try yoga. It’s good exercise, and can help my back, which I have some problems with. Plus the meditation and stress relief would be great. Starting small with podcasts and free videos counts! I want to get comfortable doing it before I consider being seen by innocent people passing by.
  • Cook at home. I’ve gotten much better about this the last six months, but I want to keep it up, so it is definitely a big goal for 2015.
  • Finish writing my book. I have been working on a novel since my junior year of college, and I’m about half way done with it. Now that I have a job where I have a set schedule and free time, I’m determined to finish it in 2015. (This is one that is such a personal goal that I know it’s hard to see in your own life. But think about something you’re passionate about that you want to do or finish this year. Finish knitting a blanket? Learn to build furniture? There’s so many possibilities for you to make this sort of goal your own!)
  • Read more. In college, I got to read fiction all the time. I still take in news all the time, but I don’t get around to books enough. This year, I need to read more!
  • Spend less time on my phone and computer when I’m not working. All I do at work is look at screens, websites, and social media. When I leave work, I still spend about an hour of my time reading my own social media feeds each day. I really want to cut this back, and replace it with things like the books above.
  • Be active with my dog. I can swear this won’t happen until it’s warmer out, (because I am cold when it’s 70 degrees in my house.) But once we change seasons again, I really want to get out there with my dog. She would love it, and it will help me get off the couch and keep us both healthy.
  • Save money from every paycheck. While working at Starbucks, I started saving my tips, about $40 a week, and after 9 months, I had the down payment for my car. I never really noticed not spending that money, but it added up really fast! I want to continue this good habit.
  • Mark one thing off my bucket list. I saw this idea online, and I think it’s a great one. I can’t promise you which thing it will be, but this year, I will go somewhere or do something I’ve always wanted to.
  • Use my food tracking to eat healthier. I want to build it into a habit that helps me make healthier choices based on what I’m actually doing.
  • Treat myself! I spend a lot of time running around, working, being stressed out, and then trying to recover by cuddling with my dog in my bed. But this year, I want to make a special effort to boost my mood with special things, even if it’s just making an effort to get my favorite coffee once in a while.  For example, in January, I have plans for how I’m going to make my bed super cozy (all courtesy of this Buzzfeed article,) that I am really looking forward to, so I can improve my dog cuddling time.

See my other post Resolutions You Can Actually Do to get some fun and useful ideas for your own resolutions.

Choosing New Years Resolutions

Resolutions You Can Actually Do

While I was thinking about my own resolutions, I of course did some Googling. Here are some great resolution ideas for you that can both better your life and are actually doable. Don’t try them all at once, but they are good ideas to start making small changes in your life!

  • Try 52 new foods this year. Once a week, cook at home and make a food you’ve never tried before. It will help you start cooking at home, and it will feel like an adventure!
  • Rather than writing down your resolutions, try using pictures to inspire you instead. Our brains respond more powerfully to images than text. Try a resolutions cork board in your house or a Pinterest board online. (Check out our Pinterest for all kinds of healthy ideas.)
  • Stop looking for a soul mate. Studies show that having things in common or compatibility aren’t what actually makes good relationships. Two people who really want to give it a shot are more likely to make it than two who like the same things.
  • Change the info you take in. There’s been lots of debate about how technology can help or hurt us mentally. But maybe it’s better to worry about what you’re taking in off all your devices. All of the info in the world is at your fingertips online, so spend some time reading about something other than celebrities.
  • Make things yourself. “The Ikea Effect” says we get more satisfaction from things we worked harder for, even if it’s just cooking a meal.
  • Don’t try too hard to save money. While you do save  by cutting out your morning latte, if that drink adds to your mood each day, your happiness may be worth the small cost.
  • Befriend your friends’ friends. Creating social networks in real life by connecting to your friends’ other friends has shown to be satisfying for everyone involved.
  • Make a change to your workspace. Studies show green in your workspace can help you concentrate, and that standing while you work can be better for your health.
  • And don’t forget to love yourself! And have a Happy New Year!

Calvin & Hobbes Resolutions Comic

Read more stats, facts, and ideas about these resolutions from this The Guardian article.

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Baking Christmas Cookies

Healthy Christmas Cookies

This week in food, we gave you delicious and healthy recipes for Christmas cookies to make for your holiday celebrations.

First up was a classic Gingerbread Cookie that clocks in at just 91 calories.

Gingerbread Cookie

 

Chewy Molasses Cookies are a spicy holiday classic you can leave out for Santa.

Chewy Molasses Cookies

 

These Chocolate and Peppermint Cookies have all the flavors of the holiday season.

Chocolate and Peppermint Cookies

 

These Raspberry Linzer Windowpane Cookies are delicious at just 79 calories each.

Raspberry Linzer Windowpane Cookies

 

Try these easy Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies for a gluten-free option.

Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies

 

These organic Coconut Butter Cookies are also gluten-free and no-bake.

Organic Coconut Butter Cookies/Bark Recipe

 

Mexican Chocolate Cookies have a surprise kick, and are just 80 calories each.

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

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Season of Giving Presents

Season of Giving

While it’s getting down to the wire to give to a Christmas charity, it’s never too late for giving. Donate to one of these organizations that works year-round.

UNICEF strives to help children around the world all the time. Learn more about them and give this holiday season!

It’s not too late to adopt your kids a pet for Christmas! Help an animal or just give at the American Humane Society.

Adopt an animal with the World Wildlife Fund and teach your kids about protecting them around the world.

Make-A-Wish International helps give joy to sick kids around the world all-year. Donate today!

Direct Relief helps people around the world, particularly in emergencies, like Ebola. Deliver a world of good!

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital works to treat and cure the diseases that hurt our kids most. Help them operate.

The United Nations Foundation has campaigns to help people around the world. This holiday season, choose a good cause.

Holiday Safety

Holiday Safety

This week on social media, we gave you helpful holiday safety tips for staying safe this season.

Make sure you carefully inspect holiday lights each year and throw out old or damaged lights that could cause fires.

Holiday Lights

Fresh trees are best for avoiding fires. Fake trees should say they’re fire resistant.

Christmas Trees

 

Always turn your holiday lights off when you leave the house and go to bed.

Outdoor Holiday Lights

 

Never connect more than one extension cord together. Use one long cord. Connecting extension cords increases the risk of fires.

Tangled Cords

 

Never keep open flames near your trees, garland, wreaths, or fabric decorations.

Candles and the Holidays

 

Don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. They can ignite and burn suddenly and intensely, causing worse fires.

Holiday Fireplace

 

Be careful with fire salts that change your fire’s color. Keep out of the reach of children, they can contain heavy metals.

A Fire During the Holidays

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