Often, employees enroll in medical insurance plans for protection against unpredictable events, sudden illness or serious health concerns that may result in expensive medical bills. Getting the most from your benefits requires understanding coverages and deductibles, as well as taking advantage of voluntary benefits, like dental, vision and hearing, to stay healthy and save money.
4 Ways to Stretch Your Health Benefits
Avoid surprises. About 91 percent of adults in the United States are confused about what their benefits cover, according to a recent Harris poll. The best starting point is to review your plan so you understand the care and services covered. If you have a high-deductible plan, you will need to pay for most or a percentage of the health costs until reaching the individual or family deductible. Be prepared to pay any copayments or deductibles the plan requires before receiving care. Also, before scheduling appointments, ask for a cost estimate for the appointment, tests or service.
Preventive dental and vision. Many voluntary plans, such as dental and vision, offer preventive exams, such as routine cleanings and vision exams, that are fully covered. That’s because these preventive exams help to maintain and improve overall health and help reduce health costs. Voluntary coverage is affordable and many plans offer added incentives. For example, coverage for LASIK, dental, vision and hearing benefits can increase from one year to the next for those who continue to enroll and use their benefits. Members could earn monetary rewards to use for dental, vision, LASIK, orthodontia and hearing benefits, care materials and services simply by using their benefits and keeping the benefits paid out under a specified amount.
Medical screenings. Routine health screenings, such as mammograms, immunizations, colonoscopy procedures and prostate cancer screenings, which may be covered fully or in part by your medical coverage, can help you stay healthy and lower health care costs.
Get paid to save. Many employers encourage employees to save money by matching a percentage of the amount the employee contributes to the plan. If available, enroll in a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account to set aside money to pay for health care costs.
Learn more about the questions to ask when reviewing benefit plans at ameritasinsight.com.
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(BPT) - If you feel like you're working more, but getting less done, you're not alone. Employees are working an average of 44 hours per week, of which only 29 were considered to be productive, according to a new survey of 1,200 full time office workers.
The recent "Productivity in the Workplace" study commissioned by Fellowes found respondents feel the key to productivity is making adjustments within the existing workday versus working more hours. Chatty coworkers top the list of productivity killers, with unnecessary meetings, cell phone disruptions and problems with office equipment also on the list. Respondents identify productivity boosters as cutting back on meetings, having more quiet spaces to work, schedule flexibility and more up-to-date technology.
Laura Stack, also known as "The Productivity Pro," travels the country helping organizations of every size improve their employee and team productivity. She shares the following tips to help people make the most of their hours in the office so they can get back to business.
1. Give disruptions the boot. Resist the urge to constantly check email and turn off email notifications. Put your cell phone on airplane mode, instant messaging on Do Not Disturb, and let calls go to voice-mail.
2. Speak up. Need something new in the office to help your coworkers and you stay more productive? It never hurts to ask. Office equipment, like printers and shredders, are now being made with advanced technologies that can make your job easier and help you get back to work.
3. Cut down on meetings. Ask yourself if you really need to have a meeting. Can you cover agenda items via email? Cancel meetings if face time isn't imperative and give colleagues more time to get their jobs done. Also, try to schedule one day a week on your calendar that is meeting-free.
4. Don't multi-task, single-task. When you do have a meeting, make sure you are 100 percent focused. You don't want to miss crucial updates and next steps on projects, it will only hurt your productivity later on.
5. Practice "on, in, around, or shred." Eighty-eight percent of people use paper in the office. Keep items you work with daily on your desk, those you work with weekly in your desk drawers, and those you work with monthly around your desk, in archives, or filing cabin Use an automatic shredder for everything else, like Fellowes' line of AutoMax shredders, which shred up to 500 sheets of paper at a time with the simple touch of a button -which helps avoid disruptions.
6. Break it down. If you have trouble getting started with a big task, break it into smaller chunks. Ask yourself, "What is the next action step I need to take to see progress on this project?" Then set a timer, leap into action, and focus on the next step.
7. Vary activities. For mental and physical alertness, vary sitting activities with standing ones, mental activities with physical ones. It will help prevent fatigue and keep your efficiency high.
8. Put some fun into your work. Turn boring tasks into a game. Make a deal with yourself that when you complete the activity, you will do something fun afterward - like taking a walk or having a piece of chocolate. By creating internal enthusiasm, you can stay focused longer.
9. Change of scenery. Try to work in a different setting once a week. Whether you work from home, the library, or a nearby park, new surroundings can inspire ideas and give you the energy you need to tackle your to-do list.
To learn more about Laura Stack and the "Productivity in the Workplace" study, visit www.fellowes.com or www.TheProductivityPro.com.
(BPT) - As the new administration and Congress settle into office, many organizations are working hard to put America’s 21 million veterans at the top of the nation’s “to-do” list.
“Veterans share a common thread — regardless of where they served or for how long — they are driven to protect our country and ensure freedom for all citizens,” says DAV (Disabled American Veterans) National Commander Dave Riley. “At the same time, they face unique challenges, from health problems related to their military service to translating their job skills into meaningful employment opportunities. It’s our nation’s duty to support veterans once they return home.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that 20 percent of veterans who served since 9/11 are estimated to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Twenty veterans take their lives every day, most of whom never seek help from the VA, and many veterans struggle to find employment, often leading to homelessness.
To help change the lives of countless veterans and their families, DAV has suggested three priorities for our country’s leaders in 2017:
* Ensure veterans have access to quality and timely health care, including effective mental health services. Changes in the health care system for veterans are critical according to leading veterans service organizations like DAV and VFW, as well as bipartisan leaders in Congress. They all agree the best path forward is to create local, high-performing health care networks, led by the VA, which combine the best of VA with the best of community care.
* Give needed benefits to the caregivers of veterans. While caregivers for veterans who served after 9/11 receive benefits and resources, caregivers of veterans who served in earlier conflicts, such as World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, do not receive them. This law must be amended and made inclusive.
* Educate employers about the value of hiring veterans, particularly those with disabilities. A recent survey of employers released by DAV, Monster.com and Military.com reveals 30 percent of employers worry about hiring veterans with PTSD. However, the vast majority of employers who have hired veterans with disabilities report it’s been a positive and productive experience.
You can support U.S. veterans.
You can be a positive voice for veterans and support changes in your communities. Start by speaking up on important veteran issues and write your elected officials in Congress. Volunteer with your local VA hospital or drive veterans to medical appointments. And, if you own a business or are a hiring manager, be sure your organization considers veterans’ unique talents and strengths.
America made a promise to care for its veterans, those men and women who sacrificed for everyone's freedoms. Now the nation’s leaders must live up to that promise. For more information about important veteran issues and how you can help, visit www.dav.org.
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