Open Enrollment: Close the Gap?

Woman holding child on lap sitting next to a woman wearing a doctor's coat and stethoscope. Child is giving a high five to the doctor.
By Shane Power, President of Watertree Health… 

Open enrollment is starting again next month, but the time period has changed dramatically: it now only runs from November 1st – December 15th, compared to January 31st in previous years. What probably won’t change is the gap between adequate health insurance and affordability.

As the new plan year starts, it appears likely that huge numbers of individuals and families will remain “underinsured” because they’ll buy the least expensive plan on the marketplace. This means they’ll have high copays, high deductibles, high number of medications not covered and/or high out-of-pocket costs.

This should concern us because price has been cited as the key reason for prescription noncompliance:

  • 20-30% of prescriptions are never filled
  • Approximately 50% of medications for chronic diseases are not taken as prescribed

This lack of adherence causes approximately 125,000 deaths a year and costs the U.S. health care system $100-289 billion annually.

So, what do we do?

A recent article in The Hill by Gary Shapiro, “10 no-brainer ways to cut healthcare costs without hurting quality”, had a few interesting ideas. Below are some that I think should be considered:

  • Let the #1 purchaser of drugs in the U.S.—the federal government—negotiate drug prices
  • Don’t incentivize health care professionals to prescribe more costly drugs
  • When patents expire, get rid of roadblocks to the introduction of generics
  • Think about a price cap on prescriptions

We need to take a fresh approach to the accessibility of health care in America. Otherwise, the cycle of health for millions of Americans will not get better, probably only worse.

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Watertree Health is the leading provider of free prescription discount cards benefitting nonprofits year-round. Cardholders save up to 75% off brand name and generic prescriptions at virtually every pharmacy nationwide.

5 Remedies for Halloween Tummy Troubles

Halloween CandyHalloween is a celebration unmatched by any other holiday. Sure, there are the costumes and the pumpkins, but what really sets Halloween apart? The candy.

Recent statistics show that Americans will spend more than $9 billion on Halloween candy this year. That equates to bags upon bags of sweet, sugary goodies waiting to land in your little monster’s trick or treat bag. 

The Uncomfortable Aftermath of a Sugar High
When your little ones get home on Halloween night, they will probably sit down, sort through their candy bags and chow down. While they may have fun with all their favorites to start, this high may be short-lived.

Let’s look at what is happening inside of your child’s body on Halloween night: Eating all of that sugar gives a rush of energy at first. The pancreas is churning out insulin and that insulin rapidly takes sugar into the cells. But once all of the sugar is used up, the insulin levels don’t come down right away. Insulin levels remain high and that leads to a state of low blood glucose (sugar) called hypoglycemia.

There’s no need to panic in this situation. For healthy, non-diabetic children, hypoglycemia is a temporary occurrence that resolves itself, but there are side effects. Your child may look pale and feel sick to the stomach.

Once all of the candy makes its way down the digestive tract, your child may have heartburn, gas, diarrhea, or continued nausea. Just like hypoglycemia, this GI distress is temporary.

Home Remedies for a Sugar Hangover
If your child is feeling the effects of a sugar hangover, try some of these home remedies to help get them back to normal.

  1. Make some tea: Teas with ginger, peppermint, chamomile, or licorice are helpful in soothing and relaxing the body.
  1. Drink water: Simple H20 can flush out the sugar and reset the digestive tract.
  1. Eat a small, healthy snack: Apples and bananas will help move the candy through the intestines. A piece of plain toast may also help.apples and bananas
  1. Go to bed: Going to bed early is probably the worst way for a child to spend Halloween, but this could be the best solution for a tummy ache. Encourage your child to rest lying on their stomach. This is helpful for releasing trapped gas. Hopefully, they will sleep right through any discomfort.
  1. Take over-the-counter medicine: If these natural remedies aren’t working, you may want to try over-the-counter medications to soothe the digestive tract. Tums, Pepto-Bismol, Zantac, and Imodium are a few options. Be sure to check with your doctor before giving your child any medications.

To be sure, we aren’t suggesting parents turn into candy police on Halloween. The holiday only comes around once each year and we know it’s tempting to let children have a candy free-for-all. However, there is a middle ground. Try limiting your child to three small pieces of candy per day, decorate a “Halloween House” (similar to a gingerbread house at Christmas), or encourage your child to donate candy to soldiers overseas. Kids can have fun with candy and keep their tummies happy at the same time!

If you are on a medication and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

By WHBlogger 
10/29/2014 
Updated: 10/30/18

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

What’s the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

NWEDNESDAYovember is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Also known as, “diabetes mellitus”, diabetes affects over 30.3 million people, or nearly 10% of the U.S. population. According to the CDC, 7.2 million of that 30.3 million are undiagnosed. Also, there is the misperception that those affected with diabetes have brought it upon themselves simply by living an unhealthy lifestyle involving little exercise and poor dietary choices. That’s why it’s  important to learn about the two main types of diabetes and help to raise awareness. 

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease marked by the body’s inability to process insulin. Formerly called “juvenile-onset” or “insulin-dependent”, this type accounts for 5 to 10% of the people who have diabetes. Instead of converting sugar to insulin, the immune system destroys the cells that release it, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without this hormone, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy. People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin therapy to regular blood-sugar levels.

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, formerly called “adult-onset” or “non-insulin-dependent”, can develop at any age. It most commonly appears during adulthood, but unfortunately is now occurring with children. People with type 2 diabetes represent 90 to 95% of the people who have diabetes, and are insulin resistant. This means their cells cannot absorb insulin, causing it to remain in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar.

Some people can manage type 2 diabetes with healthy eating and exercise. (Always consult your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise regimen.)  In addition to healthy habits, the doctor may need to prescribe oral medications (pills) and/or insulin to help regulate blood glucose levels.

Reducing the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Lifestyle changes may significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A diet that focuses on eliminating simple sugars in processed foods and high sugar natural foods, such as mangoes, cherries, and grapes can help. Additionally, protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates (e.g., peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables) assist in regulating blood sugar levels and preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes. Eating whole foods as much as possible is recommended. Cardio and strength training daily for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week, may help.

If you’re interested in learning if you have diabetes or at risk for developing it, ask your doctor for a glucose tolerance test. 

If you or someone you know has diabetes, you may benefit from a Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card.  All prescriptions and some devices are eligible for savings. To look up the drug savings with the card, visit Wtree.us/SavingsTool. To get a card, text CARD to 95577, or click here.
 
By WHBlogger 
11/16/2015 
Updated: 10/30/18

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like.

4 Ways to Help Your Local Food Bank

hunger monthTens of thousands of families, especially as we get closer to the holidays, rely on their local Food Banks for wholesome meals. So, it’s not too early to start going through your supplies for “healthy” canned goods to donate, or even make a special trip to the grocery store for your local Food Bank. 

Unfortunately, many families can’t afford to eat every day. In fact, according to Feeding America1 in 8 Americans struggles with hunger. Our nation’s Food Banks provide nutritious meals for families who otherwise couldn’t afford to buy groceries much less have a holiday meal like you and I do. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Food Banks, along with other services providing meals to the public, distribute more than 2.5 billion pounds of food each year, and always need as much help as they can get. Here’s how you can contribute.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 11.03.17 AM

Click the image to locate your local Food Bank

How You Can Help Your Local Food Bank
You can find your local Food Bank on the Feeding America website. It has a directory of all the Food Banks in the United States. There are many ways you can help year round and especially now as we approach the holidays:

  1. You don’t have to donate just food, either. Consider donating your time to your local Food Bank. Many need help with stocking, collecting donations, and handing out food. 

  2. It’s a good idea to call ahead before making a food donation to learn about possible restrictions. Also, some may have a list of items they need. Most Food Banks will accept non-perishable items, like canned food, pasta, and rice; you can drop off these items at any time. Contact the Food Bank if you want to donate fresh produce or meat. 

  3. Food Banks are always willing to take monetary donations, as well.

  4. Use your free Prescription Discount Card benefitting one of our Food Bank partners.  Every time you save on a prescription, we make a donation to the organization. To date, our card has helped provide 1.5 million meals. By simply saving money on your Rx, you can help that number grow. 
FBROK_CARD

Click the card image to get a card benefitting the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

Together, we can help end hunger in America. By making a donation of food, time, or money, you give families in need access to healthy and nutritious food that they otherwise couldn’t afford. To get a free Prescription Discount Card that can cut the cost of your prescriptions while benefitting your local Food Bank, visit: WatertreeHealthCard.com/Food-Bank

By WHBlogger 
10/15/2015 
Updated: 10/14/18

Instructions and Disclaimer:
The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like.


Sources:

http://www.feedingamerica.org
http://money.howstuffworks.com/economics/volunteer/organizations/food-bank.htm
http://mentalfloss.com/article/86965/12-ways-you-can-help-your-local-food-bank

Stretch Your Way to Better Health

By Shane Power, President of Watertree Health

Checking emails, jumping on conference calls, and working on my computer are all a part of my typical workday. Naturally, these tasks require me to be seated for a long period of time. Many of us who work in office spaces, (including remote locations and at-home offices) sit without a second thought because it’s one of the many norms of office culture. Unfortunately, we face a harsh reality: sitting for long periods of time can take a toll on our physical mobility. It can create stress on your body and cause you to develop symptoms like:

  • Lower back pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Low blood circulation

Stretching can be a great tool to help alleviate some of the stored tension in your body, but if the issue persists, consider getting in touch with a physical therapist to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Here are some stretches you can do while seated at your desk. Consult with your health care professional to ensure they’re right for you.

Neck Roll
This simple stretch can help reduce stiffness in your neck. Tilting your head from side to side, then back and forth can help lengthen the spinal disks that help support your head.

Spinal Twist
In a seated position, turn your torso to the back of the chair without shifting your lower body. In that turned position, place your hands on the top of the chair to deepen the spinal twist. It’s recommended you hold this position for a minimum of 10 seconds.

Chest Opener
With hands clasped together behind your back, stretch your arms upward to activate the stretch in your neck, shoulders and arms. This will help elongate your muscles.

Work days can be long and demanding but a few short minutes of stretching can help prevent long-term physical consequences. Make it a part of your daily routine, and stretch your way to better health.

October is National Physical Therapy (PT) month. PT (Physical Therapy) is not only used to rehabilitate those who’ve lost mobility but to help prevent serious or disabling damage to joints, ligaments and muscles.