Tips For Using healthcare.gov from IBX

HCR_imagepost14Earlier this month the federal government announced that the number of Americans who purchased their health insurance through the new federal and state Marketplaces more than doubled from October to November. It’s good news, but there are many more people still without coverage. According to a recent report, in southeastern Pennsylvania more than 276,000 adults don’t have coverage.

Having insurance is more than just a safety net if something catastrophic should happen. It’s about being able to go to the doctor for routine preventive care to keep you healthy. For example, women in our region with insurance are much more likely to have routine cancer screenings such as mammograms or Pap Tests.

So, for those who have been postponing shopping for health insurance, now is the time. The deadline is fast approaching. Consumers must sign-up by December 23 to have coverage on January 1. There are still a few challenges with the federal government’s website healthcare.gov, but it has improved and is getting better every day.

Before logging on to buy health insurance, here are a few tips to help make the experience move more quickly and easily. If everything is working smoothly, the process takes between 45 minutes to an hour. Read more.

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IBX Insights Team

Health care delivery is in the midst of reform and rejuvenation — an exciting prospect, but one that can also cause confusion and questions. With IBX Insights we want to be your first line of member-focused information, helping you understand the new health care model, how it affects your quality and cost of care, and the opportunities available through IBX to improve your health. Join the conversation with IBX associates who work every day to make health care more accessible and transparent for you.

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Top 3 in health and wellness this week

Get the holiday spirit! See a light show, stop the stress, and change-up your boring cheesecake

Check out our weekly list of three health-related news topics, Philadelphia-area events, and seasonal recipes you can take advantage of during the next week.

1. Brighten up your holiday Lit Tree
If you’ve got some free time on your hands (and you’ve finished all your holiday shopping), why not take in the light shows around the city? Philly has some displays that would make even Clark W. Griswold proud. Start at Macy’s where thousands of LED lights twinkle above the Grand Court atrium while the Wanamaker Organ plays during Macy’s Christmas Light Show. Next, walk down Arch Street to the Comcast Building, to watch the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, shown on a towering video wall, updated especially for the 2013 holiday season. End your night by strolling down 18th Street to Rittenhouse Square to where the 35-foot Christmas tree sparkles with over 5,000 multi-colored lights.

2. ‘Tis the season to be stress-free!
The malls are packed, this season’s must-have toy is nowhere to be found, and 50 relatives are showing up for dinner. With so much going on, I find that it’s all too easy to let stress suck the joy right out of the season. Turn off your mind, take a deep breath, and meditate your way to a relaxed new attitude. Before you know, you can ditch the ba-humbug attitude and enjoy your time with your family and friends.

marmalade glazed orange cheesecake3. Orange you glad oranges are still in season?
Looking to change up your dessert table during the holidays? This marmalade-glazed orange cheesecake recipe might do the trick. Cheesecakes are a holiday-dessert staple, but this one has something extra. The orangey-twist not only looks pretty, it’s refreshing and healthy, too—just 199 calories! So you won’t have to feel bad about cutting yourself a slice.

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Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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Top 3 in health and wellness this week

Watch a time-honored classic, find a safe way home, and break out the sweet potatoes

Check out our weekly list of three health-related news topics, Philadelphia-area events, and seasonal recipes you can take advantage of during the next week.

nutcracker1. See the ballet; be the ballet
Are visions of Sugar Plums dancing in your head? Make your visions a reality with the Pennsylvania Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker. You can catch this holiday classic now through December 30. And, if you find yourself doing pliès after the show like I do, sign up for a ballet-inspired work-out at a studio like Pure Barre or Sculpere. These workouts incorporate the ballet barre and focus on toning and sculpting you into a lean, mean dancing machine.

2. Getting into the holiday spirit…with spirits? Don’t get behind the wheel!
drink and driveIf your weekends look like mine, they’re booked-solid with parties and gatherings until January. But, don’t let the excitement of the season keep you from staying safe. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 40 percent of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers! That’s probably why December is officially Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. When you’re planning your social calendar, be sure to plan a safe way home. And remember, you don’t have to drink a lot to be impaired—impaired driving starts at the first drink, and some prescription drugs affect driving ability, too.

3. Try a potato’s sweeter cousin
sweet-potato-3Thanksgiving may be over, but sweet potatoes are just getting started. They’re still in season and they’ve really got it going on. Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A which helps fight infections, beta-carotene which protects your skin, and they have 28 percent more potassium than bananas. Break out of the baked (yawn), mashed (snore), casseroled (Zzzzz) mold, and ditch the sweet potato fries. Try one, or all, of these healthy recipes for a sweet dish of sweet potatoes.

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Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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Top 3 in health and wellness this week

Wash your hands, run in an ugly sweater, and whip up some mushroom soup

Check out our weekly list of three health-related news topics, Philadelphia-area events, and seasonal recipes you can take advantage of during the next week.

1. Wash those hands before you shake
ibx_handshakeIt’s not exactly breaking news, but hand washing is the easiest and most effective way to prevent germs from spreading, especially during flu season. What better time for a reminder than National Hand Washing Awareness Week? (Yes! There’s actually a week for that.) You already know to wash your hands every time you use the restroom, but you should actually be scrubbing your paws way more often than that. Check out the CDC’s advice on when and how you should wash your hands. And if you’re worried about drying out your hands, just carry a travel-size moisturizer with you.

2. Don’t run from ugly!
ibx_uglysweaterIf you’re like me, you probably have at least one hideous sweater hiding in the back of the closet – you know the one with a puffy, 3-D wreath and a giant teddy bear in the middle? The Ugly Sweater Run on December 7th in Fairmount Park is the perfect time to release your sweater from its moth-balled prison and show it to the world. This isn’t your typical 5K. There are holiday-themed stations along the way and you can even replenish yourself with hot chocolate. Post run, you can celebrate with a lager or hard cider (21 years old +) and even win an award for wearing the ugliest sweater.

3. A mushroom soup that will warm up a cold day
ibx_mushroomWild about mushrooms? This Low Fat Creamy Mushroom Soup recipe is definitely worth trying. You’ll need five ounces of shitake mushrooms and eight ounces of baby portabellas, and you’re in luck: mushrooms are totally in season. You know…in case you’re a stickler about getting your veggies at a farmer’s market. Plus, since each delicious cup is only 65 calories, it’s the perfect choice to warm you up and help you slim down!

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Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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‘Tis the season for giving, not breaking the bank

For me, the holiday season means soups for dinner, hot chocolate for an afternoon snack, curling up by the fire, and presents! I love giving gifts just as much as I love receiving them. Seeing the joy when someone is opening an amazing gift that you picked out just for them is something I love to experience. breaking the bank

Setting a limit
If you’re anything like me, you feel the pressure to get your loved ones the perfect gifts. That pressure can be stressful both physically and financially. In some of my previous blogs, I’ve shared my aspirations to stay healthy financially. It’s still an area where I struggle and consciously have to convince myself that I don’t need those new shoes or that new cocktail dress.

After speaking with my Mom about my current financial worries, we decided to set a limit for our family gift exchange this year. These gifts are really just so everyone will have something to open – pure entertainment.

Sticking to a budget
I’ll be honest, I can almost guarantee you that I will go over the budget; but, I will try my hardest not to do that.

One of the budget friendly gifts I made last year for a few colleagues was a pampered jar — I bought mason jars and filled them with lip gloss, hand lotion, fuzzy socks, tea, and chocolate. They were a huge hit! What’s even better is you can customize these and fill mason jars with candy, cookies, hot chocolate ingredients, or anything else!

Do you have any ideas for budget-friendly gifts? How do you keep from breaking the bank during the holidays?

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Anna

I’m a Innovation Analyst at IBX. I love traveling and have explored at least one new country every year for the past 6 years. Follow my posts to see what I’ve learned through the unique workout I participate in and how I continue to strive for an overall healthy, balanced life.

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Top 3 in health and wellness this week

Tease your brain, pass the latkes, and shop-til-you-drop online

Check out our weekly list of three health-related news topics, Philadelphia-area events, and seasonal recipes you can take advantage of during the next week.

1. Brain teasers keep your mind sharp!puzzles

If you were running a race and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in then? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, solving brain teasers like this, as well as doing crossword puzzles, reading, and playing games, is a great way to keep your brain active. And since November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, it’s a great time to make some time every day to sharpen your brain.

By the way, the answer to the brain teaser is YOU would be in 2nd place.

2. Could you pass the cranberries and latkes, please?

ThanksgivukkahFor the first time since 1888, the first day of Hanukkah falls on the same day as Thanksgiving – thus the term “Thanksgivukkah” was born. To help celebrate this hybrid holiday, you can buy t-shirts, visit the Thanksgivukkah Facebook page, and even whip up some sweet potato latkes with cranberry sauce (only 60 calories per serving!). If you miss this year’s celebration, you won’t get another chance in your lifetime. The next Thanksgivukkah won’t occur for more than 70,000 years!

3. Cyber Monday. T.G.I.N.F!
cybermonday
Do you brave long lines, stampedes of angry shoppers, and filled-to-the-brim parking lots to get the best deals? If just thinking about Black Friday stresses you out, skip the hoopla this year. Cyber Monday is quickly becoming one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Instead of mapping a Black Friday battle plan, you can do your holiday shopping without even leaving your house. For the best deals, visit cybermonday.com and shop til’ you drop. Just don’t get caught browsing the sales at work!

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Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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Top 3 in health and wellness this week

Walk through Autumn’s Colors, quit smoking, and replace potatoes with cauliflower

Check out our weekly list of three health-related news topics, Philadelphia-area events, and seasonal recipes you can take advantage of during the next week.

autumn1. Autumn’s Colors is still on display at Longwood Gardens.

This week will be your last chance to bring the family to Longwood Gardens to see Autumn’s Colors before next season’s display. It’s a great chance to explore the changing landscape, including the Idea Garden and the Flower Garden Walk. Get your tickets; kids four and under are free so bring the whole family! Plus, you could burn over 300 calories just from walking through the 20-room conservatory.

2. Kick smoking’s butt in honor of the Great American Smokeout!

smokeoutHave you been toying with the idea of quitting smoking? Now’s a great time to actually do it! November 21st is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, a day dedicated to encouraging smokers to make plans to quit. The sooner you quit, the better. It’s an important step to a healthier life and reduced cancer risk.

3. Try a low-cal mash-up this Thanksgiving.

garlicFor those on low-carb diets, the craziness and rich foods that come with the holidays can dampen your intention to eat right. One place to cut a corner is replacing mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower – it’s a delicious way to cut your calories and carbs in half. Here’s a mashed garlic cauliflower recipe just in time for Thanksgiving.

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Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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Top 3 in health and wellness this week

Diabetes Month, clean your fridge, and eat an apple.

Check out our weekly list of three health-related news topics, Philadelphia-area events, and seasonal recipes you can take advantage of during the next week.

1. It’s National Diabetes Month; find out if you’re at risk.Step Out_2012

Did you know that 8.3 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes? That’s 25.8 million children and adults that suffer from the disease. Since November is National Diabetes Month, it’s a good time to take this test to find out if you’re at risk for developing diabetes. Then, learn how you can lower your risk by visiting the American Diabetes Association.

2. Clean out your fridge, already!

If you fridge is full of mystery take-out and left-overs from who-knows-when, it’s probably a good time to clean out your fridge. And you’re in luck! November 15th is National Clean Your Fridge Day! So check those expiration dates. If you see a suspicious-looking container hiding in the back, throw it out before it walks away. And, if you’re not sure how long you should keep certain things like leftovers and condiments before they become unhealthy, take a look at this infographic to help you out!
whats_that_smell_v2

3. An apple a day…

Apples are at their best in the fall, and you don’t have to eat them for snacks or dessert. Try adding apples to your next dinner. This sweet, savory spiced pork tenderloin with sautéed apples recipe has only 234 calories per serving and it’s perfect for nights you don’t have time to make a huge meal.
spiced-pork-tenderloin-ck-l

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Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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Health insurance covers 100 percent of preventive care…. but what is preventive care?

Over the past few months IBX has been hitting the road to help consumers understand the important changes included in the Affordable Care Act. We have been meeting people at health clinics, community fairs, seminars, festivals, YMCAs, and many more places throughout the region.

One question that comes up most often is, “What is preventive care?”

Consumers have heard that the health care law requires health insurance plans to cover 100 percent of the costs for preventive care. However, a question we often hear is, “How do I know what is considered preventive care?”

Essentialbenefits

Preventive care is the care you receive to prevent illnesses or diseases. It also includes counseling to prevent health problems. Providing these services at no cost is based on the idea that getting preventive care, such as screenings and immunizations, can help you and your family stay healthy. Preventive care may also help reduce your health care costs down the road if you catch a problem early, or if an immunization keeps you from getting a serious illness.

Here are a few pointers about what’s covered, plus tips to help you know what to expect.*

A few examples of preventive care services:

  • Wellness visits and standard immunizations
  • Screenings for blood pressure, cancer, cholesterol, depression, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes
  • Pediatric screenings for hearing, vision, autism and developmental disorders, depression, and obesity

See the full list of preventive care services.

Is there ever a chance you might have to pay?

Many preventive services are 100 percent covered by insurance. For example, if you have an IBX plan, you won’t have to pay anything for these services if you see a doctor or health care professional within our network.
But there’s a chance that you may still be asked to pay after a visit for additional services.

It’s important to make sure that you and your doctor are on the same page. Always ask what services your doctor is providing. What you pay will also depend on how he or she bills your health insurer.

  • If a preventive screening uncovers something that could be serious, your doctor may order additional tests, schedule a follow up visit, or refer you to a specialist. The additional tests and follow-up may not be 100 percent covered.
  • If a preventive screening uncovers something that your doctor says needs to be addressed right away, then that visit may switch from being prevention to treatment. Also, if you see a doctor to diagnose, monitor, or treat an illness or injury, the visit is not considered preventive care. In these cases, your normal cost-sharing would apply (copayments, coinsurance, or deductible).
  • There may be limits on the number of preventive services you can receive with no out-of-pocket cost. For example, in some plans, a wellness exam may be 100 percent covered once every other year. However, if you get a checkup more often, your normal member cost-sharing fees may apply.
    In any case, it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance company ahead of time on the services that will be covered.

What if you are charged for a preventive care service?

The Affordable Care Act made a lot of changes and many people are still getting used to the new rules. If you’re charged for a service you believe should have been 100 percent covered, here’s what you should do.

  1. Keep your paperwork. You can save a lot of time later if you keep your paperwork and bills handy.
  2. Check with your doctor’s office. Ask what services were billed to the insurance company. Does it match what you remember from your visit? If it turns out there was a mistake, the doctor’s office can send a corrected claim to the health insurance provider.
  3. Check with your health insurer. Ask what services the doctor’s office billed. Does it match what you remember from your visit?
  4. Ask your doctor for a reimbursement. If your doctor agrees that a mistake was made with your bill, ask your doctor to reimburse you the appropriate out-of-pocket expense.

*The Affordable Care Act allows certain health insurance plans that went into effect before March 2010 to be considered “grandfathered,” meaning they are not required to cover 100 percent of preventive care services.

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Scott

Scott Post is vice president of corporate and association affairs and serves as lead health care reform executive at Independence Blue Cross (IBC). In this capacity, Post supports the senior team on interpretation of the health care bill and implementation efforts across market segments. He also coordinates with IBC’s Strategy Office, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) on future implications for the industry, markets, and consumers.

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Gobble gobble! Try these great Turkey Trots!

Turkey Trot In the spirit of Thanksgiving, there are plenty of 5K races you and your family can participate in, whether you’re a runner or a walker. These turkey-themed races are taking place all over the area, so find one near you and trot to it!

Bucks County

Bucks County Roadrunners Thanksgiving Day 5 Miler
Langhorne, PA
Thursday, November 28, 2013
5M run, 1M run, 1M walk

Jimmy’s Run: The Jimmy Cogan Memorial
Doylestown, PA
Thursday, November 28, 2013
5K run, 1M walk

Chester County

Chester County Turkey Trot
Downingtown, PA
Thursday, November 28, 2013
5K run, 1M run, kids run

Phoenixville Jaycees Burn off the Bird
Phoenixville, PA
Saturday, November 30, 2013
5K, 1M walk

Delaware County

Cardinal Foley School Turkey Trot
Havertown, PA
Saturday, November 30, 2013
5K, 1.2M walk

St. Bernadette Turkey Trot
Drexel Hill, PA
Saturday, November 30, 2013
5K run

Montgomery County

Towamencin Turkey Trot
Lansdale, PA
Saturday, November 23, 2013
5K run

Abington YMCA Gobble Wobble
Abington, PA
Thursday, November 28, 2013
5K, 2M walk

Philadelphia

Fairmount Park Turkey Trot
Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, November 28, 2013
5M

New Jersey

Moorestown Turkey Trot
Moorestown, NJ
Thursday, November 21, 2013
5K

Haddon Township Turkey Trot
Westmont, NJ
Saturday, November 30, 2013
5K run, 1M fun run, 1M walk

Delaware

PNC Bank Thanksgiving Day Run/Walk for MS
Wilmington, DE
Thursday, November 28, 2013
10K run, 5K run, Kids run, 5K walk

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Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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