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.

A running club can help you go the extra mile

The best running advice I received was to join a running club. I remember thinking it was a good idea but was overwhelmed by the number and variety of clubs, and my fear of being the slowest runner of the group. Has anyone had a similar experience?

Blue Streaks Running Club

A few years ago I joined Blue Streaks, the corporate running club for IBX employees. Our current membership is about 175 and is a mix of seasoned veterans and beginners, long and short distance runners, and fast- and slower-paced runners who gather mostly on the weekends at races. Thanks to IBX’s investment in the health and wellness of associates, our club can offer race entries every month of the year for a low membership fee.

Our most popular race is in a few weeks when 150 Blue Streakers will lace up for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. Many Blue Streaks members set a goal to cross that finish line for the first time and other members want to beat their previous race time. I always caution first-time runners that the finish line is another .25 miles after the gates to the Navy Yard.

Many charities benefit from runners who raise money in exchange for an entry to the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. This year, the Blue Streaks formed a “fund-racing” team to benefit the national nonprofit Back on My Feet, an IBX and IBX Foundation community partner. This year the Blue Streaks are celebrating 10 miles and our club’s 10th anniversary with a new campaign: $10. 10 miles. 10 shares. It is a really simple concept to donate $10 and share with 10 friends. With each $10 raised and 10 shares to friends, we’re helping men and women who are experiencing homelessness to build self confidence and self sufficiency.

Joining a running club is a lot like finding a training plan. It is incredibly rewarding to find one that fits your style of running. The Blue Streaks and our members live the mission of IBX – enhancing the health and wellness of the people and community we serve.

I’d love to hear about your club’s presence in the running community and what you’re doing to prepare for upcoming runs.

Fast, Cheap, and on Two Wheels – A Philly Guy Talks Bike Love

If you know anything about me, then you know I bike everywhere — to work, to the store, to school. Everywhere, every day, no matter the season. All told, I probably log about 50 miles a week in the saddle.

Before you call me nuts, let me explain why I ride. (And even if you did call me nuts, don’t worry. I’ve been called a lot worse by Philly drivers, so I can take it.)

Even though I have a car and a driver’s license, I get on my bike every day because it’s fun, it’s great exercise, and it’s good for the environment. Most importantly I love doing it.

There are also three other pretty good reasons why cycling works for me: First, I’m cheap. Second, I’m impatient. Third, I like to eat.

Cheap or cost-conscious? Either works for me

Hey, if the shoe fits. All I know is that I like saving money, and biking helps me do that. For me, there are no parking issues, no trips to the gas station, and no annual inspection or emissions test. (According to an article in Time magazine, bike commuters may be saving as much as $5,000 a year.)

And while some people get hung up on expensive gear, I’m not one of them. My ride, a Miyata 12-speed that’s older than The Cosby Show, happens to be a hand-me-down. It’s not anything you’d see in the Tour de France, but with over 10,000 miles logged on it, my little Miyata has been there, done that. And it was free.

Even if you don’t have a generous cousin with a spare bike, you don’t have to break the bank to get a quality used frame or even a new bike for less than you may pay in monthly parking now.

Jams should be on toast, not roads

Because I’m impatient, I have two versions of hell. The first is sitting in stand-still traffic on the Schuylkill. The second is having my perfectly crisp dollar bill spit back at me for the hundredth time by the SEPTA machine while my train leaves the station.

Commuting by bike helps me avoid both. If there’s a jam-up ahead, I zip on down a side street and get to work in less time than it would have taken if I’d driven. And my crisp dollar bills stay in my wallet.

That to me is a little slice of heaven.

Seconds? Well, if you insist

I’m just going to say it: I love food.

Where I live in South Philadelphia is an area known to locals as Cheesesteak Gardens, and just because I happen to not eat steak (I’m a pescatarian) there are enough artery-clogging temptations to challenge even my firmest resolve. Thai, Italian, Mexican, Sushi — name the tasty cuisine, and I bet it’s a stone’s throw from my house. Resistance is futile.

But knowing that I biked for a half-an-hour means I don’t quite feel as guilty when I sit down for a three-course linguini feast because I’ve had a nice workout simply getting to and from work.

Enough about me. What about you?

Are you thinking about kicking your health resolution into higher gear? Is there a healthy routine you manage to fit in every day? Tell me all about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Until my next blog, check out this cool calculator that lets you figure out how much you could be saving by biking to work.