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National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month which highlights the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages.  Vaccines are a necessary preventative measure against serious, sometimes deadly, diseases.

During National Immunization Awareness Month, we want to provide resources to ensure that employees and their families have access to this important piece of preventative care. Please read our Resources Article to learn how you can schedule a clinic at your company and other ways you can educate your employees.

As part of health care reform, most Carrier plans cover basic immunizations at 100% (with the exception of some Grandfathered/Grandmothered plans).  These include all of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended Childhood and Adult immunizations with flu shots being the most common.  We here at EBC would be happy to confirm your plan status and benefit coverage for immunizations.

Each week this month we will highlight a different group of people.  The first week is for infants to make sure that all the children who are not in daycare are still getting vaccinated. Other weeks will focus on older children, adults and pregnant women.

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National Immunization Resources

Educate your employees about immunizations in recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month!

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). NPHIC, in collaboration with CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, developed communication toolkits to help you educate people of all ages about vaccines recommended for them.  For more information on the observance and to download the communication toolkits, visit NPHIC’s NIAM website.

During flu season, September through February, Carriers offer free vaccinations to their members at participating pharmacy locations, and also offer worksite clinics.  Worksite clinics often require a minimum number of participants and will even cover employees who are non-members of the hosting Carrier. To get more information about hosting a worksite flu clinic, please EMAIL us and we can help facilitate an event with your insurance carrier.

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Why Immunizations are Important

  • Diseases are becoming rare as more people are vaccinated against them

  • Protect against preventable diseases

  • Protect against vaccine-preventable diseases that are still are threat like measles and whooping cough

  • Protect against illnesses that can cause serious complications, even death

  • Protect those around you that are sensitive to illnesses like newborns and the elderly

  • Some countries don’t require vaccines which leaves those without immunizations susceptible

  • Immunizations protect against future illnesses that could result in high healthcare costs

  • Vaccines are safe and effective

This week, please go to the following sites for more detailed information on vaccines; particularly infant vaccinations:

http://www.immunize.org/importance-of-vaccines/

https://www.vaccines.gov/getting/for_parents/five_reasons/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/travel-vaccines.html      

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/infographics/strengthen-baby-immune-system.html

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Combat Diabetes at Work; Save Employees & Health Costs

In Hawaii, the percentage of the population that is diagnosed with diabetes is 13%.  A somewhat manageable sounding number, no? Well, there is another 41% that are categorized as pre-diabetic.  Meaning, if these people do not take steps toward managing and controlling this disease, it will turn in to a more serious Type 2. That means an astonishing 50% of our local population is diabetic or pre-diabetic!  Chances are, one of these two people are working for you.

As an Employer, what does this have to do with me?

For starters, diabetes is the second highest cost driver of medical and insurance costs only preceding cancer.  Studies have determined that for someone with managed, controlled diabetes the yearly cost for care is $45,000. As such an employee’s health plan sponsor, this directly impacts your group plan.  This number also does not account for the indirect costs associated with time off, absenteeism, TDI, FMLA and other aspects of chronic conditions that may affect your employee and their productivity.

As an Employer, how can I help my employees manage this condition?

There are many different risk factors that can be associated with developing diabetes.  Some may be genetics (highly prone to Asians, Pacific Islanders, men) however many of the risk factors fall into the  lifestyle category such as nutrition, weight management, physical activity, and compliance for pre-diabetics and diabetics to make subtle changes in their behaviors and prescribed plan of treatment.  Aside from the patient taking the initiative to want to change their risky behaviors and manage their diabetes, employers can be an environmental influence to help lead the patient down the path of behavior change. Swap out the soda machine for a filtered water dispenser, provide fruit and wraps at your next lunch meeting instead of bentos and chips.  Yes, employees may gripe at these unfamiliar changes at first, but if you make your intention clear that you care about them and they are an important aspect to your company, they will come around. Provide opportunities to be active. When appropriate, a standing or walking meeting not only gets you out of the office but it gets the blood flowing. Prop open that dingy stairwell door to encourage employees to take the stairs. There are even exercises that employees can do at their desk.  Any small change is a change in the right direction.

1/3 of adults lack the sufficient health literacy to effectively manage their diabetes.  While not an employers responsibility, here in Hawaii we do imbody a “work ohana” type atmosphere.  By providing a nurturing environment that fosters awareness and education with resources for your employees, it shows them how much you care.  You do not need to re-invent the wheel. There are many resources that are available to employers for your use and distribution. Click on the links below for specific programs and collateral:

National Diabetes Prevention Program

American Diabetes Association    

Department of Health    

HMSA Diabetes 101 Workshop

HMAA Gestational Diabetes Management Program  

UHA Diabetes Management Program  

Kaiser Stop Diabetes Class Schedule

HDS Diabetes and Gum Disease Connection

20 Exercises to Do at Your Desk

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Laudra's Corner

I was scheduled to attend two seminars this past month which were to bring me up to date on what is happening in the health insurance world and other current events.  Unfortunately, I missed both of them. Quickly, I will tell you that nationally the Patient Protection Act (Obamacare) is in a world of hurt.

Without the individual mandate, premiums will go up.  In Hawaii we have the protection of the Hawaii Pre-Paid Health Care Act of 1974.  Where the federal law mandates coverage that Hawaii does not, we follow the federal law.  Where the Hawaii law mandates additional coverage, we follow Hawaii Law.  Employers do not have to worry about this.  HMSA, Kaiser, UHA, HMAA are taking care of this for you.

Thinking about why I had to miss two seminars, I am reminded about my frequent messages to you.  It is important to think about and buy your health/disability insurance in this order.  

1. Medical; medical expenses are the number one cause of bankruptcy

2. Disability Insurance

3. Life Insurance; but only if you have heirs that are counting on you to provide housing, education, and sustenance

4. Long Term Care Insurance; this coverage has gotten very expensive as this has not been a profit center for the insurance companies.  The younger you are when you buy it, the less expensive it is

Please contact us if you are interested in reviewing your options for Group Medical, Disability, Life, Long Term Care and More...

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