Are You Going to Use It? Or Lose It?

It’s that time of year…the Flexible Spending Account is sitting there, waiting to be used! But you never got sick, or never got around to going to the doctor, or just didn’t feel that you needed to go… Unfortunately, that money is going to be lost forever, if you don’t use it soon. Some FSAs will allow you to use the funds until March of the following year, but not all of them allow for rollovers of the money. If you’re at a loss as to how to quickly use the money that you set aside for medical expenses this year, there are a few things that are allowable expenses that you could fit in before year end: If you haven’t had a complete physical in a while now is a great time to get one. Getting a baseline of your health is always a good idea and will let you know if there are other things that you should have checked out. Maybe you’ve been to the doctor or it’s been recent enough that you don’t need to go now. It might be a good idea to get some blood tests that will keep you updated on your health status like a VAP cholesterol test, a Hormone or Comprehensive Male or Female Profile, a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test or even an Allergy or Food Intolerance Test. All of these are valid medical expenses but may seem expensive without insurance or a specific reason to get them. If you want to know the status of some basic health systems, like lipids, allergies, or hormones, now is a good time to make...

What Does Diabetes Look Like?

Do you know someone who has diabetes? Most of us do, even if we aren’t aware of it. It may be your coworker, your cousin or your neighbor. The obesity epidemic has recently pointed a spotlight at type 2 diabetes which can be delayed or even prevented by diet and activity changes or losing weight. But type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, strikes those who haven’t had a chance to make poor food choices, like very young children, or those who are physically active and at normal weight. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the pancreas, ultimately disabling it. Because the pancreas can no longer produce insulin, these people have no alternative but to test their blood with finger pricks several times a day and inject insulin to control their blood glucose level. Diabetes Awareness Month aims to educate us about those who live with this disease every day, 24 hours a day. There is no vacation from diabetes. Since the discovery and the medical availability of insulin in 1921 lives have been prolonged and diabetics are able to lead more normal lives, but there is still no cure. The treatments have progressed to include continuous glucose monitors that alleviate finger pricks and allow diabetics to more closely monitor glucose levels. Insulin pumps are becoming more mainstream and more common so that diabetics can program the amount of insulin delivered at any given point in time and make adjustments more quickly. But, the ability for these two devices to communicate doesn’t exist yet so diabetics must still track information and program insulin...

A Step-by-Step Guide to Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Do you know your risk of developing type 2 diabetes?  If you are obese your risk is 20 times higher than that of someone of more moderate weight.  Not only will your weight increase your chances of developing diabetes, but if you have diabetes and are overweight, you increase your odds of heart disease and stroke.  Most people (90%) who have type 2 diabetes are overweight.  Diabetes is not only a hassle to manage but can lead to serious long term health problems including blindness, kidney failure and foot or leg amputations. You can prevent, and possibly reverse, the illness just by losing weight. November is Diabetes Awareness Month and a great time to take better care of yourself by following some of these tips to prevent type 2 diabetes.  Losing just 10% of your body weight dramatically improves your health and reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.  Here’s how to get started: Walking – Start out slowly by taking walks after dinner.  Begin with 5 minutes a day and slowly increase the amount you walk. Eat more vegetables – Increase your intake of vegetables to 5 servings per day.  Add one additional serving per week to reach your goal. Pick an activity – Choose something you love to do so you’ll stick with it, like dancing, hiking or goofing around in the yard with your kids. Read food labels – Many packaged foods contain high levels of sugar and sodium so choose prepared foods with care. Get more physical activity – Take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther away from the store. Eat smaller...

Dad: Take Care of Yourself!

Are you a father?  Even if you aren’t I’m sure you know one: your own, a friend,or a brother.  Men can be great at taking care of their yards, their homes, and their cars as well as providing for their wives and children, but they are not so great at taking care of themselves.  Studies have shown that men are more likely to ignore symptoms of disease, skip annual physicals and be generally unaware of their health status.  So many diseases that cause death and disability in men are preventable, but you can’t treat what you don’t know.  June is Men’s Health Month with a focus on the week ending with Father’s Day to remind men that they need to take care of their health because their families and loved ones need them to stick around. The Men’s Health Network dishes up some sobering statistics that should make you pay attention or try to motivate the men in your life to get some basic tests done.  For example, “women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men”, “men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death and are the victims of over 92% of workplace deaths” and “by the age of 100, women outnumber men 8 to 1”. PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) Test: While this test is controversial, some believing that it leads to unnecessary treatment, having an initial test can set a baseline against which future levels can be measured.  Treatment decisions can get complicated with new therapies and guidelines changing daily.  It’s important to know where you...

Is Healthcare in Your Budget?

You’ve got until the end of the month to ante up and buy health insurance or be ready to pay the “individual responsibility payment” at tax time next year!  Have you signed up?  While millions of us have or already have health insurance there are many people, especially those who are young and don’t expect to need much healthcare, who have been putting it off.  Can you afford to skip it?  If you get sick or are in an accident you will end up paying all of your healthcare expenses as well as the penalty next year. If you haven’t done this yet, you need to sit down and look at what it will cost you and whether you can save enough to cover a catastrophic medical event if you decide not to buy health insurance.  There are subsidy calculators online that can help you determine what healthcare will cost you and whether you are eligible for a tax subsidy.  If you are under 30 you may be eligible for catastrophic health insurance which has lower monthly premiums and high deductibles, but covers the essential services required by the Affordable Care Act and will cover you in the event of an expensive medical event. Whether you like it or not, the Affordable Care Act is here and you need to plan for your health expenses.  Make a budget and decide how you are going to handle the costs.  Take a look at how many visits you think you will need, whether you are eligible for a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Spending Account, whether you can get lab...