2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines are out

January 20th, 2016

Dietary Guidelines pamphletPublished every five years for public health professionals, each edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects the current body of nutrition science.

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines

The specific recommendations fit into five overarching guidelines:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks that a person eats over time.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods  and amount 
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverages choices
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Healthy eating patterns include a variety of nutrient dense foods, while limiting saturated fats, trans-fats, added sugars and sodium.

The government's dietary guidelines affect everything from food labeling to the national school lunch program, which serves more than 30 millions kids every day.

Of course  the question on everyone's mind is, why should the government care about what people eat? The answer: nutrition matters. Half of all the adults in the United States  (about 117 million) have a preventable, chronic disease.

Dietary Guideline Takeaways

When reading the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, some good takeaways are:

  1. A lifetime of healthy eating helps to prevent chronic diseases
  2. A healthy eating pattern includes:
  • A variety of vegetables
  • Fruits, especially whole fruit
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds.
  • Oils, including those from plants

3. Most Americans can benefit from making small shifts in food choices, over a course of a week, a day, or even a meal, can make a difference in working toward a healthy eating pattern that works for you.

4.Everyone has a role in encouraging easy, accessible and affordable ways to support healthy choices:

  • At home, you and your family can try out small changes to learn what works for you, like adding more veggies to favorite dishes, planning meals and cooking them, and incorporating physical activity into time with family and friends.
  • Schools can improve the selection of healthy food choices in cafeterias and vending machines.
  • Workplaces can encourage walking or activity breaks, offer healthy food options in the cafeteria, vending machines, and staff meetings.

Small changes can make a big difference in your health!

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to lead a healthy life. Sometimes that means making small changes to your diet, to help you in the long run. While the new dietary guidelines are not rules to live by, they may help guide you in the right direction. Just think of IAA as your third-party dietary guide!

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National Healthy Weight Week Starts January 20th

January 13th, 2016

Apple and weightsMake it your goal to create a healthy weight action plan during this year's National Healthy Weight Week, starting on January 20th.

Getting Started

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), losing weight takes more than desire. It takes commitment and a well thought out plan. Get started:

  1. Make a commitment: Making the decision to lose weight, change your lifestyle and become healthier is a big step to take. Start simply by making a commitment to yourself. Many people find it helpful to sign a written contract committing to the process.
  2. Take stock of where you are: Examine your current lifestyle. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts. Think about aspects of your lifestyle that can help you lose weight.
  3. Set realistic goals: Set some short term goals and reward your efforts along the way. Focus on two or three goals at a time. Remember, small changes every day can lead to big results in the long run.  
  4. Identify resources for information and support: Find family members or friends who will support your weight loss efforts. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others you can talk to and rely on for support.
  5. Continually "check in" with yourself to monitor your progress: Revisit the goals you set for yourself and evaluate your progress regularly. Evaluate which parts of your plan are working and which need tweaking. Then rewrite your goals and plan accordingly.

Making sudden radical changes to eating habits can lead to short-term weight loss. However, such radical changes are neither healthy or a good idea, and won't be successful in the long run. Permanently improving your eating habits requires a thoughtful approach.

Common bad Eating Habits

Common eating habits that can lead to weight gain are:

  • Always cleaning your plate
  • Always eating dessert
  • Eating too fast
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating while standing up (may lead to mindless eating or eating too quickly)
  • Skipping meals (or maybe just breakfast)

Common triggers for eating when not hungry are:

  • A stressful meeting or situation at work
  • Coming home after work and having no idea what's for dinner
  • Feeling bored or tired and thinking food might offer a pick-me-up
  • Having someone offer you a dish they made just for you
  • Opening up the cabinet and seeing your favorite snack food
  • Sitting at home watching television

Plan meals ahead of time to ensure that you eat a healthy well balanced meal.

Are you a Healthy Weight?

Your first step to finding out if you're a healthy weight is to learn what your body mass index (BMI) is. A healthy weight is one that is right for your body type and height and is based on your BMI and waist:

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5 you are in the underweight category.
  • If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you are in the recommended weight range for your height.
  • If your BMI is 25 to 29.9 you are in the overweight category.
  • If your BMI is 30 or higher you're in the obese category.

Evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about one to two pounds a week)are more successful at keeping the weight off.

What IAA has to Say

The good news is that no matter what your weight loss goal is, even a modest weight loss, such as five to 10 percent of your total body weight, is likely to produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars. Insurance Administrator of America wants you to use National Healthy Weight Week as a time to evaluate your dietary habits! To help support this national endeavor, feel free to forward this bog post on to friends and colleagues. 

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Make Those New Year's Resolutions Stick!

January 6th, 2016

Hand writing New Year's resolutionsIt happens every year. You make these great New Year's resolutions and plan to carry it through the entire year. Then by February, your goals have started to slip away from you. Achieving and keeping your New Year's resolutions can be done, it all depends on how you go about it.

Achieve Your Goals

Keeping your New Year's goals can be a difficult accomplishment to achieve. Here are some tips to help you power through to make those goals a reality:

  • Change one behavior at a time: Unhealthy behaviors develop  over the course of time, so replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Many people run into problems when they try to change too much too fast. To improve your success, focus on one goal or change at a time. As new healthy behaviors become a habit, try to add another goal that works toward the overall change your striving for.
  • Commit to 30 days: In today's society, it's human nature to want immediate rewards and unwavering results. However, it takes about 21 days to develop new and lasting habits. People who manage to power through the first 30 days are three times more likely to see success with their New Year's resolution. Why? Because in 30 days the average person experiences some results and successes, as well as some kind of set-back. The 30 days allows you to experience both the ups and downs and get back on track.
  • Crank up your greatest hits: When you feel discouraged remind yourself how much you've accomplished in the past.
  • Involve a buddy: Someone else on your journey will keep you motivated and accountable.
  • Life your spirits: Doing just about anything that makes you feel good helps when willpower starts wearing down.
  • Remember that success takes time and perseverance: People set very lofty goals and don't take control of the small steps it takes to reach them. Gradual increases in attainable, measurable, small steps, coupled with tiny monthly goals that work toward your resolution, all add up to success.
  • Share your goals with the world: Declare your intentions to the world. Publicly announcing what your planning is not only empowering, but it holds you socially accountable for making it happen.  As an added bonus, you won't have to go at it all by your lonesome. Social networks can be especially supportive since they allow others to comment on your progress updates, remind you of why you are doing this, and inquire about your progress from time to time.   

According to USA.gov the most popular New Year's resolutions are:

  • Lose weight
  • Manage debt/save money
  • Get a better job
  • Get fit
  • Eat right
  • Get a better education
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce stress overall and /or at work
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others

New Year's resolutions can be attainable, just remember to look at the big picture!

Make Healthy Choices

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to make healthy choices this upcoming year. So it is our goal in 2016 to give you information on how to make those healthy choices!

Make sure to include in your diet:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Fat free and low-fat dairy products
  • Fish, skinless poultry and plant-based alternatives
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains

Make sure to limit in your diet:

  • Saturated fat
  • Sodium and salt
  • Sweets and added sugars
  • Trans-fats and partially hydrogenated oils

Eat reasonable portions. Often less than you are served. Also, eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs.

What IAA has to Say

IAA wants you to have a happy and successful 2016. IAA believes that you can achieve your 2016 goals if you just stick to them. Just think of IAA as your third party cheerleader, cheering  you on to a successful New Year!

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Health in the News: Tuberculosis

December 30th, 2015

TB BabyOver 1,000 people, including 350 infants may have been exposed to tuberculosis (TB) in a California hospital after an active case of the disease was diagnosed in a nurse on December 13, 2015.

What is TB?

TB is caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attacks the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in the bacteria and become infected. TB is not spread by:

  • Shaking someone's hand
  • Sharing food or drink
  • Sharing toothbrushes
  • Touching bed linens or toilet seats

The signs and symptoms of TB are:

  • A bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer
  • Chills
  • Coughing up blood or sputum
  • Fever
  • No appetite
  • Pain in the chest
  • Sweating at night
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss

If not treated properly, TB can be fatal.

Types of TB

Not everyone infected with TB becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist:

  1. Latent TB infection: TB bacteria can live in the body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection. In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. People with latent TB are not infectious and cannot spread bacteria to others.
  2. TB disease: TB bacteria become active if the immune system cannot stop them from growing. When TB bacteria are active (multiplying in your body), this is called TB disease. People with TB disease are sick. They may also spread the disease to people they spend time with every day.

Once a person is infected with TB bacteria, the chances of developing TB disease is higher if the person:

  • Abuses alcohol or drugs
  • Has been infected with TB bacteria within the last two years
  • Has HIV infection
  • Has other health problems like diabetes, which make it hard for the body to fight bacteria
  • Was not treated correctly for TB in the past

TB was once the leading cause of death in the United States.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants to keep you up-to-date on the latest health news. Think of IAA as your third party news source, always there to keep you in the loop. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Cadillac Tax Postponed

December 23rd, 2015

CadillacThe new 2018 "Cadillac tax" is on track to be postponed until 2020.

Cadillac Tax Postponement

The two year postponement of what has been dubbed the "Cadillac tax" because it applies to high priced insurance, is the most significant of three changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes that are woven into a sprawling budget package on which the House and Senate are preparing to vote on.

The legislation would temporarily suspend both of the other taxes which already have begun. It would lift for two years  a tax on medical devices, and create a one-year moratorium in 2017 on a tax levied on all private health insurance.

The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that the tax would bring in $2.2 billion in 2018 and $7.2 billion in 2019. Its revenue would balloon after that, totaling an estimated $91 billion by 2025.

The decision to postpone would cost the government an estimated $9 billion and have a symbolic effect as the first major change that lawmakers have made to the ACA.

What is the Cadillac Tax?

The Cadillac tax is the planned levy on high cost health benefit plans provided by employers to their employees. It imposes an excise tax of 40 percent on health plans whose value is more than $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for a family (the tax only applies to the amounts that exceed the threshold).

According to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, about one in four employers can be expected to offer health plans in 2018 that are expensive enough to be affected by the Cadillac tax. After that, the tax's reach will expand quickly, because it is tied to the rate of inflation, and insurance premiums have been growing more rapidly than that rate--meaning that more and more plans will be ensnared as time goes on.

The analysis shows that 30 percent of employers will be affected by the tax by 2023 and 42 percent five years after that, if their health plans remain unchanged and health costs continue upward at the same pace.

Companies don't want to hit the threshold that triggers the tax, so they are starting now to pare back the value of benefit plans. For employees that means:

  • Cap on health savings accounts
  • Elimination of some covered services
  • Higher deductibles

and other changes.

The main argument against the tax is that instead of mitigating the costs of health care, it will likely prompt employers to scale back or eliminate benefits altogether to offset the added cost-- a move that some analysts say may actually lead to the higher costs the tax seeks to prevent.

How IAA can Help

Insurance Administrator of America is here to help you create a plan that works for both you and your employees. While a postponement is great, the Cadillac tax is still going to be coming up in the future. IAA can help you find the right balance between business needs, employee needs and the tax.

If you have any questions or would like to learn how a self-funded health plan can help the life of your business please feel free to contact us.

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