Monthly Archives: October 2011

Low Income Health Insurance

Health insurance is in the best interest of both your health and your wallet. Surging costs of health care in the United States have created a crisis for low income families. In a 2005 survey by The Commonwealth Fund, while 96% of families earning more than $60,000/year reported having a health insurance to help absorb the burden of these rising expenses, an astonishing 53% of low income families were uninsured or had a lapse in coverage in the past year.

 

Being uninsured can have devastating cvonsequences, which include:

  • Compared with insured persons, uninsured individuals and their families are four times more likely to avoid seeing a doctor for preventative or urgent care due to cost.
  • Due to a lack of preventative care options, advanced stage diseases are diagnosed 30-50% more often in the uninsured.
  • The Institute of Medicine estimates that 18,000 uninsured adults die from preventable diseases annually.
  • Because advanced-stage diseases are more prevalent in the uninsured, 20% of uninsured adults (versus 3% of insured) also say their usual source of health care is the emergency room, where the cost of a single visit costs $3,300 on average.
  • One third of uninsured families report having significant difficulty paying medical bills, and one in four say they have had to change their lifestyle significantly to pay bills.

With an adequate insurance policy, not only will you have the peace of mind that any medical emergencies you encounter won’t strain your budget. You’ll also be less at risk for encountering medical emergencies, through preventative care options that can significantly reduce your likelihood of developing terminal illness.

For more information about low income policies, and to find out whether you qualify, give us a call at 860 684 2721 or talk to your independant agent.

Napping, important part of day?

For years, naps have gotten a bad rap, derided as a sign of laziness, weakness, or senility. But lately napping has garnered new respect, thanks to solid scientific evidence that midday dozing benefits both mental acuity and overall health. A slew of new studies have shown that naps boost alertness, creativity, mood, and productivity in the later hours of the day.

A nap of 60 minutes improves alertness for up to 10 hours. Research on pilots show that a 26-minute “NASA” nap in flight enhanced performance by 34 percent and overall alertness by 54 percent. A Harvard study published in 2008 showed that a 45 minute nap improves learning and memory. The body benefits too. Napping reduces stress and lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke, diabetes, and excessive weight gain. Naps make you smarter, healthier, and safer. But to understand how you can nap best — when, for how long, to what end — you need to understand your body.

Born to Nap

Most mammals sleep for short periods throughout the day. Us humans, however, have consolidated sleep into one long period, but the biological vestige remains. Our bodies are programmed for two periods of intense sleepiness: in the early morning, from about 2 to 4 a.m., and in the afternoon, between 1 and 3 p.m. This midday wave of drowsiness is not due to heat or too many fries at lunch (it occurs even if we skip eating). Rather, it arises from an afternoon quiescent phase in our physiology, which diminishes our reaction time, memory, coordination, mood, and alertness.

What’s in a Nap?

There are five stages that occur during sleep.

1. Falling asleep, 2. Light sleep, 3 and 4. Deep, slow-wave sleep, 5. REM (Rapid Eye Movement, dreaming stage)

A short afternoon catnap of 20 minutes yields mostly stage 2 sleep, which enhances alertness and concentration, elevates mood, and sharpens motor skills. Sufficient amount of nap is at least 90 minutes. Many of us get about an hour to an hour and a half less sleep per night than we need. A new study shows that the sleep deprived brain toggles between normal activity and complete lapses, or failures, a dangerous state of slowed responses and foggy inattention. Naps of 90 to 120 minutes comprise all stages, including REM and deep slow-wave sleep, which helps clear your mind, improve memory recall, and recoup lost sleep.

The Perfect Nap

Once nap time and length are settled, you need some preparations for the rest. Find a safe, quiet, comfortable place, preferably one where you can lie down (it takes about 50 percent longer to fall asleep sitting upright). Darken the room or use eye shades. Calm your body by breathing slowly and deeply. Concentrate on relaxing your muscles one group at a time. If noise is an issue, put in earplugs or turn on some white noise. Quiet your mind by repeating a mantra, taking a mental walk at a relaxing place like the beach, or counting sheep or floating z’s.

If you want to be your best all day long, plan on napping.

Are you over or under insured?

When it comes to insurance, people think the more coverage your policy has, the better off you are. While that may be the case with some insurance policies, other policies may not be worth your money.

People are feeling vulnerable during these tough times and may be quick to buy insurance without fully evaluating the benefits. When it comes to life insurance, most experts agree that it is a good idea to carry protection. There are certain policy types and riders that may not be worth your money though. If you are a parent, it is recommended that you increase your coverage since the likelihood of that being used is greater, plus if the main household’s income is lost, it would be far more financially devastating.

When it comes to all forms of insurance, be sure to shop around and fully evaluate your need for a certain type of policy. Some insurance types such as auto insurance and homeowners insurance are generally required, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around. Getting the best deal on an insurance policy is possible with the right amount of research and effort.

To find out if your insurance policy meets your needs, please give us a call at 860 684 2721 or visit our website for more information.

Fall Clean Up Checklist

Autumn is here!

Days are getting shorter which signal winter’s approach. Time to wrap up summer’s outdoor areas while the weather is still brisk and breezy. Here’s a list of fall cleaning chores that will help you prepare your home for the coming winter:

Outside The House

Summer is over and its left marks for you to attend to. Here are some tips to help you be prepared for outside.

  • Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, children’s summer toys.
  • Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
  • Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to re-caulk if needed.
  • Inspect external doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping, door thresholds if needed.
  • Wash exterior windows.
  • Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior faucets. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
  • Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. In cold-weather areas, consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.

Inside The House

With holidays near, everyone wants the inside of their house looking nice and clean. Now is the perfect time to get those chores done. After all, there is nothing better than a clean house.

  • Focus on public rooms: living room, family room, entryway, guest bath.
  • Clean from top to bottom. Vacuum drapes and window treatments. Clean window sills and window wells. Vacuum baseboards andcorners.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, or have professionally cleaned if needed. Move furniture and vacuum beneath and behind it.
  • Wash interior windows.
  • Turn mattresses front-to-back and end-to-end to equalize wear.
  • Launder or clean all bedding: mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets, comforters. Tuck the family into a warm and cozy winter bed.
  • Schedule professional carpet cleaning early this month! Warm October afternoons speed carpet drying. Carpet cleaning firms get busy by the end of October, so schedule now for best service.
  • Prepare the kitchen for holiday cooking. Clean and organized kitchen cabinets, paying particular attention to baking supplies, pans and equipment.
  • Clear kitchen counters of all appliances not used within the last week. Clear counters look cleaner–and provide more room for holiday cooking.
  • Pull refrigerator away from the wall, and vacuum the condenser coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long, narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.
  • Wash light-diffusing bowls from light fixtures.
  • Inspect each appliance. Does it need supplies? Stock up on softener salt now, and avoid staggering over icy sidewalks with heavy bags.
  • Check and empty the central vacuum’s collection area.
  • Clean electronic air cleaner elements monthly for most efficient operation. Wash them in an empty dishwasher (consult manual for specific product recommendations).
  • Clean or replace humidifier elements before the heating season begins.
  • Inspect washer hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
  • Check dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds’ nests! Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.
  • Schedule fall furnace inspections now. Don’t wait for the first cold night!
  • Buy a winter’s supply of furnace filters. Change filters monthly for maximum energy savings and indoor comfort. When the right filter is on hand, it’s an easy job!
  • Drain sediment from hot water heaters.

Check out the Clean House Guide for more information on how to clean fast and furious.

Source: Organized Home

Cell Phone Usage Causes Cancer?

We’ve all heard the rumors of how talking on the cell phone causes brain cancer but is it a proven fact?

According to a recent Danish study which involved 350,000 subscribers for 18 years found no link between cell phone usage and an increased risk of cancer.

The new study, conducted by the Danish Cancer Society and published in the British Medical Journal, is actually an update of an older study that adds five years of follow-up data running through 2007. It found no increased risk of tumors or other forms of cancer believed to be associated with cell phone use, even among those who held mobile phone subscriptions for more than a decade.

The authors of the study concede that their findings cannot be considered definitive and that a “small to moderate increase in risk for subgroups of heavy users or after even longer induction periods than 10-15 years cannot be ruled out” without larger studies.

The Danish study comes just months after World Health Organization research determined that cell phones should be considered “possibly carcinogenic.” The international INTERPHONE study, released last year, also found no connection between cell phone use and cancer, but was widely criticized for being partially funded by the wireless industry.

To find a change in risk in this type of research, the study has to follow millions of users for decades which could exclude some of the heavy cell phone users, namely businessmen who are known to use cell phones more than a regular person.

The study was conducted on individuals 20 years of age or older since a different method is needed for studying them for what is used for adults.

To learn more about this topic, click here.

Health Insurance: Customize Your Benefits

One of the major advantages of an individual health insurance policy over a group plan is that it can be customized to provide the benefits that consumers find most important. Whether consumers want to save on monthly premiums, modify benefits, or change their plan at any point in time over the year.

Here are four ways to personalize your policy:

1. Add or remove specific benefits. Maternity, vision and dental benefits aren’t included in every health insurance policy but they can be added as a rider or purchased separately. Talk to your agent about the benefits you need to determine what you should look for in a plan or go without.

2. Check for prescription coverage. Do you have monthly medications that require a lot of out-of-pocket spending? Find a new plan that provides more coverage for prescriptions.

3. Pick a policy with your favorite health insurance providers. If you start seeing a new specialist or physician, make sure that doctor is included in your network. This will help limit the cost of visits and ensure coverage.

4. Choose a plan to fit your budget. Would you prefer higher monthly premiums for a lower deductible or lower monthly premiums with a higher deductible? If you are good at saving, a high deductible plan with a Health Savings Account is a great way to save funds on health care services tax-free while providing flexibility.

If you believe your policy needs to be customized, please feel free to give us a call at 860 684 2721 or visit our website for more information.

High Gas Prices, Fewer Auto Accidents?

As gasoline prices rise, Americans drive fewer miles to save a few bucks. According to a study by Mississippi State’s Social Sceince Research Center, rising cost of gas has resulted in a decline in traffic accidents which includes alchohol related accidents.

Not only that, gas prices also have a short-term impact and intermediate-term impact. Short term refers to immediate effects, such as how a current month’s average gas prices affect the same month’s traffic accidents, whereas long term refers to effects over a one year subsequent time period.

Despite all that, there is still good news. By driving less, you’re saving money on gas and fewer auto accidents will even help lower your auto insurance premium.

Learn more about the study by visiting the full article at ClaimsJournal.