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7 Morning Rituals To Make Your Day 8 Times More Productive

Are you looking for a way to make your morning more productive? Take a look at this great article by Karen Reed from Positive Health Wellness and check out these 7 great tips for boosting your productivity in the morning.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. ” — John C. Maxwell

Rituals make you who you are. The morning ritual is rediscovering productivity at the start of the day. You need not wake at the crack of dawn to have a productive start to your day. Instead, you need to take a close look at how you start your day and figure out how to get more from it. One way to do that is establishing a morning ritual.

What Is Morning Ritual?

A morning ritual is something you do daily as part of your morning.It must be a right blend of both physical activities and mental activities.If you start your day with a few simple tasks, it helps you to begin a cycle of results that will increase your vigor to be productive through your day.

The morning ritual gives you a chance to center yourself and embrace your day instead of fleeing from it. It will help you to enjoy the luxury of time you’ve given yourself by rising at an appropriate time.

Why Creating A Morning Ritual Will Make You More Successful?

Establishing healthy habits and morning routine are critical for a lifetime of success. Your morning routine sets the right tone for the whole day. If you do each day right, you’ll do life right. If you don’t have a good morning routine, you may feel overwhelmed and disorganized.

The first step to work smarter and not harder is that you need to create healthy habits. The personal ritual that you set up for yourself will put you in the right mindset and offset any morning procrastination.

The other reason to create a morning routine is to avoid mental fatigue. We have only certain amount of energy and willpower when we wake up each morning. It slowly gets drained away with decisions. It is especially true if you have hundreds of small decisions to make in the morning that means nothing, but will affect how you make decisions for the rest of the day.

So try to have the first hour of your day vary as little as possible with routine. Knowing how the first few minutes of your day looks like, is powerful and it helps you to feel “in control” and “non-reactive.” This action, in turn, reduces anxiety and ensures that you’re more productive throughout the day.

Steps To Put Your Morning Ritual Into Place

  • Write down a list of things you do every morning and what you like to add.
  • Estimate the time it’ll indeed take to do everything on your list.
  • Adjust your wake-up time to fit in your new ritual.
  • Familiarize your list each morning for at least 2-3 days before making adjustments.
  • Once you’ve got used to your changes, start enjoying your morning rituals.

You could work on “Habit Stalking” to craft yourself a good morning routine that works for you. Habit Stalking is a way to build a new practice into your life by stalking it on top of something that you’re currently doing.

Avoid designing something long and complicated when you’re starting off.  Start with an easily manageable chunk of time. You can start with a  five or 10-minute ritual and move your way up. Just take your time to build a balanced morning schedule. There’s nothing like starting your day off fabulous both mentally and physically.

Benefits Of Having A Morning Ritual

  • A morning routine helps you to feel more grounded and embodied.
  • It helps you to slow down and tune into your intuition.
  • Enables you to batch your energy sources and self-care in a defined amount of time.
  • Makes you less reactive and more intentional as you start your work day.
  • Helps you feel more productive without feeling fragmented.
  • Promotes more space and pause to make choices that nourish you.
  • It syncs with your natural feminine rhythms and those of nature.
  • It optimizes your decision making power for creative and productive work.

7 Morning Rituals You Should Adapt

Here are seven tips to build your morning routine that will help to become the best version of yourself and will make you take on your day confident and energized.

Meditation

Meditation helps you to start your day on a positive note. It helps you to be more at peace with yourself. Research has shown that meditation can enhance your:

  • Attention
  • Creativity
  • Working memory
  • Emotional regulation
  • Immune function
  • Cognitive performance
  • Self-control
  • Healthy habits
  • While reducing stress

Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University have found that meditation reduces Interleukin-6 an inflammatory health biomarker found in highly stressed individuals. If you begin your day with meditation, it calms your “busy mind syndrome,” which results if you don’t activate your mental spam filter.

Meditating helps to filter out the internal and external noise and negative self-talk that can sabotage your otherwise sharp, clear, perpetual acuity. Meditating as a morning ritual helps you to tame your emotions and keeps your emotional brain in check.

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry says that patients who were suffering from an anxiety disorder or panic disorder underwent three months of meditation and relaxation training. And at the end of the three-month period, their panic attacks had substantially reduced.

Meditation also improves empathy and positive relationships. It enhances feelings of competence about one’s life and promotes environmental mastery, ego resilience, and purpose in life.

What a beautiful way to start your day, filling your soul,mind, and body from the “Higher Power” to embark on your day’s journey.

Gratitude

Robert Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude,writes, “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received.”

In the second part of gratitude, he says, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

After you’ve completed your meditation just take a few minutes and be thankful for all the positive things that happened to you.  You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, or a new opportunity that shines your way.

Practicing gratitude as a morning ritual can have tremendous benefits for your overall health. Being grateful increases your self-esteem makes you more optimistic and less materialistic and self-centered.  It increases your happiness, makes you more relaxed, resilient and less envious.

Gratitude increases your energy, longevity, improves your sleep quality and immunity. It boosts your career growth by increasing your goal achievement, productivity and decision making. It results in better management and improved networking.

Your social relationships get a boost by being grateful. It results in healthier marriage, more friendships and deeper relationships. The real power of gratitude is that it helps you to pick out and focus on what is working in your life –what is in tune with your being as a whole. If you have time, you can also practice gratitude journaling.

Writing Down Your Tasks

Journaling your important tasks is a practical ritual. It helps you to focus your day and life on what is essential. It helps you to prioritize and manage your time better.

Start the ritual by identifying and writing down one to three essential tasks you need to complete during that day. They may be the tasks that support your long-term goals that are related to your purpose, passion or the general direction of life.

You can also write down mundane tasks which David Allen, productivity speaker and author of Getting Things Done calls “core dump.”this involves writing down every project, task, and activity you need to address.

You can write down every “to do” item you can think of. It clears the space in your head for more important topics.

Morning Pages is a technique developed by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. It involves writing approximately 750 words of conscious writing. If you follow this practice as a morning ritual, it clears your head for the day’s most important thinking.

Writing down your tasks helps you to process your emotions, gives a record of your past, gains you a sense of achievement, helps you think big and makes you more committed.

Positive Affirmations

Barrie Davenport writes in live bold and bloom that affirmations are a form of auto suggestion. If you practice it deliberately and repeatedly, they reinforce chemical pathways in the brain and strengthen neural connections.

If you practice positive thought patterns or affirmations regularly, you create neuroplasticity in the area of the brain that processes what you’re thinking about.

Some of the positive affirmations you can say are:

  • I awake in the morning feeling happy and enthusiastic about my day.
  • I can tap into the wellspring of inner happiness anytime I wish.
  • I have healthy boundaries with my partner
  • Success is my natural state,and I expect to be successful in all of my endeavors.
  • I am energetic and enthusiastic. Confidence is my second nature.
  • I always attract only the best of the circumstances and the best positive people in my life.
  • I choose to be proud of myself.
  • I am talented.
  • I am attractive and beautiful.
  • Every cell in my body quivers with energy and good health.
  • I breathe in peace. I breathe out chaos and disorder.

Exercise

Morning is a great time for exercise. It’s quiet and peaceful in the morning.You can go for a mindful run and have little interruptions. Even a simple 5-minute exercise workout will wake up your muscles and get them ready for the day ahead.

A quick morning exercise jumpstarts your cells.You could jog, walk, dance, do yoga- anything to get your blood flowing.  The options are endless. If you’re on a weight-loss mission, a brisk morning walk is a key to shedding a few pounds.

According to researchers from Northumbria University, people can burn up to twenty percent more body fat by exercising in the morning when they are on an empty stomach.

Researchers say that the morning light helps synchronize your body clock. Researchers, from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, say that light is the most potent agent to harmonize your internal body clock that regulates the circadian rhythms. This aspect, in turn,controls energy balance. It is not rocket science to understand that including exercise as a morning ritual keeps you productive and energetic the whole day.

Listen To Uplifting Music

Music uplifts your physical and mental health in numerous ways. When you combine music and your exercise together,you get stunning results. Researchers found that participants pedaled faster when riding stationary bicycles while listening to music. Listening to pumping music helps you to run faster, and increases your workout endurance.

Music makes you feel happier because it enhances blood vessel function. It reduces stress levels and relieves depression. It improves your cognitive performance and helps you perform better in high-pressure situations. If you’re hard pressed for time, just combine this ritual while doing your morning exercise or while driving to work.

Detoxify With Lemon Water

Drinking warm water first thing in the morning helps flush the digestive system and rehydrates the body. Drinking lemon water acts as a natural flush and cleanses your liver. Lemon juice enhances stomach acid production and bile production. It results in a clean liver and lymph system.

Lemon contains vitamin C and potassium. When you drink lemon water first thing in the morning, it helps your body to absorb these vitamins and provides a little immune boost. Vitamin C is good for your adrenals and contributes to reducing your stress levels.

Since lemon water flushes your body, you enjoy a cleaner skin. The vitamin C helps in collagen production and makes your skin smooth and healthy. If you drink lemon water first thing in the morning, it will help you maintain a healthy weight.

Conclusion

You are what you frequently do everyday. If you include special routines in your daily schedule, you can turn your life around for the better. The main thing about rituals is that you can start your own and train yourself through practice.

Be conscious because routines work both in positive and negative ways. So be smart and choose the right ones. If you follow the ones that we’ve discussed above, we are positive that these morning rituals will bring only good things to your life.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Reed K. (2017 June 11). 7 morning rituals to make your day 8 times more productive [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/fitness/7-morning-rituals-to-make-your-day-8-times-more-productive/


Employee Expectations Changing the Workplace

Do you know what benefits your employees are looking for? Take a peek at this great article from Employee Benefits Adviser about how employers are starting to customize their employee benefits programs to fit each individual employee by Nick Otto.

If employers want to retain and attract talent, they’ve got to start thinking about one big benefit trend: Customization.

“It’s not about just medical, dental and vision anymore,” Todd Katz, executive vice president, MetLife said Monday following the release of MetLife’s 15th annual U.S. Employee Benefits Trends Study.

Nearly three-fourths (74%) of employees say that having benefits customized to meet their needs is important when considering taking a new job, and 72% say that having the ability to customize their benefits would increase their loyalty to their current employer.

Workers say benefits customization is even more important than the ability to work remotely. In fact, more than three-fourths (76%) of millennials say benefits customization is important for increasing their loyalty to their employers, compared to two-thirds (67%) of baby boomers.

“Today, our lives reflect our preferences,” Katz says. “We choose how our coffee is made, create personalized playlists and decide which apps we have on our phones. In all aspects of our lives, we can make choices to meet our unique needs. The same should apply when it comes to benefits.”

That’s particularly important for driving engagement and loyalty among millennials, he said, who comprise the largest generation in the workplace today. “Customization for them is inherent, and they want to know that their employers understand and are willing to address their specific needs.”

Not only is benefits customization important for employee satisfaction and retention, but so is helping employees with their holistic wellness — both health and financial — needs.

Nearly two-thirds of employees say that health and wellness benefits are important for increasing loyalty to their employer and 53% say the same about financial planning programs.

Every day, employees come to work with financial concerns, and in larger businesses, employees acknowledge that they sacrifice their health and are less productive. Close to a third of workers (30%) say they lay awake at night worrying about money, and 23% admit to being less productive at work because of financial stress.

“Looking across the work force, when you understand what’s on the minds of employees it’d be wonderful if the set of benefits is matched to address what is a drag on the minds of workers and their worries back at home,” Ida Rademacher, executive director, financial security program at The Aspen Institute, noted at MetLife’s symposium in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

She notes there are four elements to helping workers achieve financial well-being:

Financial security in the present: Employees having control over day-to-day and month-to-month finances
Financial security in the future: The ability to absorb a financial shock
Freedom of choice in the present: Financial freedoms to make choices and enjoy life
Freedom of choice in the future: The ability to be on track to meet financial goals

Despite the need for wellness education, many employers are falling short in their offerings.

Only a third of employers (33%) say they are very likely to offer wellness benefits and just 18% currently offer financial planning programs. At the same time, only 36% of employers say wellness benefits and financial planning programs are valuable to their employees, according to the study.

“Employees are looking to their employers to help them with their overall wellness needs, whether it’s through gym memberships to stay healthy or financial education programs to plan for their futures,” says MetLife’s Katz. “As employees have more non-traditional workplace options available to them, it will become increasingly important that employers prioritize holistic wellness to drive employee engagement and loyalty in this new era.”

This may be why retention is the top priority among employers. When asked to rank their top benefits priorities, more employers (83%) chose retaining employees as an important benefits objective than increasing employee productivity (80%) and controlling health and welfare benefit costs (79%). More so, over half of employers (51%) say that retaining employees through benefits will become even more important in the next three to five years.

“Benefits historically were used for attraction and retention, but there now much more strategically important than they have ever been,” added Randy Stram, senior vice president, group, voluntary & worksite benefits at MetLife. “A diverse employee base, uncertainty regulatory environment and the changing digital landscape are adding to the increase complexity of managing benefits for employers.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Otto N. (2017 April 19). Employee expectations changing the workplace [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/employee-expectations-changing-the-workplace?feed=00000152-1377-d1cc-a5fa-7fff0c920000


10 Misconceptions About Saving for Medical Care in Retirement

Are you properly prepared for your medical costs during retirement? Take a look at this great article by Marlene Y. Satter from Employee Benefits Advisors to find out what are the top misconceptions people have about medical costs when planning for their retirement.

Retirement isn’t the only thing workers have trouble saving for; the other big gap in planning is health care.

According to a Voya Financial survey, Americans just aren’t ready to pay for the health care they might need in retirement. Their estimates of what they might need are low—when they estimate them at all, that is—and their savings are even lower.

With worries over money woes keeping people up at night—so says a CreditCards.com poll—the only worry that surpassed “having enough saved for retirement” was “health care and insurance.”

And consider, if you will, all the turmoil in the health insurance market these days, what with potential changes to—or an outright repeal of—the Affordable Care Act waiting in the wings, not to mention the skyrocketing costs of both care and coverage.

Americans seem to have a lot to worry about when it comes to their finances.

In light of all this uncertainty, it’s no wonder that the little matter of paying for health care is keeping people awake.

But, considering all that, it’s even more surprising that there are so many common misconceptions about health care, its cost and how to pay for it at large in the general population.

American workers are not just ill prepared for retirement, they’re even more ill prepared for any illness or infirmity that may come along with it.

According to research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), a 65-year-old man would need $127,000 in savings while a 65-year-old woman would need $143,000—thanks to a longer projected lifespan—to give each of them a 90 percent chance of having enough savings to cover health care expenses in retirement.

But that doesn’t appear to have filtered its way down to U.S. workers, who are blissfully (well, maybe not so blissfully) ignorant of the mountain of bills that probably lies ahead.

While demographics play a role, there are smaller differences among some groups than one might otherwise expect. In addition, it’s also rather surprising where Americans plan to get the money to pay for whatever care they receive, and how far they think that money will stretch when it also has to pay for food, clothing, shelter and any activities or other necessities that come along with retirement.

Read on to see 10 misconceptions workers have about how and how much they think they’ll pay for medical care in retirement. As you’ll see, some generations are more prone to certain errors than others.

10. Workers just aren’t estimating how much health care will cost them in retirement.

Perhaps they’d rather not know—but according to the poll, 81 percent of Americans have not estimated the total amount health care will cost them in retirement; among them are 77 percent of boomers. Retirees haven’t estimated those costs, either; in fact, just 21 percent of them have. But that’s actually not that bad, when considering that among Americans overall, only 14 percent have actually done—or tried to do—the math.

And among those who have tried to calculate the cost, 66 percent put them at $100,000 or less while an astonishing 31 percent estimated just $25,000 or less.

9. People with just a high school education or less, and whites, are slightly more likely than those who went to college, and blacks, to have attempted to figure it out.

The great majority among all those demographic groups just aren’t looking at the numbers, with 88 percent of black respondents and 79 percent of white respondents saying they have not estimated how much money it will take to pay their medical costs throughout retirement.

And while 80 percent of those with a high school diploma or less say they haven’t run the numbers, those who spent more time in school have spent even less time doing the calculations—with 81 percent of those with some college and 82 percent of those who graduated college saying they have not estimated medical costs.

8. Millennials are the most likely to underestimate health care costs in retirement.

A whopping 74 percent of millennials are among those lowballing what they expect to spend on health care once they retire, figuring they won’t need more than $100,000—and possibly less.

Not that they really know; 85 percent haven’t actually tried to calculate their total health care expenses for retirement. But they must be believers in the amazing stretching dollar, with 42 percent planning to use general retirement savings as the primary means of paying for health expenses in retirement, excluding Medicare.

GenXers, by the way, were the most likely to guess correctly that the bill will probably be higher than $100,000—but even there, only 28 percent said so.

7. They have surprisingly unrealistic expectations about where they’ll get the money to pay for medical care.

Excluding Medicare, 34 percent intend to use their general retirement savings, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, pensions and IRAs, as the primary means of paying for care, while 25 percent are banking on their Social Security income, 7 percent would use health savings accounts (HSAs) and 6 percent would use emergency savings.

That last is particularly interesting, since so few people have successfully managed to set aside a sizeable emergency fund in the first place.

6. Despite their potential, HSAs just aren’t feasible for many because of their income.

HSAs do offer ways to set aside more money not just for medical bills in retirement but also to boost retirement savings overall, and come with fairly generous contribution limits. But people with lower incomes often can’t even hit the maximum for retirement accounts—so relying on an HSA might not be realistic for all but those with the highest incomes.

Yet people with lower incomes were more likely than those who made more to say HSAs would be the main way they’d pay for medical expenses. Among those who said they’d be relying on HSAs to pay for care in retirement, 5 percent of those with incomes less than $35,000 and 14 percent of those with incomes between $35,000–$50,000 said that would be the way they’d go.

Just 9 percent of those with incomes between $50,000–$75,000, 7 percent of those with incomes between $75,000–$100,000 and 9 percent of those with incomes above $100,000 chose them.

5. A few are planning on using an inheritance to pay for medical bills in retirement.

It’s probably not realistic, and there aren’t all that many, but some respondents are actually planning on an inheritance being the chief way they’ll pay for their medical expenses during retirement.

Millennials and GenXers were the most likely to say that, at 2 percent each—but they may not have considered that the money originally intended for an inheritance might end up going to pay for other things, such as caregiving or child care, and indeed much of their own retirement money could end up paying for care for elderly parents. A lot more people end up acting as caregivers—especially among the sandwich generation—and may find that relying on inheriting money from the people they’re caring for was not a realistic expectation.

4. Women don’t know, guess low.

Just 13 percent of women have gone to the trouble of estimating how much health care will cost them during retirement, but that didn’t stop 32 percent from putting that figure at $25,000 or less.

And that’s really bad news. It’s particularly important for women to be aware of the cost of health care, since not only do they not save enough for retirement to begin with—42 percent only contribute between 1–5 percent, the lowest level, compared with 34 percent of men, often thanks to lower salaries and absences from the workplace to raise children or act as caregivers—but their longer lifespans mean they’ll have more years in which to need health care and fewer options to obtain it other than by paying for it.

Men are frequently cared for by (predominantly female) caregivers at home, while women tend to outlive any family members who might be willing or able to do the same for them.

3. Men don’t know, but guess higher.

While the same percentage of women and men have not estimated their retirement health care expenses (81 percent), men were more likely than women (24 percent, compared with 15 percent) to come up with an estimate higher than $100,000.

2. The highest-income households are most likely to have tried to estimate medical cost needs during retirement.

Probably not surprisingly, households with an income of $100,000 or more were the most likely to have tried to pin a dollar figure to health care needs, with 21 percent saying they’d done so.

Households with incomes between $50,000–$75,000 were least likely to have done so, with just 11 percent of them trying to anticipate how much they’ll need.

And just because they have more money doesn’t mean their estimates were a whole lot more accurate—only 38 percent of those $100,000+ households thought they’d need more than $100,000 to see them through any needed medical care during retirement, while 59 percent—the great majority—figured they could get by on $100,000 or even less.

1. Where they live doesn’t seriously affect their estimates, although it will seriously affect their cost of care.

Among those who have tried to anticipate how much they’ll need in retirement for medical care, there’s not a huge difference among how many guessed too low—even though where they live can have a huge effect on how much they’ll end up paying, particularly for long-term care.

While the most expensive regions for LTC tend to be the northeast and the west coast, and the cheapest are the south and midwest, there’s not a great deal of variance among those who estimate they can get by on care for $100,000 or less—even if people live in one of the most expensive regions. Sixty-seven percent of those in the northeast said care wouldn’t cost more than that, while 63 percent of those in the midwest, 71 percent of those in the south and 61 percent of those in the west said the same thing.

When it came to those who said they’d need more than $100,000, 24 percent of those in the west thought they’d need that much; so did 20 percent of those in the midwest, just 18 percent of those in the northeast and 17 percent of those in the south.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2017 April 24). 10 misconceptions about saving for medical care in retirement [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/04/24/10-misconceptions-about-saving-for-medical-care-in?ref=hp-news&page_all=1


Why Technology is Key to Financial Wellness Success

Are you trying to help your employees become successful and financial stable? Here is a great article from Employee Benefits News on how employers are figuring out that technology is key to helping their employees achieve success in their financial well-being by Kathryn Mayer.

Financial literacy is an increasingly desirable benefit for employees. But many employers don’t offer budgeting assistance, and a majority of workers are reluctant to let their company get involved in their financial business.

Dean Harris realized that in order to make financial wellness appealing to both employers and employees, he had to design technology that delivered flexible, multi-layered and comprehensive financial education in a way that’s enjoyable for the user — and ensures privacy. The chief technology officer of iGrad — a technology-driven financial wellness education company — created and maintains the iGrad and Enrich platforms, which deliver choices to make financial wellness the backbone of any benefit program. The product aims to offer financial wellness benefits with minimal cost and time to the employer.

“Financial literacy empowers workers to take control of something they feel is out of their control,” says Harris, a 2017 recipient of an EBN Benefits Technology Innovator Award. “By offering more information and knowledge, they are better equipped to make the right financial choices that promise to have far-reaching positive effects.”

By applying data analysis on the behavior of the user both within the platform and with regard to his approach to money, the platforms offer responsive content and recommendations. As the user’s skills and knowledge increase, the algorithm adjusts accordingly to provide newer and more relevant content leading to increased engagement and learning possibilities.

Technology is vital in achieving financial goals, Harris says, in part because it provides employees the privacy they desire.

“Financial literacy is a delicate subject. Most people are not comfortable discussing their finances —especially not with their employer,” Harris explains. “The online financial literacy platform offers the personalized and self-guided learning that will help them without exposing their personal financial information to their employer.”

Furthermore, topics addressed through the platform provide “interest, engagement and learning” for employees, Harris says. And employers “gain the benefit of a newly focused and re-energized workforce without having to drill down into areas that are too personal.”

“Ultimately, technology has made it possible for everyone to gain access to the help they need while maintaining privacy and discretion,” Harris says.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Mayer K. (2017 May 9). Why technology is key to financial wellness success [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.benefitnews.com/news/why-technology-is-key-to-financial-wellness-success


Medicaid Family Planning and Maternity Care Services: The Current Landscape

Find out about the current landscape of Medicaid and how the repeal ACA will impact certain aspects of Medicaid in this great article by Kaiser Family Foundation.

As the Trump Administration and Congress weigh major changes to Medicaid and programs that fund reproductive health care, new analyses from the Kaiser Family Foundation highlight the current state of coverage and challenges for family planning, pregnancy, and perinatal services in the Medicaid program that provides coverage for millions of low-income women across the nation.

  • The inclusion of maternity care as an essential health benefit has been the focus of a recent policy debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act. For nearly half of births in the U.S., Medicaid picks up the tab. A new survey of state-level maternity care policies under Medicaid finds that all surveyed states covered prenatal visits, but benefits such as genetic counseling, parenting and newborn education services, and home visits were not covered in some states. Similarly, all states included hospitalization benefits, but not all paid for deliveries in birth centers or at home.
  • Over half of states have established limited scope family planning programs under Medicaid. A case study analysis of Medicaid family planning programs in six states (AL, CA, CN, IL, MO, and VA) conducted in the summer of 2016 uncovered opportunities to improve enrollment in family planning programs; identified the importance of these programs for women who have difficulty affording premiums; and documented challenges faced by family planning clinics under Medicaid. Some ACA Medicaid expansion states are reconsidering the need for a separate family planning program under Medicaid, but most have maintained them.
  • Three quarters of reproductive age women on Medicaid are enrolled in managed care arrangements. A new analysis explores the experiences and perspectives of leaders of Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) and finds that MCOs rely heavily on safety net clinics including community health centers and family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood to provide in-network family planning services to their members. MCO leaders identified churning in enrollment, the high costs of stocking IUDs and implants, and global hospital payment methodologies for maternity care as potential barriers to certain family planning services.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Author (2017 April 27). Medicaid family planning and maternity care services: the current landscape [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/press-release/medicaid-family-planning-and-maternity-care-services-the-current-landscape/


7 wellness benefits to maintain employees' zen

Check out the top trends that employees are looking for in an employer wellness programs by Page Elliott.

With open enrollment in the rearview mirror, many benefits professionals have been able to see which new wellness benefits have been a hit and which have been a miss. Increasingly, employees expect the benefits on offer to go beyond physical health and exercise and extend into a broader concept of wellness.

Meeting this appetite can benefit employers significantly -- research has shown happier employees are considerably more productive.

The industry has answered the call in recent years and employers and brokers are bringing more and more benefits to the table that offer employees tools to better navigate their lives domestically, at work and in general.

Here are the top seven benefits to consider for upcoming enrollment periods that help look after employees personal well-being beyond the purely physical.

Legal protection

There are a multitude of reasons why employees often require costly legal representation: divorce, financial woes, neighborly disputes, property transactions, estate planning, etc. For most employees the costs and time required to attend to these issues are financially and emotionally draining.

The added stress created can cause a substantial loss in productivity in the workplace. As such, legal protection benefits are increasingly seen as an important step to keep a company’s workforce well and thriving.

According to a 2016 survey by Willis Towers Watson, 59 percent of employers now offer legal plans as a voluntary benefit.

Financial coaching

According to a study by Northwestern Mutual, some 58 percent of Americans believe their financial planning needs improvement and money remains the leading cause of stress in America today.

Offering financial coaching can be a bedrock voluntary benefit for employers given that it is central to protecting employees from falling into the kind of dire straits where other benefits like legal protection need to be used.

Financial coaching can help employees with everything from building a monthly budget that gets them back in the black, to planning their college fund or retirement saving more carefully. Financial coaching as an employee benefit can help employees thrive instead of just survive.

Identity theft resolution and monitoring

Identity theft is fast becoming the third certainty in life -- according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 18 million people fell victim to identity theft in 2014 (that’s seven percent of U.S. adults in just one year).

Identity theft leads to financial and healthcare fraud that can be a crippling mess for victims to unravel and take many years (and many work hours!). The emotional effects of identity theft are well documented and easy to understand: anger, frustration and feelings of violation and vulnerability and the corresponding impact on wellness are clear.

Identity theft remediation and monitoring services can provide employees with critical resources to handle the frustrating complexities of rectifying fraud conducted using their own identities.

Health advocacy benefits

While a healthy chunk of all our paychecks goes towards paying for our health care insurance and services -- a fiendishly complex and constantly evolving ecosystem -- many Americans don’t understand the most basic terms.

Health advocacy has been a growing voluntary benefit over the last few years because it can help employees navigate a complex and exhausting system, offering both administrative and even clinical support. Health advocacy can reduce employee anxiety, improve overall wellness through better heath decisions and also help consumers get a better financial deal from their health care choices.

Meditation services

Research indicates that meditation has substantial benefits in terms of encouraging better attention, memory and emotional intelligence (and who couldn’t use some more of each on a daily basis?)

Mindfulness has been a top topic for HR pros for a long time, and many have made big strides in incorporating this concept into corporate culture. This has included encouraging employees to try extra-curricular relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.

Some companies have gone as far as offering apps like Headspace to employees as a voluntary benefit at low or no cost.

Relationship counseling

The prevailing wisdom relating to employees’ personal problems has always been stay well out of it. However, more and more companies are seeing the upside of providing assistance to employees without getting directly involved in their personal lives.

One increasingly popular method for helping people manage the conflicts that exist in their lives outside of the office is to offer relationship counseling.  While this remains a rarity on most voluntary benefits portals, expect to see this popping up more and more in subsequent open enrollment periods.

Child care assistance

According to a survey by Care.com, over 70 percent of employees say the cost of childcare impacts their career decisions. Not wildly surprising given that nearly a third of families pay in excess of $20,000 per annum for child care -- a figure that represents a shockingly high portion of the average U.S. household income of around $52,000.

Related: Are you ready for the millennial baby boom?

Offering dependent care deduction has been a popular benefit for a number of years and more and more parents are taking this up as part of their flex spending arrangements. Assistance can go beyond the tax break though and a growing number of companies are offering services that can make managing child care vastly easier, including child care resource and referral services that can help with back-up arrangements when daycare centers are closed.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Elliott P. (2017 March 21). 7 wellness benefits to maintain employees' zen[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/21/7-wellness-benefits-to-maintain-employees-zen?kw=7+wellness+benefits+to+maintain+employees%27+zen&et=editorial&bu=BenefitsPRO&cn=20170326&src=EMC-Email_editorial&pt=Benefits+Weekend+PRO&page_all=1


Financial stress hurts emotional, physical well-being of workers

Did you know that your emotional and physical well-being can take a hit when you are under financial stress?  Here is an interesting article from Employee Benefits Advisors about the correlation between financial stress and mental and physical health by Amanda Eisenberg.

Americans aren’t able to save for their financial goals, and that stress is affecting their emotional and physical well-being.

A new study by Guardian Life Insurance found that financial outlook is the most significant driver of working Americans’ overall well-being, constituting 40% of the insurance company’s Workforce Well-Being Index, and money is cited as the No. 1 source of stress for a majority of workers.

“Even among people working full-time with benefits, many still do not have access to adequate insurance coverage or retirement plans,” says Dave Mahder, vice president and chief marketing officer of Guardian’s Group and Worksite Markets business. “And few take advantage of the health and wellness programs available through their employers, which often contain a much broader menu of resources than workers realize.”

Millennials are one of the subsets of employees who do participate in benefits that can help alleviate financial stress, the survey found.

“Millennials want marketing to them,” says Gene Lanzoni, assistant vice president of thought leadership for Guardian Life. “It’s not enough these days to say, “This is someone like you,” to do with your benefit selection. That’s what the challenge is for millennials. It’s not enough of an engaging process for them.”

Half of millennials surveyed in Guardian Life’s “Fourth Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study” said they don’t have disability insurance, while a third have yet to sign up for a retirement plan.

They are not the only group of employees struggling to purchase voluntary benefits like disability and life insurance; single working parents are also feeling the heat.

One in three single working parents does not have a retirement plan, compared to 20% of the 1,439 workers surveyed. Similarly, one in four workers doesn’t have life insurance, and one in three workers doesn’t have disability insurance, according to the survey.

“Many of those working parents are struggling to balance work and personal life, and they may not be able to afford some of the protection products,” says Lanzoni. “Some of that discretionary income might not go toward paying a voluntary disability plan.”

To offset expenses, Americans are increasingly turning to debt, whether through loans or credit cards, to temporarily relieve their financial burdens.

Four in 10 Americans have car loans, 32% of workers are carrying a mortgage, 17% have student loans and 12% have home improvement debt, according to the study. Overall, 75% of Americans are carrying debt.

Non-mortgage debt — particularly auto and education loans — contributes to lower financial wellness; those carrying the most total debt, including mortgages and rent, report considerably lower overall well-being, according to Guardian Life’s report.

Employers can also help alleviate the burden by providing education to employees, among other services, says Lanzoni.

The survey found that employer-sponsored voluntary insurance products and college tuition or loan repayment programs help with financial wellness, as well as employee assistance programs that can identify financial, emotional and physical issues that lead to stress.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Eisenberg A. (2017 March 13). Financial stress hurts emotional, physical well-being of workers [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/financial-stress-hurts-emotional-physical-well-being-of-workers?feed=00000152-1387-d1cc-a5fa-7fffaf8f0000


ACA replacement proposal leaked: Some of the finer points for HR

Does the repeal of the ACA have you worried? Checkout this great article about some of the changes that will come with the repeal of the ACA by Jared Bilski.

A draft of the Republicans’ Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement bill that was leaked to the public is likely to look a lot different when it’s finalized. Still, it gives employers a good indication of how Republicans will start to deliver on their promises to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. 

It should come as no surprise to employers that the GOP replacement bill, which was obtained by POLITICO, would scrap a cornerstone of the ACA — the individual mandate — as well as income-based subsidies and all of the laws current taxes (at least one replacement tax is included in the legislation).

According to the discussion draft of the replacement bill, it would offer tax credits for purchasing insurance; however, those credits would be based on age instead of income.

For example, a person under the age of 30 would receive a credit of $2,000. A person over the age of 60, on the other hand, would receive double that amount.

Some of the other highlights of the leaked legislation include:

End of ACA essential health benefits

Obamacare’s essential health benefits mandates require health plans to cover 10 categories of healthcare services, which include:

  1. Ambulatory patient services
  2. Emergency services
  3. Hospitalization
  4. Maternity and newborn care
  5. Mental health and substance use disorder services
  6. Prescription medications
  7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  8. Lab services
  9. Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, and
  10. Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

Under the bill, individual states would make the decisions about what types of services plans must cover — beginning in 2020.

A Medicaid expansion overhaul

The Medicaid expansion under Obamacare that has covered millions of people will be phased out by 2020 under the GOP bill. The replacement proposal: States would receive a set dollar amount for each person.

There would also be variations in the funding amounts based on an individual’s health status. In other words, more money would be allocated for disabled individuals, which is a huge departure from the open-ended entitlement of the current Medicaid program.

Pre-existing conditions, older individuals

One of the most popular elements of the ACA would apparently remain untouched under the GOP bill: the Obamacare provision that prohibits health plans from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

However, the legislation does take aim at older individuals. The GOP would allow insurers to charge older people up to five times more for healthcare than younger individuals. The current ACA limits that difference to three times as much.

The bill does aim to remedy this discrepancy by providing bigger tax credits for older people.

Taxes get axed

There is a slew of taxes built into the ACA — the manufacturer tax, and taxes on medical devices, health plans and even tanning beds — and the Republican bill would repeal those taxes.

But those taxes help cover the cost of the ACA. So to make up for the shortfall that would result in killing those taxes, the GOP is floating the idea of changing the tax treatment of employer-based health insurance. As employers are well aware, employer-sponsored health plan premiums currently aren’t taxed. Under the GOP proposal, this would be changed for some premiums over a certain threshold — although the specifics of such a change remain murky.

Such a move would surely be met by fierce opposition from the business community. In fact, major employer groups are already preparing to fight such a proposition.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Bilski J. (2017 March 01). ACA replacement proposal leaked: some of the finer points for HR [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/aca-replacement-proposal-leaked-some-of-the-finer-points-for-hr/


Employers embrace new strategies to cut healthcare costs

Are you looking for a new solution for cutting your healthcare cost? Take a look at the great article from Employee Benefits Advisor about what other employers are doing to cut their cost healthcare cost by Phil Albinus

As employers await a new health plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and consensus grows that high deductible health plans (HDHPs) are not the perfect vehicle for cutting healthcare costs, employers are incorporating innovative strategies to achieve greater savings.

Employers are offering HSAs, wellness incentives and price transparency tools at higher rates in an effort to cut the costs of their employee health plans. And when savings appear to plateau, they are implementing innovative reward plans to those who adopt these benefits, according to the 2017 Medical Plan Trends and Observation Report conducted by employee-engagement firm DirectPath and research firm CEB. They examined 975 employee benefit plans to analyze how they functioned in terms of plan design, cost savings measures and options for care.

The report found that 67% of firms offer HSAs while only 15% offer employee-funded Health Reimbursement Arrangements. As “use of high deductible plans seem to have (at least temporarily) plateaued under the current uncertainty around the future of the ACA, employer contributions to HSAs increased almost 10%,” according to the report.

Wellness programs continue to gain traction. Fifty-eight percent of 2017 plans offer some type of wellness incentive, which is up from 50% in 2016. When it comes to price transparency tools, 51% of employers offer them to help employees choose the best service, and 18% plan to add similar tools in the next three years. When these tools are used, price comparison requests saw an average employee savings of $173 per procedure and average employer savings of $409 per procedure, according to CEB research.

“What was interesting was the level of creativity within these incentives and surcharges. There were paycheck credits, gift cards, points that could be redeemed for rewards,” says Kim Buckey, vice president of client services at DirectPath. “One employer reduced the co-pays for office visits to $20 if you participated in the wellness program. We are seeing a level of creativity that we haven’t seen before.”

Surcharges on tobacco use has gone down while surcharges for non-employees such as spouses has risen. “While the percentage of organizations with spousal surcharges remained static (26% in 2017, as compared to 27% in 2016), average surcharge amounts increased dramatically to $152 per month, a more than 40% increase from 2016,” according to the report.

Tobacco surcharges going down “is reflective of employers putting incentives in, so they are taking a carrot approach instead of the stick,” says Buckey.

Telemedicine adoption appears to be mired in confusion among employees. More than 55% of employees with access to these programs were not aware of their availability, and almost 60% of employees who have telemedicine programs don’t feel they are easy to access, according to a separate CEB survey.

Employers seem to be introducing transparency and wellness programs because the savings from HDHPs appear to have plateaued, says Buckey. She also noted recent research that HSAs only deliver initial savings at the expense of the employee’s health.

“With high deductible plans and HSAs, there has been a lot of noise how they aren’t the silver bullet in controlling costs. Some researchers find that it has a three-year effect on costs because employees delay getting care and by the time they get it, it’s now an acute or chronic condition instead of something that could have been headed off early,” she says.

“And there is a tremendous lack of understanding on how these plans work for lower income employees, [it’s] hard to set aside money for those plans,” she says.

Educating employees to be smarter healthcare consumers is key. “What is becoming really obvious is that there is room to play in all these areas of cost shifting and high deductible plans and wellness but we can no longer put them in place and hope for the best,” she says. We have to focus on educating employees and their families,” she says. “If we are expecting them to act like consumers, we have to arm them with the tools. Most people don’t know where to start.”

She adds, “we know how to shop for a TV or car insurance but 99% of people don’t know where to start to figure out where to shop for prescription drugs or for the hospital where to have your knee surgery. Or if you get different prices from different hospitals, how do you even make the choice?”

When asked if the results of this year’s report surprised her – Buckey has worked on the past five – she said yes and no.

Given that the data is based on information from last summer for plans that would be in effect by 2017, she concedes that given the current political climate “a lot is up in the air.” Most employers were hesitant to make substantive changes to their plans due to the election, she says. We may see the same thing this year as changes are made to the ACA and the Cadillac Tax, she adds.

“What I was interested in were the incremental changes and some of the creativity being applied to longstanding issues of getting costs under control,” she says.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Albinus P. (2017 March 05). Employers embrace new strategies to cut healthcare costs [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/employers-embrace-new-strategies-to-cut-healthcare-costs?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000


Employees desperately need more information on health plans, study says

Did you know that a lot of your employees may be unaware of the health care options your company offers? Take a peek at this great article from HR Morning on how to improve your employees knowledge of their healthcare options by Jared Bilski

As an increasing number of employees are being asked to make smarter healthcare spending decisions, communication is more important than ever. Unfortunately, it looks like many firms have a lot of room for improvement.  

That’s one of the alarming takeaways from healthcare administrator Alegeus’ recent “State of Denial” study.

A number of the stats from the study point to a major employee healthcare problem that’s only getting worse. That problem: While employees’ health options are becoming increasingly complex, most workers don’t have the knowledge and/or accountability to make wise decisions involving those options.

Unaware and overwhelmed

Here are some of the most alarming stats from the study:

  • 63% of employees said they don’t know the benefit of an HSA
  • 50% don’t know how to predict current or future out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures and can’t select the best savings vehicle or rate
  • 26% of HSA accountholders don’t know they can use HSA funds beyond the immediate plan year, and
  • 41% of HSA accountholders were unaware they could invest HSA funds.

The study also highlighted some of the contradictions between what employees said they wanted or needed, and how they acted.

For example, although 70% of employees said they’d like to take a more active role in their healthcare decisions, just 50% intend to conduct more due diligence when purchasing healthcare in 2017.

The importance of one on one

One of the most effective ways to improve employees’ benefits understanding is through one-on-one communications.

To help ensure this is effective, here are three things HR pros should keep in mind, according to Winston Benefits, a voluntary benefits plan provider:

1. Prepare the right materials

When you’re doing a large-scale benefits presentation, you generally just hand out the materials, and employees look through and use those materials as they see fit.

But with individual sessions, benefits pros have to be prepared to explain those materials in any way an employee requests.

Example: Walking a worker through a tool or calculator in a step-by-step manner.

2. Look to your broker

In many cases, benefits brokers are willing to go on site for one-on-one sessions, and companies should take advantage whenever possible.

Employees will be comfortable knowing there’s an in-house HR or benefits pro at the broker, and a broker’s expertise can really improve workers’ overall understanding.

3. Allot enough time

The point of these meetings is to give employees all the time they need to understand their options and make informed decisions.

Rushing workers through these meetings will ensure the one-on-one education falls flat.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Bilski J. (2017 February 17). Employees desperately need more information on health plans, study says [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/employees-desperately-need-more-information-on-health-plans-study-says/