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Open Enrollment Season Starts Soon — September 2020

Open Enrollment Season Starts Soon — September 2020


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Open Enrollment is here!

It’s that time of year: Open Enrollment. Now’s the time to make sure your health insurance plan matches your health care needs. You can typically make changes only once a year (unless you’ve experienced a qualifying life event, such as a job change or birth of a child). However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, you may have already had a chance to make changes to your health plan this year. Open Enrollment will give you another chance to determine whether your insurance plan is meeting your needs.

Health insurance plans and network types can be confusing, but understanding them is critical to determining which plan is best for you. Here’s an overview of the types of health plans that are most commonly offered by employers:

Health maintenance organization (HMO) plans offer care through a network of providers that contract with the health insurer. You select a primary care provider (PCP) from the network for regular checkups. If you want to see a specialist— such as a dermatologist (skin doctor) or physical therapist—you need a referral from your PCP. If you choose to use an out-of-network provider, you may be responsible for the full cost of the services you receive (except in the case of or emergency care).

Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans offer care through both in- and out-of-network providers; however, you may pay less if you use participating providers. You don’t need a referral to see specialists.

Point-of-service (POS) plans are hybrids of HMOs and PPOs. You need a referral from your PCP to see a specialist, but you can see out-of-network providers at a higher cost.

High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) have lower monthly premiums and higher deductibles than traditional plan options. The IRS defines HDHPs as those with a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family. After the deductible is met, the insurance company begins to pay its share for covered health care services.

The advantage of HDHPs is that they can be combined with health savings accounts (HSAs). An HSA is a type of savings account that lets you set aside pre-tax income to pay for medical expenses. For 2021, individuals can contribute up to $3,600 and families can contribute up to $7,200. Members who are
55 or older are allowed to contribute a $1,000 catch-up contribution per year.

Unspent HSA funds roll over from year to year. If you leave an employer or switch to a traditional plan, you can continue to use your HSA. Your employer may also contribute to your account.

Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) can also be linked to HDHPs. HRAs are owned and funded by an employer. Each year, a fixed amount is deposited into the account as a tax-free reimbursement for medical expenses. Unused amounts roll over from year to year but are lost if you leave your job with the employer who owns the HRA.

HRAs and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) can also be linked to other types of plans. FSAs are set up by employers for employees to pay for medical expenses or dependent/child care.

The first step is to estimate your health or dependent care expenses for the year.* You will then fund the spending account by paying an equal portion of your pre-tax income into it each pay period.

At the end of the year, you will lose any unused funds are, so it’s important to accurately estimate your costs. If you leave your job with the employer who operates your FSA, you will lose any unused funds.

Get the details!

No matter what health insurance plan you choose, you’ll want to have a good understanding of the details. Be sure to ask the following questions before choosing a plan:

  • Which providers are in the plan’s network? Will you have to change providers or pay more to continue to see an out-of-network provider you like?
  • What are the deductibles for individuals and families, and what expenses count toward those deductibles?
  • Does the plan have copays or coinsurance (the percentage of costs you must pay after your deductible is met)? How much is the copay, and what percentage is the coinsurance?
  • What is the out-of-pocket maximum (the most you will pay for covered health care expenses in a plan year)?
    • This amount includes deductibles, copays, and coinsurance but not premiums.
  • Are you eligible for an HSA, HRA, or FSA?
    • These accounts are designed to help you save money and exercise more control over how your health care dollars are spent. If you choose to open one of these accounts, be sure to consult your plan’s list of eligible expenses and follow any other guidelines set by the plan.

The power of prevention

Preventive care is powerful. It can help your PCP catch health problems early, when they may be easier—and less costly—to treat. Preventive care includes immunizations and screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, cancers, and other potential risks.

Many plans cover preventive care at no out-of-pocket cost to you.

Are you and your family up-to-date on your preventive care?

Don’t forget!

During Open Enrollment, be sure to verify that your phone number, email address, and mailing address are correct. Keeping your insurer informed about changes to your contact information will help you avoid unnecessary coverage delays or difficulties.

How can KnovaSolutions help?

KnovaSolutions® is available to help you understand your health care—and that includes understanding your health plan. Let us know how we can help! Give us a call at 1-800-355-0885. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. MST.

Transitioning to Medicare?

If you are approaching age 65, you’ll want to start learning about Medicare, the  
government-sponsored health insurance program for those 65 and older. You can have Medicare coverage along with other insurance.

It’s important to sign up for Medicare Part B right when you become eligible. This will help you avoid a penalty.

Medicare has different offerings that cover different services. You can choose the options best meet your needs.

  • Medicare Advantage (previously known as Part C) includes the following services covered
    by parts A and B:
    • Part A is hospital insurance. It covers in-patient hospital stays as well as care in
      short-term skilled nursing facilities after qualifying hospital stays. In addition, it covers some home health and hospice care.
    • Part B is medical insurance that helps pay for medical services, home health care, medical equipment, and preventive services.
  • Part D helps cover the cost of prescription medications.

COVID-related changes to medical savings accounts

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act added over-the-counter medications (without a doctor’s prescription) and menstrual care products as medical savings account-eligible expenses. This change may be time-limited, so be sure to check changes to your spending account before purchasing these products.

The CARES Act also allowed for midyear plan changes for FSA participants. Eligible employees were given a one-time opportunity to enroll in, withdraw from, or change their FSA elections for the 2020 calendar year. The carryover limit from 2020 to 2021 was also increased from $500 to $550.

*The estimate cannot exceed the maximum annual contribution allowed per IRS guidelines.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.


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Feeling COVID-Weary (Still)? Pandemic Life Is Emotionally Exhausting   — August 2020

Feeling COVID-Weary (Still)? Pandemic Life Is Emotionally Exhausting — August 2020


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If life still feels upside down, that’s because it is. Summer weather didn’t slow down the coronavirus. Many parts of our lives continue to feel like a roller coaster ride: school is on, then it’s off; places are open, then they’re closed; and worries about work, finances, social unrest and loved ones alone in nursing homes and hospitals are, well, still worrisome. What are we feeling? Call it COVID-weariness, emotional exhaustion, burnout or compassion fatigue — it all boils down to unusually stressful times with no end in sight.

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A Bright Future for Telemedicine  — July 2020

A Bright Future for Telemedicine — July 2020


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The Pros and Cons of Virtual Doctors’ Visits

It took a worldwide pandemic to step up the pace of telemedicine, the delivery of healthcare between remote locations using technology. Virtual visits with healthcare providers via the internet, computers and mobile devices have risen rapidly — especially with non-urgent medical visits discouraged to prevent exposure to the coronavirus. Take UC San Diego Health; their virtual visit platform experienced more visits in just two days than it had in the previous three years.

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Considering Surgery?  — June 2020

Considering Surgery? — June 2020


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How to Make an Informed Decision

Deciding to have surgery at any time is challenging, and the COVID-19 pandemic adds another layer of complexity to the decision. Since all surgeries have risks and benefits, it helps to carefully review questions and other considerations with your healthcare provider, insurance carrier, employer and support persons. Patients who make informed decisions about having a surgery or procedure tend to be more satisfied with the outcome.

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What’s Your New Normal? — May 2020

What’s Your New Normal? — May 2020


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Loss, Grief, Resilience and Hope

That’s a good question! You may have dealt with illness or the loss of a loved one, maybe loss of income. Even if you haven’t experienced deep loss, everyone has suffered loss on some level. On top of that, how we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic is still unknown. One thing is certain though, the new normal will be different. In the face of change and uncertainty, being resilient (or becoming more resilient) can ease worry and bring hope to challenging times.

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Are You Anxious or Depressed? — March 2020

Are You Anxious or Depressed? — March 2020


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Know the Signs to Find Relief

If you feel anxious or depressed, you are not alone. Everyone feels down or anxious from time to time. It’s a normal response to stress and other situations that arise in our lives. But ongoing feelings of depression and anxiety may signal a problem. In 2017, an estimated 17.3 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode. About a third of the population will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives (NIH). 

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Getting In-Network Care After Hours — December 2019

Getting In-Network Care After Hours — December 2019


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Plus, Healthcare Tips When Traveling

The holidays are here, it’s cold and flu season, and you’re leaving town to visit family. What happens if you or a family member gets sick at night, at home or away?

Assuming you are reading this when you don’t have immediate needs for medical care, you probably have time to plan for off-hour medical situations. That’s right, with a little bit of research, you can be better prepared to make decisions about seeking the most cost-effective option for the situation.

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Pass the Tissues! — November 2019

Pass the Tissues! — November 2019


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How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold, the Flu and Allergies

It’s that season again. When you first start to feel lousy, it’s sometimes hard to know whether it’s a cold, the flu or allergies acting up. Knowing the difference may help you pick the best treatment. All three ailments affect the respiratory system and can make it harder to breathe.

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Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019

Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019


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What Changes Are Happening Inside You?

Being 50 or older can be a fulfilling time of life. You are more experienced and wiser. You have a broader view of the world and may be able to take challenges in stride more effectively. If you’ve raised children, they are likely on their feet, or getting there. You may even be enjoying grandchildren or having more time to pursue your interests.

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Believing You Can Cope — September 2019

Believing You Can Cope — September 2019


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Is Half the Battle When Facing Life’s Challenges

In the children’s story, The Little Engine that Could, the little engine agrees to pull a long, broken-down train over a high mountain after larger, more powerful engines refuse. “I think I can, I think I can,” said the little engine. And when it’s successfully coming down the other side, he said, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

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Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019

Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019


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Keeping Your Digestive System Healthy

Do you ever wonder how the blueberries or chicken you eat get broken down into fuel for the body? The digestive system is made up of organs that each have different roles in processing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and liquids. Each organ works to break food into smaller parts and move nutrients to where they can be absorbed. Spoiler: the next section describes the digestion process; skip if you don’t want the details!

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Work-Life Integration — July 2019

Work-Life Integration — July 2019


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A 21st Century Take on Work-Life Balance

The concept of work-life balance was introduced in the 1970’s as baby boomers struggled to balance their careers, families, friends and hobbies with staying healthy. The idea is to ‘balance’ your work with your private life. Work-life balance means focusing on your job when at work and making time outside of work to enjoy family and friends, as well as engage in other activities you enjoy.

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Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019

Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019


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Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

Taking medicine is part of a daily routine for many people. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)medications treat disease and improve health in many ways. Lowering cholesterol, fighting infection, controlling blood sugar levels, reducing pain—these are just some of the helpful effects. Along with the benefits of feeling better and getting well, medicines also pose the risk of unwanted side effects or unexpected adverse events.

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Food for Thought — May 2019

Food for Thought — May 2019


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Healthy Food and Other Ways to Feed Your Brain

Our brains never rest. They hold down a highly specialized 24/7 job. As one of our largest and most complex organs, the brain contains more than 100 billion nerves that communicate through synapses, or connections, to control thinking, breathing, memory, sleep, hearing, digestion, feelings, heart rate, and so much more. Think of your brain as your body’s command center; it controls everything! Weighing just 3 pounds, the brain has a hefty job.

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Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019

Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019


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How to Stay Informed while Minimizing Stress

Almost two-thirds of all Americans say that the daily news causes them stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey. Feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless, irritable and worn out are some of the symptoms of “headline stress disorder,” a phrase coined by psychologist Steven Stosny.

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Managing Your Weight — January 2019

Managing Your Weight — January 2019


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For a Healthy Body and Mind

Carrying excess weight takes a toll on every part of the body. It affects walking, breathing, sleeping and mood, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. Being overweight can also increase the risk of developing serious medical conditions. The risk might rise from the stress the heart and joints suffer from carrying extra pounds. Or it may be due to complex changes in hormones and metabolism (how the body uses calories and fat).

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Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

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Taking These (and Supplements) Safely

Over-the-counter medications (OTC) are easy to find at the store. They offer relief from common health problems like stuffy noses, seasonal allergies and achy muscles. They also can help prevent problems like constipation and nausea. You may feel empowered to solve a health issue without having to see your primary care provider for advice or a prescription.
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Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

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With Approaches That Benefit Your Health

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30 percent of adults use healthcare approaches developed outside of mainstream western medicine. These approaches are called complementary and alternative —terms that are often used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that they are different.

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