Keep Your Kids Safe
on Halloween

Whether they're a goblin or ghoul,
vampire or witch, Halloween can
be a tricky time when it comes...

read more

Make the Most of
Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment - the time during
which employers allow employees
to choose their health care plan...

read more

Make Your Water Fun
- Infuse It!

We all know that we need to
drink more water. In fact,
experts recommend that...

read more

Keep Your Kids Safe on Halloween

Whether they're a goblin or ghoul, vampire or witch, Halloween can be a tricky time when it comes to keeping our kids safe. Seemingly innocent things like costume, face paint and candy can cause hazards. Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by following the "lucky 13" guidelines from FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Wear costumes made of fire-retardant materials; look for "flame resistant" on the label. If you make your costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.

  • Wear bright, reflective costumes or add strips of reflective tape so you'll be more visible; make sure the costumes aren't so long that you're in danger of tripping.

  • Wear makeup and hats rather than masks that can obscure your vision.

  • Test the makeup you plan to use by putting a small amount on the arm of the person who will be wearing it a couple of days in advance. If a rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation develop where the makeup was applied, that's a sign of a possible allergy.

  • Check FDA's list of color additives to see if makeup additives are FDA approved. If they aren't approved for their intended use, don't use it.

  • Don't wear decorative contact lenses unless you have seen an eye care professional and gotten a proper lens fitting and instructions for using the lenses.

  • Don't eat candy until it has been inspected at home.

  • Trick-or-treaters should eat a snack before heading out, so they won't be tempted to nibble on treats that haven't been inspected.

  • Tell children not to accept - or eat - anything that isn't commercially wrapped.

  • Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.

  • Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

  • Look for the warning label to avoid juice that hasn't been pasteurized or otherwise processed, especially packaged juice products that may have been made on site. When in doubt, ask! Always ask if you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized or not. Normally, the juice found in your grocer's frozen food case, refrigerated section, or on the shelf in boxes, bottles, or cans is pasteurized.

  • Before bobbing for apples - a favorite Halloween game - reduce the amount of bacteria that might be on apples by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.

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Make the Most of Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment - the time during which employers allow employees to choose their health care plan for the coming year - comes just once every 12 months. It is important to make the most of this opportunity. The choices you make now will impact you and your family for the next year. Here are some tips from the Institute for Healthcare Consumerism to help you make informed choices. For additional information, visit Dignity Health's Open Enrollment website.

  • Get Your Plan Materials: Pay attention to how your employer is making your Summary of Benefits Coverage (SBCs) and the traditional Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) available to you. Many are making them more accessible online, via mobile apps as well as on paper. It's good to know how you can access this information during open enrollment and throughout the year, in case you want to review it again when you are in need of a particular medical service.

  • Do Your Homework: Take the time during open enrollment to truly read through your plan materials, including the SBCs and SPDs, to make yourself familiar with each of your plan options. Reading each of these materials will give you the detailed plan descriptions you need to decide on the best plan for you and your family in the coming year.

  • Calculate Your Costs: Many employers provide cost calculators to help project your total cost for the coming plan year. The total cost includes the premium you pay as well as your share of the deductible and coinsurance. Take the time during open enrollment to think through your potential medical needs and calculate your anticipated expenses before selecting a plan. It may save you hundreds in the long run.

  • Consider an Account: If your employer offers you the option of a healthcare account, whether it is a flexible spending account (FSA), a health reimbursement account (HRA) or a health savings account (HSA), take a good look at it. These accounts can help you save money on qualified medical expenses that aren't covered by your health care plan, such as deductibles and coinsurance.

  • Ask If You Have a "Grandfathered" Plan: One of the benefits of health care reform is an extended list of preventive care benefits that must be offered by new health care plans for free. Preventive services such as colonoscopy screenings for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults must be offered without out-of-pocket costs. However, these benefits are only for new health plans and don't apply to "grandfathered" plans that haven't significantly changed in a few years. Find out if your plan is considered to be "grandfathered" and identify exactly what preventive services are covered for free.

  • Prepare for the Unexpected: Everyone needs to be prepared for the unexpected, including job loss, divorce, or other life-changing events. Be sure you know what the benefits plan costs might be if you need to pay for it under COBRA.

  • Use Wellness Incentives: More employers than ever before are offering incentives to employees and their family members for health improvement. These incentives may come in the form of medical premium discounts, access to certain low deductible plans or even incentives and prizes. Take the time to learn everything your employer offers. You may find that you are already leaving money on the table because you have a gym membership or participate in a weight loss program that qualifies for an incentive from your employer.

  • Know Your Deadlines: No matter what changes you may make, if any, during this year's open enrollment period, don't let your selection deadlines slip by without action. Doing nothing could end up costing you hundreds in 2013 in higher premium costs, lower coverage, or missed opportunities to optimize your health care dollars.

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Make Your Water Fun?Infuse It!

We all know that we need to drink more water. In fact, experts recommend that women drink at least 8 servings of 8 fluid ounces each every day - and while all liquids count toward that total, most of it should be water. But sometimes all that water can get a little boring. If water leaves you yawning - consider infusing it! This year all Care Begins With Me attendees received a water infuser as part of their goodie bag... If you weren't lucky enough to be there and receive one you can find plenty of different options at various online retailers. Or, simply go the old fashioned way and fill a larger pitcher with water and add your infuser ingredients.

So once you have your infuser, what should you do with it? Here are a few great ideas to get you started!

  • Cucumber Lemon: Thinly sliced cucumbers and lemon slices

  • Cherry Limeade: Pitted cherries, sliced, and mint leaves and thinly sliced limes

  • Peaches N Cream: Pitted, peeled and sliced peaches and a vanilla bean pod sliced down the middle

  • Cucumber Mixer: Thinly sliced cucumbers and a sprig of fresh lavender

  • Citrus Splash: Thinly sliced grapefruit, orange and lemon slices

  • Pom Fun: Pomegranate seeds and crushed blueberries

  • Melon Mixer: Cantaloupe chunks and mint leaves

  • Basil Blast: Fresh basil and watermelon chunks

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