Uninsured in California: Living in a state that requires health insurance

Uninsured in California

Uninsured in CaliforniaPenalty fees, hindered medical care, and steep medical fees are no fun, but these are the realities to expect if you don’t have health insurance coverage in California or any other state where coverage is required.

While the number of uninsured Americans has dropped, many people still don’t have any type of healthcare insurance coverage.

As of 2019, Americans without health insurance are not taxed by the government (federal).  However,  as of 2019, you may be required to pay a fee when you file your state taxes if you do not have health insurance. This is because certain states and jurisdictions have enacted their own health insurance mandates.

The following five states* require health insurance and present a penalty if you don’t have it:

  • Massachusetts

  • New Jersey

  • Vermont

  • California

  • Rhode Island

*The District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) also falls into this category at the state level.

Related Reading(s): Investopedia: Don’t Have Health Insurance? What’s the Worst That Could Happen?


Prior to 2020, if you went without Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant health insurance for more than two consecutive months, you would pay a penalty. This fine was called the Shared Responsibility Payment.

As we mentioned earlier, a small handful of states have since introduced state-level individual mandates to encourage residents to purchase health insurance and help moderate the cost of insurance purchased on the public exchange. The penalty for failure to obtain qualifying health coverage varies by state — but a penalty is involved if you remain uninsured.

The purpose of the penalty?

a. To encourage everyone to purchase health insurance if they weren’t covered through their employment or a government-sponsored program.

b. To protect people from skipping out on health insurance.

c. To discourage not being able to pay off medical expenses in the event of injury or illness.

Related reading(s): eHealth: Does Your State Require You to Have Health Insurance?


An individual mandate is a requirement by law for certain persons to purchase or otherwise obtain a good or service. For health insurance, this means:

  • Imposing a tax penalty on individuals who go without health insurance but can afford it

The prior tax penalty for not having health insurance in 2018 was $695 for adults and $347.50 for children or 2 percent of your yearly income, whichever amount is more.

Related Reading(s): iHealthAgents: What is the penalty for not having health insurance in 2021?

Currently, the annual penalty for Californians who go without health insurance is 2.5 percent of household income or at least $750 per adult and $375 per dependent under 18, whichever is greater. The dollar figures will rise yearly with inflation.

The penalty is capped at the state average premium for a bronze level plan on the California exchange for the applicable household size and does not apply if that premium exceeds 8.3 percent of household income.

You may be eligible for an exemption in a few situations, such as:

  • Religious conscience exemption: if you or someone in your family is part of a recognized religion that is against private insurance or believes exclusively in spiritual healing, you may qualify for a religious conscience exemption.

  • Hardship exemption: you experienced certain hardships that prevented you from getting health coverage, such as homelessness, eviction, natural disaster, domestic violence, bankruptcy, etc.

  • Affordability exemption: the tax penalty doesn’t apply if the least expensive plan premium available to you would be greater than 8.27% of your household income in 2021.

  • Short coverage gap: you went without coverage for three consecutive months or less
  • Part of a federally recognized Native American tribe


To avoid this penalty and protect yourself from the potential financial burden of unexpected medical expenses, you can enroll in a health insurance plan during the open enrollment period.

If you lose your insurance in the middle of the year, you may qualify for a special enrollment period to purchase an ACA-compliant plan on the public exchange

Depending on which state you live in, you may also be able to enroll in short-term health insurance to help fill any coverage gaps you may experience throughout the year.

Catastrophic Plans: These plans will cover you in the event of an accident or illness. They have very low monthly premiums and provide a safety net should you need it. You can buy these plans through the Marketplace, directly from an insurer, or through an agent or broker.

Related reading(s): Health Grades: What Happens If You Don’t Have Health Insurance?

Frequently asked questions about Medicare coverage for people with disabilities under 65

Medicare disability coverage

Learn about how people under 65 with disabilities can benefit from Medicare insurance, plans, and more

Medicare disability coverage

If you’re under 65 (age 18 to 64) and have a disability, Medicare could benefit you in many ways if you meet the requirements to receive for Medicare disability coverage.

Medicare was established in 1965 as the health insurance program for Americans age 65 and over; since 1973, it has also covered people under age 65 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Medicare is tied to your eligibility for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits. (One exception is for people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), who are automatically eligible for Medicare solely on the basis of having ESRD.)

Related reading(s): Medicare’s Role for People Under Age 65 with Disabilities;


Medicare coverage is the same for people who qualify based on disability as for those who qualify based on age. For those who are eligible, the full range of Medicare benefits are available.

Coverage includes certain hospital, nursing home, home health, physician, and community-based services.  The health care services do not have to be related to the individual’s disability in order to be covered. There are also no illnesses or underlying conditions that disqualify people for Medicare coverage.

If you’re under 65 and meet the following criteria, you could be eligible for Medicare:

  • Must have received Social Security Disability benefits for 24 months

  • Have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease)

  1. If you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), you can get Medicare the first month you get SSDI monthly income benefits.

  1. If you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you can get Medicare within 3 months of your first dialysis treatment, regardless of whether you apply and qualify for SSDI. You are eligible for Medicare solely on the basis of having ESRD.

Medicare eligibility for working people with disabilities falls into three distinct time frames:

  1. Trial work period, which extends for 9 months after a disabled individual obtains a job

  1. Seven-and-three-quarter years (93 months) after the end of the trial work period.

  1. Indefinite period following those 93 months.(See the statute at 42 U.S.C. § 422(c), and regulation at 20 C.F.R. § 404.1592).

Related reading(s): Medicare Coverage for People with Disabilities

Keep in mind that Medicare eligibility during each of these periods applies only while the individual continues to meet the medical standard for being considered disabled under Social Security rules.

It should also be noted that — after a beneficiary is determined to be disabled — there is a five month waiting period before a beneficiary can begin to collect Social Security Disability benefits.

People with ESRD and ALS, in contrast to persons with other causes of disability, do not have to collect benefits for 24 months in order to be eligible for Medicare.


Do I need to sign up?

People who meet all the criteria for Social Security Disability are generally automatically enrolled in Parts A and B.

People who meet the standards, but do not qualify for Social Security benefits, can purchase Medicare by paying a monthly Part A premium, in addition to the monthly Part B premium.

If you select the latter option, you automatically get Part A and Part B after you get one of these:

  • Disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months

  • Certain disability benefits from the RRB for 24 months

People who qualify for Social Security Disability benefits should receive their red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail when the required time period has passed (3 months before your 25th month of disability).

If this does not happen or other questions arise, contact the local Social Security office.

I’ve earned income. Can I still receive Medicare health insurance?

Individuals who still have the disabling impairment but have earned income that meets or exceeds the “Substantial Gainful Activity” level can continue to receive Medicare health insurance after successfully completing a trial work period.  Substantial Gainful Activity Levels can be found at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/cola/sga.html.

Can I lose my SSDI benefits? How/Why?

The Social Security Administration periodically reviews eligibility for SSDI. If your condition improves or you have a successful kidney transplant, you can lose your SSDI benefits and Medicare (unless you also have another disability or chronic health condition that qualifies you for SSDI).

However, if you no longer qualify for SSDI because your condition improves or you successfully complete a trial work period, you may still be able to keep your Medicare benefits.

Federal legislation known as the Ticket Act allows a person with a disability who is eligible for Medicare and returns to work to keep his/her Medicare benefits (including free Part A coverage) for at least 8 1/2 years.

Are there any circumstances where a disabled individual isn’t eligible for Medicare?

Yes. An article published on the official California Health Advocates website states that many people with disabilities, including children, are not eligible for Medicare benefits because they do not have the work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits.

Children with disabilities and adults who are not eligible for SSDI are often eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. People with SSI benefits are covered by Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid Program), not Medicare.

For more information on SSI, check out this article.

Starting in the health insurance industry: 6 Tips to be successful

health insurance industry

Overview: In order to be successful in the health insurance industry, pay attention to these 6 pieces of advice.

health insurance industry

What makes a successful health insurance agent successful in the competitive zeitgeist of the 21st century? It’s more than what you’re saying or selling.

To be successful as a health insurance agent, you need to have strong sales, marketing, and customer service skills. You’ll be required to locate and attract potential customers. You don’t necessarily have to be born with these skills, but developing them is crucial to your success.

Essential tips for success as a health insurance agent:

Prioritize Good Customer Service

This is a three-part tip. You need to 1) put the needs of the client before your own interests 2) be attentive and available to answer client questions or concerns and 3) have emotional intelligence. All of these tie into prioritizing good customer service. Here’s why:

  • Putting a client into a product that pays a lower commission because it better fits their needs will likely help you retain customers.

  • Customers want to be able to get in contact with their agents. Timely responses to inquiries and phone calls is a must. You almost must be able to do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it, or at least have a good reason as to why you can’t.

  • Listen and empathize with clients on a deeper level in order to discern what they really want and need. A good agent is tactful and knows how to help a client see financial reality clearly, even when the client is dead set against it.

Bonus: Do not prioritize earning a commission! You likely won’t last long in the business. Agents who listen carefully to what their clients and prospects say will be able to earn their trust — which is the hardest part of their job.

Related article(s): 8 Qualities That Make a Good Insurance Agent

Focus On Good Salesmanship (Record/Listen To Yourself)

We all know that health insurance agents (like all types of insurance agents) are salespeople by nature. Sales is namely all about confidence first, knowledge second, and everything else after. One way to develop your sales skills is to record your voice on the phone while talking to some clients.

  • Do you sound smart?

  • Do you sound confident?

  • Do you sound like a little kid who picked up the phone?

You need to acquire strong sales skills and learn the process of acquiring, nurturing, and maintaining quality customers. This might require attending seminars or undergoing a professional training program in sales.

Related article(s): 21 Insurance Sales Tips For Young or Inexperienced Insurance Agents

Develop a Strong Work Ethic

The insurance industry is competitive and you may be working independently for a good portion of the day. You need to develop a strong work ethic to be proactive when seeking out new customers, closing sales, and developing relationships with clients and industry professionals. Prioritizing your time and maintaining a strong work ethic will get you far throughout your career.

Study the Market

You need a plan to target the right prospects and seek out new customers in the right markets. Take the time to study the market and develop a strategy so you are making the best use of your time. Whether you are out on a sales call or conducting a presentation to potential customers, you need a deep understanding of what your customers want and who is the market to buy insurance — ideally, from you.

Learn From the Pros

Every successful agent needs a mentor, coach, or someone to guide them throughout their career. Make the time to connect with someone who is currently working your dream position or someone who is willing to mentor you as you grow in your career. This will provide you with valuable insights about the industry, tips for overcoming challenges you are dealing with, and an opportunity to learn from someone who has been in your position at some point in his or her career.

Related article(s): How to Succeed as an Insurance Broker or Insurance Agent

Stay on Top of Market Trends

Because life insurance policies changes, it’s essential that you stay on top of trends to achieve the success you want. As a result, you’ll not only have a better chance of selling what the client needs but also what they believe they want. With a vast knowledge of life insurance and by remaining enthusiastic yet professional, you can carefully guide an individual toward the best coverage, whether trendy or not.

Related article(s): 5 Pro Tips – How to Be a Successful Insurance Agent in 2021

3 Questions For Your Doctor

medical insurance
Health insurance is a vital aspect of our health and well-being. And the exponentially rising cost of healthcare is insurmountable without some level of insurance. So, it is crucial that we are covered in the case of an unforeseeable ailment or injury. However, health insurance is a complicated web of pure confusion. It takes an expert, someone who has devoted their entire career to the subject, to fully understand its ins and outs. And while you do not need to comprehend every aspect of insurance or even your own coverage completely, there are some things you’ll want to be sure are made clear.
If you’ve recently moved or required specialized medical attention, you may be seeking a new primary physician. And in this process, you’ll need to consider a few questions. To help you better understand your insurance, your doctor, and choose the best avenue of care for your needs, know what questions to ask your physician’s office. These will help you know what is covered by your insurance plan and what to expect in costs before you even book an appointment. Take out the guesswork and surprises, and take hold of your health care!
Health Insurance Concept - Doctor in hospital with health insurance related icon graphic interface showing healthcare people, money planning, risk management, medical treatment and coverage benefit.

Three questions to ask your doctor: 

1. Is this office covered by my current health insurance plan?

You can answer this inquiry in more than one way. You can simply call the office directly and ask. However, this might turn into quite a few phone calls to random doctors’ offices. Or you can check your health plan’s website for a provider directory. This may be a more direct and easily navigable solution. Also, check if your plan requires prior authorization before your visit. This will avoid charges that could otherwise be applied to your plan.

2. Does my health plan cover my healthcare requirements?

There are several essential health benefits covered by all private health care plans. These include prescription drugs, emergency visits, pregnancy, maternity, and newborn services. However, beyond these, each plan is a bit unique in its coverage. If you have questions about what particular services are covered, you can reach out to your plan for answers.

3. What will I be charged?

While you are free to visit an out-of-network provider, you’ll save the most money with someone who is in-network. This indicates that their office accepts your insurance, resulting in a smaller out-of-pocket fee. As discussed above, each plan is a bit different from the next. So avoid any unwelcome surprises and learn which services aren’t subject to your plan.
Insurance and finding a healthcare provider who is both in-network and compatible with your preferences and needs, can be a headache. That’s why we at Bernardini and Donovan are here for your insurance inquiries and navigation. Don’t go it alone- this is a complicated topic! So leave it to the experts. We’ll assist you in this process, finding the best options for your exact criteria.

Back to School Health Checklist

family health insurance

With the close of Summer, August marks the start of the next school year. And in anticipation for the first day of school, there are a few things that first must be accomplished. You’ll, of course, make your annual school supplies Target run. You might pick up a few fresh outfits. And you’ll want to be sure to make the most of these last summer days. However, it is also important that you consider your children’s health and preventative care as they enter a new grade. There are several ways to ensure their preparedness and start the year off right! Check out our checklist on your children’s’ back-to-school health!

family health insurance

9 Ways to Prepare Your Children for the Start of School.

1. Immunize.

This is a significant step in ensuring the safety of your children and those they encounter. Vaccines have eradicated several deadly diseases, making our society far safer. So, be sure to do your part and keep your children’s’ vaccinations up to date. It is also required in all 50 states, that school-aged children be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and chicken pox. Receiving immunizations can be coupled with your child’s annual doctor’s check-up.

2. Get a flu shot. 

Flu shots similarly promote the safety of your child and those around them. However, this is not only good for your children. Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot every year. So, you ought to join in on the fun as well! Take your whole family to receive your shots, ideally before the start of flu season in October.

3. Prioritize good sleep hygiene.

Summer is likely to throw off your schedule a bit. So make sure that a proper sleep routine is re-implemented before the start of the school year. Remember that children require plenty of sleep: 10 hours for school-aged kids, and 9-10 hours for teens. Without adequate amounts of sleep, your child will struggle to focus and engage in the classroom.

4. Value the lunch box.

The food your children eat at school will influence their ability to learn, interact with others, and enjoy their day. So make sure to pack with them, nutritious and kid-approved food. Include fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich items such as nuts and lean meats, and swap out white bread for whole-grain! Find what healthy foods your kids enjoy eating and cater to those preferences.

5. Inform your kids of the ways of the road.

If your kids make their own way to school, either by foot or bicycle, be sure that they are aware of traffic safety rules. Teach them to use the sidewalk when available. And in the case that there is no sidewalk, to use the shoulder of the road, facing traffic.

6. Lighten their load.

Backpacks are often stuffed with books, binders, colors, and everything in between, making them quite heavy. This load can be harmful to your child’s neck, back, and shoulders. So, to ensure their comfort and health, watch the weight of their backpacks. It is advised that their packs to not exceed 10-15% of their body weight.

7. Get their eyes checked.

One’s ability to see is integral to their learning capabilities. So, be sure to take your child to get their eyes checked in case they require glasses. Also, look for signs of any sight-impairments. If they are squinting, closing one eye to read, or they hold their book exceptionally close, you may need to check the status of their vision. A child who is unable to see properly faces a significant learning barrier.

8. Emphasize good hygiene and cold-preventing habits.

Returning to school also marks the return of abounding germs. And while your children are up against all odds, there are several ways to help maintain their good health. Emphasize the importance of thorough hand washing, cover their sneezes and using tissues, and not touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.

9. Inform your school of health issues.

Keep your school updated on special restrictions and instruction to keep your child healthy. Make sure that they are aware of all allergies and health problems.

This school year, be sure to prioritize your children’s health and well-being. From packing their lunch to scheduling doctor’s visits, you have the opportunity to give them the best start! And to insure your health care needs, do not hesitate to call on us at Bernardini and Donovan for expert advice and counsel. We are here for you and your entire family in this upcoming school year!

4 Things You Need to Know About The 2019 Measles Outbreak

California health insurance

One of the most interesting health issues to resurface this year has been the Measles. Which is interesting because, in the year 2000, the United States was able to declare that the Measles had been eliminated. However, in these last six months, we have seen 1077 cases. A number that is still growing. The last time we saw these kinds of numbers was in 1992. Here is what you need to know about these recent outbreaks:

1. Over 26 states have reported a Measles breakout

These states include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington.

2. Small Community Centered

Most of the reported breakouts include a small number of people affected; only a couple at a time. But the most significant reported amounts are in an Orthodox Jewish Community in New York City, specifically in Rockland County. This group has been vaccine skeptic, and the measles virus has spread wildly. So much so that the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, declared a public health emergency on April 9th. He said that anyone who has not been vaccinated within a specific zip code must get the vaccine. If they refused, they would be fined $1,000.

3. It’s an aggressive virus.

You may have the virus and not show any symptoms. A person can have it up to four days before they ever show signs, and they can easily infect another person during that time if a person who has contracted the measles were to walk into a room, cough and then leave. Hours later, an unvaccinated person could get the virus from the droplets in the air from the infected person. No other virus can do that.

4. It’s making its way into the US from tourists

Many of the outbreaks that stemmed from people that have traveled to countries where measles still is a significant problem. Outbreaks in California have originated from strains of measles found in Vietnam or Thailand. New York’s epidemic seems to come from Jerusalem. If you are traveling to another country this summer, the CDC recommends that you are up on your vaccines so that you do not contract this aggressive virus.

If more people are vaccinated, it creates what is called the herd effect. It helps the people who cannot get vaccines like small children or people or autoimmune diseases from getting the disease. If you need to check up on your vaccines, make sure to call your doctor. If you have already been vaccinated for measles, most people do not need a have the vaccine again, but if you got it before 1967, you might. Your doctor will be able to help you determine what you need as far as vaccines go.

Hold Onto Your Health: 5 Things Men Can do to help their bodies

5 Things Men Can do to help their bodies

As we begin this June, we turn our attention to men as we look at their health. This June 6 start Men’s Health Week and what is needed to help them live healthier and happier lives. Before we get into this list, we do want to give a special shout out to women. It would be easy to look at this list as there is nothing here for you. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a fact that women live longer than men. This stems from the fact that women often go to the doctor, ask lots of questions, and make informed decisions when it comes to their health. As you look over this list, we ask that you would help encourage the men around you to pursue their health and help them take these steps to a healthier lifestyle.

Make that appointment even if you feel great

One of the most significant issues the men face is that they may know that they are facing health issues, but do not seek out health experts. Here is an age guide of what you should be asking about based upon your life stage:

  • For men in their 30s

    • Complete physical every two years
    • Get blood pressure checked every year
    • Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
    • Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
    • Testicular self-exam every month
  • For men in their 40s

    • Get blood pressure checked every year
    • Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
    • Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
    • Testicular self-exam every month
    • Complete physical every two years
    • Baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam (DRE)
    • Stool test (for colon and rectal cancers) every year
  • For men in their 50s 

    • Get blood pressure checked every year
      • Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
    • Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
    • Testicular self-exam every month
    • A sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy (for colon cancers) every three to four years or as recommended by your healthcare provider
    • PSA and DRE exam every year (https://observer.com/2015/06/men-need-to-know-more-about-their-health/)

Get Moving

One of the most significant ways to help your health is to engage in 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day. Studies have shown that it can significantly improve your heart health as well as lower your stress levels. If you are having a hard time finding 30 minutes a day, any amount of exercise is helpful. You could also use this time to engage with your family by playing a sport together or going on a walk together.

elder health insurance

Stop Smoking

This single step has one of the greatest benefits to your health. When you smoke, you are in taking over 4,000 harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer in your body. By quitting smoking, you are giving your lungs a chance they need to heal and to function correctly. The health of your lungs goes up significantly in just two weeks after you stop smoking.

Hormone changes are not only for women

While many are familiar with menopause for women, men also have changes to their hormones while they age. Testosterone levels tend to drop as men age. If you want to get an idea of where your levels are at, it is good to test them in the morning before 9 am. That will give you a good idea if your levels or high or low. If you start to gain weight, especially around your middle, this can change your testosterone levels as well. Keeping a trim waist helps keep your levels healthy.

Mental Health Matters

In many ways, your attitude about aging and your mental health has just as much effect on you as your physical condition. Pay attention if you are utilizing any unhealthy coping mechanisms or substances to help you get through a day or to deal with stress. If you find yourself in a negative place, please reach out for help. There are more options available to help men find the right work/life balance and be happier each day.

What Happens After You Lose an Organ

What Happens After You Lose an Organ
This can sound like an ominous subject.

But the matter of the fact is that many people have different organs removed on a consistent basis. We are not talking about the vital organs like the lungs or liver. But we do regularly hear of people who have their gallbladder, tonsils, appendix or pancreas removed. So what happens after that? What is life like without these organs that you were born with?

Most people have their tonsils removed after having some complications with tonsillitis or suffering from sleep apnea.

Your appendix would only be removed if it has become infected. For both of these procedures, there is not much that will change in your day to day life. You should not suffer from sore throats as much if you have your tonsils out, and there will be no change good or bad when you have the appendix removed.

If you are getting your gallbladder removed, you most likely have had some issues with gallstones.

Passing a gallstone can be an excruciating process and if it should get stuck on the way out it can lead to some severe health issues. When your gallbladder is removed, you can no longer store bile in the same way. Bile helps break down fatty foods. Therefore, after getting your gallbladder removed, you would need to plan on changing your diet. All high-fat foods can lead to some potential problems for you, but you will also want to make sure that you are cutting down on foods that can cause gas as well. One of the more severe organs to get removed is your pancreas. Because the pancreas produces the insulin that your body needs to respond to glucose levels, when you get it removed you come out of the surgery a diabetic. This change will affect your diet, exercise and health care needs for the rest of your life.

These are all issues that could have an effect on the type of health insurance coverage that you may need. If you have gone through a primary medical procedure in the last year that will require more medical attention for you in the future, please talk to us for the best insurance coverage for your current health needs.

The Numbers on Addiction

The numbers on Addiction

The Numbers on Addiction

There is much to be said about the many diseases that affect our country.
Often viewed as a disease while not given the same attention, addiction can take a deadly tole on a person’s life. Here are some addiction facts that show how widespread this issue continues to be:


Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction (excluding tobacco).
100 people die every day from drug overdoses. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years.
2.6 million people with addictions have a dependence on both alcohol and illicit drugs.
Rates of illicit drug use are highest among those aged 18 to 25.
Over 90% of those with addiction began drinking, smoking or using illicit drugs before the age of 18.
(source: Addiction Center)One of the fastest growing drug abuses has been the opioid Fentanyl. This is a drug that is used to treat pain after surgery. In the last 7 years abuse of this drug has grown significantly. Where it once was only associated in 14% of opioid overdose deaths, that number was raised to 50%.

Smoking and alcohol addiction still lead to some severe health issues. But addiction to these substances often goes untreated because it is legal to purchase and many do not think that they have a real problem with it. It is estimated that over 95% of people who need treatment for alcoholism do not feel they need treatment. But more people receive treatment for alcoholism than any other substance. There is a cost to these addictions. Including healthcare costs, loss of productivity and other aspects, Tobacco addiction costs the US over $190 billion. And tobacco-related deaths far exceed in number any other substance-related death.

If you or someone you know struggles with addiction, please get help. You can reach out to a variety of organizations including SAMHSA which has a 24/7 365-days a year treatment referral and information service. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free and confidential treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

If you are uncertain what your insurance covers in terms of rehabilitation or issues with mental health or addiction, please call us today


business health insurance


Technology is part of our everyday lives.

Even when you may not realize its encompassing hold on your life, it is very much present. For many, their daily dose of technology comes in the form of screens. Most likely a computer screen, tablet screen or cell phone screen. While being on a computer is not a dangerous activity, it can be harmful to your eyes.

When you are staring at a screen for extended times during the day, your eyes can become dry and overstrained.

The reason for this is that we tend not to blink as much when looking at a screen as opposed to reading a book. Every time that you blink you are replenishing any moisture that has escaped while your eyes are open. Also, when you read, you tend to look down so that most of your eye is covered by the lid. When looking at a screen, you tend to look straightforward, so more of your eye is exposed.

There is also blue light that is emitted from screens.

Blue light during the day can actually help with your circadian rhythm, and help you be more alert during the daytime. However, if you are spending a reasonable amount of time looking at a screen before bed, it can keep you up at night. There are also studies being done that blue light can affect children more than adults.

If you have noticed that you are experiencing headaches, dry eyes, eye strain, trouble sleeping or back pain; there are a few exercises you can do to help.
Make sure you are taking regular breaks from staring at your screens. A good rule of thumb is every 20 minutes stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Make sure that you are blinking regularly. You can also adjust the blue light on your phone at night. If you are still experiencing issues, please get a comprehensive eye exam. A doctor will be able to let you know what other changes you may need to make.

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