Prevent Heat Illness

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There were 7,415 heat-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These preventable deaths illustrate how important preparation is during extreme temperatures. Whether you are swimming at the beach or lounging in the park, you should be prepared for extreme heat conditions.

Stay Prepared

The CDC provides three easy steps to prevent heat-related illnesses: stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed. This summer, make sure you have shade wherever you are going and have attire, like a sun hat or a thin, long-sleeved shirt, to avoid direct contact with the sun. Be sure to drink lots of water—more than you usually do. Your body quickly loses fluids in the summer more quickly, which can lead to illness. Finally, stay informed by monitoring the local weather forecast and prepare accordingly for outdoor activities.

Know the Signs

The two most dangerous heat-related illnesses, besides dehydration, are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is exhibited through cold, clammy skin, heavy sweating and nausea. If you or someone shows these symptoms, move to a cooler location and sip water. If you or someone has a rapid pulse, hot and red skin, and loses consciousness, this could mean heat stroke, and you should call 911 immediately. In this latter scenario, do not give fluids to the person showing the symptoms. Do, however, move them to a cooler location and lower their temperature with cool cloths.

Have a Responsible Summer

This Aug. 18 to Sept. 4, law enforcement will be stepping up their “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. This means police officers will be focused on spotting impaired drivers and pulling them over.

There were nearly 10,000 people killed in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes in 2014, according to the CDC. This accounts for nearly 33 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Keep this sobering statistic in mind when attending gatherings with alcohol, like barbecues, beach parties or work events.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created a smartphone app to help drivers who cannot safely drive home. The app can help tell you where you are, help you call a taxi or help you call a friend. Other useful apps include Uber and Lyft, as both can get you home if it’s not safe for you to drive.

For more information on the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit the NHTSA website.

Hepatitis C Rates Triple

The number of new hepatitis C infections has reached a 15-year high, tripling over the last five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New virus infections are increasing among young people ages 20 to 29. This is primarily due to more people using injection drugs, according to the CDC.

However, three-quarters of individuals living with hepatitis C are baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1965). They are six times more likely to be infected and to die as a result of the virus.

Hepatitis C shows few symptoms and nearly half the people infected are not aware of it. The most common transmission method is injection drug usage, but other ways include being unintentionally exposed in a health facility or transmission from mother to child.

Symptoms are mild or sometimes nonexistent for years. Since hepatitis C primarily affects the liver, dark urine, yellow skin or abdominal pain could be signs of infection. Talk to your doctor about your hepatitis C risk and ask if you should be tested.

Healthy Recipe of the Month: Broccoli Strawberry Orzo Salad!

¾ cup orzo pasta (uncooked)

2 cups fresh broccoli (chopped)

2 cups fresh strawberries (diced)

¼ cup sunflower seeds

Lemon Dressing:

1 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. sugar (or honey)

Preparations

Cook pasta. Drain and rinse in cold water.

In a large bowl, combine orzo pasta, broccoli, strawberries and sunflower seeds.

For the lemon dressing, combine ingredients. Next, drizzle on top of the mixture in the other bowl.

Season with salt and pepper. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Makes: 6 servings

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Association Health Plans Expansion

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a final rule that gives small businesses more freedom to join as a single group to purchase health insurance in the large group market or to self-insure. These arrangements are called association health plans (AHPs).

By forming AHPs, small employers can avoid certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms that apply to the small group market. According to the DOL, this will provide small employers with more affordable health insurance options.

However, in exchange for lower premiums, AHPs may cover fewer benefits. Most AHPs will not be subject to the ACA’s essential health benefits reform, which requires that small group plans cover a core set of items and services, like mental health care and newborn care.

Employer Considerations

Small employers may want to consider banding together to form an AHP as a more affordable health insurance option. Employers should carefully review the AHP’s benefit design to make sure it is appropriate for their workforce. Because AHPs are regulated at the federal and state level, the availability of these plans will also depend on a state’s regulatory approach.

Eligibility

The final rule allows employers to form an AHP together that is a single ERISA plan if either of the following requirements is satisfied:

  • The employers are in the same trade, industry, line of business or profession; or
  • The employers have a principal place of business within a region that does not exceed boundaries of the same state or the same metropolitan area.

Speak with Arista Consulting Group for more information.

Critical HIPAA Compliance Gaps Exposed by HHS

Over the last couple of years, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted “desk audits” of 166 covered entities and 41 business associates.

These audits focused on select HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification requirements. HHS has not released its official findings from the audits yet, but it has identified serious compliance gaps in the following areas:

  • Security risk analysis
  • Security risk management
  • Right of access to protected health information (PHI)

Employers that sponsor group health plans should periodically review their compliance with HIPAA rules, including whether their security analysis and risk management for electronic PHI is up to date. Employers should also watch for more guidance from HHS on these compliance requirements.

Did You Know? 

Amazon announced it will be purchasing the online pharmacy PillPack. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

With PillPack, an online pharmacy startup that earned more than $100 million in revenue last year, Amazon is now able to enter the prescription market.

Other large mergers, like CVS-Aetna, indicate that industry giants are already trying to lower health care costs. Amazon’s latest acquisition will likely pressure the industry to continue that trend.

Stay tuned for more developments as new details emerge in the coming months.

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