Search Healthcare.gov for Transitional Health Coverage When Your Term of Service Ends

Your transition to next steps just got ever so slightly easier with the launch of a new government site that demystifies the new health care law.

When your term of service ends, you’ll have many things to figure out including things like job search, maybe a move to a new place, and health insurance — and how to afford it all with little savings from your stipend.

At least one piece of the transition just got a little easier.

Healthcare.gov launched this past week, giving you a place to start when you are looking for public or private health insurance options in your community (click on the “Find Insurance Options” tab) — you can also use the site to help out clients of your service site.

When I wrote Service Corps to Social Impact Career last year, I struggled with a section on finding health coverage during the transition — and wished for a website like Healthcare.gov that was easy to use, localized, and allowed graduating service corps participants to search for their options.

On Healthcare.gov’s Insurance Options Finder, you answer a few questions about yourself, such as which state you live in, your reason for needing insurance, whether you have trouble affording health insurance, and your age range. (Note, you don’t have to create a login, or in any other way identify yourself, so there should be few if any privacy concerns in answering these questions.)

After clicking on your answers, the site offers several options for you to investigate, including a listing of health insurance plans available in your area. (Unfortunately price comparisons won’t be available till this October.)

In another section of the site you can see how your state is implementing the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (“to make health coverage available to you if you have been denied health insurance by private insurance companies because of a pre-existing condition”). So if you’re worried about getting insurance because of a condition that’s been diagnosed already, you may have reason to hope!

You can also learn more about the new health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), passed in March, including a chronology of when the different provisions will take affect, and an interactive timeline of “what changes when.” And you can read the “Patients’s Bill of Rights.”

Finally other sections focus on prevention of health problems, and a tool that lets you compare health care facilities in your area on a range of different criteria including patient surveys.

Have you tried using Healthcare.gov? How has it worked for you? Have you gotten help for you or a client of your organization through using the tools?

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Staying Fit on a Budget: Eliminating and Managing Stressors for Good Health

The bottom of the stress barrel is undesirable to anyone. Work, relationships, family, finances, and a number of other factors may cause stress at some point in your life. While identifying the stressors is half the battle, so is determining healthy ideas for stress-reduction. You may not be able to eliminate your stressors but you can eliminate their affects on your mind and body. And it doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming.

Stress-Reducing Physical Activity

The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones into our bloodstream. These hormones raise blood pressure, heart rate, and Continue reading

Freeze Home-Cooked Food, Save Money!

Imagine a frozen TV dinner consisting of seasonal vegetables, a hearty soup and a homemade entrée ready in 5 minutes —that you made!

Convenient food? Check.

Fresh food? Check.

Healthy and Budget-Conscious Food? Of course.

Cooking and freezing foods in bulk allows for easy, inexpensive, and healthy eating throughout a hectic workweek. Try these following tips and meal ideas instead of wasting money on store-bought prepared foods, other convenient foods with questionable ingredients, or soon-to-spoil foods in your fridge.

#1: Base your cooking around seasonal foods.

Buy fresh vegetables and fruits during their natural harvest season for optimal taste, texture, and nutrient levels. I, myself, am learning which foods are best during which season. For seasonal food lists, try online sources or visit your local Continue reading

Put Your Heart (Health) First

Happy post-Valentine’s Day! On a daily basis, all of us combine our compassion, charity, and action to serve our communities and nation. I consider “service” one of the greatest sources of happiness. Nonetheless, one must fully take care of their well being before attempting to care for others’. For the month of February, focus attention on the centerpiece of your love, compassion, and health—your heart.

5 Heart-Health Tips

1. Chocolate, Wine, and Berries… The Darker the Better

  • Dark chocolate, unlike milk or white chocolate, contains high amounts of catechins, a heart healthy antioxidant. Aim for chocolate with 70% or higher cacao.
  • Red wine, in comparison to other alcoholic beverages, contains more flavonoids and antioxidants. Two 4-ounce glasses of Continue reading

Skip the Gym Membership and Get Fit for Free

Who has a couple of New Years’ resolutions in mind for 2010?

I know I do.

In the spirit of healthiness, many Americans want to become more health conscious.  And health conscious resolutions usually involve a gym membership, diet, and “dream weight” on the scale.

However, as many of us start this New Year, we will have a tighter clutch on our wallets.  Save money by bypassing the gym membership and creating your own exercise at home or searching for free and low-cost fitness classes in your neighborhood. Break a sweat without breaking your bank and save money for better food shopping and your savings.

Gym Math:

Membership Fee: approx. $75

+ Monthly Fee: approx. $30

= Roughly $435 Per Year.

I am not bashing gyms.  I have a gym membership and regularly attend my gym but also replicate similar workouts in my Continue reading

Recipes for Healthy Holiday Eats and Treats

The holiday season is amongst us, which includes an ample dose of delicious celebratory foods and drinks. It can be hard to pass up egg nog, creamy dips, latkes, or any holiday food. And as a number one fan of my mother’s sugar cookies, I wouldn’t ask anyone to give up their indulgent holiday favorite.

However, several days ago, I contributed to a healthy holiday potluck gathering with fellow HealthCorps’ corps members. The spread of “healthified” and inexpensive options varied from creative appetizers to desserts and reaffirmed the notion that healthy holiday treats can extend beyond an entire table of carrots and yogurt dip. I’ve chosen several inexpensive, healthier, and delicious recipes to incorporate into your regular holiday fare this year. Follow the recipes to a “T” or create your own versions.

Spicy Sweet Potato Cakes and Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato or yam, cooked and peeled
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and very thinly grated
  • ½ Jalapeno pepper, minced Continue reading

Keeping Your Sleep Debt Slim

cmw3_d_alarmclock1I’ve yet to hear an adult tell me on any given morning: “I’m soooo rested.  I had way too much sleep last night.”

On the other hand, we’d all be smiling if we had a nickel for every time someone said: “I’m soooo tired.  I didn’t get enough sleep.”  Demanding jobs, personal relationships, and day-to-day tasks consume our lives.  Yet the important task of sleeping seems to fall to the bottom of our priority list.  Sacrificing quality sleep, however, could potentially be adding to your sleep debt.  And who wants more debt?!

What is Sleep Debt?

Sleep debt is the accumulated sleep that is lost due to poor sleeping habits, sickness, or other causes that affect “peaceful” sleep.  This debt can become difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too large.  Adults roughly need between 7-9 hours of sleep Continue reading