mother and daughter practicing good oral hygiene

The Link Between Gum Disease and Health Conditions

Most people want a straight, white smile because it looks better, or makes them look younger. What many people don’t realize is that good oral health is an indication that your body is healthier as well. There is a correlation between periodontal disease and a number of illnesses. According to one recent study, those with serious gum disease were up to 40% more likely to have a chronic health condition.

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female cancer patient hugging daughter

What Breast Cancer Awareness Month Means for Your Health

Regardless of whether breast cancer runs in your family history or not, there are some preventative measures you should be taking and some things you should know about the second most common type of cancer in women.

The Importance of Early Detection

Breast cancer occurs in progressing stages, becoming increasingly difficult to treat with each stage. This is why detecting breast cancer as early as possible is so important. At the age of 40, most women should begin having annual mammograms done as a means of detecting potentially cancerous growths in breast tissue. For women with a family history of breast cancer, however, annual mammograms may be recommended to begin even sooner.

For women under 40, regular self-breast exams are also recommended. Giving yourself a monthly exam, in addition to being on the lookout for sudden pain or changes in the breasts, can help with early detection before an annual clinical breast exam is done.

Common Myths About Breast Cancer

Unfortunately, there are many myths floating around about breast cancer that put many people (not just women) at greater risk. For example, it’s a commonly perpetuated myth that only women can get breast cancer. Unfortunately, men can have breast cancer, too — and due to lack of information on male breast cancer, their mortality rates are extremely high.

Another all-too-common myth about breast cancer is that if you find a lump, you must have cancer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Abnormal growths in a breast are usually benign (not cancerous), so if you find one, you shouldn’t panic. Schedule an appointment with your doctor quickly if you do find anything abnormal in one or both of your breasts, and they can schedule a mammogram for you if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most common questions women have in regards to breast cancer is, “what can I do to reduce my risk?” There are plenty of steps that can be taken to reduce one’s risk of breast cancer, such as:

  • quitting smoking
  • decreasing alcohol consumption
  • getting 30 minutes or more of daily exercise
  • reducing or managing stress in your life

Of course, there’s no surefire way to avoid getting breast cancer. Even women who have no family history of breast cancer can get it; in fact, most women who have breast cancer don’t have it in their family history. Taking steps to identify and treat cancer early is the single best thing a woman can do to protect herself. This means scheduling an annual exam with your doctor (and a mammogram, if you are of recommended age) as well as giving yourself monthly breast exams.

Sadly, breast cancer takes the lives of approximately 40,000 people each year. If your current health insurance policy doesn’t cover preventative care for breast cancer (or if you don’t have insurance), now is the time to find a policy that works for you.

person wearing blue long sleeves checks their heart rate, steps, and time on their smart watch

Health and Wellness Introduction

The Health and Wellness section features valuable information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthier Worksite Initiative. The initiative addresses Workforce Health Promotion, a topic that is receiving a lot of attention in workplaces today. Well-constructed and well-run programs can reduce costs to the employer and improve employee health, productivity and morale.

The information provided in this section is designed as a resource for Workforce Health Promotion program planners in all types of organizations.  Here you will find information, resources, and step-by-step toolkits to help you improve the health of your employees.

Workforce Health Promotion Topics

The CDC has included some very helpful information, guidelines and resources for planning a healthier workplace including:

  • Program Design – Planning and designing a Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) program is essential to ensuring its success. These resources, featuring tools and information about program planning and needs assessments, can help get you started.
  • Policies – This section contains basic information about policies that impact health promotion at federal workplaces and explains why they are important to WHP planners.
  • Toolkits – Designed specifically for work sites, these toolkits help program planners save time planning, implementing, and evaluating specific WHP programs.
businessman sick and sleeping on home wicker bench with newspaper over head

TX: Austin Passes Earned Sick Time Ordinance

Employees Earn One Hour of Earned Sick Time for Every 30 Hours Worked

The City of Austin has passed an earned sick time ordinance. Highlights of the ordinance are presented below.

Covered Employers and Employees

All private employers are generally covered by the ordinance. To be eligible for earned sick time, employees must work in Austin for an employer (including work performed through the services of a temporary or employment agency) for pay for at least 80 hours in a calendar year.

Accrual and Use

An employer must grant an employee one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked in Austin. Employers are not required to allow employees to accrue more than the yearly cap of earned sick time. The yearly cap depends on employer size, as follows:

  • For small employers (no more than 15 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months, excluding family members), the yearly cap is 48 hours of earned sick time per year.
  • For medium or large employers (more than 15 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months, excluding family members), the yearly cap is 64 hours of earned sick time per year.

An employee may request earned sick time for an absence from scheduled work time caused by certain events (§ D). However, the ordinance does not require any employer to allow an employee to utilize earned sick time on more than 8 calendar days in a given calendar year.

Employer Notice and Effective Dates

Employers must display a sign describing the requirements of the ordinance in at least English and Spanish in a conspicuous place (or places) where employee notices are customarily posted.

An employer that provides an employee handbook to its employees must include in the handbook notice of employee rights and remedies under the ordinance. Also, at least monthly, an employer must provide each employee with a statement (electronically or in writing) showing the amount of the employee’s available earned sick time.

The ordinance is expected to take effect on October 1, 2018, pending the mayor’s signature. However, for an employer with no more than 5 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months (excluding family members), the ordinance is not effective until October 1, 2020Click here for additional details.

Note: Certain provisions of the ordinance may be subject to change upon final approval by the mayor. Stay tuned for additional updates regarding the ordinance.

To review other laws specific to Texas, visit the State Laws section, click on Texas, and choose your topic of interest from the left-hand navigation menu.

person inputting numbers into calculator for tax season

Reminder: Individual Mandate Remains in Effect for 2018

Requirement is Effectively Repealed Beginning in 2019

Individuals are reminded that the section of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which effectively repealed the individual shared responsibility provision (“individual mandate”) of the Affordable Care Act does not become effective until 2019. As a result, individuals are required to have minimum essential health coverage, qualify for an exemption from the requirement, or pay a penalty tax for 2018.

Our Individual Mandate (Individual Shared Responsibility) section provides additional information on the individual mandate.

person holding cup cup with tea and lemon in it above desk in office for vitamin c benefits

Brochures and Posters Promoting Health in the Workplace

Health and safety reminders posted in the workplace can help to inform your employees about important wellness topics and keep them on track with safety and nutrition. Be sure to rotate or switch out the posters you display on a regular basis to keep things fresh and encourage your employees to stay motivated and make healthy choices.

Employee Safety

Employee Nutrition and Health

Nutrition

Source: North Carolina HealthSmart Worksite Wellness Toolkit

Exercise and Physical Activity

Source: North Carolina HealthSmart Worksite Wellness Toolkit

Climb These Steps to a Healthier You!

The World Around You: Use What You Have to Stay Healthy and Fit

Tips to Help You Get Active

Walking . . . A Step in the Right Direction!

Managing Stress

Managing Stress Handouts

Source: North Carolina HealthSmart Worksite Wellness Toolkit

woman leaving the office walking down stairs for extra steps and exercise

StairWELL to Better Health

Taking the stairs is one way to be more physically active. At work, employees are often presented with a choice between taking the stairs and taking an elevator or escalator. Choosing the stairs instead of the elevator is a quick way for people to add physical activity to their day.

Using the stairs requires little additional time, no wardrobe change, and few additional costs because building codes require stairs. If your building has a staircase, why not start using it now?

This section will provide the information you need to transform your stairs into StairWELLs for better health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The following topics are addressed in this section:

  • Motivational Signs
  • Installing Music
  • Other Ideas to Consider
  • Tracking Stair Usage
  • Project Checklist
man switching from work shoes, to workout shoes to stay healthy

Discount Fitness Club Network

This toolkit provides guidance on identifying and establishing a relationship with a nationwide Discount Fitness Club Network (DFCN) for employees of multi-site organizations. It is based on Healthier Worksite Initiative’s experience with implementing such a service, as a strategy to increase employee access to fitness centers at all CDC locations.

Health Challenge

The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends increasing access to places to be physically active (combined with informational outreach) as a way to increase the public’s level of physical activity. Increasing access to places to be physically active at work can be accomplished in numerous ways, including making stairways inviting to encourage stair use, opening safe walking and biking trails, and improving community and worksite walkability.

Many worksites provide fitness centers for employees, but not all are able to offer sufficient facilities. In addition, not all employees choose to exercise at work; some prefer a fitness club closer to home.

Toolkit Components

The principles of program development in this toolkit hold true for private sector as well as public employers. The toolkit describes the following project phases:

  • Assessing Need and Interest
  • Promoting Your Project
  • Implementing Your Discount Fitness Club Network
  • Maintaining Interest
  • Evaluating Success
open enrollment 2018 member benefits graphic

Reminder: Individual Marketplace Enrollment Deadlines Approaching

Enrollment Deadline in Most States is Dec. 15

Individuals are reminded that the deadlines to enroll in health insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov or a state Marketplace are quickly approaching. To obtain coverage that will begin January 1, 2018, individuals in the states below must sign up for coverage by the following dates:

  • Connecticut: December 22
  • Massachusetts: December 23
  • Minnesota: December 20
  • Rhode Island: December 23
  • All Other States: December 15

Note: Some states may still be able to extend their 2018 open enrollment deadlines. In addition, certain states may provide extended deadlines for returning customers. Individuals are therefore advised to consult their state’s Marketplace for the latest updates.

Visit our Health Insurance Exchanges (Marketplaces) section for more information on the Marketplaces.

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