HOW TO SETTING UP Essential Maintenance Tips FFF YYYY CCCCCCCC
Do I Need
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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
VOLUME 1 SEPT 2011
FROM THE EDITOR
RE-EVALUATING OUR PRIORITIES
very day we see commercials which talk
CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS KEREN GILBERT FAMILY FEATURES EDITORS.FAMILYFEATURES.COM
NANCY LAWTON-SHIRLEY FAMILY FEATURES EDITORS.FAMILYFEATURES.COM
about saving money on insurance, and
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money in tough economic times. However,
KEVIN RING FAMILY FEATURES
everyone knows how important it is to save a recent CNN survey reports that, even in
today’s economy, spending for cell phones and
movies are up. We continue to purchase more electronics and other “toys” that enhance our
lives, and our lifestyles are inextricably tied them. How do we find
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I think we first need to step back and look at our lifestyles and ask
INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE III.ORG
changed over the past few years? Do we have a new house, are we
have we purchased new things such as cars, recreational vehicles,
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If the answer is yes to any of these questions the next step is to
the balance between price and protection?
some key questions. How important is our lifestyle? What has
planning for college or retirement? How much debt do we have and rental property, etc.?
consider the best way to make sure thes important parts of your life
aren’t lost due to an accident or other catastrophe. Consider this, “Is
saving 15% today worth losing everything tomorrow?” If the answer is no, the next step is to take a look at your insurance professional. Where is their focus? Is it on saving money or on the protection of your lifestyle and possessions? Have you been with them long
enough for them to get to know you and make recommendations tailored to your situation?
Insurance is not a commodity to be bought and sold like a TV. It
must be custom tailored to each individual situation by a professional.
Ted Baker Executive Editor
TED BAKER EXECUTIVE EDITOR ADVANCED AUTOMATION BENJAMIN ALLOWAY ASSISTANT EDITOR ADVANCED AUTOMATION SARAH SCOTT DESIGNER
ON THE COVER
Insurance P. 03
Do I need Rental Car Insurance
Identity Theft Insurance
Long Term Care Insurance
Six Ways To Corral Runaway Medical Costs
10 Costly Return To Work Mistakes
Spring Tornadoes Are Generally the Most Severe
Lifestyle P. 17
Setting Up Your Home-based Business
Technology P. 15
Essential Maintenance Tips for your Computer
Health P. 37
The Basics for Better Health
Foods that Flatten your Belly
Family P. 13
Plan and Organize for a Successful Academic Year
DO I NEED
INSURING A RENTAL CAR CAN BE CONFUSING, FRUSTRATING AND DOWNRIGHT DAUNTING.
Unfortunately, many consumers do not even think about car rental insurance until they get to the counter, which can result in costly mistakesâ€”either wasting money by purchasing unnecessary coverage or having dangerous gaps in coverage.
be covered if your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident.
Before renting a car, the I.I.I. suggests that you make two phone callsâ€”one to your insurance agent or company representative and another to the credit card company you will be using to pay for the rental car.
Check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges. Some companies may provide an insurance rider to cover some of these costs, which would make it less expensive than purchasing coverage through the rental car company. Keep in mind, however, that in most states diminished value is not covered by insurers.
CREDIT CARD COMPANY
Find out how much coverage you currently have on your own car. In most cases, whatever coverage and deductibles you have on your own car would apply when you rent a car, providing you are using the car for recreation and not for business. If you have dropped either comprehensive or collision on your own car as a way to reduce costs, you will not
Insurance benefits offered by credit card companies differ by both the company and/or the bank that issues the card, as well as by the level of credit card used. For instance, a platinum card may offer more insurance coverage than a gold card. Credit cards usually cover only damage to or loss of the
CONTINUED rented vehicle, not for other cars, personal belongings or the property of others. There may be no personal liability coverage for bodily injury or death claims. Some credit card companies will provide coverage for towing, but many may not provide for diminished value or administrative fees. Some credit card companies have changed their policies, too, so you may not have as much coverage as you thought. To know exactly what type of insurance you have, call the toll-free number on the back of the card you will be using to rent the car. If you are depending on a credit card for insurance protection, ask the credit card company or bank to send you their coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal insurance protection or the insurance offered by the rental car company. If you have more than one credit card, consider calling each one to see which offers the best insurance protection.
AT THE RENTAL CAR COUNTER
Since insurance is state regulated, the cost and coverage will vary from state to state. Consumers, however, can generally choose from the following coverages:
LOSS DAMAGE WAIVER (LDW)
Also referred to as a collision damage waiver outside the U.S., an LDW is not technically an insurance product. LDWs do, however, relieve or “waive” renters of financial responsibility if their rental car is damaged or stolen. In most cases, waivers also provide coverage for “loss of use,” in the event the rental car company charges the renter for the time a damaged car can not be used because it is being fixed. It may also cover tow-
ing and administrative fees. Waivers, however, may become void if the accident was caused by speeding, driving on unpaved roads or driving while intoxicated. If you already have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, check with your personal auto insurer to make sure you are not duplicating coverage you already have. Should you decide it is necessary, this coverage generally costs between $9 and $19 a day.
By law, rental companies must provide the state required amount of liability insurance. Generally, these amounts are low and do not provide much protection. If you have adequate amounts of liability protection on your own car, you may consider forgoing additional liability protection. If you want the supplemental insurance, it will cost between $7 and $14 a day. An umbrella liability policy, however, may be more cost-effective. Umbrella liability insurance is so named because it acts like an umbrella, sitting on top of your auto and homeowners (or renters) liability policies to provide extra protection including accidents while driving your own car or one that you rent. These policies, usually sold in increments of a million dollars, cost as little as $200 to $300 annually for a million dollars worth of coverage and another $50 to $100 for each additional million. Those who do not own their own car and are frequent car renters, can also consider purchasing a non-owner liability policy. This not only provides liability protection when you rent a car, but also when you borrow someone else’s car.
PERSONAL ACCIDENT INSURANCE
Personal Accident Insurance offers coverage to you and your passengers for medical and ambulance bills for injuries caused in a car crash. If you have adequate health insurance or are covered by personal injury protection under your own car insurance, you may not need this additional insurance. It usually costs about $1 to $5 a day.
PERSONAL EFFECTS COVERAGE
Personal Effects Coverage provides insurance protection for the theft of items in your car. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy that includes off-premises theft coverage, you are generally covered for theft of your belongings away from home, minus the deductible. If you purchase this coverage through the rental car company, it generally costs between $1 and $4 a day. If you frequently travel with expensive items such as jewelry, cameras, musical equipment or sports equipment, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a personal articles floater under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. With such a floater, your valuable items are protected at home as well as while traveling anywhere in the world and the coverage is broader.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
States have minimum age requirements for renting a car and most major rental car companies refuse to rent a car to someone who is under 21 and in some cases under 25. In addition, some rental car companies now investigate your driving record and/or credit history so check with the rental car company before picking up the car.
If you are planning to rent a car abroad, contact both your insurance agent and travel agent to find out what you need to do to be properly insured. Those driving a rental car from the U.S. into Mexico may find it progressively more difficult to rent a car as U.S. rental car companies are increasingly concerned about the rising crime rates in that country. The minimum required insurance coverage to drive in Mexico is civil liability insurance which covers you in case you cause injury or damage. Your American liability insurance is not valid in Mexico for bodily injury, though some American insurance policies will cover you for physical damageâ€”check with your agent or insurance company representative. You can also buy Mexican car insurance in several American border towns; there are generally several storefronts selling Mexican car insurance near the border. Note: If youâ€™re renting a car abroad, you may need an international drivers license.
SPRING TORNADOES ARE GENERALLY THE MOST SEVERE
MAKE SURE YOU’RE INSURED
WIND RELATED DAMAGE IS COVERED
UNDER STANDARD HOMEOWNERS & BUSINESS POLICIES
he tornadoes that swept through the Midwest, the Great Plains states and the South over the past two weekends are a vivid reminder of the threat these windstorms pose to life and property, and the importance of having the right coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). Tornado season in the U.S. generally runs from April through July, but those that form in the spring tend to be more severe. Twisters often cause the most damage and loss of life in the densely populated southeastern states, and in the Great Plains states. “The recent devastation, spread across multiple states, demonstrates the need for everyone to prepare for severe weather events,” said Michael Barry, vice president of Media Relations for the I.I.I. “No matter where you live, you need to have the right amount, and type, of insurance in order to recover financially after a natural disaster.” A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground, and they can occur in almost every U.S. state. Although individual tornadoes are generally not as costly as hurricanes in terms of insured losses because they strike a more limited geographic area, they do occur more frequently. About 1,200 tornadoes, with gusts of wind as high as 200 miles per hour, develop each year in the U.S. Tornado intensity is measured by the Fujita scale, which runs from 1 through 5, the higher number being the strongest. The scale is based on the maximum speed of three-second wind gusts. The tornado that hit Mapleton, Iowa on Saturday, April 9 damaged a substantial number of homes and businesses in that community. Meanwhile,
Merrill, Wisconsin, was hit by another tornado the next day, and also incurred extensive property damage. Three tornado related injuries were reported in central Wisconsin. At least three barns and one mobile home were adversely impacted by heavy winds in southeastern Minnesota on Sunday afternoon, April 10, as well, according to news accounts. The 10 states that saw the most tornadoes last year, in order of frequency, were Minnesota (145), Texas (105), Mississippi (100), Kansas (94), Oklahoma (84), Missouri (80), North Dakota (68), Wisconsin (68), Colorado (66), and Illinois (65). The number of U.S. tornadoes, and the fatalities they caused, rose in 2010 as compared with 2009. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, reports that there were 1,282 tornadoes in the U.S. in 2010, up from 1,156 in 2009. Moreover, tornado related fatalities reached 45 in 2010 up from 21 deaths in 2009.
HAVING SUFFICIENT COVERAGE
Standard homeowners and business insurance policies cover wind damage, including that caused by tornadoes, to the structure of the building and its contents. However, you should make sure your coverage limits reflect the cost of rebuilding the structure, and of fully replacing your personal belongings. Homeowners insurance policies also provide for additional living expenses (ALE). ALE coverage pays the costs of living away from home if you cannot inhabit your house due to damage from an insured disaster. The policy’s ALE provision covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
If you own a business that has been damaged, business income (also known as business interruption) insurance, covers the profits your business would have earned, based on your own financial records, had the disaster not occurred. This also covers additional operating expenses incurred as a result of the disaster, such as the extra expenses involved in operating out of a temporary location. Damage to cars from a tornado is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of a standard auto insurance policy. The I.I.I. offers the following tips for preparing for, and dealing with, a tornado.
BEFORE A TORNADO
If a tornado watch has been issued, move cars inside a garage or carport to avoid damage from hail, which often accompanies tornadoes. Keep your car keys and house keys with you at all times. Move lawn furniture and yard equipment, such as lawnmowers, inside. Aside from being damaged themselves, such items can also act as dangerous projectiles, causing serious harm to nearby people and property. A tornado watch means that weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes and a tornado warning means one has been spotted in your area. Be sure to always have an up-to-date inventory of your possessions and store it in a safe place, with at least one copy off the premisesâ€”in a safe deposit box, or with an online storage service. To help with this task, the I.I.I.â€™s free online home inventory software is available at KnowYourStuff.org. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has information on How to Reduce Risks from a Tornado and the Federal Emergency Management Administration has compiled a brochure on pre-tornado planning, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business.
DURING A TORNADO
Do not open windows as you will put yourself at risk of injury from breaking glass. You also may make the damage to your home worse by giving wind and rain a greater chance of getting inside.
If you are in your car, abandon your vehicle and seek shelter in the nearest ditch if no other facility is available. Do not get under a bridge or overpass. You are safer in a low, flat location. If you live in a mobile home, you should vacate the premises and seek shelter elsewhere.
AFTER A TORNADO
The I.I.I. offers the following advice to speed the insurance claims settlement process following a tornado: Be prepared to give your agent or insurance company representative a detailed description of the damage to your property. Your agent will report the loss to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible in order to arrange an inspection of the site. If it is safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property. Visual documentation will help with the claims process and can assist the adjuster in the investigation. Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Make two copiesâ€”one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost. Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that will assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property. Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs. Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home or business from a licensed contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices. If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep a record of all expenses, such as hotel and restaurant receipts.
IDENTITY THEFT INSURANCE A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) survey from 2007 showed that 8.3 million American adults, or 3.7% of all American adults, were victims of identity theft in 2005, and that number is rising. In at least half of the incidents, thieves obtained goods or services worth $500 or less; however in 10 percent of cases, thieves got at least $6,000 worth of goods or services. Fifty-six percent of all victims were unable to provide any information on how their personal information was stolen. Identity thieves use personal information to impersonate a victim, stealing from bank accounts, establishing phony insurance policies, opening unauthorized credit cards or obtaining unauthorized bank loans.
schemes use electronic means, including online scams like “phishing,” while others might use more old-fashioned methods, such as “dumpster diving”—rooting around in people’s garbage to collect financial information. As online shopping becomes increasing popular, it can also pose an identity risk. The advent of “no-swipe” credit cards that transmit account and user information through radio frequency identification may make it possible, in some cases, for identity thieves to use a simple electronic device to capture the information.
Statistics from the 2009 Identity Fraud Survey by Javelin Research noted that 43 percent of identity theft cases are in fact the result of a lost or stolen wallet, checkbook, credit card or other physical document.
Victims of identity theft are often left unable to use existing credit or obtain a new loan, harassed by debt collectors, are subjects of criminal investigations or civil suits and in some instances arrested.
Use of stolen credit card and debit card numbers is among the most common forms of identity theft. Some
Most home and renter policies provide coverage for theft of money or credit cards; however the amount of
coverage is limited (usually $200 in cash and $50 on credit cards – the amount consumers are usually responsible for with unauthorized use).
Some companies now include coverage for identity theft as part of their homeowners insurance policy. Others sell it as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy, which can run about $25-$50 annually. Identity theft insurance provides reimbursement to crime victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit reports. It generally covers expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs, and sometimes attorney fees (with prior consent of insurer). Some companies also offer restoration or resolution services that guide consumers through the process of recovering their identity.
TIPS TO AVOID IDENTIT Y THEFT
1. Keep the amount of personal information in your purse or wallet to the bare minimum. Avoid carrying additional credit cards, your social security card or passport unless absolutely necessary. 2. Guard your credit card when making purchases. Shield your hand when using ATM machines or making long distance phone calls with phone cards. Don’t fall prey to “shoulder surfers” who may be nearby. 3. Always take credit card or ATM receipts. Don’t throw them into public trash containers, leave them on the counter or put them in your shopping bag where they can easily fall out or get stolen. 4. Don’t give out personal information. Whether on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet, don’t give out any personal information unless you have initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with and that they have a secure line. 5. Proceed with caution when shopping online. Use only authenticated websites to conduct business online.
Before submitting personal or financial information through a website, check for the locked padlock image on your browser’s status bar or look for “https://” (rather than http://) in your browser window. If you have any concerns about the authenticity of a Web page, contact the owner of the site to confirm the URL. 6. Be aware of phishing and pharming scams. In these scams, criminals use fake emails and websites to impersonate legitimate organizations. Exercise caution when opening emails and instant messages from unknown sources and never give out personal, financial or password related information via email. 7. Make sure you have firewall, anti-spyware and antivirus programs installed on your computer.These programs should always be up to date. 8. Monitor your accounts. Don’t rely on your credit card company or bank to alert you of suspicious activity. Carefully monitor your bank and credit card statements to make sure all transactions are accurate. If you suspect a problem, contact your credit card company or bank immediately. 9. Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. A new law that took effect December 1, 2004, entitles you to one free credit report per year. Your credit report contains information on where you work and live, the credit accounts that have been opened in your name, how you pay your bills and whether you’ve been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy. Make sure it’s accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized. 10. Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, any part of your Social Security number or phone number, or any series of consecutive numbers. If you suspect a problem with your credit card, change your password. 11. Shred any documents containing personal information such as credit card numbers, bank statements, charge receipts or credit card applications, before disposing of them.
EACH YEAR, approximately 75,000 people are injured seriously enough by lawnmowers to require emergency room medical treatment.
Only a small percentage of the injuries are caused by mechanical failure; most are the result of human error. Here are some tips to follow before and while mowing your lawn:
1. BECOME FAMILIAR WITH YOUR MOWER
Read the ownerâ€™s manual before using the mower for the first time. Note all safety and operating instructions. Learn the controls well enough to act instantly in an emergency and to stop the machine quickly.
2. PROPER CLOTHING
Proper clothing is essential to protect your body from harm. Always wear non-slip shoes instead of tennis shoes or sandals. Steel-toe safety footwear offers the most protection against the blade. Long pants help protect your legs from objects that may be thrown from under the mower. Use ear plugs to prevent hearing loss caused by exposure to the high noise levels.
3. NEVER LEAVE A MOWER RUNNING UNATTENDED
A mower left running unattended can be fascinating to a child. If the mower has an electric start, the key should never be left in the ignition.
4. ALWAYS START THE MOWER OUTDOORS
Never operate a mower where carbon monoxide can collect, such as in a closed garage, storage shed or basement.
5. POLICE THE AREA
Before you satrt mowing, be sure the lawn is free of tree limbs, rocks, wires and other debris, which can get caught up in the blades.
6. THE MAIN SOURCE OF DANGER IS THE BLADE
To perform its task efficiently, the mower blade must be sharp and travel at a high speed. If a hand or foot gets under the mower while the engine is running, it can cause serious injury. Never attempt to unclog or work on a lawnmower while the engine is on.
7. DISCONNECT THE SPARKPLUG WIRE
Any time it is necessary to reach under the mower, disconnect the spark plug wire to insure that the engine cannot start. It takes a little extra time, but not as long as it does to recover from a serious injury.
8. CHECK FOR FRAYED OR CUT WIRING
When using an electric lawnmower, wires can easily get cut by the blade. Keep an eye on the wiring as you move the mower and check for frayed or cut wiring every time you mow.
ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE TIPS
FOR YOUR COMPUTER
he computer is one of the most important inventions to have taken place in the 20th century, which has grown over several decades contributing to the growth and changes in human learning and behavior. Today the computer is an essential part of human life without which they cannot do their day-to-day tasks. This amazing machine has made life easier for most people and contributed to their overall growth. Today almost all household have at least one computer but the most important question that arises here is, if the
owner is concerned about the proper maintenance of the machine or not. Most people either fail or forget to properly maintain their computer from both internal and external threats that can seriously jeopardize the functioning of the machine. However, with just a few important tips you can effectively maintain your computer and can keep its functioning as good as ever. Here are a few essential maintenance tips to keep your computer stable and in a perfect condition:
1 2 3 4 5
Disk Cleanup Perform a disk clean up for maintaining the speed of your computer. Running regular disk clean up can clean your system of unnecessary data. This step can be done manually or by running the disk cleanup utility in Windows.
Registry cleaning software Running a registry cleaning software can relieve your system from obsolete and corrupt entries in the registry file. A clogged registry can severely hamper the performance of your system and can even cause it to crash. So, it is important to clean your Windows registry at regular intervals. Anti-Spyware By using an Anti-Spyware program you can clean your system from malicious programs that intend to steal your data and cause your system to clog.
Anti-Virus Viruses are one of the most common and serious threat to computers and using a good updated Anti-virus program will help your computer to rid itself from harmful viruses.
clean house Lastly, you need to clear all un-important software installed on your computer as they cause a lot of trouble during the Windows startup process and make the process a rather clumsy one.
By following these simple steps
you can effectively shield your computer from all internal & external threats.
by Shelley Lowery
Your home based Business Office
If you are going to own and operate a home based business, having your own office is an important part of your success. Although you could work at your kitchen table, this should be a last resort, as having your own space will enable you to separate your home from your business.
t is important that you have space that is conducive to work. Setting up your home office in your living room isnâ€™t conducive to getting work done. You will also find that finding time to relax or time for your family is impossible if you are surrounded by your work, and time for work will be impossible if you are surrounded by your family and distractions, such as the television.
So, what does your home office need? Letâ€™s take a look.
OFFICE DESK AND CHAIR
You will spend a lot of time sitting in that chair, and working at that desk. The more spacious and comfortable it is, the better off you are. You may be forced to start with a small desk and a cheap chair in the begin-
ning, but you should upgrade as quickly as possible. The chair is especially important, in terms of comfort. There are numerous options when it comes to a desk, but your desk should have room for your keyboard, a place for your printer, storage space for disks, room for your monitor, and of course space to write and such.
The computer that you’ve used to surf the web and send and receive email probably isn’t powerful enough to run a business. You need a powerful computer, but you also need a computer that is suitable for upgrades in the future, as technology changes. Purchase your computer from a well-known company, and be sure to purchase the extended warranty.
This equipment includes a printer, a scanner, a digital camera, and a fax machine. You may not actually need all of these things for your business, but you should consider your options carefully, and when you’re ready to purchase, ensure that the products are high quality, so that they last for a long time. When it comes to printers, you essentially have two choices - a laser printer or an ink jet printer. If you will be doing a lot of professional printing, you may want to purchase a laser printer. However, if you want a printer for everyday use, such as printing documents and pictures, an ink jet will do nicely. Either way, make sure that you can print in black and white as well as in color. Also consider the fact that there are all-in-one systems that enable you to print, fax, copy, and scan, and for many business owners, this is the most logical and cost effective choice. You will be amazed at how much a scanner comes in handy. It will enable you to scan documents and photographs. With a fax machine, you will be able to send and receive faxes, and in today’s business world, that is vital.
A digital camera may seem optional, but in most cases, it really isn’t. Having a digital camera will enable you to take your own photographs for use on your web site, such as a picture of you, or your products. What’s more, there is no film to buy, and no development costs, as you can transfer your pictures from your camera to your computer quite easily.
Ideally, you will have a separate telephone line for your business. Most people don’t realize the importance of this. It isn’t a matter of professionalism; it is a matter of keeping your sanity. Your phone line will need voicemail, and this will take care of calls that are received during your personal hours. You also won’t have to worry about the line being tied up with personal calls.
You will definitely need a filing cabinet. Your business may be an Internet Business, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have offline files. You should have hard copies of everything, and set aside time either daily or weekly to neatly file things away. You should keep hard copies of receipts, contracts, tax information, and other business records.
Finally, you will need miscellaneous supplies, such as pens and pencils, a pencil holder, a pencil sharpener, business cards, note pads, envelopes, stationary, address book, paper and ink for the printer, and of course tablets for those many headaches you will experience. Make your office space private, and make it a place that you will feel comfortable spending a great deal of time in. While it isn’t necessary to decorate the home office, it does help to make it a warm and inviting place to do business.
long term care The Question Of
WHAT IS “LONG-TERM CARE”?
ecause of old age, mental or physical illness, or injury, some people find themselves in need of help with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting or continence, and/or transferring (e.g., getting out of a chair or out of bed). These six actions are called Activities of Daily Living–sometimes referred to as ADLs. In general, if you can’t do two or more of these activities, or if you have a cognitive impairment, you are said to need “long-term care.”
help taking medicine, undergoing testing (e.g. blood pressure), or other similar services. This distinction is important because Medicare and most private health insurance pays only for skilled care–not custodial care.
WILL I NEED LONG-TERM CARE?
If you’re under 55, it’s unlikely. Even over 55, only a small percentage of the population will need long-term care before they are in their 70s or 80s.
Long-term care isn’t a very helpful name for this type of situation because, for one thing, it might not last for a long time. Some people who need ADL services might need them only for a few months or less.
However, according to research published in the journal Inquiry by Kemper, Komisar, and Alecxih, most people who turn 65 in 2005 will, in their lifetime, need some level of long-term care.
Many people think that long-term care is provided exclusively in a nursing home. It can be, but it can also be provided in an adult day care center, an assisted living facility, or at home.
According to research published in the journal Inquiry by Kemper, Komisar, and Alecxih, most people who turn 65 in 2005 will, in their lifetime, need some level of long-term care.
Assistance with ADLs, called “custodial care,” may be provided in the same place as (and therefore is sometimes confused with) “skilled care.” Skilled care means medical, nursing, or rehabilitative services, including
Recent trends suggest that 50 percent or more of the people who might have gone into a nursing home for long-term care will in the future go into an assisted living facility. Assisted living facilities generally cost less than
nursing homes. For example, in mid-2005, a MetLife Mature Market Institute survey found a national average daily cost of assisted living facilities of $100, with a range from $55 to $155 across the U.S. The good news is that people are living healthier longer—that, in other words, the need for long-term care is diminishing and, when it occurs, the onset of need for long-term care is, on average, occurring later and later in life and starting closer to death (so that future periods of long-term care needs may be shorter than at present). In part, this is due to the adoption of better prevention strategies and better medical practices. Even so, if you do need long-term care services, they can be expensive.
SHOULD I BUY LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE?
If you need long-term care services and have to pay to obtain them, what financial resources could you call on? Do you have enough to pay for four or more years in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or home health care?
If you’re over 65, don’t rely on Medicare or private health insurance. Medicare doesn’t pay for custodial care, and private health insurance rare pays any of the cost of long-term care. If you expect to have very little money when you need long-term care services, you might qualify for Medicaid, a government program that pays the medical and long-term care expenses of poor people. If you expect to be in that situation, you probably shouldn’t buy long-term care insurance, because your state’s Medicaid program will pay your long-term care expenses. Buying long-term care insurance would only save the state—not you—money. The exception is if you live in California, Connecticut, Indiana, or New York, states that have a Partnership for Long-Term Care program. For residents of these four states, buying long-term care insurance does offer an additional benefit.
If you expect to have a lot of money when you need long-term care services, you also probably shouldn’t buy long-term care insurance. Instead, you should plan to pay for the care “out of pocket”—that is, as a regular expense. One financial advisor suggested in a newspaper interview that if your net worth is in the $1.5 million range, not including the value of your home, you could safely skip buying long-term care insurance and treat long-term care expenses, if they arise, as you do your other bills. If you fall in-between these two categories, owning long-term care insurance, like all other insurance coverages, offers peace-of-mind benefits as well as financial ones. For example, a recent survey of people age 50 and over asked how confident they were that they could pay for long-term care services if they needed them. Among those with long-term care policies, 52 percent said they were very confident and another 40 percent said they were somewhat confident. Among those who didn’t own a long-term care policy, only 8 percent were very confident and only 27 percent were somewhat confident. But if you’re under 85—and especially if you’re under 65—that doesn’t mean you should ignore the topic of long-term care insurance because You might already be unable to buy long-term care insurance. Wakely Consulting Group, an actuarial firm, studied applicants for long-term care insurance in 2003-2004; the findings: 11 percent of applicants in their 50s, 19 percent in their 60s and 43 percent in their 70s were rejected. A Milliman & Robertson actuary estimated that 15 to 25 percent of the over-65 age group are uninsurable for long-term care. A report from the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation indicates that over five million people ages 18-64 need some type of long-term care. The latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics (for 1999) reported that roughly 160,000 of the people living in nursing homes were under age 65 (nearly 10 percent of the total). Of those receiving home health care services, roughly 400,000 were under 65 (about 30 percent of the total).
So, unless you have so little money that you will qualify for Medicaid, or so much money that you can pay the bills out of your own pocket, you should consider buying long-term care insurance.
HOW MUCH DOES LONG-TERM CARE COST?
The fact that you might need long-term care doesn’t mean that you have to pay someone to provide it. Many people who need help get it for free from a relative or friend, usually at home. In a recent survey of people over 50, roughly 90 percent said they expect to be the primary caregiver if their spouse or partner needs longterm care. But even unpaid caregivers need a break from time to time, or have full- or part-time jobs that prevent them from caregiving throughout the day. If you do pay someone to provide assistance with ADLs, the cost of long-term care depends on three factors – the general level of charges in your part of the country, the specific expense rate for the services you need, and how long the need for care lasts.
New York City. The MMI also surveyed covered costs of Assisted Living and Home Health Care. In August 2005, the lowest average monthly base rate for an Assisted Living facility was $1,650 in Jackson, MS area and the highest was $4,300 in the Stamford, CT. area. In August 2005, the lowest average hourly rate for a home health aide was $12 in Shreveport, and the highest was $23 in Rochester, MN. If you need a home health aide around-the-clock, these rates translate to a daily rate ranging from $288 to $552, or a monthly rate of $8,640 to $16,550. Finally, don’t forget that long-term care costs, like most health care costs, are rising faster than the general rate of inflation. The bottom line? A four-year-orlonger stay in a nursing home could cost $200,000 to $450,000 or more (in today’s dollars). If you can’t pay this out of your own pocket and aren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, you should consider buying longterm care insurance.
WHAT ’S THE BEST AGE TO BUY LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE?
In general, it’s a good idea to buy long-term care insurance before you’re 60, for two reasons: The younger you are, the less likely it is that you’ll be rejected when you apply for the policy. If you apply in your 50s, there’s a one in ten chance you’ll be rejected. If you apply in your 60s, the chance of rejection is two in ten. If you apply in your 70s, the chance of rejection is four in ten. The younger you are, the lower the premium will be for a given set of benefits and features. Once the premium is set, it stays at that amount for the life of the policy, unless the claims for the group of people who have bought that type of policy require that rates for the group be raised.
In August 2005, the average cost for a month in a semiprivate room in a nursing home ranged from a low of $3,000 in Shreveport, LA, to a high of $9,250 in New York City, according to a survey by the MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI). A year-long stay translates to $36,850 in Shreveport and $112,400 in
WHAT FEATURES OF LONG-TERM CARE POLICIES SHOULD I FOCUS ON?
There are various questions and issues to keep in mind when choosing a long-term care policy.
Where may care occur?
The best policies pay for care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or at home. Benefits are typically
expressed in daily amounts, with a lifetime maximum. Some policies pay half as much per day for at-home care as for nursing home care. Others pay the same amount, or have a “pool of benefits” that can be used as needed.
Under what conditions will the policy begin paying benefits?
The policy should state the various conditions that must be met. • The inability to perform two or three specific “activities of daily living” without help. These include bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and “transferring” or being able to move from place to place or between a bed and a chair. • Cognitive impairment. Most policies cover stroke and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, but other forms of mental incapacity may be excluded. • Medical necessity, or certification by a doctor that long-term care is necessary.
three days before benefits can be paid. This requirement is very restrictive; you should avoid it. Most policies have a “waiting period” or “elimination” period. This is a period that begins when you first need long-term care and lasts as long as the policy provides. During the waiting period, the policy will not pay benefits. If you recover before the waiting period ends, the policy doesn’t pay for expenses you incur during the waiting period. The policy pays only for expenses that occur after the waiting period is over, if you continue to need care. In general, the longer the waiting period, the lower the premium for the long-term care policy.
How long will benefits last?
A benefit period may range from two years to lifetime. You can keep premiums down by electing coverage for three to four years—longer than the average nursing home stay—instead of lifetime.
Indemnity vs. Reimbursement
Most long-term care policies pay on a reimbursement (or expense-incurred) basis, up to the policy limits. In other words, if you have a $150 per day benefit but spend only $130 per day for a home long-term care provider, the policy will pay only $130. The “extra” $20 each day will, in some policies, go into a “pool” of unused funds that can be used to extend the length of time for which the policy will pay benefits. Other policies pay on an indemnity basis. Using the same example as above, an indemnity policy would pay $150 per day as long as the insured needs and receives long-term care services, regardless of the actual outlay.
Inflation protection is an important feature, especially if you are under 65, when you buy benefits that you may not use for 20 years or more. A good inflation provision compounds benefits at 5 percent a year. Without inflation protection, even 3 percent annual inflation will, over 24 years, reduce the purchasing power of a $150 daily benefit to the equivalent of $75.
Six other important policy provisions What events must occur before the policy begins paying benefits?
Some older policies require a hospital stay of at least
1. 1=7 Elimination period. Under some policies, if the insured has qualifying long-term care expenses on one day during a seven-day period, he or she will be credited with having satisfied seven days toward the elimi-
nation period. This type of provision reflects the way home care is often delivered—some days by professionals and some days by family members. 2. Guaranteed renewable policies must be renewed by the insurance company, although premiums can go up if they are increased for an entire class of policyholders. 3. Waiver of premium, so that no further premiums are due once you start to receive benefits. 4. Third-party notification, so that a relative, friend or professional adviser will be notified if you forget to pay a premium. 5. Nonforfeiture benefits keep a lesser amount of insurance in force if you let the policy lapse. This provision is required by some states. 6. Restoration of benefits, which ensures that maximum benefits are put back in place if you receive benefits for a time, then recover and go for a specified period (typically six months) without receiving benefits.
HOW CAN I SAVE ON LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE?
The tips below will help you save money wisely, but don’t rely on price alone.
Because you may not collect for decades to come, be sure to buy from a company that has been around for some time and is financially stable. You may want to look up, from an independent rating agency, the financial strength ratings of a company you’re considering.
Keep the premium for your long-term care insurance policy to 7% of your income, or less. For example, if your monthly income is $4,000, the long-term care insurance premium should not be more than $280 per month. (This is what the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommends in
its Model Regulation for Long-Term Care Insurance.) Another expert advises that the income to use in this calculation isn’t your current income, but your expected income in retirement, since that’s the income from which you’ll be paying premiums for most of the policy’s existence.
Other ways of saving:
1. Find out if long-term care benefits are available through a group policy from your employer. Employers might subsidize the cost, lowering what you must pay. 2. Check whether you can add long-term care benefits as a rider on an existing life insurance or annuity policy. These “combination” arrangements can save because the insurance company gains operational savings that it can pass along to you. 3. Buy a policy with the longest waiting period you can afford. For example, choosing a 90-day period instead of a 30-day period can cut the premium by 30%. However, if you do need long-term care services, you should save some money to pay these costs until the waiting period ends. 4. If both spouses of a married couple are considering buying long-term care policies, look into buying one joint policy for both of you. Such a policy pays when either one needs care and can pay for both, if necessary, up to its benefit limits. 5. If you’re still looking to trim the premium further, consider buying a policy that will pay most, but not all, of the average nursing home costs in your area. For example, if a nursing home room now costs $120 per day, buy a policy that pays $100 per day. However, be sure to buy an inflation-protection provision. 6. Check with several companies and agents, comparing both benefits and costs. As with other types of insurance (and many other purchases), comparison shopping can save you money. Just be sure you’re comparing policies with similar provisions and companies with comparable financial strength and service records.
SHOULD I INVEST THE AMOUNT I WOULD PAY IN PREMIUMS? (Instead of buying long-term care insurance)
If you’re under 55, you might think that, since the likelihood of long-term care outlays is many years in the future, you could invest the money you might otherwise spend for long-term care insurance premiums. That way, if you do need long-term care, you could just draw upon that investment, and if not, you’d have money for your heirs, for a charitable donation, or for your own needs. But this strategy leaves you vulnerable if you need long-term care services in your late 50s, 60s, or early 70s. And it might also leave you vulnerable if you need these services for a long time, even if you don’t need assistance until you’re in your 80s. Here’s why: • Assume you’re 55 and won’t need long-term care for 30 years, when you’re 85. • Assume you save $2,000 per year (1), that you invest the savings, and that your investment grows at 5 percent per year, net after taxes. After 30 years, your savings will have grown to $139,500. • Assume today’s monthly cost of nursing home care grows, due to inflation, by 5 percent per year, from $7,000 per month now to $28,800 per month in the future. At that time—that is, when you’re 85—if all these assumptions come true, your savings would be able to pay for less than three months of nursing home care; if you need more money—say, because the cost of services for long-term care grew faster than 5 percent per year or your investments earned less than 5 percent net after taxes—you’d have to liquidate other assets that you hadn’t planned to liquidate, if you have them. It’s possible that you’ll save more than $1,000 per year, or earn more than 5 percent net after taxes, or that the cost of long-term-care services will rise more slowly than 5 percent per year, or that two or more of these things will happen. In that case, if you need long-term care services for the first time after age 85, you would be able to pay for more than the example above shows. Here are some indications of what results alternate assumptions would produce: • Nursing home costs inflate at 3 percent per year for
30 years: monthly cost of $16,500 • Earn 6 percent per year net after taxes on saving $1,000 per year: accumulate $83,800 • Save $1,200 per year at 5 percent net after taxes: accumulate $83,700 Of course, it’s possible that you’ll never need long-term care services, or that if you do need them, you’ll need them only for a month or two. In that case, a longterm care policy won’t help. For most other scenarios, it’s probably a prudent buy.
WHAT ARE ‘PARTNERSHIP FOR LONG-TERM CARE’ PROGRAMS?
Medicaid is a state-government-administered program that pays the medical and long-term care expenses of poor people. If you have more money than your state permits when you need long-term care services, your state’s Medicaid won’t pay for those services. You’ll have to spend your own money–including using up your assets–until you become poor enough to qualify. But if you live in California, Connecticut, Indiana or New York and you participate in the state’s Partnership for Long-Term Care program, you can qualify for Medicaid without spending yourself into poverty. To participate in the Partnership, you must buy a longterm care insurance policy that contains at least the basic benefits required by the Partnership program. What’s the benefit of participating in the Partnership? If you live in California, Connecticut, or Indiana, for example, and you • Buy a policy under the program • Live in the state while receiving long-term care services • Receive and exhaust the benefits under the policy for long-term care services You can apply for Medicaid benefits even though you haven’t sold and used your assets. Each dollar paid by the insurance company is a dollar of assets you can keep in addition to the minimums permitted by your state’s Medicaid rules. For example, suppose the long-term care policy has paid $50,000 in benefits; in that case, you can keep $50,000 in investments or savings and still qualify for
Medicaid. Without a Partnership long-term care policy, you’d probably have to spend virtually all of that $50,000 (this is called spending down) before you became eligible for Medicaid to pay your long-term care bills. However, even under the Partnership program, although you get to keep your assets, you might still have to use part of your income to pay long-term care expenses.
• A deductible that must be met only once in your lifetime. • Inflation protection to insure that benefits keep pace with the rising cost of care. • Waiver of premiums while you are receiving benefits in a nursing home or residential care facility. • Care coordination to assist you in planning and obtaining the services you want and need.
Connecticut and Indiana have a reciprocity agreement, so that if you buy a policy under one state’s Partnership program and move to the other state, you can obtain the benefits of the other state’s partnership program. Each state’s program is different, so be sure to learn the details of your state’s Partnership program before buying a long-term care policy. In California, for example, the basic benefits include the following:
Under the California Partnership program, two types of policies are available–one that covers only benefits delivered in a nursing home or residential care facility, and one that covers comprehensively (at home, in a community facility, in a residential care facility, or in a nursing home).
• Interchangeable benefits that can be switched between nursing home care and home care, or a combination of the two.
The DeHayes Group
Kirk Bennett, Long Term Care Specialist Individual & Group Benefits 5150 W. Jefferson Blvd. Fort Wayne, IN 46804
Phone: (260) 969-1310 Fax: (260) 489-8281
Enjoy the wind on your face... Set sail without worry, knowing you’re covered in case the unforeseen happens, whether at the dock or on the water. Call us today for a quick and easy quote.
WAYS TO CORRAL RUNNAWAY
MEDICAL COSTS ARE THE LEADING DRIVER OF WORKERS’ COMP COSTS As a percentage of total comp claims, medical costs rose from 46% in 1988 to 58% in 2009, the last year for which fully adjusted data is available. A workforce plagued by obesity, diabetes, and poor health habits coupled with demographic trends of an aging workforce that takes longer to heal, offer little relief to combat this disconcerting trend.
Action: All bills should be carefully checked as mistakes, inaccurate coding, duplication and fraud happen. Beyond checking the bills, it’s vital to ensure that employees receive the most appropriate—and most cost-effective—care, aimed at returning the employee to work. Established relationships with physicians and clinics trained in occupational medicine will help ensure early, effective treatment and positive outcomes.
WORKERS’ COMP HOSPITAL COSTS INFLATION HIGH A recent article in Risk and Insurance by Peter Rousmaniere, an expert on the Workers’ Compensation industry, notes that the rate of inflation for hos-
pital costs appears to be among the highest for Workers’ Comp claims payers. Bill-review professionals say that hospitals take advantage of flawed fee schedules, employing experts to maximize billing. This is consistent with an NCCI Holdings Inc. report earlier this year that found the proportion of Workers’ Compensation medical costs subject to physician fee schedules is declining as medical providers shift from charging private practice fees to billing for procedures through hospitals or other facilities that employ them. Billing by hospitals and the other facilities may not fall under a Workers’ Comp fee schedule. Action: Partnering with the right medical providers is key. Employees who are injured at work are entitled to the highest quality medical care, aimed at returning employees safely back to productive work. There are significant differences between occupational health delivery systems and the general medical community. Establishing relationships with physicians or clinics that use proper diagnostic evaluation and evidenced-based treatment guidelines will improve outcomes, reduce costs and help workers return to their jobs quickly and safely. Understanding red flags of inappropriate treat-
ment (see side bar) and addressing the issues quickly will help stop costs from spiraling.
havioral changes or an uncommon increase in absences that may be drug-related.
EMERGENCY ROOM WAIT TIMES PUT SAFETY AT RISK In addition to having costs four or five times higher than clinic or office visits, emergency rooms are jeopardizing patient safety due to high wait times, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) warns. The increasing number of patients relying on ER for medical care because they do not have health care coverage caused the average wait time to rise to 4 hours, 7 minutes. Almost 40% of hospital ERs exceed or are at capacity. ACEP said health care reform legislation will not improve the situation, pointing out that Massachusetts, which passed health care reform in 2006, has seen an increase in ER visits.
INJURIES TO OLDER WORKERS CAN HAVE HIGHER COSTS While accident frequency among older workers is lower, the severity of a Workers’ Compensation claim for an older worker can be significant. The BLS estimates that it takes older workers approximately two to three times longer than a younger worker to recover from an injury – an average of 20 days away from work. Action: Since shoulders, backs, and wrists injuries have the highest musculoskeletal claim severity in older workers, take steps to identify causes of strain and fatigue through an ergonomic evaluation of workstations and workspaces, and implement corrections. Consider task rotation. A highly responsive return to work effort can benefit the employer by enabling the worker to be productive while healing.
Action: Only life threatening emergencies should be treated at an Emergency Room. Having a clearly defined process for medical evaluations, treatment and care when an injury occurs is critical to controlling costs.
MISUSE AND ABUSE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ON THE RISE Prescription drugs play a significant role in Workers’ Compensation and while medications can replace expensive surgeries or other invasive procedures, they can also be abused or wrongly prescribed. Workers’ Comp is particularly susceptible because it’s been estimated that 55% to 75% of drug spend in Workers’ Compensation is related to medications that manage pain. The estimated number of emergency room visits related to nonmedical use of prescription painkillers increased 111% between 2004 and 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The abuse of prescription drugs is our nation’s fastest-growing drug problem,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Action: When prescriptions are suspicious and do not follow established prescription treatment guidelines, case managers reviewing claims should call doctors. Employers must also educate employees about the personal risks and work-related hazards of misusing and abusing prescription drugs. Supervisors must be trained to act early, while protecting employees’ privacy, when they notice things such as unusual employee be-
EMPLOYEES HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY IN CONTROLLING MEDICAL COSTS Under Workers’ Compensation, employees are not faced with co-pays, deductibles or employee contributions and often assume that the insurance company pays for the cost of their injuries. There’s little incentive to understand or control the costs of care. Action: Employers are stepping up efforts to educate employees on the costs of care and how it ultimately affects the employees’ compensation. When employees realize that workers’ comp is a benefits cost that ties in directly to what a company can pay in compensation, they also recognize the advantage of helping reduce those costs. Some employers are adopting the process of sending their injured employees EOBs (Explanation of Benefit Statements). This both raises the injured workers’ awareness and knowledge on the services provided on their behalf as well as provides an opportunity to identify billing mistakes or fraud.
Coupled with the impact of the recession, the sweeping changes in the newly enacted ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), have severely altered the economic and legal landscape for employers. These are two major reasons why, even in difficult economic times, a strong Return-toWork (RTW) focus improves an employer’s bottom line. Because employers often find it difficult recognizing the benefits of RTW, here are ten common mistakes they make:
Mistakes Working with Workers' Comp By Kevin Ring consideration of mitigating measures such as medication, hearing aids and assistive technology.
Failure to recognize the increase in the number of employees covered by the ADAAA
The ADAAA’s stated goal is to shift the focus from whether an employee is disabled to whether employers are complying with their obligations under the law.
For employers covered by the ADAAA (those with 15 or more employees), more employees will satisfy the definition of disability and be entitled to reasonable accommodations, including those employees who have suffered onthe-job injuries. Employers covered by the ADAAA must make disability determinations without
When faced with litigation, employers, in many cases, will no longer be able to argue over whether the worker is covered by the ADA. Employers will need to have an interactive process with disabled workers, wherein the employer discusses with the workers the reasonable accommodations that will allow them to perform their
essential job duties. They will need to make sure managers know their obligations to provide reasonable accommodations and do not reject requests without appropriate analysis. As a federal law, the ADA supersedes state Workers’ Compensation laws, and therefore, its directives provide the floor level protection for disabled individuals. State Workers’ Compensation laws can provide more protection, but not less. Properly structured, RTW programs can decrease the ADA exposure.
MISTAKE #2 Insist that employees be released to full duty before returning to work Considerable evidence exists about the value of RTW programs that provide a means for employees to transition back into their full duty jobs with responsibilities and tasks modified for short periods of time. Insisting on a return to “full duty” increases Workers’ Comp costs and heightens the possibility that the injured employee will fall prey
the cost, adversely affecting claim reserves and ultimately the Experience Modification Factor as well as increasing the likelihood of litigation. Furthermore with today’s sharply reduced workforces, employees are often working beyond full capacity and cannot absorb the excess work of an absent co-worker. A troubling message is sent to valued employees, both injured and healthy, damaging an already vulnerable morale.
MISTAKE #4 Believe that RTW cannot address musculoskeletal injuries such as back pain Low back pain is the most prevalent and most costly work-related condition, yet only a small fraction of workers with acute back pain progress to chronic disability. A recent study concluded that workers who were not offered an accommodation such as light duty or reduced hours to facilitate the return to work in the first three weeks were almost twice as likely to develop a chronic disability. “ These findings suggest that an employer offer of accommodations to facilitate working in the first few weeks after injury may play an important role in chronic disability prevention.” to a “disability syndrome” – the failure to return to work when it is medically possible. For employers covered by the ADAAA, the criterion is the “essential functions of the job.” Not all job functions are essential. Courts consider job descriptions and performance evaluations in determining what functions are essential to a job. Employers should review and update these documents to ensure that the essential functions for each position are accurately described.
MISTAKE #3 Cut the budget for RTW Employers seeking to cut expenses may target RTW programs. Yet, cutting or delaying such programs can result in higher costs both now and in the future. The longer an employee is out on injury leave, the higher
MISTAKE #5 Be deterred from setting up transitional assignments because the employee “may get hurt again” Employer and employee fear of re-injury often hampers RTW efforts. While this is of course a risk, an even greater risk is having the employee stay at home and develop a “disability attitude” that extends the absence and drives up costs. Explain why it is important to return to work and the steps that are being taken to ensure the employees’ safety. Be sure job assignments meet the medical restrictions set by the treating physician and stay in touch with the employees as to their comfort level with the assignment.
MISTAKE #6 Failure to distinguish “light duty” from “transitional work” from “reasonable accommodation”
RTW assignments are best described as transitional tasks. Limited in duration, such tasks help the injured worker return to full productivity by being progressively adjusted in line with medically documented changes in the employee’s ability. Under the ADAAA, it is permissible for an employer to reserve “light-duty” jobs for those with work-related disabilities and these jobs should be distinct from transitional tasks. The ADAAA also stipulates that “reasonable accommodations” include, but are not limited to making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible, job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
MISTAKE #7 Rely on the physician to guide the RTW process While physicians are medical experts they do not have essential information about workplace policies, job demands and the availability of transitional work. Moreover, if a physician’s training is not specifically in the treatment of occupational injuries they may not adhere to evidence-based guidelines. The employer must be proactive and take the lead role with both the physician and the injured worker.
MISTAKE #8 Failure to understand the laws governing mandatory comprehensive medical exams before returning to work This is one of the most confusing aspects of RTW with the ADAAA, the FMLA and state Workers’ Compensation laws having different and sometimes conflicting requirements. Understanding the laws and how they apply to your specific circumstance is critical.
MISTAKE #9 Failure to establish consequences for failure to comply with RTW requirement
What’s important here is to understand the difference between disciplining and cutting off benefits. If an employee is covered by the FMLA and cannot perform one or more of the essential functions of his or her job, that employee may refuse transitional assignments and take FMLA leave. However, the FMLA only creates an entitlement to unpaid leave, and therefore, in most cases, the Workers’ Compensation indemnity payments may discontinue with the refusal to return to work. The employee retains the right to reinstatement to the position held when FMLA leave was taken.
MISTAKE #10 Believe Workers’ Compensation settlements resolve ADA liabilities Under the ADAA, more injured employees will qualify as “Qualified Individual with a Disability” and as such can assert their right under the ADA to a reasonable accommodation, irrespective of any Workers’ Compensation settlement. During settlement negotiations, close coordination is necessary between the company’s legal, risk management, and HR departments to ensure that each office is able to accomplish its mandate without compromising the employee’s rights. Return-to-Work is a proven business strategy in both prosperous and difficult times. Properly implemented, RTW programs can reduce costs and improve the bottom line.
ONLINE SAFETY TIPS FOR PARENTS AND KIDS Parents’ concerns about Internet safety used to be confined to the computer. Today, kids have more access to the Internet through smart phones and gaming devices so the potential for cyberbullying is greater than ever.
lying and keeping kids safe online. Marsali Hancock, president and CEO of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (www.ikeepsafe.org), recommends the following tips for parents to keep their children safe online:
Cyberbullying is when one minor uses technology as a weapon to target another young person. According to StopCyberbullying.org, elementary and middle schools report cyberbullying as the most frequent problem they face. Twenty percent of kids in the fourth through sixth grade have reported one type of cyberbullying when playing games, including:
Keep current with technology. You don’t have to be an expert, but a little understanding goes a long way towards keeping your child safe online. Get basic technical training and learn about new products as they’re released.
• Password theft • Accessing and stealing virtual items • Mean messages
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
Parental involvement is key to preventing cyberbul-
Keep communicating with your child about what he/ she is experiencing on the Internet and with technology in general. Know their lingo, and ask when you don’t understand something. Work to keep communication lines open. Keep checking your child’s Internet activity. Know where they go online. Let them know that you’ll keep checking because you want them to understand that
the Internet is a public forum and never truly private. Keep participating with your child’s online activities. They are the experts, so you can ask them to help you. Not only will your knowledge of the digital world be strengthened — so will your relationship with your children.
WHAT KIDS CAN DO
Protect your name, identity and reputation by being careful not to share your name, contact information, or pictures. Realize that what is put in the digital world can stay there forever. Only post pictures that you would want your parents, peers and school to see.
Create secure passwords. Passwords should be easy to remember, hard to guess. If you have to write it down, it’s too hard to remember. If it’s a pet’s name, your middle name, your favorite sports team, etc., it’s too easy to guess. Remember, a combination of numbers and letters is always best. Don’t share your passwords. Don’t allow kids to give out their password to others. Eighty-five percent of elementary school students and 70 percent of teens polled said they shared their password with at least one friend. That’s one friend too many. Friends can be cyberbullies too, signing onto your account, impersonating you and possibly embarrassing you. They can also change your password, locking you out of your account.
Every hour of every day, Americans are hard at work
Mainstreet business owners like you are the lifeblood of America. Our economy depends on you and your success. That’s why we partner with businesses just like you to make certain you stay strong in these tough economic times. Find out the difference an involved insurance professional can make.
Back to School
Plan and Organize for a Successful Academic Year Fall Back into Your School Routine by Nancy Lawton-Shirley The transition from summer to school can be tough for kids and parents, but getting the school year off to a good start can build your child’s confidence, boost their attitude and improve their academic performance throughout the entire year. Thirty-year occupational therapist Nancy LawtonShirley knows there’s an effective combination needed to set kids up for success. “Even kids who know what to expect can experience anxiety,” says Lawton-Shirley. “There are more after-school activities, and of course the social and academic pressures associated with school.” Lawton-Shirley suggests the following tips as a way to help kids refocus this fall:
SLEEP WELL, EAT WELL
During the school year, it’s important to set a nightly routine without too much disruption over the weekend. Explain to your child the reason for doing this—so they don’t get over-tired or overwhelmed by school and after-school activities. Similarly, sustain a mealtime routine, especially eating a healthy breakfast. You may want to try to include more protein in the morning and carbohydrates in the evening—it really makes a difference. A good night’s sleep and well-balanced eating habits are proven effective ways to set a good foundation for the day.
Review the materials sent by the school. Share information with your child such as their teacher’s
name, school supply requirements, sign-ups for after-school activities, etc. Pick up your school supplies early and encourage your child to help with choosing them. Consider stocking up on supplies you’ll need to replace throughout the academic year. All of this preparation will help you and your kids ease into the first week back…and beyond.
SET ASIDE QUIET TIME
With homework and sports practices in full-swing, it’s easy to get overloaded. Be sure to set aside quiet time and employ transitional tools. One such tool Lawton-Shirley uses is “www.thinkingmoves.com” MeMoves, an interactive DVD program that helps calm and focus the mind and body. The person watching it mimics what they see on screen for a short, 3-minute sequence, transforming them from chaos to calm. “Teachers love to use it right after recess or other times when they need their students to calm down and concentrate,” says Lawton-Shirley. “It’s also a great tool to use at home.” More at: www.thinkingmoves.com.
While downtime is important, physical activity is crucial to a kid’s ability to stay healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that kids who are active will have stronger muscles and bones, a leaner body, be less likely to become overweight, and will have a better outlook on life. Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.
The Basics for Better Health If you’ve ever struggled with trying to figure out what you need to do to take to maintain a healthier lifestyle, you’re not alone. The 2011 Food and Health Survey, commissioned by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFICF), found that among the 69 percent of Americans currently trying to lose or maintain their weight: • 70 percent believe that both physical activity and monitoring food and beverage consumption are equally important in weight management. • However, only 54 percent report actually implementing both strategies in an effort to manage their weight. While the survey showed that approximately half of Americans perceive their overall diet as at least “somewhat healthful,” the World Health Organization ranks the United States as 18th (out of 153 countries) in the world for obesity and 28th in the world for cases of diabetes.
WHY IS IT SO HARD?
There’s a lot of information available about nutrition and fitness, and it can be tricky to sort through it all and put it into practice. Confusion over nutrition, conflicting reports over what’s healthy and what’s not, busy
lifestyles that leave no time for exercise — all of these can be roadblocks to better health. NUTRITION MADE EASIER You are what you eat. And how you eat. And when you eat. In the latest edition of her book, “Nutrition For Dummies,” (Wiley, May 2011), Carol Ann Rinzler says that nutrition is simply the science of how the body uses food — and in order to take care of yourself, you need to know a little bit about how that science works. “Nutrition is about why you eat what you eat and how the food you get affects your body and health,” she said.
HUNGER VS. APPETITE
Rinzler says that hunger and appetite are two very different things: • Hunger is the need for food. It’s a physical reaction that includes chemical changes in your body. It’s an instinctive, protective mechanism to make sure your body gets what it needs to function. • Appetite is the desire for food. It’s a sensory or psychological reaction (This looks good! That smells good!) which creates an involuntary response like salivation or stomach contractions. It’s also a conditioned response to food — think Pavlov’s dogs. Understanding the difference is the first step toward more healthful eating.
MAKING WISE FOOD CHOICES
In her book, Rinzler walks readers through things like the facts on fat and cholesterol, carbohydrates and proteins, building a healthful diet, food labeling, and what happens when food is cooked at home or processed in a plant — all to help make sense of nutrition so that making good choices that please your palate as well as your body, is easy.
THE FACTS ON FITNESS
Fitness can actually mean a number of things. You can be fit to run 5 miles or do yoga. You can look fit — that is, lean — and not have much stamina, strength, flexibility or balance. Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent, authors of “Fitness For Dummies, 4th Edition” (Wiley, December 2010), want to help people understand what’s involved in becoming fit, how to get started and how to stay motivated. “We want to help make fitness a permanent and enjoyable part of your lifestyle.”
THE 5 KEY AREAS
Schlosberg and Neporent say that it doesn’t take much
effort to get a basic level of physical fitness in the five key areas: cardio, strength, flexibility, balance and nutrition. Why are these so important? • Cardio Fitness: Workouts that get your heart pumping and continuously work a lot of large muscles improve your heart, lungs, blood vessels and stamina. They also burn a lot of calories, helping you lose weight. Think walking, cycling and using an elliptical machine. • Strength Training: People who don’t exercise lose 30 to 40 percent of their strength by age 65, say the authors. By age 74, more than one quarter of men and two-thirds of women can’t lift an object heavier than 10 pounds. Lifting weights means strengthening your muscles for the long term. It also means strengthening your bones and speeding up metabolism. • Flexibility: Maintaining flexibility helps keep your joints mobile, minimizing risk of injury and allowing you to move with agility and good posture even as you age. • Balance: Balance is important when you’re young,
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Foods that Flatten your Belly by Keren Gilbert
“Wouldn’t it be nice if this is the summer you can wear your bathing suit without wrapping your towel around your body like a security blanket? You can!”
You just have to commit to eating the right foods and you can attain your weight loss goal once and for all and ditch the towel for good! I have listed some of my favorite foods to add to your diet that have been proven to shrink your tummy and that you can start incorporating into your life today!
CHIA SEEDS Chia seeds are an amazing belly flattening food. In fact, it is the staple of my nutrition practice because I believe it is the top super food that you should add to your diet regime starting now. Once a sacred food to the Aztecs, the benefits of these little black seeds are amazing. They are the highest natural source of omega3s, which is proven to lower fattening stress hormones like cortisol. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants, minerals, fiber and protein. Sprinkle on salads, or veggies. You can mix them in yogurt, oatmeal or shakes (see recipe below).
ORANGES When you replace refined sugars (like those found in white pasta or white rice) with carbs from fruits; your belly will reap the benefits. Oranges are on top of that list due to its high levels of antioxidants like Vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Plus, fiber in the form of pectin helps you stay full longer and fend off the belly fat.
OATMEAL Oatmeal contains soluble fiber so that it attracts water and stays in your stomach longer. This also helps reduce blood cholesterol by flushing those bad digestive acids out of your system. The most beneficial oatmeal to eat is unsweetened because the sweetened oatmeal has all sorts of sugars that cancel out its health benefits. A bowl of unsweetened oatmeal with some berries and your belly will have a good day.
ALMONDS These nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, and rich in the minerals magnesium and selenium. All of which have been shown to be important to support adrenal function and boost metabolism. In addition, they keep you satisfied and full for a long time. Be cautious of salted or smoked nuts which contain a lot of sodium which is cancels out the benefits since it bloats! A handful of raw almonds a day will keep the belly fat away.
BEANS “Bean, beans they’re good for your heart, the more you eat the flatter your middle part!” Didn’t think I would say that but it’s true. They are a low calorie food rich in protein, fiber, and iron which are nutrients that contribute to a trimmer you. Try lima, navy or white beans. Just stay away from refried since they contain a lot of saturated fat.
BROCCOLI A highly nutritious green veggie that is high in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals. It is also high in enzymes that assist in digestion and metabolism.
ALMOND MILK A great alternative to milk and it contains belly flattening ingredients as well. For one, it does not have any lactose in it which makes it easier to digest. It contains a lot of Vitamin E which aids in detoxification. In addition, it has 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids, the good fat which helps burn fat around the abdomen.
Start your day off with a Sexy Stomach Shake! Many of us forgo breakfast and don’t put a morsel of food in our bodies until lunch. That is doing yourself a big disservice especially if you want the pounds on the scale to decrease! Your metabolism slows down during this period of “starvation” because your body wants to conserve energy and burn only what is necessary until food becomes available. Drink this shake first thing in the morning, rev up your metabolism and start the day off right!
SHAKE RECIPE 1 large peeled orange 1 tablespoon chia seeds 1 cup vanilla almond milk 1 banana (frozen) 1 teaspoon Agave Nectar Combine all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and serve!
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and essential when you’re not. A good sense of balance helps you move more fluidly and prevents unnecessary falls. • Nutrition: When you make wise food choices, you have more energy to exercise and you recover more quickly from your workouts. The “Fitness” authors say it’s important to keep things interesting. Boredom can be the enemy of any workout. Listen to music, mix up your workouts — running on Monday, yoga on Tuesday, hiking on Wednesday, etc. Vary your pace or terrain, or try different exercise equipment. And remember to stay realistic. “Trying to do too much or setting expectations too high can lead to frustration. Pace yourself and cut yourself some slack. Everyone improves at a different pace. Fitness is something personal and unique to you.” For more about these books, visit www.dummies.com. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, For Dummies is hosting special book promotions, sweepstakes, exclusive giveaways on their Facebook and Twitter pages,
as well as other special events. To find out more and to download a free minibook, visit www.dummies.com.
SMART WAYS TO EAT OUT
If you go out to restaurants at all, you know that most menus don’t have a long list of healthy foods. In the book “Restaurant Calorie Counter For Dummies, 2nd Edition” (Wiley, May 2011), you can find helpful information for making smart choices. Here are a few tips from the book: • Drink your whole glass of water (or more), but limit other beverages to just one glass. • Physically split a meal in half when it arrives at your table and ask for the to go box right away. • Choose fresh toppings, such as onion, tomato and lettuce, rather than pickled items such as jarred pepper strips or pickles. • Aim to get some lean protein with your meal. At salad bars, choose beans or cottage cheese. For the entrée, choose grilled chicken or fish. The guide also provides calorie counts for menu items at 150 popular restaurants.