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Stay Healthy This Holiday Season Using Your Health Plan Benefits


At this time of the year when so many of our social and holiday gatherings are food and drink-related, it is especially important to follow steps to maintain healthy habits.  Review your healthcare plan to uncover specific benefits which will help you remain healthy and prevent illness during the holiday season and the New Year.

Staying Active

If you are a senior, look for ways to keep yourself fit, strong and flexible to reduce holiday stress and help prevent ailments.  Not only will staying active promote positive mental and emotional health, but it will also increase your chances to remain independent long after the holiday decorations are stored away.

With many leading insurance plans, enrollment includes discounts for health club memberships and fitness classes.   Many leading Medicare health plans also offer SilverSneakers Fitness Program designed to help older adults and seniors live fit, active and independent lifestyles.  (To determine if your health plan offers SilverSneakers, visit:  http://www.silversneakers.com/HealthPlanLocator.aspx.)

Quitting Smoking

The holiday season is a stressful time of the year for most people, and for those who are working to quit smoking, the holidays can be especially challenging.  Even though the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States is tobacco use, quitting smoking for most people is extremely difficult.

If you decide to quit on your own, there are several steps you should take to increase your chances of success, including:

  •  Setting a “quit date.”  Tell family members, friends and co-workers about your decision and ask for their support.
  • Get enough rest to reduce that run-down feeling and resist the urge for cravings.
  • Reduce your caffeine when you need an energy boost; take a rest instead if you’re tired.
  • Drink more water as not only is it a great craving-buster, but it will keep you well-hydrated and feeling better in general.
  • Go for a walk to reduce stress and improve circulation.  When the urge to smoke strikes, head out for a quick walk.  You’ll come back relaxed and refreshed.
  • Contact your healthcare provider and inquire if they have any programs to support you during your journey or ask them if they have any medicines that may help you quit.
  •  After you quit, keep yourself away from cigarettes and situations that may “trigger” your desire to smoke.  If you slip and smoke; don’t give up!  Set a new “quit date” and learn from your mistakes.

Many medical plans recognize the toll that smoking takes on a person’s well-being and offer programs that offer a variety of solutions to quitting.  Tobacco Use Cessation Counseling is a benefit that is now considered a preventative service, whether or not you have been diagnosed with an illness caused or complicated by tobacco use.  While it may be difficult, and at times uncomfortable, navigating the holidays without cigarettes is a vital part of your journey.  Put yourself in the best possible environment for success as you move through the next few months and keep your decision for a healthier, smoke-free life in focus.

No Cost Screenings

Although there are often too few minutes in the day during the holiday season, putting your health on the back-burner for the next few months is not a wise decision.  Take the time necessary to take advantage of the many preventative services that are covered under Medicare.

In particular, make certain you are up-to-date on vaccines that can prevent seasonal illnesses such as influenza.  If your holiday schedule includes parties and dinners and you are concerned about controlling weight or diabetes, seek out medical nutrition therapy and counseling to help manage these illnesses.

In addition, don’t put off doctor’s visits when necessary.  Even though you may be spending additional money during the holiday season, the list below includes preventative services that Medicare currently covers at no cost:

  •  Annual Wellness Visits:  This exam is a one-time review of your health as well as education and counseling about preventive services and other care.
  • Screenings:  No longer will you need to pay a Medicare Part B deductible or copayment for these screenings if certain coverage criteria applies:
  • Bone mass measurement
  • Cervical cancer screening, including Pap smear tests and pelvic exams
  • Cholesterol and other cardiovascular screenings
  • Colorectal cancer screenings
  • Diabetes screening
  • Flu shot, pneumonia shot and the Hepatitis B shot
  • Glaucoma tests
  • HIV screening for people at increased risk or who ask for the test
  • Mammograms
  • Medical nutrition therapy to help manage diabetes or kidney disease
  • Prostate cancer screening

Utilizing Available Resources

Making informed decisions regarding your medical conditions requires getting information from an educated source.   Most insurance plans now provide written materials, including newsletters and dedicated websites to help you manage your health.  Whether you’re dealing with a specific health issue or trying to prevent problems, consult your health plan to determine if they offer any of the following:

  • Nursing hotlines for easy-access information from home or away.
  • Wellness discounts on health and wellness products, over-the-counter medicines and vision services.
  • Caregiver Support for access to services for managing chronic conditions.
  • Help after Hospitalization.  During the holidays when family members and friends may be busy traveling, it may be especially critical to utilize skilled nursing and home health aide services to ensure that on-going patient care is uninterrupted.
  • Medicare coverage while traveling during the holidays.

Remember, with balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays in a healthy way.   Knowing your health plan and the benefits it offers you is the first step towards taking care of yourself and enjoying the bounties of the season.

Our licensed agents at MedicareSolutions are available to assist you in selecting a Medicare plan that best fits your health care needs.  Call us today at 1-800-328-7305!

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