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Reframing Healthcare in the Minds of Younger Americans

August 27, 2013 in fitness, health care costs, health care quality, Health Insurance, lifestyle, mental health, nutrition

The clock is ticking towards October 1, 2013 when public insurance exchanges are set to go live and begin offering health plan benefits to an estimated 30 million previously uninsured Americans. And as that day draws closer, all parties involved—plans, providers, employers, and patients—are scrambling to figure out just what it will mean to them from a cost and quality of care perspective. Yet, perhaps one of the biggest conundrums associated with the health insurance marketplace is how to deal with the potential sticker shock facing younger Americans and the ripple effect it could have on everyone. Specifically, with an age band as narrow as 3:1, there is a possibility that premiums for younger people (who tend to be lighter users of service) will be considerably higher in order to compensate for older Americans, who typically utilize more health care services. When combined with a relatively low penalty for not getting coverage, there is a very real fear that many of these ‘young invincibles’ will forgo coverage and simply choose to pay the penalty.

So, the question becomes, ‘how do we articulate the value of health coverage to this younger generation?’ or, in other words, convince them that coverage is relevant (and worth it) to them?

We need to help this younger population understand and believe that healthcare is not solely about supporting the sick – support is also critical for the well. For example: a recent college grad that is just starting out in his/her career and may have issues dealing with the stress of that new job; the twenty-something who runs marathons but wants to improve their nutrition; the new mother who wants to start a workout program to shed some of the baby weight; or the avid skier who suffers a knee injury on the slopes and wants to understand what treatment options are available to them.

These scenarios play out each day across the U.S. and could happen to just about anyone between the ages of 18-35, not solely older people or those with chronic conditions. And there are programs, resources and tools focused on shared decision making and wellness that are critical components of modern healthcare that young people can take advantage of. So at the core, the solution for this current dilemma needs to be about making the younger population aware of these resources because they support behaviors that contribute to better health and wellbeing. Specifically, we need to create a  culture that encourages all people—including the younger population—to think differently about their health, make more informed choices, and understand not only the resources at their disposal but also the value they provide.  If we can do that, we will go a long way in positively impacting the health and wellness of these younger generations and controlling spiraling healthcare costs.

Robert Mandel, MD, MBA, is the CEO of Health Dialog and has more than 15 years’ experience in senior leadership positions in health systems and health plan management. 

Exercises to ease back pain

May 15, 2013 in fitness, health care costs, lifestyle, Member Stories

I’ve always been a money-saver  When I was younger, my mom looked in wonder as I handed her my birthday money and asked her to put it in the bank for me. I might not have had a Razor scooter like all of the other kids, but hey, I was able to pay off a third of my college loans before I even graduated. This frugal attitude has lead me to believe that I can save money in any situation, even when it comes to my health.

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I still go to the doctor when I have to (broken bone, the flu, etc.), but if I ever see a chance to avoid a trip to the doctor, I’ll take it. A couple of years ago I hurt my upper back when I was playing in a rugby match (poor choice of sport), and now I have a tight muscle that flares up every now and then. When the injury initially occurred, an athletic trainer told me that I could get an MRI, but that it wouldn’t do much for me. In a nutshell, the MRI could possibly reveal what was wrong with my back, but even if it did, the doctor would probably recommend the same thing that I could have come up with on my own: exercise.

According to an article on, Read the rest of this entry →

Value of yoga

May 6, 2013 in fitness, lifestyle, Member Stories, News

I’ve never been one for yoga. My roommate has been trying to get me to go to a class with her for months, but I always tell her that I’m more of a cardio kickboxing type of girl. What can I say? I’d rather de-stress by punching and kicking the air than pose like a tree. However, I might now consider going to yoga after a recent study was released that claims yoga does much more than relax the body and mind; it can actually change the expression of genes.

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According to a new study from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)  and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “elicitation of the relaxation response – a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing and prayer – produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.”

The study consisted of blood samples from 26 healthy adults who had never participated in relaxation response practices. The samples were taken before and after they completed an Read the rest of this entry →

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Understanding Obesity And The best Solution

December 5, 2012 in fitness

In Order for us to fight obesity, we need to understand all the factors that causes it and we need to start from there.

Today, according to statistics, there’s 127 million or 64.5 percent of Americans are considered obese and most of them are adults and it was noted that obesity caused 300,000 deaths in the US alone. When it comes to health care for adult obesity, the cost reached up to $100 billion and still the number of obese people, death related cases connected to obesity and the health care expenses is increasing every year. Aside from their physical appearance that they look so big and could not do regular things every day, these obese people are very prone to serious diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart problems, diabetes and a lot more.

Childhood obesity rate is also fast increasing. Many children now days in the US alone have seen some symptoms that even at early age, they could gain weight easily and no longer the standard weight basing from their age. Obesity needs to be stopped at early age before they will become adult. Obesity now a day is considered as an epidemic that affects millions of people. Over the past ten years, it was observe that the obesity rate for children has significantly increased and even reached to a very alarming number.

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Six tips for the running enthusiast

August 21, 2012 in fitness, lifestyle, Member Stories

Boston Esplanade Runner by mcritz/Flickr

Running is my favorite way to exercise, especially in the summer. After completing my first half-marathon, I learned that running can also take a toll on your body once you start increasing your mile-time and distance. To learn more about things every runner should know, I spoke with Dr. Pierre d’Hemecourt at Children’s Hospital’s Running Clinic. Here are a few take-aways from our conversation that could be re-affirming- and possibly enlightening- for the running enthusiast:

Fueling up- The carbs that help:  Holding off on breakfast till after your morning run isn’t the best idea. “You want to get some carbs in [before] the run, preferably 2-3 hours prior,” says Dr. d’Hemecourt. Simple carbs, like pancakes or cereal, will give you the most available fuel.  He also recommends re-fueling on carbs with protein after every run. And yes, chocolate milk counts! Dr. d’Hemecourt says this is a great way to restore your energy reserves after your run because it gets “glycogen back in [the] muscles.”

Hydration- Don’t overdo it: When I was preparing for my race, I remembered reading about avoiding over-hydration. I didn’t really think it was possible, but apparently it happens a lot, especially during temperature extremes. Common symptoms include headache, feeling confused and bloating. “People take in too much fluid and are not getting rid of it,” says Dr. d’Hemecourt. To determine if you’re drinking too much water, you should weigh yourself, without clothes, before and after running to see if there’s a difference in weight. If you’re running between one and one and one half hours, you should expect to lose 2% of your body weight, according to Dr. d’Hemecourt. If your weight is the same (or greater) after your run, then you’re drinking too much water.  

Proper footware and over-striding- The case for minimalist shoes: When Vibrams and other “minimalist” sport shoes came out on the market, there was a lot of talk on whether or not running in your traditional sneaker was the smart thing to do. Read the rest of this entry →