Category Archive

2023 June

Extra, Extra! Understanding Supplemental Insurance

Maybe this is a familiar scenario.

You’re reviewing your annual enrollment materials to figure out what coverage is best for you and your dependents. Medical, dental, and vision coverage are pretty straightforward. Now you’re looking at the extra kinds of coverage, and they all sound similar. Accident coverage, hospital indemnity coverage, and critical illness – what’s the difference? While exact coverage varies per provider and employer, these are the general differences between plans.

  • Accident coverage provides benefits for you and your covered family member for expenses related to an accidental injury that occurs outside of work. This coverage can help pay deductibles, copays, and even typical day-to-day expenses such as a mortgage or car payment.
  • Critical Illness coverage pays a lump-sum benefit if you are diagnosed with a covered disease or condition (the exact diseases and conditions will be specified in plan documentation). You can use this money however you like. You might pay expenses not covered by your medical plan, lost wages, childcare, travel, home healthcare costs, or any of your regular household expenses.
  • Hospital Indemnity coverage pays you cash benefits directly if you are admitted to the hospital or an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a covered stay. This can help pay for your medical expenses such as deductibles and copays, travel cost, food and lodging, or everyday expenses such as groceries and utilities.

While these coverages may overlap at points, they are definitely not all the same. Before your next benefits enrollment, consider whether you might want to enroll in any of these coverages for a little extra peace of mind.

Eye on Vision

Many of us got our first pair of glasses in childhood while our peers could see a chalkboard perfectly from the back of the room.

They didn’t have to worry about breaking their glasses in basketball games or poking themselves in the eyes learning to put in contacts, but the vast majority of them wound up with glasses in their mid-40s anyway. This is due to the onset of presbyopia, which is the gradual loss of the ability to focus visually on up-close objects. (Fun fact: the word “presbyopia” literally means “old-person eyes”!)

Roughly 80% of the American population develops presbyopia between ages 45 and 55 and requires some form of vision correction to restore their near vision. There are different treatment options depending on the individual and the severity of the presbyopia.

Reading glasses are the easiest option and often the first for people who had good vision up until this point in their lives. They can be found over-the-counter and offer mild correction at a single strength (the entire lens has the same enhancing power from top to bottom). Bifocals and trifocals are a little more complicated. Their lenses are divided into two or three sections, respectively, by sharp horizontal lines – each section has a different corrective strength, helping you see well both up close and at a distance. Progressive multifocal lenses also have a range of corrective powers, but do not have lines and offer a smoother transition between the power changes.

If you’re over 40 and having trouble seeing clearly up-close, talk with your eye doctor. It’s likely your vision or even medical coverage can help with the financial costs of an exam or glasses. You can also use Health Saving Account or Flexible Spending Account dollars toward a new set of lenses.


Presbyopia – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic
The prevalence and demographic associations of presenting near-vision impairment among adults living in the United States – PMC (

Release Valve: Lowering Blood Pressure

People joke about it in stressful situations, and it’s one of the first things your doctor checks with that big rubber arm cuff when you come into the office.

Blood pressure, simply described, is the pressure that your blood puts on the arteries that carry it through your body. When that pressure stays too high, it can have negative effects on your health such as organ damage, heart attack, strokes, and more.

High blood pressure can be caused by certain health conditions such as diabetes and obesity, as well as not getting a healthy amount of exercise or eating well. If you’re concerned about this aspect of your health, here are some small, daily steps that can help you lower your blood pressure.

  • Balance nutrients. Eating less sodium (under 1,500 mg daily) and eating more potassium (found in foods like sweet potatoes, bananas, and spinach) can help ease your blood pressure down. (If you’re already on blood pressure medications, first talk with your doctor about your potassium intake as certain medications affect potassium levels.) Consuming food with probiotics – such as yogurt – can also help.
  • Get moving. Daily aerobic activity, such as jogging, brisk walking, or swimming, is invaluable to a healthy heart. Shoot for 30 minutes a day (if you have health concerns around exercise, talk to your doctor first).
  • Watch substance use. Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and sometimes interfere with blood pressure medications. Smoking is also proven to increase blood pressure and increase risk of heart disease.

If you’re experiencing blood pressure issues, it’s crucial to talk to your primary care physician. Treatment might be a combination of the steps above and medication, but your doctor will help you make a plan to bring it down.


10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication – Mayo Clinic
Prevent High Blood Pressure |

A Listening Ear: Therapy for Kids

Whether it’s helping kids process traumatic experiences or simply giving kids a space to learn good coping skills, therapy can help children improve their internal, home, and social life and become healthy, well-adjusted adults.

The stress and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken their toll on everyone: a late 2022 study indicated roughly 40% of Americans experienced high psychological distress at least once during the pandemic. These effects are certainly not limited to adults. Kids are also social creatures, and the abrupt transition to remote learning on top of sudden, great uncertainty led to an overall decline in youth mental health internationally.

Kids can react to stress in many different ways, including being irritable or moody, experiencing sleep disturbances, crying frequently, or losing interest in things they usually enjoy. One of the best things you can do is listen to your child and take their concerns seriously. Even if you know that some of the things they worry about won’t matter in the long run, it’s important that your child knows you’re a safe and compassionate person to talk to.

Finding a therapist can be helpful for your child as well, whether it’s for short-term or long-term concerns (in addition to pandemic-related concerns, there is a range of therapies for kids affected by ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues). Coverage varies widely by medical plan, so check your plan details. You may be able to locate a provider through your carrier’s website, as well through the American Psychological Association. It’s also worth checking the details of your Employee Assistance Program – oftentimes it provides both you and your dependents access to a number of visits with a licensed professional and other mental health resources.


Effects of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health of children and adolescents: A systematic review of survey studies – PMC (
Therapy to Improve Children’s Mental Health | CDC