Category Archive

2024 June

COBRA Benefits

With COBRA, you can avoid a lapse in coverage for up to 18 months (coverage can be extended to 29 months if you are considered disabled by the Social Security Administration).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than half of Americans have healthcare coverage through their employer. Should you leave your employer, one option for continuing healthcare coverage is COBRA, which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.

While COBRA is a convenient continuation of your job-based coverage that would otherwise be terminated, it isn’t a permanent solution, and it comes with certain considerations around eligibility and costs.



Not everyone is eligible for COBRA. According to the Department of Labor, you are entitled to elect COBRA continuation coverage if the following apply:

  • You experience a qualifying event, such as:
    • Job loss (for anything other than gross misconduct)
    • Reduction in employment hours
    • Divorce or legal separation from a covered employee
    • Covered employee passes away
    • Covered employee becomes eligible for Medicare
    • You lose your status as a dependent child
  • Your health plan is covered by COBRA (organizations with fewer than 20 employees are not required to offer COBRA), and you were covered by the plan the day before the qualifying event.


The Cost of COBRA

Oftentimes when you have coverage through your employer, they share the monthly premium costs. However, a COBRA coverage premium will be more expensive than what it was under your group health plan because you pay both your portion of the premium and what the employer paid. For example, if you only paid 20% of the premium and your previous employer paid 80%, under COBRA you will be financially responsible for 100% of the premium.

It’s important to be aware of what you will be responsible for paying each month if you elect COBRA coverage because you risk losing your COBRA coverage immediately if you are late making a payment. If you have an HSA, you can use those funds to pay COBRA premiums.


Enrolling in COBRA

You have a 60-day window from when you are given notice whether you want to enroll in COBRA. Even if you initially waive your coverage, you can still enroll later if it’s still within the 60-day window (for example, on day 57), however, the coverage is retroactive, meaning you would have to backpay those first 57 days.


Alternatives to COBRA

  • Enroll in a spouse’s plan — If your spouse has health coverage offered through their job, you (and your dependents who were covered by your coverage) can enroll in their employer’s plan since your coverage loss is a qualifying life event.
  • Enroll in a parent’s plan — You can enroll in a parent’s employer’s coverage (due to your qualifying event) if you are under 26 years of age and lose your coverage.
  • Purchase a federal or state marketplace policy — After losing your coverage, you have 60 days to purchase new coverage through the federal government’s marketplace ( or your state’s marketplace (if your state offers one).
  • Purchase private insurance — If you want to explore more plan options than what the public marketplace offers, you can work with insurance companies, a local health plan agent or broker, or health insurance seller to find plans from multiple carriers.

Health coverage is necessary for most Americans, and it’s important to weigh all your options and find the solution that fits your and your dependents’ needs.



LGBTQIA+ Mental Health

Stressors put on the LGBTQIA+ community put these individuals at a higher risk for mental health issues. Prioritizing mental health care is crucial, and the good news is there are several resources available that specialize in LGBTQIA+ issues and experiences.

Anyone can experience mental health challenges — and that is especially true for members of marginalized groups such as the LGBTQIA+ community. Mental health struggles can manifest itself differently in each person, such as:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Anger
  • Paranoia
  • Disordered eating
  • Insomnia
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal feelings or ideation

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s experimental Household Pulse Survey (HPS), “Regardless of age, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adults have consistently reported higher rates of symptoms of both anxiety and depression than non-LGBT adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Minority Stress

Identifying as part of the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t cause mental health struggles, but rather they form around the experiences of discrimination, stigma, isolation, exclusion, and rejection.

Dr. Jennifer Vencill, a psychologist, told the Mayo Clinic that anxiety, depression, stressors and family relationships are often heightened for “the LGBTQ community because of their marginalized sexual and gender identities.” This is termed minority stress.

Mental Health America, the nation’s leading national nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health, cited a study1 that found “LGBTQ+ people used mental health services at 2.5 times higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts.”

June is Pride Month

The month of June is celebrated by the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies as Pride month. It’s a chance to celebrate and reaffirm individuals who are living authentically and support them and their mental health in a safe, joyful space.


Supporting Mental Health

  • Talk to a Trusted Source: Having someone listen can be extremely helpful. There are also several LGBTQIA+ helplines, including the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender National Hotline (888-843-4564).
  • Peer Support: Connecting with people with shared or similar experiences can be therapeutic. Seek out support groups that may be local to your community, online, available through your workplace, or elsewhere.
  • Self-care: Prioritize exercise, nutrition, sleep, and activities that bring you joy. Volunteering is also an excellent option.
  • Medical Support: A doctor can help you get a diagnosis and explore possible medications for treatment.
  • Start Therapy: Speaking to someone about traumatic experiences, difficult emotions, depression, anxiety, health issues, or relationship issues can help you develop coping skills. Some therapists specialize solely in LGBTQIA+ issues.


Mental Health Resources

If you’re looking for more LGBTQ+ mental health resources, the following are a great place to start:



1Platt, L. F., Wolf, J. K., & Scheitle, C. P. (2018). Patterns of mental health care utilization among sexual orientation minority groups. Journal of Homosexuality, 65(2), 135-153

Tick Talk

Blood-sucking ticks pose significant health risks this spring.

Ticks are tiny arachnids that latch onto hosts, including humans, pets, and wildlife, and carry a range of pathogens for several diseases. For example, in 2019, 50,865 cases of tickborne disease were reported to the CDC by state and local health departments. Ticks thrive in wooded, grassy, and humid environments. The most common tick-borne illnesses include Lyme Disease, Alpha-gal Syndrome, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Anaplasmosis.

More than 34,000 people tested positive for
alpha-gal IgE antibodies in the United States during 2010-2018.

Drawing of a tick

Know Your Tick

Lyme Disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted primarily by the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Early symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash resembling a bull’s-eye. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe complications affecting the joints, heart, and nervous system.

Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), also known as red meat allergy, is triggered by the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). This tick’s bite can induce an immune response to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate found in red meat. Symptoms include hives, gastrointestinal issues, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transmitted by the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), and can cause fever, headache, and a spotted rash. If not promptly treated with antibiotics, it can lead to serious complications affecting the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

Anaplasmosis is transmitted by the black-legged tick and the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. Severe cases may result in respiratory failure or organ failure.



  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed shoes.
  • Wear tick-repellent clothing and/or use permethrin.
  • Apply EPA-approved insect repellents.
  • Perform regular tick checks.
  • Maintain tick-safe landscaping.


Treatment for Tick-Borne Diseases

Learn how to remove ticks if you find one on your skin. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment. If you experience symptoms after a tick bite, consult with a healthcare professional promptly for proper diagnosis and treatment. Most tick-borne diseases can be treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early.

Boosting Hair Growth

Most of us are no stranger to having our bodies change and evolve, but hair loss seems more personal. Hair loss — whether in men or women — can have a profound impact on one’s confidence.


What Causes Hair Loss?

Hair loss has many causes, and determining the cause can influence the appropriate course of treatment.

  • Age: Hair growth slows as you get older, which causes hair on the scalp to start thinning, losing its color, and the hairline to recede.
  • Hereditary: According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, this is the most common cause of hair loss worldwide, impacting both men and women. Hereditary hair loss occurs when the genes you’ve inherited cause shrinking in your hair follicles until hair stops growing.
  • Scalp Disorders: Some conditions that could impact hair loss on the scalp include alopecia areata, scarring alopecia, scalp ringworm, and scalp psoriasis.
  • Cancer Treatment: Chemotherapy and radiation treatments often cause all or most of your hair to fall out within the first few weeks.
  • Thyroid Disorders: If you have a problem with your thyroid, you may lose your hair in clumps.
  • Hormones: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), changes in hormonal birth control, menopause, or if you’ve given birth recently can all have an impact on your hair health.
  • Diet and nutrition: If you aren’t getting enough biotin, iron, protein, or zinc, it can impact your hair health. Too much vitamin A can also cause hair loss.
  • Hair Care: The way you style and wear your hair can also impact your hair follicle health. If you wear your hair pulled back too tightly, or color, perm, or relax your hair regularly, it can damage the follicles, causing hair to not grow out of them.

But all is not lost. Depending on your situation and the recommendations from an expert (i.e. dermatologists specialize in treating skin, hair, and nails), there are different options to explore for hair regrowth.


Treatment Options

There is not a single, one-size-fits-all solution for encouraging hair growth. In some situations, hair may regrow on its own — for example, treating an underlying condition, after undergoing cancer treatment, or if you recently had a baby or lost weight. There are other treatment options you may consider if you want to prevent further loss or quicken the regrowth pace:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) Products: These often contain ingredients like biotin, zinc, collagen, azelaic acid, omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and tea tree oil.
  • Rogaine®: This is also an OTC topical option that is FDA-approved to treat hereditary hair loss.
  • Prescription Medications: Finasteride, Spironolactone, and other medications prescribed may boost hair growth. It’s important to discuss these with your healthcare provider because they each can have different side effects.
  • Microneedling: Microneedling, using a device with tiny needles, can stimulate hair growth on the scalp when used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Corticosteroids Injections: Corticosteroids can slow the speed of hair loss when injected into bald or thinning areas.
  • Hair Transplant Surgery: This is typically reserved for people who have tried less invasive hair loss treatments. The transplant takes small pieces of skin from a donor site (where hair grows healthily on the body) and is moved to the balding part of the scalp. Types of hair transplant surgery include grafting, scalp reduction, flap surgery, and tissue expansion.
  • Low-level Laser Therapy: Short periods of medical-grade light therapy on your scalp can stimulate hair follicles and result in hair regrowth after several sessions. Laser therapy has helped regrow the hair that was lost from hereditary causes, alopecia, and chemotherapy. It can also further stimulate hair growth after a transplant.
  • Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP): PRP speeds up your hair regrowth (and overall healing in the body) by separating platelets from blood plasma and then injecting the plasma back into the body during a blood draw.

Be cautious of advertisements, influencers, and promoters that try to sell a quick miracle fix for hair loss. It’s important to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about what you’re experiencing and the best approach for regrowth.


Embracing a New Style

While waiting for your hair to regrow, there are ways to both embrace or camouflage your hair’s current state:

  • Avoid harsh chemical treatments like hair dyes, perms, or relaxing.
  • Incorporate hats, scarves, or accessories to disguise areas you may feel uncomfortable with.
  • Get a shorter haircut that helps the regrowth blend better and reduce breakage.

Remember, it can take time before you see the results from your treatment. Be sure to take care of your mental and emotional health during the process, which can be overlooked when you experience hair loss.