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How to Choose a Medicare Plan During the Open Enrollment Period

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By: The My Medicare Matters Team Choosing a Medicare plan is an important, but difficult decision. This choice could determine your health for years to come and save (or cost) you hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. However, during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP)/Annual Election Period (AEP) October 15 through December 7, you can

The post How to Choose a Medicare Plan During the Open Enrollment Period appeared first on My Medicare Matters.


10 Must-Ask Questions When Comparing Medicare Advantage Plans

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By: Ann Kayrish, NCOA’s Senior Program Manager for Medicare This open enrollment people with Medicare will have more plans to sift through than in past years. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will now allow Medicare Advantage (MA/Part C) plans to offer an increased number and variety of plans in a service area. Medicare

The post 10 Must-Ask Questions When Comparing Medicare Advantage Plans appeared first on My Medicare Matters.

Avoiding the Part D Donut Hole

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By: Brandy Bauer, Associate Director of NCOA’s Center for Benefits Access. Reposted from NCOA.org. Did you or someone you work with fall into the Medicare Part D “donut hole” this year? The donut hole, or Part D coverage gap, occurs when a person reaches a certain spending limit for their medications ($3,820 in 2018), and must pay more of

The post Avoiding the Part D Donut Hole appeared first on My Medicare Matters.

What’s New for Medicare in 2019

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By: The My Medicare Matters Team Medicare changes every year, some of the changes like the expansion of the diabetes prevention program are narrow and impact a subset of Medicare beneficiaries, while other changes like the addition of the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period impact a larger group of Medicare beneficiaries. Regardless of how big

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6 Ways to Get Vision Coverage When You Retire

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By: The My Medicare Matters Team About 1.3 billion people in the world live with some form of vision impairment. The reasons vary but the fact is, your risk of developing vision problems drastically increases as you age. Over 91% of people age 55+ use some form of vision correction, so having access to quality vision care

The post 6 Ways to Get Vision Coverage When You Retire appeared first on My Medicare Matters.

A Second Chance to Switch Medicare Advantage Plans

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By: The My Medicare Matters Team A new opportunity to switch Medicare Advantage/Part C plans is happening right now. The annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) which runs from January 1 to March 31 offers anyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan an opportunity to either: Switch from one Part C plan to another, or Switch from a Part C

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5 Healthy Aging Tips Every Woman Should Know

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By: The My Medicare Matters Team Women are often the first line of defense when protecting their family’s health, but in doing so tend to put their concerns on the back burner. These quick tips can help keep you happy and healthy as you juggle your everyday responsibilities. 1. Get breast cancer screenings every 1

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A Guide to Medicare Part C Costs

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The My Medicare Matters Team Enrolling in a Medicare plan is a big decision. While you’re able to switch plans each year if you’re unhappy (in some situations more frequently) you still want to choose the best plan for your needs the first time. This means taking your out-of-pocket costs into consideration along with other

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Elderhood: a Case for Abolishing Nursing Homes in the United States | Princeton Journal of Bioethics

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The American nursing home is a total institution, with rigorous top-down control over the environment and personal property of residents. Medicare and Medicaid initiated the modern nursing home ind…

Home Living Aid - Home Living Aid

Healthy aging all year: Medicare covers 4 important vaccines for seniors

Check Your Mail: Changes to the 2018 Medicare Open Enrollment Period Mailings

In Memoriam: Pete Stark

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Congressman Fortney H. "Pete" Stark passed away on January 24, 2020. To read Congressman Stark’s official obituary or to share your memories of Pete and read memories shared by others, please visit: www.petestarkmemorial.com

We reflect on Congressman Stark’s passing with deep sadness – and also with great admiration for what he accomplished during his 40 years in Congress. Thanks to his tireless (and often bipartisan) efforts, our nation made significant strides towards a better healthcare system, especially for vulnerable groups – including children, women, seniors, and the very ill. Congressman Stark consistently championed the pillars of our nation’s social insurance system, Medicare and Social Security.

“I first met Congressman Stark when I was a young assistant economics professor. His staff asked me to testify in support of raising the minimum wage,” recalls Bill Rodgers, Chair of the Academy’s Board and Professor of Public Policy at Rutgers University. “As I reflect on that experience, one word describes the Congressman: ‘warrior’. Congressman Stark was one-of-a-kind. On that day, his passion for social justice and tireless fight for vulnerable Americans became part of the scaffolding that underpins my personal mission, which is to empower people and their communities with economic thought and analysis.”

Former Congressman and Academy Member Bill Gradison said:

“It may surprise some today that there was a time when Members of Congress like Pete and me (though of different political parties and representing very different constituencies) were able to work closely together to improve Federal healthcare programs. My association with Pete was one of the highlights of my Congressional career.”

The Academy is honored to help support Congressman Stark’s legacy with the new Congressman Pete Stark Health Policy Internship program, which will begin this summer of 2020.

Pete Stark was an inspiration to countless people across the country and to many Academy Members, including those serving on the inaugural Stark Internship Selection Committee:

  • Deborah Stark, Chair
  • Cybele Bjorklund
  • Debra Curtis
  • Lee Goldberg
  • William Vaughan

Please join us in keeping Deborah Roderick Stark and the Stark family in your thoughts, as they mourn the loss of a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Thank you.

Paid Family Leave and Designing Social Insurance Options

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In last evening’s State of the Union speech, President Trump highlighted paid family leave as one of his Administration’s priorities.

In June 2019, the National Academy of Social Insurance issued an in-depth report, Designing Universal Family Care, in partnership with Caring Across Generations. The report was developed over a year of deliberations by a Study Panel of 29 experts in care policy from a variety of perspectives. Academy members Marc Cohen, Co-Director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, and Heidi Hartmann, former President and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, served as Study Panel Co-Chairs.

The report examines state-based social insurance policy options to promote paid family and medical leave (PFML) in the context of a range of critical and interrelated family care issues, including early child care and education, and long-term services and supports. Read the report to learn more about PFML policy options, including tradeoffs associated with specific policy choices within the context of assuring universal access, affordability, and financial stability through well-defined financing mechanisms.

 

What to know about PFML:

  • PFML is a wage replacement benefit, which seeks to replace enough wages to make leave-taking affordable.
  • The United States is the only industrialized country without a national program offering workers some form of PFML.
  • Only 17 percent of civilian workers in the U.S. have PFML coverage through an employer-provided benefit.
  • Most U.S. workers—when they need time away from work to care for a loved one and/ or cope with a health problem of their own—lack access to paid leave.
  • If they take leave to recover from an illness or care for a loved one, they risk significant wage or even job loss.
  • To date, ten jurisdictions have adopted some form of PFML policy - CA, CT, DC, HI, MA, NJ, NY, PR, RI, WA.
  • Even where provided, PFML benefits are highly inequitably distributed, as workers who earn more, work for large employers, or hold white-collar jobs are much more likely to have access to such benefits.
  • Access to PFML increases maternal workforce attachment after giving birth, reduces poverty for households with children, and may also be associated with increased earnings for mothers.
  • Access to PFML for new fathers has been demonstrated to increase women’s employment and future earnings.

The National Academy of Social Insurance, in collaboration with Caring Across Generations, will be conducting a series of forums throughout the nation in 2020. The report’s findings will be discussed with a broad array of stakeholders, including state policymakers, grassroots community organizations, and caregivers.

If you’re interested in PFML, please join us on the road in 2020!

For more information, contact Bill Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance, at warnone@nasi.org.


The importance of values-driven social insurance

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The month of February typically connotes a “V”- phrase: Valentine’s Day. For me, another word comes to mind: values.

What are the underlying values that make social insurance resonate with most Americans? Is there a normative framework through which social insurance might be viewed?

Media coverage seldom focuses on the core principles that drive discussions of programs and proposals. Yet, such principles are critical to truly understanding the rationale for, and philosophy of, programs like Social Security, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation, and Unemployment Insurance. They are also fundamental to policy debates about these programs’ futures.

Two of our Academy’s Founding Board Members, Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, have made values central to their Social Security advocacy. Both view the essential human values that underpin Social Security as: “the responsibility to care for others; the value of hard work and fair rewards; dignity; the common good; and a fundamental understanding that we are all connected.” In other words, our sustained societal investment in Social Security is one of the most valuable and effective we make.

In her book, The Truth About Social Security (2018), Nancy wrote: “The truth is that Social Security, expanded as the founders intended, is fully affordable. The issue is one of values. Moreover, the values at stake are those that unite us. It is these underlying values embedded in Social Security’s very structure that make it so popular...One value is reward for hard work…(other values are) fairnessfamilyindividual responsibilityshared riskprudence.”  She added: “The quintessential American values Social Security embodies and the vital protection it provides are what make Social Security so popular” (pp. 313-14).

Ted Marmor, another Founding Board Member, observed: “The partial measures in the Affordable Care Act appealed to the values underlying social insurance, but almost no connection was made between these measures and a principled vision of social insurance” (“Social Insurance and American Health Care: Principles and Paradoxes,” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, December 2018).

 

History of Social Insurance

Long before Eric, Nancy, and Ted embarked on careers championing these values and vision, three of the leading social insurance scholars of the 20th century articulated their perspectives.

One was Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong who, in her book Insuring the Essentials (1931), identified the core social insurance value as independence.

The second was Isaac Max Rubinow. In his book, The Quest for Security (1934), he identified the core value of social insurance as security.

In The Role of Social Insurance in the United States (1960), J. Douglas Brown emphasized the core values of self-reliance and dignity.

And of course, our Academy’s Founding Chair, Robert M. Ball, highlighted security and freedom as core values. In a 1961 speech to a National Conference on the Churches & Social Welfare, Bob Ball stated:

“Social insurance is based on the concept that security for the individual should, to the extent possible, grow out of his own work; under social insurance the worker earns his future security as he earns his living…Social insurance as a way of providing economic security is an important social invention, largely eliminating the old fear that meeting need will injure incentives to work and save.

The principle of nondiscretionary payments made as a matter of enforceable legal right and based on the demonstration of productive work is the very essence of social insurance. It is this principle of ‘earned rights’ which guarantees the freedom of the individual to manage his own income and prevents the conditioning of payment on any concept of acceptable behavior. In other approaches to the provision of economic security people have often had to choose security at the price of freedom, gaining their bread by accepting restrictions imposed on them by others. The method of social insurance provides the freedom that comes from an assured income that is accepted as an earned right.”

Will values emerge as a focus of the 2020 election?

Increasingly, political analysts are pointing to a 2020 campaign in which values may play a central role. American politics has typically been characterized by a clash between two fundamental values: individualism vs. egalitarianism.

In the recent past, the political emphasis has been on family values. One implicit principle of social insurance is that we are all part of a community – the human family – and need mutual support when facing adverse life events. Indeed, toward the end of his life, Bob Ball often referred to social insurance as “family protection.”

In the New York Times, David Brooks recently wrote: “If you base your political and social systems on the idea that the autonomous self-interested individual is the basic unit of society, then you will wind up with an individualistic culture that widens the maneuvering room between people but shreds the relationships and community between people.” He cited cooperation and “cooperative weaver” values as critical (“The Future of American Politics,” January 30, 2020). In a subsequent column, he wrote: “This is the year to run a values campaign, one that champions policies to make Americans more socially mobile, caring and interdependent” (February 7, 2020).

In some countries, a common value in political campaigns and related movements is solidarity. The Catholic Church, for example, recently held a forum on “New Forms of Solidarity Toward Fraternal Inclusion, Integration, and Innovation,” featuring a message from Pope Francis that focused on the common good. The notion that we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers with mutual responsibilities and collective obligations is seldom mentioned in the United States outside of religious circles.                 

Returning to Valentine’s Day, let’s not overlook its quintessential value – love. Love for each other as human beings – deserving dignity, respect, and the opportunity to reach our full potential – may well be the ultimate value underlying social insurance. In other words, all of us for each of us. And that is no doubt why so many Americans profess their love for programs like Social Security.

Recognizing African-American Leaders

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In honor of Black History Month, the National Academy of Social Insurance wishes to recognize African American public servants who have led the nation’s major federal social insurance programs, Social Security and Medicare, as well as the Department of Labor, which plays a role in state-based social insurance programs, Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance.

(In alphabetical order)

Carolyn W. Colvin served as Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), appointed on February 14, 2013. On June 20, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated her to serve as the commissioner. On September 18, 2014, the United States Senate Committee on Finance approved her nomination by a 22–2 vote. However, her nomination was never brought up for a vote before the full Senate. Colvin stepped down as Acting Commissioner in January 2017. Previously, she served as Deputy Commissioner of SSA, having been nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate in 2010. Colvin began her public service career in Maryland in the office of U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes in 1982. Her distinguished public service career includes positions for the City of Baltimore and the state of Maryland, as well as other positions at SSA. A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2011, Ms. Colvin received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business Administration from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Alexis M. Herman served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1997 to 2005. She brought more than two decades of leadership to the position of and spent her entire career on the front line of the changing workforce – as a businesswoman, a government executive, and a community leader – developing, promoting, and implementing policies to benefit workers and to increase opportunities and skills for the hard-to-employ. Before joining President Clinton’s Cabinet, Herman served in the administration as assistant to the President and director of the White House Public Liaison Office. She served as the 23rd Secretary of Labor and the first African American to head the department. Herman led the Department of Labor to focus its work on three goals: a prepared workforce, a secure workforce and a quality workforce. Secretary Herman received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Xavier University in New Orleans.

 

Gwendolyn King was appointed Commissioner of the Social Security Administration from 1989 to 1992, by President George H. W. Bush. After stepping down, she took on a senior vice president position at Philadelphia Electric Company. Prior to her appointment at SSA, King held illustrious positions including, executive vice president at Gogol & Associates, Inc., tenure in the White House as Deputy Assistant to President Reagan, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Director of then Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh's D.C. office, Senior Legislative Assistant to Senator John Heinz, and director of the Division of Consumer Complaints for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. King earned her bachelor’s degree in French and education from Howard University.

 

William Toby, Jr., served as Acting Administrator of the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), for 18 months from 1992-1993. He is a 31-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and has been a private healthcare consultant since retiring in 1996 from his position as Regional Administrator of HCFA. Toby has served on many public service boards, received a number of prestigious awards, and holds a Master’s Degree in health administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a Master’s in social work from Adelphi University, a Bachelor’s in Spanish and psychology from West Virginia State University, an honorable doctorate in podiatric medicine, and holds advanced certificates in Spanish from the Universities of Leon and Toledo in Spain.

In 1991, at the recommendation of then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, President George H. W. Bush appointed Toby a U.S. Delegate to the first and historic African & African-American Summit, which was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The Summit brought together the heads of four African nations with distinguished African American leaders to discuss the African Diaspora and how the American leaders could assist their ancestral homeland. In 2012, New York Governor Cuomo appointed Toby to the prestigious Medicaid Redesign Workgroup for a study of safety net hospitals in Brooklyn, NY. Later, in 2015, Governor Cuomo appointed Toby Co-Chair of the State’s Medicaid Delivery System Reform Incentive Program (DSRIP) designed to use $9 billion to transform the State’s health care delivery system move away from the acute care system. In 2015, following an earlier commendation by the Puerto Rico Legislature, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and the Puerto Rico Medicare Coalition presented Toby with a prestigious Life Achievement Award for his forty-five years of assistance to the Puerto Rico health sector.

Examining Approaches to Expand Medicare Eligibility: Key Design Options and Implications

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Elizabeth Docteur, Renée M. Landers, Bethany Cole, Marilyn Moon, and Cori Uccello
March 2020

Improving access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care and containing health care spending remain formidable policy challenges for the United States. Some policymakers and analysts view Medicare as a useful platform for expanding coverage because it has broad popularity, serves as a cost-effective source of health insurance coverage, and has potentially positive side effects across other parts of the health care system. Proposals to expand Medicare eligibility present, however, an extensive set of technical and program design considerations.

To address the lack of specificity in many proposals, the National Academy of Social Insurance formed the Study Panel on Medicare Eligibility to examine the options for and implications of extending eligibility for Medicare beyond the current covered populations. Composed of 27 members, the Study Panel brought together expertise and experience from a broad range of perspectives, such as economics, health policy, political science, sociology, medicine, and law, as well as people with direct experience working in areas related to public and private health insurance, including actuaries, health plan administrators, health care providers, labor representatives, and government regulators.

The report examines three approaches to changing Medicare eligibility: lowering the eligibility age, establishing Medicare-for-all, and creating a Medicare buy-in. Variants of these approaches could be designed to address key policy objectives, including expanding coverage, improving the affordability of access and care, and containing health care costs. The report aims to help policymakers and the public understand potential impacts as expansion options continue to be considered and debated.

 

Download the full report

Download a primer on Medicare

Download the Executive Summary

Read the press release

Infographics coming soon!

 

The Academy gratefully acknowledges the work of the individuals who served on the Study Panel—especially its Co-Chairs Marilyn Moon and Cori Uccello—and the researchers who assisted with its writing. The Academy also thanks the Commonwealth Fund, Arnold Ventures, the Buffin Foundation, the AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the University of Maryland for their support of the Study Panel’s work.

Executive Summary from the Final Report of the Academy’s Study Panel on Medicare Eligibility

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March 2020

View the full report, Examining Approaches to Expand Medicare Eligibility: Key Design Options and Implications.

Executive Summary

The current system of insurance coverage in the United States has led to persistent gaps
in access to affordable coverage and care—leaving 1 in 10 without coverage and nearly
a third of adults under the age of 65 with inadequate coverage that puts them at risk
of health and financial insecurity. Additionally, U.S. per capita health care spending was
$9,892 in 2016, 145 percent higher than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) median of $4,033. U.S. spending on health care grew at a faster rate than the OECD median between 2000 and 2016 (Anderson, Hussey, and Petrosyan 2019). The rising cost of health care puts pressure on individuals and families, employers, and federal and state governments.


Improving access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care and constraining
health care spending remain formidable policy challenges for the United States. In
response, candidates, state and federal officeholders, academics, and a variety of
stakeholders are presenting a wide range of proposals, including proposals to change
Medicare eligibility. The Study Panel examined three approaches to changing Medicare
eligibility and assessed how variants of these approaches could be designed to address
key policy objectives, including expanding coverage, improving the affordability of access
and care, and containing health care costs. The three approaches considered were:

  • lowering the eligibility age by just a few years to age 62 or to as low as age 50
  • extending Medicare coverage to all
  • creating a Medicare buy-in under which some or all of the population or employers would be eligible to purchase Medicare or Medicare-like coverage

Proposals to adapt Medicare to extend coverage to new beneficiary populations present
a significant set of technical and program design considerations. This report attempts
to identify the options for changing Medicare eligibility, or creating a Medicare-like
program, and to provide an assessment of the issues that would need to be addressed.
Such considerations include:

  • eligibility criteria
  • benefit structure, including covered services and cost sharing
  • premium structure and whether subsidies are available for newly eligible populations
  • provider payment rates and any regulations concerning provider participation
  • the roles of Medicare Advantage and private supplemental coverage
  • financing mechanisms
  • the rules regulating interactions with other public and private insurance
  • rules governing the transition to a new or modified program

Medicare as a Platform for Reform


Although myriad possible paths might address the underlying challenges in today’s
health system, this report focuses on assessing only approaches that use Medicare as the
basis for expanding health insurance coverage. Some policymakers and analysts view
Medicare as a useful platform for reform because it serves as a cost-effective source of
health insurance coverage, because it is a program with broad popularity, and because
expanding Medicare might have beneficial effects in other coverage markets and across
the health care system.


Key Design Challenges and Policy Impacts


All of the discussed approaches involve underlying key design decisions that determine
the impact that proposals would have on the affordability of coverage, access to care,
and overall health care system costs.


Lowering the Age of Medicare Eligibility


In the years before reaching Medicare’s current eligibility age of 65, individuals face
risks that may leave them without access to employer-sponsored health insurance,
such as job loss or early retirement for health or family reasons. Although Affordable
Care Act of 2010 (ACA) provisions ensure the availability of comprehensive coverage
in the individual market, older adults who lack employer-sponsored insurance may
face relatively costly premiums in the individual market, especially if they do not
qualify for premium tax credits. Relative to other Medicare expansion proposals,
lowering the age of Medicare eligibility, discussed in Chapter 2, could serve as
an administratively simple way to secure more affordable, stable health coverage
for early retirees and workers approaching retirement compared to some other
approaches. It would be a uniform change to Medicare rather than an optional offer
of Medicare coverage (a possibility discussed in Chapter 4).


Extending Medicare to individuals under 65 could build on the current Medicare
infrastructure, retaining today’s covered benefits, provider payment structure,
premium and cost-sharing structure, subsidies for low-income persons, and
secondary payer provisions for persons with employer-sponsored coverage.
Although defaulting to the current Medicare program structure is the most
straightforward and administratively simple approach, extending the program to
a younger population creates specific design challenges that policymakers would
need to address, such as changing the enrollment processes. These challenges
increase the further the age is lowered. While lowering the eligibility age to 62
would have a relatively small incremental impact, reducing the age to 50 would almost double the number of Americans eligible for Medicare coverage. According to
approximations presented in the report:

  • Lowering the age of eligibility to 62 could extend Medicare eligibility to about 10.1 million additional individuals, of whom 3.3 million could transition to primary coverage under Medicare, including approximately 670,000 previously uninsured individuals.
  • Lowering the age of eligibility to 55 could expand Medicare eligibility to about 37.4 million additional individuals, of whom 11.4 million could transition to primary coverage under Medicare, including 2.8 million previously uninsured individuals.
  • Lowering the age of eligibility to 50 could extend Medicare eligibility to about 57.3 million additional individuals, of whom 17.3 could transition to primary coverage under Medicare, including 4.6 million previously uninsured individuals

An age-based expansion of Medicare eligibility would decrease the share of the
population that is uninsured and underinsured, although the magnitude could be
small if only incremental changes are made. While the uninsured share is currently
much lower among adults ages 50–64 than the rest of the adult population, they tend
to be sicker than their younger counterparts, so the consequences of being uninsured
(or underinsured) can be more severe. Lowering the age of Medicare eligibility could
provide significant cost relief to a cohort of older Americans, particularly middleincome
persons who devote a relatively high share of their income to coverage,
especially to individuals who purchase policies on the individual market and are
ineligible for subsidies.


Lowering the age of Medicare eligibility could reduce premiums for the existing
Medicare population, but the effect on younger adults in the ACA individual market
is not clear. For newly eligible beneficiaries, lowering the age is likely to improve their
access and choice of providers and plans, but it could reduce revenues for hospitals
and physicians. Employers and states could see savings under this cost shift because
the costs of coverage for an expanded beneficiary population would be shifted from
private insurance and Medicaid to the Medicare program. Such a shift would reduce
long-term solvency of the Medicare trust funds and increase pressures on the federal
budget unless provisions to raise additional revenues accompanied the extension
of the program. Lowering the age of Medicare eligibility without introducing other
changes to the Medicare program is relatively straightforward administratively as
compared to other eligibility changes considered in this report.

 

Approaches to Medicare for All


Medicare-for-all proposals, as discussed in Chapter 3, aim to use the current Medicare
program to achieve universal coverage and to fulfill the related goals of increasing the
affordability of insurance and care and reducing inequities in access. In one approach to
a Medicare-for-all system, virtually all Americans would be covered through a program
that resembles traditional Medicare in that the government could pay providers for
covered services and private insurance would be limited to a supplementary role.
Under an alternate approach, a Medicare-for-all system could retain a role for Medicare
Advantage plans and enrollees would have a choice between a public plan and private
plans in a system of regulated competition.


Either of these approaches to Medicare-for-all could extend many features of today’s
Medicare, but any proposal would deviate from current Medicare at least in terms of
eligibility and enrollment and financing mechanisms. Other aspects could change as
well, including covered benefits, cost-sharing requirements, and provider payment
mechanisms. The specific program features carry important implications for health care
providers and workers, employers, and insured individuals. Four design decisions are key
to any such proposal: the role of private insurance plans, comprehensiveness of benefits,
effectiveness of cost control mechanisms, and selected financing mechanisms.
Expansion of the Medicare beneficiary population to include all or most U.S. residents
would do the following:

  • The share of the population that is uninsured or underinsured would be significantly reduced, increasing access to care. This change increases the demand for services, however, which could result in delayed access to care if capacity is not adequate to meet the demand.
  • Federal spending would increase, however, the impact on total health spending is not known. Financing would be redistributed across payers and individuals in their capacities as program beneficiaries, health plan enrollees, patients, employers, and taxpayers—relieving pressure in some ways and increasing it in others.
  • Provider revenue would be lower, on average, but may be offset by reduced provider administrative costs and less uncompensated care.

A Medicare-for-all program would increase federal spending significantly. Changes in
financing mechanisms might attempt to capture some current spending by states and
employers as part of needed federal revenues. The effects of Medicare-for-all on total
national health expenditures are less clear; national spending could be less than or greater
than under the current system. Factors affecting total expenditures include the degree
of (a) increased utilization by the formerly uninsured and underinsured; (b) increases in benefit coverage or reductions in cost-sharing requirements; and (c) savings achieved
to the extent that there would be a broader application of Medicare payment rates,
administrative simplification, and reductions in drug costs. While analysts have reached
different conclusions on the extent of costs or savings under Medicare-for-all, savings
could be less and the administration more complex under a system that includes MA plans.


Transitioning from the current fragmented health insurance structure to a system in which
Medicare covers almost the entire population would entail major changes to the current
health care system, including significantly altering the role of the private health insurance
industry, altering how health insurance is funded, and changing health care provider
revenue. A gradual phase-in period accompanied by careful monitoring of impacts on
service access and quality could facilitate the transition to the new system and minimize
disruption by allowing providers and other stakeholders time to adapt to dramatically
altered circumstances.

 


Establishing a Medicare Buy-In Program


A Medicare buy-in program, as discussed in Chapter 4, could be designed to allow
individuals and/or groups not otherwise entitled to Medicare to enroll by paying a
premium for coverage that builds on Medicare benefits, provider networks, and/or
payment rates. Policymakers have typically proposed an individual Medicare buy-in
to expand access to affordable coverage for older adults not yet eligible for Medicare
who face relatively high premiums in the ACA individual market. A Medicare
buy-in program could also be designed to cover a much broader segment of the
population; for example, it could allow employers to buy into Medicare on their
employees’ behalf, in the interest of making comprehensive employer-sponsored
insurance coverage more affordable for individuals and employers.


A buy-in program is not synonymous with a “public” option. A Medicare buy-in and
a public option would each create an optional, publicly facilitated or administered
health insurance plan. As analyzed in this chapter, a Medicare buy-in would use a
benefit and premium design built on the Medicare program, use provider payment
rates based on Medicare rates, and create a risk pool separate from the current
Medicare beneficiary pool and the ACA individual market. A public plan option
would compete directly in the ACA individual market, following ACA requirements
and regulations, and enrollees would be included in the single ACA individual
market risk pool. Creating a Medicare buy-in program would provide an additional
and optional coverage source for individuals deemed eligible and workers with
employers that choose to participate. How much a buy-in approach would meet
policy goals such as coverage expansion, cost containment, and affordability
depends on key design choices, notably:

  • which populations are eligible and the extent to which those populations are inadequately served by their current coverage options
  • premium levels and whether premiums are self-supporting
  • how any cost-sharing and premium assistance programs are structured

A Medicare buy-in program differs from directly lowering the eligibility age because
participation in the buy-in would be optional. Individuals and employers would make
their decisions about whether to opt for the buy-in based on its benefit package,
provider access, costs (including premiums and any premium and cost-sharing
assistance), how those features compare to other coverage options, and an individual’s
expected health care needs. With the addition of a significant amount of plan choice,
however, comes an additional burden of administrative complexity, especially with the
interaction of the buy-in and the ACA individual market. The optional nature of the buyin
program also limits the potential impact of the buy-in on specific policy goals, such as
expanding coverage. Important policy impacts include the following:

  • For individuals in the ACA individual market with incomes above subsidy eligibility limits, a Medicare buy-in could provide more affordable coverage due to lower premiums from the use of Medicare’s provider payment rates.
  • The impact on overall coverage rates would depend on the breadth of eligibility and the affordability of coverage. A buy-in for individuals could have a limited impact on increasing the number of insured individuals because many buy-in enrollees would likely shift from other, more expensive coverage sources to the buy-in rather than becoming newly insured. Affordability and access to care for participating individuals, however, would likely be improved.
  • In a buy-in limited to older adults (50–64), the shifting of older persons from the ACA individual market could increase premiums for the remaining younger adults in the ACA market.
  • An employer buy-in would reduce the share of the uninsured population if firms not currently offering coverage participate in the buy-in, if employers expand coverage to currently ineligible workers, and/or if the employer buy-in causes workers who have forgone employer-sponsored coverage to participate.

While a Medicare buy-in program would build on the popularity of the current
Medicare program without substantially restructuring or replacing all other forms of
coverage, it would also add a layer of complexity to the current, already fragmented,
health insurance system and would complicate consumer decisions. A Medicare
buy-in would significantly increase the administrative challenges for the Medicare
program because buy-in enrollees would have a higher level of turnover due to events such as job changes. It would raise important challenges for coordination
with other options such as the ACA market plans. A Medicare buy-in available to
employers as well as individuals would add even more administrative complexity
and require an enhanced administrative infrastructure to handle enrollment and
disenrollment, collect payments, and manage eligibility for the individual and
employer buy-in population.

 


Summary of Findings


These three approaches address the goals of increasing coverage, improving
affordability and access to care, and controlling system-wide health care costs,
but each one presents different orders of magnitude. A Medicare-for-all program,
the most ambitious, aims for near-universal coverage and would likely have the
greatest impact on access and affordability for the entire population. Although
Medicare-for-all could have the greatest impact of the three options on systemwide
cost containment, the impact depends on the level of provider payment rates,
prescription drug pricing, and level of administrative savings. It would also require
the greatest amount of additional federal revenue and resources while potentially
lowering net costs for some individuals or other payers.


Lowering the age of Medicare eligibility and offering a Medicare buy-in program
would target specific portions of the population, and the impacts on policy goals
are by design more limited. The impact of lowering the age of Medicare eligibility
would be similar in direction to Medicare-for-all, but it would have a much smaller
scope, even if the eligibility age were lowered to 50. The Study Panel’s analysis finds
that the impact of a Medicare buy-in is most difficult to determine. It would be
highly dependent on underlying design decisions and the complicated relationships
that would be created with existing coverage options. The buy-in approach may
have a limited impact on increasing overall coverage rates and controlling systemwide
health care costs, but it would improve affordability and access to care for
participating individuals. Although often suggested as a simple add-on to improve
the ACA, in practice a Medicare buy-in would greatly increase the complexity of the
current health care system.


Closing Comments


Improving access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care and
constraining health care spending remain formidable policy challenges for the
United States. When there is widespread public perception that coverage and access
problems are significant enough to require action, a window for reform opens.

Evidence that the nation has reached such a point includes polls indicating that health
care is a top issue for voters heading into the 2020 presidential election, as it was in
the 2018 midterm elections. Significant problems in the health care system do not
necessarily point to particular paths for reform, but they do create demand for change.

Because it would make use of an existing and popular coverage platform, extending
Medicare to a broader population may seem to be a straightforward way to address
the challenges of affordability, coverage, and cost containment. Although positive
impacts on coverage and access to care would result from extending Medicare to more
Americans, such a change also involves substantial challenges in program design and
implementation. Policymakers need to acknowledge that Medicare is a complicated
program, one that some believe is also in need of reform; that the health care sector
is a large, profitable share of the U.S. economy; and that any significant change
in Medicare eligibility is likely to help individuals who qualify for coverage while
potentially disadvantaging other stakeholders.

COVID-19 and Social Insurance

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Covid-19, officially a pandemic as of March 11 (WHO), has generated proposals to deal with the health and income security needs of all Americans. This article serves as a summary of some of the latest proposals (as of March 15) and issues to address.

Many proposals center on core social insurance programs – Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Medicare, and Workers’ Comp – as well as new policies for paid leave, which have significant power to protect against the economic and health risks facing Americans now. The prospect of a severe economic downturn has focused policymakers on the recession-ready features and automatic stabilizers of social insurance programs, as well as their capacity to counter inequality. Some proposals would modify core social insurance programs, while others would introduce new programs. Grounded in social insurance principles, these immediate supports would help to better protect full-time and part-time workers, retirees, and others.

In a welcome spirit of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives passed legislation, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” on March 13, 2020. This legislation, which is now being considered by the Senate, addresses some of the risks that this pandemic has accentuated. References to specific provisions of this legislation are included below.

 

Social Security

Many Social Security recipients rely nearly exclusively on their monthly benefits for income, with little ability to deal with financial emergencies resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, a temporary boost in benefits may be prudent to meet a potential need for more cash. The International Social Security Association, which comprises over 320 institutions in more than 150 countries, has called on Social Security systems across the world to “take the necessary measures as early as possible to cope with an increased demand for benefits and services.”

Academy Member Charles Hall notes that the above-referenced House legislation gives the Social Security Administration (SSA) “major new responsibility for Covid-19 emergency paid leave payments” (see below for more on paid leave). This legislation also includes the following language: “Social Security’s Trust Funds and regular administrative budget will be kept separate from this new program and cannot be used to administer or fund it.”   

The Trump Administration is also proposing a new “payroll tax holiday” to address the economic implications of Covid-19. A two-percentage point temporary reduction in Social Security contributions was part of the federal stimulus package enacted in 2010 in response to the Great Recession. However, Academy Member Max Richtman, CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, cautions against enacting similar proposals now as a form of economic stimulus, asking – “how many would willingly trade their future financial security for a few dollars in payroll tax cuts?

 

Paid Leave, Caregiving, Universal Family Care

As the final report of the Academy’s Study Panel on Universal Family Care noted, the United States is one of the few developed countries without a national paid family leave policy. No federal laws require employers to provide paid sick leave or paid time off to care for family members. Only a few states currently have such mandates. Moreover, lack of flexible leave options means that many Americans, who would prefer to stay home during the worst of the crisis to avoid contracting the virus, or who may have it but do not yet show symptoms, will exacerbate the spread unnecessarily.

The above-referenced House legislation includes $15 million for the Internal Revenue Service to implement tax credits for paid sick and paid family and medical leave. It provides a refundable tax credit equal to 100 percent of qualified paid sick leave wages paid by an employer for each calendar quarter. It also provides employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers, who have been on the job for at least 30 days, with the right take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to be used for any of the following reasons:

• To adhere to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus

 • To care for an at-risk family member who is adhering to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus, and

 • To care for a child of an employee if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child-care provider is unavailable, due to a coronavirus.

After two weeks of paid leave, employees will receive a benefit from their employers that will be no less than two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay.

This legislation also incorporates “The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act,” which requires employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide employees two weeks of paid sick leave, paid at the employee’s regular rate, to quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus; or paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate to care for a family member for such purposes or to care for a child whose school has closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to the coronavirus. Full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) and part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours that they work in a typical two-week period.

Academy Member Aparna Mathur explored paid medical time off in more depth in a recent American Enterprise Institute blog post. Similarly, Academy Senior Fellow Sarah Jane Glynn has co-authored an article calling for a national paid leave policy.

Another dimension of this crisis relates to long-term services and supports (LTSS), which has been highlighted by the early fatalities involving nursing home patients in the state of Washington. To the extent that Covid-19 leads to long-term debilitation among substantial numbers of older Americans, the shortcomings in current financing options for LTSS will be exacerbated. As the above-referenced Academy Study Panel, which included a Working Group of 16 LTSS experts, noted in its final report: “(t)he fundamental LTSS financing problem today is the absence of an effective insurance mechanism to protect people against these costs.”

 

Medicare

As noted in the Academy’s recently-released final report of its Study Panel on Medicare Eligibility, 27.5 million Americans were uninsured at some point during 2018. While non-Hispanic white Americans had an uninsurance rate of 5.4 percent, black Americans were nearly twice as likely to be uninsured (9.7 percent) and Hispanics were over three times as likely to face those risks (17.8 percent). Lower-income households also had much higher uninsurance rates, and approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants were uninsured in 2017. These uninsured individuals have no current coverage for tests, vaccines, or treatment, making it difficult for them to protect themselves and others. Even those with health insurance may face high deductibles or copays.

The recent House legislation requires Medicare Part B to cover beneficiary cost-sharing for provider visits during which a COVID-19 diagnostic test is administered or ordered. It also requires Medicare Advantage to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the associated cost of the visit in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the beneficiary. Similar provisions apply to Medicaid.

This bill also includes $1 billion for the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse the costs of COVID19 diagnostic testing and services provided to individuals without health insurance. It requires private health plans to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of a provider, urgent care center and emergency room visits to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the consumer.

 

Unemployment Insurance

In past economic crises, like the last major recession, Unemployment Insurance (UI) has been expanded to meet rising need.

The above-referenced House legislation provides $1 billion for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying UI benefits, under certain conditions. $500 million would be used to provide immediate additional funding to all states for staffing, technology, systems, and other administrative costs, so long as they met basic requirements about ensuring access to earned benefits for eligible workers. $500 million would be reserved for emergency grants to states which experienced at least a 10 percent increase in unemployment. Those states would be eligible to receive an additional grant to assist with costs related to the unemployment spike, and would also be required to take steps to temporarily ease eligibility requirements that are limiting access to UI during the Covid-19 outbreak, like work search requirements, required waiting periods, and requirements to increase employer UI taxes if they have high layoff rates. The Secretary of Labor will also provide technical assistance to states that want to set up work-sharing programs, in which employers reduce hours instead of laying employees off, and then employees receive partial unemployment benefits to offset the wage loss.

Some states, like Rhode Island, have already taken measures to increase access to benefits, such as waiving waiting periods to apply for UI.

Depending on the severity of the potential downturn, more measures may be needed. Some have proposed an expanded and more flexible UI program to cover individuals who are laid off or whose workplaces close. Proposals include increasing the amount paid and/or the duration of benefits based on various triggers, with the federal government subsidizing state payments toward UI. Others have also proposed that the current UI requirement that people look for work be waived during this crisis. Suggestions include having triggers be based on an increase in the average of UI claims above a certain threshold, on industry triggers (workers in leisure industries such as airlines and hotels would qualify), or on geographical triggers based on a serious regional outbreak. Under these proposals, UI coverage wouldn't go into effect until certain thresholds are met.

Others have recommended extending UI benefits paid entirely by the federal government if the crisis continues for a long period of time. They worry that households will reduce their spending in response to increased fear of job loss. They assert that federally financed extended benefits will be more likely to meet individual needs than will state financing given states’ budgetary constraints. Indeed, a key strength of social insurance is its capacity to counter these potential negative macroeconomic effects of a pandemic.

For example, Academy Member Stephen Wandner has stated: “Strengthening the UI program can help provide income to covered unemployed workers, but it will not help workers without sick leave who are still employed, and it won’t help workers who are not covered by UI. As a result, a two-pronged policy effort should be undertaken to provide income support, each program being enacted for 18 months.” He has proposed a Covid-19 “UI Policy” and a Covid-19 “Special Unemployment Assistance” program. For a copy of his proposal, please email him at stephen.wandner@gmail.com.

 

Workers’ Compensation

A workplace outbreak of Covid-19 might lead to a significant increase in Workers’ Compensation (WC) claims. In addition to unique risks that healthcare workers face, they often do not have the option of teleworking. Along with workers in other services areas and in retail, they may have a higher risk of exposure to the virus.

While WC provides coverage for injuries arising out of and in the course of employment, there are separate rules that deal with work-borne diseases with variations from state-to-state. For example, Virginia’s WC Act covers “occupational diseases,” which are defined as diseases that arise out of and in the course of employment, but generally does not include “ordinary diseases of life” to which the general public is exposed outside of employment, unless a claimant meets certain heightened proof requirements. According to one legal interpretation, “a claimant alleging work-related coronavirus would need to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the disease arose out of and in the course of the employment and did not result from causes outside of the employment.”

Some states are expanding coverage during this emergency. For example, the state of Washington “is taking steps to ensure Workers’ Compensation protections for health care workers and first responders who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.”

Academy Member John Ruser, President & CEO of the Workers Compensation Research Institute, noted that many are wondering “what the impact would be on state Workers’ Compensation systems if there were a downturn, particularly from an external factor such as the coronavirus.” Among the questions he has raised are:

  • What impact do business cycles have on claims (in anticipation of a layoff), reluctance to claim due to fear of job loss, and return to work?
  • What injuries can we expect to see from new vs. experienced workers as the economy continues to grow or faces a downturn?
  • What injury frequency do we see during periods of employment volatility and what has changed since the Great Recession?

 

Assured Income

Finally, some propose that the federal government create a new stimulus program that provides money to every American. Writing for the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, former Federal Reserve economist Claudia Sahm has suggested measures that go beyond the Fed’s monetary policymaking. She notes that “(a)ny person who has the coronavirus, is quarantined, or stays home to care for a loved one needs financial support immediately.” She recommended that “(t)he federal government should send them money—a check for $1,000, all at once, not $70 a week.” She added: “The federal government needs to give people the financial support they need to get healthy, stay healthy, and keep their family and co-workers healthy. This is a public health crisis—all arms of the federal government need to take coordinated action now.”

Similarly, Academy Member Jason Furman, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, has proposed as a fiscal stimulus that “Congress should pass a simple one-time payment of $1,000 to every adult who is a U.S. citizen or a taxpaying U.S. resident, and $500 to every child who meets the same criteria.”

The Economic Security Project (ESP), one of the funders of the Academy’s Economic Security Study Panel noted below, advocates for an “Emergency Money to the People” initiative to “provide immediate financial support to the millions of American families who were already living paycheck-to-paycheck before this crisis unfolded.” An emergency cash infusion would offer at least $1,000 and up to $6,000 to individuals and households, covering two-thirds of all Americans. A fact sheet and full policy details may be found at https://www.economicsecurityproject.org/emergencymoney.

 

The Academy’s Economic Security Study Panel

The Academy has a vehicle in place to explore a wide range of policy approaches to the risk of economic insecurity that the current health crisis has intensified. Our Study Panel on Economic Security, launched in November 2019, is currently examining such approaches and is on target to issue its final report by the end of this year. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, one or more of the Study Panel’s Working Groups – Early Life, Middle Life, Late Life, and Financing – might decide to issue an interim report focusing on more immediate federal action.

In the final analysis, some people – due to biology and/or socioeconomic status – will be able to handle this crisis more safely and with less financial disruption than others. All of us, and especially the most vulnerable segments of our population, will need an effective public policy response that addresses health and economic risks through social insurance and related mechanisms. We must not succumb to panic, remembering President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous admonition that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

In times of heightened risks such as these, we are reminded once again of the importance of social insurance programs, the principles of risk reduction that underlie them, and the values that inspire them. As we plan for the future, social insurance principles continue to guide us.

Healthcare Coverage and Costs: Assessing Medicare-Based Approaches (Conference Recap)

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The Academy’s 32nd annual policy conference explored the implications of using Medicare as a coverage expansion platform for the overall health care system. Below are a few highlights and key takeaways from the convening.

 

Healthcare and the 2020 Elections

Moderated by Katie Keith, Principal at Keith Policy Solutions, this opening panel featured Chris Jennings, Founder and President of Jennings Policy Strategies, and Rodney Whitlock, Vice President of McDermott+Consulting. The panel discussed various drivers of the renewed interest in health care reform, reflected on the ten-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, and hypothesized as to how the health care debate will continue to play out as we approach the November election.

 

What is driving today’s reform debate? 

Moderated by Cori Uccello, Senior Health Fellow for the American Academy of Actuaries and Marilyn Moon, retired, American Institutes for Research, Panel 1 provided an overview of current health policy issues, including persistent problems of uninsurance and underinsurance, affordability challenges, health disparities and inequities, and the rising cost of health care in the United States. Sara Collins, Vice President for Health Care Coverage and Access at the Commonwealth Fund, began the session with an in-depth analysis on the status of U.S. health insurance coverage. Building on Collins’ remarks, Mark Miller, Executive Vice President of Health Care at Arnold Ventures, discussed the rising problem of high health care costs for households, business, and the federal and state governments. As we continue to debate which policies would best address these issues, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University Paul Starr’s presentation on the history of Medicare reminded us that there are lessons to be learned from previous health reform efforts. Audience questions focused on the prioritization of health policy goals and cautions from previous health reform debates that policymakers should consider.

 

What are the key equity priorities for health care reform?

Lauren LeRoy, Strategic Adviser for LeRoy Strategies, moderated Panel 2 and emphasized how the Affordable Care Act provides broad benefits for all segments of the population, including generally improving equity, but noted that the benefits are still unevenly distributed and politically fragile. Gwendolyn Majette, Associate Professor of Law, Center for Health Law and Policy at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, continued this discussion with an overview of health care reform progress and shortcomings over the last 50 years. She pointed to improvements in health for people of color, explained how the ACA laid the groundwork for a pathway to achieve equity and eliminate disparities, and highlighted the equity priorities that should be considered in proposals to expand Medicare eligibility. Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, followed with his presentation on the disability “blind spot” in health care reform. Although there has been great progress in improving access to health care and services for persons with disabilities, Pollack emphasized that the disability community has been marginalized in the current healthcare reform debate, noting that disability policy alone is as costly and complicated as the rest of health policy combined. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, former Chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, discussed advances in equity as a result of the ACA and the pros and cons of building upon the ACA to achieve universal coverage. Following the presentations, audience questions steered the conversation to the intersection of health care, social assistance, education, and criminal justice reform in addressing disparities and achieving equity.

 

What are the challenges and implications of broad cost-containment efforts?

Panel 3, moderated by Elizabeth Docteur, principal of Elizabeth Docteur Consulting, discussed Medicare’s potential appeal as a platform to contain costs through lower payment rates, payment innovations, increased administrative efficiency, and additional cost-containment strategies. Gerard Anderson, professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins University, began the discussion with his recent paper, It’s Still The Prices, Stupid: Why The US Spends So Much On Health Care, And A Tribute To Uwe Reinhardt. Anderson emphasized why the United States is unique in its very high spending on health care. Then, Zack Cooper, associate professor of health policy and economics at Yale University, discussed the political challenges of implementing health care cost-control policies. Robert Berenson, MD, Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute, gave a presentation on the potential for cost-control through realigned incentives for social services investment, as well as what might be achievable in savings from administrative simplification. Q&A included the role of health policy experts in shaping reform, Medicare reimbursement rates, and the cost of medical education.

 

How compatible is the business of healthcare with patient health?

The luncheon presentation by Elisabeth Rosenthal, MD, Editor-in-Chief for Kaiser Health News (KHN) and author of An American Sickness: How Healthcare became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back, explored the question of why health care is so expensive in the United States. Through real stories of patients’ outrageous medical bills, Rosenthal examined how the healthcare industry has come to be more about finances rather than patient health.

 

What are the key design implications for select health policy approaches?

After the luncheon keynote, conference participants moved to breakout sessions, each focusing on a particular set of health policy proposals.

 

Transitioning to Medicare for All: Impact on Consumers, Employers, Private Insurers, and Providers

 

  • Moderator: Renée M. Landers, National Academy of Social Insurance Vice Chair, and Co-Principal Investigator, Academy Study Panel on Medicare Eligibility
  • Peter Arno, Senior Fellow and Director of Health Policy Research, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Chip Kahn, Chief Executive Officer, Federation of American Hospitals
  • Allyson Schwartz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Better Medicare Alliance
  • Mike Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions

 

Establishing a Medicare Buy-in or Public Option: Balancing Beneficiary Choice and Administrative Feasibility
 

  • Moderator: Tricia Neuman, Senior Vice President, The Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Melinda Buntin, Chair, Department of Health Policy, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Christine Eibner, Chair in Policy Analysis, Director of the Payment, Cost, and Coverage Program, RAND Corporation
  • Matthew Fiedler, Fellow, Economic Studies, USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy
  • Steve Zuckerman, Vice President of Health Policy, The Urban Institute

 

Reinforcing Current Programs: Incremental Changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act
 

  • Moderator: Cristina Boccuti, Director of Health Policy, West Health Policy Center
  • Sheila Burke, Strategic Advisor, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz
  • Tara O’Neill Hayes, Director of Human Welfare Policy, American Action Forum
  • Frederic Riccardi, President, Medicare Rights Center
  • Sara Rosenbaum, Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy, School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University

 

How could expansion proposals be financed, and what are the implications of specific financing mechanisms?

Any Medicare expansion proposal will affect health care costs and the distribution of the financing burden across the population, relieving pressure in some ways and increasing it in others. Panel 4, moderated by Washington Post columnist Helaine Olen, began with a presentation by John Holahan, Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute, which outlined the estimated costs of both incremental and comprehensive proposals. Marc Goldwin, Vice President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFRFB), then discussed potential financing mechanisms for Medicare-for-all proposals and their possible impacts on equity and the economy as a whole. Katherine Baicker, Dean of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, discussed the potential impacts of financing methods on the growth in health care spending and on overall economic growth. Panelists then answered audience questions on balancing positive and negative economic impacts of reform proposals, comparisons of international tax systems, and assumptions about administrative savings.   

 

Quality, Mercy, and the Moral Determinants of Health

Donald M. Berwick, MD, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, gave a spellbinding closing keynote. He reminded participants of the core underlying value of mercy in health care, and emphasized the critical importance of placing mercy at the center of discussions about health care reform. In his vision for reform, patients come first, the poor are prioritized, returns from improvements to technology go to patients, and costs are lowered whenever possible. Berwick’s call to action, a “Campaign of Morality” to reintroduce mercy, compassion, and inclusion into the policies of the United States, received a standing ovation from conference participants.

Study Panel on Medicare Eligibility: Message from the Co-Chairs

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Proposals to adapt Medicare to extend coverage to new beneficiary populations present a significant set of technical and program design challenges. As a leading hub for health policy experts, the National Academy of Social Insurance formed the Study Panel on Medicare Eligibility to examine the options for, and implications of, extending eligibility for Medicare beyond the current covered populations.

We are pleased to have co-chaired the Academy’s Medicare Eligibility Study Panel. The Panel’s final report, Examining Approaches to Expand Medicare Eligibility: Key Design Options and Implications, is the culmination of over 10 months of extensive deliberations among 27 Panel members from various disciplines.

Study Panel members included experts from economics, health policy, political science, sociology, medicine, and law, as well as people with direct experience working in areas related to public and private health insurance, actuaries, health plan administrators, health care providers, labor representatives, and government regulators. The Panel’s discussions helped all of us appreciate the complexities that arise when trying to improve the functioning of our healthcare system. Our goal was to provide needed technical clarity on the design and implications of proposals to build upon the Medicare program, and we are grateful to the time and care these experts devoted to this effort.

Why focus on Medicare Eligibility? Why is this report essential to read?

Health care is a top issue for voters heading into the 2020 presidential election, as it was in the 2018 midterm elections. Many policymakers and presidential candidates have proposals that build upon Medicare because it would make use of an existing and popular coverage platform and seems to be a straightforward way to address the challenges of affordability, coverage, and cost containment.

Positive impacts on coverage and access to care could result from extending Medicare to more Americans, but such a change also involves substantial challenges in program design and implementation. It is important to be able to balance tradeoffs among these challenges when considering which, if any, represent the best option for improving coverage and lowering the costs of health care.

We hope that the findings in this report will increase understanding of Medicare-based approaches, and be used by researchers, journalists, policymakers, and other audiences to analyze and design feasible policy options.

What is in the Report?

Rather than focusing on the current bills and presidential campaigns, the Study Panel examined three general approaches to changing Medicare eligibility and assessed how variants of these approaches could be designed to address specific policy objectives. The three approaches were:

  • lowering the eligibility age
  • extending Medicare coverage to all
  • creating a Medicare buy-in under which some or all of the population or employers would be eligible to purchase Medicare coverage

This report delineates each approach’s design options, tradeoffs, challenges, and implications. The key policy design decisions examined include:

  • eligibility criteria
  • benefit structure, including covered services and cost sharing
  • premium structure and whether subsidies are available for newly eligible populations
  • provider payment rates and regulations concerning provider participation
  • the roles of Medicare Advantage and private supplemental coverage
  • financing mechanisms
  • the rules regulating interactions with other public and private insurance
  • rules governing the transition to a new or modified program

The Study Panel then examined the potential impacts of the three proposals on various policy goals and objectives including, expanding coverage and improving access to care, containing growth in health care spending, and increasing affordability, equity, and administrative simplicity.


CARES Act Rebates: Who, How Much, When, and How?

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Historic legislation passed by the Senate (S. 3548) and the House (H.R. 748) – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – and signed into law on March 27, 2020, includes the provision of one-time payments to individuals who meet certain eligibility requirements. The effectiveness of the CARES Act’s one-time infusion of financial assistance to eligible individuals will need to be assessed, as Congress works to further address the economic catastrophe confronting our nation.

COVID-19 both highlights and exacerbates the economic insecurity of millions and growing inequality in the United States. Instead of taking an approach based on the social insurance principle of universality, where such payments would be made to all, the CARES Act deploys tax policy based more on the social assistance principle of targeting. Both eligibility for, and the amount of, payments are income-tested. There are more complex dimensions to both approaches, as each has multiple goals to meet standards of fairness and efficient use of resources. The approach taken by Congress has elements of both broad distribution and progressivity.

A follow-up round of legislation might take a long-range approach with the goal of providing all with some form of assured income. Such an approach will acknowledge the need to prepare for the next virus or natural disaster by filling gaps in the nation’s current economic security infrastructure, rather than short-term damage control measures.

CARES Act Rebates

Regulations will clarify more details about provisions of the CARES Act. In the meantime, based on legislative language to-date, this summary answers the following questions:

  • Who will receive payments?
  • How much will they receive?
  • When will they receive payments?
  • How will payments be made?

Background

The “Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020” (H.R 6074), referred to as “Phase 1” of a fiscal stimulus, passed Congress with bipartisan support in both chambers and was signed into law on March 6, 2020. The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” (H.R. 6201) referred to as “Phase 2,” was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 20th. Neither Act had provisions for payments to individuals.

CARES, referred to as “Phase 3,” provides what it calls “2020 recovery rebates for individuals” (amending Section 6428 of the Internal Revenue Code) as part of an estimated $2 trillion stimulus package.  

The CARES Act in effect reduces federal income taxes for 2020. It provides an immediate benefit by advancing that estimated reduction to eligible taxpayers as a cash payment. A taxpayer who receives a CARES payment (i.e., an advance tax credit) will pay “normal” 2020 taxes when filing in 2021, having already received an “advance” of the estimated tax reduction.

Who will receive payments?

Full one-time payments will be made to: single taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of $75,000 or less; married couples filing jointly with AGIs of $150,000 or less; and heads of households (typically single parents with children) with AGIs of less than $112,500, based on 2018 or 2019 tax filings. Payments will be reduced for taxpayers with AGIs over these amounts and will be phased out completely for single taxpayers with AGIs over $99,000, joint filers with AGIs over $198,000, and heads of households with AGIs over $146,500.

Social Security (Old Age, Survivor, and Disability Insurance) beneficiaries are eligible to receive payments, if their AGIs do not exceed the above limits. As long as they received an SSA-1099 form (the Social Security benefit statement) or its equivalent, they will receive payments via the way they get their monthly Social Security benefits.  

Individuals who file returns for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), but do not otherwise pay taxes, are eligible.

Individuals who have not filed tax returns for either 2018 or 2019 will not be eligible to receive payments, unless they use their Social Security Benefit Statements (Form SSA-1099) as proof of earned income reported by their employers. Approximately 30 million individuals do not file federal tax returns, according to the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities.

No provision is made for recipients of other means-tested benefits to receive payments, if they do not have a Social Security number, or for those living “off the grid” in the underground economy.

Students and other adults will not be eligible if they are claimed as dependents on another taxpayer’s return. Non-resident aliens will not be eligible to receive these payments.

Eligible individuals, who have Social Security numbers, will not need to apply to receive payments.

A provision in an earlier form of the legislation, in which taxpayers with little or no income tax liability but at least $2,500 of qualifying income, would have been eligible for a minimum rebate check of $600 ($1,200 for joint filers), was removed in the final version of CARES.

The CARES Act calls for a public awareness campaign by Treasury, the Social Security Administration, and other federal agencies to provide information about the availability of rebates, including information for individuals who may not have filed a tax return for either 2018 or 2019.

Estimates by the American Enterprise Institute are that approximately 165 million individuals (93% of all tax filers) will receive some payments.  (Kyle Pomerleau, AEI)

How much will they receive?

Individuals will receive up to $1,200. Married couples filing jointly will receive up to $2,400. Those amounts will increase by $500 for each qualifying child under age 17. The rebate amount will be reduced by $5 for each $100 a taxpayer’s AGI exceeds the phase-out threshold (as noted above). Rebates will take the form of credits against federal income taxes due for 2020, but their value will be paid as cash in advance. The rebates themselves are not taxable income.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will base these rebates on the taxpayer’s 2019 federal income tax return, if filed. If not, IRS will use 2018 returns. Rebate amounts will be reconciled based on actual 2020 income, because they are technically advances on income tax credits for 2020. Taxpayers who receive smaller rebates than they will be eligible for based on actual 2020 income will receive the difference after filing a 2020 tax return. Overpayments of rebates due to higher incomes in 2020 will not be clawed back. Rebates are “refundable” and so will not need to be returned to the IRS by taxpayers with no 2020 tax liability to offset.  (Source: The Tax Foundation)

Initial estimates are that a total of $290-310 billion in payments will be made.

When will they receive payments?

The timing of payments will depend on whether recipients have a direct deposit account with the IRS for payment of income tax refunds. Earliest payments are estimated to be made in mid-April 2020. Payments by paper checks are expected to be made months later.

The fastest payments will be made electronically to the bank accounts of taxpayers who have set up such direct deposits with the IRS. For those who do not have direct deposit accounts with the IRS, including those who are “unbanked,” payments will be made by paper checks. Payments will be processed by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service of the Treasury Department. The length of delays in payments will be affected by the Bureau’s capacity to process paper checks and the accuracy of “last known” addresses on file with the IRS.

How will payments be made?

Payment will be made electronically for those with direct deposit accounts, as noted above. An estimated 70 million taxpayers have such accounts. Others will receive paper checks. Recipients will get notices by mail a few weeks after their payments have been disbursed. Notices will contain information about where the payments were sent and in what form they were made. The IRS is also reported to be exploring whether payments may be made via pre-loaded debit cards.

The IRS has created a special website to provide more information as soon as it is available. The website is https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

How To Find Or Give A Great Massage

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Many people are looking for ways to be healthier these days and if you’re one of them, consider learning more about the art of massage! Getting a massage is very beneficial to your entire well-being and learning to give one means you can make someone you care about feel better! Keep reading to discover more.

Massage is great during pregnancy, but wait until after the first trimester. During the first trimester, your baby is in the earliest stages of development. Toxins released during a massage can harm the fetus or inhibit growth during this delicate period. Once you have reached 16 weeks, you should be all clear to enjoy a massage.

You should try different techniques when giving a massage. Use your hands and fingers to rub, apply pressure or even give gentle taps. Use the tip of your fingers if you need precision, for instance to relax a tense muscle. You could also try covering as much surface as possible by using the palm of your hands to apply pressure.

Do you suffer from high blood pressure? Whether it is hereditary or caused by stress it can be dangerous. If you are looking for a way to lower your blood pressure a bit, try having a massage. Massages are a great way to relieve stress and tension. They have also been proven to lower peoples blood pressure significantly.

The light and gentle massage technique is often referred to as Swedish. It helps increase circulation and relax your partner. This type of massage is also excellent for athletes who have muscle fatigue. You must be careful with this type of massage and listen to your partner. They could have injuries and if the massage is painful, you need to stop.

Massage has been found to help people who suffer from mental disorders, not just physical conditions. Having a massage not only relaxes the body, but the mind as well. This can really help to reduce anxiety and depression in people who suffer from these conditions. Regular massages can really help your mental well-being.

When it comes to injuries, old or new, deep tissue massage is an excellent choice for healing. Friction-causing, slow movements against the grain of the muscle are used. Deep tissue massages focus on tight muscles and help to loosen them up.

When you decide to go and get a massage, let your massage therapist know where you’re having the most problems. The goal of your massage is muscle relaxation where you need it most. Do not expect your therapist to find your problem areas right away and relieve the pain if you do not communicate and explain the kind of pain you are experiencing.

When getting a complete body massage, make sure your feet are entirely clean. Your feet will have fungus and bacteria that can be spread all over your body. Simply cleaning your feet to the best of your ability can make a big difference.

If you are getting a full body massage, always ask to take a shower or at least wash your feet prior to beginning the massage. You can hold a lot of dirt and bacteria on places like your feet and hands, and you do not want your massage therapist massaging those areas first and then placing their hands on your face for further massage.

Consider getting a massage in either just your underwear or naked. Skin to skin contact is important during any massage, and this can only be accomplished if you remove your clothes. You can always use a blanket to cover up if you are concerned about modesty or staying warm during the process.

If you have a spot which hurts frequently, give it a massage once per day. This will help loosen it up and hopefully your pain will not return. Over time, you may find that it is already loose when you start to rub it, so you can reduce the frequency of massage.

When your massage therapist tells you to drink water, listen! It is easy to become dehydrated quickly after a massage because toxins and fluids are released from your body. Drinking lots of water will help to replenish the fluids you are losing. If you choose to drink caffeine filled sodas or alcohol instead, you will suffer the consequences.

Avoid eating before a massage. You want at least 90 minutes between your last meal and your massage. However, more time is better. Allow your body to digest its meal so you can fully relax and get all the benefits of your massage. As a bonus you will be spared embarrassing stomach gurgling noises during your session.

Massage therapy is an effective way to relieve the pain associated with arthritis and other joint problems. Relief for your stiff joints and muscles can be considerable when you schedule a massage regularly. They also work wonders to improve circulation and rid you of stress.

You should focus on breathing if you can’t relax when given a massage. Inhale through your nose, pushing the air down into your abdomen. Count how long it takes to breath in and how long it takes to release it. Regulating your breathing calms your nerves and helps you relax and enjoy your massage.

If your massage therapist moves your arms, legs, hands, feet or neck, try your best not to resist or assist. This is a part of the massage, and it can help to release tension in certain parts of your body. If you put effort into helping, you might make the tension worse, and you are also taking away from the relaxation you should be experiencing.

Let your masseuse know of any medical information about you that is relevant to the massage. If you have allergies to certain plants that might be contained in the oil, or have an injury in a certain area it is important to let them know ahead of time. Make sure you disclose any old injuries or surgeries.

If you are in search of a cure for your common aches and pains or looking for a way to get rid of the excess stress in your life, you should now be convinced that a massage can help! Schedule an appointment to get a massage soon and see the difference they can make. Bet you’ll be hooked!

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Check Out These Tips To Improve Your Memory

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This powerful information will help you to gain a better understanding of your memory and offers you some very helpful advice to help you improve your memory. You will definitely notice great results when you put this information to use. If you are looking for ways to enhance your memory, then these tips will certainly work for you.

The phrase “use it or lose it” definitely applies to your memory. Make time to engage in activities that require you to recall information, such as crossword puzzles, learning a new skill or reading. Teaching someone else is also a good way to make active use of your memory and prevent it from becoming rusty.

Becoming a teacher to retain knowledge as a student is a fantastic way to improve upon your memory. For example: Giving your friends a pop quiz and/or attempting to teach them new material will help you to learn it better yourself. Try this tactic when you need to study and you’ll be surprised at how much you remember.

Make sure that your diet has good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Most commonly found in fish, these fatty acids do a superb job of keeping your brain on its toes. Numerous studies have shown a positive benefit to the brain when the diet contains omega-3’s. Try adding pink salmon, walnuts and flax seed, so you can get this essential fat.

To help improve your memory and overall brain function, try to eat a healthy diet. Studies have shown that eating certain foods can help improve a person’s memory. Spinach and many fruits, including blueberries, help memory function. Omega-3 fatty acids is also beneficial when trying to improve memory.

It is important that you take steps to keep your memory in shape throughout the years. Diet is crical in this regard. It has been shown that getting enough folic acid in your diet can help fight memory loss. Foods rich in folic acid include many beans and legumes, leafy greens, fortified bread and cereals, citrus juices and more.

Sleep is an essential component of maintaining good memory and memorization skills. The reason for this is while you are sleeping, something known as memory consolidation occurs. Memory consolidation is the process by which acquired information is imprinted into the brain through the creation of neural links. This process affects not only the information that you have recently learned but also helps to maintain information that you acquired a long time ago.

Use the power of positive thinking to help improve your memory. If you tell yourself over and over again that you have a bad memory you soon will come to believe it. If, on the other hand, you tell yourself that you have a great memory, it can cause you to subconsciously change your actions and information processing patterns so that your memory begins to improve.

Believing you have a poor memory is a self-fulfilling prophecy! If you are constantly telling yourself and other people that you have a bad memory, then that is exactly what you will have! As with anything, keeping a positive attitude will improve the situation so stop reminding yourself that you are forgetful and as your outlook improves, so will your memory!

If you constantly have trouble remembering certain things, find ways to eliminate the problem once and for all. For instance, if you can never remember where you placed your car keys, put a peg by your front door where you can hang your keys the minute you enter your house. Make a list of the items you most frequently forget and then figure out a simple way to remember each of the items on your list.

If you have a hard time memorizing things, it is wise to try not to learn too many new things at the same time. Wait until you have fully memorized a piece of information before moving on to the other. Learning many things at the same time will just make everything scramble in your brain.

Avoid cramming. Work in regular study sessions that you have set out on a schedule. Having a set time to study will help your brain remember the facts you present to it. Cramming simply presents your brain with too much information to remember at any one time, and so you will forget much of it.

A great tip that can help you improve your memory is to start limiting how much alcohol you drink. Drinking too much alcohol can destroy many brain cells over time, which can severely impair your cognitive functions, such as memory. Limit your alcohol to only one or two drinks a day.

The next time your memory fails to help you remember where you placed something, be sure to jog your memory. Try to remember where you last placed something and how long ago it was. From now on, try to keep your items in the same place so you do not forget where they are.

Keep lists and write things down but do it in the appropriate place. Keep your addresses and phone numbers written down in a contact book, but keep your shopping list on a specific notepad on the fridge. The act of writing the list will help you remember those items, while knowing where the list is will keep you from forgetting that too!

Things are easier to remember if they have a special meaning to you. Think about why you need to memorize the information. For example, if you are going shopping, ask yourself why. It could be for your child’s birthday and thinking about that, will help you remember what you need to buy.

Now that you have read about these tips to improve your memory, you can begin to put this wonderful advice to use. You will have an easier time remembering the small details and will have a much simpler time organizing your life. Empower yourself today with these tips today and enjoy having better success with your goals.

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Having Trouble With Your Memory? Read These Tips!

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Memory is an integral part of brain function, and can fade if the brain is not kept in optimum health. Maintaining good overall health will also assist in keeping your memory sharp. The following tips will help you maintain healthy brain function and ensure that your memory remains intact for many years to come.

Exercise your brain. Using your memory and other thought provoking functions of your brain daily, will help keep your mind and your memory sharp. Do puzzles, drive a different way to work and memorize something every day. You will see an improvement quickly and less of a decline as time moves on.

If you need to remember some information, study it regularly instead of cramming it in all at once. Research has shown that studying something in short, but frequent, sessions produces better results than spending one long period of time cramming it in. Shorter, more frequent sessions allow your brain time to process what it has learned and to commit the information to memory.

Use a mnemonic in the form of a phrase, picture, or song to remember things that are particularly difficult to recall. Making info humorous will make it easier to recall.

Jigsaw puzzles are good to improve your memory. Choose the harder ones (500-600 piece puzzles) for greater benefits. This game requires visual judgment, critical thinking and shifting focus from the small pieces to the big picture several times. Mastering your jigsaw puzzles skills will help you when you need to use your memory in your everyday life.

Use mnemonic devices to improve your memory. A mnemonic device is any rhyme, joke, song, or phrase that triggers memory of another fact, such as the abbreviation Roy G Biv, which tells you the colors of the spectrum. The best mnemonic devices are those which use humor or positive imagery, as you will have an easier time remembering them.

A good tip to help improve your memory is to be more social. Studies have shown that our brains respond much better to socializing than if we were alone. People who socialize regularly will enjoy the benefit of a slower memory decline. Try being more social to improve your memory.

Reduce stress in your life to improve your memory. Unrelieved stress can cause your body to produce so much cortisol that it permanently damages your hippocampus, which is the memory center of the brain. Other stress chemicals can interfere with your ability to store information, concentrate, or recall memories from earlier.

A good tip that can help you improve your memory is to get organized. If your home is a mess, how can you expect to think clearly? You’ll probably wonder why you’re always forgetting where you left your car keys. Getting organized will help you plan and remember things

Chronically high stress levels make you especially vulnerable to memory impairments. Remain calm and relaxed as you study or when trying to recall the location of a lost item. Take your time to remember whatever you have to, rather than getting frustrated.

Many people use visualization to remember information. Try visualizing what you wish to remember, create mind pictures, draw diagrams or charts to aid in remembering information in textbooks or during lectures at school. The mind is very effective in remembering visual details and recalling images, even images long-forgotten.

Rehearse the information you need to memorize. You should not learn it by heart and recite it, but learn it, digest it and rephrase it. Every time you rehearse the information you need to remember, you are ingraining it into your long term memory. Use your own words to rephrase the information.

When you need to memorize something quickly you need to have intense focus. Get rid of all distractions such as outside noises, email and cell phones and find a quiet, peaceful place. Finding an uncluttered place is helpful because you need your mind to help you concentrate and not to focus on the clutter.

To help you to remember something, take that abstract thought or article and place it in a memory palace. A memory palace is some place that is familiar to you. By picturing yourself walking through that space, and then seeing, feeling, or hearing the thing you want to remember, that thought will come easier to you. This is a technique used by professionals regularly.

A great tip for improving your memory is to make sure that you change your study habits from time to time. This is a good procedure because it will help to prevent your memory from becoming stagnant. Changing your location will help to stimulate your mind and open up your ability to store more in your long term memory.

Even though our ability to remember starts to wane as we age, there are methods and techniques we can use to actually create new ways to improve our memory. A good diet, exercise, rest and stimulating activities are needed for a healthy brain, along with laughter and a life free of stress.

A great tip for improving your memory is to be sure that you get exercise on a regular basis. This is important because this will provide a steady supply of oxygen to your brain. With a good supply of oxygen, your brain will be operating at its peak potential and your memory will serve you accordingly.

Doing crossword puzzles is a great way to keep your memory sharp and active. Not only does the mental exercise help your brain stay in good shape, but you will learn all kinds of interesting facts! If you are able to come up with the answers to the clues, you’ll keep your memory in great shape.

Set aside time to practice breathing techniques on a daily basis. At least once an hour, breathe deeply through the nose three times. This relaxes your body, and increases the amount of oxygen to your brain. Your brain will be boosted by receiving the extra oxygen, and this will help with both your memory and recall skills.

There is quite a bit of fear associated with losing one’s memory. Understanding the ways to feed the brain and keep it at a healthy functioning level, will give you more confidence in your ability to maintain your memory. don’t delay to implement as much of the advice that you can.

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Natural Ways You Can Remember Things More Clearly

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Your memory is what you rely on to remember the good things from your past, those beautiful memories that you never want to forget. It’s also what you use to remember where you put the car keys, and what items you need to pick up at the store. If you need help improving your memory, this article should give you some tips on making that happen.

To boost your memory, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can seriously impair memory, causing you to forget even the most basic things in your day to day life. If you regularly have trouble sleeping, you can try natural sleep aids such as melatonin or consider talking to your doctor about prescription sleep medication instead.

Stop telling yourself you have a weak memory. When you say these things you begin to plant the thought in your mind and it becomes a reality. Remind yourself constantly that you have a great memory and you can remember anything as long as you put your mind to the task. You will see an improvement in your recall ability.

Keep your social life active. It is proven that those with an active social life have a better memory. Talk to your friends and family, either in person or over the phone, because it will stimulate your brain. Having an active social life will slow your memory from fading.

Believing you have a poor memory is a self-fulfilling prophecy! If you are constantly telling yourself and other people that you have a bad memory, then that is exactly what you will have! As with anything, keeping a positive attitude will improve the situation so stop reminding yourself that you are forgetful and as your outlook improves, so will your memory!

To help yourself remember something jot down some notes, say them aloud and keep your notes organized. When you involve different functions of your body such as writing and talking to remember something, those physical activities will help your brain recall more effectively. In addition, the notes serve as a visual memory aid.

One the best ways to keep your mind its sharpest is to get plenty of exercise. In other words, exercise is as good for your mind as it is for your body.

A good tip that can help you improve your memory is to make sure that you’re keeping your stress levels in check. Too much stress has been shown to severely impair memory functions. Take some time to relax and unwind if you are looking to improve your memory.

Carefully focus on what you are trying to memorize. This is especially important when you are studying. Never try to multitask. Turn off the television, turn off the radio. Just focus on what you need to memorize and the knowledge you need to retain. Many things can distract you without you even realizing it.

If you need help retaining a difficult concept or remembering the massive amount of information you studied the night before that big college exam, get up and get moving. The brain, like other parts of our body, requires energy to work, and it gets that energy from oxygen and other nutrients carried through the bloodstream. Spending long, unbroken hours in a chair, pouring over books or staring at a computer screen, causes the blood to congeal and deprives the brain of that needed energy. So get up and go for a brisk walk or a swim, anything to get the blood pumping and moving through your body. It’s a proven fact that the more physically active you are, the smarter you will be too.

Draw a picture! If you are having trouble remembering something – try doodling! Drawing relaxes your mind, opens it up. It doesn’t matter if you are a terrible artist. Just scribbling on a piece of scrap paper will do. Your thoughts will feel more organized and memories will come to you much easier.

If you suffer from loss of memory, be sure to see a psychiatrist or therapist. Memory loss can be a sign that you suffer from anxiety or depression, and you may not even know it. If you do have anxiety or depression, treating it could be the key to you getting your memory back.

When you are trying to learn something new and you want to remember it, associate with something you already know. For instance, let’s say you are learning a new phone number, remember it by thinking of a similar phone number. You have a better chance of keeping new information this way.

Try working on learning a new skill if your brain feels unfocused and your memory is lacking. New skills use new parts of the brain and force you to expand your ways of thinking. Learn to juggle, build something, try martial arts, or take a cooking class to broaden your brain’s abilities.

Paying attention to what you are doing will help your memory. When studying or memorizing something, avoid distractions. Find an environment you are comfortable in. Learn how to focus on something, and if you can, find material that interest you. Focusing on something that interest you should be relatively easy.

To help you remember what you have to do for the day, set reminders. For instance, if you have to pay bills set an object on top them that’s out of place. Seeing the out of place object will be the reminder you need to pay your bills.

To help you to remember something, take that abstract thought or article and place it in a memory palace. A memory palace is some place that is familiar to you. By picturing yourself walking through that space, and then seeing, feeling, or hearing the thing you want to remember, that thought will come easier to you. This is a technique used by professionals regularly.

As you can see from this article, there are a lot of things that you can be doing to keep your memory active and functioning well. It’s only natural to start getting a little bit forgetful as you get older, but that doesn’t mean that you have to deal with memory loss that prevents you from living your life to the fullest.

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Build Your Muscles With These Easy Tips

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No matter what your motivation for wanting to engage in muscle building, you will reap considerable benefits from it. Doing it the right way is very important to avoiding injuries and keeping your routine going. Use the advice in the following article to find a great routine for you that will have you looking and feeling great.

Regardless of how frequent or intense your workout sessions are, if you are not eating sufficiently, your body will not have enough proteins to build muscle. It is therefore critical to eat meals often. You should strive to consume at least 20 grams of protein every three hours. In addition, it is more important to eat often rather than to eat large portions.

You need to get enough protein if you want to build muscle. One of the best ways to get the protein that you need is by utilizing protein shakes and supplements. They are particularly effective after a workout session, and also before going to sleep. Limiting yourself to one shake a day when losing weight is one of your overall fitness goals. On the contrary, if gaining mass is also your goal, you should consume as many as three a day.

If you have been working out for a while, though you feel like your muscles are not getting as big as you would like them to be, try to focus your workouts on your biggest muscles. Work more on your chest, legs and back. This will help to increase your protein synthesis, which will help your muscles to get larger.

Eat plenty of carbs. If your body runs short on glucose after hard workouts, your body will use muscle tissue for protein and carbohydrates, undoing your hard work. Stay away from low-carb diets, and eat an appropriate amount of carbs given the intensity of your workouts–possibly a couple of grams of carbs per pound of body weight each day.

It is extremely important that you stand correctly when doing standing exercises, such as overhead presses and squats. These exercises call for a type of athletic stance. In order to achieve this, you should stand with your feet at about the width of your shoulders. Then, slightly point your toes outward, bend the knees, and arch your lower back. Always make sure that your eyes are looking forward.

Utilize a power rack in order to prevent a barbell from crushing you while doing a large squat. Lots of squat racks contain pins that can be set below the maximum squatting depth. If you reach failure on a rep, you can just allow the weight to drop onto these safety pins. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about lifting more than you are capable of.

Watch for scams that promise the ultimate level of success with one exercise. Muscle building requires that you switch up your routine sometimes, and do exercises that will work a variety of muscles. If all you are doing is working with one machine or on one isolated routine, you will never see the results that you are really looking for.

Do not overlook the importance of rest in muscle growth. Believe it or not, growth actually occurs during rest, so if you are not getting enough of it, your muscled will not grow or be adequately conditioned. Working out stimulates muscles, and during rest your body gets to work at building the muscles. You need to understand this process and factor rest into your muscle conditioning or building routine.

Whenever you are working out in order to build muscles, you should have a well-defined goal in mind. Aim to increase the number of reps you do, the maximum weight that you use, or the overall length of your workout. In order to really improve your muscles, rather than simply exercise them, you need to keep them constantly challenged.

Stretching after you do an exercise can be just as important as stretching during a warm-up! Immediately, after you have worked on a muscle group, do a stretch that focuses on that group and hold the stretch position for a good 90 seconds. This will stretch out the fascia (the connective tissue surrounding the muscle) and encourage more muscle growth.

Tailor your intake of food to your efforts. You should eat more on the days you are planning on working out, especially just before, and after you exercise. On the days, you are not working out, choose lighter meals and cut back on the proteins. Make sure you choose healthy foods on the days you have to eat more.

Continue to challenge your body. When you start lifting weights you will reach a point when the lifting becomes easy. When this happens add more weight. By continuing to challenge your body you will help to create the level of intensity that most effectively tears down muscle, so that your body continues to have the opportunity to build it back up.

While whole foods are the best way to get your calories in general, a protein shake after your workout might actually be easier for your body to digest and process. A quick shot of protein after a workout gives your body the building blocks to keep adding muscle, instead of using existing muscle to replenish its energy reserves.

When lifting weights, using proper form is of higher importance than how much weight you add, how fast you do the exercise and how frequently you work out. You must practice each exercise slowly and carefully until you master it. It is ideal to do this early on using light weights so you are enabled to maximize later exercise with higher weights.

Drink as much water as you can before and after your workouts to put yourself in the best position to feel comfortable when you exercise. Additionally, water helps to get rid yourself of the toxins and free radicals in your body that can cause stress and fatigue as you lift heavy weights.

Muscle building and conditioning are great ways to lose weight, increase strength and get your body in top-notch shape. Hopefully the advice of this article has increased your knowledge and boosted your motivation. Implement these tips into your workouts and you will be stronger, healthier and looking amazingly fit in no time at all!

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Excellent Methods Of Increasing Your Muscle Mass

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Muscle building is a subject that interests many, but it is common for people to be somewhat confused as to how they should go about sculpting the body they desire. By arming yourself with the right information, you can soon be well on your way to the impressive physique you have always wanted. The article that follows can help you do just that.

Genetics are one of the most important factors in building muscle mass. There is not much you can change about your interior genetics that shape your body, but you can improve the way you look by becoming more tone. Some of us just do not have the bodies that will have large muscles, so accept that and strive for better tone.

Refrain from performing both strength training and cardiovascular exercises, if your goal is to build muscle, and not necessarily to improve overall fitness. The reason for this is that these two kinds of exercises cause your body to respond in contradictory ways. Focusing strictly on building muscle will help you to maximize your results.

If you cannot get to the gym for some reason, do not skip your workout altogether. You can simply do chin-ups, pushups and dips in your home. Even with all of the fancy equipment at the gym, they still remain the best forms of upper body building that you can do.

Many people who wish to build muscle use protein shakes and meal replacements. It is important to note however that there is a distinction between the two. It can be dangerous to your health to use protein shakes frequently as a meal replacement. A full meal contains many essential nutrients that are not included in protein shakes. In addition, living off protein shakes can leave your muscles soft which negates your muscle building efforts.

While training hard to build muscle, make sure to consume plenty of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide your body with the glucose that it needs for energy. When you’re working hard you need energy to survive. Failure to consume enough carbohydrates can result in your body breaking down muscle to provide it with the protein and carbohydrates that it needs to survive.

Adequate rest is important to your muscle-building program. Your body can perform the job of recovering from muscle fatigue best when you are resting, so make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Failure to do this can even result in serious injury if your body becomes over tired.

Always use your own intuition when working out. Although planning out your workouts ahead is good for making sure that you stay accountable, sometimes you can’t always stick to this schedule. For example, you might not be ready for another quad session after your last session left you exhausted. On the other hand, your arms could be well rested after a good workout just a few days ago. Listen to what your body tells you, and follow it.

Do not overwork your body. In order to build muscle mass, your body needs a chance to recuperate. When starting out, work your upper on one day, then work your lower body the next day. Take one day off each week where you do no workouts at all. This will make the workout less of a job.

A lot of people believe that they will be able to lose weight strictly through cardio workouts, but muscle building is also very important. It is the best way to boost your weight loss because each pound of fat requires more calories and energy to maintain than a pound of fat.

Have reasonable and realistic expectations for yourself. The best hard bodies are the result of a lot of time and effort, so don’t expect to look like a body building world champion after a week or two of working out. Have a solid and healthy plan and dedicate yourself to it over a period of time. You will see results and doing it in a healthy and calculated manner will be much healthier for you.

Make sure you are getting enough protein. The ideal diet for muscle building contains one gram of protein for every pound of your body weight every day. For most people, this can be achieved through diet alone, and protein supplementation is not usually necessary. Supplementing your daily protein consumption beyond this will usually yield no benefit.

Eat the right foods to improve your training outcomes. It is important to consume plenty of protein and limit your fat intake when you are trying to build muscle. Don’t be under the assumption that this means you can overeat; it simply means that you need to follow a healthy balanced diet. You should consider taking vitamins and protein supplements to help you build muscles quicker.

If you are not seeing a difference after a few weeks of intense training, measure your body fat. Perhaps your fat is slowly transforming into muscles, and you are not seeing a difference in your weight. This is a good thing: once your body fat is reduced, you will be able to build muscles.

Have a glass of milk an hour before you work out. The proteins contained in milk will help you build more muscle than you normally would during your work out. You should have another glass after you are done exercising to allow your muscles to heal and expand more efficiently.

When you are trying to build muscle mass, eat plenty of whole fresh foods. Avoid foods that are loaded with chemicals, dyes and fillers; these substances may compromise your immunity. Healthy foods improve the strength and endurance of both your body and your immune system.

Adding muscle mass can be a challenge if you lack the proper guidance. Most people have the potential to transform their body, but simply need a few tips to get started. Take the ideas and concepts in the article you just read to heart, and you will be amazed by the results you can achieve.

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Simple Ideas For Helping You To Understand Muscle Building

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Anytime you want to start building your muscles, you need to know the best, safest ways to do so. It can be a straightforward process, but you have to take the precautions and do what is safe, what is effective, and what you feel good doing. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Eat a lot of protein. It’s a well known fact that the more protein your body can store, the more muscle you can build. Try to have at least one gram of the protein you need for every pound that you weigh. For instance, a 150 pound woman should attempt to eat approximately 150 grams, meat and other protein, every day.

Milk is a wonderful drink that will offer you many vitamins that are needed when you are trying to build muscle. You have heard as a kid that drinking milk will make you grow, and they have found that is also the case with adults and muscles. Enjoy 3 cups a day, and it will help you out.

If you are trying to build muscle mass, it is important to eat calorie-dense food at the right time. The best time to eat your heaviest meal of the day is after you have completed your muscle-building workout session. It is at this time that the energy demands of your body are at peak levels since your body needs the nutrition to repair and build muscles. If you continue to eat some more calorie-dense food every couple of hours, you will provide an opportunity for your body to add even more muscle mass.

As you are working to develop muscle, do not count on the scale to tell you how you are doing. You must take the time to measure your body fat to find out how you are doing. If your weight it going up or remaining the same, it may be a sign that you are turning flabby fat into rock hard muscle.

While training hard to build muscle, make sure to consume plenty of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide your body with the glucose that it needs for energy. When you’re working hard you need energy to survive. Failure to consume enough carbohydrates can result in your body breaking down muscle to provide it with the protein and carbohydrates that it needs to survive.

When you’re working out for the purpose of building muscle, it’s important to consider how much protein you’re taking in. The body uses proteins for many things besides building muscle, so if you aren’t getting enough, you may not see the muscle growth you want. Make sure to avoid this by eating a diet high in proteins.

Work opposing muscles at the same time by performing exercises that work the chest and back or quads and hamstrings. This will let one muscle group rest while the other is working. You can increase the intensity of your workout to make up for spending less time in the gym.

It is perfectly fine if you need to cheat some as you lift. Using the leverage of your body weight to squeeze out a few more reps is an easy way to increase your workout results. You don’t want to cheat a lot, though. Even when you are cheating, maintain your usual rep speed. You should never compromise your form.

Watch for scams that promise the ultimate level of success with one exercise. Muscle building requires that you switch up your routine sometimes, and do exercises that will work a variety of muscles. If all you are doing is working with one machine or on one isolated routine, you will never see the results that you are really looking for.

After you have worked out it is important to eat some low-carb protein. This means you probably want to avoid protein bars as they often have high carbs. Good sources of protein include lean cuts of meats and poultry as well as a cheesy omelet completed with some sliced veggies.

If you have enough time, consider breaking up workouts into two different sessions per day. For example, you could train your chest in the morning, and then once evening strikes, you can train your back. Resting your body in between lets your energy stores recover better than training both muscles during the same workout.

Your workout routine always needs goals, so set a new goal as soon as you have achieved an old one. Reaching a goal feels great, and you deserve to feel proud of your accomplishment. Just remember that building muscle is a process that you can keep working at indefinitely, as long as you have a fresh goal to aim for.

When you are working towards building muscle mass, you have to make sure that you get plenty of sleep every night. If you do not get enough sleep, your body will not build muscle as quickly and there are potential risks for your wellness. Your body needs this sleep to recuperate from the strenuous exercise.

Set short-term and long-term goals. While you should have an idea of what you want to look like eventually, you will only reach that goal by sticking to smaller goals. For instance, try doing just two more bicep curls in your next workout. If you hit a plateau, do not worry. This happens to everyone. Give it time, and you will see progress soon.

If you wish to do squats, do them right. Place your bar closer to the middle of your traps. That will place the work on your hamstrings, glutes and hips and enable you to squat more weight.

Complete those exercises that work more than one muscle group first, and then work on the ones that require the use of an isolated muscle. Doing this will allow you to complete the exercises that use the most energy first, while you are still feeling fresh and energetic. You will complete a more effective workout and put focus on working your entire body, rather than just one muscle group.

To build muscle, you need to be safe, you need to do things that you enjoy, and you need to know what works. Hopefully, the tips in this article have provided you with enough information to start building your muscles effectively. Include them in your routine and ultimately, you will see the body you want.

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How Better Nutrition Can Benefit You Today

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Good nutrition is truly all about education and moderation. This article contains a few useful ideas to help you on your way to eating healthier. It’s important to consider that everything you put in your body will affect you in either a positive or negative way and to consider the consequences of your eating choices.

Ideal fitness starts with ideal nutrition. Understand the major nutrition groups: fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Protein helps you build muscle, carbohydrates give you energy for working out, and fats – in moderation – are necessary for injury repair. About a third of your daily calories should come from protein, about half from carbohydrates, and the rest from unsaturated fats.

When cooking your lower-calorie and lower-fat diet meals, increase the amount of spices and flavoring you use. This will help you feel more satisfied with less food. If you get a variety of tastes in your meal, you won’t feel as deprived as if you are eating bland low-fat foods.

For many people, starting the day with a carb-heavy breakfast sets a vicious cycle in motion, where they get hungry all day. If you are one of those people, help yourself lose weight by having a low-carb, protein-heavy breakfast. If you fix yourself 2-3 scrambled eggs and a quick cup of tea or coffee, and no toast, you will be amazed at how long those eggs will stay with you. You won’t get that 10:30am hunger zap. Similarly, if you drag a bit in the early afternoon, a protein snack, such as a cheese stick, hard-boiled egg, or a few slices of lean deli turkey or ham will give you a centered feeling and keep you from feeling hungry too soon.

Nutrition information labels on prepared food packages should be read carefully. Some foods which are labeled “reduced-fat” can be unhealthy in other ways, like containing excessive salt or sugar. Avoid processed foods if you are trying to lose weight. A healthy food will have a label with easily recognizable ingredients. Try and stay away from foods that contain lots of artificial ingredients.

For cancer prevention, try adding more plants to your daily diet. These are versatile enough to go anywhere from a salad to a soup to a stew to even a smoothie. Try eating green things like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, asparagus and more to get a vast array of nutrients. Also, add things like fruits and nuts for a huge boost to prevent cancer.

The goal in nutrition, first and foremost, should be health. Nutrition is not about what size you want to be, or what dress or suit you want to fit into. If, as a result of making healthier food choices, you experience the side benefit of losing weight, that is all to the good. But it is most important to be healthy through the food choices you make.

Studies have recommended that a stress-free life will increase the overall health of any person. Meditating and stretching are methods that can easily be implemented to a daily routine. This can help reduce pain associated with muscle tension. These simple recommendations will improve a person’s overall well-being.

Enjoy a homemade fruit smoothie. Smoothie products you can buy in the store or at a stand, can be full of calories. When you make it yourself, you are in control of the nutrition. It’ll also be easier to put into your diet. Try some of the following in your smoothies: bananas, skim milk, protein powder, yogurt, and fresh or frozen berries.

Selenium is an important thing to have in your diet. Selenium is a mineral that acts as an antioxidant and which has many benefits for your skin. Selenium can minimize free radical damage, and helps to protect your skin from overexposure to the sun. Selenium can be found in higher concentrations in foods such as wheat germ, eggs, brown rice, tuna, Brazil nuts and garlic.

Try not to use dessert as a reward for eating healthy. If a child sees dessert as a reward, they’re going to think that it is the best food. This will only reinforce their desire to have sweets. If you want to use dessert as a reward, try offering fruits and other healthy foods.

Teenagers can have a hard time getting the nutrition that they need. Girls tend to find that this is a time that they gain weight easily, while boys tend to lose it. Helping your teen strive for a healthy diet that is geared toward nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight will help them get through this hard time of life.

A good nutrition tip to do if you are pregnant is to get the right amount of vitamin B-12 in your diet. Vitamin B12 is very important because it can reduce the risk of birth defects. Not everyone is vulnerable to B12 deficiencies, although it does seem to affect females who frequently diet.

Beets can make a good addition to your diet, as long as we are discussing fresh beets and not canned ones. Fresh beets are high in fiber and minerals, but the canned variety is often loaded with salt. Try quickly steaming some beet greens and adding beetroot to your salads.

Try making simple, family-friendly meals. When you keep to basic dishes that everyone loves, you can know that they are eating right. The best way to understand about the nutritional values of different foods is to do your research.

Help your child avoid obesity by making sure he/she has a healthy balance of play and nutrition. Shop carefully for healthful foods to be sure your child always has plenty of nutritious choices in snacks, and make sure he/she gets outside to play a sport or engage in some other vigorous exercise for at least half an hour every day.

Hopefully this article inspired you to make some positive changes in your eating habits. Every step you take towards eating healthy will help you live a longer, fuller life. In this busy and stress-filled society eating right can be a quick and easy way to help you get through your busy schedule.

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Tips To Live A Nutritional But Pleasurable Lifestyle

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Healthy nutrition can help you feel great, but it can also help prevent and manage many diseases. Good nutrition does not happen automatically. It is the result of making smart food choices every day. If you need some fresh ideas of how to keep your nutrition high, take a look at the tips below.

Consume 600-900 mg of garlic, about 1 fresh clove, daily to help lower your cholesterol. There have been many studies where people have used garlic for health reasons. These studies have proven garlic is extremely beneficial in helping to lower total cholesterol, and in particular, LDL, the bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

Copper is an important mineral which should be a part of a healthy diet. It allows the iron to function in your body, thus preventing anemia. Copper acts as an antioxidant by protecting against free radicals. It also helps keep your bones, blood vessels and lungs healthy. You can get copper in legumes, cereal, whole grains, fish and liver.

When considering nutrition for a child, it is important to consider that he or she may not always be open to new foods, at least, not as quickly as an adult. Children’s taste buds do not work the same as they will when they are older and foods may taste more harsh to them than to an adult. Give your children time and let them make the choice for themselves.

When possible, include more foods in your diet that are high in omega 3. Omega 3 is one of the good fats that has many benefits. It can help reduce pain and swelling in an injury. It is a great source of protection against cardiovascular disease and strokes. It also has some benefits in treating attention deficit disorders.

Killing a junk food addiction will greatly assist you in improving the nutritional quality of your diet. After time, you get used to the quick fixes and easy pleasure provided by foods that are bad for you. Cravings and hunger pangs for these foods can continue long after the switch to a healthier diet. It is vital to recognize junk food cravings and replace them with enthusiasm for healthier alternatives.

When considering a diet that provides an adequate nutrition level, understand that not all healthy sounding foods are as healthy as you might believe. Depending on the cut, ground turkey may contain nearly as much fat as ground beef. When shopping for meats, always look for the lean or low-fat variants.

Senior citizens looking to be as heart-healthy as possible can enjoy a Mediterranean diet. This way of eating includes healthy fats such as those found in olive oil; it also includes plenty of vegetables, seafood, beans, high-fiber grains, and fruits. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet, because of the healthier fats it contains, lowers the risk of heart disease.

Moderate your alcohol intake. Sugary calories, which are abundant in alcoholic drinks, are easily converted to fat stored in your body. Also, when there is alcohol in your body, it causes your liver to work overtime to process it and burn fat. Excess alcohol intake can cause many threatening health conditions.

Don’t use the microwave to cook foods from start to finish. It’s alright to use it to warm foods. Consume natural and organic foods often.

Avoid drinking your calories in liquid form. Drinks with a great deal of calories, such as milk, energy drinks and fruit juice can give you a large amount of calories without satiating your hunger. Sodas, beer, drink mixes and shakes are full of empty calories and provide no nutritional content whatsoever.

One way to ensure that your cabinets are filled with only nutritious and low-fat foods is by taking the extra time to carefully consider each item on your regular shopping list. Before you go shopping for groceries, think about whether each product has a healthier or reduced-fat alternative, or if you should even purchase it in the first place.

Even though food may taste a lot better when there is cream in it, you need to be careful about eating cream based sauces and seek out healthier alternatives. Adding plain yogurt or silken tofu to sauces can give you that creamy texture that you desire without all of the additional fat and calories.

Most people consume more protein than they really need for proper bodily maintenance. In fact, the average person really only needs about 50 grams of protein, and the rest should come mostly from carbohydrate and some fat. It is important to eat more fruits and vegetables, and that is what should replace most meat in the normal American diet.

Peas can make a delicious addition to your diet. While they do contain some starch, they also have lots of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They’re also quite versatile. In addition to eating freshly steamed garden peas, they also make a fine split pea soup when dried, or when frozen, make a great addition to stir-fries.

Reduce the refined foods in your diet. Refined foods are high in sugars, empty carbohydrates, and fats. They contain less nutritional value per calorie than unrefined foods. Avoiding them can lead to a healthier diet and lifestyle. Your best bet is to stick with raw, fresh foods whenever possible.

Want an idea on how to have good nutrition in your life? Make sure you have breakfast every day! Breakfast is necessary to maintain balance in your body and for it to produce the energy it needs to get through the day. It also makes you less likely to overeat later in the day and provides support for your brain and body to function.

You should limit the amount of sodas that you drink per day. Many people do not like to drink water because they claim that it does not taste good. There are mixes that can be added to water or fresh fruit can be added to give it the taste that someone craves without added preservatives that their body does not need.

Don’t let yourself think that good nutrition will just take care of itself. If you are ready to start making better food choices to prevent and manage disease, use the powerful information found in this article to get started making the right food choices every time you eat.

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Treat Yourself And Your Family To Better Health With These Nutrition Tips

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For those who have never been into it, nutrition may be intimidating. Because your body needs so many different nutrients, it is easy to get information overload. This article has tips to help you organize the information so you can eat better.

Most dieters stay away from any foods that are high in fat. Yet, your body needs fat to operate and many foods with moderate fat content are necessary. Saturated fat and trans fat are the kinds to stay away from, as they aren’t useful to your body in any way. These unhealthy fats tend to feature large in processed foods.

Make sure you read all labels of items you are eating, or at least try and get an idea of what you are consuming throughout the day. You want to make sure you have a good balance of the essential vitamins you need as well as not to over consume. You want to have balance in your body.

Follow a few simple steps to avoid LDL cholesterol in your diet. Eat in moderation, avoid saturated fats, and enjoy raw fruits and vegetables. Moderate exercise three times a week is also an important factor. High LDL cholesterol levels have been linked to heart disease and other health concerns. Avoiding it can help you to stay healthy.

Have a doctor check your blood for levels of various minerals and vitamins in your blood stream. Ask for a complete check. That way, if you find you are deficient in any one thing, or a few things, you can immediately start taking steps to change your diet so you stay well and healthy.

When considering a diet that provides an adequate nutrition level, be sure to distribute your food intake more evenly across the day, as opposed to large meals. This will help to prevent eating too much, as well as to aide in digestion and the usage of nutrients. Having five or six medium or small meals, is much better than two or three larger meals.

A protein shake is possibly the best thing to take after a long workout. But what most people do not know if that you should add milk to your shake instead of water. This is because it not only tastes better, but each serving contains about eight more grams of protein than water will have.

Write down and collect healthy recipes. Cook books are expensive and seldom have much useful information. Make your own instead. Buy a pack of index cards and use them to copy down any healthy recipes you try and enjoy. Replace all those high calorie, unhealthy recipes you had been saving with the new ones.

Broccoli is a big star in the nutrition “show.” It is loaded with betacarotene, lutein and lycopene. Studies have shown these nutrients to be valuable in preventing cancer. They help liver function. Eat broccoli every day and your health is sure to benefit. You won’t need to buy supplements to provide these nutrients if you eat broccoli consistently.

A great nutritional tip is to make sure you eat before and after your workouts. It’s important to eat before you work out because your body will need plenty of fuel. It’s also very important to eat within a half hour of lifting weights because it will help your muscles recover.

Senior citizens looking to be as heart-healthy as possible can enjoy a Mediterranean diet. This way of eating includes healthy fats such as those found in olive oil; it also includes plenty of vegetables, seafood, beans, high-fiber grains, and fruits. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet, because of the healthier fats it contains, lowers the risk of heart disease.

If you are going to eat meat, make sure you are getting the proper types of meat for good nutrition health. Lean meats such as fish are an excellent choice, because they have omega-3. You should eat red meat in moderation it is the worst for your body. Chicken is an excellent choice as well.

A great nutrition tip is to wash your fruit off thoroughly before you eat it. Fruits such as apples tend to have a lot of bacteria on them, and if you’re not washing them off before you eat them, you could potentially get really sick.

Breakfast truly is one of the most important meals of the day – if you take the time to eat it. A healthy, balanced morning meal that includes proteins, carbohydrates, and calcium sets the stage for a more productive and energized day. It can also make you less likely to partake in less nutritious food options like fast food, and the standard vending machine fare.

If you are eating at a restaurant, and you are offered fries, skip them. They are loaded with fat and salt, which will make you feel bloated, and greasy. Instead, order a side salad or some fresh fruit. When you make healthier choices like these, you will end up feeling better knowing you are taking care of yourself.

Learn to scrutinize the ingredients of foods labeled as “healthy”, in order to discern what it is you’re really putting in your body. For example, a dried fruit and nut mix may seem healthy at first glance, but if that mix contains lots of salt, sugar, and other “extras” (such as chocolate), then it may not be such a good choice after all. Look for mixes without these additives or, at least, those with minimal amounts of them.

When thinking about food choices for healthier eating, consider that raw foods usually are more nutritious than anything cooked or processed. This is due to the fact that foods lose many nutrients during the processes of preparation and cooking. This is especially the case for fruits and veggies.

Hopefully, now you know much more about the valuable information you can use to craft a nutritious diet, as well as methods to organize the information so it makes sense to you. Use these tips when you’re eating, so you eat better.

The post Treat Yourself And Your Family To Better Health With These Nutrition Tips appeared first on Home Living Aid.