Aetna to Ditch Affordable Care

AetnaAetna recently announced that it would be pulling out of roughly 70 percent of the counties in which it offers insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. As one of the five biggest health insurance providers in the country, their plan will have a big impact on consumers.

Under its new plan, Aetna will be providing healthcare options to only 242 of the 778 counties that they previously operated in through the public exchanges. Whereas they had previously offered plans in 15 states, they will now only be available through the public exchange in Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia.

According to the CEO of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, it has become impossible to provide affordable and high quality healthcare options without a balanced risk pool. Bertolini stated that 55 percent of their individual on-exchange membership was new in 2016 and that in the second quarter of this year, they saw individuals in need of high-cost healthcare take up an even bigger part of their on-exchange population. The company believes that coupled with the inadequate risk adjustment mechanism that’s currently in place, serious pressure is put on increasing premiums, which creates concerns over sustainability.

Aetna’s concerns over the exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act are shared by two of the other five largest insurance providers in the U.S. – Humana and United Healthcare. Both companies have stated that they are planning to greatly reduce their presence in the exchanges. One of the arguments made by these insurers is that most of the patients that are coming to the exchanges are older, which means that they are more expensive to cover – and that not enough young people are coming on to help offset those costs.

This could be a real issue for customers since the affordability of the plans on the exchange depends greatly on the number of insurers that are competing through it. Some believe Aetna’s actions may be linked to the U.S. Department of Justice blocking a proposed merger between Aetna and Humana.

Stay up to date with all the newest health insurance news by visiting The Benefits Store today.


Image courtesy of Katherine Welles /

Is Technology a Threat to Your Eyes?

Healthy VisionAlmost everyone can remember being told as a child not to sit too close to the TV screen by their parents for fear of ruining their eyes. While this may have seemed like a bit of an exaggeration, it turns out that the exposure to all of today’s technological advances, from tablet screens to smartphone screens, could be a detriment to healthy vision. The following are a few ways that technology can affect healthy vision:

  • Computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome refers symptoms caused by staring at digital screens, which includes computers, tablets, cellphones, TVs, and more. The symptoms range from mild to disabling and include eyestrain, headaches, double vision, itchy eyes, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and difficulty focusing, to name a few. These symptoms are a result of blinking less when focusing on a screen, staring at a screen at an angle that exposes more of the eye to dry air and – that’s right – staring too close to the screen.
  • Cataracts. Although there’s yet to be definite proof, there have been links made between the exposure to blue light and the development of cataracts — especially now that many patients are developing cataracts in their mid-30’s.
  • Retina damage. Many people don’t just use their digital screens constantly during the day, they take one to bed with them at night. Around 60 percent of Americans use digital technology for their alarm clocks. Staring at blue light at night can lead to retinal damage, which could result in macular degeneration and damage to the central vision.
  • Headaches. Out of all the negative effects that the over exposure to digital devices can cause, headaches are the third most common. The eyestrain caused by staring at a screen for too long can cause tension headaches. This is because the eyes have to focus harder to see the contrast between the darkness of the text and the brightness of the screen.

The overuse of digital technology could have a negative impact on healthy vision. To stay up to date on all the newest health related news and information, visit us at The Benefits Store today.

Do Adults Need Vaccines?

Vaccines for AdultsMost people relate immunization with the vaccines that children have to take at a young age in order to protect them against diseases, such as mumps and measles. However, whereas adults typically make certain to get their children the vaccines they need, they are much less diligent when it comes to scheduling vaccines for adults.

Vaccines for Adults

Doctors in California are making a greater effort to get adults to schedule the shots that they need. In fact, the California Medical Association Foundation published a schedule specifically concerning vaccines for adults and when they should be taken. The foundation continued to raise awareness this year by releasing a public service announcement in both English and Spanish.

Many of the vaccines that adults were given when they were children, such as diphtheria and tetanus shots, wear off over time and need to be taken again as adults. There are many factors that determine what vaccines an adult needs to take, which include the age of the adult, their current health, and any travel plans they might have.

Vaccine Coverage

There are limited federal and state funds for the California Department of Public Health to use on providing vaccinations to children and adults at local health departments and community health centers. In fact, federal funding for the vaccination program decreased by $24 million from 2010 to 2014. This vaccination program was aimed at uninsured residents.

Fortunately, many of the vaccines recommended for adults can be obtained without having to pay a copay or other out-of-pocket costs under the Affordable Care Act. These vaccines generally include shots for flu, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, meningococcal disease and tetanus, amongst others.

According to state public health officials, there are many adult Californians that neglect to get the vaccinations they need against diseases, many of which are dangerous. Californians should check with their primary care physicians to find out what vaccines for adults they need. To stay up to date with the latest health and health insurance related news in California, be sure to visit us at The Benefits Store today.

Skin Cancer Screening: Who Really Needs It?

Skin Cancer ScreeningThousands of Americans head to the beach every summer in order to soak in the sun and develop a natural tan. However, extended exposure to the sun does carry a risk. It’s estimated that around 76,000 Americans will develop melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and an estimated 10,000 will end up dying from it. However, there isn’t enough evidence for the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force to be able to recommend a total-body skin cancer screening.

New Statement Regarding the Recommendation of Skin Cancer Screenings

According to an independent panel made up of 17 members, they could not determine whether the benefits of a skin cancer screening would outweigh the possibility of harm if a performed procedure was unnecessary or excessive. This harm can include:

  • Cosmetic damage
  • Scarring
  • Unnecessary treatment

They came to this conclusion after reviewing thousands of studies and research papers. One of these studies concluded that full-body skin cancer screenings only reduced the deaths caused by melanoma by a single death per 100,000 individuals that were screened.

This new statement regarding skin cancer screenings was recently published in the journal JAMA. However, it’s pretty much the same as the last statement they issued regarding the matter, which was announced back in 2009.

What is the Preventative Services Task Force?

The Preventative Services Task Force was appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services and consists of experts in the field of preventative medicine and epidemiology. They work independently from the federal agency and are tasked with advising medical professionals on screenings for certain medical conditions.

Who is at risk for skin cancer?

People who are at high risk of skin cancer should consider skin cancer screenings. The following are some of the risk factors:

  • A family history of the disease
  • Anyone with more than a hundred moles on their body
  • White men over the age of 65

Anyone who is at risk for skin cancer may want to ask their doctor about a skin cancer screening. At The Benefits Store, we strive to provide California residents with up-to-date health news and information.

6 Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away

Eliminating MosquitoesOne of the biggest health scares this summer has been the Zika virus, a virus that affects women who are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant. The Zika virus is spread through mosquitoes, but even though the virus isn’t a problem in California, mosquitoes certainly are. Mosquitoes are extremely annoying and can cause itchy and painful bites. The following are six methods for getting rid of mosquitoes to ensure a more enjoyable summer:

  1. Get rid of standing water. Mosquitoes are attracted to standing water since that’s where they lay their eggs. Anyone that does not wish to have a mosquito breeding ground in their backyard should remove or cover up all standing water.
  2. Use mosquitofish. Homeowners that have water features in their backyard, like ornamental fountains or ponds, should consider adding mosquitofish. Mosquitofish will assist in eliminating mosquitoes by preying on them when they attempt to breed in standing water. However, in order to use mosquitofish, a Californian resident will need to obtain a permit.
  3. Plant citronella plants. Mosquitoes hate the scent of citronella, so adding citronella plants around a property is an effective way to keep mosquitoes away.
  4. Use citronella candles. Instead of adding citronella plants to their property, residents can also use citronella candles. The smoke from a citronella candle will also be very effective in keeping mosquitoes away from the area.
  5. Use soapy water. One of the best ways to trap and eliminate mosquitoes is by using a bowl or bucket of soapy water. Place it in an area where there is a mosquito problem. The mosquitoes will be attracted to the standing water, but the soap bubbles will end up trapping them as they attempt to breed there, which will cause them to drown.
  6. Use a mosquito repellent. There are many types of mosquito repellents that residents can use to keep mosquitoes away, including creams and sprays.

Mosquitoes can not only carry potentially dangerous diseases, but they can be an incredible nuisance as well. Use these six tips to keep mosquitoes away and visit us at The Benefits Store today for additional health related advice.