Health & Wellness: Dangers of Sitting at Your Desk

Health & Wellness: Dangers of Sitting at Your Desk12 hour workdays behind the desk can do more than strain your eyesight and heighten stress levels. Multiple studies, from the American Cancer Society and others all found that a sedentary desk job (i.e. what a growing portion of American workers have) is linked to back pain, repetitive stress injuries, obesity, and even increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics evaluated the relationship between physical activity and obesity in the workplace, according to MSN Health. In 1960, nearly half the jobs in the private sector required at least moderate physical activity. In 2010, less than 20% demanded this much physical work. Part of this phenomenon can be explained by advances in manufacturing and agriculture, and the rise of technology industries which require much less human physical labor. This change in energy expenditures has led to a decrease in the number of calories burned as well.

Mashable recently created an infographic detailing the dangers of your desk job. When you’re sitting down at your computer, immobile muscles gradually lose the ability to metabolize fats and sugar as efficiently as they should. The electrical activity in your legs shuts off, and fat-reducing enzymes drop by 90%. Calorie burning slows to 1 calorie per minute and people who sit down all day have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease than people who stand.

Some companies are combating this head on with walking treadmill desks and switching out desk chairs with exercise balls. The point? Get moving. Step away from your desk for a moment. Stand and stretch a few times a day, or go for a walk around the block. Stay active after work. Avoid the TV and take a walk with friends, or join a sports league. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get up to refill your water bottle. If you have to talk to a coworker, walk down the hall instead of shooting them an email.

The growing importance of wellness programs reflects this dynamic. Employers are helping employees work harder at staying healthy and manage chronic diseases more effectively, so that they and the company benefit from lower health costs and reduced absences. Sinclair Risk & Financial Management is at the forefront of this approach, providing employers with a proprietary Wellness Program designed to promote healthy employee lifestyle choices along with a strategy to create and sustain these behaviors. Contact us today for more information.

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Health Industry: Does My Insurance Cover This?

“Is this covered by my health insurance?”Health Technology

It is the ultimate question in healthcare, and one that isn’t always easily answered off the top of your head. Now, startup Drchrono announced a new update to its app that provides instant access to patient insurance eligibility.

The app pulls up a patient’s real time health insurance eligibility information, including coverage type, level and amount. In addition the new app makes process payments for medical services much more streamlined and easier. The free app allows doctors to take their services anywhere and provides instant access to patient insurance eligibility.

“By plugging a Square card reader into an iPhone or iPod touch audio jack, doctors and their staff can swipe credit cards and have the payment go directly into the physician’s bank account,” the company’s press statement reads, reported by Mashable. “Now, medical practices can take payments through an iPhone or iPod touch, which would reflect into the practice management software.”

Among other features of drchrono, doctors can also view lab results, various medical images including EKGs and s-rays, and can even create online prescriptions for patients and send them to their nearest pharmacy.

The app indicates a new trend of accessibility and ease for doctors and patients that help to streamline the doctor’s visit, from pulling up insurance information to paying the co-payment at the end of the visit. The app even allows health providers to see what economic stimulus incentives they can qualify for under the HITECH Act, an act that promotes the “adoption and meaningful use of health information technology.”

Other cool apps include interactive anatomy apps to demonstrate knowledge to patients, an FDA-approved radiology imaging application that allows doctors to store diagnostic-quality, and assistive apps such as Proloquo2Go, an alternative communication solution for people who have difficulty speaking. The app provides text-to-speech voices with a vocabulary of over 7,000 items; the app is recommended for children and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, developmental disabilities, apraxia, ALS, stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management works with companies of all sizes to design and implement Group Medical options that rethink the traditional way of offering benefits and meet the financial needs of employers while also addressing the choices and flexibility employees want. Contact us today for more information. 

Exotic Car Collections: Factors For Assessing Value

Exotic Car Collections: Factors For Assessing ValueThe challenge in investing in exotic cars is not only choosing models that you will enjoy, but investing in wise options that will help your collection appreciate over the years to come.

Paul Sullivan of the Wall Street Journal recently attended the Greenwich Concours d’Elégance in Connecticut. Delving through the concept cars, roadster, and muscle cars, he spoke with several experts on exactly what to look for in developing your exotic car collection.

Of course there is that initial love, whether it is spurred by nostalgia for the good ‘ole days or just appreciation for an exquisite, beautifully made vehicle. Yet when assessing exotic cars as an investment, there are numerous other factors to consider.

Exotic cars have significant value, but it also depends on the type, kind, and social value. For example, sedans from the 1920’s and 30s are losing value because the people who remember riding in them are dying. Of course, rare cars are ideal- for example a 1954 Packard Panther entered in the show was one of only four made.

However, age alone doesn’t work. To stand out from the crowd, cars must have a distinguishing feature. One 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing sold for $4.2 million at the annual classic car auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.- it was one of only 29 made with an aluminum body. Sometimes the make matters. Ferraris are more sought after than Camaros or Corvettes. At an auction in Greenwich, a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB was sold for a record $1.25 million, a record price for a car sold in New England.

Obtaining an exotic or collector car can be the fulfillment of a lifetime dream. Each era has its style and attraction with prices to match. You may be undertaking a lengthy restoration, or looking to make your retro ride a lazy Sunday indulgence. Whatever your intentions, because of the significant dollar investment of your collector car and its unique nature, special insurance is what’s needed.

In evaluating the investment, restoration and insurance costs also must be considered. It is essential to assess all costs compared to the value. Especially when it comes to protecting your investment, you’ll need auto insurance that specifically addresses the unique needs of exotic cars.

For example, Sinclair Risk & Financial Management can tailor a program to include a zero deductible feature so that you have no out-of-pocket costs; high liability limits; mileage plan options based on one that fits your needs; automatic coverage for newly acquired vehicles for a specified time; inflation guard; and other unique coverages designed for this niche.

For more information, contact Sinclair Risk & Financial Management today.

Employees Benefits Trends: Win Money for Eating Healthy

Employees Benefits Trends: Win Money for Eating HealthyCorporate wellness and gaming has collided, resulting in a game where you receive incentives for losing weight. In an everlasting battle to motivate people to make healthier lifestyle choices, engineers at I.B.M. created a computer program that would help individuals lose weight, and win money.

The premise is simple: participants are rewarded for eating well and discouraged for eating poorly. Having a salad or grilled chicken breast for lunch could win you 50 cents; all of a sudden the allure of that slice of chocolate cake fades against the backdrop of monetary gain.

Michael Paolini, a Senior Technical Staff Member at I.B.M. describes it as a “modern day Pavlov” approach. Triggering healthy eating choices over and over again by using incentives will help people to establish healthier lifestyle habits overall. I.B.M. has implemented incentive programs already; I.B.M. gives $200 dollars back to those who sign up and complete a walking program.

The New York Times referred to it as gamification; the idea of applying game techniques and psychology to affect behavior in the real world. I.B.M. has gained a patent for it, and hopes to license it to companies or insurers as a tool to improve employees’ well-being.

Of course, there are roadblocks. The idea is contingent upon the honesty of the participant and their willingness to participate- they must be completely honest about their food choices. There are also privacy concerns about implementing this type of food tracker program in a corporate wellness program- who wants to share the details of their midnight ice-cream binge or happy hour cocktails with their company?

What are your thoughts on incentive based programs? Will they constructively improve eating habits, or are they a short-term fix to a complex problem? We’d love to hear from you!

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we know the importance of proving a comprehensive Employees Benefit Plan. Together with you, we can create a well-thought-out plan that’s properly controlled, efficient, cost-effective, and individually tailored to the needs of your business and your employees. Contact us today for more information.

Energy Industry: Consumers Willing to Pay for Clean Energy

Energy Industry: Consumers Willing to Pay for Clean EnergyConsumers are willing to pay more to make the switch to clean energy- with a few stipulations.

According to the New York Times, a new study of public opinion found that people are willing to pay slightly more to switch to cleaner energy. The study evaluated public support for a national clean energy standard (NCES). Conducted by Yale and Harvard in 2011, researchers found that the average United States citizen was willing to pay $162 a year more to support a national policy requiring 80% “clean” energy by 2035. That would be approximately a 13% increase in electric bills.

Granted, the willingness is modest, and there were restrictions. Support dropped off when the definition of clean energy was expanded to include natural gas or nuclear power. Furthermore, the researchers conducted a “what-if” experiment that simulated voting behavior to test the levels of public support needed to get a clean energy measure passed over the entrenched opposition in Congress.

The issue of green energy is controversial, both in the initial implementation and the types and methods of obtaining green energy. Passing a controversial bill through the Senate would require 60 votes to break a filibuster- a simple majority would not be enough. The study estimated that the annual additional cost per household would have to drop below $59 a year to pass the Senate (with its current political leanings and makeup).

Currently, more than half the states have adopted renewable energy policies. Political support may increase in the future as green energy requirements imposed on utilities increases.

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management offers a customized, comprehensive risk management and insurance program for Energy Dealers to protect businesses from risks of financial loss. Our staff’s knowledge of this complex and ever-changing industry helps us identify and protect against the exposures your unique operation encounters. Contact us today for more information. 

Health Benefits: Wellness Programs Benefit Company and Employees

As healthcare costs continue to escalate without any signs of slowing down, many employers are looking for alternative ways to cut health costs and still provide for employees. The solution: wellness incentive programs. Employee Wellness Program

According to a new survey by benefits consultant Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health, nearly two- thirds of companies said the biggest obstacle to keeping benefits affordable was their employees’ poor health habits. Employees in turn are facing a growing affordability gap as their out-of-pocket healthcare costs rise at a higher rate than their income, making it more difficult to save for retirement. Simply offering wellness programs weren’t enough to actually change their habits.

Consequently, more companies now offer financial incentives, like cash rewards or premium rebates for employees who complete wellness programs or meet certain health goals. About 20% of employers used penalties, like higher premiums or deductibles if workers did not complete health management programs.

Companies are including spouses in the programs, recognizing them as influential in their family’s overall health environment. Nearly all companies who instituted achievement based programs said they included weight goals as a requirement under the program, determined by body mass index. Other metrics induced blood pressure, cholesterol, tobacco use, and blood glucose level.

In the study, employers cited under-use of preventative services, such as annual screenings as a challenge in containing healthcare costs. Wellness programs are a win-win for the employee and the company. The idea is aimed to reduce healthcare costs for both employers and employees.

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management we understand that an effective Employee Benefits program is key in hiring and keeping top talent and in helping employees with life needs. We’ll help you strike the right balance in offering employees a benefit plan that is attractive, offers more choices, customization, and flexibility with your organization’s financial ability by spending smarter, not more. Contact us today for more information.