Go Green with These Back-to-School Tips

School Backpack with school supplies on white background

It’s that time of year again. Keep these go-green, cost-saving tips in mind when planning your back-to-school shopping.

  • Check before you buy. Save money by double checking and using those supplies leftover from last year.
  • Buy recycled items. Notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, binders and even backpacks made from recycled content are available. Also, select paper, paperboard or canvas over plastic products.
  • Waste-free lunches. Invest in  BPA-free reusable lunch kits, containers, bottles, silverware and cloth napkins over single-use or disposable items.
  • Backpacks and totes. Convince your kids that if a backpack is still functional, it’s still usable. Donate any outgrown backpacks and make sure the new one is PVC-free.
  • Try on clothes. Check out the closet for clothes that may still fit before replacing them with new ones. Consignment shops, sales or swaps are great resources for finding used items. Donate those outgrown pieces to a local organization or sell to a consignment shop.

Source: 5 tips to “go green” for “back to school”! 8/2011

August 16, 2016 at 8:17 pm Leave a comment

Heart Attack Prevention Tips

Did you know a heart-healthy lifestyle can be your best defense against heart disease and stroke? Follow these simple steps to reduce some of the modifiable risk factors for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

  • Stop smoking – If you or someone in your household smokes, encourage them to quit.
  • Choose good nutrition – The food (and the amount) you eat can affect other controllable risk factors. Follow a healthy, balanced diet and exercise.
  • High blood cholesterol – Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol and get moving. If diet and exercise aren’t enough, consult your doctor for medication.
  • Lower high blood pressure – Reduce your salt intake, take medications as recommended by your doctor and get moving.
  • Be physically active every day – Start out slow, even 10 minutes at a time may offer some health benefits. Research has shown that three to four 40-minute sessions with moderate-to-high intensity physical activity per week can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level.
  • Aim for a healthy weight – Good nutrition, controlling calorie intake and physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good indicator whether your weight is considered healthy.

Need help to quit smoking? Sign up for the CVS Minute Clinic® Start to Stop® smoking cessation program, available to members at no additional cost. For program details and instructions, click here.


Lifestyle Changes for Heart Attack Prevention American Heart Association. 7/2016.

August 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Do You Need a Second Opinion?

Frustrated young man in casual wear holding hand on chin and looking away while standing isolated on white background

Has your healthcare provider suggested surgery or a major medical test? You might want to consider getting a second opinion if you or a covered dependent:

  • Have an unclear diagnosis
  • Are diagnosed with a rare or life-threatening condition
  • Are recommended for a treatment that is risky, controversial or experimental
  • Have a choice of treatments or medical tests that vary widely in cost
  • Are not responding to a treatment as expected

Starmark® self-funded major medical plan designs include Grand Rounds®, a vendor offering medical second opinions to patients from expert physicians specializing in the area of need. The service is available at no cost, without any required travel and is delivered over the phone or online for convenient anywhere, anytime access.

To learn more about Grand Rounds, visit www.grandrounds.com/starmark.

Grand Rounds is not an affiliate of Starmark® or Trustmark® Life Insurance Company.

Source: The Value of a Second Opinion. URMC 2016.


August 15, 2016 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

Practice Mindfulness in as Little as 15 Minutes a Day

Yoga on bed

Many people turn to meditation to help ease stress-related problems, including chronic pain, headaches, anxiety and sleep disorders. Researchers say that meditation works at least in part by lowering your body’s responsiveness to the stress hormone norepinephrine.

Mindfulness is a way of zeroing in on the here and now, and giving your full attention to the task at hand. To practice mindfulness, you don’t need to enroll in a formal program, or even spend a lot of time practicing — 10 to 15 minutes a day will do. But consistency is the key.


 Incorporate mindfulness into your daily life:


  • Relax at the end of your day with a 15-minute guided meditation. Keep guided meditations or podcasts on your phone or tablet for easy access.


  • Start your day practicing yoga or with a basic sun salutation yoga sequence.


  • Take a 10- to 15-minute midday break to check in with your breath. Close your eyes and notice where you store stress in your body. As your breath becomes slower and smoother, imagine sending your breath to that area on your inhalation. Imagine a knot loosening as your exhale. Repeat this cycle with each inhalation and exhalation.


  • Scan your body for tension and stress. Find a comfortable seat or lie down. Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. Start by focusing our attention on your feet then move up your body to your head. Notice any tension, pain, or stress. Take deep, slow breaths as you focus your awareness on each area of your body. Notice how each section of your body feels as you continue to breathe slowly.


Try a variety of approaches to find what works best for you. Aim to practice at least three or four times a week, if not daily. And stick to it. Don’t give up if you feel it’s not working right away. These techniques are like any other skill or workout — the more you do it, the stronger you will get.


Source: Adapted from Harvard Health

August 2, 2016 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

Five Facts about Retail Clinics


Retail clinics are designed to provide affordable, convenient and financially transparent healthcare.

  • Average in-network cost of an emergency-room visit is about $570 – which you’d likely pay out of pocket with a high-deductible plan design;
  • Average visit to an urgent care center is about $156;
  • Average visit to a retail clinic, such as CVS MinuteClinic, is about $110¹

According to a CVS Health study on the quality of care at retail clinics such as CVS MinuteClinic, healthcare received at retail clinics for common acute conditions such as ear infection, sore throat and urinary tract infection, is the same or better than care delivered in more costly emergency rooms and urgent care facilities.²

Haven’t tried a retail clinic yet? Here are five reasons why you should:

1. They’re conveniently located in select CVS, Walgreens, Target and other locations nationwide.

2. Most retail clinics are open seven days a week, including evenings and weekends.

3. Retail clinics offer a broad range of services, including illness, injury, vaccinations and more.

4. Quality care is provided by licensed practitioners, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

5. New clinic locations and services are added all the time.³

The bottom line: You can save yourself money and receive quality care by heading to a retail clinic for care of common conditions.

¹, ³ CVS Health and/or one of its affiliates.
² CVS Health Research Institute Data Shows Excellent Quality of Care at MinuteClinic for Common Acute Conditions. 10/2014.


August 2, 2016 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

8 Quick Tips for Saving on Healthcare Costs

96270575_LARGE.jpgThe decisions you make about your healthcare add up to either big savings or big spending.

As healthcare costs continue to rise, empower yourself by understanding your healthcare plan’s cost-saving options.

To ensure you’re getting the most value for your healthcare dollar, use these helpful tips:

  1. Stay In-Network. In-network care is typically less expensive than out-of-network care. Out-of-network provider costs may include a higher deductible, coinsurance and/or copayment. This means ultimately you’ll pay a larger percentage of the total cost of your care.
  2. Use a Walk-In Clinic. Walk-in clinics offer convenient hours and are often less expensive than a doctor’s office visit for common and minor health concerns, such as strep throat and immunizations. Located in pharmacies and other retail locations, clinics are staffed with nurse practitioners or physician assistants for convenient access and may have shorter wait times.
  3. Urgent Care Center. Urgent or immediate care centers can save you hundreds of dollars versus using the emergency room. No appointments are needed, and they generally offer shorter wait times, extended hours and care from a doctor or nurse.
  4. Go Generic. Nearly 3.8 billion of the total 4.3 billion prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. in 2014 were filled using generic drugs. Generic prescriptions drugs, when available, are safe and effective, FDA-approved, and contain the same active ingredients as the brand-name versions. They also cost much less and work just the same as their brand name counterpart.
  5. Shop Around. Many health services – from MRIs, blood tests and knee replacements – can be comparison shopped to find the lowest cost provider. For example, a colonoscopy might cost less than $1,000 at one facility and $4,000 at a neighboring facility. To compare prices, call the billing department of each facility and tell them you want a price for not just the procedure, but for all associated costs as well. Or check out cost-comparison websites that provide a fair price range to aim for when negotiating costs for healthcare services and procedures.
  6. Double-Check Your Medical Bills. Mistakes happen often. Make sure your bill accurately represents you and your visit. Whether it’s the wrong code, typos, a denied claim, duplicate charges or incorrect dates, the best way to catch mistakes is to carefully check your billing statement, request an itemized bill if one was not provided, and compare the bill to your EOB.
  7. Get Preventive Care. Staying up-to-date on immunizations, check-ups, screenings and other preventive care measures can help detect or prevent serious problems, and are often covered at 100% when received in-network. Preventive care not only saves lives, it can save you money.
  8. Use Telemedicine. Telemedicine services, such as Teladoc® offer convenient and low-cost care for common health concerns over the telephone or online. According to a HealthMine survey, 93% of people who have used telemedicine say it has lowered their healthcare costs. Another study found the average estimated cost of a telemedicine visit saves consumers $100 or more compared to in-person care.

June 30, 2016 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Ready to Quit Smoking?

75201325_LARGE.jpgAmong many benefits, kicking a smoking habit can improve your health and help boost your mood.

Give the following tips a try to help you through those challenging days ahead.**


  • Sip cold water and eat small, healthy meals
  • Brush your teeth often
  • Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol
  • Spend time in smoke-free zones
  • Remember your reasons for quitting
  • Be active every day and keep a packed calendar to stay busy
  • Chew gum, hard candy or a healthy snack instead
  • Secure a lifeline for support
  • Avoid troublemakers to stay on track
  • Be patient and stay positive

For a limited time, Starmark® is pleased to offer the CVS Minute Clinic® Start to Stop® smoking cessation program to covered employees* at no additional cost. The Start to Stop program is available to the first 250 covered employees. Fill out the form to receive your Initial Visit voucher. For program details and instructions, click here.

*The CVS Minute Clinic Start to Stop Program is available to covered employees only, not dependents.

**Source: WebMD “Quitting Tobacco: Help for the First Hard Days


June 30, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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