Kern County native creates app meant to protect farmworkers from heat-related illness

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teen engineer

Farmworker’s days are long, their work is tedious and sometimes weather conditions turn the job into a dangerous one. 

“I heard their stories of swollen backs and how their feet would ache after work and just the kind of brutal conditions they worked in, especially back then”, said Faith Florez.

Florez grew up in Shafter, a small farming community in Kern County in a family that is all too familiar with working in the fields and the risks of the job.

“My grandma Estella, she picked roses, cotton, almonds, and then my poppa, her son went on to again pick roses cotton almonds and migrate between seasons between the fields,” she said.

So, the high school senior, who now lives in Los Angeles set out to make a change at farms throughout the central valley.

“I don’t want to hear about a farmworker that died because they were too far away from water and shade,” said Florez.

Flores created the Calor App, which will let farmers now when they could possibly be in danger.

“The application is ultimately designed to prevent instances of heat stroke amongst agricultural workers,” said Florez.

Calor, the Spanish word for heat, began with a simple idea for Florez.

“It definitely wasn’t an overnight thing,” she said.

Her idea, became more of a reality when she submitted it as a proposal to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, where a group of graduate students unanimously hose to take on the project.

“I went into it super passionate,” Florez said.

Continue onto ABC News to read the complete article.

CVS Health Fights Back on High Cost Drugs by Launching Industry’s Most Comprehensive Approach to Saving Patients Money

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New CVS Health initiative seeks to solve one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of consumer financial worry.

Recognizing the threat of rising drug prices and high out-of-pocket costs, CVS Health providing most advanced solutions for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

CVS Pharmacists are key resource for patients in identifying opportunities to maximize their prescription benefits and save money at the pharmacy counter in communities nationwide.

CVS Caremark mitigating impact of high drug costs by providing members and prescribers with robust information and innovative tools to choose lower-cost prescription drugs.

The high cost of prescription drugs is one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of financial worry for consumers across the nation. While CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) has made significant progress in mitigating the impact of high list prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers, for too many Americans annual out-of-pocket drug costs are still significant. In response, CVS Health announced today that it is fighting back by launching the most comprehensive program in the industry to help patients save money on their medications.

According to a recent national poll, commissioned by CVS Health, 83 percent of Americans said they were concerned personally about the impact of rising prescription drug prices.[1] As prescription drug prices continue to rise and enrollment in high deductible health plans grows, many patients are shouldering higher costs for their prescription medicine.

CVS Health will address this problem with a robust set of initiatives, including the new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, which will enable the company’s retail pharmacists for the first time to evaluate quickly and seamlessly individual prescription savings opportunities right at the pharmacy counter. This new tool further enhances existing savings opportunities the company’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) CVS Caremark is currently offering its clients such as the preventive drug lists that make medications for many common, chronic conditions available at a $0 copay. In addition, CVS Caremark provides real-time, member-specific drug costs and lower-cost alternatives to prescribers through their electronic health record system and to CVS Caremark members through the member portal and newly updated app. These programs are part of CVS Health’s commitment to helping consumers find the lowest cost prescription drugs by offering more pricing transparency for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

“Today’s consumers are faced with higher prescription drug prices than ever before and many of them are now paying for a larger share of their prescription drug costs out of their own pockets at the pharmacy counter due to growth in high deductible health plans,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, CVS Health. “Until now, patients haven’t had the appropriate tools available to them to help them manage these costs. To address this, CVS Health is giving expanded tools to patients, prescribers and pharmacists so they can evaluate prescription drug coverage in real-time and identify lower-cost alternatives. We are committed to finding the right drug at the lowest possible cost for patients to ensure they are able to access and stay on the medications they need. That’s our promise.”

At the Pharmacy Counter

The new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder enables the retail pharmacist to quickly and seamlessly review a patient’s prescription regimen, medication history and insurance plan information to determine the best way for them to save money on out-of-pocket costs – with the primary goal of helping the patient find the lowest cost alternative under their pharmacy benefits plan.

“Our direct experience is that patients who are confronted with high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter are less likely to pick up their prescriptions and are less likely to be adherent to their prescribed therapy,” said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President, Retail Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy.

“Armed with the information available through our Rx Savings Finder, our more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists can play an important role by helping patients save money on their medications, providing advice on how and when to take them, and ultimately helping them achieve better health outcomes,” Hourican added. “We are beginning this process with our CVS Caremark PBM members and expect to roll it out more broadly throughout the year.”

The Rx Savings Finder will show pharmacy teams:

  1. First, if the prescribed medication is on the patient’s formulary and is the lowest cost option available.
  2. Second, if there are lower-cost options covered under the patient’s pharmacy benefit – such as a generic medication or therapeutic alternative with equivalent efficacy of treatment.
  3. Third, if the patient may be able to save money by filling a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day prescription.
  4. Finally, if neither a generic nor a lower-cost alternative is available, other potential savings options for eligible or uninsured patients where allowed by applicable laws and regulation.[2]

Pharmacists can also help patients enroll in the ExtraCare Loyalty Program and sign them up for Pharmacy and Health Rewards. Through Pharmacy and Health Rewards, patients receive $5 in ExtraBucks for every 10 prescriptions filled, earning up to $50 in ExtraBucks annually.

At the Doctor’s Office

Another component of the company’s comprehensive savings approach is the recently launched real-time benefits program, which helps bring greater drug price transparency to prescribers and CVS Caremark members. At the point-of-prescribing, providers are able to see the member-specific cost for a selected drug, based on a member’s coverage, along with up to five lowest-cost, clinically appropriate therapeutic alternatives based on the patient’s formulary. PBM members have access to the same information on the CVS Caremark app and member portal. Early results show that prescribers accessing the real-time benefits information through their electronic health record switched their patient’s drug from a non-covered drug to a drug on formulary 85 percent of the time. In addition, when the patient’s drug is covered, prescribers using real-time benefits switch their patient to a lower-cost alternative 30 percent of the time. When the prescriber switched to a lower-cost drug, the difference was approximately $75 per prescription.
“We have been working hard to keep prescription medications affordable for patients,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “In fact, in 2017, nearly 90 percent of our PBM plan members spent less than $300 out-of-pocket for their prescription medicines. While this signals progress, for those patients that cost is not insignificant. That is why we are committed to doing even more across our enterprise to help patients find and access the lowest cost drug at the pharmacy which ultimately will help improve clinical outcomes and remove higher downstream medical costs from the system.”

Using Pharmacy Benefit Management Solutions

CVS Health is also making a variety of PBM solutions available to help further drive down drug trend for its PBM clients and drug costs for the patients they support. The company’s Point of Sale (POS) rebate offering allows the value of negotiated rebates on branded drugs to be passed on directly to patients when they fill their prescriptions – and the savings from this program can be significant. In 2013, CVS Health led the industry with the introduction of POS rebates to clients, and today nearly 10 million members are covered by and able to benefit from the program.

In 2017, despite manufacturer brand list price increases on drugs near 10 percent, CVS Health PBM strategies reduced drug trend for CVS Caremark commercial clients to the lowest level in five years, keeping drug price growth at a minimal 0.2 percent. In fact, 42 percent of CVS Caremark commercial clients spent less on their pharmacy benefit plan in 2017 than they had in 2016. CVS Caremark helped members reduce monthly out-of-pocket costs and improve adherence to its highest level in seven years in key categories such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

Prescription drug trend is the measure of growth in prescription spending per member per month. Trend calculations take into account the effects of drug price, drug utilization and the mix of branded versus generic drugs as well as the positive effect of negotiated rebates on overall trend. The 2017 trend performance is based on a cohort of CVS Health PBM commercial clients, employers and health plans.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,800 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

###

[1] The Morning Consult poll was conducted from February 22-26, 2018, among a national sample of 1992 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

[2] Prescriptions submitted for reimbursement to Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state programs are not eligible..

Twitter is now specifically focusing on increasing black, Latinx and female representation

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Twitter met or surpassed many of the diversity and inclusion goals it set for itself for 2017, the company announced today. Twitter is now 38.4 percent female, compared to 37 percent in 2016. Regarding underrepresented minorities at Twitter, representation increased from 11 percent in 2016 to 12.5 percent in 2017.

While Twitter increased the overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities, it missed its goals for overall representation of underrepresented minorities, as well as underrepresented minorities in technical roles. At the leadership level, Twitter went from 30 percent female in 2016 to 32.5 percent female in 2017, and underrepresented minorities now account for 10.1 percent of employees at the leadership level, compared to just 6 percent in 2016.

Moving forward, Twitter intends to set two-year goals but will continue its practice of releasing yearly diversity reports. The rationale for the two-year period, Twitter VP of Intersectionality, Culture and Diversity Candi Castleberry Singleton explained in a blog post, is to better enable Twitter to assess its progress, “develop specific programming, and adapt our strategies along the way.”

Twitter is also now specifically looking at increasing the representation of women, black and Latinx people — groups that continue to be underrepresented in tech. Twitter is 3.4 percent black, 3.4 percent Latinx and 38.4 percent female. By 2019, Twitter wants to be 43 percent female, 5 percent black and 5 percent Latinx.

“We’re focused on powering positive change by fostering respectful conversations, creating deeper human connections, and encouraging diverse interactions across the company,” Singleton wrote in a blog post. “We’re calling this strategy Intersectionality, Culture and Diversity (ICD) and we’re making it a part of everything we do at Twitter.”

Continue onto TechCrunch to read the complete article.

California hiring underrepresented groups in renewable energy industry

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Clean Energy Jobs-

By Carol Zabin and Robert Collier

As California policymakers speed up the state’s switch to renewable energy, a key question is this: Do the much-touted new green jobs actually go to a diverse cross-section of the state’s workforce, or are disadvantaged communities left out?

According to data obtained and analyzed by researchers at University of California Berkeley’s Labor Center, the answer is that in recent years, a significant share of strong, career-track jobs in the construction of renewable energy power plants statewide have, in fact, gone to low-income residents and people of color.

Our recently issued report shows that the joint union-employer apprenticeship programs used in these projects have played an important role in diversifying California’s clean energy workforce.

In Kern County, local data shows that 43 percent of entry-level electrical workers on solar power plant construction lived in communities designated as disadvantaged by the California Environmental Protection Agency, while 47 percent lived in communities with unemployment rates of at least 13 percent.

Kern County electrical apprentice pay schedules show a clear progression toward the middle class. Current first-year apprentices start at $16.49 per hour plus full benefits and receive wage increases as they move through their five-year training program. Graduates become journey electricians earning more than $40 per hour.

Statewide, the picture is similar. Among the 16 union locals of electricians, ironworkers, and operating engineers that have built most of California’s renewable energy power plants, about 60 percent of new apprentices were people of color.

Diversity varied by trade. Latinos, who make up one-third of the state’s labor force, represented 53 percent of new apprentice ironworkers, 34 percent of electrical workers, and 23 percent of operating engineers. While African-Americans are 6 percent of the statewide labor force, they made up 4 percent of new apprentice electricians, 6 percent of ironworkers, and 9 percent of operating engineers.

The presence of military veterans in these programs also was higher than in California’s workforce as a whole. While veterans are only 4 percent of statewide workers, they comprised 9 percent of new electrical apprentices, 6 percent of ironworkers, and 12 percent of operating engineers.

The weak point in these apprenticeship programs, as with the rest of California’s construction industry, was the participation of women, ranging from only 2 percent to 6 percent among the three trades.

All told, the track record shows that California has made progress toward broadening access for disadvantaged workers to good jobs in the clean energy economy. But this diversity has not been automatic. A key driver of progress is the fact that most renewable energy plants were built under project labor agreements, which ensure union wage and benefit standards and free training for low-skilled workers through state-certified apprenticeships. Recruitment efforts by unions and the projects’ locations were also important since many renewable power plants are in counties such as Kern that have high unemployment and concentrations of low-income communities.

Looking forward, job access in the clean energy industry can be advanced by adopting specific programs such as publicly funded pre-apprenticeship training and local-hire provisions, in combination with project labor agreements.

Additional progress is likely if state lawmakers approve SB 100, which would commit California electricity providers to obtain 100 percent of their power from clean energy sources by 2045. This would drive further growth of renewable energy construction, which in turn would create more jobs and more openings in state-certified apprenticeship programs. The net result would be an important step forward along California’s path to meeting its climate challenge while simultaneously broadening access to middle-class jobs.

About the Authors
Carol Zabin and Robert Collier are director and policy specialist, respectively, of the Green Economy Program at the Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley.

Source: startrends.xyz

 

This Scientist Made a Major Discovery By ‘Playing’ With Bugs

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Stephen Baca

By Catalina Gonella

While hiking the hills of Kenya and coming across “amazing spiders” and other creatures, Stephen Baca rediscovered his childhood love for bugs. Sitting around a campfire later one night, he decided to concentrate his studies on just that.

Baca would go on to pursue entomology, the branch of zoology that is concerned with insects, and then earn a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. It was a choice well made, because in the past few years, the 31-year-old has become a world authority on the evolutionary history of a family of burrowing water beetles known as Noteridae. While conducting his research, he also has helped to clear a path for underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields.

“When I was younger, I didn’t realize you could do this for a living,” Baca told NBC Latino.

Beetles

Turning an obsession with crawling things into a career

As a kid growing up a part of a proud Hispanic-American family in New Mexico, Baca had always been interested in anything that crawled. He would even host lizard catching competitions with his cousins as a kid. “I suppose I was always the one who wanted to learn more about them,” Baca recalled.

When he was in middle school, one of his teachers happened to be an entomologist who would bring his bug collections to class. Fascinated, Baca began collecting insects himself.

“In middle school, I was this weird guy. I like to think endearingly weird guy, but I don’t know for sure,” Baca said, laughing. “I used to carry around a jar and forceps in my backpack, in case I saw anything cool.”

High school, on the other hand, was boring for Baca, and he eventually lost track of his passion for insects.

When he got to college, he decided to major in business, figuring he would set himself up for a “decent career.” He ended up leaving school after only one year.

“I just didn’t have the patience for school at all,” he said.

After that year, Baca worked several jobs, from delivering pizza to waiting tables and bartending. After spending a summer working on a ranch in Montana, he decided he would go back to school. This time, he stuck with it.

Baca started out at a local community college and eventually transferred to the University of New Mexico where he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology.

It was around this time that he traveled to Kenya and experienced his career-altering epiphany. The things that crawled, such as the marching army ants, were what excited him. “I was just like, man this stuff is amazing, I used to love this as a kid!”

When he got back, he connected with a professor who allowed him to volunteer at his lab conducting research on aquatic beetles. After six months, Baca visited Peru to conduct fieldwork, and that’s when he got hooked. “It kind of snowballed from there,” he said.

Now, Baca is living out his childhood dream. Having earned his Nicaragua_w_caimanmaster’s in entomology, he is now working toward his doctorate in the same field at the University of Kansas. Or as he puts it, “getting to play with bugs all the time.”

Overturning a water beetle world

Recently, Baca was the lead author of a study that delineated the evolutionary history of Noteridae. His work was published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Working with co-authors Emmanuel Toussaint and Andrew Short of University of Kansas and Kelly Miller of University of New Mexico, Baca was able to determine the relationships of 53 species of Noteridae. His study completely overhauled the classification within the family of aquatic beetles.

“It’s important to note that papers like this, that especially when they result in large changes in the classification, have a lot of downstream impact,” Floyd Shockley, an entomologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, told NBC Latino. “Especially on the large community of amateur collectors that just enjoy collecting beetles,” he said. The impact on museums, and other places that house insect collections will also be major, according to Shockley.

While conducting the study, Baca and his team discovered faults in a computational method for partitioning genetic data—the “k-means” method. The researchers sent their results to the developer of the computational method, who decided the model should be discontinued.

The method was just gaining traction, but the discovery by Baca will prevent other biologists from getting inaccurate results by using it. “The developer had already realized there were issues with it,” Baca said. “We were kind of the last nail in the coffin.”

Passing on the STEM “bug”

Baca is also passionate about the work he does as the president of University of Kansas’ chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

He became involved in the group back when he was an undergraduate at University of New Mexico through one of the school’s biology professors, Maggie Werner-Washburne. When Baca asked her for a recommendation letter to help him get into grad school and the National Science Foundation, “she agreed, but only on the condition that I go to a SACNAS meeting.”

Though he didn’t really know what SACNAS was at the time, he agreed to attend. “I loved it because the whole time, they were just kind of talking about the things that I felt were sort of lacking in my life before,” Baca said.

In high school, no one had asked him what he liked or was interested in. “I didn’t know that I could make a career out of this stuff,” said Baca. “And that’s kind of the fun thing about sitting here now, is that I had no idea this was ever possible.”

“And that’s kind of one the reasons that I like to get into some of these outreach groups,” Baca explained.

He was nominated to become the president of University of Kansas chapter shortly after deciding with a group of students that he should lead because he was the oldest of the group. “We’ve been pretty ambitious about it,” said Baca. They just celebrated their one-year anniversary and recently became recognized as an official chapter. Baca’s goal is to continue to do more outreach work, to undergraduates and especially to high school students.

“One of the things I’ve learned more than anything in doing this,” said Baca, “is that putting yourself in a position where you can talk to people or sharing your story and giving them a little bit of advice, letting them know that there are resources out there for them, and people advocating for them, is where the most profound effect comes from.”

Sources: NBC News, NBC Latino. View original article at: nbcnews.com/news/latino/how-latino-scientist-made-major-discovery-playing-bugs-n733251

This Geriatrician Says To Do These 5 Things To Live Longer

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A healthful diet can reduce risk for disease and increase longevity

Good nutrition plays an important role in how well you age. Eating a healthful diet helps keep your body strong and can help reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis.Studies even show a link between healthful eating and longevity.

“As we age, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing some key nutrients. Appetite and taste can suffer from loss of sense of smell and taste or from side effects of medications. Bad teeth can make some foods difficult to chew or digest,” said Arthur Hayward, MD, a geriatrician and the clinical lead physician for elder care with Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute. “So choosing foods carefully is smart.”

Here are five tips to help you get the nutrition your body needs:

  1. Avoid empty calories.

Foods with empty calories may contain very few vitamins and minerals. “Convenience foods,” such as packaged snacks, chips and sodas, are common sources of empty calories. Avoid the “bad” carbs—foods that have white flour, refined sugar and white rice.

  1. Choose nutrient-rich foods.

Eat a variety of foods. The more you vary the foods you eat, the more vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you get. For example:

* Eat lots of fruits and vegetables—Choose fresh, frozen or no-salt canned vegetables and fruits in their own juice or light syrup.

* Eat foods with protein—Protein is found in lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese, cooked beans, peanut butter and nuts and seeds.

* Get enough calcium and vitamin D—Calcium and vitamin D are found in milk and milk products, including yogurt and cheese. They are also in green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens) and tofu.

* Include foods high in vitamin B12—After 50, the body produces less gastric acid and absorbs less B12, which helps keep blood and nerves vital. B12 is found in milk, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

* Eat high-fiber foods—This includes fruits, vegetables, cooked dried beans, and whole grains.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids.

Drink plenty of fluids—enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. Fiber and fluids help with constipation.

  1. If your appetite is poor, eat smaller meals.

Try eating smaller meals, several times a day, instead of one or two large meals. Eating while socializing with others may help your appetite. You might also ask about changing medicines. Medication can cause appetite or taste problems.

  1. Eat soft foods.

As we approach our senior years, chewing food is sometimes difficult. Choose low-sodium canned vegetables or cooked fruits and vegetables. These are often softer. Chop or shred meat, poultry or fish. Add sauce or gravy to the meat to help keep it moist.

For healthy recipe ideas, check out Kaiser Permanente’s Food for Health blog at https://foodforhealth.kaiserpermanente.org.

In addition to eating a balanced diet, aim for 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Ten-minute sessions several times a day on most days are fine. For more information, visit kp.org and everybodywalk.org. For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk with your physician.

Source: NewsUSA

3 Things to Know Before You Pick a Health Insurance Plan

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MassMutual

Choosing a health insurance plan can be complicated. Knowing just a few things before you compare plans can make it simpler.

  1. The 4 “metal” categories: There are 4 categories of health insurance plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These categories show how you and your plan share costs. Plan categories have nothing to do with quality of care.

Which metal category is right for you?

Bronze

  • Lowest monthly premium
  • Highest costs when you need care
  • Bronze plan deductibles — the amount of medical costs you pay yourself before your insurance plan starts to pay — can be thousands of dollars a year.
  • Good choice if: You want a low-cost way to protect yourself from worst-case medical scenarios, like serious sickness or injury. Your monthly premium will be low, but you’ll have to pay for most routine care yourself.

Silver

  • Moderate monthly premium
  • Moderate costs when you need care
  • Silver deductibles — the costs you pay yourself before your plan pays anything — are usually lower than those of Bronze plans.

Gold

  • High monthly premium
  • Low costs when you need care
  • Deductibles — the amount of medical costs you pay yourself before your plan pays — are usually low.
  • Good choice if: You’re willing to pay more each month to have more costs covered when you get medical treatment. If you use a lot of care, a Gold plan could be a good value.

Platinum

  • Highest monthly premium
  • Lowest costs when you get care
  • Deductibles are very low, meaning your plan starts paying its share earlier than for other categories of plans.
  1. Your total costs for health care: You pay a monthly bill to your insurance company (a “premium”), even if you don’t use medical services that month. You pay out-of-pocket costs, including a deductible, when you get care. It’s important to think about both kinds of costs when shopping for a plan.

When choosing a plan, it’s a good idea to think about your total health care costs, not just the bill (the “premium”) you pay to your insurance company every month.

Other amounts, sometimes called “out-of-pocket” costs, have a big impact on your total spending on health care – sometimes more than the premium itself.

Beyond your monthly premium: Deductible and out-of-pocket costs

  • Deductible: How much you have to spend for covered health services before your insurance company pays anything (except free preventive services)
  • Copayments and coinsurance: Payments you make each time you get a medical service after reaching your deductible
  • Out-of-pocket maximum: The most you have to spend for covered services in a year. After you reach this amount, the insurance company pays 100% for covered services.

So how do you find a category that works for you?

  • If you don’t expect to use regular medical services and don’t take regular prescriptions: You may want a Bronze plan. These plans can have very low monthly premiums, but have high deductibles and pay less of your costs when you need care.
  • If you qualify for extra savings on out-of-pocket costs OR want more of your costs covered: Silver plans probably offer the best value. If you qualify for extra savings (“cost-sharing reductions”) your deductible will be lower and you’ll pay less each time you get care. But you get these extra savings ONLY if you enroll in Silver plan. This can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year if you use a lot of care. Even if you don’t qualify for extra savings, Silver plans offer good value — moderate premiums and deductibles, and better coverage of your out-of-pocket costs than a Bronze or Catastrophic plan provide.

If you expect a lot of doctor visits or need regular prescriptions: You may want a Gold plan or Platinum plan. These plans generally have higher monthly premiums but pay more of your costs when you need care.

  1. Plan and network types — HMO, PPO, POS, and EPO: Some plan types allow you to use almost any doctor or health care facility. Others limit your choices or charge you more if you use providers outside their network.

Types of Marketplace plans

Depending on how many plans are offered in your area, you may find plans of all or any of these types at each metal level – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

Some examples of plan types you’ll find in the Marketplace:

  • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO): A managed care plan where services are covered only if you use doctors, specialists, or hospitals in the plan’s network (except in an emergency).
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): A type of health insurance plan that usually limits coverage to care from doctors who work for or contract with the HMO. It generally won’t cover out-of-network care except in an emergency. An HMO may require you to live or work in its service area to be eligible for coverage. HMOs often provide integrated care and focus on prevention and wellness.
  • Point of Service (POS): A type of plan where you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that belong to the plan’s network. POS plans require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor in order to see a specialist.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): A type of health plan where you pay less if you use providers in the plan’s network. You can use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network without a referral for an additional cost.

Source: Healthcare.gov

Why Aren’t More People Eating Breakfast?

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We may know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t mean we are taking it to heart and having a hearty breakfast. In fact, although 97 percent of Americans agree breakfast is the most important meal of the day, only 44 percent eat it every day.

The most common reasons people skip breakfast are they weren’t hungry, didn’t feel like eating, or they were too busy. Females are more likely than males to skip a morning meal because of being busy or running late.

Why is breakfast so important? A good way to look at it is that you are breaking the fast. When you go without breakfast, you have deprived your body of calories since the last time you’ve eaten. These calories help feed your brain and without them you may lack energy, and your metabolism needs fuel to kick-start it into action. Breakfast is important, so it’s important to consume a sufficient amount.

Studies show that people who eat a good breakfast actually consume more vitamins and minerals, and less fat and cholesterol, than people who skip breakfast.

Those who make eat breakfast have been shown to be better learners. Children who have breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination.

Smart choices for breakfast include whole grains, fruit, and low-fat dairy products.

The whole grains and fruit contain high amounts of fiber, which tend to fill you up faster and will delay symptoms of hunger for hours.

If choosing a dry cereal, look for whole grain as one of the first ingredients. It should contain 3 to 5 grams of fiber, and read the nutrition facts label to make sure sugar doesn’t appear as one of the first three ingredients. Sugar may be listed with a word that ends in “ose,” which means some form of sugar is in the product. Some of the sugar-coated or frosted cereals may have as much as 2-3 teaspoons of sugar for a one eighth cup serving.

Oatmeal is another high fiber choice, and with the instant oatmeal on the market today, it can be prepared in fewer than 2 minutes. When paired with fresh fruit and milk, you have a healthy breakfast in a matter of minutes.

If you just don’t have the time to grab something at home and must go through the drive through of a fast food restaurant, there are healthy choices for you. Many are offering warm oatmeal, whole-grain bagels, rolls, and English muffins. These are better than fat-filled doughnuts, scones, croissants, or biscuits. Skip the oversize breakfast sandwiches, whole milk, bacon and sausage. All of these contribute excessive fat, calories, and cholesterol to your diet.

Breakfast foods don’t have to be traditional. They can be any combination, just make them nutritious and well balanced, and they are limited only by your creativity and imagination.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be the full-course meal. Those can be reserved for weekends. There are many nutritious choices out there that can be ready in minutes.

As your busy day begins, take a few minutes to include breakfast into your morning schedule. Egg in a Nest is quick, healthy and only has 3 ingredients. As an added bonus, your kids may be able to make it themselves depending upon their age.

Scientists Discover Latinos Age Slower Than Other Ethnicities

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UCLA scientists noticed that the blood of Latinos aged more slowly than other groups.

By Elaine Schmidt

A UCLA study is the first to show that Latinos age at a slower rate than other ethnic groups. The findings, published in the current issue of Genome Biology, may one day help scientists understand how to slow the aging process for everyone.

“Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer to this as the ‘Hispanic paradox,’” said lead author Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Our study helps explain this by demonstrating that Latinos age more slowly at the molecular level.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos in the United States live an average of three years longer than Caucasians, with a life expectancy of 82 versus 79. At any age, healthy Latino adults face a 30 percent lower risk of death than other racial groups, according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

The UCLA team used several biomarkers, including an “epigenetic clock” developed by Horvath in 2013, to track an epigenetic shift in the genome that’s linked to aging. Epigenetics is the study of changes to the DNA molecule that influence which genes are active but don’t alter the DNA sequence.

Horvath and his colleagues analyzed 18 sets of data on DNA samples from nearly 6,000 people. The participants represented seven ethnicities: two African groups, African-Americans, Caucasians, East Asians, Latinos and an indigenous people called the Tsimane, who are genetically related to Latinos. The Tsimane live in Bolivia.

When the scientists examined the DNA from blood—which reveals the health of a person’s immune system—they were struck by differences linked to ethnicity. In particular, the scientists noticed that, after accounting for differences in cell composition, the blood of Latinos and the Tsimane aged more slowly than other groups.

According to Horvath, the UCLA research points to an epigenetic explanation for Latinos’ longer life spans. For example, the biological clock measured Latino women’s age as 2.4 years younger than non-Latino women of the same age after menopause.

“We suspect that Latinos’ slower aging rate helps neutralize their higher health risks, particularly those related to obesity and inflammation,” said Horvath, who is also a professor of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Our findings strongly suggest that genetic or environmental factors linked to ethnicity may influence how quickly a person ages and how long they live.”

The Tsimane aged even more slowly than Latinos. The biological clock calculated the age of their blood as two years younger than Latinos and four years younger than Caucasians. This reflects the group’s minimal signs of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity or clogged arteries, the researchers said.

“Despite frequent infections, the Tsimane people show very little evidence of the chronic diseases that commonly afflict modern society,” said coauthor Michael Gurven, a professor of anthropology at UC Santa Barbara. “Our findings provide an interesting molecular explanation for their robust health.”

In another finding, the researchers learned that men’s blood and brain tissue ages faster than women’s from the same ethnic groups. The discovery could explain why women have a higher life expectancy than men.

Horvath and his colleagues next plan to study the aging rate of other human tissues and to identify the molecular mechanism that protects Latinos from aging.

The research was supported by grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging.

Source: ucla.edu

Move Toward Environmental Sustainability with These 10 Inventions

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The concept of environmental sustainability isn’t new. With the risk of sounding like a broken record, sustainability is simply using resources available to our benefit while making sure there will still be enough for the future generations. Being truly sustainable means ensuring development, while also maintaining biological diversity and preserving the balance of the ecosystem by moving toward using renewable sources of energy in all walks of life.

Why bother?
Many believe that human activities have had no role in making climate change a reality. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, climate change is happening, and sitting back while the world burns down is not an option.

The extreme weather brought on by ongoing climate change also wreaks havoc on the world’s natural land resources, making some areas too wet and other areas too dry. And of course, air pollution continues to chip away at the quality of air we breathe, which will result in several health problems. When all these issues become a reality we can no longer avoid, social decline will begin.

Fret not, for there are a few people who have tried creating alternative/green products. These 10 inventions will help you lead an environmentally stable life:

  1. Plastic from banana peels
    As a society, we can try eliminating unnecessary plastics from our day-to-day lives. To help with this process, 16-year-old Elif Beligin from Istanbul developed a chemical process that would help turn banana peels into a resistant bioplastic. His choice of material came after he realized the fruit is naturally wrapped in a wrapper, that provides all the protection it needs, characterized by its flexibility and strength.
  2. Lamps to grow plants in windowless spaces
    Nui Design Studio created the Lamp Mygdal, which acts as a home to a completely autonomous ecosystem that allows plants to even survive in windowless interiors. Translated into English, Mygdal means “fertile soil.” They come in both pendant lamp and standing lamp forms, which are aesthetically pleasing.
  3. Transparent solar panels
    Solar power systems help derive clean energy from the sun, and installing them in your homes will help combat greenhouse gas emissions and reduce your carbon footprint.

The first breakthrough happened in 2014 when researchers at the Michigan State University created a fully transparent solar concentrator that could turn any window or sheet of glass, much like your smartphone’s screen into a photovoltaic solar cell. Solar panels generate energy by converting absorbed photons into electrons. For a material to be fully transparent, light would have to travel uninhibited to the eye, which means those photons would have to pass through the material completely (without being absorbed to generate solar power). To create this panel, the team created something called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), which employs organic salts to absorb wavelengths of light that are already invisible to the human eye. Richard Lunt, who led the research at the time, went on and confounded an MIT startup called Ubiquitous Energy, which went on to bring its transparent solar panels to the market.

  1. Edible water
    Skipping Rocks Lab, a Climate KIC start-up program founded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), came up with a solution to the world’s growing plastic problem. They created Ooho, a thin, translucent seaweed sleeve that can hold liquid. It’s edible and completely biodegradable. This little ball is durable enough to not tear unless you want to break into it. The spherical flexible packaging can also be used for other liquids including water, soft drinks, spirits, and cosmetics. Their product is even cheaper than plastic.
  2. The water-saving showerhead
    On an average, a typical 8-minute shower uses around 20 gallons of water. To combat this problem, a U.S.-based company designed the Nebia shower.

Nebia used the same tools and techniques used for building rocket engines and medical equipment to create a new nozzle technology that atomizes water into a million tiny droplets. As a result, this shower head covers 10 times more surface area than a regular shower, which helps reduce water usage by 70 percent. It is a self-installable system that can be adjusted in terms of height and angle of water stream, according to your needs.

  1. Portable wind turbine
    Wind energy is yet another alternative to non-renewable forms of energy. It is a clean fuel source that has the potential to reduce cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent. It is cost-effective and available in abundance. However, one disadvantage is that wind energy requires a large amount of land. Unless you own a farm or a ranch, shifting to wind energy can prove to be difficult. An innovation company called Janulus aims to change that with Trinity, a portable wind turbine that’s available in four different-sized models to accommodate a variety of your power needs. The turbine uses lithium-ion batteries similar to the ones used in electric cars. It is usable in winds as low as 2 mph, and when fully charged, it is capable of charging your iPhone 16 times. The product comes with an app that will turn the device on and off, provide stats on how much power you’re generating and recommendations on its setup, which you can customize based on wind conditions.
  2. Sprout pencil
    To limit the waste that accompanies worn-out writing utensils, three MIT students created Sprout Pencil, a multifunctional alternative, which is composed of cedar, with a biodegradable capsule of seeds and peat in place of an eraser. Once the pencil gets too small to write with, you can place it in some soil and watch it give birth to new life. The pencils come in 14 varieties, and a pack of eight is $19.95, but the company hopes to lower the price so that every student can afford to use these pencils.
  3. Power-generating tiles
    Many companies have been working toward developing a technology that will help tap into the energy expended by pedestrians.

The solution came to 31-year-old Laurence Kemball-Cook back in 2009 when he studied industrial design and technology at the University of Loughborough. Under the banner of his company, Pavegen, he created floor tiles that help convert kinetic energy from footsteps into electricity that can be stored or used in low-power applications, such as lighting, signage, and digital displays.

  1. The feedback band
    To help you calculate your carbon footprint, Layer, a design studio based in London, collaborated with Carbon Trust, an environmental nonprofit that specializes in low-carbon initiatives to create the Worldbeing wristband.

The band works with a smartphone app to help its users monitor their carbon footprint by measuring minute details right from what you had for breakfast, how far you drove the car, and even what you bought in a store. The app gives daily challenges with the incentive of winning a reward or more from low-carbon businesses and helps you reduce your eco-impact. It even shows you how you’re saving planet Earth.

  1. The plastic recycling machine
    Even though most of us know the consequences of using plastic, it is difficult to avoid using it. Unless you start making your own make-up and beauty products and growing your own vegetables, you will notice that plastic is almost everywhere.

To help us deal with this, Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, who designed Phonebloks, came up with Precious Plastic, a series of automated machines that turn plastic into household items. The product is aimed at reducing waste and making plastic recycling more accessible. The machine melts the waste collected and molds them into usable items. He open-sourced the design so that anyone could easily download it.

Source: theplaidzebra.com

Selena Gomez: Innovating Social Media

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SelenaGomez-WeCampaign

By Mackenna Cummings

Actress and singer Selena Gomez got her start at the age of nine on Barney and Friends and quickly rose as a Disney Channel star with the television show Wizards of Waverly Place, where she played a Latina-Italian middle daughter on the longest-running Disney channel show. But the young performer has moved far beyond her early days as a teen celebrity, and she’s using her rising status to bring awareness to issues she is passionate about.

Today, Gomez’s songs have reached millions in records sales, she has been nominated for several VMA awards, and she is the highest paid influencer on Instagram, a social media platform where her life, interests, and projects are shared with her astounding 124 million followers.

In September, TIME Magazine recognized Gomez for being the first person to reach 100 million followers on Instagram in its project TIME Firsts, which highlights women making a difference in the world. The singer is grateful for the platform and how it has allowed her to connect even more with her fans, but she also tries to connect with them strategically. She admits that she is thankful she never grew up with this type of social media, because feeling good about yourself is hard enough as a young adult without being so aware of what everyone around you is accomplishing. This is why Gomez attempts to share her mistakes and vulnerability on her account along with her accomplishments. “I hope that they know that strength doesn’t mean that you have to put on a facade. Strength is being vulnerable,” she said in the feature.

And she has made quite an impact through her social media and her efforts to be open and honest. At 25 years old, Gomez has one of the largest voices and has chosen to use it across underrepresented issues, such as awareness for autoimmune diseases and mental health, equality for the LGBT community, her Hispanic heritage, and empowering students to make a difference. She uses her social media platforms, particularly Instagram, to share about these passions and how people can make a difference every day.

She posts regularly from all aspects of her life to connect with fans and make a positive difference in the world, though she admits it’s not always easy to hope change can come. But her honesty and willingness to share so much is exactly why TIME Magazine has named her the “tastemaker,” emphasizing its belief that she is capable of bringing change through her social media.

Selena Gomez – Headshot;
Photo Credit: Nicholas Christopher

The “Bad Liar” singer has opened up more about her own Lupus diagnosis and how that has affected her life and career over the years. While her diagnosis was nearly five years ago, upon canceling the end of her Revival tour last year, Gomez revealed more about her battle with Lupus while simultaneously showing her fans that it was more than OK to put yourself and your mental health above other obligations. She shared the difficult truths about the depression and social anxiety that often accompanies Lupus in an interview with Vogue, stating that checking into a treatment facility was the best thing she had ever done. Her reason behind sharing is not only for awareness and to raise money for research (her only birthday wish this past year) but to help remove the stigmas surrounding seeking help and getting therapy for important issues, particularly among women.

“We girls, we’re taught to be almost too resilient, to be strong and sexy and cool and laid-back; the girl who’s down,” she says. “We also need to feel allowed to fall apart.” While she was devastated to let down fans by canceling a portion of her tour, she is continuing to show her fans how to accept and seek out help when you need it.

The Revival tour also became a vehicle for Gomez to address other issues and passions, including her beliefs on the need for equality for the LGBT community and her identity as a Latina. In 2016, while many other performers were protesting the implementation of the HB2 law in North Carolina (a discriminatory law that targets the LGBT community particularly in regards to gender neutral restrooms) by canceling any concerts in the area, Gomez chose to keep her tour location in the state. She had her proceeds from the show go to an LGBT organization in protest against the law and was sure to include gender-neutral bathrooms at the venue, because making sure everyone felt welcome at her show was important.

WE Day California 2017 – WE Carpet –Photo Credit: Tommaso Boddi_Getty for WE Day

Continuing this support, Gomez recently wrote an open love letter to the LGBT community stating her love and calling for more inclusivity and acceptance. Having grown up with a mother who was supportive of all love and people, she admits that she was lucky to have such a positive and early relationship with the LGBT community and hopes that this letter can help others love and support the community as well.

Gomez announced the Revival tour to her Instagram followers with a photo of herself wearing the sugar-skull style makeup associated with El Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican celebration of the dead. Her merchandise on the tour represented more of her Latin roots with a bomber jacket also in the style of El Dia de los Muertos and a shirt with the same font and coloring as the well-known Selena Quintanilla fan shirt. The singer had already addressed the fact that the two share a name earlier that year in a radio interview with Doug Lazy.

“My dad and mom were huge fans. My name was going to be Priscilla, but my cousin actually took the name when she was born six months before me. They actually loved her music, so they just named me after her.” In fact, the two have a lot in common as Gomez is a Mexican-American born and raised in Texas just as Quintanilla was. Gomez has credited Quintanilla as a role model and inspiration, recognizing that her success was key in the success of future Latina stars.

Aside from world tours and number one hit songs, Gomez continues to make headlines for her charitable work and partnerships with programs and fashion lines alike. She continuously donates to research for Lupus and encourages fans to do the same. For last five years, she has participated in WE Day, which encourages students and families to make a positive difference in their community from environmental change to promoting inclusivity in the workplace all by coming together. During the past two WE Day Movements, she has not only participated but also hosted. “It’s not just they want to help a specific community or want to go to a certain place in the world,” Gomez said about the program.

Selea-Gomez-We-Day_2017
WE Day California 2017-Photo Credit: Tommaso Boddi_Getty for WE Day

“They are encouraging kids from even in your backyard to be doing something for your community, for your neighborhood, for your family, for your friends. […] And I love that they’re celebrating all these kids and how hard they’re working…It’s beautiful.”

Most recently, Gomez has partnered with Coach as the new face of the lifestyle brand. But she has taken this partnership further by bringing awareness to and participating in Coach’s charity partner, “Step Up.” The charity works to give young women from under-resourced communities confidence and support to graduate from high school and attend colleges successfully.

After meeting with two young girls the program was working with, Gomez said, “Step Up’s mission to empower young women is personally important to me and something even more crucial in underserved communities. Working with the young women I met today was an inspirational experience I will never forget.”

And who better to mentor young women on empowerment than a young Latina who has not only held her own as a top selling artist and the star of her own television series, but also proved her skills on the business side of Hollywood as the executive producer to the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why? The series was so successful that a second season is already cast and in the works.

In addition to her success in Hollywood, Gomez has risen up to be an influence for young Latinas everywhere and anyone struggling with illnesses and mental health. Her positivity and focus on changing the dialogue and stigma surrounding diseases and therapy has made a powerful impact on those with similar experiences. She continues to find unique ways to spread awareness and gain support on important issues, from tour proceeds going to organizations and research to meeting with and celebrating her fans. In fact, scattered throughout her impressive Instagram account, she posts photos of her with fans continuously expressing her gratitude for their love. She is inspiring her 24 million followers to celebrate Latin culture, seek gender and LGBT equality, contribute to community service, strive for success as students, and support medical research all with humility and grace.