Has your fear of coronavirus also induced a fear of going to your doctor for non-COVID symptoms, regular checkups, or recommended health screenings? By using telemedicine options or making sure your doctor’s office is observing safety guidelines for patients and staff, you can fearlessly visit your healthcare provider online or in person. By maintaining continuity of care, you can avoid negative consequences from delayed preventive, chronic, or routine care.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you don’t have to choose between medical care and social distancing if you use telemedicine options available from your provider’s office. Remote access also can help preserve the patient-provider relationship at times when an in-person visit is not practical or feasible.
Telemedicine can be a beneficial way to address mental health concerns for the majority of patients. Many patients are comfortable in their own home, scheduling is often more convenient, concerns with transportation and time may be reduced, and adolescents and young adults especially are comfortable using technology to communicate. Telemedicine also can reach patients in rural areas where behavioral health professionals are otherwise in limited supply. Remote access to healthcare services may increase participation for those who are medically or socially vulnerable or who do not have ready access to providers.
Safety guidelines for healthcare providers’ facilities from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and the World Health Organization include the following recommendations for waiting areas, patient examination rooms, labs, and restrooms:
- Provide supplies—tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, soap at sinks, trash cans, and face masks.
- Place chairs at least 6 feet apart.
- If your office has toys, reading materials, or other communal objects, remove them or clean them regularly.
- Clean areas often with attention to frequently-touched surfaces including doorknobs, armrests, and handrails.
- Fully clean and disinfect exam rooms between each patient.
- Require the use of face masks by staff, patients, and accompanying visitors.
This issue of InsureYouKnow provides preventive health guidelines for the general adult population, based on the recommendations of recognized clinical sources such medical associations and government entities, including the CDC and the United States Preventive Services Task Force. An individual patient’s medical history and physical examination may indicate that further medical tests are needed. Guidelines may also differ from state to state based on state regulations and requirements.
Some tests and vaccinations may not be covered by Medicare or by your health insurance plan, so it’s important to check on your specific coverage before obtaining them. Some insurance companies are currently not only waiving copayments and deductibles for COVID-19 related diagnoses and treatments, but also for telehealth and in-person visits for non-COVID concerns.
- Routine Health Examination: every visit or at least, based on age and insurance contract, your healthcare provider will perform an exam that includes height and weight, calculation of body mass index, obesity determination, and blood pressure measurement.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: one-time screening with ultrasonography in men ages 65 to 75 years who have ever smoked.
- Breast Cancer: mammography and physician breast exam: annually for women ages 40 and over; breast self-exams: recommended monthly for women beginning at age 20.
- Cervical Cancer: Pap/Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing: for women ages 21 to 65, or starting 3 years after the onset of sexual activity, annually without HPV test to age 30; Pap test with HPV test every 3 years after age 30. Women who have had a hysterectomy or are over age 65 may not need a Pap test.
- Colorectal Cancer: for men and women ages 50 to 75 (in certain situations, also may be advisable from ages 75 to 85). Colonoscopy: for men and women, every 10 years. Other screening tests are: Fecal Immunochemical test: stool blood test, every 1-3 years, and CT colonography (an x-ray examination): every 5 years.
- Lung Cancer: annually with low-dose computed tomography in adults ages 55 to 80 years who have a history of heavy smoking and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
- Prostate Cancer: Digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate specific antigen (PSA) test/discussion with physician: annually for men 50 and over (starting at age 40 for African-Americans).
- Cholesterol: Lipid Panel, including LDL: every 5 years, or more frequently based on results and risk profile for all men and women starting at age 20, or earlier if cardiac risk profile reveals high risk.
- Diabetes: Fasting Plasma Glucose or Random Plasma Glucose: men and women with high blood pressure, are overweight, or have cardiovascular risk factors; all others age 45 and over.
- Hepatitis B: screen persons at high risk for infection (such as geographic location, HIV positive, immunocompromised); screen pregnant women at their first prenatal visit.
- Hepatitis C: one-time testing of all adults 18 and all pregnant women during every pregnancy. People with risk factors, including people who inject drugs, should be tested regularly.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection: screen in adults age 13 to 65 years and younger adolescents and older adults at increased risk; all pregnant women.
- Hypertension: blood pressure measurement every 1-2 years for all men and women, regardless of age.
- Osteoporosis: DXA (bone-density testing): baseline testing with follow-up intervals based on test results for women ages 65 and over, or starting at menopause if additional risk factors exist.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): screen sexually active and those at high risk for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea and offer intensive behavioral counseling for adults who are at increased risk for STIs.
- Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: one time in place of Diphtheria/Tetanus Booster for men and women ages 19 to 64.
- Diphtheria/Tetanus: every 10 years for men and women up to age 65; single vaccination only for men and women 65 or over.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): one series of three vaccines for females between ages 11 and 26, and men, two to three doses depending on age at time of initial vaccination; age 19-21 if not already given.
- Influenza (Flu): annually for high-risk adults of any age with diabetes or heart, lung, kidney or immune disease; annually for all adults ages 50 and over; annually for any adult desiring immunization, regardless of age.
- Pneumococcal (for Pneumonia): one dose of PCV 13 and one dose of PCV 23 at least one year after PCV 13 for adults ages 65 and over who are at average risk, for high-risk adults of any age with diabetes, cancer, or heart, lung, or immune disease, Initial vaccination, with single revaccination 5 years later.
- Varicella Zoster (for Shingles): two doses starting at age 50; single vaccination for adults ages 60 and older.
Mental Health Awareness
- Physical Exam: Your primary care provider may give you a physical exam and ask you about your feelings, mood, behavior patterns, and other symptoms. Your provider may also order a blood test to find out if a physical disorder may be causing mental health symptoms.
- Coping with Stress: The COVID-19 pandemic is stressful for many people. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Know where and how to get treatment and other support services, including counseling or therapy in person or through telehealth services. Free and confidential resources can also help you connect with a skilled, trained counselor in your area.
- Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence: screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence should be addressed immediately. The CDC provides a list of services to assist victims of violence.
- Doctor visits and approvals as well as lab results are sometimes required in order to obtain or renew prescriptions.
Although health care news covered daily focuses on COVID-19, it’s important not to neglect other medical issues for which you should seek attention and advice from your healthcare professional.
At InsureYouKnow.org, you can save your medical files, lab results, and a list of prescriptions. You also can set up alerts to prompt you to schedule appointments to keep you on track to stay healthy.
Individuals, communities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses continue to feel the ever-increasing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help keep them afloat while dealing with diminished incomes and benefits, isolation away from friends, family, and colleagues, or facing an unknown future of returning to their previous careers or businesses, they can seek emergency financial assistance.
As the following selected links demonstrate, a variety of grantors are currently offering grants to assist in meeting financial challenges resulting in the continuing threat of COVID-19.
Grantspace by Candid provides a continually updated list of emergency financial resources including the following grant opportunities.
- The United Way, accessible at www.211.org or by dialing 211, provides a comprehensive list of available resourcesto locate food banks, to help pay housing bills, and to access free childcare and other essential services available on local, national, and statewide bases.
- Coronavirus Tax Relief: Economic Impact Payments is an IRS web page that lets non-filers enter payment information and others to check on the status of their stimulus payments.
- Economic Impact Payments: What you need to know is a FAQ page created by the IRS to answer questions about stimulus payments.
- Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund provides emergency funding for those employed by or own restaurants or bars facing unforeseen expenses not covered by insurance.
- Americans for the Arts Coronavirus Resource and Response Center includes a list of funding/grants resources.
- COVID-19 Freelance Artists Resources is an aggregated list of free resources, opportunities, and financial relief options available to artists of all disciplines.
- Creative Capital Arts Resources During the COVID-19 Outbreak is another list of financial resources for artists working in all disciplines.
- Freelancers Relief Fund grants financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs.
- Student Relief Fund lists resources for college students in need of support due to campus shutdowns caused by COVID-19.
- Artist Relief lists grants for artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19 in the U.S.
- Artist Relief Project publicizes grants for any artist in any discipline whose income has been impacted by COVID-19-related cancellations and closures.
- American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) Relief Fund provides support and temporary financial assistance to members in need.
- Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund for Musicians who have lost income due to a cancelled performance as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- New Music Solidarity Fund offers emergency funds to support freelance artists in the new/creative/improvised music community.
- Dramatists Guild Foundation Emergency Grants provides emergency financial assistance to individual playwrights, composers, lyricists, and book writers in dire need of funds due to severe hardship or unexpected illness.
- GrantWatch promotes an Opportunity for USA Organizations to Raise Funds to Benefit Communities Impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Community Foundations Nationwide Launch Coronavirus Relief Efforts is a full listing of more than 500 U.S. community foundations in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, that support those affected by COVID-19—directing critical relief to local nonprofits and partnering with local governments and health organizations to help contain its spread.
For Small Businesses
- Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Loans provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue.
- SBA Paycheck Protection Program – An SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis.
- GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund helps small businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and empower their communities to rally behind them. GoFundMe has partnered with Yelp, Intuit QuickBooks, GoDaddy, and Bill.com to provide small business owners with the financial support and resources needed to continue running their businesses during and after the coronavirus crisis.
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program – Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where it operates.
- Financial Assistance for Small Business is a list of programs providing financial assistance to small businesses compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
- Opportunity Fund Small Business Relief Fund supports eligible small businesses, especially those run by women, people of color, and immigrants, impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
- Funding for Coronavirus (COVID-19) shares information about philanthropy’s response to the pandemic
- CARES Act: How to Apply for Nonprofit Relief Funds is a guide created by Independent Sector.
- Loans Available for Nonprofits in the CARES Act is a chart from the National Council of Nonprofits providing details on loan options, eligibility criteria, terms, and application information.
- State Public Policy Resources on COVID-19 is the National Council of Nonprofits page for nonprofit-specific materials from state officials and useful resources on what states are doing in response to COVID-19.
- Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants & Refugees COVID-19 Resources is an aggregated list of resources for nonprofits working with immigrants & refugees.
In general, grant opportunities and corresponding applications adhere to strictly announced deadlines and requirements so potential grantees need to submit proposals on time and meet the specific provisions outlined in each grant’s description. At InsureYouKnow.org, you can save your documents and files relating to grant applications and set up reminders to alert you to keep track of timelines for submitting grant applications and to check on grants awarded.
The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), recently sent an email to members. Their advice was clear: review your allocations carefully. Financial advisors, self-help blogs and money-smart books suggest periodically looking at your available funds and asking questions. Do you have savings? Do you have a rainy day fund? What is your income stream? The answers take us on a journey of possibilities. The resources of 401k, pensions, insurance, investments, savings and CD accounts provide the financial safety for the future.
There are few resources available to let us know when and how to access our systems. Is today the time to use the money that was set aside for later? The money set aside for retirement, supporting adult children or grandchildren, investments and dreams may be utilized at a more efficient rate now. The funds can be available today during our COVID days. The stress levels are high from furloughs, loss of jobs, reduction in hours, and lack of work for the self-employed.
401k and Pensions
Intended for future days of retirement, the 401k and pension plans were projected to be utilized by the current workforce later rather than sooner. To prevent early access, penalties for utilizing certain financial safety resources available from employers were created. These include high fees, the loss of employer matching, and limits on the amount that could be dispersed annually. Part of the lengthy Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress, addresses some of the previous restrictions although they are not eliminated completely. Although up to $100,000 can be withdrawn from accounts instead of $50,000 and are not subject to the 10% penalty, taxes will need to be paid on the amount.
Despite the risk of lower resources for the future, the Washington Posthas indicated that many people have opted to utilize their pension and 401k resources for car and home payments. For the baby boomers, cashing into the pension at 55 instead of 65 wasn’t the plan, but is a necessity in some cases. It is also the smart option when basic needs take precedence over potential losses or gains in the volatile market. There are choices between loans from the accounts or withdrawals, and each have their own set of benefits.
Whether opting for the withdrawal option instead of the loan, the premature access is worrying the financial industry globally, who have advised against utilizing this resource in light of the downward economy. In March, the Federal Reserve lowered the interest rates to close to zero to try and support the marketplace. Over the recent weeks, some accounts have seen fees above yields, leading to negative returns in some accounts. Given the current environment, and the financial volatility in personal circumstances, markets could still fall before we see the bottom. Companies like TIAA are providing certain limited and short-term fee waiver of expenses to help prevent their client accounts from having negative yields, but that may not last too long.
Your Action Items
At a minimum, review where 401k and pension resources are allocated for yourself and those that are in your care. Since the money is invested in the global stock exchange until you access it, the recession may leave you in a different place than anticipated. Morningstar’s report indicates people in aggressive portfolios have seen the largest declines.
To recall your 401k account information, log into http://www.insureyouknow.org and sign in with your personal credentials. If you do not utilize this online information storage resource, create an account with InsureYouKnow.org and start saving your documents, and files relating to your affairs. Set a reminder within the portal to revise and review the allocations as the world market changes further. There are various levels of access you can set to allow your family members, caregivers or business associates insight into the documents.
The checkbox on new hire paperwork about life insurance, may start to seem a little more important during the days of COVID-19. For many it was an obvious choice when the employer was giving something for “free.” Professionals have a safety net policy to help their family members for a short time. For consultants, self-employed and business owners, life insurance was a security blanket. A new stress has emerged as the media has suggested that the coronavirus cause of death would not be covered – this is not a true statement.
The most common causes of death – heart disease, cancer, and accidents, are still present and affecting all age groups. 74% of deaths in America stemmed from 10 causes, and the coronavirus may make it on the top-10 list. The CDC reports that about 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, while nearly 600,000 people die annually from cancer. Currently the increasing numbers of people affected by the virus are resulting in changes in all kinds of data. Insurance companies will be a valuable additional source of data as they collect this information. The Yale School of Public Health recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths in the United States from March through early April, twice as many as were publicly attributed to COVID-19. Life insurance companies are receiving higher numbers of applications as end-of-life conversations and preparedness are emerging as necessary, not taboo topics.
Reviewing your Life Insurance coverages
This is a good time to review the safety net or security blanket policies that you may have. You will come across many different types of life insurance policies when you start shopping––and not all of them are available from every company.
When you narrow down a policy, reviewing the type of insurance you have against your current lifestyle and needs may be advantageous. New applications are being accepted, and many companies have extended the time needed to complete the medical exam to 120 days, or 4 months. News9, an Oklahoma based news outlet, reported that individuals shopping for new policies may notice that e-signatures are now acceptable.
According to Glen Mulready, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner, older individuals may have more trouble finding coverage.Insurance companies view older applicants as high risk and with the current economy, some have decided to limit exposures. Fortunately, there are a variety of life insurance companies, so there is a policy type for all. Finding an agent that is affiliated with multiple providers may be advantageous and save time when reviewing rates.
Accessing your Life Insurance
Upon your death, your next of kin will need to make a claim to access the life insurance policy or policies that have been created for you. These people may or may not be your beneficiary. There are three steps that need to take place before any money is released.
- Locating the policy. This involves finding the name of the company or companies that you purchased life insurance from. The NAIC, has an online life insurance policy locator service – https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/acknowledgment
- Connecting with the agent. The agent from the company will assist with the timeline process, provide the policy number, and necessary forms to be completed.
- Completing the Paperwork. Fill out the forms, order the death certificate and mail the forms to the company without delay. Often there is a choice to pick a lump sum or installment payouts.
Typically, the insurance money is released within a few weeks––but there are exceptions. According to Marketwatch, an insurer might deny a claim for a coronavirus death if the policyholder submitted an inaccurate or incomplete application. With this in mind, it may be worth spending a few minutes reviewing your paperwork for gaps.
As you work through the process of applying for your life insurance, reviewing your coverages or submitting a claim for a loved one, document all your findings and notes on InsureYouKnow.org – an online information storage site that allows you to access documents, and files remotely relating to your affairs. There are various levels of access to allow your family members, caregivers or business associates insight into the documents, as needed. There is even a reminder feature to help you update or revisit the policy from time to time.
Created as a distress signal in the 1920s, the term mayday is utilized by ships and aircraft to communicate emergency or life-threatening situations. When officer, Frederick Stanley Mockford thought of the word, the pandemic crisis of 1918 and the end of the First World War was not even a decade past.
Fast-forwarding 100 years to May 2020 – the coronavirus pandemic is very much part of everyone’s life and lifestyle. In a matter of weeks, the way the world looked at itself was turned around, and some questions come to mind….
Is our planet in a state of Mayday?
Depends on who and what you are referring to. The environment is thriving, the oceans are cleaner, and the animals are not scared and are coming out into many city dwellings. The seals are basking on the beaches where humans were. The water, and air is cleaner as the pollution subsides. The planet called Mayday, and now the humans are. However the story is not the same for mankind. Humans are dying – living in fear of contracting the virus and staying indoors and isolated. The economy is in a state of flux, no one wants oil – a once huge commodity. The luxuries of stock trading and vacations are now replaced with the luxuries of accessing food, and human touch.
Is our country in a state of Mayday?
The way the world worked has changed. Our fast paced lives have in some ways slowed down as transportation needs have reduced, and the working world has shifted focus. Going into work, going to school, errands, and shopping have been restricted by both private and public entities. Federal and local governments are rapidly reviewing information and making life-changing decisions about access to healthcare, food, and the outdoors. In some ways the Mayday call has already been sent from the public sector to the private. Our country has forced its community to ramp up the use of technology for communication. The internet is now a necessity for video-meetings that are replacing work conferences, family birthday gatherings and learning. Remote payments instead of cash exchange for services. And the state of the unknown has created an undercurrent of anxiety.
Do you need to signal Mayday?
Checking in with yourself about your needs is paramount. Where you are at emotionally, physically, socially, financially impacts your relations and ability to function with the new day to day. There is little control. Access to food, loved ones, work and our old lifestyle can bring up feelings of anger, resentment, and fear. Reaching out for support or connecting with your community could stop your need for the Mayday call.
InsureYouKnow.org – an online information depository allows those that receive your Mayday call, this month, this year, this decade to access documents, and files remotely relating to your affairs. Whether photographs to relive memories, financial information to cover debt, or your resume for a possible job opportunity. There are various levels of access to allow your family members, caregivers or business associates insight into your documents – as needed. There is even a trusty reminder feature to help you remember that it’s time to update.