Recap: Sun Safety

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

Did you catch our blog post last week about how to stay safe while enjoying the sunshine? As you enjoy the lovely Boston weather, remember that it is important to keep yourself and your family safe from the potentially harmful rays of the sun.

  • If you’re going to be exposed to the sun for more than a few minutes, make sure to wear sunscreen and reapply it as directed for continued protection.
  • Even though you’re wearing sunscreen, it’s important to protect yourself when you’re in the sun by wearing clothing, hats, and sunglasses to cover your skin. Also take plenty of breaks in the shade and stay hydrated.
  • Know the early signs of skin cancer including the ABCDE rule and see a medical professional if you see any of abnormalities on your body. Also have a doctor check your moles and skin abnormalities annually as a preventative measure.

Make sure that you’re always able to put your health first with the right health insurance policy. To speak to one of our agents about your health insurance needs, just call 617-298-0655. We can help guide you through the sometimes confusing jargon and get a policy that is right for you and your loved ones.

Fun in the Sun: Health Safety Tips

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we want to make sure that our clients and friends make the most of the city that we live in while also being as safe as possible. After all, our number one goal is to make sure that you are protected, both through insurance and otherwise. Nowadays, many of you will be spending time outdoors with your families and friends, so we have gathered some tips to help you practice sun safety. Fun in the sun is great, but we want to make sure that it doesn’t haunt you later in life.

The Importance of Sunscreen

Sunscreen is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Using sunscreen when you’re at the beach or the pool (or any day that you’re going to be spending more than a few minutes outdoors) can help prevent certain types of skin cancer.

When choosing a sunscreen, make sure that you take note of their SPF – Sun Protection Factor. The SPF measures the fraction of UV rays that reach the skin, so in SPF 25 sunblock, 1/25 (4%) of UV rays reach the skin. When wearing sunscreen, it is important to reapply the lotion or spray as directed, typically every two hours.

When You’re in the Sun

In addition to applying sunscreen, there are other things that you should do when spending time outdoors to ensure that you stay healthy and protect your skin:

  • Sunblock is effective against the sun’s harmful rays but cannot protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses that block UV light whenever you are outside, including in the car.
  • Your face is hard to fully protect with sunscreen, so consider adding an extra layer of protection with a hat. Make sure to choose something with a brim that blocks the sun from your face.
  • The best way to protect skin from the sun is to cover it. It may seem illogical in the heat but covering up with a shirt and pants can prevent sunburn.
  • When you are spending the day outside (whether at the beach, pool, park, or otherwise) take regular breaks in the shade to cool down. Also try to avoid the time of day when the sun is strongest, typically between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • When you and your family are out playing in the outdoors, make sure that you stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink, but it’s imperative – especially in warmer temperatures.

Follow these tips and you will be much less likely to suffer from a sunburn. Unfortunately burns will still occasionally happen. If they do, continue reading to find out what you can do to treat a sunburn.

Treating Sunburns

If you or a loved one is afflicted with a sunburn, there are a few things that you can do to help. Apply a cool wet compress to the affected area or take a cool bath. Aloe vera gel is helpful and is available in most drugstores. Taking a pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help.

To relieve itching, use moisturizing cream or hydrocortisone cream. If a sunburn blisters do not scratch or pick at them – it could cause the blister to get infected. For serious burns, or if you suspect infection see a doctor right away.

Early Signs of Skin Cancer

Checking yourself for potential signs of skin cancer only takes a few minutes, and it is very easy. Every month, look at your entire body (you will need a mirror) and notice your moles – you are looking for the “ABCDE”s, as follows:

  • A – Asymmetry: Moles should be symmetrical. If you were to draw a line down the middle and the sides wouldn’t match, that could be a red flag.
  • B – Border: “Good” moles usually have smooth and even borders. If you spot a mole with an uneven border, have it checked.
  • C – Color: Moles with a variety of colors can be a warning sign: healthy moles are often one even color, specifically a shade of tan, brown, or black. Moles that are white, red, or blue should also be checked.
  • D – Diameter: Nearly everyone has small moles, but larger moles might cause an issue. Moles larger than ¼ inch in diameter (about the size of a standard pencil’s eraser) might be malignant.
  • E – Evolution: If a mole changes in any way, have it looked at by a doctor. This could be a change in size or color, or a mole that starts to bleed or itch.

Also look for “Ugly Ducklings,” the name given to moles that don’t fit in with their surrounding skin and markings.

Every member of your family should do this. Make sure that you help younger children and teach them about the importance of proper skin care. If you notice any abnormalities, talk to a doctor right away.

For more tips to ensure that your fun time is both enjoyable and safe, stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog. We love to share useful tips and insurance content that will keep you coming back for more. We also want you to know that our agents are always available to help you with your Massachusetts insurance needs. Just call 617-298-0655 the next time you have a question or need an insurance quote for your home, car, business, and more.

Start Budgeting for Your New Addition

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we have clients in all stages of life – from new drivers to newlyweds to retirees, and everywhere in between. This article is for those of you that are growing your family tree. Children are a blessing, and it’s so important to be well prepared for their arrival. Here is some food for thought on budgeting for children of any age:

  • Babies and Toddlers: Babies can be expensive. In addition to the recurring expenses like groceries and diapers, you will have several one-time purchases including a crib, stroller, car seat, and more – especially if this is your first child.
  • Children: Kids grow quickly, so be ready to start a consistent flow of clothing. In addition, kids need to be entertained and enriched, so be ready to pay for field trips, summer camps, sports teams, music lessons, and more. This is also the time to start thinking about a college fund, if you haven’t already.
  • Teenagers: As children grow into teenagers, their toys only become more expensive. Buying them phones, tablets, and/or laptops isn’t cheap, but thankfully Vargas and Vargas Insurance is here for you to help with car insurance once they get a learner’s permit!

And remember, adding a child to your household is an event in your life worthy of a chat with your insurance agent. You will need health insurance for the child, and should probably increase or establish life insurance policies for the child’s providers. Call 617-298-0655 to speak with a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about how to get your insurance policies ready for your new bundle of joy.

Do You Wear a Fitness Tracker?

When we turn the page on a new year, many people set fitness goals. They want to lose weight, or just get more active. Having a goal is great, but often that’s not enough motivation to get moving. For many people that need a little extra push, a fitness tracker has been the key to getting focused and motivated. Wearing a fitness tracker has many benefits, including:

Accountability: One of the most important parts of setting a goal is to make sure that it is measurable. “Be more active” is a great place to start, but you’ll be more successful if you use your fitness tracker to set a specific step goal, such as “Get 10,000 steps three times a week” or “Get no less than 6,000 steps a day.”

Social Motivation: Fitness trackers are becoming ubiquitous. Almost everyone seems to have a wrist tracker or an app on their smartphone that’s tracking their steps. Leverage this by becoming ‘friends’ with people you know on your tracking platform. Seeing their progress may spur you to ‘step up’ your game!

Lowering Insurance Rates: Did you know that some health insurance providers will offer discounts to clients that share their fitness tracker data with the company? Ask your Massachusetts insurance agent if you’re eligible for this discount!

Are you using a fitness tracker to be more active this year? We would love to hear about the tools you’re using to meet your goals. And if one of your goals is to save money, let Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency help – with one call to 617-298-0655 we can review your Massachusetts insurance policies to find you savings!

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Did you know that November is American Diabetes Month? Diabetes is a group of diseases indicated by insulin deficiencies or improper reactions to insulin in the body, and result in having too much sugar in the blood. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and many more will develop the condition in their lifetime.

Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to lessen the likelihood of being affected by type 2 diabetes:

  • Make healthier choices when you eat. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet, and cut back on foods high in fat and added sugar. Also decrease your calorie consumption by having smaller portions.
  • Take small steps to be more physically active. Go for short walks a few times every week, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Your goal should be to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days of the week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight (find your ideal weight with BMI calculations).
  • Quit smoking.

If you take just a few of these steps, you will notice your overall health improve. Your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose should be better, and you will be at a much lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke.

Another very important part of making sure that you stay healthy is seeing your doctor regularly. Make sure that you encourage your family and friends to use their Massachusetts health insurance policies to see their primary care physician regularly, as catching symptoms of diabetes early is crucial. For more health insurance information, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

Three Common Myths about Flu Vaccines

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? Many people want an excuse to not have to get poked with a needle, but getting a flu shot is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the fall and winter. In this post, we want to clear up a few of the common misconceptions around the flu shot:

Myth 1: The Flu Vaccine can give you the flu.

While it is true that some flu shots are made with an ‘inactivated’ flu virus, it has been scientifically proven that these shots can’t make you sick.

Myth 2: It’s better to risk getting the flu than to get the vaccine.

Some people would rather take their chances, and some will say “I’ve never gotten the shot, and I’ve never gotten sick.” But it’s not worth the risk – the flu can be very serious in some cases, and can on occasion result in complications. The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age receive the vaccine.

Myth 3: You don’t need to get the vaccine every year.

Just getting one shot isn’t enough to keep you protected against the flu virus. The protection that the vaccine offers wanes over time, so you need to get a vaccine every fall in order to maintain maximum defense against the flu.

Make sure that you use your Massachusetts health insurance when you get your flu vaccine – many insurance providers will cover part or all of the cost of the vaccine. And if you have any questions about your health insurance policy, you can always reach out to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

Understanding the ABCs of Medicare

4.18.16 - Understanding Medicare Img

 

Do you know the four parts of Medicare and what they do? It may seem confusing at times, but once you understand the four distinct coverage types offered by Medicare, you will be on your way to being able to make your selections with confidence. Here is a quick guide of what each of the Medicare parts will cover:

Part A – Hospital Coverage

This coverage is a default part of every Medicare plan – in fact, you are automatically enrolled in Part A coverage when you sign up for Medicare. This coverage plan will provide hospital stays and nursing care, as well as some at home health services and nursing care. As long as you (or your spouse) paid enough Medicare payroll taxes while working, you will not need to pay monthly premiums. If you didn’t pay enough in payroll taxes, you can still purchase Part A coverage – you will simply need to pay a monthly premium.

Part B – Medical Coverage

While you are automatically enrolled in Part A when you sign up for Medicare, part B is optional coverage. It pays for a portion of your visits to the doctor, as well as some health care, medical equipment, outpatient procedures, rehab, lab tests and X-rays, and more. If you have coverage through a union or current employer, you may wish to discuss your coverage options with a health insurance expert, because you may wish to opt out of the coverage initially and switch over to Part B when the time is right for you.

Part C – Private Insurance Option

Also known as Medicare Advantage or Medicare Health Plans, Part C offers you the option of having a health insurance policy through a private company, provided that it is approved by Medicare. It is important to note that you must enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B before you are eligible to enroll in coverage through Part C. If you want to learn more about the advantages of enrolling in Part C, call your local Boston insurance agent today – a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent can help guide you through the process of enrolling in Medicare part C.

Part D – Prescription Drug Plan

If you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you are eligible for prescription drug coverage with Medicare Part D. Like Part C, prescription drug plans are available through private insurance companies. When you have Part D coverage, you will pay a monthly premium and copayment for your drugs. In some cases, a deductible will also be necessary. Find out more about the coverage you could receive by talking to your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your needs.

Hopefully, that explanation will help you understand the four types of Medicare coverage. If you need further explanation, or would like to speak with a Massachusetts health insurance expert from Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, just call 617-298-0655. We will be happy to help you understand your health insurance coverage options, and select the plan that’s best for your unique needs.

Get the Most from Your Boston Health Insurance

Boston Health InsuranceHealth insurance is a part of life. It helps cover the cost of your visits to doctors and your prescription drugs, and that’s all most people use it for. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we want to make sure that you get the most out of your Boston Health Insurance policy – that’s why we’re sharing the following eight tips!

Remember, though, that every insurance provider is different and not all will offer each of these benefits. To find out more about what you can get from your health insurance provider, speak to a Boston insurance agent at Vargas and Vargas Insurance.

Get Health Screenings and Shots – Most health insurance plans offer coverage for preventative health screenings (for cancer and other health concerns) and shots and vaccines.

Join Disease Management Groups – If you have a chronic disease or mental health issue, find out if your insurance provider offers counselling, support groups, or education.

Investigate Pregnancy and Baby Support – Mommies (and even daddies) to be can often receive classes, support, and education involving prenatal and postnatal care for mom and baby.

Attend Classes and Seminars – Are you interested in learning more about nutrition, fitness, and other health-related topics? In addition to following the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog, see if your insurance provider will cover the cost of taking a class or attending a seminar on these topics.

Look into Smoking Cessation Offers – For those of you trying to kick a smoking habit, make sure that you take advantage of any and all assistance offered by your health insurance provider. This can include coaching, support groups, and even discounts on certain smoking cessation products.

Inquire about Health Assessments or Coaches – Some Boston health insurance plans offer free health screenings which can test your blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI. In some cases, health insurance companies will also offer free or discounted health coaching to help you reach your health goals.

Take Advantage of Available Discounts – Ask your insurance agent if you qualify for discounts on health products and services through your insurance provider. This can include savings on anything from gym memberships to LASIK eye surgery and much more.

Explore Rewards Programs – Did you know that some health insurance providers will reward you for being healthy? You could get an incentive for exercising, eating well, or meeting certain health goals.

The bottom line is that most health insurance companies want you to be well, and they’re willing to offer these benefits in order to help you get and/or stay that way. Discover what incentives your provider offers, and take advantage of the deals to get the best bang for your health insurance buck.

To find out more about how to get the most from your Boston health insurance policy, speak to your Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent today – just call 617-298-0655. We will be more than happy to review your policy, get you a quote, and to help find the right health insurance for you and your loved ones.

How to Make Better Beverage Choices

How To Make Better Beverage Choices

Staying hydrated is so important to our bodies – in fact, water makes up more than half of your body by weight! Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water in order to function. Your body also uses water to maintain its temperature, lubricate your joints, and much more.

You need to make sure that you replace all of the water that your body loses naturally. Otherwise, you could become dehydrated, which can lead to fatigue, headache, confusion, and dizziness.

Most health care professionals say that everyone should drink between six and eight 8 ounce glasses of fluid each day. The truth is, though, that some fluids are better for you than others. Continue reading to find out if your hydration habits are correct, or if you could use a little help in making better beverage choices.

When you’re thirsty, have water

If you were to take one thing away from this post, let it be this: your beverage intake should consist of mostly water. It has zero calories, zero fat, zero sugar – water is all zeroes! It is fluid in its purest form, and will allow your body to hydrate while maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re feeling thirsty, don’t reach for a soda – instead, grab a glass of water to satisfy your thirst. It is especially important to drink plenty of water if you are active, if the weather outside is warm, or if you are an older adult.

Manage your beverage calories

It is almost too easy to intake several hundred calories each day in your beverages. Instead of reaching for soda or juice, drink water or unsweetened tea. This will lower your overall daily calorie intake (or free up a few calories so that you can have dessert). There are also lots of flavored water options available at retailers and grocery stores. If you want some flavor or carbonation in your beverages, try these instead of the typical calorie-laden beverages.

Have easy to access healthy drinks

It’s so easy to reach into a fridge or cooler to grab a soda – do your part to encourage your family to drink healthy beverages by making them the easiest to see and grab in your home. Pack water in lunch boxes and backpacks when someone leaves the house so that they have a healthy and convenient beverage at all times while they’re on-the-go.

Know how to indulge

Just like you sometimes indulge in a sweet treat, you may want to indulge in a beverage once in a while. Make sure that sugary beverages are just that – an occasional treat. Before you indulge, read the drink’s nutrition labels and make a mental note of how many servings and calories you are about to consume, and do so in moderation.

If you use this tips, you can help to ensure that your body stays hydrated and healthy – without all of the extra calories and sugar that are present in many popular beverages. And remember, you friends at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency are here to help you stay healthy too! Just call 617-298-0655 to get a quote on Massachusetts health insurance today!

How to Encourage Workplace Wellness – 4 Ways!

If you have a desk job, it may seem impossible to live a more active lifestyle. After sitting from 9-5 five days out of the week, you’re probably mentally exhausted. At that point, it’s much easier to relax in front of the TV for the evening than to focus on living an active and healthy lifestyle.

How to Encourage Workplace Wellness - 4 Ways!

The solution to this issue may be easier than you think – instead of making yourself move during the few hours that you’re at home during the day, take a more active role when you’re working! Here are a few tips to help you get moving at work:

1. Learn a few desk exercises.

Your desk at work doesn’t need to be a shrine to laziness! While you’re replying to emails or completing paperwork, get moving with a few exercises and stretches that you can do at your desk. For some, you don’t even need to get out of your chair!

Search the internet to find a desk exercise routine that works for your routine, and make a point to complete it a few times every day. If you need a reminder, make an appointment on your calendar, or make yourself a sticky note and put it in plain view.

2. Get moving while you work with a treadmill desk.

Want to take your workouts to the next level? Consider investing in a treadmill desk. They’re the latest trend in being active (along with standing desks). They cost a pretty penny, but they allow you to walk while working on a laptop – you could easily put in thousands of steps while being as productive (if not more productive) as usual.

3. Don’t skip lunch – take a walk.

You may be able to get a little more done if you eat work at your desk while catching up on emails, but you’re not doing your body (or your mind) any favors. Instead, take a walk during your lunch break. If the weather is nice, eat outside and enjoy the fresh air. When you get back to the office, you may find that a little respite from the corporate environment has left you refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day.

4. Get your social network involved.

As we discussed in our “New Year’s Resolution” blog post, it’s always easier to achieve a goal when you tell others about what you aim to do. Let your family, friends, and coworkers involved in your success by asking them to hold you accountable to your goal.

If you want to be able to measure your success, consider purchasing a pedometer or fitness tracker – there are several on the market today, and some will track much more than just the steps that you take each day. On these, you can even set personalized goals that will motivate you!

Living a more active lifestyle is a great way to improve your health. If you want to do even more to protect your health, call 617-298-0655 to speak to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about getting a top of the line Boston health insurance quote. Or, if you run a Massachusetts business, talk to us about getting group benefits and workers compensation for your employees.