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Just So You Know - Winter 2015

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Add newborns and new dependents to benefits plan within 31 days

New dependents, including newborns, must be added to your benefits plan within 31 days of birth. Go to the ESS website at https://portal.houstontx.gov to add your newborn. Complete the fax cover letter and fax along with the Certified Birth Certificate or Verification of Birth Facts to 832-393-7213. If you do not add your newborn and provide the supporting document within 31 days, you will have to wait until next year’s annual enrollment to enroll your child.

Death termination pay beneficiary

Death is not something that anyone wants to think about, but in the event of your death, it's important for the city to know who you want your final paycheck to go to. The Death Termination Pay Beneficiary Designation form makes it clear so that there will be no question as to your intent. Be sure you have a completed file on record. You can access the form at http://www.houstontx.gov/sites/default/files/Death-Term-Pay-Designation.pdf.

Don’t miss out on Medicare aid for end-stage renal disease coverage

Depending on the type of treatment, if you have been treated for end-stage renal disease for at least three months, you may be eligible for Medicare and should apply for it. Your dialysis center can inform you about the need to apply for Medicare. During the first 30 months of being on Medicare with ESRD, Cigna is the primary payer of your medical claims and Medicare is the secondary payer. After 30 months, Medicare becomes primary and Cigna secondary. If you do not enroll in Medicare, Cigna will only pay as the secondary payer, and you will be responsible for the portion that Medicare would have paid if you were enrolled. January through March is the annual enrollment for Medicare with coverage becoming effective July 1.

Weight-loss success depends on realistic goals, consistent effort

If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, it may be too discouraging to think about doing it all at once. Rather than focusing on a number, try focusing on making and sustaining healthy lifestyle changes.

For example, set a goal to exercise three times a week. And be realistic about how much weight you can lose how quickly. Aim for an attainable weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Reducing excess drink calories can be a fluid situation

When it comes to weight loss, all calories count. If you’re drinking too many calories, look for easy ways to scale back: 1. Switch to low-fat or fat-free milk. 2. Choose water instead of juices and sodas. 3. Perk up plain water with a splash of juice or a twist of lemon or lime. 4. Trade alcoholic drinks for sparkling water. 

Source: Mayo Clinic

Getting sick when traveling doesn’t have to be a headache

Some medical experts suggest seeing a health care provider to get any vaccines, medicines and advice you need before going on a trip. Going to a doctor at least four to six weeks before you travel gives vaccines time to take effect, and you have plenty of time to get vaccines that require more than one dose.

If you are visiting several countries or countries with a variety of health risks, or if you have a pre-existing health condition, you may need to see a clinician who specializes in travel medicine. Also, if you become ill while traveling, two professional medical organizations provide directories of travel clinics in the United States:

The International Society of Travel Medicine 

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 

Source: Centers for Disease Control

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