The Best Food Picked from Trees - A Pizza Farm PSA from Nick Offerman

The Best Food Picked from Trees - A Pizza Farm PSA from Nick Offerman

Those who have completed  ACAP Health's (Accountable Care Accountable Patients) metabolic risk reduction program, Naturally Slim, have learned that food is fuel.   Hippocrates quote, "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food", is as true as ever today.   His advice then foreshadows now the importance food plays in  stemming the obesity epidemic that is leading to diabetes and other chronic conditions. That's what makes sharing this Funny or Die  video clip  by Nick Offerman a favorite of our staff.

Holmes Murphy Launches Healthy Insurance Pool (HIP) in DFW

When we sit down with the leadership of our clients and their HR/Benefit departments, we usually get heads nodding when we share that 40-50% of Americans born after 2000 will have  diabetes.   There are plenty of peer-reviewed  case studies to show that leading companies who invest in establishing a culture of health and accountability in the right way experience returns that go far beyond the expense side of the ledger.

"We Are What We Do" by Tim Church, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.

Living well and living long are two different things. and one of the country's leading preventive health researchers, Dr. Tim Church, states it plain and simple—maintaining a high quality of life means finding time for physical activity.

Dr. Tim Church, Holmes Murphy & Associates  / ACAP Health Medical Director on exercising your right to a better quality of life  

One of the things I've really learned in medicine is that there are certain things that resonate with us that we believe in, with or without data – it just must be true. And the idea of, 'we are what we eat,' it is amazing to me how people hold onto that. People have a hard time getting their arms around, 'we are what we do.'

As a physician, through med school, through residency, I just got frustrated with treating things that were 100 percent preventable. And, you know, I love to say we like to heroically clean up after the car accident, but we don't like to put up stop signs. And, I just was always drawn towards prevention and then in my prevention quest so to speak, physical activity and exercise just made so much sense. It didn't matter what the analysis was. It didn't matter what we were looking at. There was always this one variable that was so powerful. It was exercise.

When it comes to weight loss one of my favorite sayings is: you diet to lose weight, and you exercise to keep it off. It doesn't matter what the macronutrient components of that diet are. You can focus on low carbs. You can focus on low protein. You can focus on low fat. It doesn't really matter. It tends to be an individual thing.

But, once you get the weight off, exercise becomes so critical in keeping it off. It's not hard to lose weight. It's very easy to lose weight, that's why all the fad diets work. That's why all this bogus stuff works. The challenge is keeping the weight off, keeping it off at six months, keeping it off at 12 months, keeping it off at two years.

Everything counts. If you're doing nothing now, this is not all or nothing, this is not about, 'hey if you don't get to 150 minutes a week, then it's a waste of time.' Just getting off the couch has benefits. In fact, the most sedentary individuals who have the worst health are the ones that benefit the most from a little bit of physical activity. The return on investment for a little bit of physical activity is huge for those guys. The person who's running a 10K all the time and ramps it up to a marathon. They don't get any more benefit when they go from 10K to marathon, they've already kind of maxed out. But that person who's totally sedentary and takes up a walking program? Huge benefits.

It's not about how long you're gonna live. How long you're gonna live is primarily determined by how long your grandparents lived, how long your parents lived. It's about how long you live well. Can you go duck hunting in your 80s? Can you chase your grandkids? You know, can you do the things that you love doing? And there's no pill for that. We can't go to the doctor and get a pill for quality of life. There's one thing we know that works for maintaining quality of life. And that is being physically active. That is leading an active lifestyle which may or may not include formal exercise. So, you want to lead the life you want to lead? You've got to be physically active.

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Carrots and Sticks are for Donkeys and Mules

The following is a must watch for anyone who endeavors to change the health risk of a population. Our industry needs to move beyond treating our people like they are asses.  We assume humans are like farm animals motivated by dangling a carrot or giving a smack on the rear. As Dr. BJ Fogg explains in the video below, an employee's level of motivation is hardly the culprit.     

The research and understanding of "B=MAT" - behavior = motivation, ability and trigger ... is worth the small time investment it will take to watch this video.  Dr. Fogg’s research is some of the most groundbreaking in terms of how human beings change behavior. Dr. B.J. Fogg is the Director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University.

I came across this video at Rock Health when launching my own startup in the digital health technology space.

The One Thing Needed for Exchanges to Succeed

Young people are the most coveted of all participants to have enrolled in a health insurance plan.   It is the concept that underlies group underwriting to have those with fewer health risks to help offset the cost of those who are older and have greater medical needs.   Dallas ranks as one of the largest communities of uninsureds in Texas at 31% compared to a 26% state average. Many of these uninsureds are young people (ages 18-35) who have relied on our public health system to be there if things do not go as planned.

The very success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will depend upon convincing these "young invincibles" that health protection is worth purchasing.   If only the public exchanges could be as inviting as an Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister or a Juicy Couture. The federal government is projecting enrollment in the exchange system to be around 7-8 million by the end of 2014.   As the law intends, the cost of insuring the most expensive users of the system must be offset by around 2.7 million of young invincibles between the ages of 18-35 for it to work. In the first month of enrollment, 26,794 people selected a health plan on the federal exchange website. The makeup of these enrollees has not been released by the federal government, but a demographic match to the patronage of a cafeteria restaurant is to be expected.

As exchange enrollment begins to materialize in 2014, public officials may wish to revisit the following if they hope to enroll the most coveted young adults:

1. A Retail Experience That Works - When the standard young people are used to is designing their own Nike shoes online or ordering Uber's transportation service at the push of a button, will find itself quickly falling off the browser's  "favorites" list.   In a November survey by USA Today, many young people will not try again until December and cannot even comprehend calling a 1-800 number for service.   We all like using intuitive technology that works ... but young people demand it even more ... a problem plaguing for the foreseeable future.

2. Changes to Employer Plan Dependent Definition  - Many employer plans used to only cover dependent children up to age 19 or 26 (if a full-time student).   On January 1, 2014, all employers (grandfathered and non-grandfathered) will be required to extend coverage to dependents up to age 26.   The chief actuary at CMS is likely regretting the legislature's decision to extend dependent coverage to age 26 for employers.   With 60% of American's covered by employer-based plans, this leaves a smaller group of of younger adults to enroll under the public exchanges.

  3. Affordable Coverage -  Older Americans will pay a higher rate than younger Americans, but the community rating is tiered using only three different age group bands. AARP lobbied strongly for this and it is an absolute boon to the baby boomers and a real shaft to Generation X, Y, and millennials who will bear the brunt of the top third-oldest risk tier by age. Age rating bands of 3:1 will prevent insurers from charging an adult age 64 more than three times the premium they charge a 21-year-old for the same coverage. As a result, young Americans will see higher premiums under the Exchanges than when they could have purchased coverage (Pre-ACA) in the private market when they used age rating bands of 5 to 1.

The Obama administration's federal study found that if all 50 states had expanded their Medicaid coverage the way they were supposed to when the law was passed, almost 90 percent of single Americans under 35 years could get coverage that cost less than $100 a month. They did not count on a Supreme Court ruling that enabled 25 states to opt out of expanding Medicaid coverage. This created unexpected "cracks" in the system when many young people who were to have qualified for Medicaid coverage will find they do not earn enough for subsidies under the Exchange.

In an astute political move, the Obama administration pushed back the requirements to release projected increases in health premiums for 2015 until after the November 2014 elections. In 2014 our young adults will eventually have to make a decision to pay the federal penalty (the greater of greater of $95 or 1% of AGI annually) or buy health coverage. Here's betting their XBox One they pay for neither.

Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem?

From Leonardo da Vinci to  Dr. Atkins, society often ridicules those with different points of view. Here Dr. Peter Attia discusses some compelling reasons why we might want to question the conventional thinking around obesity and insulin resistance.   Dr. Peter Attia's presentation has nearly garnered 1MM views and it's worth the watch.

As a young surgeon, Peter Attia felt contempt for a patient with diabetes. She was overweight, he thought, and thus responsible for the fact that she needed a foot amputation. But years later, Attia received an unpleasant medical surprise that led him to wonder: is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war.

Both a surgeon and a self-experimenter, Peter Attia hopes to ease the diabetes epidemic by challenging what we think we know and improving the scientific rigor in nutrition and obesity research.

Source: TEDMED   - April 2013


Dan Pink @ TED - Presentation on the Science of Motivation

  Listen in and apply these principles to our corporate-wellness initiatives.   We could not agree more that intrinsic over extrinsic motivators provide longer-term results.   We welcome your comments below and invite you to read Dan Pink's Drive to compare with Thaler and Sunstein's Nudge.  


The HRSouthwest Conference - A Weigh Forward

The HRSouthwest Conference is the largest regional human resources Conference in the United States. The Conference offers world-renowned keynote speakers, two and a half days of educational sessions networking opportunities and exposure to the latest HR products, techniques and services. This educational session features Lockton Dunning Benefits Vice President, Steve Harris, CEBS and Health Risk Management Director, Hayley Hines, MS, CHES, CWPD.   They address how an employer can tackle the obesity epidemic, corporate health plan interventions, and successful wellness case studies in the workplace.

It's Time to Nudge our Employees

The science of behavioral economics is readily available for deployment in the workplace.   If we play a role in the health and retirement options available to our employees, we are "Choice Architects".   Listen to Professor Thaler describe the concept of "Nudge" and what it means to be a "Choice Architect". Since Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness exploded onto the scene this summer, politicians in the United States and United Kingdom have embraced the book's belief that with a gentle guidance from designers, employers, or even the government, people can make better decisions independently. The work of coauthors Richard Thaler, the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics in the Chicago Graduate School of Business, and Cass Sunstein, the Harry Kalven Jr. Visiting Law Professor, has become part of the political conversation around the world, finding allies on all sides of the political spectrum.

The key may be that the central idea in Nudge does not fall neatly into any political camp. Instead, it requires what Thaler calls "libertarian paternalism," a phrase that, he admits, sounds like an oxymoron. "By 'libertarianism,' we mean protecting people's right to choose," Thaler says. "By 'paternalism,' we mean caring about people's outcomes. We want to devise policies that will make people better off–choices that they themselves think are better."

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Source:   University of Chicago - Graduate School of Business (P. Houlihan)

The Power of Engagement

This video is for any HR professional that is in need of help in changing the culture and mentality of the senior management team.     The companies that make the "Best Companies to Work" list understand this.   Their culture is typically driven by a way of doing things in the organization that   comes from the top down.   Employee benefit programs alone play only one part of what keeps you on the "Best Companies" lists over the long haul.