Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stretching: What You Need to Know


While saving on your prescription medications can help you maintain your budget and stay healthy, it’s also vital to lead an active lifestyle. Starting with your kindergarten gym teacher, people have been telling you that it is important to stretch your muscles regularly – and they’re right! Here’s what you need to know.

Why You Need to Stretch
To put it simply, stretching keeps your muscles healthy and flexible. Flexibility is important, according to experts at Harvard Medical School. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight, weak, and unable to extend all the way. Weak muscles put you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. A few minutes of stretching a day can make a major difference to your health.

Benefits of Stretching
Beyond maintaining critical flexibility, regular stretching has other benefits as well. Here are just a few of the benefits identified by Prevention Magazine:
     Improved balance – Researchers have found that people who stretch regularly are less likely to trip and fall, likely due to improved fine-muscle coordination.
     Better workouts – Healthy muscle flexibility makes it easier to maintain proper form during workouts, ensuring you reap the maximum benefits from each exercise.
     Less stress – By relieving tight muscles, stretching tricks the body into believing that you are less stressed.

Stretching Safely
Before you start contorting your body into difficult yoga poses, please keep in mind a few guidelines for safe stretching. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you:
     Always stretch warm muscles – Before stretching, warm up with light walking, jogging, or biking at low intensity for five to ten minutes. Or, consider stretching after your workout when your muscles are already warm.
     Keep movements smooth – Avoid looking like an 80s workout video and try not to bounce when you stretch. Bouncing can actually contribute to muscle tightness and injury.
     Stretch regularly – Flexibility can decrease rapidly without regular stretching. Add stretches into your regular workout routine to see ongoing improvement.

Unsure of where to start? Try YouTube for videos like this one with Denise Austin or look for local beginner yoga classes. Have other tips about stretching? Share them on our Facebook page!

To start saving on your medications, download your free prescription discount card from FamilyWize. Follow our blog for more healthy living tips!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Four Ways to Save During Your Family Vacation


It can happen to anyone. You carefully budget for a family vacation, search for travel deals online, and then embark on your much-anticipated trip… Only to return and realize that you went way over budget, despite scoring great deals on your flights and hotel. What happened? You probably spent so much time focused on your big expenditures (flights, hotels, park passes, etc.), that you forgot about the smaller ones (fees, meals, and snacks), which can really add up.

Here are four tips for keeping those smaller expenditures under control, so that you can enjoy your time with your family:

1. Be strategic about cash and credit card use
Learn about your credit cards before your trip. Some cards charge hefty fees when they are used outside of the United States and some do not. Some also provide added benefits, such as insurance coverage for rental cars, which could save you from having to make additional purchases on the road. It also helps to decide where you will access cash while away from home. Some locations, like Las Vegas, are notorious for having high ATM fees, which can add up quickly. Do your research, so that you’re not surprised when you get your bill!

2. Scout a few good deals in advance
Take five minutes and see which chain restaurants near your destination have “kids eat free” promotional days. It also helps to know where easy lunch options are located near popular tourist destinations, so that you can avoid paying higher prices for in-venue dining.  Depending on your family, a simple Google search could cut your meal bill in half!

3. Take advantage of free WiFi where possible
Texting and calling abroad can easily add up, so turn off cellular data whenever possible when outside of the United States, and take advantage of free WiFi hotspots. If you are staying in the U.S. but your hotel charges for in-room WiFi, this tip also applies – just wait and download your podcasts and check your Instagram when you stop for coffee, and you won’t have to pay an extra fee for access. 

NOTE: Using public WiFi, even hotel WiFi, always comes with some risk, so think before you access any password-protected accounts.

4. BYO – Bring Your Own
While it is not always practical, BYOing on vacation can really save money. In particular, bring your own:
·       Refillable water bottles – most locations have easy-to-access water fountains, including major theme parks and airports
·       Snacks – even to Disney theme parks!
·       Sunscreen – notoriously expensive in hotel gift shops
·       Over-the-counter basics – having a few small packs of ibuprofen, cold/allergy meds, and your preferred method of dealing with a stomach bug can save you from having to pay for overpriced medication in an airport or hotel shop

And of course, make sure to always have your FamilyWize card with you (or download the app for your Apple or Android device), so that you can save money on any surprise prescription drug purchases on-the-go (hopefully you won’t need them!).

How do you save money while on vacation? Share your tips on our Facebook page!

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ask an Expert: A Cheaper Alternative to the EpiPen


This post is part of our “Ask an Expert” blog series. In this post, Ken Majkowski, Pharm.D and Chief Pharmacy Officer at FamilyWize, addresses a common question consumers have when it comes to prescription drugs. Ken brings more than 40 years of healthcare experience to the FamilyWize team, including 14 years of clinical pharmacy experience in retail, hospital, and home care. Read his full bio, here.

It is estimated that 3.6 million Americans carry an EpiPen every day, a pen-shaped device containing epinephrine, which can prevent patients with severe allergies from experiencing a potentially deadly allergic reaction.

In 2016, EpiPens were frequently in the news, as drug company Mylan raised the price of the lifesaving device to over $600 per pen. Public outrage flared after it was pointed out in the media that the auto-injectors have increased in retail price more than 400 percent in recent years, and concern was raised that some people would not be able to access treatment when they need it.

Alternatives to the EpiPen
In response to public outcry, last year Mylan announced that an authorized generic product would be available for half the price of a brand name EpiPen.

But in 2017, patients have an even more accessible alternative. Recently, drugstore chain CVS announced that it would start selling an epinephrine auto-injector for $109.99 per two-pack (before any discounts are applied). This compares to a cash price of $649.99 for EpiPen.

CVS says its epinephrine auto-injector is based on the generic of Impax Laboratories’ Adrenaclick treatment. Adrenaclick, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2003, also administers epinephrine like an EpiPen, but through a slightly different injection.

What Patients Need to Know
If you or someone in your family requires an epinephrine auto-injector, please know that you have options to consider. If your doctor writes you a prescription for an EpiPen and you don’t have insurance or your insurance won’t cover the prescription, ask him or her about more cost-effective alternatives. You can also discuss your options with your pharmacist or your insurance provider.

Regardless of your insurance status or which injector you choose to use, the Free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card may enable everyone to save on their prescription medications. Please check with your pharmacist to verify your savings.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Managing the Financial Side of Stroke Recovery [Stroke Awareness Month]




May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Although largely preventable, statistics show that every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. In fact, stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.

Recovering from a stroke can be challenging. Among stroke survivors:
      50 percent have some weakness or paralysis on half of their body (hemiparesis)
      30 percent need walking assistance
      46 percent have cognitive deficits
      19 percent suffer speech or language impairments (aphasia)
      26 percent require assistance with daily living (dependent ADLs)
      26 percent require nursing home care

Not surprisingly, a stroke survivor’s healthcare can be extremely expensive. The average stroke patient pays more than $140,000 in lifetime medical bills

The costs can be so significant that the National Stroke Association has a section of its website dedicated to helping stroke survivors manage their finances. The organization recommends four tips for adjusting to the financial demands of stroke recovery:
      Create a financial plan – Establish a budget so that you can cut costs and responsibly use your savings before withdrawing from retirement funds or taking on debt.
      Maintain your health insurance – It is critical to work with your employer and insurance provider to ensure you have ongoing coverage.
      Contact your lender or landlord – If you think you may have trouble paying your mortgage or rent, proactively reach out to discuss your options. Local and federal housing programs may be able to help.
      Use your local resources – As you are recovering, take advantage of the many different utility, food, and other support programs in your area so that you can focus on getting well.

Carefully managing the cost of your prescription medications is also an important component of your healthcare budget. The FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card, which is regarded as one of the best options for people in need of pharmacy savings cards, enables everyone, both insured and uninsured, to save on prescription medications, with average savings of around 40 percent. The rx discount card is free for all and has unlimited use and no eligibility requirements. It is accepted at pharmacies nationwide, including all major chains. Learn more at FamilyWize.org.

To participate in Stroke Awareness Month, please visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website or Stroke.org.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

3 Must-Haves for a Budget-Friendly Home Gym


We all know that when you are trying to save money, cooking dinner at home is more cost effective than eating out. The same goes for exercise! If you have the floor space, working out at home can save you hundreds of dollars in gym memberships and class fees. While you could go crazy spending money on equipment for your home gym – you don’t have to! We’ve combed through the top fitness websites to identify the three core components you need to build a home gym on a budget:

1. Floor Protection
There is a reason that all gyms have rubber flooring. All of the experts agree that proper, padded floor protection is safer for you, safer for your floors, and safer for your equipment. Check out Amazon for a variety of reasonably priced options or watch for a sale at your local sporting goods store. Depending on your square footage, you might be able to get away with something as simple as a heavyweight yoga mat.

2. Cardio Tools
Even if you plan on only doing strength workouts at home, most fitness experts recommend a short warm-up to get your heart pumping. And, while you can run or walk outdoors 90 percent of the time, having some strategy for indoor cardio is a smart move for those rainy or cold days. If you don’t want to invest in an expensive cardio machine, a jump rope is a quick and easy solution. Cheap and simple to use, a jump rope takes up almost no space and can help you to quickly warm-up at the beginning of your workout.

3. Strength Tools
This is where it is easy to get overwhelmed. Start by taking stock of your goals and preferences. If you are new to working out, it makes sense to make small investments first and establish regular fitness habits before investing in a high-tech weight bench or power rack. A “starter” strength set-up might include:
      Resistance bands – Mentioned in every resource we consulted, they are often the first tool recommended for home-gym strength training.
      Adjustable dumbbells – Arguably a small investment, but Michael Mathews at MuscleForLife recommends adjustable dumbbells because they save space and are easier to work with than more traditional plated dumbbells.
      Stability ball – A powerful, inexpensive, easy-to-store tool for building core strength.

And if you want to go all out (or if you just like checking out fun fitness gear), Men’s Health has a great list of 20 Ways to Build a Better Home Gym.

Do you work out at home to save money? Share your tips on the FamilyWize Facebook page! Looking for some great home workout routines? Check out our Pinterest board for ideas!

Finally, don’t forget to reach out to us today for the best pharmacy savings cards, best RX discount cards, and much more.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

4 Tips to Trim Your Family’s Spending


As the holiday season, with its terrifying credit card bills, fades more and more into our collective memory, we’re all starting to feel safe to spend money again. We are preparing warm weather wardrobes, booking flights for summer vacations, and putting down deposits for summer camps.

With that in mind, spring is a perfect time to think about our spending and how we can keep it in check. At FamilyWize, we want to help you save money. Here are four tips to trim your family’s spending:

Track

Track every dollar that you are spending. You won’t know whether or not you are overspending unless you know what you spend. We put this tip first on purpose because no one wants to hear it. If you think that you may have a spending problem, it is way too easy to just put your head in the sand and pat yourself on the back for clipping a few coupons. Coupons help, but they won’t ensure that you will avoid financial disaster. 

The team at Get Rich Slowly has a nice comprehensive approach to tracking your spending each month, so that you will have a clear picture of your financial situation.

Touch

Touch your money and pay cash as often as possible. This is an age-old trick because it works. We all love the convenience of plastic, but if your spending is out of control then removing the convenience of a credit card will help. The AARP makes an insightful research-based case for why the extra pain of paying by cash will help you to be more thoughtful with each purchase.

Delay

You walk into Target and see the TV that you have been coveting for months on sale. You know that the sale is temporary and that stock will be limited. Do you pull the trigger?

The experts at MoneyUnder30 say to delay. Give yourself a 24-hour period to think about the purchase before you make it. That delay will help you to remove the emotion from your purchase. Do you still need to replace your old TV? Then buy a new one. Were you just looking for a big pick-me-up after a bad day at work? Then look at the money you are saving for your next vacation and spend some time daydreaming about your trip instead.

Research

Once you start tracking your spending and you know where your money is going each month, you have the opportunity to do a little research. Could you find a better deal on your car insurance? Maybe a few minutes spent comparison shopping will lead to a smaller payment.

Are you regularly spending a lot of money on prescription medications? Regardless of your insurance situation, we here at FamilyWize can help you spend less money on your family’s prescription drugs with the Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card. Get your own card or download the app today.

How do you trim your family’s spending? Let us know on our Facebook page!



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ask an Expert: A Quick Guide to Controlled Substances



This post is part of our “Ask an Expert” blog series. In this post, Ken Majkowski, Pharm.D and Chief Pharmacy Officer at FamilyWize, addresses a common question consumers have when it comes to prescription drugs. Ken brings more than 40 years of healthcare experience to the FamilyWize team, including 14 years of clinical pharmacy experience in retail, hospital and home care. Read his full bio, here.

Most of us have a very general understanding that a controlled substance is a drug or chemical that is restricted by the federal government because it can be physically or psychologically addictive, possesses psychoactive properties, or is illegal to sell or distribute for various reasons.

From time to time, we receive questions from families or individuals looking for more information about controlled substances and how they relate to common prescriptions.

Below, we have pulled together a brief summary of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to help address some of these questions. As always, please speak with your doctor and pharmacist for additional information.

What is a Controlled Substance?

Controlled substances are chemicals that are regulated by the federal government, including both illegal drugs and legal medications.

The CSA was signed into law in 1970 as a way to curb drug dealing, trafficking, and abuse. It specifically names:

       Which drugs are controlled substances
       When it is illegal to make, sell or have controlled substances
       The punishments for breaking these laws

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is tasked with enforcing the CSA.

Controlled substances are broken down into five different groups, called schedules, based on how physically or psychologically addictive they are, how likely they are to be abused, and how legal controlled substances must be prescribed and dispensed for appropriate medical use. Each group is controlled by a different set of regulations.

What Do Patients Need to Know about Controlled Substances?

First, controlled substances are more commonly used than you might think. Lyrica, Codeine, Ambien, Valium, Adderall, anabolic steroids, and all narcotic painkillers are examples of drugs identified as controlled substances.

Second, your doctor and your pharmacist have to follow strict protocols when prescribing and dispensing these drugs – including how the prescription must be sent to the pharmacy and whether or not and how often they can be refilled without a new prescription. These protocols are monitored by the DEA and professionals who fail to follow them are breaking federal law.

If you understand the restrictions doctors and pharmacists must follow related to controlled substances, you can better plan for it if, or when, you need a new prescription or refill.

We all benefit from the careful use and monitoring of controlled substances. For additional information, please see the DEA’s Controlled Substances website.

Do you have another question for our pharmacist? Visit FamilyWize on Facebook and let us know.