Monday, July 25, 2016

Free Summer Activities to Do with Your Kids


 Everyone looks forward to the summer season – sunshine, warmer weather, and long, lazy days. But, keeping kids busy during the summer months can often be a challenge. Vacations and summer camps are expensive. Can you keep your family active and happy this summer without breaking the bank? You bet! Here’s how.

The first place to start is in your own backyard. There are plenty of free summer activities to do with your kids in your own backyard. For starters, set up the sprinkler for the kids to run through on hot summer days. Don’t forget backyard camping, scavenger hunts, or gardening, which are all great outdoor activities to do with kids. Simply utilize materials and supplies you already have and enjoy these activities at no cost.

Your kitchen is another great place to find free summer fun. Whether your family enjoys baking or cooking dinner together, the kitchen is a great place for summer activities and learning new skills, especially on rainy days. Other great activities for days you’re stuck indoors include: indoor camping; playing cards, board or online games; and watching classic summer movies.

Most local libraries offer a variety of free summer activities to do with kids, too. Take advantage of summer book clubs, family movie nights, crafts, and more, all in the comfort of your air-conditioned library. There are often also reading challenges that your kids can sign up for too!

Within your community, check out local parks for biking and hiking trails, free concerts, movies in the park, and firework displays. Some local parks even provide spray parks in the summer for some cool, free fun. In addition, many local museums offer free, kid-friendly art workshops during the summer months.

Don’t forget local retailers who offer free workshops for kids as well. Check out Home Depot and Lowe’s for a variety of hands-on workshops specifically for kids. Bookstores provide free reading times, author visits, book signings, and other activities to take advantage of during the summer months. Even grocery stores, such as Wegmans, now offer story and craft hour for kids.

Volunteer activities are often family-friendly and can serve as a valuable learning experience. Walk dogs currently staying at a local animal shelter or visit with the elderly in a nursing home, for instance.

It’s easy to keep your kids busy engaging in activities that are both fun-filled and free this summer. So, check out your local resources, enlist the input of your family, and recognize the endless possibilities.

Save more!


While you’re saving money on activities, make sure to save on any prescriptions you pick up this summer as well. With the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is free to all consumers, you will save an average of 43% on your prescriptions. Request a card or download the free app at FamilyWize.org, or call 800-222-2818. FamilyWize also provides a free Drug Lookup Tool, so you’ll always know the price you’ll pay before getting to the pharmacy counter. Try it today and start saving!

Enjoy your summer!



Monday, July 18, 2016

Five Ways to Stay Safe in the Sun


The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays are sneaky. They are invisible and can reach you by reflecting off another surface (like pool water!). In fact, they can even pass through glass, which is why most of us have more sun damage on the left side of our face from exposure while driving, according to skincancer.org. No surprise then that many of us wrongly assume we are protected from harmful rays when we’re often not. This is a dangerous assumption as UV exposure is the leading cause of melanoma.

Since it is UV Safety Month, we’re sharing the top five ways you can protect yourself (and others) from UV rays, so that you can relax when you’re having fun in the sun.

#1 – Use Common Sense as Your First Line of Defense


According to the FDA, over-reliance on sunscreen is a risk. Unfortunately, it is easy to miss small patches of skin when applying sunscreen – which is enough to leave you at risk for sunburn and its associated long-term risks. So, the best move is to begin with common sense:
  • Avoid midday exposure when the sun is highest in the sky. This is when sunrays are most dangerous.
  • Wear protective clothing over exposed skin, such as long-sleeved shirts/pants, and a hat with a broad brim. 
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses. 
  • Favor the shade.
Use your sunscreen as your second line of defense, not the first.

#2 – Watch Out for Uncovered Spots


When you’re slathering on that sunscreen and racing for the beach or the pool, it’s easy to assume that you are “mostly” protected. Make sure not to miss easily and commonly overlooked areas including:
  • Ear lobes
  • Eye lids 
  • Lips (use lip balm with SPF protection) 
  • Bald spots 
  • Neck 
  • Palms of your hands 
  • Soles of your feet 
  • Your back 
  • The edges of your swimsuit or top (as they shift, unprotected skin gets exposed to the sun)

#3 – Check Sun Lotion Expiration Dates


Yes, it actually does matter how old your sunscreen is. Most likely, it has a printed expiration date. Once it has expired, throw it away immediately. The product’s active ingredients become less effective over time. In fact, the safest thing to do is throw away all of your unused sunscreen on an annual basis and replenish your stock with brand new bottles.

#4 – For Reliable SPF, Use Chemical-Based Sunscreens


Recent research by Consumer Reports shows that a troubling 48% of all sunscreen products do not provide the SPF rating that they claim on their packaging. Many people choose mineral-based sunscreens over chemical-based sunscreens for health reasons, but the research showed that only 26% of mineral sunscreens met the SPF levels claimed on their packaging. To play it safe, consider using one of the chemical-based sunscreen lotions, which score the highest in terms of SPF reliability.

#5 – Avoid Potentially Harmful Sunscreen Ingredients


Ingredients found in some sunscreen formulas present risks that are best avoided. For example, though vitamin A is generally good for us, the form of vitamin A often used in lotions can actually accelerate the development of skin tumors if applied in sunlight. And some fragrances commonly used in sunscreen have been linked to skin tumors. When you’re applying sunscreen, the best bet is to do so when you are clean and free from other products.

More Resources


Avoiding sun-related health issues is a key concern during the summer; no one wants to spend a day of nice weather stuck inside of a doctor’s office or hospital dealing with sunburn, sun poisoning, dehydration, or related issues. Of course, if you find yourself in this position, we can help.

Use the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card to ensure that you save on any of your prescriptions. At least if you’re suffering from an illness, you won’t have to worry about the price of your medications.

If you don’t already have a card, you can easily download a free card online. You can also request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. Not interested in carrying the card with you? There’s an app (for Apple and Android) available here.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Annual Healthcare Costs for Families Hit $25K



The data is in and it’s concerning: The annual healthcare costs for a family of four have hit $25K. According to the annual Milliman Medical Index analysis, this represents an increase of $1,155 over last year’s costs, and it is triple what healthcare costs were in 2001.

Even worse? It’s anticipated that family healthcare costs will rise another 4.7% this year alone. Although this is the lowest annual increase in 15 years, it is still taking a financial toll on today’s families. According to Chris Grod, co-author of the Milliman Medical Index, this is a “significant and somewhat unsettling milestone.”

Unsettling is right. What exactly does this data mean for you and your family? What can you do in light of these rising costs?

According to the report, the cause of increasing healthcare costs is due to two factors:
  1. A reduction in employer contributions
  2. A rise in prescription drug costs
Employers typically pay some portion of healthcare costs for full-time employees (usually it’s part of the annual healthcare premiums). As employers continue to find ways to shift increasing costs to employees, through higher deductibles, co-pays, and employee contributions, these healthcare costs escalate for employees and their families. Unfortunately, these costs aren’t rising in relation to salaries, leading to a larger population of underinsured people, those who have high deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses relative to their income. The uninsured are in a more challenging position, absorbing 100% of these costs and increases on their own.

And it’s not just the fees associated with insurance and doctor’s visits, it’s the actual prescriptions themselves that are rising in cost too. According to Milliman, prescription drug costs alone make up 17% of the average family’s healthcare costs, which equals an average of $4,270 annually.

These increases can be challenging to navigate. Here’s what you can do to help offset them:
  • Look for ways to lower your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. For instance, by using the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card on a consistent basis, you can start saving immediately on your prescription drug needs. If you don’t already have a card, you can easily download a free card by visiting https://familywize.org/prescription-savings-card/get-your-free-card/. You can also request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. Not interested in carrying the card with you? There’s an app (Apple and Android), available here.
  • Always ask your doctor for the lowest cost, most effective way to treat a health condition. In some cases, this may be ordering a generic form of medication, when available. Be your own advocate!
  • Use the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool to find the pharmacy in your area with the best price on your medication. 
  • Practice preventive medicine, which can help lower your family’s overall healthcare costs. Eat healthful meals, get adequate sleep, exercise, and alleviate stress to help keep your immune system strong. Managing chronic health conditions can help alleviate more complicated, and costly, health challenges.
  • Look to lower or alleviate costs in other areas to help offset your overall household increases. For instance, check out this post regarding the best couponing blogs for valuable information on saving on household expenses.
By understanding how these increases in healthcare costs affect you and your family and establishing ways to help defer these costs, you can still keep your family members healthy while enjoying the activities and lifestyle you desire.