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Seasonal Allergies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As we move into fall allergy season with the coronavirus still active, it is important not to confuse allergies for the disease. If you suffer from allergies every year, ask yourself these questions:

    • Are these my classic allergy symptoms?
    • Do I get these symptoms around the same time every year?
    • Am I taking my allergy medications regularly and appropriately?

Seasonal allergies and COVID-19 do share many symptoms. However, there are some distinct differences between the two:

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 commonly presents with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and muscle aches. This combination of symptoms is not typical for seasonal allergies.
  • Symptoms of seasonal allergies tend to affect the nose and eyes. When a sensitive person inhales an allergen, the body’s immune system may react with several symptoms including:
    • Stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion
    • Itching, usually in the nose, mouth, eyes, or throat
    • Puffy, swollen eyelids
    • Sneezing and coughing
    • In certain people, it can trigger asthma symptoms

The image below from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compares some of the symptoms caused by allergies and COVID-19.

As with any disease or illness, symptoms can vary between person to person. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the best way to protect yourself is to reduce your exposure to pollen. It is important for you to stay up to date with the pollen levels in your area. If you feel your symptoms might be something more than seasonal allergies, contact your healthcare provider.

Take Charge. Live Well!

Life Changes and So May Your Beneficiaries

Marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, or the death of a loved one are common reasons why you may need to review your beneficiary designations.

Make a commitment this month to review your beneficiary designations. Make sure your beneficiary designations are clear and that they reflect your current intentions. It is also important to name both a primary and a contingent (secondary) beneficiary.

Basic Life, Basic AD&D and Supplemental Life Insurance

  • Go to crown.benefitsnow.com and enter your User ID and Password
  • Click Health & Insurance > Take Action
  • Select Manage Beneficiary from the drop-down menu
  • Or call the Health Benefits Service Center at 844.577.4341

Smart-Choice Health Savings Account (HSA)

  • Go to crown.benefitsnow.com and enter your User ID and Password
  • Click Reimbursement Accounts
  • Click on Health Savings Account
  • Go to Account Resources and select View Beneficiaries
  • Or call the Health Benefits Service Center at 844.577.4341

401(k) Retirement Savings Plan

  • Go to benefits.ml.com and enter your User ID and Password
  • Click My Accounts > Crown Equipment 401(k) > Current Elections
  • Select Beneficiary Designations/Updates from the drop-down menu
  • Or call the Retirement and Benefits Contact Center at 800.228.4015 if you want a beneficiary form to be sent to you and then forward your completed form to Merrill.

Beneficiary designations is not a set it and forget it task. Strive to review your beneficiary designations regularly to ensure they are always correct.

Take Charge. Live Well!

Healthy Habits for a Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a very special time in an expecting mother’s life. Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your baby. Here are a few healthy habits to follow in the months ahead.

  • See your healthcare professional regularly for proper prenatal care
  • Avoid cigarette smoke, alcohol, and harmful chemicals.
  • Limit caffeine.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Stay active if your doctor says it’s safe.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Always wear a seat belt.

A partner’s presence is also important to a healthy pregnancy. Support mom and the baby by also practicing healthy habits.

In addition, take advantage of the programs and resources available through your health plan that are designed to support you every step of the way.

  • Anthem – Enroll in the Future Moms program as soon as you know you’re pregnant by calling 800-828-5891.
  • Kaiser – Visit www.kp.org for resources or call Member Services in your area as soon as you know you’re pregnant.

Take Charge. Live Well!

In This Together

As “stay at home” orders begin to expire, many of us may feel anxious about returning to old routines and schedules. If you have been working remotely, begin to get back into your work routine at home before physically returning.

In addition, continuing to follow the guidelines as we return to the new normal may help you feel more in control, while also helping to prevent the spread of infection.

  • Check your temperature before arriving to work.
  • Stay home if you are sick or not feeling well.
  • Continue to practice social distancing at your work area.
  • Wear a face mask or covering when you are not able to practice social distancing.
  • Wash hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect any high-touch surfaces in your area often.
  • Monitor and protect your health – you are in charge.

It is normal to feel anxious about changes and uncertain times. Remember, we are in this together. Access and connect with your EAP benefits, when needed, by calling BHS at 800-245-1150.

Take Charge. Live Well!

Keep Your Lungs Healthy

You may not think about the importance of lung health until you experience a breathing problem. Your lungs bring oxygen into the body and send carbon dioxide out of the body. Every cell of the body needs oxygen to stay alive and healthy. That’s why it is important to prioritize your lung health.

Here are some ways to keep your lungs healthy.

Don’t Smoke
This is the best thing you can do to keep your lungs healthy. Not only can smoking cause lung cancer, it is also the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which will narrow and inflame your airway making breathing more difficult. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common conditions that make up COPD.

Don’t Vape
Any time we breathe in anything, other than fresh air or prescribed medication into our lungs, there is a potential to cause harm. Vaping is no different.

Wash Your Hands
Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps to avoiding common infectious respiratory diseases like colds and flu. Make hand washing a habit all year long.

Be Active
Regular exercise can help strengthen your heart and lungs, so they work more efficiently. Aim for 30 minutes most days of the week.

Get Vaccinated
Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu shot. In addition, adults 65 and older should receive the pneumonia vaccine.

Get Regular Check-ups
Regular check-ups help prevent diseases, even when you are feeling well. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious.

Take Charge. Live Well!

Everyday Preventive Actions

As with other viruses like influenza and the common cold, consistent hygiene and well-being practices help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases and illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following everyday preventive actions:

  • Practice self-care. Getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and taking time out to recharge is important to a healthy immune system.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water is not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and make you sick.
  • Clean “high-touch” surfaces every day. High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, electronics, and bedside tables. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe according to the label instructions.

Take care of your health and protect others by practicing everyday preventive actions. Visit CDC.gov or WHO.int to learn more.

Take Charge. Live Well!

Colon Cancer – A Physician’s Perspective

David Louis MD, MS, FACOEM Dave.Louis@crown.com

Crown’s Director of Employee Health Services, Dr. David Louis, shares his medical and personal insight on the importance of a colon cancer screening.

Why educate employees on the importance getting screened?
Each year, one to two employees are diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Many skipped their preventive screening and only decided to go to the doctor because they were having symptoms. This tragic diagnosis doesn’t have to happen. Colon cancer is easily screened and if caught early, treatment is usually very successful.

When should an employee start their screening for colon cancer?
The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk start regular screenings at age 45. However, people with a history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) or have a family history of colon cancer might need to start screening before age 45.

Some people don’t want to go through the prep of clearing the colon for a colonoscopy. Are there other colon cancer screening options?
There are a few options. Talk to your healthcare provider about which test might be best for you. The most important thing is to get screened. The options include:

  • Cologuard®. This is a non-invasive screening option and does not require any prep or time off from work. If the results come back abnormal, a diagnostic colonoscopy will be needed to determine the reason.
  • FIT Test (Fecal Immunochemical Test). This is also a non-invasive option and does not require any prep or time off from work. If the results come back abnormal, a diagnostic colonoscopy will be needed to determine the reason.
  • Colonoscopy. This test does require the “prep”. It can prevent colon cancer by removing precancerous polyps before they become cancerous. Colon cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps.

Are these tests covered by insurance?
If a colonoscopy is billed as a preventive service, it is covered at 100% in-network. Other testing options may be covered as a preventive service. It is important that your Provider verifies your benefit coverage prior to providing services.

 Take Charge. Live Well!

What is LiveHealth Online®?

LiveHealth Online lets you have a medical video visit with a board-certified doctor using your smartphone, tablet or computer with a webcam. No appointment, no driving and no waiting. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your home or office for your visit.

Doctors are available 24/7 to assess your condition and, if needed, they can prescribe medication to be filled at your local pharmacy. LiveHealth Online is a great option for care when your own doctor is unavailable and more convenient than a trip to an urgent care facility.

With LiveHealth Online, you can see a board-certified doctor in minutes and receive medical care for things like:

  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • A sinus infection
  • Minor rashes or skin infections
  • Pinkeye
  • Allergies
  • And more

Cost of Medical Video Visit

LiveHealth Online is a covered service through the Anthem Medical Plan, so you’ll just pay your share of the cost of $59 or less. If you are not enrolled in the Anthem Medical Plan, you can still register and access care through LiveHealth Online and will pay $59 for a medical video visit.

Go to livehealthonline.com or download the mobile app at Google PlayTM or the App StoreSM and get signed up today so you are ready to go when you need a medical video visit with a doctor.

Take Charge. Live Well!

Financial Health Check-Up

An annual check-up with your health care provider is a smart and proactive move. When it comes to your financial health, a financial check-up can be just as important.

Maintain your Financial Health

  • Assess your current finances and identify short and long-term financial goals.
  • Prioritize your goals and create a personalized strategy to help you reach your future financial goals.
  • Identify events that may trigger new financial needs (marriage, buying a home, retirement) and adapt your budget to meet these changes.
  • Enroll in the Crown 401(k) Plan and receive the company contributions and access to no cost financial programs like Advice Access offered through Merrill.
  • Consider the tax consequences of your investment strategy when contributing on a pre-tax and/or Roth 401(k) basis and the impact of taking a 401(k) Plan distribution like a 401(k) loan or withdrawal.

Next Steps
Contact Merrill to help develop a strategy and provide financial check-ups as you pursue your future financial goals.

Visit Merrill at benefits.ml.com or call 800-228-4015 and get started today.

Take Charge. Live Well!

Less Stress, More Joy

Despite the holidays being a joyful time to reconnect with family and friends, it may also bring about stress like no other time of the year. Practicing self-care, and taking time for activities and people you enjoy, is essential.

Stick to Your Routine

Holidays offer many temptations to overindulge in food and drink and ignore the importance of sleep and exercise.

Create a Budget

Money is one of the biggest holiday stressors for people. Set a realistic budget this holiday season and don’t exceed it.

Focus on What Matters

More isn’t always better. Scaling down your holiday plans may be what you need. The most important thing is to spend time with people you care about.

Take a Breath

When you feel stressed, meditation and breathing techniques can help trigger your body’s natural relaxation response. This can add up to a feeling of greater calm and focus.

Ask for Help

If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk out problems and worries with someone you trust.

Access EAP

Contact your BHS-EAP Care Coordinator at 800-245-1150 and connect with a trained professional that will provide the direction you need in any situation, even during the holidays.

Click HERE to learn about Crown’s EAP benefit for you and your dependents.

 

Take Charge. Live Well!