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Top Employee Health Education Tips of 2019

by Al Lewis

What employees don’t know can hurt them. It can even bankrupt them, as the first Top Tip shows. More and more employers are figuring this out, which is why roughly 500,000 employees will have access to Quizzify in January, up from about 50,000 in January 2019.

Here are some highlights from our Six Things Employees Should Know postings from 2019.

1. Surprise Bills

40% of all ER and inpatient stays generate surprise bills. More than 20% of insured adults report receiving at least one in the last five years. Medical bills are now the leading cause of bankruptcy. Quizzify’s solution – a brief, carefully crafted consent usable in any emergency situation -- can now be downloaded into any Apple Wallet.

This consent works. Stacey Richter is not just a prominent healthcare podcaster. She is also, like most of us, a consumer of healthcare. She reports (in a blog post to be featured next week) that the same ER which charged her family an arm and a leg in a visit last year only cost her $150 for a recent visit involving more complexity. The key, she says, was the Quizzify consent.

Read Six Things Employees Should Know about Surprise Bills here and download the consent and add it to your Apple Wallet here.

2. Heartburn Pills

Other than pain relievers, the #1 OTC drug category is heartburn medication. The most popular heartburn pills are known as “proton pump inhibitors,” and include Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium. As popular as those pills already were, the Zantac recall turbocharged their sales.

Like virtually all OTC meds, they are perfect safe for occasional use. But, also like virtually all OTC meds, plenty of people overlook the hazards of regular use. Employees get relief, so they keep using them. These meds are specifically labeled for short-term use, but who reads the label?

Read this Six Things posting to learn about the hazards of heartburn pills, and this Six Things posting to learn about some shockingly easy, creative and effective non-medicinal ways to relieve or prevent heartburn.

3. Sleep aids

Better sleeping through chemistry? We think not.

What you just read about heartburn bills is true with OTC sleep aids as well. They look completely harmless, featuring pictures of the moon or stars. With names like “ZZZ-Quil” or “Tylenol PM,” they play off the brands you have come to trust.

However, the active ingredient in all 115 of these products, diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl), should not be used every night, period. As an occasional take-as-directed allergy reliever, go for it – as safe as meds get. But virtually nothing intended for occasional use should be taken regularly.

Our Six Things post on sleep aids has more info.

4. Back pain

Though it might take years, 90% of back pain goes away on its own. Yet everyone thinks they are in the other 10%. As a result, employees turn to scans, cortisone shots, and even surgeries far sooner than they should, with nowhere near enough consideration of alternatives, including doing nothing.

Yes, doing nothing (“maintain daily activities” being the specific phrase) is one of the best recommendations for back pain in most cases.

Beyond that, simple exercises that can be done at home may also do the trick. Sit-ups are out. Click to our back pain Six Things to learn what’s “in.”

5. Scans

Overused, overpriced…and overrated.

Americans are the world’s most ravenous consumers of scans, and also pay the world’s highest prices for that privilege. Among the issues are the following:

  • Radiation (CT scans only)

  • Dye (both)

  • Overdiagnosis (both)

  • Misinterpretation (both, but especially MRIs)

Simply making employees aware of these hazards reduces their demand for inappropriate ones. In addition to our blog post, you can scroll down to the testimonials to hear “real people with real names” talk about how they avoided unnecessary ones.

6. Dietary fats and oils

Many are good for us…yet your health risk assessment may be telling employees the opposite, as the fifth bullet point recommends:

We might ask, what are employees being told to eat instead of fats and oils? Looks like…sugar! Yes, many lowfat and nonfat yogurts are sweetened with sugar...and yet here is a recommendation on a popular risk assessment to eat more:

Fats and oils should be part of most diets. The science around them is changing, much faster than employees’ understanding of the science (and apparently faster than some wellness vendors’). Even saturated fats are getting at least somewhat rehabilitated, in moderation.

Click through here for our very first Six Things post, covering this exact topic.


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