Staying Safe in the Summer

While that sun sure feels good, it’s worth repeating a warning about the dangers of the sun on our skin and other protections to ensure a safe season ahead.

Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps/beds increases your risk of developing melanoma so limit your exposure.

For adequate protection against melanoma, everyone over the age of six months should use sunscreen daily and year-round, in any weather. Infants should be kept out of the sun or protected with clothing and an umbrella or stroller hood. Sunscreen should not be neglected on overcast days, as 70-80 percent of the sun’s rays go through clouds and fog.

In addition to exercising caution with the sun, the warmer weather brings activities that can pose dangers, some of which are water related. For instance, from 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. Here are some resources to help you enjoy a safe season, both in and out of the water.

Whether it’s at the beach, by the pool, camping or enjoying your favorite activity, Pearson Benefits wishes everyone a happy and safe summer!

Focus on Protecting your Eyes

Long hours in the sun leave unprotected eyes exposed to dangerous UV rays, and can actually cause sunburned eyes. If you’ve spent several hours in the sun and your eyes are watering, itchy, sensitive to light, or dry and gritty, it’s likely you have sunburned eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, repeated exposure to UV radiation can contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration.

Most of us think more about putting on those sunglasses in the spring and summer. Yet, because snow reflects almost 80% of UV radiation, your overall exposure is nearly doubled when skiing, snowboarding, etc. The bottom line – wear sunglasses year round!

Keep the following things in mind when you shop for your next pair of sunglasses:

  • Look for the 100% UVA/UVB protection sticker on the frames.
  • Try polarized lenses to help eliminate glare and add more clarity to your view, especially if you’ll be near the water or sand this summer.
  • Ask about photochromic lenses that change from light to dark in sunlight for convenient sun protection.

Take a Look at Vision Coverage

Take advantage of the vision program coverage that Pearson offers. It is designed to help pay for routine eye exams, glasses and contact lenses, while treatment of a vision-related illness or injury is covered under your medical plan.

Visit the Vision Service Plan site to find out about great saving programs like a $40 promotion for Calvin Klein and Cole Haan frames through July 1. These designers aren’t your preference? That’s fine, as VSP members are being given an extra $20 to spend on all other featured frames through 2017. Be sure to sign up for the VSP newsletter, EnVision to keep you informed of future savings opportunities, products and eye care news.

A Prescription for Good Health

On January 1st of this year, CVS/caremark (CVSC) became our new prescription plan administrator. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about filling your medication needs through our new vendor.

Q: Is CVS your only pharmacy option?

A:No, except as noted below. CVS/caremark’s (CVSC) pharmacy network includes over 68,000 pharmacies including local pharmacies, large chains such as Safeway, Shop Rite, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Kroger & others, and over 8,000 CVS pharmacies.  To find out if your pharmacy is in CVSC’s network, please call 844.432.0696 or visit Caremark.

Q:  Do I have to use a CVS/pharmacy if I am taking Maintenance (long-term) medications?

A: Yes, you are required to fill your prescription through mail order OR at a CVS/pharmacy if you meet BOTH of the following criteria:

  • If you are filling a prescription for long-term medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. and
  • You live within 5 miles of a CVS/pharmacy.

Regardless of which option you choose, you will pay the lower mail order copay. If you have filled part of a 90-day prescription at a non-CVS pharmacy in 2016, you will be allowed to finish that 90-day prescription at your current pharmacy.  However, new prescriptions, written after January 1, 2017, must be filled through mail order OR at a CVS/pharmacy (at either a standalone CVS/pharmacy or those in Target stores). 

Q: Do I have to use a CVS/pharmacy if I am on a specialty medication?

A: Yes. If you are taking a specialty medication (i.e. medications for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, MS, etc.), effective January 1, 2017 you will be required to fill your prescription through CVSC’s specialty mail order pharmacy OR at a CVS pharmacy.

Q: Can I get a flu shot at a pharmacy in CVSC’s retail network?

A: Yes. All preventive care-related vaccines, including flu shots, are available through CVSC’s retail network at no cost to you (not all participating pharmacies offer all vaccines).

Q: I just received an ExtraCare® Health Card. What is it for?

A: The ExtraCare Health Card provides you and your family with a 20 percent discount on CVS Brand health-related products from cough and cold medication to pain and allergy relief. Already have an ExtraCare Health Card? Call CVS/caremark and have your points transferred to your new ExtraCare Health Card.

For additional information about your prescription plan, visit Prescription Drugs | Pearson Benefits.

Stop Drowning in the Details

Dr. Seuss once asked, “How did it get so late so soon?” That’s a question that so many of us ask ourselves as we struggle to manage all we need to get done. There is so much to juggle with work, children, caring for parents, taking care of our home, that time has a way of escaping us. So, what if there was a way to get back even a small fraction of the time you spend tending to many of life’s details? LifeCare® Concierge Services can do just that – here’s how.

Think of it as you would a concierge in a hotel setting. Their role is to worry about the details for you, which is exactly what this benefit can do. Instead of making a myriad of phone calls or doing research on your own, this free feature will do much of the legwork for you.

Here are a few ways that Concierge Services can help in your daily life:

  • Match your elderly parents with housing options
  • Help with college planning and researching financial aid
  • Help you plan and prepare for a baby, wedding, move, or other major life event
  • Making restaurant, travel or entertainment reservations
  • Comparing prices, locate hard-to-find items, and making purchases

You can also save time by using the wealth of online resources already assembled for you such as:

Call 800.450.7171 or visit LifeCare (Registration Code: Pearson) to begin saving time and energy. With a few extra tasks out of the way, you just might be free to do more of the things you truly enjoy.

Changing Our Prescription Plan Partner

Beginning January 1, 2017 Pearson’s prescription drug administrator will be CVS Caremark, with no change in current copay amounts. All enrolled members will receive a new ID card and a welcome letter from CVS/caremark containing details about your new prescription coverage.

Your CVS Caremark Coverage Includes:

Retail network & Mail service pharmacy

Use a CVS Caremark pharmacy when filling short- or long-term prescriptions. The retail network includes more than 67,000 pharmacies nationwide, including chain pharmacies, 20,000 independent pharmacies and 7,400 CVS/Target pharmacy stores. Mail service is a cost-effective choice for long-term medications because you can get up to a 90-day supply for less than what you would pay for the same supply at retail.

Maintenance Choice®

Requires that members who reside within 5 miles of a CVS/Target pharmacy and are taking maintenance drugs such as blood pressure or diabetes medicines must obtain their medications through mail service or at a CVS/Target pharmacy store. Regardless of your choice, you pay the lower mail copay. Contact CVS at 844.432.0696 for more information.

CVS Caremark Specialty Pharmacy

Designed for individuals with rare, complex or genetic conditions. The specialty pharmacy offers convenient delivery of specialty medications, personalized service and educational support for your specific treatment. It also offers 24-hour access to a clinical pharmacist for any questions that may come up.

ExtraCare®  Health Card

Provides you and your family with a 20 percent discount on CVS Brand health-related products, from cough and cold medication to pain and allergy relief. Already have an ExtraCare® Health Card? Call CVS Caremark and have your points transferred to your new ExtraCare® Health Card that will be mailed to you.

Caremark.com

  • Sign up for automatic refills and renewals
  • Visit the Savings Center to explore lower-cost options
  • Sign up to receive alerts by e-mail, phone or text message

Vaccinations

All preventive care-related vaccines (including flu shots) are covered through participating pharmacies at no cost to you.

2017 Open Enrollment

UNDERSTAND YOUR COSTS, THEN COMPARE
In 2017, there will be an increase in some payroll contributions, but not all, as this chart demonstrates. There are, however, no changes to deductibles or copays for next year.

BASIC PPO: 6.0% ENHANCED PPO: 6.0% KAISER: 6.0%
MetLife/Delta Dental: 2.4% Cigna DHMO: 0.00% Vision: 0.00%

Not planning on making any changes in your coverage in 2017? Remember, you must enroll each year in the Health Care and/or Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Account(s), as these do not automatically carry over. The health care limit for 2017 is $2,600 and the dependent day care limit is $5,000.
Click here for additional information about FSAs.

How to enroll or waive coverage:

  • 1 Log on to the Oracle HR system
  • 2 Select PHRP US Employee Self Service
  • 3 Select Benefits
  • 4 Select Enroll or View Elections, Dependents or Beneficiaries

Contact Pearson People Services (PPS) at 877.311.0948 with any questions.

COMPARISON SHOP WITH THE PEARSON HEALTH CHOICE TOOL
You work hard for every dollar you earn, so why not take a few minutes to evaluate the best and most cost effective benefit options for you and your family? Most of us, when shopping for other insurance like home or auto, do a little homework to compare costs and features. It shouldn’t be any different with health coverage and Pearson makes it easy with the Pearson Health Choice online resource. Just enter some basic information about your and your family’s health care needs and the tool will help you:

Give the tool a try today and remove some of the guesswork involved in your decisions.

Recognize Mental Health Conditions

When dealing with cancer, we want to react at the earliest stages rather than in the critical Stage 4. Through preventive testing and annual physicals, treatment can get underway long before the most advanced stages are reached. Mental Health America (MHA) is waging a campaign to make us think in a similar way about mental health.

When symptoms such as loss of sleep, fatigue for no reason, feeling low or anxious, or hearing voices first appear, MHA believes that is the B4Stage4 for mental health. While some early symptoms may never become serious, wouldn’t it be better to investigate at their onset rather than when a mental disorder has advanced to a heightened state? MHA demonstrates that, by ignoring potential signs, many years can be wasted in which intervention could happen to change people’s lives for the better.

It is clear that there is a definite disconnect between recognizing possible signs of mental illness and valuable time being lost in getting much needed help. MHA provides screening for mental illness, which is anonymous, free and private and only takes a few minutes. To learn more about the concept of B4Stage4 and to gain a better understanding of mental health, click below:

Part of the challenge in identifying mental health problems is that these problems manifest themselves in many ways. Emotional symptoms like irritability and hopelessness may be more obvious. Other symptoms such as back, neck or stomach pain may not be so obviously linked to mental health issues. In the spirit of B4Stage4, let’s take a look at some possible indicators of mental health disorders.

Sources: Mental Health America, B4Stage4

Keeping Teeth Shiny and Clean in 2016

“Sugar Wars” is the 2016 campaign theme for National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long American Dental Association (ADA) health observance promotes the benefits of good oral health to children
and their caregivers.

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

  • About 1 of 5 children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • 1 of 7 adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • Fluoride varnish, a high concentration fluoride coating that is painted on teeth, can prevent about 1/3 of decay in the primary (baby) teeth.

What Parents and Caregivers Can Do

Here are some preventive tips from the Centers for Disease Control to keep in mind when it comes to preventing tooth decay in your kids.

  • Use fluoride toothpaste. If your child is younger than age 2, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless your doctor or dentist tells you to.
  • See some simple steps for children’s oral care at Brush Up On Healthy Teeth.
  • If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist or pediatrician if your child needs oral fluoride supplements like drops or tablets. Your Pearson dental plan provides for one topical fluoride treatment per calendar year for children up to age 19*.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist about sealants, which protect teeth from decay. Your Pearson dental coverage provides for one application of sealant material every 5 years for a child up to age 16*.

*If you participate in the Cigna DHMO, the same services are covered; however, you must use providers associated with the DHMO (except in the case of emergencies) in order to receive benefits. If you do not use a DHMO provider, you will not receive benefits from the plan.

A NEW MEANING TO THE PHRASE “SWEET TOOTH”

It’s no secret that sugar can wreak havoc on our teeth, and it is particularly challenging to protect children from long-term damage. Check out the following tooth-friendly tips to help fight the damage that sugar can do to a child’s teeth.

  • Limit between-meal snacks. This reduces the number of acid attacks on teeth and gives teeth a chance to repair themselves.
  • Save candy, cookies, soda, and other sugary drinks for special occasions.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t eat or drink anything with sugar in it after bedtime tooth brushing. Saliva flow decreases during sleep. Without enough saliva, teeth are less able to repair themselves after an acid attack.

Sources: CDC; American Academy of Pediatrics

The Cost Of Prescriptions In 2016

Generic prescription copays remain the same in 2016; however, some adjustments have been made to preferred and non-preferred drugs as follows:

SPEAK UP – IT DOESN’T
COST YOU ANYTHING

Remember, you are your best advocate for managing your health and finding the most cost-effective ways to do that. So, next time you visit your doctor, be prepared and ask some questions about any medications the physician is prescribing.

  • Is this prescription right for me and do any lower-cost alternatives exist?
  • Will this medication interfere with any other prescription, over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements I currently take?
  • What are the most common side effects of taking this drug, and for which side effects should I contact you or my pharmacist?
  • Are there any lifestyle or diet changes that I can make to complement the positive effects of this drug or ultimately eliminate the need for this medication?

Numbers You Need To Know

As our costs continue to rise, your payroll contributions will also increase by these percentages in 2016. Pearson continues its average contribution of 80% toward the cost of medical coverage while employees contribute 20% in aggregate.

In 2016, your payroll contributions for your benefits will increase by these percentages:

  • 4.0%
  • 4.0%
  • 3.8%
  • 0.0%
  • 0.0%
  • 8.0%

You will also notice increases in deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket maximums in the medical options noted below:

Note: Teal font indicates a change from 2015 plan design.

For those enrolled in the Kaiser HMO, click here for more information.