Is your Medicare coverage changing July 1?

Attend a nearby informational workshop to explore your options for Medicare coverage.

Register for a workshop now.

Get information from a health insurance company you’ve trusted for years. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota is hosting informational workshops for those interested in Medicare coverage beginning on May 27.

Medicare Workshops map

More than 30 workshops are scheduled across the state in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Minot and Williston. For more information about the workshops, visit or call us at 1-800-280-BLUE (2853).

Andrea Dinneen is public relations manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Take good care of your mental health

One in five American adults experienced some type of mental health condition in 2013.

Take care of your mental healthMental health involves emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act, including how we handle stress and make choices. People who are mentally healthy are also better able to cope with other health challenges.

It’s common for people to feel down once in a while and worry about family, work and other matters. But you may have a mental health condition if you have had these symptoms for more than a few days:

  • Too little or too much eating or sleeping
  • Withdrawing from people and usual activities
  • Low or no energy
  • Persistent bad thoughts, memories
  • Intensified fears
  • Unexplained aches
  • Increased use of tobacco or alcohol
  • Mood swings that cause relationship problems

If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms, there is help. Consider seeing your health care provider. He or she will first identify your specific factors and conditions, and then create a treatment plan.

Treatment choices may include:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Check with your employer to see if EAP is offered.
  • Therapy with trained mental health professionals
  • Support-group participation that is completely confidential
  • Peer support from those who have suffered from similar conditions
  • Medications to help manage symptoms. If your doctor thinks prescriptions will help, there are Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved options that improve certain chemical brain messengers

Most people recover with a combination of therapy and medication, and achieve stronger overall health. This dual approach also gives people proven coping tools to continue thriving.

Remember, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions are real diseases. Please do not hesitate to seek help.

Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.


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Giving running shoes to kids

5-1-15 Shoes for Kids TWITTER CROP

Kids have boundless energy and always seem to be running, but some children don’t have access to adequate running shoes.

A portion of each registration for the May 8 Fargo Marathon Friday Night Tailgate 5K will once again be donated to the Shoes for Kids program that provides new running shoes to Fargo area children. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, a co-sponsor of the Fargo Marathon 5K, and other organizations provide matching funds to the program.

Last fall the Shoes for Kids program donated 1,000 new running shoes to Fargo area elementary schools. The schools give the shoes to deserving students, often children in financial need who lack appropriate running shoes.

Each year a portion from each registration for the Fargo Marathon 5K is donated to the Shoes for Kids program. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, Discovery Benefits and the Dakota Medical Foundation provide matching funds. Additional corporate and individual donations are also accepted for the program.

We are proud to continue our partnership with the Shoes for Kids program. We support efforts to help children be more physically active and to break down barriers to fitness and better health.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota blog.

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A look at the pros and cons of running technology

4-27-15 Mike Carlson blog TWITTER CROP

Today’s fitness technology provides new insights into our personal performance metrics.

The question is, ‘Does it help or hurt you?’

Of course the answer to that question is highly personal; however, I will give you my take on this. During one run this winter before I went out the door, I made sure the following were all on and ready:

  • my stopwatch
  • a device to help monitor my current pace and distance
  • a device to monitor my heart rate
  • a Bluetooth pedometer that tracks my steps, syncs with a portal and gives me incentives for those steps
  • my smartphone to listen to music.

This technology allows me to better understand my performance, both during and post workout and it does provide me with the thresholds that I need to reach to improve my overall performance.

Here are some examples of wearable technology products that are gaining traction with runners.

Here are some 5K training tips.

With all the technology that is available now it’s easy to forget why I run in the first place — to get lost in thought and at the same time challenge myself both mentally and physically. I have since learned that although this technology is here and fascinating, if I learn to do more with less, I have a better experience and performance.

What are your thoughts on wearable technology? What products do you use and how do you use them?

Mike Carlson is director of consulting and wellness services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND). Carlson is an avid runner and he has a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from North Dakota State University and a master’s in exercise science from St. Cloud (Minn.) State University.

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Summit West can help create a healthier workplace

Register today for the first annual North Dakota Worksite Wellness Summit West.

The average person spends one-third of his or her day at work. No doubt, creating a healthy workplace can help employees to be strong and help employers to combat rapidly rising health care costs.

Upon request, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) and the North Dakota Department of Health will co-sponsor the first ever North Dakota Worksite Wellness Summit West to be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, May 13, at the National Energy Center (NECE) on the Bismarck State College campus.

You don’t have to be a business owner or HR professional to attend Summit West. Anyone who is interested in worksite wellness is welcome to attend.

About the speakers 

L. Casey Chosewood, MD - Total Worker Health 2Casey Chosewood, MD MPH

Now more than ever, evidence shows the intimate relationship between work environment, employee health and company profitability. Smart organizations focus on creating workplaces that are safe, health-focused and positive. Dr. L. Casey Chosewood from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will share a proven workplace strategy to create that environment. During his presentation you’ll:

  • hear real-life examples of integrated worker protection and health promotion programs
  • explore best practices for engaging employees toward higher levels of health
  • learn the best policy and strategy approaches for creating environments where better worker health can thrive

Terry-EckmannTerry Ferebee Eckmann, PhD

Award-winning author, professor and television host Terry Ferebee Eckmann of Minot State University will help explain the connection between brain health and workplace productivity. She’ll introduce you to the six critical domains of brain health and reveal cutting-edge research on the effects of exercise on the brain throughout one’s entire life. You’ll even get to participate in some easy-to-use brain boosters that affect the physiology of the brain. You’ll also get some ideas for incorporating brain exercise at home or in the workplace.

Summit_Justin2Justin Welk

You will also learn the art of turning focus into fun from Justin Welk, who is the talent coordinator at Sundog Interactive in Fargo. In recent years, culture has become a buzzword in organizations around the world. It’s difficult to define because it means something different to every organization.

During this presentation, Welk will discuss the components of culture and how they can have an effect on the overall well-being of both the organization and its team members. You’ll learn about several topics, including trust, employee engagement, emotional intelligence and work-life integration.

Space is limited, so we encourage you to register right away.

Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Get out and walk on Walk on National Walk@Lunch Day

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Whether you work in Wahpeton or Williston, employees throughout the state are encouraged to take a walk during lunch on Wednesday, April 29.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has designated the last Wednesday in April as National Walk@Lunch Day. This nationwide initiative encourages Americans to take time to walk during their lunch breaks to help improve their health.

Getting 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, at least five times a week can improve your health.

Walking can help you:

  • lower the risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, hypertension or Type 2 diabetes
  • improve the health of muscles, bones and joints

Join us or plan your own walk

If you’re in the Fargo area, feel free to join Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) employees at our lobby at noon for a walk.

Go for a walk on National Walk @ Lunch Day.
If you work outside of Fargo, you can use Google maps or MapMyRun to plot out a route near your workplace.

We are partnering with the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System (NDPERS) and Healthy North Dakota to host a walk in Bismarck. If you are in the area, please join us at 11:30 a.m. on April 29 in Memorial Hall of the Capitol. Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley will welcome attendees and lead the walk.

Walking tips

  • Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes to work.
  • Check the weather beforehand to see if you’ll need a jacket or umbrella.
  • So you have time to walk on break, you might want to pack your lunch that day and use ice packs to keep your lunch cold if a refrigerator is not available.
  • If the weather is warm, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking extra fluids. Water is your best choice.
  • Keep safety in mind. Watch for unlevel ground or cracks in the sidewalk.
  • Have fun!

Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Tips from working mom on adding running to busy schedule

4-20-15 Jacinta Stroller Twitter crop (640 wide)

There are many reasons why someone may not be able to train for a 5K, or exercise at all for that matter, however having young children does not need be one of them. It may not always be easy; however it is achievable with some effort.

For me, the benefits of running (and exercise in general) far outweigh the challenge it sometimes takes to make it happen. As a runner and mom of three young children, I would like to provide some tips and encouragement to help other parents succeed in their efforts to not only train for the Fargo Marathon Friday Night Tailgate 5K, but to also sustain a lifelong habit of physical activity.

Make it a priority
It can be difficult to make time to train without making other concessions. There will always be something else you could be doing (laundry, dishes, yard work, etc.), and so it becomes a matter of how you balance everything on your plate. The way I see it, more people will interact with me on a daily basis than will visit my house, so it is important to me to make my health and my training a priority and let the housework slide if I have to choose between the two. 😉

Be flexible
Just because your training plan says to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments to make the plan work for you. Things come up, child care plans fall through, schedules change. If you are able to anticipate this from the beginning, you can learn to quickly adapt and still meet your training needs. For example, you may need to be willing to run at a different time of day, move the run to a different day of the week, or if all else fails and you miss the workout all together, adjust the mileage and intensity of your remaining workouts to make up for the one you missed.

Adjust your expectations
I feel this one is key and also really helps support my first two points. As much as I try, I know I that I am not going to be able to get as many workouts in, complete as many races, or run as far or as fast as I would like to do. I often need to remind myself that I am juggling much more now and need to be realistic and proud of the fact that I am still making an effort to train and setting an example for my kids. Having this mindset will take you much further and prevent you from getting frustrated when things don’t go as planned.

Develop a support system
Whether it is a spouse, family member, friend, nanny or a combination of all, you will need a good support system for multiple reasons. One, you will need to enlist help with child care so that you can get out the door for your run (although it can still be done without as you will see in my next point). Two, a training partner can help support your training goals and keep you accountable when you feel like you are too busy to go for a run.

Here is the double stroller I sometimes push with my two little ones, while my 5-year-old daughter rides her bike alongside.

Be creative
There will be days when your support system is not available, however all is not lost. With a little creativity you can still get a good workout and involve your kids at the same time. If you are able to invest in some home equipment, having a treadmill is ideal, but not always possible. I would recommend having a good jogging stroller. When necessary, I run pushing a double jogging stroller, while my 5-year-old bikes alongside. You can even get a good workout without much equipment at all by putting together a circuit in your back yard or at the park.

Your kids will have fun doing it with you!

Here I demonstrate some exercises you can do on the playground.

Stay motivated
Lastly, it is important to find ways to stay motivated so that your training becomes an ongoing commitment well beyond the race. For me, once I have completed one race I start thinking about the next challenge, which motivates me to continue.

While having young children may sometimes make it more difficult to find time to run, it reinforces my commitment to a healthy lifestyle and has allowed me to make the most of the workouts I am able to get in and appreciate them that much more.

Jacinta Riedinger is manager of wellness services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. Riedinger is an avid runner and busy mom of three young children. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences from North Dakota State University.

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Find a healthy balance with eating and exercise

PHoto_veggies_salad bar units

The ability to balance your eating and exercise habits can impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight, prevent disease, sleep and manage stress.

To maintain a healthy weight, you will need to balance the calories you eat with exercise. If you want to change your weight, you will need to tip the balance scale in one direction or another. To maintain your weight, keep your scales even.

If you want to lose weight, keep in mind:

  • It takes approximately 3,500 calories below your calorie needs to lose a pound of body fat.
  • To lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week, reduce your caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day, but make sure caloric levels never drop below 1,200 calories per day.
  • In addition to diet, exercise can also contribute to weight loss.

To make sure you are getting enough exercise, aim for at least three days of cardio activity, two days of resistance/weight training (with one day rest in-between) each week. You can increase the length and intensity of your workouts to lose weight, and change up your exercise to keep your muscles lean and to prevent plateaus.

If you don’t enjoy exercising by yourself:

  • Try group fitness.
  • Consider working with a personal trainer.
  • Sign up for an event and train for it with a buddy.

To find out how many calories you burn in your workouts, you can check out the calculator at

Remember, healthy weight, disease prevention, stress management and better sleep hinge on balancing your eating and your exercise.

Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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What does coinsurance mean?

Health insurance can be confusing. We’re here to help. Here’s an explanation of an often misunderstood health insurance term and what it means.

COINSURANCE is the amount or percentage of medical expenses you are required to pay. Your insurance company pays the rest.

Coinsurance is one way your insurance company shares medical costs with you. Coinsurance typically kicks in after you have paid a copayment and reached your deductible.

Here is a brief explanation of coinsurance.

If you get a $100 hospital bill, and your deductible has already been met, the $100 is subject to coinsurance.

If your plan has 20 percent coinsurance, you would pay $20 of the $100. Your insurance company would pay the remaining $80.

Coinsurance amounts vary depending upon the details of your plan and your network.

Please call the phone number on the back of your ID card if you have any questions.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Four week 5K training plan to get you off the couch

Sometimes when people are looking to start getting in shape, they need a little nudge to get them off the couch and start getting active.

If this sounds like you, you should consider running or walking a 5K. Seriously.

A three-mile race can seem daunting at first, but signing up for a 5K can also serve as that little motivation that you need to kick start an exercise program.

Here is a short video with some training tips to help you prepare for a 5K.

The great thing about a 5K is that it offers something for serious runners, semi-serious runners and novices alike. You can choose to either run or walk a 5K, and if you start running and have to stop and walk part way through that’s fine, too. If you’re running or walking your first 5K, be sure to take it slow and enjoy the experience and sense of accomplishment that comes along with it.

Think it’s too late to register and run or walk in the May 8 Fargo Marathon Friday Night Tailgate 5K? Think again.

Here’s a four-week training plan for a guide to help you train for a 5K:

This plan was designed for someone planning to take turns running and walking a 5K. Feel free to modify this plan and spend more or less time running to suit your needs and race goals.

While you are training to run or walk a 5K, you don’t have to spend all your training time running or walking. It’s fine to add in cross training with other activities such as biking, an elliptical or rowing machine, strength training or a circuit course. Taking a break from running or walking will help to keep your mind and body fresh, while working different parts of your body.

Good luck. Remember, no matter how difficult it seems or how slow you think you’re going, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch!

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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