Summer weather seems especially brutal this year! Whether you're in the north, south, east, or west you are likely dealing with increased sun exposure, mosquitoes, heat, and more. No matter where you are or what your plans are this summer, there is a way to plan for the best, and prepare for the worst.

Stay Hydrated

While indoors and out make sure you're taking in enough water. Iced water may be what you crave and may help cool you while working or playing outside, but the goal is to drink enough H2O. If you're overheated and would rather reach for a cold soda, think again. Your body needs water to lower your temperature, but also to help it function properly. Pay attention to signs of dehydration, including extreme thirst, dark urine, inability to urinate, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. It's also important to ward against heat exhaustion while spending time outdoors this summer.

Wear Sunblock

There is a movement away from chemical sunscreens, but in many cases sun exposure can leave devastating and lasting results that are 100 percent avoidable with protection. It's important to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays that can burn the surface of the skin and affect the immune system, the skin's elasticity, and more. The best way to protect your skin year-round is using a SPF (sun protection factor) sunblock. Choose a sunblock that is SPF 30 or higher, and make sure that your lips and eyes are protected as well. Wear  SPF chopstick, sunglasses, and hats to protect against the rays this summer.

Burns, Bites, Cuts, and Stings

Since it's summer and kids are home 24/7 it may be a good idea to restock the first aid kit. Make sure it has bandages, ointments for bites, stings, and burns, and antibiotic wash or ointment for cuts. You can protect yourself and family from bug bites by using a bug repellent. Remember, mosquito and tick-born diseases are on the rise in the U.S. Insect bites can also cause allergic reactions.

Allergies

Even people who have never experienced allergies may have a reaction without warning. You might have an allergy from an insect bite, a plant you've come into contact with, and even your laundry soap. The heat of summer can cause your body to react differently to even a fragrance you've never had a reaction to. While preparing your first aid kit for summer, include Hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl, and cleansing wipes that can clean the skin of irritants. You can also keep allergy medications on hand such as Claritin or Allegra so that you don't have to run to the drug store in a pinch. To avoid exposure to allergens and poisonous plants, stay on a path when hiking in nature and wear a mask and eye protection when trimming grass.

See Your Doctor

Summer is a great time to see your family doctor. Take your kids in while they are out of school so they won't miss any classes for their routine visit. Also, if you have experienced new or serious allergies this summer, you should see your doctor. You may need a prescription medication to prevent life-threatening reactions to serious allergies. For instance, many insect and food allergies require epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you haven't been seen in the last 12 months.

If you're at risk of losing your health insurance due to nonpayment or because of job loss, there are things you can do to avoid being dropped, or to ease the burden of being dropped -- but you have to start now.

Before You're Dropped

  • Find out if you have a grace period. If you have coverage through the Affordable Care Act, you may have a 90 day grace period. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and ask about your options.
  • If you can afford it, schedule your preventative care, routine visits, and immunizations for the family before you're dropped. This gives you some grace period as well, though it's not ideal to go without health insurance for any amount of time.
  • Look into COBRA coverage, which is a federal law that may let individuals pay to remain on employee health insurance plans for up to 18 months after the job ends.
  • Shop around. Look into new insurance coverage before you lose your current coverage. This will decrease the amount of time you're not covered and help you get the best plan possible.
  • Plan for the worst by looking into providers that let you pay in cash. Many local clinics offer a sliding fee based on your income for uninsured patients.

Enrolling in New Insurance

  • Shop the Marketplace. If you lose job-based coverage, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period that allows you to enroll outside of the the regular open enrollment period.
  • Apply for Medicaid in your state. This program is available to qualifying families that meet income and ability guidelines. Medicaid is generally made available to children, pregnant women, and the disabled.
  • Consider a short term health insurance plan. Many health insurance companies offer qualifying short term healthcare plans. These plans can be purchased for special circumstances such as pregnancy, or can be used to cover a gap in coverage. Most temporary plans are highly customizable and accepted by most healthcare providers.
  • Consider discounts at the pharmacy! Many manufacturers offer discounts on brands throughout the year, and many physicians will provide samples of medications based on availability.

When it's time to find your new health insurance plan, you don't have to depend on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Use the Healthcare Finder, provided by the federal government, to find a plan that is right for you, outside of the Marketplace. Besides avoiding tax penalties at the end of the year, you can benefit from the assurance that your family is covered, come what may. Even if your healthcare plan doesn't include a prescription plan, you can get the medications and medical products at a discount, using a service like Pharmaquotes.com.

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Every year over 100 million people travel globally. Many are visiting their families and loved ones and some just want to get away during their time off work.  Wherever you may be traveling this season, make sure you have everything you need, and that includes your medications.

Plan Ahead

When it comes to your packing list, make sure you include your regular prescription medications as well as any over-the-counter medications that you may need while away.

  1. Pack the Bottles

    Instead of a pill planner or container, keep your medications in their original bottles. Do not put pills into another medication bottle. Original prescription bottles may not be required, but traveling with the originals can save you hassle in some areas where laws are more strict. Also, the original bottles have appropriate safety features that will protect you from accidental misuse or overdose.

  2. Pack Enough

    In order to ensure you have enough of your necessary medication, pack enough for your trip as well as at least two extra doses. If you don't have enough, contact your doctor or pharmacy before your trip to obtain what you need for the time you'll be gone.

  3. Keep a List

    Before you leave, ask your doctor's office to print your medication list so that you have it on your trip. Store it with your medications so that authorities will see what you are legally prescribed and for what purpose.

  4. Meds on Planes

    You can fly with your medications as long they make it through security. It's best to store necessary medications in the carry-on bag in case your luggage is detained for some reason. Liquid medications can be stored in the carry-on, and can be carried on the flight as necessary. Let your security officer know you have medications in your bag when you reach your checkpoint to speed up the process for everyone.

  5. Know the Law

    If you're leaving the country, it's a good idea to learn about your destination. Believe it or not there are some medications that are legal in America, but illegal in others. For more information about your health while traveling and to check for travel warnings, check out the Traveler's Health page provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

  6. Check Your Insurance

    You may not have insurance coverage if you leave this country. Check your policy, and call the company if necessary. Many companies offer affordable options for travel insurance which may cover medical emergencies while overseas. Keep in mind that your insurance also may not work out of your home state. Medicaid beneficiaries may not realize that coverage is limited or nonexistent while out of state. Similarly, Medicare does not work outside of the U.S.

While you're planning your holiday fun, do not forget the details that keep your life moving comfortably and healthily. Your medication is one of the most important things to your health, yet it is often forgotten while packing for a trip—long or short so make sure you have everything you need during your holiday travels.

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