Top 5 Causes of Accidental Death And How To Protect Your Family

No one wants to think about dying, especially when they’re young and healthy. We treat our mortality like every other unpleasantness in life – prepare as much as possible and avoid thinking about what we can’t control. We can improve health and increase longevity, but accidental deaths are more difficult to avoid.

Most Common Causes of Accidental Death

What follows are the top 5 causes of accidental death in the US, along with any preventative measures to lower your vulnerability to these situations.

Choking

Choking isn’t something most people think of as a common danger, but it poses the fifth highest risk of accidental death. Most choking victims are children. Food should be cut carefully and children should be seated while they’re eating. Other choking hazards include things with small parts and balloons. Adults do suffer choking-related accidents; often due to carelessness while eating.

Fires

Fires account for the fourth-largest percentage of accidental deaths. To help avoid injury, every household should have an evacuation plan in place. Fire extinguishers should be present on all floors and smoke detectors should be checked regularly. Other safety precautions include common sense habits, such as extinguishing any candles before leaving the room.

Falls

According to the 2013 CDC statistics, falls account for over 30,000 accidental deaths per year in the US. Falling is the leading cause of home injury deaths and most falls in the home happen in the bathroom. A great way to prevent falling in the home is to install grab bars in bathtubs to make it easier to regain your balance in a slick environment. Railings should also be installed on stairways and special care should be taken in cold weather.

Poisoning

According to the 2013 CDC statistics, poisoning accounts for nearly 39,000 accidental deaths per year. Most cases of poisoning are the result of drug overdose, which is preventable with the aid of treatment programs and correct use of prescription medication. Other cases of poisoning can happen with household items.

Car Accidents

Car accidents have been the leading cause of accidental death for a number of years, though statistics change on the specific causes. Practicing safe driving, such as not drinking or using a phone, significantly reduces your chances of causing an accident. However, you can’t control whether other drivers are paying attention to these driving practices. There are more than 5,000 pedestrian fatalities a year, so you don’t need to be a passenger in a car to be at risk.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance To Protect Your Family

There are a number of things that can make your life safer and help you avoid some of the most common accidents. But the truth is that there’s no way to prevent everything. The best way to ensure that your family is covered is to make sure your accidental death and dismemberment policies are in place so that you can rest assured that, no matter what life brings, you’re prepared. Sign up or enroll for your AD&D insurance policy through the SPARK Health Insurance Marketplace today.

adult couple reviewing bills and open enrollment materials

4 Myths About the Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period

We’ve heard a lot of Open Enrollment myths over the years and want to set the record straight.

Myth #1 “There are fewer insurers to choose from.”

Many carriers who initially fled the federal exchange have returned and now offer plans alongside others who have entered the marketplace. This increase in the number of plans being offered has allowed many individuals and families to re-examine their needs and adjust their coverage amounts accordingly.

In addition to having access to the same carriers and plans listed on the federal exchange, the SPARK Health Insurance Marketplace can offer members even more options. To view the full range of available ACA-compliant health plans, please visit https://spark.memberbenefits.com/.

Myth #2 “The premiums are too expensive.”

Now that the federal exchange marketplace has stabilized, there may be lower-cost options for ACA-compliant health plans than past Open Enrollment periods. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield has filed for a 2.03% decrease in premiums in Texas.

Even if your coverage needs remain the same, you may be able to find a lower premium being offered by a different insurer. We recommend always reviewing the health insurance options available to you during the annual Open Enrollment period.

Myth #3 “You’ll be penalized at tax time for not having insurance.”

In previous years, if an individual did not have health insurance for more than 2 months of the year and did not qualify for an exemption they would face a tax penalty of $695 or 2.5% of their taxable income (whichever amount was greater). As of January 1, 2019, the tax penalty known as the individual mandate has been repealed, though some states may still enforce penalties on individuals who don’t have health insurance.

Myth #4 “Applications are processed instantly.”

On average, our team will process an enrollment application within 24 business hours and submit it to the carrier. Once the application is with the carrier, their team will take over and require an additional 10-15 business days to process the application.

The carriers often get overwhelmed with applications during the Open Enrollment period, so we recommend enrollees submit their health insurance applications as early as possible.

Securing ACA-Complaint Coverage for 2020

This year, Open Enrollment runs from November 1 through December 15 with a coverage effective date of January 1, 2020. This is the one time of year where individuals and families can enroll in ACA-compliant health insurance plans.

Ready to start shopping? Visit https://spark.memberbenefits.com/ to shop ACA-compliant health plans today.

Not sure where to start? Schedule an appointment with one of our licensed benefits counselors and let us walk you through finding the best health insurance fit for your needs.

happy family on couch browsing health insurance options on tablet

Getting the Most out of Open Enrollment

With 2020 Open Enrollment period in full swing, families across the country are reviewing their current insurance coverages and seeing what other options may be available to them. Below are a few tips to help you navigate the process.

  1. Learn the Language

Insurance jargon may be enough to make some people’s heads spin but learning just a few key terms could help you pick the best health coverage for you and your family. To make it easy, here are a few words we feel you should know:

  • ACA-compliant” refers to plans that follow all the guidelines and regulations in the Affordable Care Act. These plans are only available during the annual Open Enrollment period or through a Special enrollment period, if you have a qualifying event.
  • Non-ACA plans” also known as short term health plans do not adhere to all of the Affordable Care Act’s guidelines and regulations.
  • Deductible” the amount of money you must pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in
  • Premium” the amount you pay to your insurance company every month
  • In-network” refers to a provider that has a contract with your insurance provider
  • Out-of-network” refers to a provider that does not have a contract with your insurance provider
  1. Think of the Future

No one can predict the future, but you may be able to take an educated guess as to what the next 12 months could hold. Thinking about the coming year could help you determine how much coverage is right for you and your family. Have you had any health issues in the past year? Are you taking any medications? By examining your current health status and concerns you may be able to narrow down your health insurance plan options.

  1. Utilize Your Resources

Did you know as a benefit of your SPARK membership, you have access to our team of licensed Benefits Counselors? Our Benefits Counselors are experts in their field and are standing by to help you navigate the Open Enrollment process and find the best health insurance for you and your family’s needs.

We’ve been providing health insurance answers and guidance for over 30 years. Be sure to visit the SPARK Health Insurance Marketplace for access to appointment scheduling services, webinar replays, and other informational resources designed to help make the Open Enrollment process as quick and easy as possible.

  1. Know Your Deadlines

Like last year, the annual individual health insurance Open Enrollment period began on November 1 and will run until December 15. For those who enroll in one of these ACA-compliant plans, you can expect an effective date of January 1.

Non-ACA plans typically do not follow the ACA open enrollment period dates and are available in most states year-round.

Ready to make your decision? Visit https://spark.memberbenefits.com/health-insurance/ today to secure ACA-compliant coverage for you and your family in 2020.

What You Need to Know About AD&D Insurance

No one likes to think about accidents and the possible effects one could have on you and your family. However, to entirely ignore such topics is not a wise financial move. It’s your responsibility to make sure there are provisions in place for such events. AD&D insurance is often overlooked for these reasons.

Many people do not know much about AD&D insurance because it is often written as a rider attached to a larger policy such as a life insurance policy. AD&D insurance provides coverage for deaths caused by accidental means, rather than by natural causes or sickness. This is the “AD” part of the term — accidental death. Dismemberment is the other aspect of these policies. Dismemberment entails the loss of the use of certain body parts such as limbs or eyesight, which could greatly affect your ability to earn an income for your family.

Coverage and Restrictions

In most instances, these types of policies will cover death due to a fatal accident. In some cases, there must be proof presented that the death was the direct result of the accident and there must be legal or medical documentation of the accident. This type of insurance will have some restrictions on coverage. Restrictions will vary by policy, but generally, death resulting from surgery, suicide, drug overdose, or certain types of risky activities will not be covered.

How AD&D Insurance Can Help

AD&D insurance is helpful in the event of death because most policies will pay more than is prescribed in an ordinary life insurance policy upon accidental death. The reason for this is because an accidental death is more sudden and therefore more of a financial burden on the family and loved ones. It is also helpful in the event of dismemberment because your ability to earn an income can be greatly diminished following an injury of that magnitude. Insurance payments can help to care for your family when you cannot.

How to Determine If It’s Right For You

Because accidents can happen to anyone at any time, Accidental Death & Dismemberment insurance is a great safeguard against the unexpected tragedies of life. This insurance is also a good idea for individuals who have not fully funded their family’s savings plans yet for things such as children’s education and retirement. This way, if those plans are cut short due to accidental death or dismemberment, your family’s future will not be put entirely off-track financially.

AD&D insurance is also highly recommended for individuals who have a job profession that is considered high risk. Those in the police force, fire and rescue, military, or instructors in risky fields. Additionally, if you participate in hobbies that are considered high risk, then this type of insurance is also a safety net for your family, should you be involved in an accident that results in death or dismemberment.


Accidental death and dismemberment insurance could be a crucial part of the future you have envisioned for your family. Don’t ignore this important but affordable insurance. Visit the SPARK Health Insurance Marketplace today to learn more about AD&D insurance and to apply for the plan that meets your needs.

Upcoming 2020 Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment Webinar

Join us for a free webinar on Tuesday, October 29 from 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT, where we’ll review the upcoming 2020 Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment period and cover topics such as important dates, preparation tips, industry updates, and more! Reserve your spot by registering today. Can’t make it to the webinar? Register anyway and we’ll send you a link to the video replay later that day.

mother and child practicing good dental hygiene in bathroom

Helpful Dental Hygiene Hacks for Kids

A common question among parents is when they should begin teaching their children oral hygiene. Many dentists assert that parents can start laying the groundwork for good brushing habits before their child’s first tooth even breaks the surface.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tooth decay is the most common chronic disease found in children and adolescents, and is four times more likely to affect teens between 14 and 17 than asthma.

But for many parents, getting their kids to brush their teeth is a battle not unlike getting them to eat their broccoli or go to bed on time, But it doesn’t need to be this way. There are many ways parents can set their children up for success when it comes to their oral health without needing to resort to bargaining or threats.

Start Early

For newborns, it is common for parents to use gauze or another type of clean cloth to wipe down their gums down after feedings to discourage germs and bacteria from lingering and developing into problems down the line.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), a child’s first trip to the dentist should coincide with the arrival of the first baby tooth, and should happen no later than their first birthday.

Early exposure to dentist visits and cleaning their mouths can help get your child used to these activities in the future. Starting good oral hygiene habits early can help show them that these activities are not out of the ordinary and are just part of the routine and nothing to be afraid of or anxious about.

Lead by Example

Whether it’s what you say or what you do, kids love to imitate adults. So, when it comes to oral hygiene, make sure you’re setting a good example. Try dancing, making funny faces, or even singing or humming a song while brushing. No matter what you do, just be sure that your child sees you enjoying brushing your teeth. This will teach them that brushing is a fun activity that they can look forward to.

Make It Fun

Toothbrush makers know that the more fun they can make brushing for kids, the more likely those kids will grow into adults with healthy brushing habits. That’s why so many toothbrushes now come in flashy colors – some with cartoon characters, some that play music, and others that light up.

And while you won’t be able to find any toothpaste to sing songs to your kids, you will find it available in a variety of colors, flavors, and some even with glitter or other special effects.

Having a cool toothbrush may be half the battle but using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage your toddler to keep brushing also helps. Sticker charts, a special snack, and even an extra ten minutes of play time are all great ideas.

Find What Works

No two children are the same and what works for one, may not work for another. Some children’s gums may be more sensitive than others which will force parents to opt for soft or silicone bristled toothbrushes. Ultimately, it is up to you, the parent, to figure out what works best for your child and hygiene structure.

For parents with children who struggle with developmental disabilities such as autism, the process for learning good oral health habits may prove even more challenging. And with roughly one out of every 40 children in America diagnosed with autism, there is a growing need for more dentists and dental practitioners to be both better equipped and knowledgeable when it comes to serving patients with developmental disabilities.

If your child falls into this group, and getting them to practice good oral hygiene proves too strenuous for both of you, a Board-certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) may be able to help.

The Right Choice for Your Family

When was the last time your child made a trip to the dentist? With our Comprehensive PPO dental plan, your family will have the freedom to visit any licensed dentist in the country. You can save even more when you visit one of over 135,000 preferred dentists and 32,000 specialists nationwide. Make your family’s oral health a priority by visiting https://spark.memberbenefits.com/dentalvision/ today.

The Unsuspecting Reason Why AD&D May Be For You

No one wants to think about their death, and for young professionals just starting their careers and families, the idea of contemplating the unimaginable can be even more unsettling. You are just getting on your feet and the last thing you are prepared to start thinking about are things such as life insurance and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance. But instead of dwelling on the complicated process of obtaining life insurance, is it possible that AD&D insurance may be the first and easiest step in protecting your loved ones should something happen to you?

Know Your Odds

According to a 2015 report issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), if you are between the ages of 18 and 44 you are most likely to die in some sort of accident or “unintentional injury” rather than due to disease or congenital anomalies. Eating right, exercising often, and leading an overall healthy lifestyle may be a great way to guard yourself against health issues such as heart disease but when it comes to preventing debilitating accidents, these things have no effect on chance.

Of all accidents, car accidents are the most common with an estimated 1.3 million deaths a year, averaging out to 3,287 deaths per day with an additional twenty to fifty million people becoming injured or disabled every year according to the Association For Safe International Road Travel.

How AD&D Insurance Can Help Protect Your Loved Ones

For those involved in serious accidents, recovery time can take anywhere from days to months, or even longer depending on the severity of the injury. Could you afford to be out of work for an extended period of time? If you were injured so severely that you required an amputation, forever altering your lifestyle, as well as potential job prospects, could you afford to be out of a job while recovering and retraining your muscles as well as your mind? And if the worst should happen, could your family sustain themselves without the aid of your income?

This is where the importance of Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance comes in to play. No one ever plans for an accident to occur, but what if there were a way that you could? According to the 2012 Life Happens Disability Survey, approximately half of all Americans wouldn’t be able to cover their own expenses after just a single month without receiving a paycheck.

Statistics like these can be scary but they don’t need to be. AD&D insurance could help in the face of uncertainty. Your family’s welfare is important and with AD&D insurance, you can help to safeguard your family’s financial security in the event you are no longer able to provide for them should you experience a debilitating or fatal accident.

Learn More About AD&D Insurance

While the two can sometimes be purchased together, it is important to understand that AD&D insurance is not Term Life insurance. AD&D typically does not issue a payout on your policy in the event you pass due to a terminal illness; AD&D insurance will, in most cases, issue a payout should you fall victim to a serious accident resulting in the loss of limb, senses, or life. Exact payout amounts and covered circumstances are elaborated upon in your exact policy once it has been issued.

As an association member, you have access to anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000 in AD&D coverage amounts. Acceptance is guaranteed with no medical exams or questions to schedule or deal with.

Want to learn more about AD&D insurance? Visit the SPARK Health Insurance Marketplace for more information, view the AD&D schedule of benefits, or to sign up today.

young business man explaining group health insurance options to business group at a table in an office

New Strategies to Save Money on Group Health Costs in 2019

As group health insurance costs continue to increase, many employers are looking for new, creative ways to save money while still providing their employees with coverage.

Reference Based Pricing

Reference Based Pricing is a rapidly growing strategy that a number of employers are using to save money on group health insurance costs. This technique gives the employee the ability to choose any provider without the limitations and higher costs of a traditional provider network. By choosing to take advantage of this method, employers have the potential to save between 15 and 20 percent on group health insurance costs.

Association Health Plans

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Association Health Plans are defined as “group health plans that employer groups and associations offer to provide health coverage for employees.”

In April of this year, the federal government will begin to allow small employer groups to form new associations based on industry and finally receive access to group health insurance plans typically only reserved for larger companies. While many association health plans already exist, the new legislation eliminates the geographic barriers previously in place.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, “four million Americans, including 400,000 who otherwise would lack insurance, will join an AHP by 2023.”

Direct Primary Care

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is an alternative payment model to third-party billing. With DPC, there is a flat monthly membership fee and nothing else. Employees have access to a physician of their choice and the physician remains accountable to only their patients. This option can also exist alongside a comprehensive major medical plan.

Level Funding

For groups of five or more, level-funded plans are becoming increasingly popular. These plans boast a nationwide network of hospitals and physicians and are offered by a number of reputable insurance carriers. Designed to offer more flexibility to employers, level-funded plans are ERISA compliant and partially self-insured with a savings potential of 10 to 15 percent. Many also offer return-of-premium potential.

Learn More

Want to learn more about these strategies? Visit https://spark.memberbenefits.com/employer-group-solutions/ for more information.

professional woman on phone outside smiling

Knowing Your Options Outside of Open Enrollment

While the annual Open Enrollment period focuses on ACA-compliant individual major medical insurance, there are still other forms of insurance available for potential enrollees.

Knowing Your Options

According to healthinsurance.org, “ACA-compliant coverage refers to a major medical health insurance policy that conforms to the regulations set forth in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)…This means they must include coverage for the ten essential benefits with no lifetime or annual benefit maximums, and must adhere to the consumer protections built into the law.”

Unless you qualify for a special enrollment period, you cannot receive ACA-compliant individual health insurance coverage outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period, which typically runs from November 1st until December 15th of each year.

If you missed out on Open Enrollment but still need individual health insurance, you still have a few options available:

    1. COBRA

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.”

  1. Qualifying Life Event (QLE)

There are certain life circumstances called Qualifying Life Events (QLEs) that can qualify you for a special enrollment period. Special enrollment periods allow you to obtain ACA-compliant health coverage outside of the annual Open Enrollment period for you and your eligible dependents. The most common QLEs pertain to:

  • Loss of health coverage
  • Changes in household
  • Changes in residence

If you find yourself matching any of the above circumstances or feel your unique circumstance should qualify you for a special enrollment period, please contact us and our team will help guide you in the right direction based on your individual needs.

  1. Non-ACA Compliant plans

Non-ACA compliant plans, also referred to as short-term medical plans, have recently become more appealing to a growing number of people due to their lower rates. According to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, “Late last year (2017), President Trump issued an executive order directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take steps to expand the availability of short-term health insurance policies, and a proposed regulation to increase the maximum coverage term under such policies was published in February.”

So, what separates the ACA-compliant health plans from the ones that are not? One of the biggest factors being the ACA’s ten essential health benefits. Non-ACA compliant plans do not need to adhere to the numerous rules and regulations laid out in the Affordable Care Act.

To learn more about health insurance and what else the SPARK Health Insurance Marketplace can do for you, please visit https://spark.memberbenefits.com/health-insurance/ today.

children eating ice cream cones on a park bench

Two Things Your Teeth Want You to Avoid This Summer

Summer is finally here. This is the time of year where families all over the country can sit back, relax together, and enjoy the warm weather. But while you and your family are trying to keep cool, there are a few summer staples you should avoid in order to prevent tooth decay and the resulting costly dental procedures.

Fruity Drinks

No summer is complete without at least a few fruity drinks by the pool. And while the fruit may be good for you and help keep you hydrated in the summer heat, the excess sugar won’t do you any favors. Despite the main ingredient being fruits and/or veggies, smoothies can contain lots of hidden sugar which can wreak havoc on not just your waistline, but your teeth as well.

According to WebMD, “tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feeds on sugars from food and drinks. That bacteria — called plaque — can stick to your teeth, producing acids that eat through the enamel on your teeth.” So, while a fruity drink or smoothie may sound great, don’t forget that water can be just as refreshing.

Chewing Ice

When it comes to ice cubes, those frozen cubes are best left melting in your cup.

Chewing on ice may seem like a harmless zero-calorie way to keep cool but it can lead to enamel damage. Like all hard foods, chewing on ice cubes can cause chips and cracks to your teeth and create a passageway for bacteria to get in and cause infections.

Aside from the potential for dental damage, chewing or craving ice can also be a sign of a larger health concern such an iron deficiency, or an eating disorder.

Keeping Your Mouth Protected

When it comes to maintaining good oral health and protecting yourself from costly dental work, the best thing you can do is to get covered.

Want to learn more about what dental plan options you have access to as a SPARK member? Visit https://spark.memberbenefits.com/dentalvision/ to learn more and to pick a plan that best fits your needs.

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