Seated Position: Correct Postural Behavior

In everyday life, the position most often adopted by most people is the sitting position. In fact, if we think about it, most of the activities are spent in the sitting position, at work, in transportation, in classes, during meals, in movies, among others.

With the evolution of information technology and new information technologies, people remain in the seated position more frequently and for longer periods of time. In this sense, it is fundamental to realize the importance of a correct posture, to obtain greater comfort, namely at work and adopt preventive measures, to avoid musculoskeletal pain and diseases.

In fact, few people are aware that certain back, neck and joint pains are the results of poor sitting posture, which can lead to poor health, especially in the work environment.

In the workplace, some of the reasons we may feel pain are as follows:

 Inappropriate workplace and uncomfortable work environment
 Furniture poorly designed and ergonomically wrong
 Fixed posture for an extended time
 Inadequate and unfavorable positions to the joints
 Activities that require excessive force with the hands or repetition of the same pattern of movement

To avoid discomfort and possible injury, it is important to have a proper working environment and adopt a correct posture when we spend most of the day sitting:

To help relieve body and eye fatigue, follow some advice that can be put into practice throughout the day:

 Find an ergonomic chair for office. Raise and lower the height of the chair alternately several times a day. The higher seat reduces tiredness of the shoulders and arms, and the lower chair reduces fatigue in the neck.
 Regularly adjust the posture to promote a better blood circulation, reducing the static muscular load associated with the sitting posture
Do stretches and toggle from hour to hourPlace the foot on the ergonomic foot support

Knowing the injuries that can arise from a wrong posture and take preventive measures are the steps to follow to minimize the risks. The involvement of workers in the process of prevention of musculoskeletal diseases presupposes information and training on the several risk factors and the natural history of the injuries.

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New Controversial Health Insurance Options

Last Wednesday, state officials declared their intention to go ahead with new, highly controversial health insurance options aimed at state employees in light of the vote of a legislative oversight panel geared at stopping the action.

The resolution stating that the state will not expand self insurance health care options was adopted by The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), as supporters stood by the measure, saying that this action would actually stop the health care changes from being able to be implemented, as the resolution includes a new self insured open access plan as a health insurance option for state employees.

The Office of the Governor, Pat Quinn, however, denied the measure, saying that The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability actually does not have the legal authority necessary to adopt such a resolution. This finding was seconded by the Department of Health Care and Family Services. As a spokesperson for the Governor stated the intention of the administration to move forward, even the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability co chair voted against the resolution, saying that the organization moved past its legal authority in the situation.

The final result of the legal scuffle is that the state will assume the risk of paying insurance claims for state employees instead of insurance companies, as would happen under fully insured plans.

The health insurance contracts for state employees were bid upon early in the year. Two offers from Health Alliance and Humana HMOs were rejected, citing their excessive cost. The state, to replace them, selected Blue Cross Blue Shield and PersonalCare, as well as an open access plan from HealthLink, as the HMOs of choice for the state.

The main focus of the switch was to save the state money, of which reports claim will happen in excess of US $1 billion over the course of the next 10 years.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability remains unconvinced of the position of the other governmental agencies, with some of the legislative supporters predicting a lawsuit from one or more of the insurance groups that had their offers rejected. Some legislators on both sides have stated this outright.

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Health Insurance for Musicians? – An Innovative Austin Program

Austin enjoys the self-promoted but well-deserved reputation as live music capital of the world. In recent years, the city has decided to put its money where its mouth is to ensure that it stays that way. One of the most innovative and socially progressive ways it is doing that is by providing an insurance program for working musicians through HAAM, or Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

It’s a unique concept. Besides New Orleans, Austin is the only city in the US to provide such comprehensive health care to its local musicians.

“This city loves those who make music for us all,” according to Betty Dunkerley, Austin Mayor Pro Tem and HAAM board member. “What better way than Health Alliance for Austin Musicians is there to show our appreciation? HAAM makes members’ lives better.”

HAAM was created in 2005 as a result of a partnership between local hospitals and the SIMS foundation with support from the city and various Austin businesses. They recognized the tremendous need that existed in the community of musicians in the city for affordable health care. More than 8,000 working musicians live in Austin and most of them are uninsured. Rather than wait for the federal or state government to come up with a plan to help the millions of Americans who do not have health insurance, this community of musicians and their supporters decided to provide that help themselves.

Funding for the organization is provided by business and private donations and various grants. The HAAM benefit day every October mobilizes musicians, local businesses and city officials to raise money for the organization. In 2006 they raised more than $107,000, and more than $180,000 in 2007. Other events throughout the year, such as Austin music backer Nancy Coplin’s BIG SIX-O birthday party recently, donate their proceeds to HAAM as well. Of course, interested supporters may also donate money at any time through the HAAM.

HAAM’s 2007 annual report reveals nearly 4,900 medical, dental and mental health visits which earned a 94 percent approval rating from member-musicians. This success results from a one-of-a-kind collaboration among the Seton Family of Hospitals (clinic visits, prescriptions, hospital services and specialist referrals), St. David’s Community Health Foundation Leadership (dental visits) and The SIMS Foundation (counseling, psychiatric and addiction-recovery sessions).

Membership in 2007 grew to 929 of which 65 percent were age 40 and younger, with 67 percent earning less than $15,000 a year. To receive the benefits from the program, members must live in Travis County and be able to prove that they earn money playing music. For many services, members must pay a small co-pay; some other services are provided for free.

The SIMS foundation was named after Austin musician Sims Ellison who lost a long battle with depression and committed suicide in 1995. His death shocked the Austin community and a group of family and friends decided to create the SIMS foundation to provide low-cost counseling, psychiatric and addiction recovery service to musicians who needed it. The foundation provided more than 2,300 such sessions in 2007.

In addition, through HAAM, more than 573 members made more than 1,300 clinic visits that same year and benefitted from more than 500 hospital services of various kinds as well. Many members also took advantage of the free dental services provided by the organization.

Almost all members are very positive about the work HAAM is doing and the services it provides. Guy Forsyth is an Austin musician who has built up quite a reputation throughout Texas.

“It makes me really happy for younger musicians who are coming up and for parents who may have a child who’s very talented and it’s scary to think of them becoming an artist. Because we see all these examples around us of people, who aren’t part of a corporate structure are left behind in terms of health care and public support,” Forsyth said.

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