Insurance Update
October 2017
Issue No. 85
In this issue
 Bone and joint health tips

About Us 
Insurance logo 
  A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides the following products: dental, vision, basic life and accidental death & dismemberment, supplemental life and AD&D, dependent life and AD&D, retiree life, long-term disability, short-term disability, voluntary accident insurance, and Medicare supplement for eligible Church of the Brethren employees .
Dental, vision, retiree life, and Medicare supplement coverage may also be available for eligible retired Church of the Brethren employees.
For eligibility information, call Connie Sandman at 800-746-1505, ext. 366, or contact your human resources representative.
Medical and ancillary plans (named above) may be available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities. 

Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120

Open Enrollment starts Nov. 1

With all that is going on in the world of health care coverage these days, we feel it is really important to make sure our readers are aware that Open Enrollment is just a month away. For Brethren Insurance Service members, it begins on Nov. 1 and runs through Nov. 30. If you're not sure what Open Enrollment is or why it's important, you've come to the right place. We explain it in this month's issue of Insurance Update.

And with the warm weather winding down and some of us starting to experience that familiar fall chill in the air, it's a good time to think about our bone and joint health. Joints are complicated systems in our bodies that we take for granted until we have trouble with them, and then we are constantly reminded of how much we rely on them throughout our daily lives, almost every time we move.  Learn all about the common problems with our bones and joints, how joint problems are treated, and what you can do to try to prevent issues.

We wish you lots of beautiful, healthy days and restful nights in the weeks ahead. May you spend some time taking in the glorious colors of fall, surrounded by leaves of red, orange, and gold, feeling both the warm sun and the perfectly chilled breeze that fill the gap between summer's end and winter's cold.

Happy Autumn!
The importance of Open Enrollment

At this time of year, you might see a lot of information in print and on TV and social media mentioning Open Enrollment. This is basically a public service announcement to let people know that it is coming up, and they need to act on it by a certain date or risk having to wait another year to add new benefit elections or make changes to current ones. It's important to pay attention to Open Enrollment and use this time to consider your insurance coverage. This is good advice for everyone, not just those who are in one of the employer groups served by Brethren Insurance Services.

Open enrollment is the window of opportunity presented by group insurance plans for starting or changing coverage of the various insurance policies offered on a pre-tax basis by the group plan. Each year at this time, members served by Brethren Insurance Services are asked to review their coverage and determine whether they want to make changes and/or add to the insurance products they are already using.

However, even if you are not one of the members of Brethren Insurance Services, it would be wise for you to take some time now to review your insurances and determine what you need for yourself and your family for the year ahead.

Because some payroll deductions for insurance premiums are made on a pre-tax basis, open enrollment is governed by IRS Sec 125 rules, which allow for changes only during an open enrollment period. This is why BIS stresses and advertises its open enrollment, which this year begins on Nov. 1.

The actual open enrollment period varies from group plan to group plan and is determined by when in the year the coverage starts. For Brethren Insurance Services members, coverage for all its insurance products begins on Jan. 1.

If your employer offers products through Brethren Insurance Services, you can use open enrollment to change your coverage -- increasing or decreasing it on given products, or adding new ones.  Here are the insurance products being offered during open enrollment. Feel free to contact us to see what products you are eligible to participate in:
  • Medicare Supplement, featuring a new carrier in 2018, offering
    lower rates
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Short-term Disability
  • Long-Term Disability
  • Life Insurance
  • Accident insurance
  • Pet insurance
Open Enrollment is a good time to review what you currently have, to make sure it matches up with your current life style, especially with reference to life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and short-term disability insurance. There may have been some changes during the past year that need to be considered, and Open Enrollment is a good time to do that. We suggest that you think about how your coverage meets your needs to support your life and your family.

You need to do this now, because the rules allow for changes only during this open enrollment period, unless there are "life events" that enable persons to adjust or add coverage at other times during the year. These are changes in circumstance like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a spouse. And of course coverage can begin at any time for a new employee, and end at any time if the employee leaves the job.

"The whole purpose of Brethren Insurance Services," says Jeremiah Thompson, director of Insurance Operations, "is to make sure that people maintain their financial lifestyle to the best of their ability in the event that something catastrophic occurs. Our products allow you to continue living your life without a major financial disruption."

So pay attention. Review your insurance coverage. Make sure you are able to "maintain your financial lifestyle." And remember that Open Enrollment begins Nov. 1.
Bone and joint health

"You would think that eventually you would be used to the pain, but it doesn't work like that. You never really get used to it, you just learn to live the best you can with it." This quote might be the mantra for the many who suffer from bone and joint disorders. Whether it is in your back, your hip, your knee, your shoulders, or your hands, the challenge is to deal with the pain.
The reality
According to United States Bone and Joint Initiative, more than half of Americans over age 18 (54 percent) are affected by musculoskeletal (bone and joint) conditions. One person in three over the age of 18 required medical care for a musculoskeletal condition in the years 2009 to 2011. Bone and joint conditions are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of people. The global prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions is predicted to continue to grow because of increasing life expectancy. It is estimated that disability plus diminished productivity from musculoskeletal diseases resulted in costs of $874 billion in the U.S. in 2009-2011. Since 2011, when Baby Boomers became Medicare beneficiaries, the economic and social cost of bone and joint health has escalated.
What are we talking about?
The website offers a clear definition -- "A joint is the area at which two bone ends meet to provide motion to a body part. A typical joint is composed of bones that are separated by cartilage that serves as a cushioning pad for the adjacent bones. Ligaments attach bone to bone around the joint. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that provide a gliding surface for adjacent tendons. Tendons attach muscle to bone around the joint."
Injury or disease in any of the elements of this complicated structure can lead to pain, and joint pain is often given the technical name "arthralgia." Inflammation and infection are some of the most frequent causes. According to, symptoms and signs associated with joint pain can be redness, swelling, tenderness, or warmth. Further symptoms can be limping, locking of the joint, loss of range of motion, stiffness, and weakness.
While it can sometimes feel as though your joint pain is originating from a muscle or the surrounding bones, according to, it's most likely coming from the inflamed joint and the surrounding soft tissues. Muscle aches or bone pains can sometimes occur along with joint pain, making matters worse. The Arthritis Foundation says that joint pain is likely to develop in one or more of the following places: neck and top of the back/spine, jaw, knees, hips, lower back, back of the legs, shoulders, wrists, hands, fingers, ankles, heels, and toes.
What are the causes?
So what causes bone and joint pain? gives this list: old age, because the collagen that builds cartilage starts to deteriorate; arthritis in its many forms; over-used repetitive movements such as too much running; poor posture; injuries; inactivity, a sedentary lifestyle; autoimmune disorders like Fibromyalgia; conditions that weaken the muscles; and lack of sleep.
In addition to this list, there are many other diseases and conditions that can cause bone and joint pain. The website lists 101 conditions. The Mayo Clinic's website names 30 conditions. Here are some of those: gout, Lyme disease, sarcoidosis, Lupus, bursitis, tendinitis.
What to do
If you have pain and go to a specialist, what can you expect? First, the health care professionals will take the history of your symptoms, the activities you were engaged in when the pain started, and any aggravating conditions you may have. You will be given an examination and further testing if needed, including blood tests, X-rays, or other imaging procedures. Sometimes MRI's are helpful.
Treatment for joint pain will depend on how severe the symptoms are. Even when drugs are prescribed, your doctor will also recommend lifestyle changes to prevent pain from returning or worsening. These could include exercising or changing your current fitness routine, stretching, physical therapy, and losing weight.
If your symptoms are temporary, such as acute joint pain due to an injury, your doctor will likely recommend taking an over-the-counter pain killer to reduce inflammation while you heal -- something like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
According to, when the pain is ongoing and very strong (chronic joint pain), your doctor might recommend taking a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This could be what is called a Cox-2 inhibitor (celcoxib), or even an opioid drug in some severe cases. More rarely, antidepressants and antiepileptic drugs may be used to block painful signals in the body and stop muscle spasms contributing to pain.
Medications to reduce pain can help improve quality of life, but they need to be used carefully and usually as a last resort, since they can cause side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding, indigestion, loss of bone mineral density, interactions with other medications, and even addiction.
There are also some natural remedies that can be helpful, such as an Epsom salt soak, hot and cold packs, and collagen supplements.
Bone and Joint Week
During the late 1990s a group of healthcare professionals, sharing the view that, "the significant impact from bone and joint disorders on society, the healthcare system, and the individual, needed to be addressed on an international level," created the Bone and Joint Decade, formally launched in 2000. The BJD has proclaimed the week of Oct. 12-20, 2017 as "Bone and Joint Awareness Week" with the theme "Movement is Medicine -- Keep moving for health and wealth!" reflecting the importance of activity for musculoskeletal health. Click here for more information on this themed week and its various emphases. Here in the U.S. the same week is called "Bone and Joint Action Week." You can find information here.
In medical literature, the phrase "bone and joint" is found frequently, and the term generally points to the larger structure of joints including the bones that meet in the joint. How the bones are connected to one another is as important as the bones themselves. It is the peculiar and complicated integration of bone, cartilage, tendons, muscles, and ligaments that we call a joint, that is of interest to those who talk of "bone and joint" conditions, injuries, or diseases. It is not difficult to understand why pain is what comes to mind when we think of joints. Joints make movement possible. They are the "hinges" that connect our bones and enable us to move. It's no wonder they are a place where so many things can go wrong and where pain is so common.
So during the bone and joint emphasis of October, think about your own bones and joints. Be grateful if you are among the fortunate ones with no joint pain. But if you have pain, don't hesitate to see a professional to find out why, and be quick to do both the natural and medical things to keep your bones and joints healthy.
[Below you can find some foods and some exercises that will promote bone and joint health.]
Foods that promote bone and joint health

If you want to improve your bone and joint health by eating foods that help with that, here are several that make the list:  
  • Calcium-fortified cereal
  • Orange juice
  • Edamame, kidney beans
  • Yogurt
  • Milk and milk alternatives (soymilk and almond milk)
  • Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese
  • Instant chocolate pudding
  • Baked herring, canned sardines, canned salmon, tuna
  • Turnip greens, cooked kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach,
  • Bell peppers, sweet peppers, eggplant
  • Squash, pumpkin
  • Flaxseeds, walnuts (for Omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Oranges, mangos, pineapple, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, papayas, tangerines, apricots
  • Olive oil (has anti-inflammatory properties, because of oleic acid)
  • Ginger
  • Foods with Beta-Cryptoxanthin (helps protect against arthritis)
Also recommended for bone and joint health:
  • Avoid red meat, saturated fats, and sugar.
  • Get plenty of sunshine, which produces vitamin D.
For more information, visit these websites:
How about trying some exercises
Exercises for joint health

1.  Warm up before you start

2.  Do some aerobics if you can because they are good for your whole body

3.  Hand-weights and a resistance band will help build the muscles that support your joints.

4.  Lat stretch
Stand with your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. With your arms overhead, hold one hand with the other. Pull upward while leaning straight over toward your left side. Keep your lower body straight. You should feel the pull along your right side. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Do this two to four times on each side.

5.  Tricep stretch
Stand with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your left arm and bring your elbow straight up so that it points to the ceiling. Hold your elbow with your right hand. Pull your elbow gently toward your head. You're stretching the back of your bent arm. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Then switch elbows. Repeat two to four times on each arm.

6.  Calf stretch
Place your hands on a wall, the back of a chair, a countertop, or a tree. Now step back with your right leg. Keep it straight, and press your right heel into the floor. Push your hips forward and bend your left leg slightly. You should feel the stretch in your right calf. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat two to four times for each leg.

7.  Quadriceps stretch
You'll feel this stretch along the front of your thigh. First, balance on your left foot. Bend your right knee, raising your ankle to your hand. Grab hold of your ankle, pulling your foot toward your glutes to deepen the stretch. Keep your knees close together. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat two to four times for each leg.

8.  Groin stretch
Stretch your groin, or inner thigh muscles, by sitting on the floor with the soles of your feet pressed together. Grab your ankles and gently pull your legs toward you. Go only as far as is comfortable. Use your elbows to press your knees toward the floor. You should feel the stretch in your inner thighs. Hold your groin stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat it two to four times.

9.  Hamstring stretch
Your hamstring muscles run down the back of your thigh. Stretch them by sitting up straight in a chair with one foot on the floor. Slowly raise the other leg, while keeping your knee straight. Support your leg with both of your hands. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat two to four times on each leg.

Check for more information.
Brain Puzzle
We hope you are enjoying our  monthly BRAIN PUZZLES -- just for fun! These will test your bone knowledge. These are adapted from, so you can see how well you do.

What's the smallest bone in the body?
A)  Patella
B)  Stirrup
C)  Thigh
D)  Funny bone
Bones meet at
A)  Joints
B)  Ligaments
C)  A local restaurant
D)  The rib cage
How many bones does an adult human have?
A)  500
B)  110
C)  206
D)  55
Bones in the spine are called
A)  cartilage
B)  little bones
C)  ribs
D)  vertebrae
The patella is located in the
A)  knee
B)  foot
C)  ear
D)  elbow
What's in the center of a bone?
A)  cream filling
B)  compact bone
C)  cartilage
D)  bone marrow
Your bones stop growing by the time you are
A)  93
B)  25
C)  30
D)  13
How many bones are in the spine?
A)  1 million
B)  65
C)  33
D)  14
The _________________ bone protects the brain
A)  tail
B)  shin
C)  back
D)  skull
The rib cage protects your
A)  liver
B)  heart
C)  lungs
D)  all of the above

LTCIIs it time to think about Long-Term Care Insurance?
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance
Eligibility for long-term care insurance benefits is determined by the inability to meet at least two of these six activities of daily living -- bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence, or transferring. Cognitive impairment can also trigger benefits.
It's difficult to think about the fact that a debilitating condition or a disabling injury might leave you unable to care for yourself, or that when you reach your twilight years, the time will come when you will need some extra care. Long-term care insurance makes sure that you will get the care you need. It helps assure that the cost of your custodial care will not eat up your savings. Finally, and this is one of the best things about LTCI, it can help protect your children and other relatives from having to use their resources to care for you.
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.
If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or  click here to request more information.