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Article / Did You Know? #11

Did You Know? #11.

Q: A 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 costs $32,472 – the same amount the Plan pays per month for treatment of what disease?

A: COPD.

COPD is the abbreviation for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus (sputum) production and wheezing. COPD affected an average of 183 participants under the plan in 2019 and 2020 with claims reaching $32,472 per month per participant in 2020. 

Smoking is one of the primary causes of COPD in the U.S., but it may also be developed with repeated exposure to toxic fumes or burning fuel, occupational exposure to dust and chemicals, asthma or genetics.

How to prevent COPD (when it's not genetic)
Prevention can look different for different people. For occupational exposures, be sure to always wear your Half-Face Respirator with the proper filter for the hazard you are working with while working with toxic chemicals and dust. For others, the answer may look easy, but sometimes the solution is a little harder to put into action. That solution? Quitting smoking. Removing or reducing your exposure to tobacco smoke or other toxic fumes can mean a lot for lung health, but sometimes quitting smoking is not easy to do alone. Why?
  1. Smokers most often have an emotional connection to smoking. There is always a reason for someone who smokes to have started smoking, such as family history, social connection, peer pressure or escape from stress, for example.
  2. Smoking or tobacco use is a friend that goes with you wherever you go and, in most places, is an acceptable "escape" or habit. No matter the situation, that "friend" is always there with you.
  3. Nicotine addiction plays a big role in the physical component of smoking. Nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation, so people smoke in the belief it reduces stress and anxiety. This feeling is temporary and soon gives way to withdrawal symptoms and increased cravings. 
Resources for prevention
Fortunately, Carpenters has resources to help members quit tobacco and stop COPD before it starts. 
  1. myCigna.com is a self-guided resource that is available and completely free of charge to all members and dependents covered under the health plan. Contact a health coach to walk with you in your quit-smoking journey.
  2. Call Cigna One Guide at 800.244.6224 to speak to a representative about the best options available to you. 
  3. Carpenters Wellness Center is accepting new patients. We recommend making your initial visit with the medical providers first, so they can give you a full evaluation and determine your best first step. Call 314.955.WELL (9355) to schedule an appointment. 

To purchase an appropriate Half-Face Respirator, the most popular brands are made by 3M, MSA and North. These respirators and filters may be purchased online on any of these companies' websites. Alternatively, these locations carry the necessary respirators and filters:

Midwestern Safety Equipment
3130 Lumina Parkway, St. Charles, MO 63301
Phone (636) 946-6121
website

Grainger
2535 Metro Blvd., Maryland Heights, MO, 63043
Phone (1-800-472-4643)
website

Your wallet
COPD is hard on the wallet of any COPD patient, too. In 2020, COPD patients under the health plan paid an average of $2,024 per month for out-of-pocket expenses. Similarly, smoking is also hard on the wallet! Smokers who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day will spend about $270 per month in Illinois, $150 per month in Missouri and an average of those two prices in Kansas. Annually, that's an average of $2,520 per year on cigarettes.

Your life
COPD and even smoking greatly affect your way of life. Breathlessness is a hallmark symptom of COPD and can impact movement, speech, social life and even result in isolation, depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, your health plan has several resources for you to help you if you think you might have COPD or if you want to take action to prevent it. Active members (non-Medicare) can and should do any of the following:
  1. Visit your doctor, or find an in-network physician on myCigna.com. Your physician can make a referral based on the evaluation of your pain and symptoms to a provider that will best meet your needs.
  2. Make an appointment with a health coach through Cigna's Lifestyle Management Program. Call 866.417.7848 to schedule an appointment with a coach today.