Health briefs for November 9th-15th

Free flu shots for vets are offered

American Family Care (AFC), which has an urgent care center in Beaufort, will offer military veterans free flu shots on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11. 

The announcement is an extension of AFC’s ongoing effort to promote flu prevention in the United States and comes on the heels of the company’s annual National Flu Prevention Week campaign.  

The U.S. military was the first institution to establish a universal influenza vaccination policy, which dates back to the early 1940s – many decades before widespread immunization of healthy young people was recommended by the CDC and other international health officials. 

Today, its goal is to exceed 90-percent immunization of all military personnel by mid-December each year. 

AFC is located at 272 Robert Smalls Parkway, Suite 320, Beaufort. Call 843-521-4357.

Blue Cross offering enrollment information

Open enrollment for individual health insurance began on Nov. 1, and this year’s open enrollment period for the Affordable CareAct (ACA) has been shortened to 45 days, ending on Friday, Dec. 15.

Gold, Silver and Bronze plans are available for individuals and families. All plans cover the same essential health benefits, but the costs will vary based on the metallic level. BlueCross is offering 24 plans on the health care exchange, including the BlueEssentials Bronze 4 plan, which could have a zero premium, depending on a person’s income and eligibility for subsidies. 

In addition, some of the plans have lower copays, smaller deductibles and a variety of prescription drug benefits.

Moreover, people who do not qualify for subsidies can purchase lowered priced silver plans as well as other off-exchange insurance products, which offer a variety of benefit options and prices.

“The shortened length of open enrollment creates a great sense of urgency for some people. We want to ensure people get the information they need to make good decisions for themselves within the limited time frame,” said Terry Peace, BlueCross senior vice president. “The varying price and benefit designs, including the zero premium, offer a wide range of options, which gives security of coverage and, hopefully, peace of mind.”

According to 2016 census information, 14.5 percent of the state’s nearly 5 million residents are uninsured. BlueCross urges all South Carolinians not covered by their employer to purchase insurance, as required by law.

There are several ways consumers can get more information about the BlueCross plans offered on the exchange:

• Visit www.SouthCarolinaBlues.com.

• Call toll free, 877-313-2583.

• Check out www.SCBlueRetailCenters.com to schedule an appointment from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. The closest retail center to Beaufort is in Mount Pleasant. Call 843-216-7760.

• Visit with an agent in the SC BLUE RV, which is touring the state, by calling 855-382-2583 or coming by one of the RV tour stops.

The closest stop will be in Bluffton from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, at the Hampton Inn at 29 William Pope Drive.

Give thanks by donating blood

The American Red Cross encourages people to share their good health this holiday season by donating blood for patients in need. 

A decline in donations occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when donors are busy with holiday activities and travel. 

However, patients don’t get a holiday break from needing lifesaving transfusions. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.

A blood drive will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, at Carteret Street United Methodist Church at 408 Carteret St. in Beaufort.

Hospice in need of volunteers

Friends of Caroline Hospice Thrift Store is seeking a variety of volunteers to assist in the overall operation of the store.  

Opportunities include assisting in sorting/pricing donations, organizing, social media monitoring and customer service.  

Store hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.  

For more information, contact Sara, volunteer coordinator, at 843-525-6257 or visit www.friendsofcarolinehospice.org for an online volunteer application.

Statewide events bring awareness about hospice

During November, Agapé Hospice will be joining thousands of organizations and individuals around the country to recognize and support hospice services. 

Agapé Hospice will host Life Blooms Eternally, which will be held at multiple locations across South Carolina throughout November in honor of National Hospice Care Month.

Each location will feature a display of floral umbrellas and transform the grounds of the Henry C. Chamber Waterfront Park in Beaufort, the State House in Columbia, Falls Park, Greenville, Central Carolina Tech College, Sumter, US Customs House, Charleston, and many more. The displayed umbrellas represent lives touched by hospice services. 

The public is invited and umbrellas may be purchased in honor or memory of a loved one. Proceeds benefit the Agapé Senior Foundation. 

Hospice care provides physical, psychosocial, spiritual and medical support for people with life-limiting illnesses.

For more information about the 2017 Life Blooms Eternally events, go to LifeBloomsSC.com

For more information about Agapé Hospice, visit AgapeHospice.com or call 1-800-411-AGAPÉ (2427).

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