Is it allergies or a cold?

Winter is finally in the rearview mirror, the sun is shining, and we all plan to be outside. The only negative to this cabin fever we all share is the runny nose, scratchy throats, and cloudy feeling that can be attested to one of two phenomena: allergies or a cold. Unfortunately, with allergies being so unpredictable, changing in symptoms and severity yearly, it can be difficult to deduce whether the discomfort you are feeling is, in fact, allergies or a common cold. 

Treating colds and allergies are two different methods of action; choosing the wrong treatment can be the difference between relief and continuous discomfort. It is essential to know the difference to treat yourself effectively and efficiently. According to the CDC, nearly a quarter of US adults have seasonal allergies, and the typical adult battles two or three colds a year, mainly between winter and spring. In a discussion about colds Dr. Yu, a pediatric allergist-immunologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told the New York Times a definite red flag in cataloging your symptoms is a fever as they do not occur with common allergies. Another flag pointing toward a cold is body aches if you’re feeling run down. It’s more likely a cold or another viral infection like Covid-19. On the flip side, a telltale sign you have allergies is a runny nose ft. clear mucus. Another clear allergy indicator is itchiness around your eyes, nose, and ears. 

Now for every “clear sign” and “red flag,” so to speak, there are gray areas in symptoms. For instance, sneezing could indicate either a cold or allergies. But on the other hand, coughing and soreness in your throat can also come from colds and allergies. Thus it is important to consider symptoms outside sneezing, sore throats, and coughing when deducing colds vs. allergies.

So you have considered your ailments and have decided it’s most likely allergies you are feeling. The Mayo clinic advises antihistamines such as cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy), fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy), and loratadine (Claritin, Alavert). The Mayo Clinic also mentions using nasal sprays and rinsing your sinuses with saline solution to flush out all the congestion. If the usual suspects like Allegra and sinus cleansing aren’t doing the job, you may want to consider speaking with your doctor to develop a different action plan.

The Mayo Clinic recommends remaining hydrated, resting, and even gargling salt water for your common cold. Other common treatments at home include utilizing sore throat remedies like lozenges, ice chips, sipping hold liquids, and an under-the-weather home classic: honey. 

Knowing your symptoms gives you the power to squash them in the bud and start enjoying the change in climate quicker. 



Take a deep breath this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a time you spend with loved ones sharing delicious food, football, and larger-than-life balloons floating their way down 34th street. Or for many, it is also a time of great stress as you literally and figuratively sit on opposing sides of the table with your family. Whether it’s politics, when you plan to start your own family, or any of the many life decisions you made differently than your elders, Thanksgiving can feel more like an interrogation rather than a celebration.

For those looking to the end of November with stress instead of delight, consider utilizing our wellness resource, eMindful, for help dealing with the added stress you are feeling. Thanksgiving should be a moment to relax ahead of the crazy holiday season, don’t let the relatives get you down; get eMindful to reduce your stress and practice your breathing to get you through the day when it gets here.  

Thanksgiving may be the perfect time to start yourself on a wellness journey, as it is easy to forget to make time for yourself among the hoopla of the holidays. eMindful offers 24/7/365 access to on-demand meditation and mindfulness games. Daily sessions are 30 minutes, and you can choose a schedule that works for you. So treat yourself to self-care with eMindful this November and lead yourself to a less stressful December.

It’s not too late to get your flu shot!

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? It’s not too late, whether you simply forgot or attempted to walk into CVS in October only to be told to come back in a month. Here I am to remind you if you haven’t gotten yours yet now is the time. While you’re at it might as well grab that new booster as well. 

The flu like many other respiratory illnesses is spread person to person through droplets projected when an infected person talks, sneezes and coughs. During the past few years due to the pandemic our society has had limited opportunities for such droplets to be expelled with the wearing of masks being prominent and social distancing causing many to remain a safe distance apart. But this fall as mask mandates become a thing of the past and many of us hang up our masks, return to work, ride the train and go to social events like concerts and parties once again we are back in the line of fire for cold & flu season. 

Which is why it is predicted that the flu will return this season with seemingly extra force as our bodies are reminded of the countless germs we encounter and intake while going about our daily lives.

Making this an extra important year to get your flu shot if you have yet to do so. If you have not, whether you simply forgot or attempted to walk into a pharmacy in October only to be told to come back in a month. Here I am to remind you if you haven’t gotten yours yet now is the time and while you’re at it might as well grab that new covid booster as well.

Schedule your flu shot here or here.

Industry leaders are catching our drift, do you?

Benefits are not one size fits all. Instead, benefits are a purchase to be considered, researched, and compared. We are not alone in these beliefs; a recent article on employer benefit news interviewed the CEO and founder of advising firm Next Impact, Lester Morales, regarding his views on employee healthcare. He spoke of his experience with his father having multiple myeloma cancer. Despite his father having employer-sponsored health insurance, the cost of the treatments forced him into bankruptcy. His experience has led him to believe employers should look beyond the traditional to find more employee options.
We couldn’t agree more. We created HealthEE by HBG to be that other option. HealthEE by HBG gives employees the power to browse coverage options. While traditional insurance is known for being a complicated and confusing process, it does not have the reputation of being one with various options. When asked what the most prominent misconception people have about healthcare is, Morales compared the process to purchasing a car, “You wouldn’t just drive to the local auto dealership, get in the first car and drive off without asking questions and negotiating the price. But that’s exactly what we do with healthcare.” Morale’s analogy is reminiscent of HealthEE by HBG’s co-founder Christian Stearns, who has repeatedly said no one wakes up in the morning with the thought of buying insurance. Car owners take great care in deciding which car they will purchase, and employees should be able to take the same care when buying benefits as it isn’t a purchase to be taken lightly or on a whim. Giving employees a sense of ownership and control of their health can be a powerful gift, especially now that inflation has taken hold and employees are trying to cut spending wherever possible.
The question becomes, however, is, who does the responsibility fall upon? Is it up to employers to seek various options for their employees? No, we don’t think so. With HealthEE by HBG, we have done the shopping around and created a one-stop marketplace of benefits ranging from healthcare to vision to additional benefits like life insurance and pet insurance. With a wide selection of plan types, we also offer these benefits at no cost to the employer. So give your employees the power to choose the coverage right for them and leave the administrative headaches to us.

Read the full interview here

The Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation was a rumbling that began amid the pandemic and has grown exponentially. With millions of people resigning from their jobs and opting into the gig economy, where they can work from home, have more say over their worth, and be in control of their work-life balance. I sat with our co-founder Christian Stearns to discuss this phenomenon and what it means for business owners and employers.

Christian explained that he considers the great resignation a misnomer and that he feels this phenomenon should be called the Great Realignment, as it’s more than people just leaving their jobs. Its employees realizing and acting upon what they need to have a high quality of life. Amidst the pandemic, we as a society discovered we can measurably work from home, and in eliminating the time of a commute and the physical distance between the office and your family, it’s not surprising many do not want to go back to the old way of business, in the office, 9-5. Thus employees left in search of employers willing to provide them with the lifestyles they became accustomed to during the pandemic. 

Many of you experienced this first hand, so I asked Christian how we could take this sour realignment and make sweet lemonade. His response was for business owners and employers to take a step back, recognize the need to give to get, the need for flexibility and that employment is not the one-way street it may have once been. More than flexibility, employers need to provide value to their employees. In this new wave with a booming gig economy where many work multiple part-time gigs or freelance for many companies providing access to benefits can be the differentiator. 

As much as the move to the gig economy has given employees a new kind of freedom, in many ways, it has also created a massive vulnerability as part-time, and contract workers seldom qualify for benefits and insurance coverage. Filling this gap and covering this vulnerability can make all the difference when retaining talent, whether in the form of contract workers or even your full-time staff. The workforce is full of under-benefitted, and downright un benefited workers. The truth is that health workers lead to a healthy business, and we help make employees HealthEE. 

Quiet Quitting and what it means for employers

First, employees left their jobs in droves, but the problems for employers didn’t stop there. In a more optimistic time when the American dream was still the dream and the future was bright, employees wanted to go the extra mile to move up the hierarchy for a better tomorrow. The thought process and your hard work will pay off, and you will be rewarded. However, as inflation increases and wages can’t keep up, many employees have stopped drinking the kool-aid and either want to be compensated for the extra labor or won’t do it. Thus the term quiet quitting, in which you do what’s in your job description, nothing more, no staying late or working outside your predetermined hours or taking on extra work for the good of the company. Quiet quitting isn’t necessarily a new practice. Many compare the concept to coasting. However, I think an important distinction here is that quiet quitting isn’t personal to the company but is rooted in the need for work-life balance or extra in exchange for extra. Work-life balance is more of a private matter; balance means something different depending on the industry and person. 

However, if you’re seeking an extra to exchange for effort, consider offering more incentives to employees. I’m not talking about pizza parties or casual Fridays- nobody sees those as incentives. Instead, employees want incentives to make their lives less stressful to take weights off their shoulders. One significant weight is sure to be the expense of insurance and benefits. With HealthEE by HBG, you can offer your employees more options at more possible rates at no cost to the employer. More than just the affordability aspect, HealthEE by HBG provides a sense of control and choice to employees, something they won’t find elsewhere. It’s not a stretch to consider a piece of the quiet quitting appeal: the sense of control it offers employees. Give your employees the power of choice and the possibility of affordability with the HealthEE by HBG benefit stores. 


The Creator Economy AKA the Everyone Economy

 Over the last 20 years, how we consume entertainment and media has drastically changed. Back in the day, we had accepted that the Marilyn Monroes and Elizabeth Taylors of the world were of a different species, unattainable in lifestyle, image, and wealth, only existing behind the gates of MGM to a world now where anyone and everyone with a smartphone can attain status. While I wouldn’t dream of comparing the likes of Emma Chamberlin to Marilyn Monroe, my point is concerning influence and wealth. Many dismiss the concept of content creating or influencing (depending on your audience) as a genuine career. Still, you have to consider the undeniable fact that Miss Chamberlin, at the age of 19, bought herself her first home in West Hollywood for 3.9 Million dollars. Now, of course, Emma Chamberlain is a success story at the most extreme side of the creator economy spectrum, but she is not the only one living on her content creation. 

Content creation refers to the work used to hopefully sway viewers to embrace a trend or purchase a product. There are many kinds of content creators, some of which, like Emma, are personalities themselves influencing viewers because they want to be like her. Others, for example, make UGC or user-generated content that brands can use for “organic” appearance advertisements. While to make UGC, you may be an influencer in your own right; you are more likely just making clean content that marketers hope looks like a natural person using and praising their product. Of course, there is also the degree of influence to consider. With this desire to appear honest and real many marketers look to smaller accounts, dubbed “micro-influencers,” to promote their products. If you haven’t guessed it by now, what makes the creator economy go round is the social media platforms they frequent but more so the brands sending them products and writing checks. Now to be clear, it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. A tiny portion of the influencer economy is making the big bucks, but just enough people do that everyone else believes they can. A survey by the Morning Consult in 2020 of 2,000 13-38 year-olds found that 54% of respondents wanted to be an influencer, and 86% would be willing to post sponsored content. In other words, the influencer economy isn’t going anywhere. Such a high demand for this career can inspire anyone looking to join in, as well as inform company owners who are either hesitant about the whole debacle or worried they waited too long to jump on the bandwagon. There are many nuances to the creator economy that may feel intimidating to utilize from the outside looking in. Still, you can better understand the driving forces behind many of today’s purchasers by understanding the opportunity of a micro-influencer as a trusted messenger for your product or service. Many are influenced to purchase products or hope to influence others by buying products. Either side of the coin puts anyone unwilling to accept and use the creator economy to their benefit at a severe disadvantage in today’s consumer climate.

Pumpkin banana muffins

In recent years pumpkin spice and consequently pumpkins as a flavor in general have gotten the short end of the stick. Dubbed “basic” by many I thought it was high time we reclaimed the goodness that is pumpkin but this time with a twist. If you’re anything like me you have bananas staring down at you from wherever they are kept in your home, mine are above my fridge just begging to be used. So pumpkin-banana muffins it is! I found the perfect recipe so you don’t have to, all you have to do is bake!

 Not that I needed a reason to love pumpkins anymore than I already do but for my non-believers there are actually several health benefits to pumpkins. For starters they are rich with Vitamin A, which strengthens your immune system, never a bad thing especially in our current climate. Pumpkins are a great source of fiber and along with a whole slew of other vitamins and minerals is high in vitamin C which can be contributed to faster healing. Read on for the fall-in-a-bite vegan pumpkin banana muffins that will turn even the most anti pumpkin person into a pumpkin lover like the rest of us. 


  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prep your muffin pan by Lining it so nothing sticks and set the pan aside.

Step 2: First in your baking bowl add the bananas, pumpkin pure and brown sugar.

Step 3: Now mix together the baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Step 4: Stir in the oil and vanilla extract.

Step 5: While being cautious not to over mix, begin to contribute the flour and gently fold until combined, note the batter is supposed to be thick. 

Step 6: Divide batter into muffin pan equally among the cups.

Step 7: Bake for 18 – 20 minutes.

Step 8: Cool in pan for 10 minutes & enjoy! This recipe makes roughly 12 muffins. 


Terms to know when it comes to benefits, coverage and insurance.

Part of what makes the Healthcare industry so confusing is all the jargon and terminology. So as our goal is to clear the confusion, we take to our Instagram stories regularly, asking our followers what terms leave them scratching their heads. We do much more than just answering questions on our stories, so if you aren’t already following us, check out @healtheebyhbg on Instagram. We have compiled a few terms and their definitions into one place for those of you looking for clarification. 

Premium is the amount you must pay your insurance company for coverage. This amount is determined based on various factors depending on the type of insurance you purchase. For example, what’s impacting your car insurance premium will be different from your medical insurance. A general rule of thumb for most health-related insurance plans is these five main factors; age, tobacco use, location, type of plan, and the number of people the plan covers. With HealthEE by HBG, you pay this monthly or quarterly.

Prior Authorization, otherwise known as preauthorization and pre certification, is a requirement by health plans for the patient (you) to obtain approval for a health care service or medication before it can be provided. This occurs when the insurer wants to evaluate whether or not the care is medically necessary.  

Policy vs. plans– the insurance policy is the set of rules in place regarding the limits and regulations of your coverage. The insurance plan is the roadmap for your health, considering the policy. In other words, the policy affects what is available within your plan. 

The deductible is the amount you pay before your insurance company steps in. This amount is dwindled by your premium payments. Once you pay the deductible amount through your premium payments or paying for doctor’s visits, your insurance company steps in. A low deductible means your premium prices will be higher, but chances are you will meet your deductible quicker, whereas a high deductible will lower your premium payments. If you don’t go to the doctor, this could be the right choice for you; however, in the case of an emergency, you may be footing the bill on your own.

An IUA or initial uninsurable amount 

An IUA is an amount you pay per a specific medical event before your expenses become sharable. For example, our Common Sense health share plans which can be found here, have IUAs that members are responsible for paying – but have no deductibles.

We could write a novel with how many terms exist within Healthcare and insurance, but we hope these terms bring clarity to your relationship with your coverage. Suppose you have further questions or other phrases you would like clarified. In that case, our Ask Evan advisory team is made up of real people at your disposal to answer questions, provide support, and give you coverage and confidence on your benefit purchasing journey. Click here to schedule a free, noncommittal call with an advisor today.