Insurance Update
February 2013
Issue No. 31  
In This Issue
Your guide to a healthy heart
Sodium and potassium
Take your health personally
Long-Term Care Insurance

Learn what you need to know about heart disease.  


About Us 

Insurance logo 

 A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides ancillary coverage for ministers and other employees of congregations, districts, and camps.
Medical and ancillary plans are 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



How's your heart these days? February is American Heart Month --- a time to remember that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. What can we do this month and every month to help prevent heart disease? The guide to the left can offer some solutions. Provided by the National Institutes of Health, this publication reviews the basics of heart disease and some of the risk factors that you should be aware of.


One simple way to improve your heart health is to reduce your sodium intake. Increased levels of salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, congestive heart failure, and other serious health conditions. Below is an article about sodium consumption and one way to improve your body's sodium situation: consuming more potassium.


Awareness is key in reducing the risk of heart disease and many other health issues. Brethren Insurance Services and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois want to help you know yourself better --- and the areas in which your health could use some improvement. That's why you're offered the chance to take a health questionnaire that will determine where you might want to focus attention on your health.


We hope you and your heart have a happy Valentine's Day!

SignaturesScott, Tammy, and Connie       

Sodium and potassium sodium 

Nearly all Americans eat too much salt. Most of the salt comes from eating processed foods (75 percent), or adding salt to food while cooking and using the salt shaker at meals (5 to 10 percent). On average, the more salt a person eats, the higher his or her blood pressure. Eating less salt is an important way to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which may in turn reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney damage. To reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, eat less processed food and use less salt while cooking and at the table.


Other lifestyle changes may prevent or delay having high blood pressure and may help lower elevated blood pressure. These include eating more potassium-rich foods, losing excess weight, being more physically active, reducing stress triggers, and eating a healthy diet. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.


Did you know that sodium and potassium both impact blood pressure? A diet rich in potassium helps to counterbalance some of sodium's harmful effects on blood pressure.


Older adults should aim for no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. This is about 3/4 teaspoon of salt. You should also try to get 4,700 milligrams of potassium each day. 

Here are some tips for eating less salt and more potassium ---

  • When you're choosing packaged foods, check the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label. Focus on the milligrams of sodium in each serving. Use the Daily Value percentages to help limit your sodium intake. Five percent DV or less is low and 20 percent DV or more is high. You don't want to exceed a total of 65 percent DV for sodium from all foods in a day. Sixty-five percent DV is 1,500 milligrams of sodium.
  • Compare sodium content for similar foods. This can really make a difference. Use the Nutrition Facts label to select brands that are lower in sodium.
  • Use the claims on the front of the food package to quickly identify foods that contain less salt or that are a good source of potassium. Examples include "low in sodium," "very low sodium," and "high in potassium."
  • When you're preparing food at home, use herbs and spices to add flavor to your foods. Don't salt foods before or during cooking --- and limit use at the table.
  • While salt substitutes containing potassium chloride may be useful for some individuals, they can be harmful to people with certain medical conditions. Consult your health care provider before using salt substitutes.
  • When you're eating out, ask that your meal be prepared without added salt or ask your server to identify foods that are made without added salt.

Ranges of sodium content for selected foods  
available in the retail market



Range of Sodium 

Content (mg)

% Daily Value*

for Sodium

Breads, all types

1 ounce

95 - 210

4% - 9%

Frozen pizza, plain cheese

4 ounces

450 - 1,200

19% - 50%

Frozen vegetables, all types

1/2 cup

2 - 160

0% - 7%

Salad dressing, regular fat,

all types

2 Tablespoons

110 - 505

5% - 21%


2 Tablespoons

150 - 240

6% - 10%

Soup (tomato), reconstituted

8 ounces

700 - 1,260

29% - 53%

Tomato juice

8 ounces (~1 cup)

340 - 1,040

14% - 43%

Potato chips  

1 ounce (28.4 grams)

120 - 180

5% - 8%

Tortilla chips

1 ounce (28.4 gram)

105 - 160

4% - 7%


1 ounce (28.4 grams)

290 - 560

12% - 23%

* Daily Value percentages listed in this column are based on the food amounts listed in the table. The DV for sodium is 2,400 mg. 
 All snack foods are regular flavor, salted.
Source: Agriculture Research Service Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17, and recent manufacturers' label data from retail market surveys. Serving sizes were standardized to be comparable among brands within a food category. Pizza and bread slices vary in size and weight across brands.

Note: None of the examples provided were labeled low-sodium products.

Take Your Health Personally.  

Take the Health Assessment!

healthWhat do you take personally in life? Your family? Your work? Sports? A hobby? Consider taking your health personally with the Well onTarget Health Assessment.


Just a few minutes and a few personal details --- how you eat, how you sleep, how you live your life --- can give you a personalized map to your best health, provided by Brethren Insurance Services and BCBSIL. You can know your risks and your best options to avoid them. Your customized Personal Wellness Report can tell you how to go from good to better.


Learn more about yourself

The HA can help you answer questions like ---

* How ready are you to make a change in your habits?

* How well have you been making health choices until now?

* Do you have any health risks because of how you live?


The new Health Assessment consists of nine modules that can be completed all at once or by section. These modules include questions regarding your ---

* Diet

* Tobacco use

* Physical activity

* Emotional health

* Health at work and on the road


What will I need?

It would be helpful --- but not a must --- to have a few more personal details on hand when you begin the HA ---

* Current height and weight

* Systolic (top number) and Diastolic (bottom number) data from your blood pressure reading

* Total cholesterol level

* HDL cholesterol level

* Triglyceride level

* Blood sugar level

* Waist measurement in inches


How will the HA be personalized?

You will begin by answering a set of basic questions. Then, the HA asks more detailed questions based on your first answers. Your health status and lifestyle control which questions you answer, customizing your assessment to your individual needs. Your answers will help tailor the Liveon portal for you with programs that will help you reach your health goals. You can check your progress and earn Life Points twice a year.


What should I do with my results?

After completing the HA, you will receive a confidential Personal Wellness Report. It will help take the guess work out of wellness. The report will show you how you are doing and give you healthy tips. You can also print a Provider Report to share with your doctor. When you know your risks, you can choose your best options to avoid them. When you know your strengths, you can decide to build on them.


Starting your health assessment

To begin filling out your health assessment, simply log in to your account at (click on the "Log In" button and enter your information), and then click on "Health Assessment" in the grey box on the right side of the screen (labeled "Quick Links").

 Long-Term Care InsuranceLTCI


According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, Medicaid underpayments to skilled nursing facilities exceeded $7 billion in 2012. That has a huge impact on nursing homes - and the Medicaid patients who rely on increasingly short supplies of government funding. Will you plan for your retirement now with Long-Term Care Insurance or rely on a federal solution?



We offer Long-Term Care Insurance to all Church of the Brethren employees and members, as well as 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