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Dealing with New Year Changes and Challenges

The old year is gone and 2024 is now here. The start of the new year brings changes and challenges that all healthcare patients need to address.

What types of changes and challenges might you face in the coming year? Read on to learn more.

Post-Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be stressful for many patients, especially those dealing with addiction issues. The combination of tempting holiday parties, potentially conflict-laden family get-togethers, being away from home for periods of time, and other changes in routine can result in anxiety, depression, and loneliness—all of which can trigger addictive behavior.

Recovering patients may be offered alcohol or illicit drugs or feel the need to engage in ill-considered behavior. Patients on the edge may be tempted to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with these stresses. That makes the post-holiday season a tough time of year for a large part of our patient base.

How can you deal with this post-holiday stress? The key is to stay on your successful routine and avoid triggering situations. Make sure you have a supportive and sober friend or counselor to talk to and make time to take care of yourself. 

Winter Aches and Pains

Winter weather comes with its own set of physical challenges. Frigid temperatures, shoveling snow, and other cold weather-related activities (even fun ones, like skiing and ice skating) can exacerbate the chronic pain that many of our patients experience. Coping with winter can be a pain (pun intended) for many of our patients. 

If you suffer from chronic pain, do your best to avoid activities that can make your pain worse. If you can, hire someone else to shovel your sidewalks and driveway. Resist the temptation to go skating or skiing. Walk gingerly on icy sidewalks and parking lots to reduce the risk of falling. And, if all else fails, stay inside—and bundle up against the cold!

Changes in Insurance

January is traditionally a month of change for the health insurance industry. Many employers change their group insurance plans at the start of the year. Medicare Blue Plus members will also be getting new ID numbers and insurance cards. In addition, January is also the start of a new insured period for MNSure healthcare plans.

If your healthcare plan has changed, make sure you let us know on your next visit. Notify the receptionist that you have a new or different insurance plan and let us scan your new insurance card. This will avoid any billing or prescription-related issues that might crop up with your new plan.

Busy Pharmacies—and Longer Wait Times

The new insurance plan period places a lot of stress on the entire healthcare system, including pharmacies. You may experience longer lines and wait times at your regular pharmacy, which can be frustrating and time-consuming. You may also find that a given medication is temporarily out-of-stock at your preferred pharmacy, necessitating moving your prescription to a different pharmacy. And if your prescription requires prior authorization, you might find that this process takes longer than normal.

There's not much you can do about this situation other than try to be patient. Things should get back to normal within a month or so as everybody's new insurance information gets put into the system. Until then, try to stay on top of your prescriptions so you can avoid last-minute issues. 

Ringing in the New Year with Valley Medical and Wellness

The staff at Valley Medical and Wellness is here to help guide you through your new year challenges. If you have any questions or problems, reach out to us via Klara, phone (612-444-3000), or email ( We wish all of our patients a very Happy New Year and hope that 2024 is one of your best years yet!

Michael Miller Michael Miller Michael Miller is a Business Process Writer at Valley Medical and Wellness. He's an established writer with more than 200 books and thousands of articles published over the past three decades. He writes on a variety of topics, from healthcare to technology to music. He is also a member of the Interstellar Foundation, dedicated to telling the story of humankind via NASA spacecraft traveling beyond the solar system.

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