Sunscreen, Skin Cancer and Staying Cool

Summer kick off with a skin cancer check

Most everyone wants to get outside during warm summer days. When you do go out in the sun, don't forget to protect your skin (with sunscreen, clothing and a wide-brimmed hat) and stay hydrated.

Hot Tip for Keeping Cool: It takes 7 to 10 days for your body to adapt to a change in temperature. If you usually exercise indoors or in cooler weather, or if you’re new to exercise, be extra cautious when you exercise in the heat. Start slow. Take breaks. And help your body cool down by drinking water frequently.


Prepare for Summer

Kick off your summer with a…skin check.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S.  A screening by a dermatologist can help spot issues early, preventing this disease or catching it at an early stage.

Your dermatologist visit will either be covered with a copay if you’re in a Choice Plus plan, or it will count toward your annual deductible and then covered with coinsurance if you are in the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

Let your doctor know if you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as:

  • Spots or moles that change, itch or bleed
  • New spots or moles

Also make your doctor aware of:

  • Past severe sunburns, especially during childhood
  • A personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Artificial sunlight exposure, such as use of tanning beds

More than Skin Deep

Skin cancer that is recognized and treated early is often curable. Left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and become more serious and difficult to treat.

When you reach for sunscreen, look for:

  • SPF 15 or higher
  • Avobenzone, zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide
  • Water resistance
  • Broad-spectrum coverage (blocks ultraviolet A and B rays)

In general, sunscreens with at least SPF 30 are reimbursable through a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). For specifics, go to or call 1-800-232-9357. For information on sunscreen ratings, check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Sunscreen Guide.

QUICK TIP: Sunscreen expires!

Toss anything you’ve had for over 2 years.

  • Don’t let allergies spoil your summer. See a doctor to get tested for your triggers. Your Columbia medical plan covers allergy testing
  • Consider allergen-proof pillows; the difference in cost between regular and allergen-proof pillows can be reimbursed from a Healthcare FSA or HSA when your doctor deems them medically necessary.
  • Wear oversized sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes on windy days. The cost of prescription sunglasses can be paid using an HSA or FSA.
  • Plan activities and exercise past sundown when pollen counts are lower

School's Out

Summer presents new schedules and routines. If your children have allergies, be sure they have access to their medications at camp, on vacation and while traveling.

…you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Symptoms can include muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, confusion, excessive thirst and a weak, rapid pulse.

To avoid overheating when outdoors, wear light colors and lightweight clothing, take breaks in the shade and make sure you stay hydrated—especially if you are engaged in sports or other physical activities.  

If you or someone else appears to have heat exhaustion, spray yourself or them with cool water and seek out an air-conditioned space. If there’s no improvement within an hour, call 911 and seek emergency medical treatment.