Category Archives: Benefits

Wedding Planning: From Ceremony to New Life

Vantage Point: Wedding Season Brings Many Changes

Summertime is here, which means wedding season has arrived.

Weddings are filled with so much love and anticipation. These magical ceremonies take so many months of planning and preparation, like figuring out the date, color scheme, invitations, venue, photography, bridal shower, and of course, the guest list.

As the special day arrives, you get to see all of the hard work and planning come together. As the day goes on, the happy couple gets together and dances the first dance, enjoys delicious cake, and takes pictures with all the guests.

As you wind down and look into the future, the next phase of planning begins. This is a new life as you are no longer only thinking about yourself but also about your significant other. Many new married couples move into a new home, which means you might have a new address.

Before putting your new last name on the mailbox, you need to officially change your name. The first step is visiting the Social Security Administration office or mailing in an application for a new Social Security card. Once that is complete, the next stop is the Department of Licensing. This will give you a chance to retake that driver’s license picture you probably didn’t like anyway. It will have a new name and your new married smile, plus your new address.

Once you have changed your name with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Licensing, changing your name with other companies should be a breeze. Places to contact would be your employer’s office, credit card companies, banks, and insurance companies. Now that you are married, your insurance options might change. This is a great time to take another look at your current coverage.

Another very important part of this is to update your Power of Attorney (POA). Since you are officially a new couple, you’ll need to complete a new Power of Attorney. With all the changes in your life, you might want to reconsider who your POA is.

It all seems like a lot of paperwork, but once it is complete, you won’t have to think about it anymore. You can put it behind you and start your new beginning.  Then, you can sit back, relax, reminisce about your wonderful wedding day, and look into the bright new future.  

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

Spring Break with Assist America

Enjoy Spring Break with Peace of Mind Thanks to Assist America

The spring break travel season has arrived! Each year, more than 65 million Americans travel for spring break, and this number continues to grow year after year.

When planning our next trip, the last thing we want to think about is the risk of getting sick or injured and whether good medical care will be available at our destination. We bask in the sun on white-sand beaches, zipline in the jungle, ski in the mountains, camp in the woods, and explore new countries. But the truth is that when getting away from it all, we are usually also away from quality health care.

This is why we offer Emergency Travel Assistance Services, provided by our partner, Assist America. The Assist America program is designed to get you to the best possible care provider in the shortest possible time.

Let’s take a look at how this program works:

A college student from North Carolina was driving to meet his friends for spring break. While jet-skiing, he got into an accident with a sailboat and suffered multiple fractures and a severe concussion. The local hospital he was admitted to at the time of the incident was not capable of appropriately treating such serious injuries. Assist America was notified and evacuated the student via private jet ambulance to an excellent facility capable of treating his injuries. Once he was in stable condition and released from the facility, Assist America arranged and paid for a first class return trip home with a medical escort.

What happened to his car? Assist America looks at all the elements involved in any case. The travel assistance company arranged and paid for an agent to drive the vehicle to the student’s home, so that it would be available to him upon his return and recovery.

As a general rule, remember that Assist America provides the following services:

  • Medical referrals
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Hospital admission assistance
  • Medical monitoring
  • Medical or non-medical escorts
  • Compassionate visit
  • Care of minor children
  • Repatriation
  • Return of mortal remains
  • Prescription assistance
  • Lost luggage assistance
  • Language assistance
  • Return of vehicle
  • Legal referrals
  • Pre-trip planning

Travel Assistance plans are not all the same, and here are the reasons why we partner with Assist America to offer the right plan that works for our members:

  • With Assist America, members will not be charged for the services provided. Assist America pays for all of the services it arranges.
  • Members can travel anywhere in the world, from the most remote places to areas at risk, Assist America has no geographical exclusions.
  • While some plans have strict exclusions for pre-existing conditions, Assist America will not exclude a member because of past or existing health issues.
  • Members can be adventurous with peace-of-mind, knowing that Assist America will be there if needed, no matter what sport or activity members do.
  • Many plans have dollar limits on how much they will pay for a service, such as a medical evacuation – Assist America does not.

Make this year’s spring break memorable by having fun and helping yourself and your family stay safe and healthy. When leaving for your spring break vacation, remember to download the free Assist America Mobile App for Android and iPhone for immediate connection with Assist America’s 24/7 Operation Center and access to a wide range of services.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Holiday Travel with Kids

The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Travel with Kids

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation, after Thanksgiving, the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period is among the busiest travel periods of the year. During this time of year, the number of long-distance trips increases by 23% compared to the rest of the year’s average. We can help your family have smooth travels with our ultimate guide to holiday travel with kids.

Traveling during such busy times is usually stressful, especially if you add children into the mix. Whether you’re planning a long drive to the grandparents or traveling across time zones this holiday season, these suggestions from Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner, will keep your family safe, sound, and sane.

Entertainment

  • Apps – Make sure you download kid-friendly apps before the journey.
  • Toys – Coloring books, finger puppets, stacking cups, magic markers, make-believe computer or phone, and sticker books are great options.
  • Games – Our favorites include Bananagrams, Spot It, Mad Libs, Rubberneckers, Melissa and Doug Travel Hangman, and Travel Blurt.
  • Headphone Splitters – Headphones splitters allow two kids to share a device. They’re very practical in situations where it’s inappropriate to use speakers, like on a plane.

Safety and Comfort

  • Hand Sanitizer and Wet Wipes – Kids get dirty very easily when traveling. Eliminate these germs fast by being prepared with wipes and sanitizer, and improve your chances of avoiding a holiday bug.
  • Child Locator – Busy airports and train stations can quickly turn into a nightmare if your child gets lost. Many companies offer small tracking devices and smartwatches to help you locate them quickly in such a situation.
  • Medicine and First Aid Kit – It’s very important to be able to attend to your child quickly when they’re hurt or sick. Make sure you’re prepared before you leave by putting together a first aid kit and packing must-have medicine.
  • Ease Ear Pain – During takeoff and landing, give your kids a gummy candy, chewy food, chewing gum (if they’re old enough), or a drink to get their jaw moving and ease their ear pain.
  • Temperature – Layers are essential for the comfort of your children, especially on the plane where it can often be cold.

Planning

  • Passports – Keep in mind, children’s passport expiration periods are different than adult passports. Make sure you renew them 6 months before you plan to travel.
  • Monitor What Your Children Pack – Chances are they’ll want to bring many unnecessary things, which will make traveling uncomfortable for everyone.
  • Carry-On Tips – Pack at least one extra outfit for each child in case an accident happens. If you lose your luggage, the extra outfits will also help you avoid buying new clothes for the entire family. In the meantime, remember that Assist America can help you locate and retrieve your lost luggage. Finally, plan on bringing snacks like granola bars, cheerios, individual cheese and crackers packs, applesauce, or individual hummus cups.
  • Bring Surprises – Children love surprises and unwrapping things, and an early holiday gift could be used as a reward for good behavior.

About Assist America

Our plans include Assist America, a unique global emergency assistance program. They serve more than 40 million members worldwide. Their services include medical and non-medical services, like medical evacuations and repatriations, prescription assistance, medical referral, lost luggage assistance, and pre-trip information. Visit AssistAmerica.com or download the Assist America Mobile App on the Apple App Store or Google Play to access a wide range of travel assistance services directly from your phone.

Covered Pregnancy Preventive Care

Your Pregnancy Preventive Care

If you’re pregnant or may become pregnant, you also have access to specific pregnancy preventive care as part of your health insurance.

If you’re not pregnant, you can talk to your doctor about this care at your yearly well-woman visit.

If you think you’re pregnant or have a positive home pregnancy test, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to confirm your pregnancy and get started with prenatal care. Your OB-GYN, who will be your primary doctor for your pregnancy, will help you with pregnancy-specific preventive care.

Preventive Care If You May Become Pregnant

  • Anemia screening – On a routine basis
  • Syphilis screening
  • Gonorrhea screening – For all women at higher risk
  • Urinary tract or other infection screening
  • Contraception – FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling as prescribed by a healthcare provider for women who could get pregnant

Pregnancy Preventive Care

  • Child birth
  • Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling from trained providers and access to breastfeeding supplies – For pregnant and nursing women
  • Folic acid supplements – For women who may become pregnant
  • Expanded tobacco intervention and counseling – For pregnant tobacco users
  • Gestational diabetes screening – For women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes
  • Hepatitis B screening – For pregnant women at their first prenatal visit
  • Rh Incompatibility screening and follow-up testing for those at higher risk – For all pregnant women

Know What’s Covered

Log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your member number to see what preventive care your plan covers.

Or use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can also check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Log in to Your Health Alliance to find a covered doctor, or start searching for doctors in our network.

Going to Your Well-Woman Visit

You and Your Well-Woman Visit

Your insurance covers an annual well-woman visit. But what exactly does that mean?

Your yearly well-woman visit can be either a combination of your annual physical and care specific to you as a woman or a separate appointment for just that care.

Preventive Care at Your Well-Woman Visit

Your plan covers a lot of preventive care and screenings, many of which you’ll get at your yearly physical. But for some of the care, you’ll probably want to schedule a separate well-woman visit with a specialist, like a gynecologist, or even multiple appointments with your doctor and different specialists.

Depending on timing and what your doctor recommends, this care includes:

Screenings & Care
  • Osteoporosis screening – For women over age 60, depending on risk factors. Beginning at age 65, you should get this bone density test annually.
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
Cancer Screenings & Counseling
  • Breast cancer genetic test counseling (BRCA) – For women at higher risk.
  • Breast cancer mammography screenings – Every 1 to 2 years for women starting at age 50 until at least 74. Most clinics require a referral from your primary care provider (PCP) or gynecologist for mammograms.
  • Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling – For women at higher risk.
  • Cervical cancer screening – If you’re between the ages of 21 and 65, your doctor should review your history to choose a Pap smear schedule for you.
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Screenings
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling – For sexually active women.
  • Chlamydia infection screening – Women age 25 or younger and sexually active should get tested annually. If you’re older, talk to your doctor about being tested.
  • Gonorrhea screening – For all women at higher risk.
  • HIV screening and counseling – For sexually active women.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test – Every 3 years for women with normal cytology results who are 30 or older.
  • Syphilis screening – For women at increased risk.

And if you’re pregnant or may become pregnant, there’s even more preventive care covered for you.

Prepare for Your Visit

Preparing with questions, and answers to your doctor’s questions, can help you make the most of your visit.

Know Your Family History

Talk to your family members, especially your mom, about your family’s history of women’s health issues. For example, as a woman, you’re more likely to get breast cancer if it’s genetic on your mom’s side of the family. So knowing this information can help your doctor keep an eye out for genetic issues you’re at risk for.

Talk to Your Doctor

Prepare for your appointment by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk to your doctor about. Some things you might want to ask include:

  • What immunizations or shots you need, like the HPV vaccine
  • If you should get STI screenings
  • Help getting pregnant or birth control options
  • How to do self-exams to regularly check for breast cancer
  • Mental and social health concerns, like relationship issues or domestic violence questions
  • Specific issues you might be having, like problems with your menstruation or abnormal pain or cramping

Know What’s Covered

Log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your member number to see what preventive care your plan covers.

Or use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs or our Medicare preventive care guidelines to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can also check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready to go to your well-woman visit, log in to Your Health Alliance to find a covered doctor, or start searching for doctors in our network.

Your Preventive Care

Your Yearly Preventive Care and Physical

Getting your yearly physical, where you can get covered preventive care and screenings, helps you be your healthiest. It’s important that you not only know what’s recommended for your age and what you need to stay up to date, but also that you get to the doctor for this each year!

What Happens at Your Physical

Each year, you should schedule a physical with your doctor to focus on your health and wellness. At the appointment, you can:
  • Keep track of your health habits and history
  • Get a physical exam
  • Stay up-to-date with preventive care
  • Get education and counseling and set health goals

Health Habits & History

One of the first things that happens at your annual appointment is a nurse or your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your health and family history, including questions about:
  • Your medical history
  • Your family history
  • Your sexual health and partners
  • Your eating and exercise habits
  • Your use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
  • Your mental health history, including depression
  • Your relationships and safety
This info can help you in the future. From getting diagnosed to being protected and helping you in an emergency, this information can help save your life.

Physical Exam

At your yearly physical, you can expect your doctors or nurses to:
  • Measure your height and weight
  • Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to check if you’re at a healthy weight
  • Take your blood pressure and temperature
From there, your doctor may give you your regular preventive care screenings and shots or refer you to a specialist for certain screenings, counseling, or care.

Preventive Care

As an adult, certain preventive care and screenings are covered for you, depending on timing and what your doctor recommends.
Immunizations (Shots)
Doses, recommended timing, and need for certain immunizations can vary based on your case:
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu shot
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Herpes Zoster
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)
Condition Screenings & Care
  • Aspirin use – To prevent heart disease for adults of a certain ages
  • Cholesterol screening – For adults of certain ages or at higher risk
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Type 2 diabetes screening – For adults with high blood pressure
  • Colorectal cancer screening – For adults over 50
  • Depression screening
Weight Management
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Diet counseling – For adults at higher risk for chronic disease
Alcohol & Tobacco Use
  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
  • Tobacco use screening – For all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users
  • Lung cancer screening – For adults 55 to 80 at high risk for lung cancer because they’re heavy smokers or have quit in the past 15 years
  •  Abdominal aortic aneurysm – A one-time screening for men of certain ages who have ever smoked
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Screenings
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling  – For adults at higher risk
  • Hepatitis B screening – For people at high risk, including people from countries with 2% or more Hepatitis B prevalence, and American-born people not vaccinated as infants and with at least one parent born in a region with 8% or more Hepatitis B prevalence
  • Hepatitis C screening – For adults at increased risk and once for everyone born from 1945 to 1965
  • HIV screening – For everyone ages 15 to 65 and other ages at increased risk
  •  Syphilis screening – For adults at higher risk
Women also have some additional covered screenings and benefits. Get more details about this specific preventive care while learning about your well-woman visits. And learn more about what preventive care the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends you get and when.

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your doctor can help you manage your conditions or diseases and prevent future problems by talking to you about your life and health each year. Your doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, advice, and information to help you take care of yourself or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help you further. Your doctor is also the perfect person to help you set goals to maintain or improve your health. From quitting smoking and knowing how to self-check for cancer to changing your diet and exercise for your weight, cholesterol, or blood pressure, your doctor can help you plan to be your healthiest.

Prepare for Your Visit

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of your visit.

Know Your Family History

Your family’s history of health and wellness is an important part of your own health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more. This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor

Prepare for your appointment by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask:
  • What immunizations or shots you need
  • Your diet and eating healthy food
  • Advice for exercise and getting active
  • Mental health concerns, like depression and anxiety
  • Specific issues you might be having, like sore joints, back pain, migraines, and more

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about your covered immunizations. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your member number to see what preventive care your plan covers. You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs or our Medicare preventive care guidelines to get an idea of what our plans cover. If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance. Now that you’re ready to go to your annual physical, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) and find a covered doctor, or start searching for doctors in our network.