App Survey

What Do You Want On-the-Go?

We love the convenience of technology as much as you! We are excited to start work on a Health Alliance app that could give you the convenience of Your Health Alliance in the palm of your hand.

But first, we need your help!

Take our survey below and tell us which features would make the app most valuable to you.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Barbeques

Oh, Sweet Summertime Barbecues!

Warm weather and barbecues go hand in hand. With so many tempting foods, it can be work to control your cravings. BBQ sauce, cheese, sweet drinks, and desserts can all be sugar-filled. So, as much as you want to enjoy everything, it’s important to do it in moderation.

Did you know that the average meal at barbecues has over 1,600 calories and 170 grams of carbohydrates?

Of course, meal plans are different from person to person, but the American Diabetes Association (ADA), recommends a normal meal have 45 to 60 grams of carbs. In just two tablespoons of BBQ sauce, you can rack up 15 grams of carbs and 10 grams of sugar. That’s before you even get to the s’mores!

But there are some easy ways to stay on track at summertime barbecues.

Tips for Cutting Calories at Barbecues

Fill your plate using the diabetes plate method. Load at least half your plate with non-starchy veggies, like grilled zucchini and peppers, leaving only a quarter of your plate for starchy veggies like corn and potato salad. Fill the last quarter with proteins like chicken or a turkey burger.

Serve or bring a tray of non-starchy veggies like carrots, celery, tomatoes, peppers and broccoli. Add a non-fat dip like salsa, fat-free dressing, or hummus.

Remember, non-starchy vegetables have about 5 grams of carbohydrate in 1 cup raw (½ cup cooked). These carbs are usually fiber, so unless you eat more than 2 cups raw, you probably don’t need to count the carbs.

Create a salad bar. Leafy greens, low-fat cheese, nuts (almond slices or walnuts), and a side of low-fat salad dressing go great with BBQ.

Pack flavored seltzer water or add fruit wedges to ice-cold water for a healthy and refreshing drink.

Make your own BBQ sauce. Combine:

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup diet cola
  • 1 tablespoon onion flakes or diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

 

For dessert, try this tropical fruit salad with mango-flavored chutney from Diabetes Forecast:

Peeled and diced:

  • 2 small kiwis
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 medium mango

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon mango chutney
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom

 

Happy grilling and check out our Pinterest for more recipes.

Terms Jumble

Long View: Don’t Let Lingo Keep You from the Care You Need

When I was (considerably) younger, I read that a concert I wanted to attend was “SRO.” I was certain that meant “Sold Right Out,” and there was no way we could go. I was disappointed, but hey, you can’t win them all. Years later a friend told me another show was “SRO,” and I only then found out it meant “Standing Room Only.” My misunderstanding became the source of much merriment.

Industry-specific terms, acronyms and lingo are common in almost every business. I know the health insurance business has a lot, but have you ever heard two electricians talk? What about computer repair technicians? It’s all foreign to me.

Terminology, acronyms, and lingo are simply shortcuts for information-sharing between people in the same business. They are not meant to exclude others, but they do. The difference between the terms “copayment” and “coinsurance” can seem small, unless you are the person paying the bill. So, what can we insiders do to lessen the impact and be more inclusive?

About two years ago, Health Alliance started an internal plain language push. We took a close look at our written materials—brochures, guidebooks, letters, our website, and more—and realized we could make things easier to understand. We simplify or explain industry lingo, without losing the important information.

If you’re on the receiving end of lingo, stop and ask for clarification. If that is not possible, jot down a note so you can follow up on your own. This is especially important with your health care. Make sure you understand what your doctors tell you. They are insiders to the medical world, so they might not realize you need more explanation. Always ask questions if you’re confused. Your doctor will appreciate you taking the time to make sure you understand so you can take good care of yourself.

I am sure some of you are frightened to know I am learning how to text on my smartphone. Many of you are familiar with this digital language and its acronyms and lingo, but it’s new to me. Don’t worry, I was pointedly told “LOL” doesn’t mean “lots of love.” LAL (Live and Learn).

(Give this word search on commonly used insurance terms and their definitions a try!)

Up-Serving Together

Vantage Point: Up-Serving is a Win-Win

Most people have heard of up-selling, but what about up-serving? Up-serving is doing more for people than they expect. As the community liaison for Health Alliance Medicare, I have been fortunate to work with many people who continually go above and beyond to improve our communities.

I am nearing my one-year anniversary at Health Alliance Medicare and have been thinking of all the amazing things we’ve accomplished together. I’m so thankful for the chance to work together and enhance the lives of North Central Washington seniors, be it holding a health fair, promoting education, providing resources, or volunteering.

The fun social activities inspire me, like being invited to two-step and waltz at the Okanogan Senior Center dance or attending Friday’s senior coffee and chat at the Wellness Place. How nice to have no agenda except to gather and enjoy each other’s company! There I met Lois, who showed me the scars she still has from floating down the Wenatchee River on an inner tube, and 92-year-old Don, who randomly breaks out in song.

I have met and worked with so many wonderful people, including one of our members who oversees the Cashmere museum. When he saw what the combined spirit of a community could accomplish, he could not help but volunteer.

Recently Les Schwab had a “Do the Right Thing” contest, and I nominated a local dentist. When he heard one of our members needed dental care but couldn’t afford it, he graciously volunteered his services. Upon winning the monetary award, the dentist then paid it forward to community causes he supports.

At Health Alliance Medicare we strive to up-serve by going above and beyond for our members.

Our homey Fifth Street office in Wenatchee is purposeful in its role to provide truly local customer service, but also personal as our members can come in to get face-to-face help. Per one of our members, “It is just reassuring to know it is there.”

I want to personally say thank you for allowing me to partner in the ideas, energies, and resources to improve the communities we serve. I am excited to see what our continued collaboration can accomplish. When we up-serve, we all win.

Calcium and Your Bones

Build Stronger Bones with Calcium and Vitamin D

You might think only people with osteoporosis or weak bones need to worry about getting enough calcium and Vitamin D. If you don’t have osteoporosis, or bone loss, and you eat a well-balanced diet, you’re probably getting the recommended daily amount of both.

But let’s be honest, a lot of us have a diet that is anything but well-balanced. (And no, alternating between frozen pizza and frozen fish sticks does not count as balanced.)

The good news is you don’t have to overhaul your entire diet to keep your bones in great shape. Making a few small changes can help you reach the recommended daily amounts.

Got Milk?

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Milk is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re getting enough calcium and Vitamin D.

An 8 oz. glass of fat-free or low-fat milk has around 30% of the daily recommended amount of calcium and 25% of the recommended Vitamin D. The same goes for calcium-fortified soy milk. Other dairy products like cheese and yogurt, are also rich in both.

The Non-Milky Way

If you are lactose intolerant or just don’t eat dairy, you can still get enough calcium and Vitamin D from your diet.

Try these non-dairy foods for calcium:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Soybeans
  • White beans
  • Okra
  • Collards
  • Some fish, like sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout
  • Calcium-fortified foods, like soy milk, oatmeal, cereal, and some orange juice

And these non-dairy foods for Vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Egg yolks
  • Vitamin D-fortified foods, like orange juice, soy milk, and cereal

If you don’t think you’re getting enough of both from your diet, a supplement could help fill in the gaps.

But more is not always better, and getting too much of either can be harmful to your health. Talk to your doctor to make sure you get the right amount.

For recipes packed with calcium and Vitamin D, check out our Pinterest.

Always Protected from Fire

Protect Yourself by Practicing Home Fire Safety

The U.S. Fire Administration says more than 360,000 fires destroyed homes in the United States in 2010. These fires caused 2,555 deaths and more than 13,000 injuries. Clearly, we should take house fires seriously. Taking small steps can help you stay safe.

One of the most important things you can do is make sure you have working smoke alarms in all major rooms of your home. Most of all, be sure you have one near your bedroom. Change the batteries twice a year, or ask someone to help you change them.

You should also check for possible fire starters. Make sure extension cords are not frayed, and don’t plug too many things into one outlet. In the kitchen, unplug small appliances, like your toaster, when you are not using them. Make sure the hood of your stove is clean and doesn’t have grease buildup. If you have a fireplace, put a screen up to block stray ashes and clean the chimney once a year.

Accidents can still happen. Make sure you know a couple ways to get out of your home if it catches fire. Make sure your house number is visible from the street. This helps firefighters get to you quickly.

Many fire stations will do a safety check at your home for free. Call your local fire department or senior center for details. And check out the sample fire safety checklist from the Urbana Fire Department.

Fires can happen quickly and be deadly. Keep your home secure, and have a safety plan. Some simple steps can go a long way toward keeping you safe.

Home Fire Safety Checklist

GENERAL

____ Are your address numbers visible from the street to permit ease of identification?
____ Are your smoke detectors in working order, batteries changed twice a year?
____  Do you have an escape plan, meeting place, and do you practice it?

 

 ALL HOUSEHOLD AREAS

____  Do you keep your passageway doors shut to reduce fire spread in the event of fire?
____ Are you using extension cords? Limit their use.
____  Check all electrical cords to make sure they are in good condition.
____  Check to make sure outlets are not overloaded.
____  Check all windows to make sure they operate smoothly.
____  Do not allow waste paper and combustibles to collect and become a fire hazard.
____  Ashtrays should be provided for all smokers. They should be disposed of properly.
____  Are your household chemicals stored away from children?
____  Are matches and lighters stored out of reach of children?
____  No combustibles should be stored in the attic.

 

LIVING AREA

____  Does your fireplace have a screen and hearth to protect from flying embers?
____  Has your chimney been cleaned? Is it operating properly?

 

KITCHEN AREA

____  Are all combustibles kept away from the cooking area?
____  Is your range hood clean and vented properly?
____  Are all unused small appliances unplugged when not in use?

 

UTILITY AREA

____  Are your heating ducts properly maintained?
____  Are combustibles stored away from the furnace and water heater?
____  Is your furnace filter clean?
____  Are there any oversized fuses in the fuse box?
____  Are your washer and dryer properly grounded?
____  Do you keep your basement door closed to reduce fire spread in the vent of fire?

 

GARAGE/STORAGE AREA

____  Is there a solid core door separating your garage from the house?
____  Are all flammable liquids stored in the proper containers?
____  Is the gasoline mower properly stored away from ignition sources?

 

OUTSIDE AREA

____  Are there any combustible materials close to the house?
Cleaning Meds Out of the Cabinet

Long View: Leave Prescribing to the Pros – Don’t Mix Your Meds!

I used to visit my aunt and uncle in Missouri whenever I got the chance. They were older but still lived on their own. My uncle Bill took a lot of medicine, as is often the case with a 90-year-old. The problem was my aunt, his caregiver, felt she knew better than his doctor.

She would cut his pills in half because she thought they were making him “groggy.” She also would “prescribe” outdated meds. I found my aunt’s secret stash in a shoe box in the closet.

Both of them also took over-the-counter meds … to keep their joints limber, eyesight sharp and other things she was sure would enhance their golden years. Her approach was dangerous, but I could only help while I was there.

So, what can a caregiver do?

Brad Berberet, acting director of the Health Alliance Pharmacy Department, shared this advice.

“Many people know different drugs can interact with each other, causing unexpected side effects,” he said. “However, most people forget that interactions can occur between prescribed medications and over-the-counter (OTC) medications and herbal supplements.  Patients should let their doctor and their pharmacist know about all OTC and herbal supplements they are taking, especially when they start a new medicine.”

Our chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Parker, shared similar advice.

“When you take medication exactly as prescribed, your doctor can better monitor you for side effects,” he said. “It’s important to be honest with your doctor to assure you have the best chance of a positive, not harmful, impact to yourself or those you love.”

You can help your loved ones get rid of old medicine. Don’t just flush them. Check for places that dispose of drugs safely, like your pharmacy or hospital. Your local senior center may have suggestions.

My PCP does a medicine review every time I have an appointment. Just keeping a list of how much medicine you take and when helps your doctor. You can ask your doctor to make changes to your list so it stays current.

While I’m sure my aunt had the best intentions, her approach to medicine was dangerous. Be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicine, prescription or over-the-counter. Not only will you avoid harmful interactions, but you will probably feel better, too.

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