Tag Archives: education

Happy Medicare New Year

Steps to a Happy “Medicare” New Year

Winter preparations are done. Winter festivals have ended, and end-of-year holiday celebrations are over. Just when you think you can sit back and relax, there is still one last item you may need to consider.

If you made any Medicare changes during the past Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7), there are some actions you can take that may help you have a happy Medicare new year.

If you enrolled in a new plan or your plan had changes during the Annual Enrollment Period, you should make sure you’ve received your new member ID card. This card contains the newest info for your 2019 care. Be sure to show your new ID card to the doctor’s office and pharmacist on your first visit of the new year so that they have your newest information on file. It’s also worth mentioning that with the new cards for the new year can come new deductibles (depending on the plan you choose), which start over at the beginning of the year.

If you decided to stay with Original Medicare, you’ll still use your Medicare card for hospital and doctor services. If you have not received the new Medicare card that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began issuing in April 2018, be on the lookout because they are all scheduled to be mailed by April 2019.

If you joined a Medicare prescription drug plan that works with Original Medicare, then the plan will mail you a card so you can fill your prescriptions. If you joined a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO, PPO, or POS), you’ll also get a new card to use for both healthcare visits (doctor and hospital) and for picking up your prescriptions.

If you need medical care or need to fill a prescription before you receive the ID card but after the effective coverage date, you may be able to use other proof of plan membership. Some examples are the welcome letter you got from the plan or even your enrollment confirmation number and the plan name and phone number.

If you elected to have your plan premium withheld from your Social Security check, don’t be alarmed if you don’t see it deducted right away. It may take up to 3 months from the time you made the premium withhold request before you start seeing your premium withheld from your Social Security payment.

The 2019 year is a great time to take advantage of your one-time “Welcome to Medicare” or annual wellness visit your plan offers to you. This benefit is usually no cost to you! It is designed as a preventive measure to help you take charge of your health, be advised of future needed preventive services, and establish a baseline for personalized care. And speaking of preventive measures, many Medicare Advantage plans come with a fitness benefit or provide access to physical fitness activities at no cost to you.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Fall Prevention Tips

Fall Prevention Tips

Falls cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and over 95% of hip fractures in older adults, and winter weather is just one reason for them. This week’s fall prevention tips can help you protect yourself and loved ones.

Get your eyes checked each year, and always keep your glasses prescription as up to date as possible.

Healthy Vision

 

Ask your doctor to review all your meds and see if there are other options for any drugs that might be increasing your risk of falling.

Your Medication

 

Fall-proof your home. Adding grab bars in the bathroom and railings to stairs and improving the lighting in your home can make a huge difference.

Fall Proof Your Home

 

Get enough calcium and Vitamin D with foods and drinks like dairy, soy milk, orange juice, and salmon, or take a regular supplement.

Nutrition and Weight Management Resources

 

Get tested for osteoporosis, which can increase your risk of falls and serious injuries from falling.

Remove clutter. A messy house can actually increase your chance of falling at home.

Warning Signs of Hoarding

 

Get active! There are great options and resources for getting healthy at any age. Tai chi is especially helpful for improving your balance and leg strength.

Your Ultimate Guide to Fall Prevention

Holiday Safety Travel Tips

Holiday Safety Travel Tips

As you gear up for December travel, these holiday safety travel tips can help you stay healthy as you visit loved ones.

Stay healthy before, during, and after your travel with these simple healthy holiday tips.

‘Tis the Season to Be Merry and Healthy with Healthy Holiday Tips!

 

Making a drive this holiday season? Make sure you’re prepared.

Vantage Point: The Gift of Preparedness

 

Sudden snowstorm popping up on your holiday drive? Be prepared and know how to drive in the snow with these winter driving tips from AAA.

Fly nonstop whenever you can. People are more likely to get stranded at airports during holiday storms in layover cities. If you’re worried about being stranded, book a hotel reservation you can cancel ahead of time so you’re not scrambling when the storm hits.

Don't Get Stranded During Holiday Travel

 

Keep your phone or devices charged so that you can keep track of delays and the weather, call loved ones for help, or book emergency hotel reservations. Keep your chargers and a charging battery handy if you have battery issues.

Traveling with Your Charged Device

 

Follow the airline and airports on social media and check their feeds before and during your travel. You’ll be the first to get info about delays and gate changes, and they may be able to help you if you contact them with travel issues.

Airline and Airport Social Media Help

 

If you have an emergency while traveling this holiday season, know that you’re covered as a Health Alliance member with our partner Assist America.

Covered During Emergencies While Traveling

AIDS Awareness Month

AIDS Awareness Month

December is AIDS Awareness Month, and more than 1 million Americans are living with HIV, but 1 in 5 aren’t aware they’re infected.

Learning About AIDS

 

HIV has not disappeared since it was an epidemic. Every 9.5 minutes, someone in the U.S. is infected. It’s important to continue to raise awareness and fund education.

Continuing to Educate About AIDS

 

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. Eventually, it can destroy enough T cells that the body can’t fight off infections or other diseases.

Attacking T-Cells

 

The worst version of an HIV infection is AIDS, and those suffering from it get severe illnesses because their immune system is so damaged.

Damaged Immune Systems

 

In the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began, those who contracted HIV weren’t likely to live more than a few years. Now, thanks to antiretroviral therapy, their quality of life is much better.

Improving AIDS Quality of Life

 

Antiretroviral therapy helps stop HIV from multiplying. Patients’ immune cells can then live longer and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.

People at high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS can take PrEP to help prevent infection.

Protect Yourself with PrEP

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

It’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, and the ability to drive safely can be affected by changes in our physical, emotional, and cognitive health. Although these changes are part of normal aging, they can affect each individual at different rates.

Just as one plans for retirement, it’s important to plan for your transportation needs.

Planning for Future Transportation

 

December is the perfect time to have a conversation with loved ones as you come together for the holidays.

Talking to Family About Driving As They Age

 

When an older driver decides it’s time for a check-up, useful driving fitness education tools can help identify challenges and help them adjust.

Evaluate Your Ability to Drive As You Age

 

Driving intervention plans, drawn up between a client and therapist, can help older individuals drive safely for as long as possible.

When someone needs to adjust to keep driving or can no longer drive, family and friends can help with resources for independent transportation in the community.

Planning for a Future Without Driving

 

Exploring alternative types of transportation can help older adults stay independent. Options can include community networks, public transit, and ride sharing apps.

Resources to Stay Independent

 

Vision problems and certain medications can also cause issues driving early. Talk to your doctor to get help.

Health Issues and Driving As You Age

Prepare for Holiday Travel

Vantage Point: The Gift of Preparedness

The holidays provide the perfect time for people to be out and about, traveling to various destinations.

You think about if you have all the gifts and various outfits with you in case different events arise. Did your family members pack what they need, and did you pack your toothbrush? Those are all very important things to focus on, but have you thought about what you might need if something during your travels goes awry?

Do you have what you need to make it through an unplanned emergency? Yes, I know it’s not fun to think about things that could go wrong. But if you do, it just might help or even be lifesaving, depending on the circumstance. Just one tip to remember when you’re playing the mental game of what could go wrong that I like to remember: not fear, just prepare. Don’t live in fear. Just try to have the basics covered.

Let’s imagine that you’re taking a holiday trip by car to visit family. Let’s say that they are pretty far away, a few hours, and the weather hasn’t been the greatest lately, but today it’s OK. They are forecasting snow closer to where your family lives, but you think you’ll beat the snow by an hour or so. But what if you don’t?

What if the car breaks down, and it throws your timeline off, and you do encounter that snowstorm? And what if you didn’t break down, but the storm is worse than predicted, and you can’t get to your destination? Do you have the supplies you’d need to get help or wait out the storm?

I know it’s literally impossible to plan for all the potential issues, but thinking of it in categories can help you plan the best items to have for you and your family. Think shelter, food, and water as a basic start. Your vehicle can hopefully be your shelter, so what about the other variables?

  • Stay hydrated and fed. 

    Because you’re traveling, you might pass through an area where there aren’t any stores close by, and now the family is hungry, and it doesn’t look like you’ll be moving toward your destination anytime soon. The first item you should think about having with you is water. It’s always smart to have water, from a few jugs or bottles to a whole case. You can never go wrong having extra handy. Next you should think about food. These can range from snack items to protein bars and high-calorie survival bars.

     
  • Keep warm. 

    Because you’re traveling in the winter in our imagined scenario, it’s probably going to be cold in your area. If something happens where you lose the heat in your car, do you have supplies to keep everyone warm? You might think about having warm blankets, hand warmer packets, layers of clothes to put on, and a thermos of warm soup, water, cocoa, or coffee. (And this isn’t the be-all-end-all list, but just some ideas to get you thinking!)

If you’re thinking that those are great starter ideas, but you might need more robust supplies, there are plenty of things out there to help. Winter travel kits at the local box stores make it easy to be prepared in a variety of situations. You can also search for more winter car travel safety tips online.

The possibilities are endless, and you really can tailor your needs to your family and their well-being. Happy travels!

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

National Marrow Awareness Month

National Marrow Awareness Month

November is National Marrow Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate the doctors, researchers, and donors helping fight back against marrow-based diseases. Learn more about which diseases can be treated by bone marrow transplants.

Bone marrow is the tissue inside your bones that helps make blood cells. White blood cells help fight infections, red blood cells help carry oxygen throughout your body, and platelets help to control bleeding.

Bone Marrow and Blood Cells

 

A bone marrow transplant replaces unhealthy marrow with healthy marrow from a donor. Learn more about the most common types of transplants.

Types of Bone Marrow Transplants

 

Bone marrow transplants can treat blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma, bone marrow diseases like anemia, or other immune system or genetic disease like sickle cell disease. Learn more about how marrow donation works.

What BMT Treat

 

Are you a patient facing a bone marrow transplant or a caregiver of someone who is? Learn more about the process, from the first steps to life after a transplant.

Patients and Caregivers and BMT

 

Becoming a donor is an important decision. Learn more about the process and the support you can get as a donor.

Becoming a Bone Marrow Donor

 

Even if you can’t be a donor, you can still join the National Marrow Donor Program’s community to help.