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Children's Preventive Care

Your Children’s Preventive Care and Physicals

Getting your kids to their physicals and checkups, where they can get covered children’s preventive care and screenings, helps them be their healthiest. It’s important not only that you know what’s recommended for their ages and what they need to stay up to date, but also that you get them to the doctor for this on the right schedule.

What Happens at Their Physical

Your child needs to have regular wellness visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your child is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their health information and history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Visit Schedule

Your baby needs to go to well-baby visits at:

  • 1 month old
  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 months old
  • 9 months old

Children need to visit their doctor at:

Adolescents and teens should visit the doctor at least once a year:

Choose a visit from the lists above to learn more about what will happen at that visit.

Children’s Preventive Care

Certain children’s preventive care and screenings are always covered, depending on timing and what your doctor recommends.

Newborns

  • Gonorrhea preventive medication
  • Hearing screening
  • Hemoglobinopathies or sickle cell screening
  • Hypothyroidism screening
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU) screening

Babies and Small Children

0 to 11 months
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Oral health risk assessment
  • Iron supplements for children ages 6 to 12 months at risk for anemia

Children

1 to 4 years
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Oral health risk assessment
  • Iron supplements for children ages 6 to 12 months at risk for anemia
  • Autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months
  • Developmental screening for children under age 3
5 to 10
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Oral health risk assessment

Adolescents/Teenagers

11 to 14
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Hepatitis B screening for adolescents at high risk
  • Alcohol and drug use assessments
  • Cervical dysplasia screening for sexually active females
  • Depression screening
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention
  • counseling and screening for adolescents at higher risk
15 to 17
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Blood pressure screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Medical history
  • Tuberculin testing
  • Hepatitis B screening for adolescents at high risk
  • Alcohol and drug use assessments
  • Cervical dysplasia screening for sexually active females
  • Depression screening
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention
  • counseling and screening for adolescents at higher risk

General

  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Hematocrit or hemoglobin screening
  • Lead screening for children at risk of exposure
Dental and Vision

Plans that meet the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits also include some vision and dental coverage:

  • Dental exam every 6 months
  • Cleanings, fluoride treatments, and X-rays
  • Fluoride chemoprevention supplements for children without fluoride in their water source
  • Yearly vision screening for all children
  • Most people can get help with their child’s glasses or contacts on their plan too

You can also buy extra dental coverage to add to your plan for a low monthly cost.

Immunizations

Vaccines, or shots, are an important part of your children’s preventive care. These should be delivered on a specific schedule to make sure your kids are protected at every age. Shots that are listed more than once at different ages include multiple doses to finish the vaccine.

Newborn
  • Hepatitis B
1 to 2 month
  • Hepatitis B
2, 4, and 6 months
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)
  • Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal conjugate
  • Rotavirus
6 to 18 months
  • Hepatits B
  • Polio
  • 2 flu shots (6 months or older)
12 months and older
  • 12 to 15
    • Hib
    • Pneumococcal conjugate
    • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
    • Varicella (Chickenpox)
  • 12 to 18
    • DTaP
  • 12 to 23
    • Hepatitis A
18 months and older
  • Hepatits A
  • Flu shot once a year
4 to 6 years
  • DTaP
  • Polio
  • MMR
  • Varicella
  • Flu shot once a year
11 to 12
  • Tdap (booster to DTaP)
  • Meningococcal A, C, W, and Y (MenACWY)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – 2 doses
  • Flu shot once a year
16 years
  • MenACWY
  • Flu shot once a year
18 years
  • Meningococcal B (MenB) – Talk to your child’s doctor to find out if they need this vaccine.
  • Flu shot once a year

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and enter your child’s birth date to get a customized shot schedule.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your children. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your child’s member number to see what children’s preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can 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 check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your children’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

Change in the Air

Vantage Point: Change Is Near

As our days get shorter, our nights get longer, the temperature drops, and the cool crisp air hits our faces, we know winter is approaching. It’s also a reminder that the year is about to end, and a busy time is coming.

Our grocery lists start to get longer as we start preparing for Thanksgiving. We begin our research for recipes to outdo our dessert from last year. Then, we gather with our family and friends, share what we’re all thankful for, and of course, enjoy a delicious meal.

I personally start to reflect on the year I’ve had. Was this a good year? What would I do differently? Did my health change? Do I need to look at my coverage?

As you all know, we’re in the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. This is the time for you to reassess what type of coverage you might need for the upcoming year.

In September and October, Medicare beneficiaries’ mailboxes were full of marketing materials from many different insurance companies. So much information is provided that it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s coming in. Each company has different prices, networks, copays, and perks.

It’s hard to handle all of this alone. Your family might be able to try to help sort everything out, but even then, it is a hard task to take on without any background knowledge. You want to make sure you’re making the right decision for the year ahead and that you’re not missing out on the perfect plan for yourself. Who should you turn to?

Luckily, Health Alliance Northwest has a local office in Wenatchee with a staff ready to assist current or future members. Our local office is a great asset to our community. We know insurance is already hard, and getting help over the phone can be an added barrier. We’re able to sit down with you and your family to answer and explain any questions you might have.

Our Wenatchee office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and no appointment is needed to sit down with our representatives. We want to help educate you, put you at ease before the holidays begin, and make sure you’re ready for a new year.

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

Chronic Back Pain

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

The Opioid Epidemic and Chronic Back Pain

Over the last year, the leading news story in health care has been the opioid epidemic. And chronic pain, particularly chronic back pain, has been at the top of the list of reasons why people use opioids long term. 

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks, and for many, it’s pain that can last the rest of their lives. Chronic pain can happen because of a genetic problem or disorder or an injury or accident. Many people who survive serious car accidents or workplace accidents deal with chronic pain for the rest of their lives. 

And back injuries are a leading cause of chronic pain. Business Insider took a look at a study that dug into the relationship between chronic back pain and opioid use disorder:

Amino - Chronic Back Pain and Opioid Use Disorder

Having back surgery increases your chances of relying on opioids to manage pain by over 7 times! Other back problems raise your chances by over 2 times. 

Obviously, these are also people who are likely to get long-term opioid prescriptions from their doctors.

How Doctors Treat Chronic Pain

For decades, the standard for doctors has been to treat this kind of ongoing pain with opioids. Now, with opioid drug overdoses skyrocketing, doctors are making changes.

Early estimates show that opioids took 53,000 American lives in 2016, more than those killed in car accidents.

Opioids don’t just turn off your pain receptors. They also let your brain release more dopamine, which can help relieve stress and anxiety and make you happier.

But when you take an opioid permanently, you can build a tolerance to it, which means you need more and more to manage your pain and to feel good. Both the pain relief for chronic sufferers and the way it makes you feel can become addictive.

Not to mention, opioids can change how often certain neurons in your brain fire, which means that when you’re not on opioids, you actually get more anxious and unhappy until you take more, causing serious withdrawals. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised their guidelines to help doctors try other treatments first, and doctors are hard at work to find new ways to treat pain.

Waiting for Chronic Back Pain

So why is this part of my healthy journey? I have my own chronic back pain.

I’m lucky. I’ve never taken opioids for my back pain, so I’ve avoided those issues, but I do understand what it’s like to live with pain as a part of your daily life and why people would be willing to take opioids to stop it.

My father has had a slipped disc in his back my entire life. I’ve always known what back pain looks like. I also always thought it might happen to me. Not only can these issues be hereditary, but I also take after my father physically.

Combine that with the slouch of someone who hated always being the tallest in her class as a child and now sits in front of a computer all day, and I always suspected that back problems were coming for me.

My Chronic Back Pain

The pain started for me in college, when I was no longer playing sports or working out in P.E. every day. One year, I chose to live in the loop in Chicago instead of by my campus, so as part of my daily commute, I walked about an hour and a half. That was when I really started to throw out my back once in a while.

But it wasn’t until I worked at Starbucks after college that I really started to have serious problems regularly. Being on my feet all day and bending up and down with milk jugs all the time really started to take a toll on my back.

I’ll get building back pain on one side of my lower back. It can switch sides, and one side is usually worse than the other. And when it fully goes out, my knee on that side can sometimes buckle, which if I’m not ready for it, can actually knock me down. And sometimes it’s so bad that getting out of bed, getting up and down, or just falling asleep, is a challenge. 

Getting Help

I’ve always known this pain might hit me one day, and when it started, I talked to my dad a lot about what was going on. My symptoms match his exactly.

Since I knew what the issue was from my father’s medical history, I wasn’t really worried about getting an official diagnosis.

I also already knew that I didn’t want to take opioids or painkillers long term. I’m one of those people who rarely takes even Tylenol. And when I had serious opioids after I had my wisdom teeth removed, they made me feel disoriented and nauseous.

My older brother had a serious workplace injury when I was in high school. He broke his pelvis and some of his spine. He’d seen a chiropractor, among many other specialists, when he was recovering, and he still sees one sometimes to cope with his own chronic pain.

I decided to explore that as a treatment option instead. My new chiropractor ran some X-rays and told me that my pelvis is tilted, which lets my disc slip back and forth instead of holding it in place. 

Through a series of adjustments, he worked to bring my pelvis back in line, and brought me some real relief. 

Unfortunately, I’ve done some state-hopping since then, and while I’m still in better shape than I used to be, I haven’t had time to find a new chiropractor yet. 

Starting to Deal with Your Pain

So what can you do to tackle your chronic pain? 

  1. First and foremost, go see your doctor, especially if you’ve been injured or don’t have a family history of back issues. You might need surgery or other serious help.

  2. Consider your treatment options. Surgery can be an option for many chronic back problems, but it has costs. It’s expensive and can cause its own set of pain problems. Opioids are highly addictive. Talk to your doctor about other options, like chiropractic treatment or acupuncture.

  3. Talk to your insurance company. Insurance companies want to stop the opioid epidemic too, and more plans are covering alternative therapies like chiropractic visits than ever before.

  4. Talk to your employer. If you have insurance through your employer, talk to them about making sure other therapies are covered on your group plan.

  5. Work with your care team on a treatment plan to cope with and manage your pain.

Learning to Manage Pain

So how do I manage my chronic back pain without drugs?

  • Set expectations. Knowing I would probably grow up to develop chronic back pain means I’ve always been ready for it. Accepting that pain will be a part of my life helps me feel in control.

  • Find a treatment that helps. For me, this has been regular chiropractic adjustments that help relieve tension and keep my disc in place. 

  • Get massages. I get the occasional massage to help relieve tension in the muscles in my back too. Many people with back pain get regular massages and swear by them.

  • Exercise and eat right. Even just a few extra pounds can put enormous stress on your spine if you already have back problems. And exercise can strengthen the muscles in your back. Focus on low-impact activities and strengthen your core if you’re already in pain.

    And choose your cardio wisely. Running outdoors or on inclines can be really hard on your back and pelvis. Try running on a treadmill, walking, or biking instead.

  • Try yoga, pilates, or tai chi. Yes, these are technically forms of exercise, but they’re more than that too. A new study found that yoga can actually help relieve back pain itself, but recommends gentle poses. And the routine they used is free online. I find it highly relaxing and a nice way to stretch and wind down, and you can do it as often as you want.

  • Get plenty of sleep. You’d be surprised how sleep affects other parts of your life. When I’m sleep deprived, my back is much more likely to go out. And since I struggle to sleep once my back’s out, it makes for a long sleepless week in that situation.

  • Try little treatments and tricks. I ice my back and use heating pads. I also take over-the-counter pain meds before bed if my back feels like it will go out during the night. If my back’s already out, lying on the floor (if I have someone handy to help me get up later) can help. Putting a pillow between my knees can also help while I’m trying to fall asleep.

  • Meditate. Meditation can help you clear your mind and refocus, and mindfulness can be surprisingly helpful in overcoming pain. There are easy apps you can try to get started too.

  • Talk to someone or journal. Chronic pain can be emotional. You hurt. You can’t escape it, and it can feel hopeless. Talk to a close loved one, journal about what’s happening, or visit a therapist. It can help you blow off steam, lighten your mental load, feel heard, and document your pain’s progression.

  • Practice self-care. Stress and tension can tighten up everything in your back. Find ways to reduce and fight stress in your life. And find little pleasures that you can focus on each day, like your favorite coffee, trading back rubs with your significant other, or cuddling your pet.

Most importantly, get help when you need it. Never let your pain push you so far that you can’t handle it or you fall into depression. Talk to your doctor to keep your mind and body healthy, even in the face of chronic pain.