Tag Archives: quality

Affordable Health Services for National Health Center Week

National Health Center Week 2015

This week is National Health Center Week, so we had more info about finding these resources each day.

The Champaign Urbana Public Health District’s website can connect you to local health resources and info and Board of Health info.

Care

 

The Francis Nelson Health Center in Champaign provides care to those who need it most and can’t afford it. Learn more about their services or help the cause.

If you’re a University of Illinois student, McKinley Health Center is your first stop for all kinds of health information, including online classes.

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The Champaign County Christian Health Center offers free and quality health services. Learn more about making appointments, giving, fundraising, and volunteering.

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Avicenna Community Health Center has been providing health screenings and learning to the CU community since 2009. Learn about what they do and how you can help.

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While Medicaid in Illinois has expanded, there are other ways to get help too. Carle’s Community Care Discount Program helps people get the care they need.

Health Insurance Policy brochure

 

Looking for health centers across the nation? This government database can help!

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Food Expiration Dates and Safety

Decoding Expiration Dates

Did you know the government doesn’t make food companies put expiration dates on most things? They choose to put those dates on their products so that you get the best quality as a customer, which is why there are so many different kinds of labels.

According to the Boston Globe, 3/4 of Americans think eating things after their printed dates is unsafe. That’s not always true.

What Do the Expiration Dates Mean?

“Sell by” Date

This tells the store how long it can sell the product. You should buy it before this day, but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad after that date. It really just means that it’s freshest before that date.

“Best if used by (or before)” Date

You should use a product before this date for the best quality and flavor, but it has nothing to do with safety.

“Guaranteed fresh” Date

This is usually used for bakery items. You can still eat them after this date, but they won’t be at their freshest.

“Use by” Date

This is the last date a product’s maker recommends you use it for the best quality, much like “best if used by or before” dates.

“Pack” Date

These are dates that are on many canned or packaged goods. They’re used by the manufacturer and do not tell you if the food is safe. They may also be in a code, usually month-day-year, like MMDDYY. So September 29, 2015, would be 092915.

Other Dates

Federal law says that all baby formula must be dated. It is usually marked with a “use by” or “expiration date,” and after that date, the nutrition of the formula begins to decline from what’s shown on the label.

Some states also make stores pull dairy items off the shelves after their expiration dates.

How Long Are Things Good For?

While these dates will help you eat things while they taste the best, you won’t need to rush to throw most things away by those dates.

You should always try to buy your food before these dates expire, but as long as it’s stored at the right temperature and hasn’t been contaminated during cleaning or prep, it can be good after the dates.

Product Dates and Expiration

And of course, it is important to smell and look at your food before you eat it if it’s past those dates (and before them, too). If something smells bad, tastes weird, has rotten spots, or is moldy, don’t eat it! It’s definitely time to throw it away.

You can see more info about dates and food safety from WebMD and the USDA.

Up Next:

Make sure you’re storing your food safely to keep it good for longer.

Are you always cooking things to a safe temperature to avoid foodborne illness? Our guide can help!

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Your Insurance Team's Support

Vantage Point: We Work Together to Support You

Painted in the stairwell of Samaritan Hospital is an inspirational message, “All of us, for each of you.” The same can be said of our Health Alliance Medicare team in North Central Washington that works together to provide elevated customer service for members and our provider partnerships.

Eileen, our program assistant, is the first face members see when they visit the Wenatchee office. Eileen feels that by supporting staff and prioritizing tasks, she can focus all her attention on members when they come in.

“Health Alliance isn’t just insurance coverage,” she says. “It is a place to come if you have questions, are seeking information, or would just like a cup of coffee and an ear.”

Jessica, our bilingual customer service representative, says, “The most rewarding part of my job is having the ability to see our members face to face, build relationships, and let them know I am here to listen and help.”

Through her role at Health Alliance, Teri, our customer service lead, hopes to insure our members only have good experiences when adverse situations arise. Teri credits the overall team from claims to medical management for its support in helping her achieve her goal.

Major procedures, hospitalization, surgeries, and discharge plans all need prior approval, and Cindy, our utilization review nurse on the medical management team, uses her experience in risk management, coupled with patient advocacy, to take care of our members through major health issues, thus controlling unnecessary costs.

Medicare is not only complicated for our members, it can be complicated for providers as well. Therefore, Leslie, our provider relations specialist, works directly with clinical staff members to help them understand policies, procedures, and operating systems. By providing face-to-face customer service at the provider offices, it makes providers’ jobs easier, positively impacting their care of our members.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ranks Medicare Advantage plans on a five-star scale, and factors within that quality scale relate to providers assessing, managing, and controlling chronic conditions. Amanda, our coding consultant, works directly with physicians to provide coding education and finds it rewarding when she and the doctors learn something from each other, ensuring overall great health care to our members.

Whether they’re working with members or providers or making medical decisions behind the scenes, these are just a few of the local people committed to working together toward the common goal of ensuring quality of care, setting Health Alliance Medicare apart in North Central Washington.

Checking Expiration Dates

Long View: Food Safety – What’s in a Date?

I was hunting for some cookies at my mom’s house, and I noticed a bottle of Tabasco® sauce in the back corner of the pantry. I wondered why she had a new bottle of something she rarely uses, and she told me she just keeps it around and had moved it from her house on Church Street.

“Gee, Mom, that was 12 years ago,” I said, and it got me thinking about expiration dates and what they mean.

I hope during this holiday season and all year long, Health Alliance Medicare members and non-members alike, pay attention to this wise advice from the experts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines the most common terms this way.

• A “sell-by” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before this date.
• A “best if used by (or before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
• A “use-by” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The maker of the product determines this date.
• “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

Who knew?

Another good food safety resource is your local University of Illinois Extension office. Jenna Smith is the nutrition and wellness educator for Livingston, McLean and Woodford counties. She has a safety-first approach.

“Dates on food packaging can be very confusing,” Smith says. “But in general, most dates refer to best quality, not to food safety. When in doubt, throw it out. If the food develops an off odor, flavor or appearance, do not use it.”

As a former holder of a Food Service and Sanitation Certificate, I tend to take a very conservative approach when it comes to food safety. I especially remember some videos on the proper methods for handling raw chicken and the consequences of not maintaining the proper temperature. I didn’t eat poultry for two years.

Paying attention to safe food practices and being well informed are the best ways to be safe. I think my mom’s Tabasco sauce has transformed from a condiment to a treasured family heirloom along the way. I am OK with it for now, as long as I’m not eating it.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Health Alliance!

Quality Customer Service with Health Alliance

Why Should I Choose Health Alliance?

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is in full swing, and you might be wondering why you should pick a plan with Health Alliance?

Insurance for Real Life.

We treat you like a person, not a policy. We don’t like to brag, but we have a pretty amazing team. Every person, from front office to corner office, wants you to be your best.

Tens of thousands of network physicians
Hundreds of network hospitals
Nearly 300,000 members
500-plus Health Alliance employees and growing to serve your needs
One goal. Deliver top-notch insurance that fits your needs and budget

You Can Relax Knowing You’re Covered

We are always building our network to give you a large network of doctors, hospitals, and clinics you trust.

If you’re miles from home and outside your network, we have services linked to getting quality emergency medical care while traveling 100 miles from home or abroad through Assist America.

We Are Here to Help

We love hearing from our members. So whether it’s in person, on the phone or through social media, when you have a question, our Customer Service reps are here for you.

You’ll never have to jump through hoops to get answers. They give personal help to over 40,000 callers each month and connect members to answers in 15 seconds or less, on average. They resolve 99.6% of issues on the first call.

They’re also happy to meet with you. Just stop in Monday through Friday. We’re at 206 W. Anthony Drive in Champaign, IL or 316 S. Fifth St., Wenatchee, WA.

Our Medicare seminars are informational meetings we hold all over our service areas during the AEP, so you can find one close to you.

Extra Benefits

Our Medicare Advantage plans have extra benefits like SilverSneakers Fitness Program, $0 Tier 1 drugs at Walmart and Sam’s Club, Assist America, and our Anytime Nurse Line.

We also help you settle in. We mail you your member materials. We will also call you to verify that your coverage is in place and talk to you about making the most of your benefits.

Health Alliance will take care of you every step of the way. It’s no wonder 96% of our members unpack their bags and stay awhile.

Call 1-888-382-9771 (TTY 711) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. Or visit HealthAllianceMedicare.org for more info.

Health Alliance Medicare is an HMO, PPO, and PDP plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment depends on contract renewal. You must continue to pay your Part B premium. Low-cost prescriptions are available at other in-network pharmacies. The benefit information here is just a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, premium, and/or copayments/coinsurance may change on January 1 of each year.