Wednesday, August 30, 2017

$10,000 UnitedHealthcare ‘Community Care Award’

UnitedHealthcare knows that the contribution we make in communities extends beyond the service we deliver to our members. That’s why UnitedHealthcare will award $10,000 to a Syracuse-area small business as part of our Community Care Award; a competition that seeks the best new idea for enhancing community health and wellness.  

New York businesses with two to 250 employees in Oswego, Onondaga, Cortland, Madison, and Oneida counties are eligible to submit a project idea for enhancing their communities’ health and wellness. Projects can be new ideas or existing programs. Businesses simply need to submit their project idea using the online application before midnight on Friday, September 29, 2017.

All projects must include a partnership with a local nonprofit organization. Applicants are asked to describe in 300 words or less the community activity their company will engage in with their non-profit partner, including description of project, duration and employee involvement.

Judges will evaluate the project submissions and select the top-five projects based on criteria such as potential community impact, creativity, uniqueness and feasibility.  

The top-five applicants and representatives from their benefiting nonprofits will be invited in November to a live pitch and networking event in Syracuse, New York where a panel of business, community and health care leaders will select the 2017 UnitedHealthcare Community Care Award winner.  

The 2016 UnitedHealthcare Community Care Award went to Simply Ballroom. A dance studio based in Richmond, Virginia.  Simply Ballroom used the $10,000 award to fund its therapeutic dance classes for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.  To review the official rules and apply for the award as a Richmond, VA business owner go to www.uhc.com/communitycare.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Call to Action: Consider Giving Back While Back-to-School Shopping

As families in New York and New Jersey start preparing for the end of summer and the start of another school year, I feel it’s important to talk about our friends at Operation Backpack and the generosity of New York Giant’s cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Operation Backpack, an initiative led locally by the Volunteers of America’s Greater New York chapter, is the largest back-to-school drive in New York City for students who are homeless. It’s an admirable organization that brings together thousands of people from dozens of local communities – all donating their time and resources to ensure every student, regardless of his or her economic standing, family background or hometown, will start the school year fully prepared to learn and succeed.
 
Last week my colleagues and I at UnitedHealthcare had an opportunity to work with the Volunteers of America to assemble hundreds of backpacks of grade-specific school supplies to support this initiative. Seeing the amount of donated supplies – from dictionaries and thesauruses to calculators and compasses; watercolor paint sets to washable markers – was inspiring, yet—at the same time—harrowing. The collective generosity of our friends and neighbors made me proud to be a New Yorker.
Team UHC is ready to stuff hundreds of backpacks full school supplies for homeless children.
 
Operation Backpack has been operating in the City since 2004, helping children from every borough start the schoolyear feeling prepared and confident. Today, with family homelessness at a record-high in New York City, it’s clear that their mission is more important than ever.

The need is also great in New Jersey.  On August 22nd a group of UnitedHealthcare employee volunteers helped the Dominique-Rodgers-Cromartie Foundation launch its inaugural Back-to-School Bash at the Boys & Girls Club in Clifton, New Jersey.  The carnival style event was kicked-off by Dominique's Father, Stanley Cromartie who, along with UHC volunteers, helped build excitement for the new school year.  More than 250 boys and girls rotated between interactive and mind stimulating games set-up around the Boys & Girls Club gymnasium.  Each student received free school supplies.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Stanley Cromartie and UnitedHealthcare's John Verga hand out school supplies to students at the Clifton, NJ Boys & Girls Club
As you and your family go through your Back-to -School shopping list, consider picking up a few extra supplies and donating them to the children in need in your community.  For a list of needed supplies, and to learn more about Operation Backpack, visit: https://www.voa-gny.org/what-goes-in-a-backpack

 
Students at Clifton Boys & Girls Club line up to answer health, wellness and science questions as part of the Back-to-School Bash sponsored by the Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Foundation
 

 

Monday, July 31, 2017

12,000 New Yorkers Celebrate Healthy Living at Rally HealthFest

MOVE in a challenging spin class, high energy Zumba class or fun obstacle course; EAT a high energy bar and water infused with strawberries and mint; CARE for yourself by getting an upper body massage; FEEL by writing what you are grateful for on the Rally Grateful Wall and...HAVE FUN!  These were the challenges presented to 12,000 thousand New Yorkers who attended the second annual Rally® HealthFest held on Saturday, July 29, 2017, at Nelson A. Rockefeller Park. 
Hertz employee, Pernell Simpson and Elizabeth Zambrana get Moving at Rally HealthFest
 
Actor, comedian and Rally Health Ambassador, Kevin Hart hosted the family friendly event along with his personal trainer, Ron “Boss” Everline, and fitness star Robin Arzon.  The event was open to the public at no cost. UnitedHealthcare encouraged employees of clients with a UnitedHealthcare or Oxford health plan to take part in this day of health and wellness fun.  
Kevin Hart greets the Rally HealthFest participants
Rally, is a health and wellness portal that combines technology, gaming and social media to help people find personalized ways to eat better, move more, become more informed and improve their health. The customized portal is designed to motivate and empower people to take ownership of their health. The interactive experience includes:

  • a health survey that calculates the individual's “Rally age;”
  • tailored invitations to create personal missions based on the individual's Rally age;
  • a personalized health record;
  • rewards (“coins”) for completion of tasks or new behaviors, with the opportunity to use coins to enter sweepstakes;
  • social media and gaming that supports participation and builds community; and
  • a dashboard that showcases personal progress and content.
Users receive positive feedback in the form of “coins” for completing a task or changing to healthier behaviors. The coins can be used to enter sweepstakes.  

The Rally HealthFest aligns perfectly with UnitedHealthcare’s mission to help people live healthier lives. The HealthFest experience inspires people to actively engage in their health, individually and collectively.   Kudos to UnitedHealthcare and Oxford Rally members from JP Morgan Chase, Hertz, AIG and Jet Blue, who were among the thousands in attendance.  

Rally and other UnitedHealthcare tools are designed to help make managing your health and your health care plan easier so that you and your family can live a healthier, happier life!

Ingrid Martinez and "Team AIG" pause for a photo during Rally HealthFest
 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Not all HSAs are created equal

Recently released reports from Employee Benefit Research Institute and Morningstar found that many people don’t take full advantage of their health savings accounts (HSAs), that those who do could be getting a lot more bang for their buck and that some HSAs are better than others. 

A health savings account enables individuals to pay for their share of health care with pretax dollars, and by law can only be established in conjunction with a low premium, high deductible health care insurance plan.  Employees can save money in the HSA tax-free and draw it out anytime they want to help pay their health insurance deductible, co-pay and qualified medical expenses, including those, like dental and vision, that may not be covered by their health insurance plan. Unlike a flexible spending account (FSA), employees don’t have to spend what they put into an HSA by the end of the year, but can let it accumulate for future medical needs and if they change jobs, their HSA account is portable, which means they keep their account if they leave the company.

In 2017, people with an HSA account can choose to save up to $3,400 for an individual and $6,750 for a family (people 55 and older get to save an extra $1,000 which means $4,400 for an individual and $7,750 for a family) – and these contributions are 100% tax deductible from gross income.  People can spend the money in their health savings account on current medical bills or choose to invest their balance to pay for health costs in retirement. 

So why aren’t people taking full advantage of these accounts and what makes some better than others?  The answer to the first question can be summed up in three words – lack of information.  Trying to understand the many aspects of a HSA plan can be daunting.  That’s why UnitedHealthcare created HSACenter to help consumers become better informed.  The HSACenter includes video clips, interactive calculators to estimate health insurance savings, tax savings and future value with an HSA, an extensive FAQ, and list of qualified medical expenses.  

With regards to what makes some HSA plans better than others, this depends on how the account is used.  People who use their account to cover current medical expenses should look for an HSA account with a low monthly maintenance fee.  For people who view their HSA as a tax advantaged vehicle to save for medical expenses not covered by Medicare during their retirement years, Morningstar suggests they look at the variety of asset classes available, the quality of funds based on their likelihood of outperforming benchmarks and the total cost of the funds.  In this category, UnitedHealthcare’s Optum Bank was one of four accounts that received overall positive assessments based on the criteria used in the Morningstar report. 
 
Whether it is used to pay current medical bills or those in the future, health savings account plans give people an incentive and tools to better manage their health care costs. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Here we grow again

UnitedHealthcare held a ceremonial ribbon cutting celebration for its health benefits store in Westbury, Long Island last Saturday.

The center – located at 209 Post Ave. – will provide beneficiaries of Medicaid, Medicare and Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans and other health plans with support and information about their coverage options. Visitors will be able to meet with customer service professionals to discuss their health benefits in English and Spanish. If they are ready to enroll in one of UnitedHealthcare’s plans, they can do so at the store with the help of a licensed sales agent.  If they need help identifying state and federal programs to address any social determinants affecting their health, our staff can point them in the right direction.  In fact, representatives from the Nassau County Depart of Health attended Saturday’s celebration and provided information to those who wanted to learn more.

When trying to navigate what can be a complicated health care system, there is something to be said about in-person, one-on-one conversations, especially for our most vulnerable health plan members. That’s why – in addition to investing in our digital and online presence – UnitedHealthcare continues to grow its presence in brick-and-mortar health benefits storefronts across the country.  Our Westbury location benefits store is our fourth on Long Island.  We also have health benefits storefronts in Hempstead, Copiague and Riverhead.


Angelo Zuffante, sales and marketing manager, UnitedHelathcare Community Plan gets ready to cut the ribbon celebrating UnitedHealthcare's health benefits store in Westbury, Long Island.  Community leaders including Westbury Mayor, Peter Cavallaro, Nassau County Legislator, Siela Bynoe, Westbury Town Councilwoman, Viviana Russell, Tania Lawes, constituent services representative in the office of New York Sate Senator Elaine Phillips  and Village of Westbury Trustee, William Wise, were on hand to join in the celebration.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Day

UnitedHealthcare’s “whole person” approach to care means understanding how each individual’s circumstances in life impacts their health and care.  That’s why a group of UnitedHealthcare employees got together to make 4,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that would be delivered by St. Francis Food Pantries & Shelters to more than forty non-profit food pantries, soup kitchens, safe havens, drop In centers and shelters across New York City.

The St. Francis Food Pantries & Shelters is a network of food and service programs that provide a wide range of services to feed, clothe, counsel, and alleviate physical and emotional hunger in a dignified and supportive manner.  The St. Francis Food Pantries & Shelters takes a comprehensive approach in providing and supporting services that eradicate not only hunger, but the structural causes of hunger. The organization supports a network of charitable programs that provide a broad range of services for those in need, including the provision of food serving over 1.2 million meals each year.

Not only did our UnitedHealthcare employees make 4,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, they also learned a few things in the process.  For example, they learned that the trick to making the best PBJ sandwich is to put peanut butter on both sides of the bread and the jelly in between.  They were also proud of the fact that not only did they make 4,000 PBJ sandwiches for children and families in need across NYC, UnitedHealthcare also donated one dollar to St. Francis Food Pantries & Shelters for every sandwich made.

At UnitedHealthcare we know that make a meaningful contribution to health, we must work within the communities where we live and work. We thank St. Francis Food Pantries & Shelters and their team of PBJ experts for providing us an opportunity to do just that! 
Team UnitedHealthcare in action on "Peanut Butter and Jelly Day"



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Vacation Health Care Tips

Summer is here, and for many in New York that means trips to destinations domestic and abroad. An all-time record 234.1 million passengers are expected to fly U.S. airlines between June 1 and Aug. 31, up from 224.8 million a year ago, according to Airlines for America.

However, about 20 percent of people suffer some type of illness or injury while on vacation, the most common of which include food poisoning and car crashes. Before you hit the road or take to the skies, consider these tips to make sure your health, safety and wallet are covered while you’re away:

 
Know Before You Go:
Before traveling out of your home state or internationally, take time to review your health plan and understand what it covers. People traveling domestically should check if their health plan offers a national or local network of hospitals and health care providers, and confirm what level of coverage is available at out-of-network facilities.  For people planning to travel overseas, it is important to contact their primary care doctor or travel medicine clinic to determine what pre-screenings or immunizations might be recommended or required, based on their health history and the countries they will visit. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) enables people to search a list of countries and determine what vaccines they should consider.   
 Find Care Anywhere:
Many health plans now offer telemedicine and mobile apps that allow you to access a digital ID card, connect with a registered nurse 24/7, and identify nearby care providers, hospitals, pharmacies and urgent care facilities. Be sure you add the app to your phone before heading off on vacation. Public websites, such as www.uhc.com/transparency and www.guroo.com, enable people to compare cost information for hundreds of common medical services, helping people evaluate their options for care. For international trips, contact your global insurance carrier to find out about the availability of approved medical facilities at planned travel destinations.
 
Protection Abroad: Most domestic health plans provide limited coverage overseas, so consider purchasing international medical coverage to help alleviate concerns about quality of care and financial anxiety.  Also, most domestic insurance won’t cover prescriptions abroad, so for long vacations ask your care provider for enough medication to cover the duration of the trip (as well as check that specific medications are legal in the countries you are visiting). Some international health plans may include prescription drug coverage that enables people to fill prescriptions at local retail pharmacies.

Get Your Receipts: International hospitals will typically want upfront payment, rather than billing your health plan.  Be sure to get clear and complete copies of all bills, medical records and discharge notes for reimbursement from your health plan once you arrive home.

Following these tips will help you focus on fun, friends and family during summer vacations, while helping alleviate stress from health care access or insurance issues during a medical emergency. For more information, visit www.uhcsafetrip.com.