Monday, November 26, 2012

My Favorite Four Day Weekend of the Year

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is, and always has been, my favorite four-day weekend for all of the obvious reasons; good food, great football, a large, loving family and leftovers.  All make me truly grateful for the life I have.

This Thanksgiving I was especially grateful for my UnitedHealthcare family.  This month has been a really tough one for them.  The storm that hit the northeast region was especially damaging to the state of New Jersey, hitting many of our employees and customers especially hard.  So, in addition to installing new cases and enrolling and renewing our existing customers, my UnitedHealthcare family spent the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving volunteering in some of the hardest hit areas of the state; helping families clean out what was left of their homes, working in food banks or assisting in public health facilities.  And a fair number will be headed down to the New Jersey shore after Thanksgiving to further assist in the rebuilding efforts. 

While watching the news this morning I saw that people from across the country came to the northeast over the Thanksgiving weekend to help devastated communities in New York and New Jersey.  The images were heartwarming to say the least.

As we move into the more hectic holiday season, I plan to take a healthy dose of the goodness and compassion I’ve seen over the past month with me.  I invite you to do the same.

UnitedHealthcare employees help clean-up a home in Southern NJ

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Come on in, sit down, and let’s have a conversation about health care

If you thought the iPhone’s FaceTime or Skype’s video chatting capabilities were fantastic innovations, you’re going to love the latest innovation from UnitedHealthcare. 

It’s similar to those digital applications, but without the electronic device in between.

It's face-to-face conversations with the community. 

Often when we talk about innovation, we mean new ways to use technology.  But while UnitedHealthcare embraces all that technology can do to help us better serve our customers, we want to make sure we’re easily accessible to everyone in the community.

That means everyone. The tech-savvy and those who want talk to a live person. And it includes those who may experience language or cultural barriers that could stand in the way of their health education.

Our latest effort to increase the personal touch in customer service is by opening community storefronts where people are welcome to walk in and talk to experts about their health concerns and goals.  Last month, we opened two of these offices in New Jersey, one in the heart of Lakewood’s Orthodox Jewish community and the other in  Edison, where a large Asian community works and lives.

While our storefront offices serve everyone in the community, we recognize that many communities may experience obstacles when it comes to managing their health, including language barriers, cultural differences and unique health concerns.  That’s why each of these offices is equipped with specialized resources to accommodate the needs of the populations in those areas.

In Edison, the new office is designed for outreach to the thriving Asian community there.  In Lakewood, the office is prepared to address the needs of the large Hispanic and Orthodox Jewish communities that live in the area. The offices provide customer support, information on UnitedHealthcare insurance products and health and wellness information, all with special attention to the cultural needs of local communities.

UnitedHealthcare also operates community storefront offices in Hempstead, Long Island; Flushing, Queens; and south Philadelphia. 

Our new offices provide us with direct access to the community, thereby simplifying the process of getting better health care information in the hands of the consumer so that they can make better health care decisions.

UnitedHealthcare's community office in Edison, New Jersey, equipped with special resources to serve the Asian community

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What a Difference a Week Makes…

I’ve been back in my office for a week now and while I, my colleagues and our families are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy at home, our spirits got a big boost when UnitedHealthcare announced that it would make a $1,000,000 donation to the hurricane relief efforts in New York and New Jersey.  The donation will largely support state government-led relief efforts in both states. It will also provide funds for direct, personal outreach and support to community-based organizations in New Jersey.  UnitedHealthcare employees across all of our business lines in the state of New Jersey will have input into where a portion of the contribution will go, giving the employees the opportunity to provide direct assistance in our local communities hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. 

What a difference a week makes!

UPDATE: Here is a video with some highlights of the efforts of UnitedHealthcare employees to provide relief to New Jersey residents in the aftermath of Sandy:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sandy left us battered, but our sense of community is going strong

As many of you have seen from pictures on the news or internet, or perhaps experienced for yourselves, Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast last week, particularly those of us in the tri-state, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

In New Jersey, where I live and work, the damage has been significant.  The Jersey shore as we knew it no longer exists.  I am immensely grateful to our first responders, including police departments, fire departments, emergency medical technicians, the National Guard, state and federal relief workers and Red Cross volunteers who have jumped into action to save lives, bring supplies and recover property.

I also admire the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who have remained dedicated to their patients, many of them traveling through dangerous conditions to get to their workplaces, staying at hospitals around the clock and literally carrying patients to a waiting ambulance when it was clear they had to evacuate.  Their commitment to helping the sick and injured is beyond words.

For those of us at UnitedHealthcare, all of our New Jersey and New York offices were closed the week of the storm.  My office is open today with shortened hours.  Many of our employees, however, still struggle with serious damage to property, a lack of heat (and yes, it is cold and getting colder) and electricity, limited access to gasoline and communication.

Those who can are working from home to make sure that our operations continue to run smoothly for the customers we serve.  Nationwide, UnitedHealthcare employees are making sure that those who have been affected by the storm get the medical care they need.  Some of the things we are doing to help include:
  • Access to Care: Plan participants who have been displaced from their homes or whose network medical facility or physician is not accessible, and require assistance or special accommodations, can call customer care at the number located on the back of their medical ID card for assistance. If necessary, customer care professionals will help affected individuals obtain in-network benefits if a network provider is not available. If a UnitedHealthcare plan participant does not have their medical ID card, they can call 866-633-2446, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (in the local time zone), Monday through Friday. This policy will remain active until at least Nov. 11, 2012. 
  • Early Prescription Refills: People who have been displaced or do not have access to their medications will be able to have prescriptions refilled early. Members obtaining a refill are asked to alert the pharmacist that they were affected by the hurricane in order to ensure the early prescription refill request is processed appropriately.  For mail-order delivery service to affected areas or any other questions related to their prescriptions, people are encouraged to call the pharmacy number on the back of their medical or prescription ID card, or speak directly to their pharmacist about their situation in order to get an early refill, if necessary.  This policy will remain active until at least Nov. 11, 2012. 
  • Free Help Line:  Optum, a leading health and behavioral health services company, is offering a free emotional-support help line.  The toll-free number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary. The service is free of charge and open to anyone. Specially trained Optum mental health specialists help people manage their stress and anxiety so they can continue to address their everyday needs. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters.  Along with the toll-free help line, emotional support resources and information are available online at
The devastation from the storm has disrupted all of our lives on personal, community, and national levels.  All of us at UnitedHealthcare feel deeply for those who have lost their homes, have suffered injuries, or even lost loved ones.
As we begin the process of recovery, UnitedHealth Group is working closely with the Red Cross and numerous federal agencies to monitor the situation on the east coast.  Based on their feedback UnitedHealth Group decided the best way to support the relief efforts and the people impacted is with cash donations.  So for employees within the UnitedHealth Group family who may have missed Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey and others on NBC’s hurricane relief telethon last Friday evening, UnitedHealth Group will match all employee contributions to the American Red Cross, dollar for dollar, through Nov. 30, 2012.
Be safe.