Friday, December 13, 2013

New Jersey in top 10 healthiest states, New York 15th healthiest

We must be doing something right: New Jersey is ranked as the 10th healthiest state this year, and New York isn’t far behind at number 15.

This week, the United Health Foundation in conjunction with the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention published their 2013 health report, titled America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.

This year’s study found that the nation as a whole is making considerable progress in their overall health. The most notable gains came in key behavioral measures, including smoking, physical activity and obesity.  Overall, Hawaii is the healthiest state, while Mississippi ranked 50th.

New Jersey (10) and New York (15) did comparatively well in the rankings, but each had their share of strengths and challenges.  For example, New Jersey’s overall rates of infectious disease, including rates of Chlamydia, Pertussis, and Salmonella, are lower than most other states.  New York’s rate of obesity is the third lowest in the nation. 

As for challenges, in New Jersey the prevalence of diabetes increased from 8.8 percent in 2012 to 9.3 percent this year while in New York 25% of children live in households with income at or below the poverty line.  To see the Rankings in full and details on specific strengths and weaknesses in each state visit: www.americashealthrankings.org.

Since the United Health Foundation began publishing the rankings in 1990, both New York and New Jersey have made significant progress in their health.  This annual report shows how important it is for public heath officials, health insurers, health care providers and community organizations to work collaboratively to help all individuals in New York and New Jersey live healthier lives.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hispanic Scholars Bring Excitement to Health Care Modernization

Hispanics are the largest ethnic group in the United States, yet the number of Hispanic health professionals is disproportionately low when compared to the overall population.  Through its Diverse Scholars Initiative, the United Health Foundation and UnitedHealthcare is committed to increasing the number of Hispanic health care professionals across the country.

Last week we were honored to present scholarship recipients at the annual New York Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship Gala hosted by the National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) at the New York Academy of Medicine.  In addition to announcing the scholarship recipients from New York and the eastern United States, NHHF also presented Hispanic Health Leadership Awards to Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation; Roberto Clemente, Jr., president & CEO of RCJ Global Impact, LLC; Gary Butts, MD, Associate Dean for Diversity Programs and Policy at the Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and the Honorable Felix Ortiz, president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and New York State Assemblyman (District 51).  Peggy Carranza, NY Correspondent with MundoFox was the Mistress of Ceremonies.

I was proud that UnitedHealthcare joined this distinguished group of leaders to celebrate a very talented group of Hispanic scholars who are working hard to attain their higher education goals and will eventually start a career in health care.  Research shows that when patients are treated by health professionals who share their language, culture and ethnicity, they are more likely to accept and adopt the medical treatment they receive. Increasing the diversity of health care providers will reduce the shortage of medical professionals in underserved areas, reduce inequities in academic medicine and address variables – such as language barriers – that make it difficult for patients to navigate our existing health care system.  I am excited for what these young scholars will bring to a more modernized health care system.

For more information about the United Health Foundation Diverse Scholars Initiative visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/dsi.html For more information about NHHF’s scholarship program visit http://www.nhmafoundation.org/scholarshipprogram.html.

From left to right: Samuel Arce, MD, FAAFP, Chairman, National Hispanic Health Foundation, Council of Medical Societies; Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, President, New York Academy of Medicine; Carlos Alvarez, Senior Field Account Manager, UnitedHealthcare; Mark Díaz, MD, Chairman, Board Member, National Hispanic Health Foundation; Elena Ríos, MD, MSPH, President and CEO National Hispanic Health Foundation.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Small businesses have many resources as they prepare for health care changes

When I conducted the UnitedHealthcare Reform Seminar for members of the New Jersey Chinese American Chamber of Commerce back in June, I encouraged the audience of small business owners and human resource professionals to do their health care homework by going to the United for Reform Resource Center located at uhc.com/reform and review the upcoming health insurance changes. 

Chuck Cerniglia answering questions from chamber
of commerce members about health insurance. 
Fast forward three months and there are even more changes.  So last month Chuck Cerniglia, UnitedHealthcare’s vice president of small business in New Jersey, and I conducted a similar seminar for a larger group, the members of the New Jersey Chinese American, Korean American and Asian Indian Chambers of Commerce.  Chuck and I helped these small business owners to better understand the changes in how they would provide health insurance for their employees in 2014.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes dozens of provisions designed to improve our health care system.  Our discussion focused on three main areas of change: benefits, rating criteria and new or increased taxes.  We engaged in a robust question and answer session in which the business owners inquired about private and Small Business Health Option Plan (SHOP) exchanges, early renewal, retiree’s health benefits and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on New Jersey’s Medicaid program. 

The Affordable Care Act brings significant and sweeping changes to how all Americans get and pay for their health care.  I thank the leaders of the New Jersey Asian American Chambers of Commerce for inviting me to meet with them as a group to help them understand what health reform means to employers and employees.

Chuck Cerniglia and I with leaders from the New Jersey
Chinese American, Korean American and Asian Indian Chambers of Commerce