Thank You for Choosing to “Go Blue”

Young-familyThe Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC) and the Washington Health Benefit Exchange recently released the results of the 2014 open enrollment in Washington state. In an April 16 press release the OIC reported that the individual health insurance market had grown to more than 324,900 people in Washington state. Today, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange reported that number has expanded to include an additional 17,000 residents.

Over 80,000 of these individuals decided to sign up for a Premera Blue Cross health plan and become part of the Premera family. Many of our new members have health insurance for the first time and we want to say thank you for making the decision to choose a Premera health plan. We hope that each of our members can breathe easy knowing that they now have financial protection when it comes to healthcare.

At Premera we are committed to helping our new customers navigate the healthcare system and get the most out of their new health plan. We are committed to working with hospitals and doctors to provide our members with access to high quality healthcare at an affordable price. As a company we will continue to develop new tools and capabilities to better service our members and provide them with peace of mind about healthcare.

The overall enrollment numbers demonstrate the growing demand for expanded access to healthcare in Washington state and we look forward to serving our 80,000 new members as they use their new Premera Blue Cross plans. We thank you for choosing to “Go Blue.”

Thanks,

Jim Havens
Vice President and General Manager of Individual Strategy

Four Ways to “Health-ify” Your Sandwich

186139545

By Heather Snively, MS, RD

America’s favorite grab-and-go lunch item can be a great convenience option, but what lies between the bread slices can range from healthy to decadent.  Follow these simple and easy suggestions and you’ll end up with a meal that’s just as healthy as it is quick!

Health-ify the Bread

Read labels and select options where “whole wheat” is listed as the first ingredient and avoid any option with added sugar.  Swapping whole wheat for white is going to bring more nutrients and fiber to the sandwich.

Wondering about white wheat?  It’s actually a different variety of wheat so as long as “whole wheat” is listed as the first ingredient, white wheat will carry the same nutritive benefits as other whole wheat breads, which makes it a great option for someone trying to make the switch from white bread.

Health-ify a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Peanut butter and jelly can be a great, nutrient-packed option, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Nut Butter – select minimally-processed nut butters – the kind that have to be refrigerated after opening.  Avoid added sugar and oils.  The ingredients in peanut butter should be simple:  peanuts.  Almond and cashew butters are good options – choose a variety to keep it interesting.
  • Jelly – just like nut butter, select minimally processed options.  Look for fruit spreads that have more whole fruit and less added sugar.

Health-ify a Tuna Fish Sandwich

Tuna fish is a great way to get one of the two servings of fish recommended each week by the American Heart Association.  Look for options that are canned in water to keep the sodium content low.  Substitute some of the mayonnaise with mustard for more flavor and to avoid the extra unnecessary calories.  Add chopped celery or cucumbers for an added crunch and some extra fiber.

Health-ify a Deli Sandwich

Here are some things to consider when choosing meats and cheese:

  • Go for the unprocessed meats. Select lean meats such as chicken or turkey and select roasted options.  If you’re making them yourself, roast enough for the entire week.  Following these suggestions will help reduce the saturated fat, sodium and other preservatives in your sandwich.
  • Select healthful spreads and toppers. Skip the mayonnaise and go with mustard, hummus or roasted vegetable spread.  Add vegetables – as many as you can – to add crunch, vitamins, minerals and fiber.  No one likes a soggy sandwich so pack items like lettuce separately and then add them to the bread at lunch time.
  • Go for strong-flavored cheeses.  Using sharp cheddar or strong parmesan cheeses pack a lot of flavor, which lessens the amount that is needed. So go with bold and go with less.

Are you a sandwich connoisseur? Comment below, on Facebook or on Twitter with your tips!

Heather Snively, MS, RD, is a nutrition and wellness manager at Guckenheimer, an on-site corporate restaurant management and catering company.  She received her Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Washington in 2011.  Heather is passionate about helping others determine the best way to enjoy food and stay healthy.  Her food philosophy is simple:  moderation in all things, except for vegetables—eat all the vegetables you like.

Responsibly Toss Pills, Don’t Send Them to Landfills

Unused medications pose a threat. For abuse and to the environment.

That’s why the DEA created National Drug Take-Back Day, which is April 26, 2014 from 10 am to 2 pm. During this time you can visit a collection site to hand over your unused medications with the knowledge that they will be destroyed ethically.

Why is this so important?

Unused pills are frequently abused, and often abused by loved ones.

Additionally, prescription drugs not thrown away responsibly can harm the environment. Popular methods like flushing them or tossing them into the trash can pollute local ground water, soil and ecosystems.

Some regions, such as Snohomish and Kitsap counties in Washington, have even made it a crime to throw away medications!

Here are some local drug collection sites in the Puget Sound region. You can use this website to find one close to you:

SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT NORTH PRECINCT             

10049 COLLEGE WAY NORTH

SEATTLE, WA 98133

SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT EAST PRECINCT  

1519 12TH AVENUE

SEATTLE, WA 98122

KIRKLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT

LOBBY – CITY HALL

123 5TH AVENUE

KIRKLAND, WA 98033

BELLEVUE POLICE DEPARTMENT

POLICE LOBBY

450 110TH AVENUE NE

BELLEVUE, WA 98004

SEATAC POLICE DEPARTMENT   

SEATAC CITY HALL FRONT LOBBY AREA

4800 SOUTH 188TH STREET

SEATAC, WA 98188

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT

625 WINSLOW WAY EAST

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA 98110

Have questions? Please leave us a comment or reach out on our Facebook or Twitter channels.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum Reduces Your Financial Risk

Shared Payment of Healthcare CostsWhen it comes to your out-of-pocket maximum, reaching your limit can actually be considered a good thing. An out-of-pocket maximum is the most amount of money you pay toward the cost of your healthcare in one year with the exception of your monthly premium.

Your deductible, copays and coinsurance all go toward your out-of-pocket maximum for in-network doctors. Once you’ve reached that amount your health plan pays for the rest of your healthcare that year. The out-of-pocket maximum is designed to limit your financial risk  when you are dealing with a chronic or serious healthcare issue.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) set a limit on the maximum out-of-pocket cost for individual or group health plans effective Jan. 1, 2014 and later.  The limit is $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families and could change in 2015. Your out-of-pocket maximum may vary depending on the plan you choose: Gold plans generally have the lowest and Bronze plans have the highest.

What Counts?

  • Your annual deductible
  • Coinsurance and copayments for doctor visits and other medical treatment
  • Prescription drugs

What Doesn’t Count?

  • Your monthly bill (premium)
  • Your share of bills from non-network providers
  • Spending for treatments that are not eligible for coverage by your plan
  • Payments for adult vision or adult dental care

Hit Your Limit ?

You can find out how much you’ve spent toward your out-of-pocket maximum by logging in to the member area of premera.com. In the left nav, select Benefit Plans, then click on the Medical Plans link to see your deductibles and maximums.

Questions?  Call customer service at the number on the back of your ID card.

Taxes and Your Health Plan: Use our Tool to Track Medical Expenses for Tax Time

Spring’s here and that means…

Taxes!Homepage

Did you know that you could deduct qualified medical expenses?

But rather than needing to scour through your receipts drawer, we figured it would be easier to create a quick and handy tool to track your health-related expenses.

That’s where our Spending Activity Report comes in! It’s a tool that automatically sums up your health expenses that have been funneled through Premera.

Here’s a quick guide to introduce you to it:Spending Activity Report Page

First go to www.premera.com and hover over Member Services on the navigation panel. Under Manage My Account is the link for the Spending Activity Report. Alternatively, you can scroll to the bottom of the screen, and under New Features is a link to the report.

Next, click on the Spending Activity Report hyperlink. You’ll then be prompted to log-in to your account.Spending Activity Report

Now you’re in the tool! Here you’ll find a summary of your health claims. It includes the total amount billed by your doctor or health professional, the amount of this total your health plan paid for and the amount you paid for out-of-pocket. Also displayed are any discounts provided and the total amount you saved because of your health plan.

You can choose to see a report of your healthcare expenses in different time periods (Jan. 1, 2013 – Dec. 31, 2013 is the timeframe you want). Now, the only number you need to worry about for tax purposes is the amount paid under Your Responsibility.

Have questions? Please leave us a comment or reach out on our Facebook or Twitter channels. Happy tax season!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 212 other followers