April 2019 Hometown Health Newsletter: Take Control of Your Care 

Tips To Get Your Steps In  


By walking with friends, family, even your co-workers, you can catch up, and enjoy the physical benefits at the same time.

These days you can’t help but hear that many Americans suffer from serious health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease from eating poorly or not getting enough physical activity. Most of us know that regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to improve our health. Between work, school, running errands, and family commitments, finding ways to fit physical activity into our busy schedules can sometimes feel like a challenge

Fortunately, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides options for reaching your physical activity goals through different kinds of activities. That’s the good news. Want even better news? One of the most popular forms of physical activity is one you already do every day—walking! More than 145 million adults now include walking as part of their physically active lifestyle. So if you’re not as active as you would like, why not consider walking more?

Did you know that walking briskly for 2 hours and 30 minutes each week— easily broken up into five 30-minute walks—can actually get you the physical activity you need to help you stay healthy and prevent disease? It’s that simple! However, for some, even this much activity can seem hard to achieve. If that’s true for you, don’t be discouraged. There are many ways to incorporate more walking into your busy life that only require small changes to everyday activities.

Try some of the tips below, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the steps start adding up.

Replace time spent circling the parking lot for a spot up-close. Park further away and walk to your destination.

  • Host a walking meeting. Walk and talk over work problems with your co-workers for the first 20 minutes, then hit the conference room to write down ideas and finish up.
  • Make a few extra laps around the mall. When out shopping, walk the length of the mall before going into any stores. The mall is also a good place to walk to avoid bad weather outside.
  • Arrive at the airport 15-30 minutes earlier. Walk to your gate or terminal instead of taking the train.
  • Make a “Walk-and-Talk” date with a friend or family member. Skip the latte and do a loop around the neighborhood instead.
  • Take a walking lunch break at work. Keep extra shoes and socks in your filing cabinet.
  • Walk while you are waiting. Instead of sitting on the bleachers while your child’s at sports practice, walk around the field. Walk outside the restaurant as you wait for your table to be ready.
  • Find a convenient walking path near your home, kids’ activities, or work

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Choosing a Doctor


Finding a doctor you trust is an important part of staying healthy. You're more likely to schedule regular appointments. And you'll be more comfortable asking questions about your health.

Depending on your plan, you'll likely pay less if you use a doctor in your plan's network. In some plans, you may be required to choose a primary care doctor to coordinate your health care.

Determine if your doctor is in the network
You'll probably pay less when you visit doctors or other health care professionals in your plan's network.

Why do you need a primary care doctor?
Choosing a primary care doctor is something many health plans require. But, even if your plan doesn't require it, finding one is a good idea. Why? When you see the same doctor who knows you and your medical history, that person can help coordinate your care. For example, your primary care doctor:

  • Treats routine illnesses
  • Performs regular check-ups and screenings
  • Is your first call for health concerns
  • Refers you to specialists when you require further tests or care

How to select a primary care doctor
It's important to find a primary care doctor that is right for you. Rather than randomly picking someone from your plan's network, consider these steps:

  • Ask for referrals from friends and family. Then check to see if those doctors are in your plan's network.
  • Search your plan's network for doctors whose locations are convenient for you and your family.
  • Research the doctor's education, certification and performance history. (Websites like abms.orgOpens a new window and ama-assn.orgOpens a new window are great resources for this.) Also, check your health plan to see which doctors have been specially designated for quality and/or cost efficiency.
  • Call the doctors on your list to find out more about things like cancellation and payment policies and after-hour health concerns.
  • Find out who covers for your doctor when he or she is not available.
  • Schedule an appointment with your top choice to go over your medical history, discuss your health concerns and determine if it's a good fit.

Depending on your situation, you may choose different primary care providers for each member of the family. Types of doctors include:

  • Family or general practitioner. These doctors care for a wide range of health concerns and may be able to treat family members of any age.
  • Internist. Internists treat adults and may have additional training in specialties, such as cardiology.
  • OB/GYN (obstetrics/gynecology). These practitioners specialize in women's health, including pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Pediatricians. Pediatricians specialize in health care for children and adolescents.
  • Geriatricians. These doctors focus on health care for older adults.

Search for UnitedHealth Premium® physicians
Not all health care is equal, and that can affect the care you receive. According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, "adults receive the recommended medical treatment only 55 percent of the time."1 That's why UnitedHealthcare developed the UnitedHealth Premium® designation program, which recognizes physicians that meet guidelines for providing quality and cost efficient care.

The program uses national standardized measures to evaluate for quality and local geographic area benchmarks for cost efficiency across 16 specialties and 47 sub-specialties, including family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, cardiology and orthopedics.

The designation results are displayed publicly in UnitedHealthcare's physician directories to support informed decision-making by members when making health care choices and by physicians when making referrals.

Source: UHC

Knowing When to Seek Emergency Care


When facing unexpected medical conditions, you may want to go to the emergency room first. But this may not be your best choice.

At the ER, true emergencies are usually treated first. Other cases must wait – sometimes for hours. And it may cost you more.

When to visit your primary care physician
If it's not urgent, it's usually best to go to your primary care doctor. Your doctor knows you and your health history. He or she can access your medical records. Plus, your doctor can provide follow-up care and refer you to specialists.

When to seek urgent care
Sometimes, you may need care fast. If your primary care physician is unavailable, you may want to try an urgent care center or retail health clinic in your network. Some employers also offer health services for minor ailments.

Chances are you won't have to wait as long as at the ER. You may pay less, too.

Urgent care centers and retail health clinics can typically treat things like:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Minor broken bones (example: finger)
  • Minor infections
  • Small cuts
  • Sore throats
  • Rashes

When to go to the emergency room
In an emergency, go to the ER. Consider seeking immediate assistance for:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Large open wounds
  • Sudden change in vision
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden weakness or trouble talking
  • Major burns
  • Spinal injuries
  • Severe head injury
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Major broken bones

Source: UHC

Make Sure You’re Covered While Traveling


Your health plan operates a bit differently when you are out of the country.

It helps to know what’s covered ahead of time so you can plan and add to your coverage if you choose, before you leave.

How health plans work when you are out of the country
While many plans may provide out-of-network coverage when you travel outside of the U.S., the way services are paid for can be different. Doctors and hospitals in other countries will commonly expect you to pay up front before starting treatment. Most likely, you will need to keep careful records and submit everything for reimbursement when you get home.

Check your health plan specifics about international travel
It’s a good idea to read your health plan documents or talk to your health insurance provider before you go. That way, you’ll know ahead of time what’s covered and what’s not, and you can see if there are any special services or requirements for international travelers.

Bring names of any medications along with you
If you or a family member are taking any prescription medication, make a written list of medication names and dosages. Also include the name, telephone number, email address, and mailing address of your prescribing doctor, just in case you need it.

Consider international travel medical insurance
There are several advantages to an international travel medical insurance policy. For instance, a SafeTrip international travel insurance plan, along with travel assistance services, available through UnitedHealthcare Global, can help you:

  • Find a pre-screen quality medical provider.
  • Cover costs at the time of treatment rather than having to wait for reimbursement after you get home.
  • Get home in a medical emergency
  • Get help with non-medical problems, like a lost passport or a legal need.
  • Add riders to cover lost baggage, trip cancellation, or adventure travel.

Source: UHC