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December 2015

Tips To Travel Safely This Holiday Season

By Dr. Harvey Balthaser, M.D., Market Medical Director, Central and South Texas

Unitedhealthcare Travel Safety Tip Infographic
Unitedhealthcare Travel Safety Tip Infographic

According to AAA, nearly 99 million Americans will travel this holiday season. And they’ll be heading to spots such as Orlando, Los Angeles and Cancun, according to’s 2015 holiday survey.

However, about 20 percent of people suffer some type of illness or injury while on vacation, with the most common ailments including food poisoning, car crashes or skiing accidents. 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.


  1. 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. If traveling overseas, it is important people contact a primary care provider 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.


  1. Find Care Anywhere: Many health plans now offer telemedicine and mobile apps to support their customers’ health needs. The Health4Me app, available to anyone free of charge on iPhone or Android devices, enables users to identify nearby health care providers, hospitals, pharmacies and urgent care facilities, as well as compare quality and cost information for common medical services. Some health plans offer mobile apps that enable members to access a digital ID card and connect with a registered nurse 24/7. For international trips, contact your global insurance carrier to find out about the availability of approved medical facilities at planned travel destinations.


  1. Protection Abroad: People can alleviate concerns about quality of care and financial anxiety with international medical coverage. Global insurance companies can provide foreign language translations, direct you to appropriate facilities or support evacuation to alternative facilities, and can work with local health care providers to coordinate and monitor care. 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 on the travel itinerary). Some international health plans may include prescription drug coverage that enables people to fill prescriptions at local retail pharmacies.


  1. Get Your Credit: Even with international coverage, consider carrying an extra credit card with a large limit to use for unanticipated medical expenses. Foreign hospitals will typically want upfront payment, rather than billing the health plan. Get clear and complete copies of all bills, medical records and discharge notes for reimbursement from your health plan. Some global health plans do provide direct payments to foreign hospitals and care providers, eliminating a potential inconvenience and providing peace of mind.


  1. Be A Savvy Senior: Original Medicare in nearly all cases applies to the United States only and does not extend overseas or across the border (other than in cases in the Northern U.S. where the nearest hospital is in Canada). Some Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement plans offer worldwide emergency coverage for foreign travel, although some have restrictions and lifetime limits. Finally, it’s important to check the condition of personal durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs or assisted-breathing machines, to ensure they’re working properly before departure.


Following these tips will help you focus on fun, friends and family during the holiday season, while helping alleviate stress from health care access or insurance issues during a medical emergency.


UnitedHealthcare Named One of San Antonio’s Healthiest Employers

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Stock Image

UnitedHealthcare’s mission is to help people live healthier lives. Naturally, that also applies to our employees, which is why we’re proud our San Antonio office has been named one of San Antonio’s Healthiest Employers by the San Antonio Business Journal.

Decision makers highlighted how local UHC employees are incentivized to meet personalized health goals with wellness programs and helpful tracking tools, including online scorecards that note real actions to reach personal health milestones.

The San Antonio Business Journal’s parent company, American City Business Journals, partners with Healthiest Employers LLC, to extensively survey each eligible company. Our San Antonio office and other nominees were evaluated using six key categories: Culture and Leadership Commitment, Foundational Components, Strategic Planning, Communication and Marketing, Programming and Interventions, and Reporting and Analysis.

Congratulations, UnitedHealthcare San Antonio!

Young Man Finds Purpose With Help from UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas

Men and woman
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For years, Andy’s mild intellectual disability, mood swings and obesity eroded his self-confidence, preventing him from making friends or applying for jobs. By the time he was 25, Andy weighed nearly 350 pounds.

It wasn’t until he joined the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas that Andy found the people and resources he needed to change his life for the better.

The UnitedHealthcare Community Plan helps eligible families and individuals find affordable Medicaid and Medicare plans. It offers a wide range of options for qualifying expectant mothers, their babies, children up to the age of 19, adults and families, seniors, and people living with disabilities and other hardships.

As part of his health plan, Andy receives Medicaid benefits and case management services. His case management team encourages him to adopt healthier behaviors, including seeking more social interaction and considering a weight loss program. During a supervisory home visit with Andy last year, two case managers noticed a slash on his cheek, perilously close to his eye. When asked about the injury, Andy said it was a knife wound from a gang fight the previous night.

Vulnerable to gang influence

“We were extremely concerned about him,” said Andy’s UHC Community Plan case manager. It was clear to them that Andy was a lonely young man in search of peer acceptance. The case managers helped Andy understand the dangers of associating with gang members and suggested an alternative to staying home alone all day: attending a day program at an adult daycare facility.

In the past, Andy had enjoyed the nutritious meals and caring staff at his local adult daycare facility, but he’d stopped attending because depression made it daunting for him to get out of bed in the morning. The center would send transportation to his house, but he often wouldn’t emerge from his room.

Adult daycare center: A place to belong

To re-engage Andy, his case managers enlisted the help of Mike, the adult daycare facility’s owner, someone Andy knew and trusted.

“I asked Mike to call Andy and warn him about the dangers of gangs,” said the case manager. She also thought Andy might decide to start attending the adult daycare again if he knew Mike cared about his welfare and would welcome him back.

Their intuition was right. Soon after the call, Andy agreed to start attending the center on a regular basis. Now, Andy never misses a day. In fact, he helps Mike open the center in the mornings.

Through the Community Plan of Texas and his case managers, Andy is living a healthier lifestyle and has found an important sense of belonging and purpose, along with much needed structure to his days.