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May 2017

UnitedHealthcare-Sponsored Program is Teaching Kids how to Eat and Live Healthier Lives

 

UnitedHealthcare of North Texas partners with the Junior League of Dallas to support Kids in the Kitchen, a nationally-recognized health education program that empowers kindergarteners through 5th graders to learn how to make healthy meals while also educating them and their parents about nutrition and healthy food choices.

UnitedHealthcare’s assistance enables Junior League of Dallas to train program administrators and provide supplies to select Dallas-area non-profit agencies. At the end of the eight week program, kids not only have learned how to prepare healthy foods, but they’ve also been taught etiquette, kitchen safety and overall health and wellness.

See additional information about Kids in the Kitchen here

Five Healthcare Trends to Watch

New technologies and programs are helping make health care more efficient and accessible for more Americans. Here are five health care trends to watch.

  • Fitness Trackers: The wearable-technology market is booming; the industry’s value is expected to reach $31.2 billion by the end of 2020, according to a recent research report. This is good news for consumers, as wearable devices enable people to track their daily steps, monitor their heart rates and analyze sleep patterns. Some employers and health plans, such as UnitedHealthcare Motion™, are including fitness trackers as part of wellness programs, enabling some employees to earn financial incentives by meeting specific daily walking goals. Employers are expected to incorporate more than 13 million wearable and fitness tracking devices into their wellness programs by 2018, according to technology consultancy Endeavors Partners. A related study published in Science & Medicine showed people tend to overestimate how much exercise they get each week by more than 50 minutes, and they underestimate sedentary time by more than two hours, underscoring the importance of a wellness program like UnitedHealthcare Motion.
  • Workplace Wellness: Besides fitness trackers, some employers offer other wellness incentives, which can include gift cards, lower health insurance premiums, cash bonuses and discounts on gym memberships. An estimated 70 percent of employers already offer wellness programs and 8 percent more plan to do so during the next year, according to a 2016 study from the Society for Human Resource Management. The value of corporate wellness incentives has increased to $693 per employee, up from $430 five years ago, according to a recent study from the National Business Group on Health. However, the study found that fewer than half of eligible employees earned the full incentive, with workers leaving millions of dollars of unclaimed rewards.
  • Comparison Shopping: The internet has transformed how people purchase goods and services, and it is doing the same for health care. Some new online and mobile services enable people to comparison shop for health care based on quality and cost. The Health4Me app, available on iPhone and Android devices, enables users to identify nearby health care providers and facilities, as well as compare quality and estimated cost information for more than 850 common medical services. With a growing number of Americans now enrolled in consumer-directed health plans, more people are using online and mobile health care transparency resources. More people (32 percent) are using websites and mobile apps to comparison shop for health care, up from 14 percent in 2012, according to the recent UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey.
  • Get Care Anywhere: New mobile apps now enable people to meet with a primary care physician and specialist to obtain medical care, with the goal of providing convenience and more affordable care. The cost of a video-based virtual visit is usually less than $50 and may provide significant savings when compared to costs for similar minor medical needs treated at a doctor’s office , urgent care facility  or emergency room, according to UnitedHealthcare claims data.
  • Value-based Care: Employers and health plans are increasingly using Value-based Care arrangements, a shift away from the common fee-for-service structure in which a care provider is paid separately for each treatment, appointment or test during a treatment plan, generating multiple claims within a single, broader episode of care. Under Value-based Care arrangements, the health care providers that employees use are paid for achieving certain quality outcomes and demonstrating that they’re improving people’s health, rather than getting paid solely for the number of services they provide to patients. In other words, they’re paid for value over volume. For instance, a new UnitedHealthcare program with health care facilities nationwide is using a type of Value-based Care arrangements (bundled payments) for knee, hip and spine procedures, and participating employers have recorded an average savings of $10,000 or more per operation when compared with median costs in the same metropolitan area. Meanwhile, employees having the surgery may save $1,000 in lower out-of-pocket costs when accessing an in-network facility that accepts bundled payments.

Happy Mother’s Day: Five Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth

Mother’s Day is an ideal time for families in Texas to think about expectant mothers’ and babies’ health, and raise awareness about how to increase the likelihood of a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

One out of 10 babies nationwide each year is born premature, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preterm births represent a small percentage of all births; however, infants born before term represent a large proportion of all infant deaths. In Texas, the infant mortality rate is 5.8 per thousand live births, putting the state at No. 21 nationwide, according to United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings®: The Health of Women and Children Report.

Pregnancy is often a time of excitement and joy; yet, with so much information to consider, moms-to-be can feel overwhelmed. That’s why access to appropriate prenatal, postpartum and well-child care is important for mothers’ and babies’ immediate and long-term health.

Here are five tips to help you and your baby have a healthy pregnancy and birth.

  1. Take charge of your health during pregnancy. This means eating well, staying active, getting rest and limiting stress as much as possible. Share your goals with your maternity care provider and ask for support and suggestions. Your health plan may have free programs and online services that can help you get and stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.
  2. Choose a maternity care provider and birth setting that best fits your needs. Where and with whom you give birth can have a major impact on the care you receive, your health, your baby’s health and your satisfaction with your childbearing experience. That’s why it’s important to look for a maternity care provider and birth setting that meets your goals and preferences. More information on choosing a maternity care provider and birth setting is available at www.ChildbirthConnection.org/HealthyPregnancy.
  3. Learn what happens to your body before, during, and after pregnancy and childbirth – and how certain medical procedures can affect you: Understanding what is normal and healthy when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth can help you identify potential concerns and make informed decisions about your maternity care. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises against elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, including cesarean sections unless medically necessary.
  4. Know your maternity benefits and rights at work: If you work full time and plan to return to your job after your baby is born, it is helpful to know your company’s maternity leave policy so you and your family are prepared. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enables mothers and fathers who have worked at least one year for a company with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off, while many employers offer full or partial paid leave. Under the law, you are also guaranteed to get your job back after your leave.
  5. Plan for support once your baby arrives: Life with a new baby is a big adjustment, and it’s okay to ask for help. If you are planning to breastfeed, start learning what it entails and what support you might need to get off to a good start. Be sure to call your maternity care provider if you have problems breastfeeding, or other unexpected difficulties, when you’re home with your new baby.

Pregnancy, labor and birth, and the early postpartum period are important times for women and families. By accessing available information and resources, women and new parents can make more informed decisions for themselves and their babies, and experience a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

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