United For Better Health



United For Better Health

Host, Mary McElrath-Jones

“United for Better Health” airs every first and third Wednesday at 10:30am.  It is a half hour program that features health care professionals in and around Westchester County.  The show’s guests discuss a wide range of health care topics and offer meaningful suggestions and solutions for better health, a better health care experience and better control of your health care costs.

As the health care system continues to evolve with new technologies, programs and treatments the opportunities to help people live healthier lives have never been greater.  “United for Better Health” aims to help WVOX listeners become actively engaged in their own health and health care so that they better understand their health plan benefits, know more about the latest trends in disease management and better understand the value of an effective, sustainable health care system.

United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report was recently released.  The report is the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. For 28 years, the report has analyzed a comprehensive set of data on behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care and outcomes to provide a holistic view of the health of the nation. New York’s overall rank is #10, which is up three spots from its #13 in ranking in 2016.

Dr. Adam Aponte

Dr.  Adam Aponte, regional medical director for UnitedHealthcare’s Community Plan in New York joined me to

talk about what this ranking means for folks in Westchester and across NY State.  For more information about the report and details about New York’s strengths and challenges when it comes to overall health, visit www.AmericasHealthRankings.org

On December 5th we spoke with Dr. Michael Silver, cardiologist with WESTMED Medical Group about the new blood pressure guidelines recently released by the American Heart Association.  People with blood pressure readings of 130 as the top number or 80 as the bottom number are now considered to have an elevated or high blood pressure level.  High blood pressure used to be defined as 140/90.

Dr. Michael Silver

During our conversation Dr. Silver answered a wide range of questions about the new guidelines including why these new guidelines were put in place, what exactly do the blood pressure numbers mean, how often you should have your blood pressure checked and what dietary changes and exercise regimens can help prevent, manage or lower blood pressure.

If you missed this show you will absolutely want to take a listen by clicking on the 12/5/17 show link below.  For additional information UnitedHealthcare’s Understanding Your Blood Pressure podcast is a great place to start.

November was chocked full of advice for this open enrollment season, the period of time when most people get to elect or change their health insurance coverage.  We began by talking with Ann Marie O’Brien, national director for health strategies at UnitedHealthcare.  Ann Marie shared information about one of the top five health problems in the U.S., diabetes.  As Ann Marie started with a “Understanding Diabetes Quiz” and then went on to point out, that people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic should be especially diligent when selecting health insurance coverage paying close attention to the wellness programs which can help tremendously with nutrition and exercise programs that can defer or prevent the onset of diabetes.  Next we spoke with Chuck Cerniglia.  Chuck is the vice president of sales and account management for UnitedHealthcare’s commercial line of business in New York.  Chuck walked us through the ABC’s of health care and offered the following websites for additional information on health care basics www.uhc.com/healthcareabcs; health savings accounts www.hsacenter.com and health plan information for UnitedHealthcare and Oxford health plan members www.myuhc.com. Chuck also reminded listeners to download the Health4Me mobile app for simple, streamlined access to their health care resources in a secure and convenient way.

Victor DeStefano

On October 18th, Victor DeStefano, executive director with UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare and Retirement team was our guest.  Victor shared open enrollment tips and information on the Medicare plans from UnitedHealthcare that are available to Westchester residents for the 2018 plan year.  When evaluating your Medicare health plan options, Victor suggests a three step process.  First evaluate your existing coverage and identify any changes that you may need.  Second, know what level and type of care you need and the doctors you’ll want to deliver that care.  And finally, know what if any additional benefits like dental, vision, hearing aids, you need.  For additional information on UnitedHealthcare complete suite of Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans visit our retail store at the Ridge Hill Mall in Yonkers, Monday – Friday from 9-5:00pm now through December 7th or visit www.uhcopenenrollment.com.

JoJo Wallace

JoJo Wallace, market leader for UnitedHealthcare in Westchester County was our guest on October 4th and he shared with us some exciting news for the 2017 health insurance open enrollment season.  Effective October 15, Westchester residents who rely on both Medicare and Medicaid for their health insurance coverage will have access to a new health plan offered by UnitedHealthcare.  The plan, titled Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans or D-SNP, offers enhanced health benefits based on an individual’s medical, social, behavioral and financial needs.  Jojo highlighted a number of key benefits of this new health plan including free gym membership, delivered meals following post acute care and a debit card that can be used for prescriptions and other health related items.  For more information about this health plan and to find out if you are eligible go to www.uhccommunityplan.com, visit the UnitedHealthcare health benefits store at 328  S. Broadway,Yonkers, NY or call 877-629-3617.

This September we kicked-off our bi-monthly programming with Chuck Cerniglia, vice president of sales for UnitedHealthcare.  Chuck suggested the following to get the most out of your health insurance plan:

Do your research – if you have a scheduled medical procedure review your plan to be sure doctors are in-network and that you’ve chosen based on quality and affordability

Use transparency tools available to you – All UnitedHealthcare and Oxford health plans have access to a really cool and effective transparency tool called Health4Me.  The recently upgraded Health4Me app for iPhone and Android devices automatically tells you when it’s time for preventive medical care.  Preventive care – preventive care is included in most plans at 100% coverage level and typically includes annual physical exams, colonoscopy, mammogram, basic blood tests, gynecological exam and cervical cancer screen.   Even if you are in the best shape of your life, a serious condition with no signs or symptoms may put your health at risk.  At www.uhcpreventivecare.com you can identify your age and gender-specific preventive care recommendations that can help you and your doctor make health decisions that meet your lifestyle and daily habits and help you live a healthier life.

Know and use the wellness tools made available to you– UnitedHealthcare offers many tools to help people improve their health or maintain a healthy lifestyle they already have in place.  Rally, Real Appeal, Motion and Sweat-Equity are three examples

Know and use the savings tools available to you – like the health savings account (HSA).  Recently released reports from Employee Benefit Research Institute and Morningstar found that many people don’t take full advantage of their health savings accounts (HSAs). For more information on HSA accounts go to www.hsacenter.com  to become better informed.  The HSA Center includes video clips, interactive calculators, an extensive FAQ, and a list of qualified medical expenses.

Ann Marie O’Brien

In June we discussed the results of UnitedHealthcare’s nationwide Consumer Sentiment Survey: “Wellness Check Up”, with Ann Marie O’Brien, national director of health strategies at UnitedHealthcare.  The study provided insights into employees’ knowledge and preferences about wellness programs offered as a part of their employer-sponsored health insurance.  Ann Marie offered employers and employees tips on getting the most from their wellness plan.  Click here for great health and wellness tips on nutrition, weight management, heart health and summer safety.

Ariel Batista

We ended the month of June with a conversation with Ariel Batista, the market leader for UnitedHealthcare in Westchester County.  Ariel walked us through Medicaid 101; a lesson that was not to be missed.  He explained, in simple layperson terms, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan and the Essential Plan.  If you missed it, you’ll want to take a listen to this conversation on demand (see link below).

In May, we reminded New Yorkers that UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation grants for up to $5,000 are available to help families with sick children under age 16 pay for medical services and equipment such as physical, occupational and speech therapy, surgeries, prescriptions, wheelchairs and orthotics.  We kicked off National Bike Month by speaking with John Appuzzio, product manager at UnitedHealthcare about the Citi Bike/Oxford Sweat Equity 10X10X10 Challenge in New York City.  The 10X10X10 Challenge invited people to take 10 CitiBike trips of at least 10 minutes in 10 days for a chance to win a CitiBike & UnitedHealthcare prize package.   In May we also spoke with Dr. Rhonda Randall, senior advisor to United Health Foundation about the results of the 5th annual America’s Health rankings Senior Report.  The Report is a comprehensive analysis of the senior population across the country on a state-by-state basis which seeks to promote discussion around the health of older Americans while encouraging communities, governments, stakeholders and individuals to take action to improve senior health. More information about each of these programs can be found at: http://mmcguireuhc.blogspot.com/

In April, UnitedHealthcare announced its 1 billion step challenge and invited people whose health plan includes UnitedHealthcare Motion to walk 10,000 steps collectively.  More information about UnitedHealthcare Motion can be found at: https://unitedhealthcaremotion.com/.

Chuck Cerniglia

We also spoke with Chuck Cerniglia, vice president of sales with UnitedHealthcare, about health care literacy.    Health care literacy can be defined as your ability to find, understand, communicate, and take action on health information.  Chuck defined many of the health insurance terms that often confuse consumers  For more health care ABC’s visit: https://www.uhc.com/healthcareabcs

In March we spoke with Dr. Richard Klich, chief dental officer for UnitedHealthcare, about children’s dental health.  More information on this topic can be found at: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/analysis/2016/02/16/childrens-dental-health-disparities

Dr. Kesh

If you missed our conversation with WESTMED’s Dr. Sandra Kesh, infectious disease specialist and Dr. Caroline DeFilippo, associate medical director you’ll want to click the on the on-demand link for their show now!  These top docs shared information about an important adult immunization initiative implemented by the American Medical Group Association.

The doctors reminded us that immunizations are not just for babies and young kids.  In fact, vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations, medical conditions and vaccines you may have received in the past.  And of course, certain health conditions may put you at greater risk for getting some diseases or having more serious illness if you were to get sick.

Dr. DeFilippo

Dr. Kesh suggests you take the CDC’s Adult Vaccine Quiz to find out which vaccines may be recommended for you.  Once you’ve taken the quiz, take the customized printout and discuss with your doctor.  And as we head into flu season you’ll want to educate yourself on key facts that will help you prevent and protect you and your loved ones from the flu.

In February, Dr. Richard Morel, former co-medical director of WESTMED Medical Group shared information about CMS’ Million Hearts initiative.  Million Hearts™ brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners from across the country to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.  More information about this program can be found at: https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/

I invite you to listen on demand to any of the programs you missed or visit us at http://www.uhc.com for more information about how UnitedHealthcare is helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health care system work better for everyone.

Thank you for listening!


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