Category Archives: View Point

ViewPoint: A Healthy Start to the School Year- Back-to-School Physicals

It’s that time of year again. In a few short weeks, students will return to the classroom, and back-to-school preparations are in full swing. Readying your child for a successful school year involves more than simply purchasing the trendiest clothes and supplies.
One of the first steps in ensuring students have a safe and healthy start to the year is taking them to get a back-to-school physical examination. These exams, also known as well-checks, are especially important because they are often the only time a child visits the doctor each year. Physical exams not only detect potential health problems before they arise, but they can also provide an assurance of good health.
Back-to-school physicals typically consist of:
Routine Physical—During a routine physical, the physician will record your child’s height and weight, blood pressure and pulse. In addition, the physician will perform a comprehensive check of your child’s heart and lungs, abdomen, skin, eyes and ears, nose, mouth, teeth and throat to ensure that no abnormalities exist.
Medical History Review—The doctor will review the medical history of your child and any close relatives to detect illnesses or diseases which might run in the family. This portion of the exam will also include listing any medications your child is taking, as well as previous or current illnesses.
Preventative Screenings—Through routine examinations and blood tests, doctors have the opportunity to monitor a child’s overall wellness and screen for problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes and lead poisoning.
Immunizations—Children are required to receive certain immunizations before entering public schools. Back-to-school physicals are the perfect time to make sure that your child is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations.
As the first day of school approaches, finding time for a visit to the doctor may become difficult. Therefore, it’s important to schedule your child’s physical exam as soon as possible.
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield makes it easy to locate a physician in your area with its online “Find a Doctor” search tool. Searches can be filtered based upon a doctor’s location, specialty and health insurance plans accepted. To access this tool, and to learn more about health insurance, visit www.wellmark.com.

ViewPoint: Celebrating Success in Well-Being

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Celebrates 75 Years by Giving Back to Communities

To commemorate 75 years in business and to thank Iowans and South Dakotans for supporting a locally-based health insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is launching a 75-day campaign later this month to give back to communities by inspiring and encouraging healthy behaviors.

Iowans and South Dakotans have a lot to be proud of when it comes to their health. Both states ranked among the top ten healthiest in the nation according to this year’s Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (WBI). The WBI score examines life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. South Dakota achieved an impressive second place, while Iowa earned itself the tenth spot on the list.

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, Wellmark is giving back to the communities it serves. Wellmark is giving away $7,500 to ten projects that are able to demonstrate a long-lasting impact on making the healthy choice the easy choice and improving overall community health and wellness. Examples of projects include improving parks or trails in the community, establishing or improving recreational activities, or improving access to healthy foods.

Could your project benefit from $7,500?

Get creative and tell Wellmark why your project deserves the funds. Starting July 16, organizations can submit applications at www.Wellmark.com/75. The deadline for applications is August 5. On August 20, all qualified entries will be available for the public to vote for their favorite project. Public votes are one of four final factors Wellmark will use to determine winners so engage your community and educate them about your project!

This is just one example of how Wellmark is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 75 ways over 75 days. To learn more about what Wellmark is doing each day to encourage healthier and better lives for Iowans and South Dakotans, visit www.Wellmark.com/75.

View Point – June 18, 2014

Certain Life Events May Allow You to Add Health Insurance Coverage

Health insurance has gone through major changes this year under the new health care law. Americans are now only able to enroll for a plan, or make changes to current coverage, during a designated time of year known as the annual open enrollment period. March 31st was the last day of individual open enrollment for those seeking coverage in 2014. However, there are various opportunities to sign up for, or change coverage, this year before the next open enrollment period if you have a “life event” that qualifies you for a special enrollment period.
These “qualifying life events” are generally significant milestones in the lives of individuals. It is important for consumers to be educated on which milestones affect their coverage to ensure proper plans are in place.
Some qualifying life events that could trigger special enrollment periods for individuals include:

  • Turning 26 years old: Under the new law, young adults can remain insured through their parents’ health insurance policies until they “age out” at age 26 and need to seek new coverage.
  • Change in family status: Several significant events affect family size, including marriage, birth of a baby, and adoption of a child or addition of a stepchild.
  • Permanently moving to a new state: Relocating to a new coverage area will affect where one receives coverage.
  • Change in citizenship status: If one becomes a citizen of the United States, that change in status will affect coverage.
  • Losing other health coverage: Individuals can lose coverage due to job loss, divorce, and loss of eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP.

After a qualifying life event occurs, individuals can have between 31 and 60 days to enroll in individual health insurance or make the appropriate changes to their current policy. That is, of course, until the next annual enrollment period.
Seek the help of an expert to see how any life events could impact you and your insurance coverage. Your employer or trusted insurance agent or broker can help determine what you will be eligible for and when you need to enroll.

Healthy Conversations: brought to you by Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield

View Point – May 28, 2014

Wellmark Reports Strong Open Enrollment Period

 

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has announced the results of its 2014 open enrollment in Iowa and South Dakota. At the conclusion of the 2014 open enrollment period, Wellmark sold more than 24,000 Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, representing more than 41,000 policyholders.Open enrollment for 2014 health insurance policies began on Oct. 1, 2013, and ended March 31, 2014.

“We have a great story to tell about the enrollment in our new ACA-compliant plans,” said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. “Our ACA plan enrollment numbers confirm that among all the confusion in the marketplace, consumers were drawn to a brand they know and trust. Consumers had incredible choices when it came to their coverage – Wellmark’s ACA plans were a new option and were just as competitive as those available on the health insurance marketplace.”

Forsyth added that Wellmark’s online enrollment tool launched successfully the first day of open enrollment and did not require consumers to register or enter personal information in order to shop and compare plans. “We wanted consumers to have an easy way to look at all of their options. Our enrollment tool was operational from the beginning and made the enrollment process simple and straight forward.”

Wellmark’s enrollment data shows:

  • Consumers enrolled with a company they know and trust. Nearly half of the consumers who enrolled in a Wellmark ACA plan are new to Wellmark. When given a choice, consumers migrated from other plans or chose Wellmark for the first time.
  • Consumers overwhelmingly chose ACA Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans.PPO plans allow consumers to visit an in-network physician or healthcare provider without a referral from a primary care physician.
  • Consumers opted for higher benefit Silver and Gold plans. The majority of consumers who purchased Wellmark’s ACA plans chose Silver level plans followed by Gold, Bronze and Platinum.
  • Wellmark ACA plan members represent all age ranges. Wellmark had the highest enrollment among consumers in higher age brackets, 55-64 and 45-54, followed by consumers age 26-34 and 35-44. Consumers less than age 25 comprised the lowest enrollment.

View Point – On the Road Again! – March 19, 2014

By Gerald F. Schnepf
Executive Director, Keep Iowa Beautiful

Spring is close and thoughts of travel come to mind. At the local and regional level, as we move around the countryside with various vehicles, the odds are that travelers will pass through or visit your community in the near future. The opportunity provided to your hometown, is the increased ability to show off your community.

The challenge is to make sure that your community presents a good first impression to the traveler. That impression is expressed in two ways – first, in the visual image and appearance of the community and secondly by the kind of service that is provided to those travelers that do stop for visits to friends or relatives, vehicle needs, food or just to walk around and shop.

That first impression can make a significant difference in the future of your community. The person traveling today can be scout for corporate expansion, a business leader that is looking to grow their company, a spouse of a key individual in a company, a worker that has some influence in a business or with a friend that owns a corporation or someone simply looking for a new place to live.

There are a large number of stories of a traveler stopping in a small community for gas and having such a great experience that they end up investing in the community. While in the convenience store the traveler ends up in a conversation with the clerk. The clerk goes the extra mile to treat the person with respect and quality answers to the questions. The ultimate result is a year later that individual announced that he will build a new plant in the community. The original intent was to build in one of the southern states. It was the clerk’s hospitality and the visual high quality of the community that changed the mind of the business leader. This is a true story and it did happen in Iowa.

Another true story with totally different results also happened. The business investor met with an economic development specialist that took the individual on a tour of two communities. After completing the tour the economic development specialist asked the business investor which community he would like to develop his business in. The potential investor said – “Neither one – I don’t like what I saw in either community, they were not clean, facilities were not maintained and there were a number of public nuisances. This tells me that the citizens don’t take pride in their community and therefore, would tend not to take pride in their work. I will look elsewhere.”

Keeping your community clean and attractive as well as treating visitors with respect are experiences that may not always result in a new friend, resident or business – but, the question is can you afford not treat someone with courtesy or to have a clean and attractive community. By the way, those efforts provide another great value, an increased sense of pride to existing residents.