Everyone knows when you’re sick you go to a medical facility for treatment in order to get better. What you need to be aware of, however, is that patients can also contract an infection while getting treatment for their medical issue. Unfortunately, germs are everywhere. Some germs are good and help keep us healthy. Others are bad – they cause infections and can lead to a serious illness or even death. It’s important to identify an infection early and to get immediate medical treatment. ¹
How do infections happen?
Most infections happen when germs find entry into your body, multiply and then create a bad reaction. Certain specific circumstances increase the odds that an infection could happen: ¹
Origin – Refers to where germs live (such as patients, visitors and medical personnel) and places where they can be found (such as counters, bed rails, faucets, toilets and medical devices).
At-risk person – Any person who hasn’t been vaccinated, is sick or has a compromised immune system is more susceptible to germs entering their body and causing an infection.
Transmission – Germs enter a body by way of contaminated contact with a person, place or thing – they don’t enter on their own.
What can I do to maintain patient safety?
Each day patients are contracting infections while they are at medical facilities being treated for something different. There are some very important things you can do to help prevent contracting a serious infection. Some of these are: ¹
Be vocal – Don’t be silent. If you have any questions or concerns regarding how your medical facility is protecting and safeguarding patient safety ask your doctor.
Proper hygiene – The single most important thing everyone can do is wash their hands. If you are sick, not only do you want to keep your hands clean, others who may come in contact with you need to be washing their hands. If you are going to have surgery, speak to your doctor about surgical site infections. Ask about their prevention procedures and what you can do prior to surgery to lessen your risk of infection.
Ask questions – For example, make sure you know what type of medication you will be given. There can be various repercussions if the incorrect antibiotic or medication is used and/or prescribed. Be your own health advocate to ensure you know why a test, procedure or medication is being provided.
Educate yourself – Learn about the symptoms and signs of infections, especially the more serious ones, such as sepsis or MRSA, which can result in death.
Sepsis: This can develop once an infection already exists in your body and the infection isn’t stopped. The symptoms are: confusion, hard time breathing, rapid heart rate, fever, feeling cold and/or shivering, in pain and sweaty skin.
MRSA: This is a type of staph bacteria that does not respond well to several antibiotics. The symptoms are: irritated skin area that appears as a lump or bump and is red, swollen, hurts, is warm to the touch, pus filled and draining, and fever.
Watch for signs – Contact your doctor if symptoms worsen, such as having diarrhea three times in a 24 hour time frame. This is especially important if you are on an antibiotic and you are having these symptoms.
Stay protected – Keep as safe as possible with yearly flu vaccinations which may help lessen and prevent serious health issues.
What action should I take if I think I have an infection?
It is always important to be an advocate of your own health. If you think you have an infection or have symptoms that suddenly appear, even if you are on an antibiotic, call your doctor. Infections can get serious quickly – don’t delay seeking medical treatment. The earlier an infection can be treated, the less likely it will become life-threatening. ¹
This is informational only, not a replacement for the medical advice of your physician.
UnitedHealthcare today issued a scam alert in response to reports of a number of calls attempting to solicit personal information from railroad workers.
An email from Gail Snopkowski, senior service account manager of railroad accounts for UnitedHealthcare, to SMART TD said “several” railroad members have received unsolicited phone calls claiming to be from the insurer.
“Be assured that UnitedHealthcare is not involved in any such activity, and the phone number being used by the caller has been identified as a SCAM,” Snopkowski said in the email.
The alert from UnitedHealthcare identifies fake calls from 678-384-4965 as coming from a Georgia area code and telling members to call 888-315-7524 and ask for “UnitedHealthcare options.” Fake calls also were reported to UnitedHealthcare as coming from a Tennessee area code.
“UnitedHealthcare does not place calls to members asking them for their Social Security number. Do not provide any information to these callers,” the alert said.
The alert also provided tips to avoid this and similar scams:
If you receive an unexpected call or text from any area code/phone number you don’t recognize, never answer it. If it’s someone with a legitimate inquiry, they will call back or leave a message.
If you do answer it and you believe the call is suspicious, call the Member Services number on the back of your medical ID card to speak with a customer service representative.
Always be sure to review your phone bill carefully and contact your carrier about any suspicious charges.
While there are many risk factors that can lead to heart disease, you may be able to make certain lifestyle changes to improve your heart health. In addition to your medical treatments and medicines, you may also benefit from exercise, healthy foods, stress management, and a yearly assessment for risk factors of heart disease.
What immediate changes can I make for better heart health?
Some of the immediate lifestyle changes you can make for better heart health are:
Get a yearly preventive exam – With regular checkups each year, medical issues may be identified earlier and could help you live a longer, healthier life.
Check cholesterol – Ask for a baseline test if it’s never been checked. Then have it re-checked each year as part of your preventive exam. Young adults should have their cholesterol checked beginning in their twenties if high blood pressure runs in their family. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may monitor it more often.
Monitor blood pressure – Blood pressure is another vital sign that should be checked yearly. If heart disease runs in your family or you have heart disease, your doctor will monitor it more frequently.
Stop smoking – If you smoke – quit. Smoking is a major contributor to heart disease, especially atherosclerosis. Quitting is the most immediate thing you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and other heart issues.
Control your diabetes – If you are diabetic, it’s crucial to control your blood sugar to help lower your risk of heart disease.
Eat healthy foods and maintain a healthy weight – Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are heart healthy foods. They are lower in sodium, saturated fats, cholesterol, and added sugar – and may help keep your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure under control.
Stay active – Movement is necessary every day, not only to help you manage your weight, but to also help control the many risk factors of heart disease. Talk to your doctor to determine what physical activity you can safely perform each week.
Minimize stress/depression – Learn to relax and focus on keeping your stress level and any depression to a minimum. The risk of heart disease increases with depression and stress. Seek professional help if you can’t do it on your own.
If I am diagnosed with heart disease, what are some coping skills?
It can be scary to learn you have heart disease and managing stress is very important to your condition. Emotional support, along with proper care and treatment, is important to helping your heart condition stabilize or improve. A few things you can do are:
Seek out support groups – Family and friends are a great way to seek support. If, however, you feel that’s not enough, do not hesitate to ask your doctor about a support group. Sometimes sharing your experience and fears with others who have similar issues helps you cope better.
See your doctor regularly – To ensure your condition is being treated properly, it is important that you see your doctor regularly.
Participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program – If this program is recommended to you by your doctor, participate in it. It will not only help you recover, but it will focus on exercise, diet, education, and support for lifestyle changes that will help keep your heart healthy.
What questions should I ask my doctor if I am diagnosed with heart disease?
It is important to be an advocate of your own health. If you are diagnosed with heart disease, you want to understand everything your doctor is telling you. If you have questions, write them down so you don’t forget what to ask. Bring someone to the appointment with you who can help interpret what you are being told. Some questions you should ask your doctor are:
What is causing my heart disease?
Can anything else be contributing to my condition?
What are the various tests/procedures I will need?
What can I do to help improve my heart condition?
Some information provided to UnitedHealthcare by www.mayoclinic.org
This is informational only, not a replacement for the medical advice of your physician.
During November and December 2014, UnitedHealthcare will hold an open enrollment under Group Policy GA-23111. During this period, any individual who is eligible for coverage under one of the GA-23111 plans can enroll and will be accepted for coverage without any medical underwriting or requirement of good health.
There are no limitations for pre-existing conditions. Enrollment in November and December 2014 will be for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2015. Only those applicants whose completed enrollment form is postmarked in November 2014 or December 2014 will be considered for open enrollment.
This open enrollment is being held for former railroad employees (and their dependents) who:
Were previously covered under any railroad health plan and were represented by a railway labor organization or,
Were members in accordance with the constitution or by-laws of one of the participating railway labor organizations, when coverage under their applicable group health plan ended.
If someone you know meets these GA-23111 eligibility provisions, open enrollment provides an opportunity for them to become covered. Other eligible members of your family may also enroll if they are not currently covered. In addition, open enrollment under Plan F is available for railroad employees’ parents or parents-in-law who are eligible under Medicare.
Anyone interested in enrolling should call one of the following phone numbers to get additional information about these plans:
For persons eligible for Medicare, call (800) 809-0453;
For persons not eligible for Medicare, call (800) 842-5252.
Members covered by Aetna, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield or UnitedHealthcare seeking information about treatment options, chronic conditions or answers to other health-related questions can call a “nurse line” for answers 24 hours a day, every day.
This free service can help you with losing weight, managing stress, quitting tobacco and much more. More importantly, the nurse line offers you information, motivation, encouragement, and the one-on-one support that can make a real difference in your health: to stay well, get well or manage a health condition.
You or one of your dependents can call your plan’s nurse line for:
1. Learn about any health topic that concerns you;
2. Change a behavior, like smoking or overeating, that affects your overall health;
3. Gather information about a recent diagnosis;
4. Learn about symptoms for certain illnesses and diseases;
5. Find out about your medications;
6. Understand an upcoming test or procedure;
7. Make an informed medical or surgical health care decision;
8. Follow through with a treatment plan;
9. Manage a chronic condition, like asthma or diabetes, more effectively;
10. Understand treatment options;
11. Learn how to handle symptoms to avoid emergency room visits;
12. Find ways to reduce risks associated with the condition.
To take advantage of this valuable resource, simply call the number on the back of your medical identification card anytime, or refer to the numbers below:Aetna: (800) 556-1555
UnitedHealthcare has begun mailing a welcome kit to those rail members covered under the national railroad health & welfare plans who have enrolled in the Flexible Spending Account (FSA), to become effective Jan. 1, 2013.
The mailing includes a claim form, information as to how you can manage your account online and also reminds those individuals to complete and return the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) form enclosed in the kit.
This welcome kit is only being mailed to those eligible railroad employees who have already enrolled in the FSA.
Railroad employees who have elected to participate in the FSA Plan will receive a Summary Plan Description (SPD) booklet early next year.
If you would like additional information about this new benefit program, please contact UnitedHealthcare at (800) 842-9905.
The national railroad plans (“plan”) allow you to see any doctor in your plan administrator’s network, including specialists, without a referral. This means that you have the freedom to choose a physician or specialist without first seeing a primary care physician.
There are two levels of coverage under the plan. Your level of coverage is determined each time you receive care and whether you use an in-network provider or an out-of-network provider. Your out-of-pocket costs under both levels of coverage may include office visit copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance whether you are using services under the Managed Medical Care Program (MMCP), the Comprehensive Health Care Benefit (CHCB) or the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Care Benefit (MHSA).
MMCP and MHSA benefits
• In-network:This level of benefit will apply when you use a physician, specialist, laboratory or other provider who is a member of your plan administrator’s network. When you use in-network providers, your out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, and coinsurance will be lower than if you use out-of-network providers. Remember, there is no penalty for seeking treatment from a specialist without a referral, providing you with quicker, easier access to health care.
• Out-of-network:This level of benefit will apply when you use a physician, specialist, laboratory or other provider who is not a member of your plan administrator’s network. The plan provides coverage if you use an out-of-network provider, but your out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, and coinsurance will be higher than if you use an in-network provider. In addition, you will be responsible for any amounts in excess of the covered charges. Covered charges are those charges determined to be usual, customary and reasonable for a particular service in a particular ZIP code area. Additionally, out-of-network providers may require you to pay for services at the time of service which means you will have to file your claim with the plan in order to be reimbursed.
Under CHCB, the plan pays a percentage of eligible expenses for covered health services. You will pay lower deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses if you use preferred providers, who are health care providers the plan has special arrangements with who agree to discount their charges. By using a provider where a special discount arrangement exists, the amount of the eligible expense that is your responsibility will generally be less than if non-preferred provider is used because the eligible expense will not be subject to a usual, customary and reasonable charge determination for a particular service in a particular ZIP code area. The covered charge will be based on the discounted charge, after your calendar year deductible is satisfied, leaving you with a lower out-of-pocket expense. Your medical ID card shows if you are entitled to these discounts. If you are, you must make sure the provider sees your ID card and knows that you are covered under one of these discount programs.
How to locate in-network providers
Locating in-network providers online for your medical health care needs is easy. Simply follow the instructions outlined below for the plan administrator of your health benefits.
MMCP and CHCB benefits
Plan administrator: Aetna
Customer service: (800) 842-4044 (Railroad Employees National Health & Welfare Plan); (888) 332-8742 (National Railway Carriers / United Transportation Union Health & Welfare Plan)
► If you prefer to login anonymously, under the heading “Members: Access Anonymously” enter the access
► Under the heading “Member Services” (top right-hand side of site), click on “Search for clinician”
► In step 1, under heading “Search for mental health clinicians near you,” click on “Click here to use our free
behavioral health clinician search tool”
► Follow the instructions of the Clinician Search tool to search for a facility or clinician
Note: Provider information, while updated regularly, changes frequently. Always verify directly with your providers, prior to scheduling your appointment or receiving services, that they are still a participating member of your plan administrator’s network.
Discuss in-network services with your doctor
It’s important that your in-network doctor always refers you to in-network providers should you be in need of other medical services, like laboratory work or a referral to a specialist.
► At each visit, ask your doctor to use in-network providers for any medical services you might require from other providers.
► For example, you have the right to ask your doctor to send your laboratory work to an in-network laboratory, thereby allowing you to take a more active role in containing your health care costs.
► If your doctor refers you to another provider, call the number on the back of your member ID card to confirm the provider’s participation in your plan administrator’s network.
If you have any questions or need assistance in locating an in-network provider, or you do not have online capability, please call the phone number located on the back of your member ID card for assistance.
Annual health and welfare enrollment materials for railroad employees and/or dependents covered under the National Railway Carriers and United Transportation Union (NRC/UTU) Health and Welfare Plan are being mailed by UnitedHealthcare.
(Those members covered under the national health and welfare plan should have already received their enrollment materials in the mail.)
Included is a “Dependent Add Form” designed strictly for adding dependents to your plan during this open enrollment period who are not already listed on the “Enrollment Form.”
Certain dependent children under age 26 are eligible for coverage under the plan. Please read this section carefully and, if these children qualify for coverage, they must be added to the “Enrollment Form” and that form returned to UnitedHealthcare no later than Nov. 11 in order to be eligible for benefits beginning Jan. 1, 2012.
It is important that you open this material upon receipt to verify that the information on the enrollment form is correct.If you have opted-out of coverage you MUST renew your opt-out for 2012 and return it by Nov. 11.If you add eligible dependent children, you must return the “Enrollment Form” no later than Nov. 11 for your elections/ changes to become effective Jan. 1, 2012.
If members do not receive these enrollment materials, call Railroad Enrollment Services toll-free at 1-800-753-2692.