Federal Employee News Archive

Federal Employee News

SUMMER 2013

Summer is here, and everyone's gearing up for fun in the sun. This is the time of year when people want to look and feel their best. We're here to help by providing a wide variety of resources to members who want to lose weight, exercise more, eat better and find ways to protect themselves from the sun.

This issue of Federal Employee News focuses on our online weight management program, low-cost health club membership, online nutrition coaching session, and the importance of sun protection.

Here's hoping your summer gets off to a good start! 

Featured in this issue of Federal Employee News:


Get Fit with Blue

From boosting energy to fitting into your favorite jeans, we all have different motivators for losing weight. Whether you want to just drop a few pounds or are seeking bigger results, Fit with BlueSM* can help you every step of the way. Our new online weight management center is your go-to destination for tracking and managing your weight. Members can set customized goals, plan physical activities, and see real progress over time. Here’s how:

Know your BMI
Knowing your body mass index is an important first step for setting your weight loss goals. When you sign in to Fit with Blue, simply enter your weight and height to calculate your BMI.

Set your weight-loss goal
How much do you want to lose? When setting your weight loss goal, it’s important to be realistic. Based on scientific research, we recommend a weight loss limit of 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Get motivated
Stay focused on what's driving your weight-loss efforts. When setting up your customized plan, enter your motivation to help you continue to eat well and exercise regularly.

Get moving
Exercise is one of the most important parts of losing and managing your weight. Fit with Blue allows you to create a plan for daily and weekly workouts and activities. Whether you like to swim, jog, or find your fitness mojo in an exercise class, it’s simple to set your own schedule to help you stick with it.

Update and track your progress
When you know you’re on the right track, it’s easier to keep successfully working toward your goals. The My Progress page provides a snapshot of your personal weight loss journey.

Use tools to succeed
Be sure to take the Blue Health Assessment to start your fitness plan off right. Then use our online coaching sessions on weight management, healthy eating, and exercise to receive more helpful feedback and advice. Other resources are also available, including our health club membership page, WalkingWorks® online information, nutritional counseling, and articles packed with great tips on nutrition and exercise.

*Fit with Blue is only available to members over the age of 18.

December 2012. Written by Paula Spurway, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.  Resource: 2013 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan brochure.

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Affordable Health Club Memberships

Regular physical activity prevents and controls many health issues that influence healthcare claims and productivity, from heart disease to diabetes and depression.

To help you improve your mental and physical health, and potentially save big money every year, we’ve teamed up with Healthways to provide low-cost health club memberships to Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan members. Healthways™ Fitness Your Way offers you the flexibility to work out at any network fitness location – on your time, and on a budget you can live with.

Meet your goals

  • Stay motivated with social networking, rewards, and the Daily Challenge
  • Easy online tools to track exercise goals and activity, and ask an expert a question
On your time
  • Locations include more than 8,000 national and local fitness facilities
  • Visit any participating location – anytime, anywhere – as often as you like
  • 24/7 access to well-being support, health articles and online health coaching

On your budget

  • Only $25* a month per person
  • Low $25 enrollment fee, with a 3-month commitment
Find a fitness location
  1. Go to www.fepblue.org.
  2. Scroll down to Health Club Membership on the center of the page, and click on Learn More to the left.
  3. Under Locations Coast to Coast, click the map below to find a participating health club near you.
Enroll online by logging in to fepblue.org, and log into MyBlue
  1. Sign in using your MyBlue ID.
  2. Under My Health, select Sign Up for a Health Club Membership Online.
  3. Read about the program, and find a fitness center near you.
  4. Enroll and pay the $25 initiation fee and $25 monthly membership fee, with a 3-month commitment. (Note: Payment is made online when you enroll. You cannot enroll directly with the fitness center.)
  5. Print out your temporary card.
  6. Visit your fitness center of choice with your card and mention the Healthways Prime Network.
Enroll by phone by calling (888) 242-2060, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., in any U.S. time zone. This is a great way to help you lose weight if you are participating in our Fit with BlueSM program. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan offers you these discount programs that will help you keep your healthcare costs down while looking and feeling good for the summer.

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Good Starts to Healthy Eating

With family commitments, work priorities, and daily schedules, getting the right nutrition your body needs can be challenging. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for your body to function properly. Good changes like limiting salt, adding more whole grains, and choosing foods that offer good fats can help you reduce your risk of heart disease, boost your immune system, and give you energy. But with all of the information available about healthy eating, where do you start?

The Nourish™ online coaching session is designed to help you improve your eating habits by understanding your current eating behavior, what foods you enjoy, and what health goals you want to achieve.  After completing Nourish, you will receive a customized action plan to guide you in making easy changes that are good for your body and health.

You can also earn rewards by completing the Nourish online coaching session.  When you complete up to three online coaching sessions, you’ll earn an additional $15 which will be added to your health debit card.  That’s $5 per session.  Please note: This excludes the online coaching session for smoking cessation, Breathe™.

Need more information about good nutrition?  Blue Health Connection is a great resource.  The Nutrition Wise feature provides weekly recipes and information about a healthy diet.  In addition, the Relay Clinical Patient Education feature has articles on diet and nutrition, including how to make good food choices when you have diabetes or other medical conditions.

You can also call Blue Health Connection at (888) 258-3432 and talk to a registered nurse about nutrition and a healthy diet that’s right for you. We make getting started on a healthy diet easy for you and your family.

September 2012. Written by Paula Spurway, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.  Resources: 2012 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan brochure and Blue Health Connection. 

  

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Why Fruits and Vegetables Are Essential

Fruits and vegetables contain many rich nutrients your body requires to function properly. While eating enough fruits and vegetables can be a challenge at times, a few simple changes can make a big difference in living longer and healthier.

Here’s how fruits and vegetables contribute to better health:

Cancer prevention: Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that trap the free radicals which cause cancer and help eliminate them. This greatly helps to prevent cancer.

Body processes: The vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables help with your body’s many vital processes. For example, potassium helps you maintain good blood pressure, while vitamin E helps brain function and cellular structure.

Immunity: Essential vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables help you increase the body's immunity against a host of diseases. It will protect your body from many common infections like common cold to serious disorders like cardio problems.

Heart health: Fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of stroke and heart disorders. The more you eat, the lower your risk of heart diseases and stroke.

Digestive health: Fruits and vegetables are a great source of dietary fiber, and help flush fat and other impurities out of your body.

Eye health: Fruits and vegetables keep your eyes in good shape. For example, vitamin A aid in the proper functioning of your retina, while vitamin C helps maintain collagen, which is found in the cornea of your eyes. And vitamin E protects your eyes from free radical damage, preventing cataract and macular degeneration.

Hair health: Lack of vitamins and minerals can contribute to dandruff, dry hair, hair loss, etc. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will provide the important vitamins and minerals needed for lustrous, strong, and healthy hair.

Weight management: Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories, and are loaded with fiber and water, which helps your stomach feel full.

When we take advantage of the vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, our bodies return the favor by reducing your risk of developing various illnesses. To learn more about nutrition and healthy food choices that are right for you, call Blue Health Connection at (888) 258-3432 today.

Source: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/why-fruits-and-vegetables-are-good-for-you.html "Why are Fruits and Vegetables Good for You"

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Protecting Yourself From the Sun

Now that summer is here, it’s important to take care of yourself in the sun. According to the World Health Organization, overexposure to sunlight is widely accepted as the underlying cause for harmful effects on the skin (such as cancer), the eyes, and the immune system.

Protecting yourself from the sun's harmful rays
Although many of us seek to safely suntan, the Mayo Clinic reports a suntan is the result of injury to the epidermis, the top layer of your skin. Everyone, regardless of age and skin color, should take the necessary steps to protect their skin.

  1. Avoid the sun during high-intensity hours. The rays are most damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reduce the time you spend in the sun during these hours.

  2. Wear protective clothing. Where possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide brimmed hats.

  3. Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen liberally 30 minutes before going outdoors so that your skin has time to absorb the sunscreen. Then reapply according to the directions on the label – usually about every hour.

Sunscreen
SPF stands for sunburn protection factor, a measure of how much solar energy, or UV radiation, is required to produce sunburn on protected skin with sunscreen applied. People with sensitive skin who burn easily should always use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Also remember, sunscreen should be applied liberally and regularly every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.

Keeping your body hydrated
Dehydration occurs when a person loses more fluids than he or she take in. Thirst is one indicator of dehydration, but it is not an early warning sign. Other symptoms include dizziness or lightheadedness, low energy, dry mouth, and urine that appears dark in color.

When you're outside on a warm day, dress appropriately. Wear loose fitting clothing and a hat to keep cooler and reduce sweating. If you find yourself dizzy or thirsty, sit in a cool place and drink some water.

When to see a doctor
Dehydration usually responds to drinking fluids. If you feel faint or weak after a couple of hours, you might need to see a doctor. People who are severely dehydrated may require fluids through an IV to speed up the rehydration process.

Aside from prevention, the best treatment for sunburn is time. Moisturizing creams with aloe or a low dose of hydrocortisone (0.5% to 1%) can relieve pain and swelling while speeding up the healing process. Seek medical care if your sunburn covers a large portion of your body with blisters, or if your burn is accompanied by high fever or extreme pain. Be sure to see your doctor if you notice a new skin growth or a change in the appearance or texture of a mole as these can sometimes be early warning signs of skin cancer.

For more information about sun protection and the resources available to you, contact your health plan. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan members have access to professional advice 24/7 with Blue Health Connection Nurse Advice Line at (888) 258-3432 or at www.fepblue.org.

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We're Here to Help

The Federal Employee Program Open Season is just around the corner. Open Season is November 11 through December 9. Now is a good time to start thinking about when you want to schedule your annual health fair with your Blue Cross Blue Shield account manager. 

Our account management team brings a wealth of Federal Employee Program experience. They’re ready to help you educate your employees on choosing a health plan that is right for them and their family along with the latest information and updates regarding their Blue Cross Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan options for 2014.

As always, the highest priority at Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Office of Personnel Management is to continue providing you and your employees with valuable health benefits information and excellent service.

Here are some of the programs and activities we offer throughout the year:

  • New-employee orientations
  • Pre-retirement seminars
  • Open season health fairs
  • Benefit meetings
  • Stress management
  • Walking Works
  • Fit with BlueSM
  • Cracking the Health Care Code
  • Obesity in a Bottle

If you're interested in conducting an Open Season health fair for 2014, as well as any of the various health and wellness educational activities or need more information, please contact your account manager listed below.

Senior Account Manager
Pamela Vavra
San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo Counties
Mobile: (916) 790-0524
Office: (916) 350-7368
pamela.vavra@blueshieldca.com

Senior Account Manager
Diana Mendoza
Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, Merced, San Benito, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Mono, and Inyo counties
Mobile: (415) 271-9102
Office: (415) 229-5310
diana.mendoza@blueshieldca.com

Senior Account Manager
Manuel Maldonado
Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego Counties
Mobile: (310) 601-6976
Office: (310) 744-2862
manuel.maldonado@blueshieldca.com



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