Fall 2020 Medicare Newsletter

In this issue

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Great American Smokeout

Seasonal Flu Key Facts

What is Telemedicine?

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the newest issue of Health Matters. All of us here at CHRISTUS Health Plan hope you and your loved ones are staying safe as we continue finding our new normal.

In this issue, we describe how to make a No-Sew Cloth Mask and the Great American Smokeout in honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November.

Two important reminders: Flu season is coming, so please be sure to get your flu vaccine. Annual Enrollment also begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. If you have any questions about Medicare, visit ChristusHealthPlan.org or Medicare.gov.

As always, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 844.282.3026 (TTY: 711).

Nothing means more to us than knowing we’ve helped make our members’ lives better. We hope you’ll let your friends and family know about us as we enter Annual Enrollment and people consider their Medicare options.

In good health,

Nancy Horstmann
Chief Executive Officer
CHRISTUS Health Plan

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Our Outreach Coordinator is sending out health reminder letters and doing outreach calls, to help you complete important wellness visits, blood sugar tests, and breast imaging exams. These medical tests and exams are valuable in preventing harm through early detection. We look forward to teaming up with you in reaching a better level of health. For more information about our Outreach Coordinator, call Member Services at 800.678.7347.

Great American Smokeout

Quitting smoking isn’t easy. You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Start with day one. Let the Great American Smokeout event on Nov. 19 be your day to start your journey toward a smoke-free life.

More than 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. While the cigarette smoking rate has dropped significantly, the gains have been inconsistent. Some groups suffer disproportionately from smoking-related cancer and other diseases, including those who have less education or live below the poverty level, as well as certain racial and ethnic groups.

Within minutes of quitting smoking, your body begins to recover:

  • After 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
  • After 2 week to 3 months, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  • After 1 to 9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • After 1 year, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.
  • After 5 years, your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Risk of stroke can fall to that of a non-smoker
  • After 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker.

These are just a few of the benefits of quitting for good. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps your heart and lungs.Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.source: cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.

Seasonal Key Flu Facts

Why should people get vaccinated against flu?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu.

Who should get vaccinated?

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has made this recommendation since the 2010-11 influenza season.Vaccination to prevent flu is particularly important for people who are at high risk of developing serious flu complications. For example, flu vaccination has been shown in separate studies to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.

When should I get vaccinated?

You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season.

Does the flu shot increase your risk of getting COVID-19?

There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccination and preventing flu is always important, but in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more important to do everything possible to reduce illnesses and preserve scarce health care resources.

source: cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm

What is Telemedicine?

Starting in 2020, Medicare Advantage Plans started offering more telehealth, or telemedicine, benefits than Original Medicare. These benefits can be available in a variety of places, and you can use them at home instead of going to a health care facility.

Medicare telehealth services include office visits, psychotherapy, consultations, and certain other medical or health services that are provided by an eligible provider who isn’t at your location using an interactive 2-way telecommunications system (like real-time audio and video).

A video visit is appropriate for most evaluations. A telephone visit is by phone only (no video), and is used if you do not have video capability. Patients can use video or telephone visits for simple illnesses like a cough or cold to more complicated conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

For more information about telemedicine at CHRISTUS:

New Mexico: visit ChristusVirtualMedicine.org/St-Vincent, or call 877.913.3627

Te x a s: visit ChristusVirtualMedicine.org, or call 844.606.3627               


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