US Family Health Plan eNews Issue 2 2020

Getting the Numbers Right:

Tips for Accurate Blood Pressure Readings

High blood pressure (also referred to as HBP or hypertension) is when the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high. Nearly half of Americans over age 2 have HBP, and many don’t even know it. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, and is dangerous if left untreated.
To ensure early detection and treatment, it’s important to have regular blood pressure checks. It’s also important that your blood pressure readings are as accurate as possible.
Here are a few tips on what you can do to help improve the accuracy of your blood pressure readings: 

  • Don’t smoke, exercise, have caffeine or alcohol within 30 minutes of blood pressure reading.
  • Be sure your bladder is empty. 
  • Sit calmly for at least five minutes with your arm resting comfortably on a flat surface at heart level before your blood pressure is taken.
  • Do not talk while your blood pressure is being taken.
  • Try to relax and sit still with your feet flat on the floor
  • Lift your sleeve so the blood pressure cuff is on your bare arm.
  • Be sure the bottom of the blood pressure cuff is above the bend of your elbow.
  • If your first reading is over 140/90, ask your provider to take it again at the end of your visit.

Mental Health for Moms: 

Depression and Anxiety around Pregnancy

Pregnancy and a new baby can bring up a mix of emotions—excitement and joy, but also sadness and feeling overwhelmed.  When these feelings get in the way of a mother taking care of herself or her baby, it could be a sign of dealing with other, deeper feelings of depression or anxiety. These are feelings that many pregnant women and new moms experience before and after the birth of their baby. Below, you’ll find links to helpful resources for learning more about depression and anxiety around pregnancy and what you and your loved ones can do if you or they are experiencing these feelings. 

Click here for information on signs to watch for and actions to take.  
Click here for tips on ways you can help the pregnant women or new mom.  
Click here for more information about mental health for new moms. 

Tips for Avoiding a Readmission after a Hospitalization

A hospital stay is a major event in a person’s life, and the month following discharge can be hard—physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Studies show that nearly half of discharged patients will experience at least one issue that will lead to a readmission within 30 days. If you are sent home after a hospitalization, there are some important things you can do to make sure you have a successful recuperation without a “bounce-back” hospital stay.

  1. Schedule a follow-up visit with your primary care provider (PCP) within seven days of your discharge. Your doctor will want to be sure you are healing well, that you understand what warning signs to look for, and that you have all the resources you need to stay out of the hospital.
  2. Bring a complete medication list to your follow-up visit. One of the most important keys to avoiding a readmission is making sure your medications are correct and that you understand what they are for and how to take them. Bringing a complete and correct medication list is essential so your doctor can check for any interactions and make sure your dosing is appropriate. 
How to make sure your medication list is complete and correct:
  • Bring all of your prescription medication bottles/inhalers with you to the visit.
  • Write down or bring any over-the counter (OTC) medications and/or herbal supplements you take, and how often you take them. Include product name and strength. It may be important to list active ingredients (especially with herbal supplements).
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking any prescriptions differently from how they are prescribed. Examples include:
    • Your cholesterol medication label says, “Take 1 tablet nightly,” however your cardiologist changed your dose and you are now taking ½ tablet nightly. You should ask your doctor for a new prescription to reflect how you currently take your medication.
    • Your cholesterol medication label says, “Take 1 tablet nightly,” however you have been missing doses every few days. You should work with your doctor on ways to help you take this medication regularly as prescribed; or they may need to adjust your dosing.
  • Sometimes, medications that you use “as needed” can fall-off a medication list if they haven’t been refilled in a long time. Tell your doctor if you still use or have stopped using any “as-needed” prescriptions. Check the expiration date on those you don’t use often and get a new prescription, if needed. Examples: albuterol rescue inhalers, EpiPens, or sublingual nitroglycerin

Keep Your DEERS Information Up to Date

As a member of the Martin’s Point US Family Health Plan, it is important to keep your demographic information current in the DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) database; as well as to keep your Military ID card up to date. Your address in DEERS determines your eligibility for all TRICARE® health plans, so be sure to update that information any time you move.

DEERS: You can update your information by going to MilConnect or by calling DEERS directly at 1-800-538-9552. Please be sure to update every eligible family member as their information is kept separately within the DEERS database under the military sponsor.

MILITARY ID CARDS: Military ID cards should always be kept up to date. Before your card expires you should contact your local Military ID card office or RAPID site to make an appointment. You can search for your nearest ID card office using the RAPIDS Site Locator

To obtain a new Military ID card, you must bring two forms of unexpired identification and one must be a state- or government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, or state ID. You should contact your local ID office prior to your appointment to ensure you have all proper documentation.

When turning 65, all military retirees and eligible family members must obtain a new Military ID. It is important to bring your Medicare card that proves you have Parts A and B if you obtained that coverage. For questions about turning 65 and your status with the US Family Health Plan, please contact Member Services at 1-888-674-8734.

TRICARE® Changes Telehealth Policy to Respond to COVID-19

Below, you’ll find important information about a recent change, effective as of May 12, 2020 to TRICARE’s telehealth benefit designed to make it easier for you to get health care during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a TRICARE Prime® plan, the US Family Health Plan follows TRICARE benefits for COVID-19-related services.

TRICARE Policy Changes for Telehealth Services: Telehealth services are health care services you receive remotely, over the phone or through a computer. When appropriate, they can take the place of in-person visits with your provider.

Here’s what you need to know about each of these changes to telehealth visits:

  • Temporary
    These changes are temporary and will remain in effect for the duration of the stateside public health emergency.
  • In-Network Only
    The following applies when you use IN-NETWORK PROVIDERS ONLY.
  • Addition of audio-only health care visits
    Telehealth coverage for visits used to require both audio AND live video. TRICARE will now also cover audio-only (voice-only) telehealth services. This means you can get care for covered services from your in-network provider using just your telephone. This allows you to continue care with providers who may not use video for telemedicine, and will no longer require you to use a smartphone, computer, or broadband internet.
  • No out-of-pocket costs for covered telehealth services
    TRICARE will now waive your cost shares, copayments, and deductible (if applicable) for covered telehealth services you get from a network provider. This applies to all covered in-network telehealth services, not just services related to COVID-19.
  • More providers able to offer covered telehealth services
    TRICARE policy used to require providers to have a license in the state where they practice and where the patient lives. TRICARE will now reimburse providers for interstate care to patients. The care must be permitted by federal or state licensing laws.
    Please remember, these new policies apply for In-Network services only. If you have questions about your coverage under the US Family Health Plan, please call Member Services at 1-888-674-8734.