US Family Health Plan eNews Issue 3 2020

Cervical Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Did you know that cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States?  The good news is that, in the past 40 years, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly. This decline is largely a result of many women getting regular Pap tests, which can find cervical precancer before it turns into cancer. 

What is cervical cancer screening?

There are two types of cervical cancer screenings:

  • A Pap test detects abnormal cell changes on the cervix before they have a chance to turn into cancer.
  • A human papillomavirus (HPV) test detects “high-risk” types of HPV which can lead to cervical cancer.

Why are cervical cancer screenings important?

Most people diagnosed with cervical cancer either have never had a Pap test or did not have one in the previous five years. Cervical cancer is completely preventable if precancerous cell changes are detected and treated early, before cervical cancer develops. Cervical cancer usually takes years to progress. Regular screening with Pap tests, supplemented by HPV testing, will detect virtually all precancerous changes and cervical changes before they progress. 

Who should have the screening?

For those with a cervix or partial cervix, cervical cancer screening (a Pap smear and/or human papillomavirus (HPV) test is recommended as indicated below:

  • ages 21–30 should have a Pap smear every 3 years
  • ages 30–64 should have a Pap smear every 3 years OR a Pap smear and HPV co-testing every 5 years

Who does not need the screening?

If you have had any of the following in your medical history:  

  • a hysterectomy and have no residual cervix—a complete, total, or radical abdominal or vaginal hysterectomy
  • cervical agenesis
  • acquired absence of cervix

If any of these apply to you, please inform your provider of your history and provide the month and year of any of these to your best recollection.  


National Institutes of Health. Cervical Cancer. NIH Consensus Statement. 1996;14(1):1–38.

 A blue checklist

Colon Cancer CAN Be Prevented

Get the screening that’s best for you!

Colorectal cancer is among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It is the third-most-common cancer in men and in women. 

Regular screening for colorectal cancer can help detect precancer and catch cancerous changes early, when they are most treatable. There are a number of screening tests available. Some screenings you can even do from your own home. See the table below to learn about each kind of screening and then talk with your doctor about which screening and schedule is right for you.

See your Member Handbook or contact Member Services for coverage details.

It’s Important to Take Your Medications Correctly

Medications can be lifesavers for many people, especially those with chronic illnesses. People with conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes can have improved quality of life when they take their medications as prescribed.  Unfortunately, 50% of people in the Unites States do not get the full benefit of their medications because they don’t take them as their doctor has ordered.  There are many reasons people may take their medications incorrectly or completely stop taking them. Some reasons include:

  • Forgetting to take them on time
  • Not understanding what the medications are for and how to take them correctly
  • Not being able to afford their medications
  • Not understanding the importance of their medications
  • Having bothersome side effects

If you are having trouble taking your medications as your doctor prescribed for ANY reason, we recommend that you talk with your doctor or pharmacist about it. They can provide tips on how to manage your medications. Remember, if you don’t take your medication as directed, you could be putting your health at risk.

Expecting? Our Maternity Support Program is Here for You!

COVID 19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has changed the world in many ways—from how we shop for groceries to how we seek care from our doctors. Pregnancy during this time may be filled with new concerns and questions: How can I safely see my provider? Am I risking exposure for myself and my new baby by going to the doctor’s office? These questions are important, but equally important is making that phone call to your doctor to discuss your options as soon as you find out you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

Prenatal care has never been more important, including early screenings and interventions that are vital to protect the health and well-being of you and your baby. Prenatal care can include:

  • Early genetic testing
  • Check-ups, including ultrasounds
  • Important vaccines
  • Tests for COVID-19, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and gestational diabetes
  • General health care for yourself and your unborn baby

Members can connect with a Martin’s Point nurse care manager to receive personal support during pregnancy and after delivery. It’s our goal to support our pregnant members so they have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. The Maternity Support Program is available to pregnant members and to new mothers from the first day of pregnancy up to six to eight weeks after delivery. If you have questions or concerns about seeing your provider or what care you need, please contact our care management nurses.

Participation is free. Please call us at 1-877-659-2403 to ask about a free incentive and to answer a few questions so we can get to know you.

Protect Your Little One’s Health

Do you have a little one under the age of two? 

Every child grows and develops at their own pace. Giving your child the best start in life includes taking them to the doctor for regular wellness visits and getting recommended immunizations and annual flu vaccines.

To learn which vaccines your child should receive and when they should receive them, please visit our website where you’ll find Immunization Schedules for Ages 0-6 years.  

If you haven’t already, please call your child’s provider today to schedule a two-year preventive health appointment and ensure their best health for years to come!

Growing Up, Growing Healthy—Preteen Health Recommendations

Entering early adolescence is an important developmental period and signals a time of rapid change for your child with physical, intellectual, and emotional growth. To guard the health of your child during this time and into the future, it’s important that they receive a number of immunizations to protect them before they might be exposed to disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following immunizations which children should typically receive before the age of 12: 

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough)—also known as Tdap: Preteens should get one shot of Tdap between the ages of 11 and 12 years to boost their immunity.
  • Meningococcal: All preteens should get a routine meningococcal conjugate vaccination at 11 to 12 years old.
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV): All children should get two doses of the HPV vaccine at ages 11-12. (The vaccine can be given as early as age 9.)
  • Flu Vaccine. Children should get their seasonal flu shot every year.

CLICK HERE for more information about recommended immunizations. 

Seeing a health care provider for routine checkups is essential for an early adolescent. During this time, use your child’s doctor as a resource. They can help you and your child:

  • Understand body changes
  • Cope with new emotional highs and lows
  • Reduce risks for injuries and unsafe behaviors
  • Develop healthy eating and exercise habits

If you don’t have an appointment yet for your child’s 13-year-old checkup, please call the doctor’s office today to schedule this important visit.


September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) is recognized every September by childhood cancer organizations around the world.

A cancer diagnosis can be life changing at any age but is particularly so when it happens to a child. Although cancer is uncommon in children, with 99% of cancers developing in adults, there is much research going on to better understand and develop new treatments for pediatric cancers.

As a result of improvements in treatment options, the overall outlook for children and adolescents with cancer has improved greatly over the last half-century, with an overall survival rate now at over 80%.

The most common types of cancer in children 0 to 14 years old are leukemiasbrain and other central nervous system tumors, and lymphomas. Because childhood cancers are often treated differently than adult cancers, pediatric oncology is a medical specialty focused solely on the care of children with cancer. It's important to know that this expertise exists and that there are effective treatments for many childhood cancers.

The types of treatment that a child with cancer receives will depend on the kind of cancer and how advanced it is. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant. Clinical trials of new therapies promise more innovative treatments for childhood cancers in the years ahead.

Here are some helpful resources to learn more about childhood cancers, treatment options, and support resources for families affected by childhood cancer:

NIH: National Cancer Institute

American Cancer Society


American Childhood Cancer Association