Winter 2022 Insight Employer Newsletter

Simple tips on how to help your employees get the most out of their health coverage

With Independent Health, we’re not just here for your employees when they need health care services. Instead, we support their health through a more holistic approach. We’re proud to offer a wide range of value-added benefits that make it easier for your employees get and stay healthy, while also doing our part to help keep them active, informed and engaged.

Upon your group’s plan effective date, there are four key things you can encourage your employees to do right away to make the most of their health coverage as well as their health:

  • 1. Create an online account
    By registering for their own secure online account at our website, your employees get everything they need in one convenient place. Among the things they can do when logged into their online account include:
    • Check their medical, pharmacy and EyeMed vision benefits
    • Review all of their claims
    • Print their member ID card or request a new one
    • If their plan offers a choice between our Health ExtrasSM or Nutrition benefits, they can select their option and activate their benefit, as well as check their remaining balance or rewards earned status.
    • Track their deductible and out-of-pocket maximum (not all plans have a deductible)
    • Manage their Health Savings Account (HSA) through HealthEquity* if they have one.
    • Receive personal health recommendations for each member of their family, including annual checkups, flu shots, preventive screenings and more.
    • Review their plan’s drug formulary and find ways to save money by looking up and comparing costs for your prescription medications.
    • Engage in healthy activities and access resources that can help them stay motivated in achieving their health and fitness goals with our FitWorks® online wellness tool.
    • Use the Brook Health Companion to support their daily health decisions with trusted expertise.
    • Access Foodsmart to eat healthy at home, at work and on-the-go.
  • 2. Download the MyIH app
    With Independent Health’s MyIH app, the personalized information and answers your employees need about their health plan are just a chat or tap away. This free app is available to both iPhone® and Android™ users. In addition to viewing their plan information safely, securely and whenever they need to right from their smartphone, you employees can use the MyIH app to chat one-on-one with a live Independent Health RedShirt®, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.
  • 3. Complete a HIPAA Authorization Form
    All employees who have covered dependents on their plan are encouraged to download and complete a Protected Health Information/HIPAA Authorization Form. By doing so, they will then have the ability to review, access and discuss their dependents’ claims, coverage and health information. Having this form completed in advance can be extremely helpful in times of emergencies. It can be found on the “Frequently Used Forms” page of our website.
  • 4. Schedule an Annual Visit with their doctor
    It’s important your employees choose a primary care physician (PCP) to coordinate their care and serve as the central source for information and guidance on all matters of their health and well-being. Getting an annual routine checkup with their PCP is free and excluded from deductibles. It’s one of the more than 60 preventive services Independent Health offers at a $0 copayment.

    If your employees don’t have a PCP, they can use our “Find a Doctor” tool to search for a PCP and other providers. Our network of participating providers extends outside of the eight counties of Western New York into Rochester and Northwest Pennsylvania, including, Bradford, Erie and Warren. Once your employees find a PCP, they should then add his or her name, address and phone number to their member account.

We’re always here to help!
If your employees have questions about their coverage, our Member Services Department is here for them, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at (716) 631-8701 or 1-800-501-3439. In addition, if you need assistance, you can always contact your account manager or our Sales Department at (716) 631-8072 or 1-800-755-5802.

Your employees can live life better with Brook+

Independent Health is proud to offer Brook+, a year-long digital program designed to help your employees lose weight, reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and feel their best. This CDC-recognized lifestyle change program is available as a covered benefit with a $0 member cost share under all of Independent Health’s Commercial and Medicare Advantage plans.

Through digital delivery and on-demand content, Brook+ provides eligible participants with the tools and personal health coaching they need to help them make realistic and sustainable lifestyle changes, such as losing 5% of their body weight and increasing their activity level to 150 minutes per week.

Users can engage with Brook+ anytime from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet or computer. No classrooms or clinic visits are necessary. Instead, it can all be done from the comfort and convenience of one’s home.

What participants get with Brook+:

  • Health coaching – One-on-one guidance from a personal Health Coach who helps customize the program to fit their needs.
  • Extra support – Access to group support for encouragement, sharing ideas and celebrating success.
  • Tracking tools – Receive a digital scale and Fitbit* at no extra cost to track their progress in the program and beyond. The digital scale is mailed upon program signup, while the Fitbit voucher is sent after 4 weeks of program participation.

What participants gain with Brook+:

  • Food freedom – Eat foods they love & find joy in healthy eating.
  • Extra energy – Find fun activities that boost their energy & mood.
  • Better health – Cut their risk of type 2 diabetes by up to half.

Your employees can see if meet the eligibility requirements for Brook+ by visiting the program’s website.

Member Success Story
Since Brook+ was introduced a year ago, more than 5,000 Independent Health members have joined the program, losing nearly 20,000 pounds, increasing their energy, and improving their bloodwork. Jonathan Lawrence of Kenmore is among the participants who have experienced a significant improvement in their health thanks to the program.

Video: Watch Jonathan share his Brook+ success story

Independent Health awarded platinum “Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health”

Independent Health has been awarded the 2022 platinum Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health by Mental Health America (MHA). The Bell Seal is a first-of-its-kind workplace mental health certification that recognizes employers who strive to create mentally healthy workplaces for their employees.

Founded in 1909, MHA is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the overall mental health of all. MHA has spent decades researching mental health in the workplace, and in 2019, MHA introduced the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health to recognize companies and organizations that understand the value of addressing mental health at work and implement policies and practices that support employee well-being.

“Independent Health understands mental health, just like physical health, is a critical part of an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. As such, we are deeply committed to treating the whole person. We take pride in helping our associates, members and employers recognize the signs, understand what people are dealing with, and respond appropriately to support their mental health,” said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health.

Independent Health is the only organization in Western New York to be certified by MHA. Independent Health’s status as a platinum-level Bell Seal-certified organization demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to employee mental health and well-being, which in turn is instilled in the company’s wellness and mental health programming for its employer groups and members.

Independent Health employs a comprehensive team of mental health professionals – including psychiatrists, mental health nurses, social workers, pharmacists, licensed counselors, and behavioral health case managers – dedicated to helping members obtain timely, individualized and effective evidence-based care and treatment for mental health issues and substance use disorders. In addition, Independent Health offers a mental health toolkit for its employers. Developed in partnership with Horizon Health Services, one of the largest providers of outpatient mental health and substance use treatment in Western New York, this turnkey toolkit for employers includes a variety of resources and educational seminars to help increase awareness, provide support and further develop a caring, inclusive workplace culture.

“No one is untouched, either directly or indirectly, by mental and behavioral health issues. In particular, these challenges can significantly impact businesses through higher healthcare costs, increased absenteeism, and lower productivity and profits,” said George Burnett, M.D., medical director for behavioral health, Independent Health.

According to the CDC, depression alone causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays each year at the cost of $17 to $44 billion to employers. This has led to a growing number of businesses starting to break the stigma of mental illness by increasing mental health awareness and providing education and tools to their leadership team, managers, and employees, explained Dr. Burnett.

The Bell Seal recognizes employer advances in workplace mental health by awarding recognition levels of Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. To earn the platinum-level designation from MHA, Independent Health underwent a rigorous evaluation of its policies and practices in five areas: workplace culture, benefits, wellness programs, legal compliance, and leadership and community engagement. Earning the highest Platinum-level award demonstrates Independent Health’s superior dedication to employee well-being for outstanding scores in the following categories:

  • Expansive employee growth opportunities
  • Competitive and mental health-friendly benefits packages
  • Emphasis on and commitment to work-life balance
  • Willingness to go above and beyond ethical standards
  • Committed and mental health-conscious leadership

Independent Health is committed to providing the best for its associates and members and looks forward to upholding the high standards set forth by the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health. More information about MHA and the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health is available at

We’re helping Western New Yorkers stay healthy and active this winter

When people are engaged in their health care, they’re more likely to take the necessary steps to be healthy and stay healthy. That’s why Independent Health is proud to team up with a variety of community partners to offer programs and activities that are helping Western New Yorkers take charge of their health this winter.

  • Independent Health and Buffalo RiverWorks have teamed up to promote health and wellness through various seasonal activities that take advantage of the space in and around the RiverWorks facility. This includes open ice skating and curling on the Independent Health Ice Rinks as well as indoor roller skating on select dates.
  • The Tifft Nature Preserve hosts “Wellness Walks presented by Independent Health” every Thursday morning. It’s a great way to way to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature while also getting your steps in. All ages are encouraged to attend these free weekly walks, which are guided by a knowledgeable volunteer. Please call (716) 825-6397 for times and to confirm that the walk will take place.
  • You can also take a crisp walk or run along the Independent Health Wellness Trail at Outer Harbor Buffalo. This 3-mile trail begins at Wilkeson Pointe and stretches just past Bell Slip. Independent Health is proud to be the official health and wellness partner of the Outer Harbor.
  • If you prefer the warmth and comfort of the indoors, you can head to the Buffalo Museum of Science and check out Explore YOU presented by Independent Health. This Health Sciences-themed studio offers visitors a hands-on experience to explore all there is to know about the human body, ways to stay healthy and advances in life-changing medical technology.

An added bonus – member discounts!
Buffalo RiverWorks and the Buffalo Museum of Science are just two of the hundreds of community partners, organizations and businesses that currently participate in Independent Health’s Wellness Discounts program. From “Freebies” and “Buy One, Get One Free” offers to savings of up to 30% off, our exclusive member discounts make it easier for your employees to achieve their health and wellness goals. All they need to do is present their Independent Health member ID card at the time of purchase to receive a discount.

Learn more about all the community-wide programs and activities Independent Health is offering this winter and throughout the year by visiting our website.

Important update about new member ID cards

Both the federal government and New York State Department of Financial Services have issued new requirements for all health insurance identification cards. In order to be compliant with these requirements, Independent Health must send new ID cards to all commercial plan members in 2022. If you have employees who are making a plan or dependent change for 2022, they will be mailed a new ID card upon your group’s 2022 renewal date. All other employees should then receive their new ID card shortly thereafter. If you have any questions, please contact your account manager.

COVID-19 information posted on our website

Every day, new information is being shared about COVID-19. By visiting our Coronavirus Resources page, you and your employees can read about free at-home over-the-counter (OTC) tests through the Federal Government, along with the latest information about other testing options, vaccines, and common questions about coverage. In addition, a library of content pertaining to COVID-19 can be accessed through Healthwise®, our one-stop, online resource that features easy-to-use interactive tools, resources and information that can be used to help your employees make better health decisions.