Winter 2023 Insight Employer Newsletter

Doctor checking patient

New RedShirt RewardsSM program incentivizes your employees to take charge of their health 

Independent Health is proud to introduce RedShirt RewardsSM, a new program that provides your employees with incentives for staying on top of their health. Beginning on your group’s 2023 plan renewal or effective date, your employees may be eligible to earn up to $30 in RedShirt Rewards* by completing three or more of these health actions:

  • Annual Checkup
  • Flu Shot**
  • COVID-19 Vaccine and Booster**
  • Breast Cancer Screening
  • Colon Cancer Screening
  • Prediabetes — Enrollment in Diabetes Prevention Program
  • Diabetes Care — Diabetic Retinal Eye Exam
  • Diabetes Care — A1C Test
  • Statin Medication Received (for people with heart disease or diabetes)

Your employees can earn a $10 RedShirt Reward for each eligible action — up to $30 each plan year. Plus, they can make it a family affair, because each plan member who is 18 years of age and older (subscriber, spouse and dependents) is eligible to earn their own rewards just for completing the actions that are right for them.

How the program works

  1. Eligible members can opt into RedShirt Rewards through their secure member account (which can be accessed online or through the MyIH mobile app).
  2. They must complete an eligible action listed above.
  3. They will then receive a secure message through their member account that will allow them to choose a gift card from a wide range of participating retailers, including Amazon, Nike, Target and more!
  4. They can track their progress and their reward totals through their member account.

As always, benefits vary by plan. If you have any questions about RedShirt Rewards, please contact your account manager.

*Rewards will be issued when Independent Health receives notification of a claim for each activity, which may take up to 90 days for a provider to submit the claim(s). **For members who do not have pharmacy coverage through Independent Health or Pharmacy Benefit Dimensions, these actions must be provided in a medical facility, such as a doctor’s office, hospital or urgent care center. Pharmacies or community centers do not qualify.

man thumbs up

Making self-care easier for you and your employees

Self-care is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s a way to nurture a healthy relationship with yourself physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. In a national survey , Americans cited benefits of self-care as enhanced self-confidence (64%), increased productivity (67%) and happiness (71%). Self-care also reduces heart disease, stroke, cancer, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Unfortunately, in this fast-paced world of nonstop work and commitments, it’s easy to neglect yourself and put your own self-care at the bottom of your to-do list. By not taking care of yourself, it often makes it more difficult to deal with the challenges life throws your way. Whether you’re a business owner, manager, HR professional or employee, it's imperative you take the time to attend to the needs of your mind, body and soul.

Traditionally, self-care time has been reserved for outside of work hours; however, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, that mindset has shifted dramatically. As a society, we have come to realize that self-care throughout the day is more beneficial than leaving the “you” time for later. As a result, now more than ever, employers are looking for ways to normalize and encourage self-care in the workplace.

Here are some tips to help you get started with prioritizing your own health and well-being, along with a few examples of how Independent Health can make self-care easier for you and your employees:

  • Visit your doctor. Make sure you are staying up to date on your preventive care services, including a comprehensive annual well visit, routine blood panel, and age-appropriate screenings. Most health plans, including Independent Health, cover a wide array of preventive screenings and tests at a $0 copay.
  • Get physically active. Exercise has many health benefits, including making your body stronger while giving your brain and mood a boost. Whether it’s taking a walk around your neighborhood or lifting weights at the gym, aim for at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity a day. Check to see if your health plan helps pay for gym benefits. For example, Independent Health ExtrasSM benefit  is offered on certain plans that members can use toward a variety of health and wellness goods and services, including a fitness center membership.
  • Eat more whole foods. Whole foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, contain vitamins and minerals to fuel you throughout the day and help keep your mood in check. Try to limit caffeinated beverages, such as soft drinks or coffee, along with highly processed foods. Need help with meal planning or nutritional advice? There are a variety of online resources that help make it easier to eat healthier and live better. One such resource is  Foodsmart , which guides users through a personalized journey to eating well through dietary assessments and nutrition counseling, along with online food ordering and cost-effective meal planning.
  • Get adequate sleep. High-quality sleep is essential for good health. Create and maintain a consistent bedtime routine so that you can get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. To learn how to sleep better, you can use the online Healthwise tool, which includes a library of articles and videos to help you achieve your health and wellness goals.
  • Find ways to manage stress. Try to de-stress so that you can feel your best. Download a mindfulness app to your smartphone to incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises into your daily routine. Schedule regular times for relaxing activities such as journaling or yoga. If you are an Independent Health member, you can also receive exclusive discounts  for massage therapy and other holistic health and wellness services.

Every act of self-care, no matter how big or small, can go a long way in keeping you happy and healthy. 

By checking in on yourself throughout the day, you will be able to avoid burnout and keep your internal batteries charged. 

Pills on table

Important update about drug formulary change

As Western New York’s only locally-owned pharmacy benefit manager, Independent Health works closely with local physicians and providers to make sure your employees obtain the medications they need, while managing cost and safety through our provider-directed initiatives.

Occasionally, it is necessary for us to make changes to your plan’s drug formulary. All changes are made by our Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) Committee, which is made up of local physicians from different medical specialties and local pharmacists. They review new and existing drugs for safety, efficacy and cost.

In accordance with a new regulation from New York State, effective January 1, 2023, Independent Health will only be able to remove drugs from the formulary, move a drug to a tier with a higher cost share, or add prior authorization, step therapy or quantity limits on a commercial group’s renewal date. However, we will still be able to make changes to our formulary throughout the year for the following reasons:

  • A drug is found unsafe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or its manufacturer (if this occurs, the drug will be immediately removed from the formulary).
  • A new drug is approved by the FDA.
  • A generic equivalent or interchangeable biological product becomes available.

Please note: This change will go into effect upon your group’s 2023 plan renewal date. Independent Health will continue to strive to keep formulary changes to a minimum. If you have employees who are negatively impacted by a formulary change, they will be notified prior to your plan renewal date. We will advise them of formulary alternatives or how to continue treatment if needed.

As always, the best way for your employees to access the formulary specific to your plan is by creating an online member account or by downloading our MyIH mobile app.

Woman fruit

Get heathy for good by taking part in Brook+ Diabetes Prevention program

Did you know that prediabetes affects one in three American adults, but most don’t even know they have it? It’s true, and without action, many will develop type 2 diabetes within three to five years.

The good news is you can reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes by making simple, daily lifestyle changes, which is exactly what a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is designed to help you do. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), joining a DPP can cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 58% (71% for people over 60 years old). That’s why Independent Health is pleased to offer the Brook+ Diabetes Prevention Program as a fully-covered $0 benefit for most of our plans. 

How Brook+ works
Brook+ is a year-long program that helps participants make real lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier, incorporating physical activity into their daily lives, and improving problem-solving and coping skills. It’s a completely digital DPP, meaning it can be accessed using a smartphone, tablet or computer. No classrooms or clinic visits are necessary. Instead, you can use the program when it’s convenient for you.

With Brook+, eligible participants receive:

  • One-on-one guidance and advice from a CDC-trained, personal lifestyle coach who customizes the program to fit their lifestyle needs and goals.
  • Access to group support for encouragement, sharing ideas, and celebrating success.
  • A free digital scale and Fitbit to track their progress in the program.*

Western New Yorkers embrace program
More than 11,000 Independent Health members have participated in the Brook+ program since it was launched two years ago. WGRZ recently aired a story about how Brook+ has helped one East Aurora resident lose nearly 200 pounds and improve his overall health. You can view the story by clicking here.

For more information or to check if you’re eligible for the program, please visit the Brook+ website.

*Digital scale mailed upon program signup; Fitbit voucher sent after 4 weeks of program participation

Teladoc® physicians are always ready to help

Independent Health’s telemedicine benefit through Teladoc® gives your employees 24/7 access to an experienced, board-certified doctor to get the care their need for a $0 copay, or a low copay according to your plan benefits. In just minutes, by phone, web or mobile app, they’ll get treatment options for allergies, asthma, cold, flu, pink eye, rashes, strep throat and more. Plus, behavioral health and dermatology consults are also included. We encourage your employees to set up their Teladoc account today!

Doing our part to keep our community fit & active this winter

Independent Health is bringing healthy to Western New Yorkers with a variety of fun winter outdoor activities. Join us for curling and ice skating at Buffalo RiverWorks or get your steps in during Wellness Walks every Thursday at Tifft Nature Preserve. Prefer to stay indoors? Check out Explore YOU at the Buffalo Museum of Science. This family-friendly exhibit is great for all ages to explore the human body and the importance of staying healthy. For a complete list of winter-fun activities, visit our website.