On Thanksgiving morning WHA members and their families will be joining WHA staff and employees as we make up a team participating in the largest Thanksgiving Day run in the country. This 1448046081930event typically has about 30,000 participants! Sponsored by WHA, all proceeds from the Western Health Advantage 22nd annual Run to Feed the Hungry benefit Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

The race/walk starts on J Street just west of the entrance to the Sacramento State campus and runs through the beautiful tree lined streets of East Sacramento. WHA proudly sponsors what has become a family tradition for thousands of area families and their out-of-town guests, as well as a favorite race among elite runners in California.

To find more event information, please visit www.runtofeedthehungry.com.

What: Western Health Advantage Run to Feed the Hungry

When: Thursday, November 26, 2015

Time: 8:15 a.m. – 10K Race; 9:00 a.m. – 5K Race and Walk

Where: California State University, Sacramento main entrance (6000 J Street)

Beneficiary: Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services Much more than just food, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) offers 14 diverse services, all focusing on education and moving families to self-sufficiency and financial independence. This is made possible through the help of over 6,200 volunteers who contribute more than 65,000 hours every year. SFBFS is unique in that the organization is not based on a traditional food bank model. SFBFS directly serves families in our community and offers a hand up in the form of education, not a hand out, to each individual who seeks assistance. SFBFS is supported through private donors, some grants and special events such as Run to Feed the Hungry. SFBFS provides food, clothing, education and hope to 150,000 men, women and children each month thanks to your support.

Stock Photo by Sean Locke www.digitalplanetdesign.com

Every parent should be informed about this disease and its potentially devastating and long-term effects.

Who is at Risk

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the populations most at risk are:

  • Infants: Infants are most vulnerable and can easily be infected by other family members.
  • Adolescents: Preteens and teens are at greater risk for certain diseases like meningitis.  Getting vaccinated not only helps protect adolescents from getting certain diseases such as meningitis, it helps stop the spread of disease to families, classmates and community members.
  • Young Adults: Those attending college can quickly spread the infection to other students. For example, between 2013 and 2015, four campuses reported meningococcal outbreaks and in 2014, and one student at San Diego State University died from meningitis, a serious form of the disease.

What It Is

Meningococcal disease is a highly infectious disease that can vary in its severity.

  • The infection attacks the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord ─ known as the meninges ─ and causes swelling.
  • If not treated early, the outcome can mean brain damage, hearing loss, loss of limbs or death.
  • There are five known strains worldwide, three of which cause most of the illnesses here in the U.S.


Protecting your loved ones against this disease is as easy as a vaccine. Ask your doctor about the meningococcal vaccination that is right for your child. For more information, visit the CDC or talk to your child’s doctor. For other recommended vaccines, visit mywha.org/shots.

Risks of the Vaccine

Temporary discomfort, such as redness or pain at the injection site, is the most commonly reported risk of the vaccine. A small percentage of those vaccinated may develop a fever. This symptom usually subsides after 1-2 days. The short-term discomfort your child may experience is far outweighed by the long-term and sometimes life-long protection from this life-threatening disease.


Source: CDC, NMA


iStock_000016812493XLargeThe American Diabetes Association sponsors November as American Diabetes Month. To raise awareness about diabetes and healthy living, Western Health Advantage is proudly participating in this observance. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the California. It can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled. One in seven adult Californians has diabetes — that’s about four million people. Another 11 million adults in California have pre-diabetes and therefore are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. California has the greatest number of people in the U.S. who are newly diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition marked by high levels of blood glucose (a form of sugar) resulting from defects in insulin production. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce the hormone insulin. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, occurs when the cells do not use insulin properly. Lifestyle changes can prevent type 2 diabetes. People who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk by more than half if they make healthy changes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes:

  • Watch your weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Get more physical activity
  • Get regular checkups, including finding out your blood pressure and cholesterol, and ask your doctor about your diabetes risk.
  •  Visit mywha.org/classes for information on smoking cessation classes.
  • WHA members can also get online support and instruction through WHA’s wellness program; for details, visit mywha.org or call WHA Member Services at 888.563.2250. Starting in January 2016, WHA will have an enhanced wellness program, MyWHA Wellness, with more features than before, so check back in after January 1, 2016.


WHA’s Diabetes Program

WHA members have access to a diabetes program provided through Alere™. It is designed to help manage your condition. If you are at low risk for complications, you will be enrolled in the program and receive educational materials. If you are at high risk, you will receive educational materials and regularly scheduled calls with a diabetes nurse care manager. The care manager will help you navigate through the various services provided by the program and act as coach and educator ─ all at no cost to you. You can apply to the program by contacting Alere at 877.793.3655.

For more information, WHA members can visit mywha.org/diabetes


Sources: American Diabetes Association, California Diabetes Program (CDPH), WHA

Starting November 1, California residents who cannot get health insurance through their employer will be able to shop and enroll in a number of health insurance plans through Covered California, California’s health benefit exchange. WHA plans for 2016 will be among those available during Covered California’s open enrollment period. Whether you are currently uninsured or already enrolled in a Covered California plan, this open enrollment period is offered to all who are eligible for Covered California.

Coverage that you sign up for can become effective as of January 1, 2016. For coverage to be effective then, enrollment must be completed by December 15, 2015.

Open enrollment closes on Jan. 31, 2016. The open enrollment period will likely be the only time during the year you will be able to purchase or change plans, barring a major life change, such as the loss of a job or the birth of a child.

Covered California offers credits and subsidies to ensure coverage is affordable. Families and individuals who fall within certain income levels are eligible for premium tax credits used to lower the monthly payment of their insurance premiums. Some may even be eligible for assistance with out-of-pocket costs as well.


You’ll Pay if You Don’t Have Health Insurance

You must maintain health insurance coverage in order to avoid a tax penalty. The penalty is increasing in 2015 and 2016. You don’t have health insurance if you choose to pay the penalty.

If you didn’t have coverage in 2015, the penalty is $325 per uninsured adult (half that amount per child), up to $975 per family, or 2 percent of household income above the tax filing threshold (which could make the penalty more than $325 for an individual).

If you don’t have coverage in 2016, the penalty will be $695 per uninsured adult ($2,085 per family), or 2.5 percent of household income above the tax filing threshold.

WHA encourages those who can afford it to buy insurance this open enrollment season.


Covered California is a registered trademark of the State of California


Depressed young man standing against window

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. It was founded by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in 2006 and is a nationwide campaign that includes activities, education and awareness building. October 21st is “Unity Day,” when everyone is encourage to wear orange and participate in learning activities at schools, communities, and online.

Every day thousands of teens wake up afraid to go to school. Bullying – including cyberbullying – is a problem that affects millions of students, and it has everyone worried, not just the kids on its receiving end. Yet because parents, teachers, and other adults don’t always see it, they may not understand how extreme bullying can get.

Bullying is when a person is picked on over and over again by an individual or group with more power, either in terms of physical strength or social standing.

Children and youth who are bullied are more likely than other children to:

  • Be depressed, lonely, anxious;
  • Have low self-esteem;
  • Experience headaches, stomachaches, tiredness, and poor eating;
  • Be absent from school, dislike school, and have poorer school performance; and
  • Think about suicide or try to commit suicide.

How Parents Can Help

If you suspect that your child’s change in behavior may be related to being bullied or if your child confides in you about a bullying incident, there are steps you can take to help your teen deal with bullying.

According to experts, listening to your teen and focusing on their issue is a very important first step. Letting them know they are not to blame is also important. On-line resources such as http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/info-facts.asp are available to guide parents on helping their child. Visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/california.html to learn more about California’s laws against bullying.


Make it a goal to get your blood pressure checked during May for National High Blood Pressure Education Month. It’s easy to check blood pressure and it’s painless. It can be checked by your doctor, and many pharmacies have free screening stations. Blood pressure stations can be found within most stores that have a pharmacy department such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.

High Blood Pressure Education Month encourages you to examine your daily routine which may be contributing to high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes which can help reduce blood pressure include; maintaining a healthy body weight, regular exercise, quitting smoking and following a healthy low-sodium diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

What do the blood pressure numbers mean? Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:

blood pressure (3)


Incorporating these healthy habits can help you keep your blood pressure under control:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Manage stress.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (no more than one drink each day for women and two for men).
  • If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication, take as directed.
  • Check your blood pressure regularly.SOURCE: American Heart Association, CDC, WhatHealth


Note: If you have an existing condition, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or diabetes, your doctor will advise you on the blood pressure level that is best for your individual health needs


National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is set for April 18-25, 2015.  This week, NIIW will provide parents information on the benefits of immunizations and how to improve the health of children two years old or younger.  Immunizations are one of the most effective ways that parents can protect their children from infectious diseases, such as measles and whooping cough.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), immunizations, can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two. The CDC recommends the following immunizations for infants 0-23 months:

IZ schedbabies

At Western Health Advantage, keeping you and your family healthy is our top priority. Preventive care services such as well baby care and immunizations are part of your medical plan, at no additional cost to you! Visit our online infant wellness section for more information.

Disclaimer: Coverage for WHA services depends on eligibility at the time of the service

Sources: CDC


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