The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is a nationwide child injury prevention program dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury. Each year SAFE KIDS observes December as National Safe Toys and Gifts Month.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this holiday season and year round:

  • Child-age toys: Choose toys appropriate for your child’s age, interests and skill level.
  • Toys with small parts: For children younger than three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking. Use the cardboard core of a toilet paper roll to test for size – if a toy can pass through, it is too small for young children and may cause them to choke if swallowed.
  • Toys with sharp edges: Avoid toys with sharp points or edges. Also avoid toys that produce loud noises, and projectiles (such as darts).
  • Strings, straps or cords: Toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches can pose a risk for strangulation for young children.
  • Electrical toys: Avoid electrical toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
  • Check labels: Check for safety labels that say whether or not a toy is toxic.
  • Scooters and other riding toys: Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and they should be sized to fit.
  • Balloons: Choking causes one third of all toy-related deaths – most often from balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons immediately.

Perhaps the most important thing a parent can do is to supervise play.

For additional information about safe toys, visit the National Safe Kids Campaign.

Click here for more toy safety tips


Western Health Advantage is excited to support the 33rd annual Santa Parade, being held Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 10 a.m. in downtown Sacramento. The parade route goes around Capitol Park.

The parade is a hometown tradition for spectators and participants alike and we delight in sharing it with the community. We invite you to take part in this fantastic event that supports the Gifts to Share organization, founded to help Sacramento area children’s arts programs.

The Santa Parade has a spirit of its own, embodied by the many wonderful parade entrants – from tuneful marching bands to high-stepping horses, fire trucks to vintage vehicles, skillful twirlers to dazzling floats. The crowd of spectators greets the passing parade with enthusiastic approval. Their smiles and cheers are the perfect expression of the holidays – and a big part of the Santa Parade spirit.

The Santa Parade was established in 1983 to create a signature holiday tradition in the heart of the city for all of Sacramento. It was an immediate success, drawing many thousands of visitors to downtown Sacramento each year.

For more info go to sacholidays.com.

Doctor takes needle out of arm after injection

It’s not too late to vaccinate – Get your flu vaccine today!

Getting the flu vaccine is simple – and it’s free.*  It’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu and millions of people have been safely receiving flu vaccines for decades.

After November when you see signs that advertise: “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” you might think, “Isn’t it too late for that?” As long as flu viruses are spreading, it’s not too late to get a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Here are some facts to share with your family:

  • The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older.
  • The flu season typically peaks between December and February but significant activity can occur as late as May.
  • The flu causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths.
  • How well the vaccine works can vary but the safety of and benefits from vaccination are well documented.
  • Young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with certain medical conditions are at higher risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death; therefore, they should be vaccinated. To learn more about high risk conditions, visit cdc.gov

Note: For the 2016-2017 flu season, the CDC recommends only injectable flu shots because there is concern the nasal flu vaccine (FluMist) may not be as effective. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about which vaccine is best for you and your family.

* Coverage for WHA services depends on eligibility at the time of the service.



World AIDS Day is held on December 1st each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day, founded by UNAIDS, was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.

From 2010 through 2014, the number of persons in California living with diagnosed HIV infection increased from approximately 116,000 to over 126,000. In 2014, the prevalence rate of diagnosed HIV infection was 327.5 per 100,000 population, compared to 309.9 in 2010, an increase of 5.7%.

Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, many people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show support to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV.  Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible, but only by closing the gap between people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and people who are being left behind.

WHA’s Care Coordination by a Specialist

In most cases a WHA member’s PCP coordinates health care with other providers. However, if a WHA member has a life-threatening, degenerative or disabling condition or disease, including HIV or AIDS, and needs specialized medical care over a long period of time, he or she may receive a referral to a specialist or “specialty care center” that has expertise in the medical condition or disease, so the specialist can coordinate their health care.


Western Health Advantage members can get $5 off of the $12 admission price to the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink by showing their WHA membership card, thanks to WHA’s sponsorship of the venue.

On December 10, WHA also sponsors Santa’s Village (12-2 pm).  After WHA’s Santa Parade, Santa and his elves will set up shop at the ice rink.

The Downtown Sacramento Holiday Ice Rink is a treasured #URBANholiday destination for outdoor skating and a launching pad for exploring ever-booming central Sacramento. The rink is situated in the heart of downtown, at the corner of 7th & K streets in St. Rose of Lima Park and at the doorstep of the new Golden 1 Center.

Dates: November 4, 2016 – January 16, 2017
Skate Admission: $12 (all day, skates included)
Children 6 and under: $6
Gloves & Socks: $4
Lockers: $2

Regular Hours
Monday-Thursday: 2-8 pm
Friday & Saturday: 10 am-10 pm
Sunday: 11 am-8 pm
Holidays: Hours vary

More Info
godowntownsac.com; (916) 442-8575; dsp@downtownsac.org

Covered California

As of November 1, California residents who cannot get a health plan through their employer are able to shop and enroll in a number of health plans through Covered California, California’s health benefit exchange. WHA plans for 2017 are 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, 2017.  For coverage to be effective then, enrollment must be completed by December 15, 2016.

Open enrollment closes on Jan. 31, 2017.  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 health plan premiums. Some may even be eligible for assistance with out-of-pocket costs as well.

Health Plan Considerations

After November 1, you can make any changes you want (within the limits of what’s available). If you have new medical needs, additional family members, and other considerations, it is time for a tune up.

You may even need to make a complete change.  Not all health plans are created equal. What worked for you in the past might no longer suit the needs of you and/or your family.

Here are some considerations when choosing a health plan:

  • Do you like your current doctor? If so, will you lose him or her by changing plans?
  • What core benefits are most important to you? Will the health plan help you reach your health goals?
  • How much is the premium? If it’s low, is there a high deductible?
  • What additional costs should you take into account? Weigh factors like premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Coverage for your family may be especially important.
  • Is there a high-quality hospital nearby? What network of doctors and hospitals will you have access to? Do they coordinate care between locations?
  • Is the health plan easy to use and is their customer service great? You want a health plan that’s easy to work with, professional, courteous, and able to answer all your questions.
  • Are your prescription drugs covered and how are they covered?

Tip: Use an independent broker to advise you if this decision has the potential to keep you up at night.  Ask him or her to match your needs, rather than tell you what you need. If you work with a good broker, he or she should also know the reputation of the health plans in your area and whether or not there have been significant customer service issues with any of them.

More Info
For those enrolled through Covered California, visit Covered CA to update your information. The premium assistance you may be eligible for in 2017 will vary based on changes in your household size, income, and the health insurance rates in your area. If you need help, click here  for Covered CA enrollment assistance.

If you are enrolled through Covered California or in an Individual Advantage plan direct with WHA, you have received your WHA renewal notice – which also can be found at mywha.org. Learn about your coverage options online by logging into your MyWHA account to compare plans.  If you don’t have a MyWHA account, sign up for one at mywha.org/signup.


Two men on bikes outdoors smiling

Did you know that November is American Diabetes Month?  In the U.S., 86 million people have pre-diabetes, putting them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Western Health Advantage is passionate about helping members successfully manage their diabetes.  Before people are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, they nearly always develop pre-diabetes, in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Pre-diabetes should be taken seriously as it can begin causing damage to the body.

But it isn’t all bad news! The good news is you can take steps to prevent and manage diabetes. Here are three helpful steps to get you on the right track:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Your body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat calculated using your height and weight, should be in the healthy range. Visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to calculate your BMI.
  1. Eat wisely. Choose pastas, breads, cereals and crackers that show “whole” or “whole grain” as the first ingredient. Eat more fruit and vegetables, aiming to eat dark yellow and green veggies like broccoli, spinach and squash every day. Cut back on foods containing saturated fats like butter, whole milk, high-fat ice cream and cottage cheese. Visit MyFoodAdvisor for recipes and tips from the American Diabetes Association.
  1. Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps you lose weight and control your cholesterol and blood pressure. It also helps your body use insulin. Try to be physically active for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly with a gentle exercise like walking.
  1. Get support. Along with your family, the relationship you establish with your doctor is one of the most important resources to help you stay on track. You also have free access to WHA’s diabetes program provided through Optum®. Visit mywha.org/DM to learn more.

Have a minute? Learn your risk for type 2 diabetes and take the Diabetes Risk Test now.

Take it. Share it. Step Out.  For more information, please visit mywha.org/diabetes


Sources: American Diabetes Association

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