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USFHP Member Profile Series: Cleared for Takeoff

Chief Master Sergeant Maryanne Walts turned injury into inspiration, channeling her love for travel in her service to the Air Force and Air National Guard

 The US Family Health plan provides quality health care to more than 150,000 members nationwide who are military retirees or the family of active-duty or retired military service members.  We are honored to serve members like Chief Master Sergeant Maryanne Walts, who trusts us with her family’s healthcare needs.

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Chief Master Sergeant Maryanne Walts, Command Chief 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard, Westfield, MA

Growing up in a large family in Westfield, Massachusetts, Walts longed to travel, yet her dream seemed out of reach due to her family’s modest finances.  But following an airplane trip to Florida as a teenager that she paid for herself, she vowed to make travel her career and decided she would become a flight attendant.

Her dreams dissipated the following year, however, when she was seriously injured by a drunk driver while on a run.  After several surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, the airline she hoped to work for rejected her candidacy because of her scars.  Disappointed but not deterred, Walts took the advice of a doctor who steered her in a different direction that would still allow her travel, but would judge her success on her merit, not her physical appearance.

“Why not think about the military?” he asked.

Walts enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and headed to Texas and Mississippi for training.  Ironically, the young woman who hoped to travel was then assigned to Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, bringing her back to home territory.  She served there for four years, flourishing as a logistics expert.

After marrying her high-school sweetheart, Jack, and starting a family, Walts eventually considered a return to civilian life.  However, an Air Force colonel persuaded her to continue her career by joining the Massachusetts Air National Guard, and where she became a supply systems analyst for the 104th Fighter Wing in her hometown of Westfield.

Her career had brought her full circle, and in 2014, Walts became the 104th’s first female Command Chief Master Sergeant.  She is responsible for all matters related to the health, professional development, military readiness, and morale and welfare of assigned enlisted personnel and their families.  She serves directly under the Wing Commander, Col. James Suhr, and represents the highest level of enlisted leadership within her wing.

For Walts, good leadership must be “strong, effective, and proactive, leading from the front, not simply managing people.”  A key challenge for a good leader, she says, is “learning to separate your personal emotions from professional passions,” something she works on constantly.

CMSgt Walts embodies the attentiveness and personal focus that US Family Health Plan prioritizes in its relationship with each of its member beneficiaries.  Her people skills, along with her dedication and diligence, have brought her much success in her military career.  At the same time, CMSgt has experienced success as the mother of three sons, Josh, Jonathan, and Justin, and now as a grandmother. She has found that the principles that guide a military career transfer well to family life.

We at the US Family Health Plan are honored that Chief Master Sgt. Maryanne Walts chose the Brighton Marine US Family Health Plan program to provide her family’s health care coverage, and we thank her for her dedication to her country.

The US Family Health Plan thanks Brighton Marine’s “U” Magazine for its contribution to this story.

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Call Us First: A US Family Health Plan Emergency Care Pilot Program

Deciding where to go for the treatment of a medical condition is not always easy. Thankfully, US Family Health Plan member organization, Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed), has helped remove the guesswork from members’ emergency care needs.

PacMed, which serves US Family Health Plan members in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, recently introduced a pilot program – “Call Us First” – to encourage members to call an after-hours medical care hotline to consult with a doctor before visiting the emergency department. Through this program, PacMed educates both patients and providers about the benefits of seeking medical care with a primary care physician versus relying solely on the emergency department.

Call Us First launched at the Federal Way and Puyallup, Washington, PacMed clinics where utilization rates among members under age 65 were identified as higher than average. US Family Health Plan members in the area received information packets at home and following appointments to educate them about the program. Participating clinics set aside early morning appointments for members who called overnight so they could receive timely care for health conditions that did not require an emergency room visit.

Working with local clinics, PacMed set a goal of reducing emergency department utilization rates by 5% at each clinic for the target population. PacMed uses a program called EDIE (Emergency Department Information Exchange) to let clinics know how they are doing by receiving real-time updates when a member uses the emergency department and relaying that information back to the clinics.

With the program already receiving a positive response – emergency department use is down, and members are using the hotline – PacMed is planning to roll out the Call Us First program to all of its clinics in Washington state this year.

“Call Us First is an excellent way to improve patient access to care while reducing the strain on our emergency departments. This program is a prime example of the US Family Health Plan’s population-health approach, which is effective at keeping our members out of the emergency department and healthy by providing the tools they need to take greater control of their healthcare,” says Moung Finh, Executive Director, US Family Health Plan at PacMed.

US Family Health Plan members are encouraged and empowered to invest in their own health through wellness initiatives – an approach that leads to fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits. When they do need medical attention, US Family Health Plan members enjoy an integrated care network of nearly 64,000 providers across the country who understand their military background and provide top care satisfaction.

To learn more about the US Family Health Plan, explore the rest of our website.

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What is the US Family Health Plan?

For over 30 years, the US Family Health Plan has provided a patient-centered approach to health care for active-duty U.S. military family members, activated National Guard and Reserve family members, military retirees and their families. Over 150,000 US Family Health Plan members nationwide enjoy access to quality health care with top-rated patient satisfaction through six regional TRICARE Prime providers.

Many of the benefits of being a member of the US Family Health Plan, as well as how the US Family Health Plan serves its members, are laid out in a recent educational video, which you can watch here.

The US Family Health Plan has been labeled a model for reform for the Military Health System and has been applauded for exemplary patient satisfaction, having far surpassed the patient satisfaction rates of other managed care plans for nearly two decades. Our overall satisfaction rate is more than 92 percent, according to the most recent Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) survey.

US Family Health Plan Members have access to advanced medical care and services in their communities, and our providers have a deep understanding of military culture and the unique components of care associated with the military community. Our care providers pride themselves on offering world-class health care for their patients, including wellness and disease prevention programs, disease management and continuity of care.

To learn more, about US Family Health Plan, please watch our latest video above or continue to explore our website.

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VIDEO: Incentivizing Patient Wellness with US Family Health Plan’s Population Health Approach

The US Family Health Plan’s patient-focused approach that emphasizes and incentivizes lasting patient wellness is unique among health care options in the Military Health System.

Dr. David Howes, president and CEO of member organization Martin’s Point Health Care in Maine, explains how the US Family Health Plan establishes a population-based approach to patient care for each of the nearly 150,000 military family and retiree members across the country.

“The US Family Health Plan believes in a concept called population health, where you know and understand all the people for whom you are responsible and your monitoring their health and their healthcare and their results to be sure they are getting their needs met…As we enroll members and as we take care of members who are enrolled, we work very hard to make sure we understand their health and health conditions and their health needs,” Howes says.

The six member provider organizations that make up the US Family Health Plan operate a capitated-care model in which they are reimbursed at a fixed rate for the cost of all patient services. The provider organizations are responsible for any costs of care that exceed this fixed rate. This arrangement enables significant investment in population health and disease management programs that help people live healthier lives and avoid expensive episodes of inpatient care.

“The US Family Health Plan incentivizes wellness instead of incentivizing illness because it is in our interest for our patients to remain well. This keeps people out of the hospital; it keeps people away from major health needs. We spend a lot of time trying to understand all the aspects of people’s health who are the members of our plan and to prevent them from getting sick, rather to treat them when they become sick,” Howes adds.

The US Family Health Plan’s preventive health care initiatives, including disease and complex care management programs and a patient-centered medical home concept that includes in-home patient monitoring, keep members active in lifestyle programs and invested in their health and wellness. This model of care falls closely in line with recent requests by Congress to reform the Military Health System and contributes to keeping US Family Health Plan members satisfied with their health care, out of the hospital and able to experience a high quality of life.

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A Happy Holiday Message from the US Family Health Plan

The US Family Health Plan Alliance extends its warmest wishes for the holiday season to each of our nearly 150,000 members, as well as to every military family, veteran and active-duty service member across the country or abroad. We thank you for your sacrifices, courage and strength, and we look forward to serving you in the New Year.

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Happy Thanksgiving from the US Family Health Plan Alliance

The US Family Health Plan Alliance wishes you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. At US Family Health Plan, when we think about what we are grateful for, our members and their families top the list! Thanks to all in the U.S. military family for your service, your selflessness and your inspiration. Please enjoy a safe and blessed Thanksgiving Day.

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VIDEO: Ensuring US Family Health Plan Members Enjoy High Satisfaction with Health Care

A patient-focused approach to health care enables the six member organizations of the US Family Health Plan to achieve high levels of patient satisfaction among their nearly 150,000 members across the country.

Dr. David Howes, president and CEO of member organization Martin’s Point HealthCare in Maine, explains how the US Family Health Plan maintains satisfaction by prioritizing members’ personal needs.

“When you are a member of US Family Health Plan, we feel a responsibility to help you to become and remain healthy, and to do that in a way that meets your personal needs. In addition, there is the value that we have put together networks of providers, doctors, hospitals and care managers that can help guide you through the care system in a way that means that you will never be unable to find somebody to care for you or your family,” Howes says.

The US Family Health Plan keeps an eye on its progress and effectiveness by measuring its members’ overall satisfaction with their health care over time, including their ability to easily access care and their happiness with their health outcomes. In fact, two US Family Health Plan member organizations – Martin’s Point Health Care and Johns Hopkins – were recently listed among the top private health plans in the country for patient satisfaction by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) Private Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2017–2018.

“We are probably among the health plans in the U.S. that are most satisfying to their members. We find that we are at the absolute top of the heap, with over 90% of our members saying that they are satisfied or very satisfied with their health plan,” Howes says.

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US Family Health Plans Again Earn Top National Ratings for Private Health Insurance

The US Family Health Plan once again has two of the highest-rated private health insurance plans in the country, according to the independent National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

In NCQA’s Private Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2017–2018, NCQA gave a 5 out of 5 rating to the Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan and a 4.5 out of 5 rating to Martin’s Point US Family Health Plan (ME) – two of the US Family Health Plan’s six regional health plans – demonstrating a continued commitment to excellence in health care.

“The latest NCQA ratings affirm that the US Family Health Plan is keeping our members satisfied by providing them with high quality health care for improved care outcomes,” said Jim Schweiter, US Family Health Plan Alliance CEO.

The NCQA report rates private, Medicare, and Medicaid health insurance plans on a 5-point scale for customer satisfaction, prevention and treatment. The ratings are based on clinical quality, member satisfaction and NCQA Accreditation Survey results to emphasize care outcomes and what patients say about their care. Both Martin’s Point and Johns Hopkins are NCQA-accredited.

Johns Hopkins, the top-rated private health insurance plan in Maryland, is just one of five private plans in the country to earn a 5 out of 5 rating out of the more than 1,000 plans rated in the report. The plan also received an NCQA Health Plan Accreditation of Excellent, scoring 94.26 out of a possible 100.

“To be among the highest-rated plans in the country is an honor, as well as a motivator,” said Mary Cooke, vice president of Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan. “Everything that we do is in pursuit of serving our military families and retirees with the highest quality of care possible. The NCQA rating will make us work even harder to maintain our standards and hopefully reach new levels of quality.”

The Martin’s Point US Family Health Plan – based in Portland, Maine – is the top-rated private plan in the state and one of only 42 plans nationwide to earn a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

“We are excited and honored to receive a 4.5 out of 5 rating from NCQA. Our aim is to provide the highest quality care and service, and this rating validates all of our efforts to keep our members satisfied and well cared for,” said David Howes, M.D., president and CEO of Martin’s Point Health Care.

The US Family Health Plan has been labeled as a model for exemplary patient satisfaction nationwide by the annual Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) survey, which gave the plan a 91.5 aggregate member satisfaction rating in 2017. CAHPS scores are incorporated into the NCQA rating system.

“Our top priority continues to be the health and satisfaction of our members, as it has been for more than 30 years. We are proud of the care we deliver as part of the Military Health System and remain a committed partner to them in their mission,” Schweiter said.

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Day of the Deployed: We’ve Got Your Back

Today, on National Day of the Deployed, the US Family Health Plan Alliance celebrates the brave men and women in our Armed Forces who are currently deployed and all those who have served abroad at some point in their service.

Family readiness is a critical component of the military medical readiness mission. Active-duty military members have earned the right to peace of mind, knowing their families are well taken care of back at home.

As a trusted provider of military healthcare, we are committed to providing our members with the highest quality of care. When active duty military families and retirees enroll with one of the six providers within the US Family Health Plan Alliance, they become part of our family. Our members can say with complete confidence that we always have their backs.

So whether active-duty member families are deployed in the next city, state, country or continent – down the street or thousands of miles away – the last thing they have to be concerned about is whether their loved ones have access to the care they need, when they need it.

We pledge to continue delivering top-rated health care with the highest levels of patient satisfaction to our members across the country. We cannot thank you and your families enough for your service and sacrifices.

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Physical Therapy is an Important Preventive Care and Recovery Option for USFHP Members

October is National Physical Therapy Month. The US Family Health Plan recognizes the importance of physical therapy to the overall health and wellness of our members and their families. Each year, more than half of active-duty soldiers endure injuries or related conditions, leading to more than 1 million medical encounters and roughly 10 million days of limited duty.

After leaving active-duty service, these individuals often endure chronic pain or must have surgery to find relief. Fortunately, US Family Health Plan members have access to a variety of physical therapy coverage options to meet their recovery goals.

After more than 30 years of service to military families and retirees, the US Family Health Plan understands the injuries common to a dynamic military lifestyle.  We are committed to providing quality health care and tailored physical therapy options for pain management to our members to address a range of issues, including physical mobility, speech concerns and cognitive or psychological impairment.

Therapy services – including prescribed physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and cognitive rehabilitation therapy, among others – are available to members through their TRICARE Prime benefit. For more information on whether your health and wellness would benefit from therapy services, speak with your primary care provider.