The US Family Health Plan Alliance wishes a happy anniversary to the United States Navy Reserve. For 102 years, these brave Americans have seamlessly supported and contributed to the U.S. military mission. The readiness mission extends across the entire military community, including health care, and we are proud to stand behind the brave Reservists who uphold their motto of “Ready Now, Anytime, Anywhere.” The Alliance extends its sincerest gratitude to the members of the Navy Reserve for their continued service.
USFHP Member Minutes Profile
U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Natalie Poole, Retired
Natalie Poole enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 18, looking for direction in her life. She couldn’t know that she would complete a decorated 20-year career that spanned several international deployments – including Japan, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia – and earn five Navy Achievement Medals for service above and beyond the call of duty. Her military service, she says, is the best thing she’s ever done.
Upon her retirement as a gunnery sergeant and logistics chief, Poole has remained active, launching a career as an entrepreneur and government contractor while participating in multiple alumni networking groups and the national organization, Disabled American Veterans. Though she remains physically healthy, she wanted to maintain choice and personal autonomy in her health care. After using other care options offered through the Military Health System, Natalie chose the US Family Health Plan at Christus Healthcare for her care.
“US Family Health Plan had the best program of anything out there,” Poole recalls. “Since I was a veteran, I exclusively had the opportunity to take advantage of it. It was all as I expected. Everyone was respectful, efficient, and there were no surprises. And for me that says a lot.”
As a proud US Family Health Plan member for more than six years, Poole continues to appreciate the respectful culture and unwavering reliability her care teams have offered her since the day she enrolled. She emphasizes how an appreciation of military sacrifice permeates throughout Christus Health, fostering an understanding of military culture that helps doctors and care teams work with veterans who may want to handle challenging situations without outside help.
“Aside from whatever I came in for – including my checkups – they’re also asking me different things to open up the floor [on other medical issues]. They actually talk to me about it in a way that’s respectful,” Poole says. “I’m treated like a human being.”
Another benefit Poole enjoys through the plan is access to care when she needs it. There’s no months-long waiting process to see a doctor; when she calls for an appointment, one is scheduled for her within a reasonable time. This is especially important to her because she has two daughters and four grandchildren – further encouragement to stay as healthy as possible. This also encourages her to participate in the preventive health programs which US Family Health Plan promotes for its members.
“As I get older,” Poole says, “I need a health care plan that’s going to grow with me. It’s very important to me to have consistency and someone that I can depend on — a plan that I can depend on. I believe if you promise a thing you should follow through with a thing. The biggest praise I can give US Family Health Plan and Christus Health is they’ve done exactly that.”
Natalie Poole is among nearly 150,000 US Family Health Plan members nationwide who enjoy access to quality healthcare with top-rated patient satisfaction through six regional member organizations offering TRICARE Prime benefits. To learn more about US Family Health Plan, watch the interview above or explore the rest of our website.
U.S. Army Family Joins US Family Health Plan
Just in Time for a Planned Home Birth
After more than a decade of life as a U.S. Army family, Faith and Aris Comeaux know a thing or two about process and planning.
In 2005, Faith – an Army enlistee from Nebraska – met her future husband, Aris, in Alabama at flight school. They were married, and both eventually became pilots. Faith completed ROTC, became an officer and went on to fly Apache helicopters, while Aris graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point before flying Kiowa choppers. Their service to the Army kept them on the go as they moved to Alaska, back to Alabama, then to California and finally to New York.
It was after living in New York for a year that the Comeauxs – by then a family of six – were preparing to welcome baby number five. Faith, having given birth four times before, knew she wanted this one to happen at home and began making preparations.
“We had one baby that came within an hour, and we had him at home, because we didn’t make it to the hospital. Not by choice, you know. The next one I had at the hospital, so I wanted to do the next one as a home birth intentionally, plan it and set it all up,” she says. “I’ve had beautiful babies, beautiful pregnancies and deliveries and had no issues. The midwife was able to meet with me even with only a month and a half left, and she was comfortable doing it because everything lined up, and it was a safe environment for me and the baby.”
Despite her plans, as her due date approached, Faith’s planned home birth was in flux after she encountered procedural hurdles with her private insurance provider and her preferred hospital.
“It should have been simple, and it became this whole thing,” Comeaux recalls. “I was going to have a home birth one way or the other. Someone said try US Family Health Plan, and so at that point, instead of continuing to fight the hospital to get what my insurance covered, I did call them. I was already over my due date, and the clock was ticking!”
Faith spoke with Rhonda Morris, US Family Health Plan director with St. Vincent Catholic Medical Health Centers – a US Family Health Plan member organization in New York – who worked quickly to onboard Faith and her children as US Family Health Plan members, complete with the benefits of a safe, coordinated home birth.
“I joined US Family Health Plan two days before the baby came,” Comeaux says. “Everything went smoothly. Rhonda was able to get everything from the doctor and made my midwife a primary care provider. Then she had to work on transferring me over.”
Without a hitch, the Comeauxs were welcomed into the US Family Health Plan family. The Comeauxs, in turn, welcomed baby Asaph into their family. Faith says she is glad the US Family Health Plan supports home birth and midwifery, which she feels is a “lost art.”
“Everyone was very supportive, very encouraging,” she says. “They were willing to go above and beyond to meet my needs as the patient and set forth what would be best for me in my situation.”
The Comeauxs have since left New York, as Aris is in Korea for a year-long unaccompanied assignment. Faith has moved with the couple’s five children – three boys and two girls – to Hawaii. There they eagerly await Aris’ return and baby number six, a boy due in March. Ever the planner, Faith will again have a home birth.
“Of course I’m pregnant now, and I looked up US Family Health Plan to see if it was offered here! It would make my life a whole lot easier if it was,” she says. “I can’t stress it enough: it was God working through people that had willing hearts. It was just amazing. They were able to care about the patient more than anything else. I could have been just a number, and they could have said, ‘Nope you’re past due. We can’t help you.’ But they did the exact opposite. That was two years ago and still gives me goosebumps, to be honest.”
Congress is one step closer to a makeover of the Military Health System (MHS) and TRICARE that will feature the model of care, values and performance objectives already provided by the US Family Health Plan.
In the recently-passed conference bill and report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA), Congress establishes objectives and expectations for improving military health care beginning in 2018, focusing on quality, value-based care and an improved experience and access to care for beneficiaries. Specifically, in the report Congress calls for the Department of Defense (DOD) to pursue several strategic improvements to military health services, including:
- Improved access to health care
- Improved health outcomes
- Improved quality of health care
- Enhanced beneficiary experience in receiving health care
- Lowered per capita costs of health care
Congress urges DOD to focus on value-based reimbursement for the companies that provide care to military beneficiaries and better health outcomes for these patients. The member organizations of the US Family Health Plan Alliance are pleased and encouraged by Congress’ approach to military health care reform because the US Family Health Plan program has consistently provided high quality care, easy access to care, improved health care outcomes, and very high beneficiary satisfaction for many years. We have set and maintained the standard for military health care through a value-based approach to care that continually yields the highest quality and beneficiary satisfaction marks in TRICARE.
As highlighted below, the conference report’s strategy guidance to DOD includes specific goals, which the US Family Health Plan already achieves.
NDAA Conference Report Objective: Value-based incentive programs to shift financial risk to health care providers and managed care support contractors—
The conference agreement between the House and Senate requires the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement value-based incentives as a part of any contract awarded to provide health care to military beneficiaries. Along with these incentives, a new acquisition strategy for managed care is also required
The US Family Health Plan is currently TRICARE’s only value-based, capitated model of health care, and the US Family Health Plan Alliance is gratified that Congress is embracing the value-based model of care. This model of care rewards delivery of appropriate and necessary care, based on the population of patients and their likely medical needs, ensuring that the contractors have the burden of keeping healthy patients healthy and achieving positive health outcomes. As results from the US Family Health Plan have already demonstrated, Congress’ direction to DOD to incorporate value-based care into the managed care support contracts should yield better health outcomes for more patients and cost savings over the long term.
“The US Family Health Plan is the model of care that the Department of Defense should emulate,” said Linda Marzano, chair of the US Family Health Plan Alliance’s board of directors and CEO of Seattle-based Pacific Medical Centers. “This program has consistently provided the high quality care military patients deserve, better health outcomes, high patient satisfaction and at a reasonable cost for taxpayers.”
NDAA Conference Report Objective: Incentives that emphasize disease prevention and wellness and encourage patient participation in medical and lifestyle intervention programs—
The NDAA conference agreement requires DOD to use prevention and wellness incentives to encourage beneficiaries to seek health care services from high-value providers. The bill also requires the use of incentives to encourage certain beneficiaries to engage in medical and lifestyle intervention programs.
As a value-based care program, the US Family Health Plan member organizations already incorporate health prevention, wellness, and disease management programs into the regimen of care afforded to beneficiaries. Through the use of predictive, population-based modeling, specialized care protocols are tailored to the needs of individual patients. This modeling permits better use of preventative and lifestyle management care, especially for those with chronic conditions. We also encourage our members to participate in the management of their own health care, another feature of the US Family Health Plan that other contractors would do well to adopt. Patient participation in their own care ultimately yields improved efficiency, better health outcomes and higher patient satisfaction because they are invested in their own care.
NDAA Conference Report Objective: Maximize flexibility in network design and configuration and develop high-performing networks—
Another positive aspect of the fiscal year 2017 NDAA conference bill is that it encourages partnerships between military treatment facilities and high performance military-civilian integrated health delivery systems. This objective would be accomplished through the use of memoranda of understanding and contracts with local or regional health care delivery systems, including HMOs, health care centers of excellence and other similar organizations.
The member organizations of the US Family Health Plan Alliance commend Congress for directing the Department of Defense to work with high performance health care delivery organizations like us. US Family Health Plan beneficiaries overwhelming report high levels of satisfaction with the care they receive, earning the US Family Health Plan high marks for both quality care and patient satisfaction that outpace the rest of TRICARE and private sector health care. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recently awarded top national ratings to our member organizations, including Johns Hopkins and Martin’s Point Health Care in Maine, both of which earned 5 out of 5 ratings for customer satisfaction, prevention and treatment. These ratings are important because NCQA considers results from the annual Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) survey. This survey regularly ranks US Family Health Plan among its highest performers. For example, in 2015, CAHPS gave the US Family Health Plan a 91.5 aggregate member satisfaction rating – more than 25 percentage points higher than the national average for commercial health plans.
The bottom line is that the US Family Health Plan program already provides many of the features, benefits and performance objectives that Congress is directing the Department of Defense to pursue. The US Family Health Plan Alliance offers its support for the reforms outlined in the NDAA legislation and is eager to work with Congress and DOD as a partner to improve the Military Health System and improve the health care that our military beneficiaries so richly deserve.
The US Family Health Plan Alliance wishes the National Guard a Happy Birthday as it celebrates 380 years of service to our country.
The Alliance thanks all current, former and retired National Guard members for their service and sacrifices as they’ve upheld their motto of “Always Ready, Always There” for more than three-and-a-half centuries.
The member organizations of the US Family Health Plan Alliance express our sincere appreciation for the work of the Army and Air National Guard, and we are grateful for the privilege of providing health care to eligible members who receive their health care through the US Family Health Plan.
Veterans Day offers an opportunity to say thank you to those who have served in the United States military in defense of freedom and democracy. The six US Family Health Plan health care systems participate in events throughout the year to celebrate and honor our veterans.
For example, Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Center, participated in the annual “Vets Rock” event at Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut for the second year in a row. This event supports the nonprofit organization, Til Duty is Done, and includes a career fair and professional sessions for service members, veterans and military spouses. The event is capped off with a concert that this year featured host Tony Orlando and musical performances by Drop Kick Murphys, Godsmack and Madison Rising.
“This is personal for me,” stated Maria Green, a retired Army Sergeant First Class and St. Vincent’s US Family Health Plan staff member. “Since retiring, I have devoted my second career to serving the military community. Being a retired service member, I know first-hand the needs of veterans. I do my best to provide valuable information on available resources to my fellow veterans. This event in particular covers the full spectrum of resources from employment opportunities to health-related information and individual well-being seminars—and a dynamic closing concert to boot!”
For more than ten years, St. Vincent’s has also hosted “Breakfast with a Hero” to honor members who serve or have served our nation and which provides an opportunity for US Family Health Plan members to share stories with staff and friends over breakfast.
“We look forward to this day,” said Debbie Sorrentino, practice manager at the Fort Wadsworth Family Health Center. “Everyone gets involved in setting the stage for this day. Our staff starts decorating two weeks prior to Veterans Day. This year, we created a flier to remind patients to come by and celebrate with us. The word spreads quickly, and our patients schedule their routine appointments on this day to participate in the festivities as they check in on their health.”
Another US Family Health Plan organization, Christus Health, participates in the “Houston Salutes American Heroes” event with the City of Houston, a celebration that features a job and resource fair, a recognition ceremony honoring local heroes, and a parade of heroes. This year, Christus Health will provide health screenings and flu shots to more than 1,000 veterans and those in need, hosting games and other interactive events throughout the day.
These kinds of events allow the organizations that participate in the US Family Health Plan program to give back, in a small way, to those who have given so much to our great nation. In honor of all who have served, the US Family Health Plan organizations express their sincere and enduring gratitude.
The US Family Health Plan Alliance wishes the brave men and women of the United States Marine Corps a Happy Birthday today as it celebrates 241 years of service to our country.
The Alliance thanks all current, former and retired Marines for their service to the nation and for protecting our freedom. While we can never fully repay their service and sacrifice, we want all in the Marine Corps family to know of our gratitude.
The member organizations of the US Family Health Plan Alliance look forward to many more years of providing care to our nation’s finest and their families.
The US Family Health Plan Alliance extends Happy Birthday wishes to two branches of our nation’s armed forces.
The Alliance salutes both the U.S. Navy, which celebrates its 241st birthday today, and the U.S. Air Force, which celebrated its 69th birthday on September 18.
Our country owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who have served in both the Navy and Air Force throughout the years. We’re privileged to enjoy trusted relationships with many retirees and family members of active duty service members from these branches and are honored to be charged with their health care.
The end of summer brings the excitement of the beginning of another school year for children (and parents) across the country. The US Family Health Plan takes pride in keeping its youngest members – the children of military families across the country – healthy so they can have a productive, stimulating and educational school year.
In this spirit, one US Family Health Plan, Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, produced a list of helpful back-to-school preparation tips. Saint Vincent partnered with Operation Homefront on a series of Back to School Brigade events across Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to provide more than 2,500 military families with book bags loaded with school supplies.
Parents and students pick through school supplies at Back to School Brigade events
sponsored by US Family Health Plan provider, Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers.
(Click on article to view photo slideshow.)
In addition to having the right supplies for school, it is even more important for children to have the right medical care when they need it. Here are some useful health tips to keep in mind for your children:
- Eat Right: Give your children a healthy edge with the right nutritional approach, including these dietary recommendations from Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers.
- Stay Focused: Mental health and proper sleep habits are just as important as a proper diet. US Family Health Plan member Johns Hopkins HealthCare covers these areas and more in its Back-to-School Guide for Parents.
- Eye Exams: It can be hard for children to learn well if they struggle to see the chalkboard. Ask your primary care physician about scheduling an eye exam for your child.
- Annual Physical: Whether your children play sports or not, we recommend an annual physical to survey their general health and to ensure they are on track for continued healthy growth and development.
- Vaccinations: Confirm with your primary care physician that your children’s vaccines are up to date and in alignment with school requirements.
Managing care throughout the school year can be hectic for parents. That’s why all US Family Health Plans are committed to making healthcare as easy as possible for our nation’s military families.
Consistently rated one of the best care programs in customer satisfaction, the US Family Health Plan now boasts two of the highest-rated health insurance plans in the country, according to the independent National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).
In NCQA’s Private Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2016–2017, NCQA gave 5 out of 5 ratings to both Martin’s Point US Family Health Plan (ME) and the Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan – two of the US Family Health Plan’s six regional health plans.
“Our goal is to provide high quality health care to our members and to keep them extremely satisfied,” said Jim Schweiter, US Family Health Plan Alliance CEO. “The latest NCQA ratings prove that the US Family Health Plan program delivers the results our military family and retiree members deserve.”
The NCQA report rates private, Medicare, and Medicaid health insurance plans on a 5-point scale for customer satisfaction, prevention and treatment. It also considers NCQA Accreditation standards scores. Both Martin’s Point and Johns Hopkins are NCQA-accredited and were among just 13 private plans in the country that earned a 5 out of 5 rating, out of the more than 1,000 plans rated in the report. Both plans improved on their 4.5 out of 5 ratings from last year’s Private Health Insurance Plan Ratings.
The Martin’s Point US Family Health Plan, based in Portland, Maine, is the top-rated private plan in the state.
“The NCQA ratings demonstrate the effectiveness of the US Family Health Plan’s model in managing care, achieving better health outcomes and delivering top-rated care to our members. We are proud of this recognition and proud to serve the military community,” said Dr. David Howes, President and CEO of Martin’s Point HealthCare.
The Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan is one of two private plans based in Maryland that received an overall rating of 5 out of 5.
“We are honored to earn the NCQA’s five of five rating in service to our members. We learn so much from the military families and retirees we serve, and we pledge to continue to deliver the exceptional care that led to the NCQA rating,” said Mary Cooke, vice president of the Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan.
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 2015 – more than 25 points higher on a 100-point scale than the national average for commercial health plans. CAHPS scores are incorporated into the NCQA rating system.
“The health and satisfaction of our members has been our top priority in delivering care to beneficiaries of the Military Health System for more than 30 years, and we look forward to continuing to provide high quality care in the years ahead,” Schweiter said.