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What to consider when changing health plans

As the end of the year approaches and our minds are thinking about the upcoming holidays. It is also open enrollment period for healthcare and it ends on December 15th, instead of January 25th like last year, to decide to renew or change your health care plan.

Here are a few things to consider when changing your health care plan:

  • Obama care has not been replaced
      1. Citizens are still mandated to be enrolled in an affordable care act compliant health care plan to avoid paying a government fine.
  • Update your financial information
      1. If you are currently enrolled in a healthcare.gov plan, you have until December 15th to update your financial information, browse for a new plan or renew your plan and your new coverage will begin January 1, 2018.
      2. If you do not update your information by December 15, 2017, your plan will be automatically renewed.
  • If you miss the December 15th deadline
    1. After December 15th you can only change your health plan if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you may qualify for this in certain situations like losing health coverage, getting married, or having a baby.

But what if the options in healthcare.gov do not fit your needs or budget? Then you can also search for more affordable options like minimum essential coverage programs that are available outside of healthcare.gov. Unique Healthcare gives members unlimited doctor visits without a copay or a high deductible, learn more about our benefits here.

Food Safety Month

Foodborne illness peaks in the summer, because bacteria that are present throughout the environment and in the bodies of people and animals grow faster in the warm summer months. And outdoor activities increase. More people cook outside - without the safety controls of a kitchen.

Dr. Steven Perkins, a Mayo Clinic Health System family physician, recom- mends these simple steps to avoid foodborne illness:
- Wash hands often.
Wash your hands frequently, especially when preparing food. Be sure to wash your hands after going to the bathroom, changing a diaper or handling pets.

- Don't cross-contaminate.

When packing a cooler, securely wrap raw meats, and keep them away from other foods. Be sure to thoroughly wash plates, containers and utensils that once contained raw meats or poultry before using them for cooked food.
- Cook to safe temperatures.

Take your food thermometer with you. It's better to be safe than sorry. Cook meat and poultry completely at the picnic site. Partial cooking of food ahead of time allows bacteria to survive and multiply to the point that subsequent cooking cannot destroy them.

- Refrigerate promptly.

Be sure you're keeping refrigerated perishable food, such as luncheon meats, cooked meats, chicken and salads, chilled at all times. Consider putting canned beverages in another cooler, because the cooler probably will be opened frequently. If you have leftovers, do not leave them out for more than two hours. And if you have any doubts, throw them out.

"If you suspect you have a foodborne illness and are experiencing diarrhea, high fever, blood in stools, prolonged vomiting, signs of shock, severe dehy- dration or confusion, you should see a doctor right away," says Perkins. "Most foodborne illness can be treated by increasing fluid intake to replace lost -fluids or electrolytes."

Men’s Health Month

Men’s Health Month is celebrated across the country with screenings, health fairs, media appearances, and other health education and outreach activities.

The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of prevent- able health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

Ask the Expert: Kevin Billups, M.D.

What are the biggest health issues men face?

There is a crisis in America right now in men's health, and it affects every communitiy. That crisis revolves around managing chronic medical diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and high cholesterol. These common problems are causing men to die prematurely in the prime of their life.

What is low testosterone?

Testosterone is the main male hormone, and is responsible for a number of things, including reproductive development as a male. It's made in the testes, and impacts a number of functions. The most common symptoms of low testosterone are a decreased sex drive, erectile difficulty, tiredness, mood changes and occasional memory problems. If you have low testosterone, you're at increased risk of developing diabetes, hypertension or a number of other chronic conditions.

After age 40, what happens to a man's prostate?
Once we get over the age of 40, our prostates grow -- it's known as "benign prostate enlargement." The common symptoms include slow urinary stream or a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. An enlarged prostate has been linked to a number of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What You Need to Know

•Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, excluding skin cancer.

•African-American men are at the greatest risk to develop prostate cancer.

•The American Cancer Society recommends men with an average risk of prostate cancer should begin the discussion about screening at age
50, while men with higher risk of prostate cancer should begin earlier.

•Sexual health is a major overall health marker for men -- 1 in 4 men will experience some form of sexual health concern by age 65.

•Erectile dysfunction and lower testosterone are linked to larger health risks, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and

Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Food


Creating an environment where your kids can make healthy nutritional choices is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health of your child.

By fostering a supportive environment, you and your family can develop a positive relationship with healthy food. You can lead them by your example.

Here are 10 tips for getting children to eat healthy food and form wise nutritional habits:

1. Avoid placing restrictions on food.

Restricting food increases the risk your child may develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia later in life. It can also have a negative effect on growth and development. Instead of banning foods, talk about all the healthy, nutritional options there are -- encouraging your family to chose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy, while avoiding heavily processed, low-quality junk foods.

2. Keep healthy food at hand.

Children will eat what's available. Keep fruit in a bowl on the counter, not buried in the crisper section of your fridge. Remember, your child can only choose foods that you stock in the house. And have an apple for your own snack. "Your actions scream louder than anything you will ever tell them," says Sothern.


3. Don't label foods as "good" or "bad."

Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports or doing well in school. Let your child know that lean protein such as turkey and calcium in dairy products give them strength for sports. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables add luster to skin and hair. And eating a healthy breakfast can help them keep focus in class.


4. Praise healthy choices.

Give your children a proud smile and praise when they choose healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, or low-fat dairy.


5. Don't nag about unhealthy choices.

When children choose fatty, fried, unhealthy foods, redirect them by suggesting a healthier option.

  • Instead of regular potato chips and dip, offer baked tortilla chips and salsa.
  • If your child wants candy, try dipping fresh strawberries in a little chocolate sauce. Too busy? Keep naturally sweet dried fruit at home for quick snacks.
  • Instead of buying French fries, try roasting cut up potatoes in the oven (tossed in just a bit of oil).

6. Never use food as a reward.

This could create weight problems in later life. Instead, reward your children with something physical and fun -- perhaps a trip to the park or a quick game of catch.


7. Sit down to family dinners at night.

If this isn't a tradition in your home, make it one. Research shows that children who eat dinners at the table with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get in serious trouble as teenagers. Start with one night a week, and then work up to three or four, to gradually build the habit.


8. Prepare plates in the kitchen.

You can put the right portion of each item on everyone's dinner plate, instead of offering up a food buffet or serve-yourself style. This way your children will learn to recognize healthy portion sizes. If adjusting to healthier portion sizes means smaller portions for your family, help make the switch seem less shocking by using smaller plates.


9. Give the kids some control.

Ask your children to take three bites of all the foods on their plate and give each one a grade, such as A, B, C, D, or F. When healthy foods -- especially certain vegetables -- get high marks, serve them more often. Offer the items your children don't like less frequently. This lets your children participate in decision making. After all, dining is a family affair.


10. Consult your pediatrician.

Always talk with your child's doctor before putting your child on a weight loss diet, trying to help your child gain weight, or making any significant changes in the type of foods your child eats. Never diagnose your child as too heavy or too thin by yourself.


"It's all about gradual changes. It's not overnight, and it's an uphill battle for parents," Sothern tells WebMD. "Everything outside of the home is trying to make kids overweight. The minute they walk out of the home, there are people trying to make them eat too much and serving them too much."

The food smarts your children will learn from you can protect them for a lifetime


From the Desk of Dr. Villalobos: 

It’s easy to say that the man in your life should probably be going to the doctor more, but it’s another thing to get him to do it. Here are a few tips for getting even the most stalwart in for a checkup:

Express your concern. This might seem simple, but sometimes just letting a man know you’re con- cerned about his health can give him a reason to go to the doctor. Letting the man in your life know you’re worried about his prostate cancer risk might get him thinking he should be, too.

Give him different reasons. Some- times it can be tough to get some- one to see the light, especially when the person you’re worried about might not think there’s a problem. Don’t be deterred. Try a different tack if others haven’t worked. For example, if doing it “for your health” isn’t enough, try sug- gesting he see someone just to confirm he really does know what’s going on with his body. You could even mention that an annual doc- tor's visit has the bonus of getting a little bit of time away from work.

Tell him to do some research. If a man is adamant there’s nothing wrong, ask him to do some search- ing around on the web first. This is especially useful for mental illness, which can be very isolating. Finding out other people are getting help for going through some- thing similar normalizes seeking medi- cal attention.

Learn How Good Nutrition Positively Affects Your Health

Nutrition is an integral part of health. Numerous studies have shown that poor nutrition can increase your risk of long-term, chronic health conditions. That’s why nutrition is one of our eight healthy steps to Get Cooperized.

Cooper Clinic Preventive Medicine Phy- sician Carolyn Terry, MD, discusses the role that good nutrition plays in achiev- ing good health and preventing chronic diseases and illnesses.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

One of the most important nutrition principles is to maintain a caloric bal- ance in your body. You want to make sure that over time your caloric intake is balanced by your “caloric burn” or energy expenditure. This is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.

Numerous medical studies reveal the dangers associated with an unhealthy body weight. As the U.S. experiences a rapid increase in obesity among adults

and children, physicians are seeing increased numbers of patients with relat- ed illnesses including high blood pres- sure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabe- tes. Maintaining a healthy body weight should be a top health goal. Proper nutri- tion is a vital part of this process.

Physicians frequently diagnose chronic diseases that are directly impacted by the diet. For example, if you have high blood pressure, you may have too much sodium in your diet. It is vital for you to understand how much sodium you are taking in daily. When you are a diabetic, it is extremely important to restrict the amount of excess carbohydrates in your diet because too many can negatively impact blood sugar levels.

Based on your life experience, you may subjectively think you know what is right to eat, but often you may not know the true facts about what defines a healthy diet. For example, do you know what percentage of a daily diet should be comprised of protein? Do you under- stand the difference between “good fats” and “bad fats?” Many people have questions about different diets and the use of over-the-counter supplements. It can be hard to know which supplements one should or should not be taking. A registered dietitian can help. They can also help you determine whether or not a certain diet is a fit for your nutritional needs.

The Key to Good Nutrition

Patients are often looking for a magical new diet that will help accomplish their weight loss goals. Stay away from fol- lowing those fad diets. One may accom- plish a short-term weight loss with a fad diet, but the weight comes right back on when old and bad eating habits resume. Instead, think about how you can rea- sonably alter your current diet to accom- plish weight loss. In doing so, you will be much more likely to maintain a leaner body weight.

Follow these steps to take control of your nutrition plan:

- Aim to have a proper balance to the amount of carbohydrates, protein and fats in your diet.
-Match your caloric intake to your “calor- ic burn.”

-Maintain a lean body composition and healthy body weight.
-Try to get all of your nutrients from diet.

-Use supplements when needed. Incorporate a diet rich with fruits and vegetables.
-Consume at least half of all grains as wholegrains. Limit refined grains (i.e. white bread)

-Follow a diet that is low in saturated fat and higher in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.
-Try to eat at least one to two servings of fish per week to accomplish omega-3 intake.

-Limit your sugary drinks and alcohol consumption.

Remember, the story is not over when it comes to nutrition knowledge. There will continue to be studies published looking at the proper balance of macronutrients and micronutrients in the human diet. Work with your physician and a regis- tered dietitian to create a personalized diet plan to maintain your individual health goals.

Colon Cancer Screening: What You Need to Know

REVIEWED BY: Francis Michael Giardiello, M.D.REVIEWED BY: Francis Michael Giardiello, M.D.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States today. It’s a serious American health problem, says Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Francis Giardiello, M.D.Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States today. It’s a serious American health problem, says Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Francis Giardiello, M.D.

However, there are many ways you can decrease your risk or even prevent colon cancer. The single best thing you can do to prevent colon cancer is to get screened.Giardiello breaks down what you should know about the colon cancer screening options available today.

Q. Why is colon cancer screening important?

A. Colon cancer develops from a small polyp that occurs in the lining of the colon. That small polyp slowly grows larger and larger. Once large enough, that polyp develops cancer and starts to spread.It's important to remember the process of polyp to cancer takes about 10 years to occur. That’s plenty of time to get a screening to catch it and get rid of it — before it turns to cancer.Think of a polyp as a mushroom sitting on a stalk (your intestine’s lining). If a doctor identifies it on a colonoscopy, he or she can easily put a lasso (or a loop) around the stalk and cut off the mushroom. No mushroom means no cancer.

Q. How do you screen for colon cancer? 

A. There’s more than one way to be screened for colon cancer today. These options include:

• Colonoscopy: Before a colonoscopy, you’ll be asked to prep your bowel by drinking a liquid that helps clear out your colon. Then, doctors use a scope that has a camera attached to one end to examine inside your colon for polyps or cancer. Because the scope movement can cause discomfort, you’ll be sedated during the procedure. If a polyp is found, your doctor can remove it at the same time.

• Fecal occult blood test: This test looks for blood in your stool. You place a small bowel movement sample on a provided card and send it to a lab, where it is tested for blood. If blood is detected, your doctor might recommend you get a colonoscopy for further testing.

• Fecal immuno testing: This is similar to fecal occult testing, except you place the bowel movement sample in tubes. Depending on the results, you may require further testing.

• Sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscope is another type of scope that only looks at the bottom third of the colon, where 60 percent of cancers occur.

• Barium enema: During this test, barium liquid is placed in the rectum through an enema, and then an X-ray is taken. The barium highlights any polyps or cancer for the doctor viewing the X-ray.

• Virtual colonoscopy: You undergo a CT scan that takes a detailed picture of the colon.

• Stool gene testing: This is a newer type of stool sample screening. Instead of testing for blood, the lab looks for certain gene changes that can indicate colon cancer.

Q. How do you know which screening is right for you?

A. Many physicians recommend most healthy people get a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50 — that’s when most colon cancers start to develop. A colonoscopy is the most effective way doctors identify colon cancer.Each type of screening has its own pros and cons. Your doctor can provide more information on screening options and recommend which is best for you based on several factors, including your:

• Family history

• Overall health

•Personal preferences


Know when and where to get medical attention as a Unique Healthcare member

Understanding your medical benefits can be confusing, but it doesn't have to be as a member of Unique Healthcare. Follow these simple flow charts to understand what steps to take when you are in need of medical attention: 


Unique Healthcare El Paso ($99) Plan

Unique Healthcare Nationwide ($124) Plan

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (915)317-5700



An announcement to all Unique Members

Dear Unique/MEC Healthcare Plan Member:

As we embark on a New Year together, we would like to thank you for your continued participation while making you aware of exciting changes for 2017.  Due to the overwhelming success of the Unique MEC Plan, Eastpointe is now ADIUVARE Healthcare.  This change not only allows us to more effectively focus on our overall mission of providing superior medical care, but will also ensure greater patient convenience.

ADIUVARE Healthcare is an ACA (Affordable Care Act) compliant solution for individuals, families, and business owners.  By having developed a partnership with First Health Network, you will continue to have access to affordable, quality healthcare not only locally, but also nationwide.  And while having the peace of mind in knowing that you are fulfilling the legal mandated health care coverage requirements under Obamacare (5000A), as a participant of Unique Healthcare, you will continue to receive the added bonus of unlimited no deductible or copay office visits along with other services, at all Mt. West Family Health Center locations.

Mt. West Family Health Center has led in serving the Greater El Paso Area with quality, affordable healthcare for over 25 years. While remaining in the forefront, we are pleased to announce our newest clinic located in Horizon City, which will open in the fall of 2017. We have also expanded our hours at all locations to serve you nightly until 8:00 p.m. Please call to confirm appointment availability.

As a reminder, urgent after-hour visits are covered at Summit Urgent Care on Zaragoza, and Upper Valley Urgent Care on Redd Road on weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Again, thank you for your continued support as we look to the future together, while continuing to improve the quality of your health.

For more information or questions please call (915) 317-5700 or visit uniquemecplan.com



V.M. Villalobos, M.D.
Medical Director Mt. West Family Health Center

Daniel Steadley
Owner / Administrator ADIUVARE Healthcare



Unique Healthcare: One Monthly Fee
No Deductible, No CoPay.
No Worries, No Headaches.

Main Office:

ADIUVARE Healthcare
  • 6151 Dew Dr. Ste. 420
    El Paso, TX 79912
    Call us at (915)317-5700

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