Different Types of Painkillers Explained

From ALLtech dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

When you’re in oral pain, finding relief fast is your top priority. But if you are not used to painkillers, you may not know which to choose from. Understanding the different types of painkillers and how they affect you is essential to managing your pain in a healthy way.

Targets inflammation
Pain reliever
Fever reducer
Reduces inflammation
Lasts longer than Ibuprofen
Pain reliever
Fever reducer
Targets heat center of the brain
Good for: Arthritis, swollen gums and jaw pain Good for: Treating chronic conditions such as TMJ or back pain Good for: Headaches and acute pain
Can be safe for children under 12: consult your dentist Not safe for children under 12 Can be safe for children under 12: consult your dentist
Taken every 4-6 hours
Also available in extended release
Available in extended release
Typical dosage is once every 12 hours
Side effects: dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsy Side effects: fatigue, drowsy, stomach pain, constipation

It is important to understand that while opioids can effectively treat pain, they are highly addictive.

For more information and help managing your dental pain, visit Delta Dental’s Dental Pain without Opioids blog.

ALLtech Among Health Plans to Cover At-Home COVID-19 Tests

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

Starting January 15, 2022, ALLtech is joining health plans across the nation that will cover the cost of up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for members enrolled in its medical plan.

Access to COVID-19 testing is a critical component of public health and safety, enabling you to navigate the pandemic. Federal guidelines released this week call for private health insurers to cover the cost of FDA authorized at-home tests without cost sharing during the public health emergency and without need for a provider’s order.

If health plans provide direct coverage of tests through their pharmacy network and a direct-to-consumer program, plan reimbursements for tests bought from nonpreferred pharmacies and retailers would be capped at the actual price or $12, whichever is lower. Note that some OTC tests are packaged with two tests, meaning reimbursement would be $12 for each test, or $24.

The policy requires coverage for diagnostic reasons only, meaning you have symptoms or were in close contact with an infected person. Plans are not required to provide coverage of testing (including an at-home OTC COVID-19 test) for purposes including, but not limited to the following:

  • Employment purposes, including staffing decisions
  • Surveillance
  • Community tracking
  • Extracurricular activities (e.g. travel, sports, school, camp, recreational, social requirement)

The coverage begins Jan. 15 and is not retroactive, meaning you will not be reimbursed for tests bought before Jan. 15.

To stay updated on this timely topic, check back frequently on the Regence COVID-19 Resources* page.

*ALLtech members in Asotin, Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman counties should refer to the Asuris COVID-19 Resources page.

Stay safe this holiday season as health experts learn more about the Omicron variant

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

As more Omicron cases are confirmed and the world waits to learn more about the variant’s severity, many of us are wondering how we can stay safe this holiday season. Vaccine availability and testing make holiday travel to see family and friends seem easier, but it’s important to stay safe and take steps to protect ourselves and loved ones.

“Many families sacrificed their holiday plans in 2020 or shifted to virtual gatherings, so it’s difficult to imagine doing the same again this time around,” said Dr. Drew Oliveira, senior executive medical director for Regence. “But we can’t let our guard down while more is learned about COVID-19 and emerging variants, especially given more people are traveling and gathering indoors. We may see a surge in infections, especially in places with low vaccination rates, so we must continue protecting one another by taking the appropriate precautions.”

Get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19 including your booster

The best way to prevent severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19 and the flu is to get vaccinated, whether at your doctor’s office or at a pharmacy in your health plan network. For people age 18 and older who are fully vaccinated, getting their COVID-19 booster shot will improve the body’s immune response to infection. While no vaccine provides 100% immunity, all three COVID-19 vaccines significantly reduce severe illness and hospitalization. In the U.S. nearly all cases of severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death have occurred with unvaccinated people.

Everyone eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is encouraged to get their shots. COVID-19 vaccines are fully covered, and most health plans cover the flu vaccine as well.

Mask-up, wash hands, physical distance, test, isolate if sick. Repeat.

It’s good to remember these preventive practices that can help reduce the risk of infection, keeping you and your community safe.

  • Wear a mask and use physical distancing in public spaces
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Test for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person
  • Self-isolate if you receive a positive result
  • If you aren’t feeling well, stay home and rest

More information about the available COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots, is available on the CDC website. Visit the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine page or the CDC’s Vaccine Finder page to find out where all eligible people ages 5 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

For members enrolled in ALLtech, more information about your coverage for COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and treatment can be found at regence.com.

Take a Stand Against Hunger During Hunger Action Month

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

Nearly 1 in 8 Americans, or almost 42 million people, are expected to experience food insecurity this year and may not know where their next meal will come from. This includes nearly 13 million children across the United States.

In early 2020 the overall food insecurity rate had reached its lowest point in three decades, however many families relied on food assistance at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic due to loss of jobs and income. Food insecurity remains a critical issue for many, both during the pandemic and beyond.

The good news is that we can work together to address hunger and ensure food is available to all who need it. September is Hunger Action Month, a recognition created by the nonprofit Feeding America that offers an opportunity to fuel conversations and take actionable steps toward reducing hunger in our communities. Below are three ways to get involved:

Learn about the state of hunger in your community

Chances are a neighbor, colleague or friend may have, at some point, been faced with a difficult decision of keeping up with bills or putting nutritious food on the table. Each person and community’s situation is unique, so it’s important to understand the many factors that contribute to hunger.

Feeding America offers its “Map the Meal Gap” interactive resource as an inside look at the state of food insecurity across the globe, as well as the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people and families.

Support your local food bank

Local food banks are a critical resource for individuals and families in need of food assistance. Last year, Regence matched 100% of employee donations made to local food banks and collectively raised more than $218K to help these organizations meet growing demand.

In addition to monetary donations, food banks, food pantries and other meal programs often seek physical donations like canned goods, and some offer ongoing volunteer opportunities. Use Feeding America’s locator tool to find a food bank near you and get involved.

Use your voice to end hunger

Ending hunger requires action from us all. In support of Hunger Action Month, Feeding America has put together a pledge to end hunger and encourage lawmakers to make ending hunger a priority. Learn more about the pledge and other steps you can take to address rising rates of food insecurity.

Regence is proud to recognize Hunger Action Month and support nonprofit organizations who are taking a stand against hunger. Visit the Regence blog to learn how the organization is supporting the health of our communities.

Person using laptop and mobile phone.

National Survey Reveals Our Eyes are in Overdrive

From ALLtech vision care provider VSP Vision Care Inc.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in unexpected ways, including increasing our amount of screen time due to us being at home more often. VSP® Vision Care recently sponsored a national survey that revealed how the pandemic has influenced Americans’ attitudes about screen time, its effect on our eyes and the importance of vision care.

Prioritizing Eye Health and Wellness

According to the survey, nine in 10 Americans think it’s important to take care of their eyes coming out of the pandemic. With a renewed sense of appreciation for health and wellness, the survey also found that nearly 60% of Americans report prioritizing a visit to their eye doctor out of a greater interest for their overall health.

Eyes in Overdrive Due to Increased Screen Time

More than half of respondents shared that they look at a computer screen most of the day. Because of working from home, catching up over video calls or supporting kids through distance learning, the survey findings show that many of us are ready for a break from digital devices. In fact, more than half would consider a “digital detox,” defined as a break from screen time.

While we’ve found new ways to stay connected, people are experiencing more than just fatigue from video calls. The survey found that nearly a quarter of Americans say that their eyes feel worse than they did a year ago. And nearly two in three report experiencing some degree of eye discomfort on a daily basis.

All the long hours logged in front of computers and smartphones can contribute to a condition called digital eye strain. When blue light is emitted from digital devices and enters your eyes, it scatters, putting your eyes in overdrive working harder to focus. With prolonged exposure, this can cause symptoms like watery, dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches. These symptoms may be on the rise, as 13% of Americans report that they first learned of the condition in the last year.

Protecting Your Eye Health

Between the visual discomfort, and heightened awareness about the importance of taking care of our overall health, four in five say that they are concerned about protecting their eyes coming out of the pandemic. Parents are also concerned about the effects of screen time on their children’s eyes. The survey found that men are even more likely than women to be worried about their children’s eyes, and when it comes to millennial dads, six in 10 are concerned about their child’s vision due to increased screen time.

Your eye doctor is your ally not only in defense against digital eye strain, but also an advocate for your overall health. During an annual comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will assess the health of your eyes and can catch early warning signs of eye diseases and chronic conditions like diabetes that may otherwise have no noticeable symptoms. Get your eyes in gear and your wellness in check by scheduling your annual eye exam with your local VSP network eye doctor.

Video: Why an Eye Exam is About More Than Just Vision

From ALLtech vision care providers VSP Vision Care Inc. 

Perhaps you don’t wear glasses or contacts and haven’t had any issues with your eyes. So, you think, “Why would I need to go to the eye doctor every year?” You might be surprised to know that there is more to an eye exam than just checking your visual clarity. Here are three reasons why you should visit your eye doctor every year.

1. Detecting Early Signs of Chronic Diseases like Diabetes

Your eyes reveal a lot about your overall wellness. An eye exam can detect early signs of serious health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Regular eye exams are critical because what may seem like a vision-related problem might be an indication of a broader health issue.

2. Some Eye Diseases Are Symptom-Free

What do glaucomacataracts and macular degeneration all have in common? All these conditions share a common characteristic—no early warning signs. Getting an annual eye exam can help detect health conditions before they progress and may help preserve your vision.

3. Your Vision Might Not Be as Clear as You Think

You may think your vision is clear, but many people are often surprised to discover they aren’t seeing as well as they thought they were. You may not notice that your vision changed, but an eye exam can reveal if you need glasses or contacts – or an update to your current prescription to ensure you’re seeing as clearly as possible.

Need an eye exam but not sure where to go? Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a VSP network eye doctor near you. If you need to make an appointment to see an eye doctor, but don’t have vision benefits, visit VSPDirect.com to learn how VSP Individual Vision Plans can help you save money on your next eye exam and glasses.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

ALLtech Medical Carrier Keeps You Up-to-Date on COVID-19

Looking for up-to-date information on COVID-19? ALLtech medical carrier Regence* BlueShield offers plenty of tips and resources to help keep you informed on its COVID-19 (coronavirus) updates page.

Get links for state and federal government sites, employer resources and more, and you can learn how Regence is taking steps to support members through:

  • COVID-19 testing and treatment
  • Enhanced support for high-risk members
  • Enhancing coverage for virtual care

ALLtech members enrolled in medical coverage can find links to more information on how to create a Regence.com account or how to download the Regence app.

Be sure to also keep an eye on the Regence blog for the latest news on coronavirus and more.

*For members of Asuris Northwest Health, a subsidiary of Regence BlueShield that services the Asotin, Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, and Whitman counties, please see the Asuris COVID-19 (coronavirus) updates page.