Seattle Times Honors 20 Years of Hike-a-Thon (and the ALLtech Team Captain!)

In The Seattle Times article Washington Trails Association kicks off 20th Hike-a-Thon fundraiser, the captain for the ALLtech Benefits Hike-a-Thon team is among five participants recognized for giving back.

Mai Ling Slaughter, who first joined the ALLtech team in 2019 and has been leading it since 2020, shares her favorite hikes as Snoqualmie Tunnel on the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail and Kingfisher Natural Area at Thornton Creek. The article continues:

Born and raised in Washington, Mai Ling Slaughter says she was probably strapped to her dad’s back for her first hike. She has fond childhood memories of hiking in the Sunrise area at Mount Rainier and Flaming Geyser State Park, north of Enumclaw. In 2019, she learned about Hike-a-Thon and joined the cause, sporting her HaT T-shirt through Canada’s Jasper and Banff national parks. She started leading a team with co-workers, and for the past three Hike-a-Thons, her group has raised the most money for a company team. Slaughter found particular comfort in the outdoors during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Hike-a-Thon gave me an excuse to plan hikes with friends, since being outdoors was one of the only things we could do anyway,” she said. At the time, Slaughter and her friends explored local parks and trails, which “really opened my eyes even more to the beauty that surrounds us throughout Washington.”

To read more about the other participants and about Hike-a-Thon, check out the article Washington Trails Association kicks off 20th Hike-a-Thon fundraiser.

BIPOC Mental Health Month: Taking Care of Ourselves and Others

In honor of BIPOC Mental Health Month in July, ALLtech would like to highlight programs available through our employee assistance program, Wellspring EAP. On Wednesday, July 19, 2023, you’re invited to join Wellspring for a webinar on Taking Care of Ourselves and Each Other: BIPOC Mental Health, Self-Care, and Allyship from 10 – 11 a.m. PDT.

This complimentary training is for those who identify as Black, Indigenous or a Person of Color (BIPOC), as well as those who identify as an ally. Many of us are striving to improve our ability to understand the bigger systems of oppression and strive to be a driving force for positive systemic change. While we authentically want to do that, we often simply don’t know how. In this session, we will learn about mental health statistics for BIPOC communities, explore how to show up as an ally to BIPOC communities, and how BIPOC communities can show up for ourselves as we recognize and tend to our own needs.

This event will be open to everyone, whether you are a part of the BIPOC community or an ally.

Explore Mindfulness at On-Demand Wellspring Webinar

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of thoughts, feelings, experiences and other people in the present moment. It’s a simple way to look at how the mind works by noticing our thinking patterns without judgment, as a scientist would. We can train our minds to stay focused so that we are more energetic, possess a sense of calm and possibility, and soften our harsh judgments about what’s happening around us.

Click below to register for Wellspring’s on-demand training webinar from June on Mindfulness Practices, which will:

  • Explore the roots of mindfulness and its essential elements
  • Learn how mindfulness can benefit you
  • Directly experience several simple mindfulness strategies
  • Find out how to incorporate mindfulness practices into daily life

This webinar was delivered live in June and the recording is available to you for 60 days. You can also find other on-demand webinars at

Mental Health for Men: Knowing the Risks, Spotting the Signs and Getting Help

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), when it comes to assessing one’s mental health, most men don’t consider admitting that they may be suffering as an option. Sure, men will admit to being burned out, or “needing something to take the edge off” to relieve stress. But when it comes to feelings of depression and anxiety, or considering their own use of substances, most men are mum on the topic.

The ADAA is a national organization of mental health professionals dedicated to improving patient care and developing new treatments to prevent anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD. The organization’s research says the need to maintain one’s masculinity, along with cultural and economic factors, cause men to avoid acknowledging and sharing feelings about their mental health.

While Mayo Clinic research shows nearly twice as many women suffer clinical depression as men, more than 6 million men in the U.S. have depression each year and most go untreated. Not only are men less likely than women to seek treatment, the ADAA says greater exposure to guns makes them four times more likely than women to die by suicide.

ADAA research also says that men and women exhibit depression symptoms differently. Both can feel sad, hopeless or empty; extremely tired; have difficulty sleeping or oversleeping; loss of pleasure from activities they usually enjoy; and suicidal thoughts. But the ADAA says that for men more than women, an additional set of symptoms is far more prevalent:

  • Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems, and pain
  • Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge

Effective treatments for depression and other mental health disorders

The National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH) says there are many effective ways to treat depression and anxiety, including medication and psychotherapy. Each patient’s condition and circumstances are different, and while some can experience relief and improved quality of life after a few weeks of treatment, others may take longer. Knowing when you need help and seeking it is the most important step, so if you’re living with symptoms talk with your doctor or a mental health professional. Going without treatment may make your situation worse.

Convenient help for Regence members to get started

Most Regence health plan members, including those enrolled in ALLtech, have multiple ways to access in-network mental health care, whether they need occasional emotional support or treatment of a chronic condition. In-network virtual (telehealth-based) providers usually offer the fastest way for members to start receiving care, and no referral or prior authorization are required before scheduling an appointment. Members can visit our behavioral health resources page on to learn more about virtual mental health providers and support tools and different types of therapy available. When members create an account and sign in on they can use the provider search tool to locate in-network local providers and estimate their out-of-pocket costs for treatment.

June is national Men’s Health month. If you’re a man, consider paying extra attention to your mental health for the next 30 days. If you think you may need help, make June the time to get started.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, get help immediately. You can call 911 or call or text the new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors who will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if needed.

Allergies Can Mean Misery for Contact Lens Wearers

From ALLtech vision provider VSP Vision Care Inc.

For many, spring is a time of renewed energy, more time outside, and flowers coming into full bloom. But, if you are one of the more than 50 million people in the U.S. who experience allergies each year, spring can also mean a time of misery thanks to sneezing, runny noses, and eye irritation.

If you’re also a contact lens wearer, spring can be especially miserable for you and your eyes.

That’s because contact lenses can actually attract airborne allergens, which may bind to the surface of the lens, increasing eye discomfort for some allergy sufferers. Forty percent of contact lens wearers report itchy eyes due to allergies, taking the spring out of their step and making the season less enjoyable.

In addition to causing itchy eyes, allergies can also:

  • Cause allergic conjunctivitis (pink eye), leading to red and swollen eyes and discharge from the eye.
  • Cause light sensitivity, making time in the sun difficult.
  • Cause burning or watery eyes, or the opposite may occur, leaving your eyes dry.
  • Cause giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC), which causes the inside of your eyelid to get red, irritated, and swollen.

Allergy season calls for special tactics to keep you and your eyes happy. Here are some tips to help make this allergy season a little more bearable for you and your eyes.

Switch Up Your Eyewear

You may not normally wear your glasses, but you might be more comfortable if you do for a while. The allergens in the air, such as pollen and dust, love contact lenses, and the particles will stick to them. That may mean eye irritation.

If you wear monthly contacts, switching to daily disposable contacts may also help. By disposing of your contacts at the end of each day, you also throw out the allergens that like sticking to them, helping keep your eyes irritant-free. If you want to stick with your current contacts, clean them properly after each wear to remove as many stuck-on allergens as possible. To ensure your contacts have the right prescription and fit, be sure to consult your eye doctor for their recommendation on the best contact lens options for you during allergy season.

Keep Your Eyes Hydrated

Keep a container of artificial tears handy and use them often. These can help your eyes feel better and wash the allergens out.

Redness-reducing solutions are only cosmetic, and while they may provide you with temporary relief, they won’t fix the underlying problem: an allergic reaction. Your VSP network doctor can help you find the right eye drops to give you longer-lasting relief and address any underlying concerns and conditions.

Avoid Allergens

In allergy season, get even more rigorous with your cleaning routine to remove allergens from your home. Dehumidifiers, hypoallergenic bedding covers, and other products can help keep allergens to a minimum inside your house.

Though it may be tempting to leave windows open and let in the fresh air, keep them closed when pollen and allergen counts are high and rely instead on your air conditioning system to keep your home cool.

You can also protect your eyes outside from allergens by putting on a pair of sunglasses. In addition to protecting your eyes from pollen, sunglasses also help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Ask The Experts

Don’t suffer in silence this allergy season. If your eyes are causing you a lot of discomfort, contact your eye doctor. They can confirm the cause of your eye irritation is allergies and not an underlying health condition and discuss treatment options.

Whether you wear contacts or glasses, your VSP network provider can help you find relief from allergy eyes. Find a VSP network provider near you and make an appointment today to take the first step toward healthy, happy eyes this spring.

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.

5 Ways to Stay Healthy on Your Next Vacation

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

The Spring Equinox is upon us, and you’re probably already starting to plan your spring and summer vacations. Here are some tips to keep you and your loved ones healthy as you’re traveling.

Five tips for members

  1. Get all your recommended preventive care before you go. It’s a good idea to have a check-up with your primary care provider (PCP) before you leave town. For ALLtech members enrolled in medical through Regence BlueShield, an annual checkup with your PCP is covered by most plans with no out-of-pocket costs. You should also get any vaccinations and age-appropriate health screenings to make sure you stay healthy while you travel. Login at to check your coverage for vaccinations and screenings. Many plans don’t cover travel vaccinations.
  2. Plan for virtual care while you’re on the road. Whether you’re next to a campfire in Montana, on a beach in Hawaii or hiking the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia, anywhere you have access to the internet you’ll have 24/7 virtual access to a qualified medical professional. Virtual providers can make a diagnosis, create a treatment plan and send prescriptions to a pharmacy near you as needed. Consider virtual care for things like cold and flu, nausea and vomiting, rashes, sunburns, urinary tract infections and allergies. Learn about ALLtech virtual care options.
  3. If you need in-person care, take advantage of our robust provider network. Regence plans include access to the largest network of doctors and hospitals throughout the country — 92 percent of all physicians and 96 percent of all hospitals nationwide. All Regence plans come with urgent and emergency BlueCard coverage. Depending on your plan, you may also be able to see local BlueCard providers for non-emergency issues. To find out about your specific coverage, sign in and chat with us online or call us at the number on the back of your member ID card. You can search for in-network hospitals, urgent care centers and providers in almost all U.S. states and territories at
  4. Make sure you have coverage for international travel. Before traveling internationally, call the number on the back of your ID card to learn about your international coverage. Some plans include a program called Blue Cross Blue Shield Global® Core that can help you find in-network hospitals, urgent care centers and medical professionals at your travel destination. If your benefits don’t include international coverage, you may want to purchase travel medical insurance or medical evacuation insurance through companies like GeoBlue®.

    Read more about the complimentary access ALLtech members have to Travel Assistance.

  5. Be sure you have enough medication and medical supplies to last until you get home. You don’t want to get partway through a trip and realize you’ve run out of an important medication. It might be a good idea to talk to your doctor about switching to a 90- or 100-day supply of your medications so you’ll have plenty to last through your vacation. Changing to a 90- or 100-day supply can also save you money by reducing dispensing fees. If your medication will run out while you plan to be gone, you can call the number on the back of your member ID card. You may be able to arrange to get enough medication in advance to last you through your trip. If you do run out, you could ask your provider to call in a new prescription to a pharmacy near you.

We hope these tips help you have a fun and healthy vacation. Find more travel tips at

Health Benefits and Tips to Get Started with More Plant-Based Eating

Although the popularity of eating “plant-based” has grown, this term currently lacks a formal definition in the United States. In the past, plant-based was often used to describe a vegetarian or vegan diet. More recently, plant-based has been used to describe an eating style that includes more foods that come from plants, like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. It’s also a term that may be used in the marketing of a food, like dairy alternatives and meat substitutes.

To kick off National Nutrition Month this March, ALLtech is sharing this week’s message from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to encourage eating with the environment in mind, which includes enjoying more plant-based foods and snacks. Visit the National Nutrition Month website to learn more about each week’s message and about developing healthful eating habits.

Are there benefits to eating more plant-based foods?

People may choose to consume more plant-based foods for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Health benefits associated with eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • Concerns for the environment.
  • A potential for lower grocery bills and food costs. For example, a meatless chili using dried beans is less expensive than a chili containing meat or a textured meat substitute.

Are plant-based foods more nutritious?

Just because a product is plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthier. Premade plant-based foods and beverages can vary in the nutrition they provide.

While a variety of nutrients can be obtained from plant-based foods, this type of eating style may require some additional planning to make sure that you are getting all the vitamins, minerals, and protein you need. It will depend on your overall food intake and what foods are being replaced with plant-based sources.

The Nutrition Facts Label is a helpful tool to determine if a food or beverage is the right choice for you. This is especially true for dairy alternatives. As an example, some plant-based beverages only provide a small amount of protein. Plus, if it’s flavored, there may be added sugars. According to MyPlate, only fortified versions of soymilk and soy yogurt are considered part of the Dairy Group, since the nutrition they provide is similar to cow’s milk.

Beneficial nutrients to look for in plant-based products include:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Protein

Meanwhile, aim for low amounts of:

  • Saturated fat
  • Sodium
  • Added sugars

How to Get Started

For a healthy eating style that includes more plant-based foods, focus on ways to add more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. For example:

  • Designate a certain night or nights for meatless meals.
  • Try substituting some or all of the meat in recipes with plant-based sources of protein, such as beans, tofu, tempeh or unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Include more vegetables and fruit without added sugars or salt in meals and snacks.

To find a registered dietitian nutritionist and get additional food and nutrition information, visit

ALLtech Recognized for “Supporting Trails, Investing in Health” by Washington Trails Association

“We believe — and the science supports — that getting outdoors in nature is good for the body and the mind,” says ALLtech Trustee Ken Myer in the latest Washington Trails Association Magazine.

In the article “Supporting Trails, Investing in Health,” the Washington Trails Association (WTA) recognizes Ken for his advocacy and passion for trails, which he shares regularly with ALLtech members through this News page and our monthly ALLhealth e-newsletter.

“We know that folks in the tech industry love the outdoors, and many of them love to get on trails,” he says in the article. “It seems only natural — sorry for the pun — to support them in learning more about the opportunities to experience our fantastic trail system.”

Over the years, Ken has also rallied ALLtech members and staff to hike while supporting trails through the WTA’s annual Hike-a-Thon fundraiser each August, raising more than $20,000 to help people get outside. As the reigning champions of the category “most money raised by a company team,” the ALLtech team continues to prove that supporting trails and investing in health is the backbone of the ALLtech Benefits Trust.

Read more about how Ken and ALLtech support wellness in the community by reading the article, or visit the WTA website to read the entire online edition of the spring WTA Magazine.

Make Heart Health Part of Your Self-Care Routine

Devoting a little time every day to care for yourself can go a long way toward protecting the health of your heart. Simple self-care, such as taking a moment to de-stress, giving yourself time to move more, preparing healthier meals, and not cheating on sleep can all benefit your heart.

And that’s a good thing, because heart disease is largely preventable and focusing on improving your heart health has never been more important. Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women and men in the United States, and many Americans remain at risk of getting it, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). People with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“Studies show self-care routines, such as taking a daily walk and keeping doctor’s appointments, help us keep our blood pressure in the healthy range and reduce our risk of heart disease and stroke,” said David Goff, M.D., NHLBI’s director of cardiovascular sciences.

It may be easier than you think to “put your heart” into your daily routine. Each Sunday, look at your week’s schedule and carve out 30 minutes daily for heart-healthy practices. Take an online yoga class, prepare a heart-healthy recipe, schedule your bedtime to get at least seven hours of sleep, or make a medication checklist. Then seek out support from others, even if it’s online or via a phone call, to help you stick to your goals.

Here are few self-care tips to try every day to make your heart a priority:

Self-Care Sunday

Find a moment of serenity every Sunday. Spend some quality time on yourself.

Mindful Monday

Be mindful about your health and regularly monitor your blood pressure or blood sugar if needed. Keep an eye on your weight to make sure it stays within or moves toward a healthy range. Being aware of your health status is a key to making positive change.

Tasty Tuesday

Choose how you want to approach eating healthier. Start small by pepping up your meals with a fresh herb or spice as a salt substitute. Get adventurous and prepare a simple, new, heart-healthy recipe. Or go big by trying a different way of eating, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure. DASH is flexible and balanced, and it includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, lean meats, beans, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

Wellness Wednesday

Don’t waffle on your wellness. Move more, eat a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried, make a plan to quit smoking or vaping, or learn the signs of a heart attack or stroke. You could be having a heart attack if you have chest and upper body pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, or lightheadedness. You might be having a stroke if you have numbness in the face, arm, or leg; confusion; trouble talking or seeing; dizziness; or a severe headache.

Treat Yourself Thursday

Treats can be healthy. Try making a dessert with fresh fruit and yogurt. Then stretch your imagination beyond food. Host a family dance party, take a few minutes to sit still and meditate, go for a long walk, or watch a funny show. Laughter is healthy. Whatever you do, find a way to spend some quality time on yourself.

Follow Friday

Follow inspiring people and pages on social media, or text a friend to help you stick to your self-care goals. Remember to take care of your mental health, too. Two of the main hurdles to self-care are depression and a lack of confidence, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. If your mental health gets between you and your fabulous self, take action to show your heart some love. Reach out to family and friends for support, or talk to a qualified mental health provider.

Selfie Saturday

Inspire others to take care of their own hearts. Talk about your self-care routine with loved ones or share a selfie on your social media platforms. Having social support and personal networks can make it easier to get regular physical activity, eat nutritious foods, reach a healthy weight, and quit smoking.

Learn more about heart health and heart-healthy activities in your community, and see what others are doing for their heart health, at or follow #OurHearts on social media.

CDC Shares 3 Steps to Keep You Healthy as RSV, Flu and COVID surge

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

Cases of flu, RSV and COVID-19 are all alarmingly high, but vaccination rates are down compared to this time last year, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a recent news briefing. Dr. Walensky asked everyone to take three steps to stay healthy and prevent the spread of these potentially life-threatening illnesses.

  1. Get vaccinated. Dr. Walensky said this year’s influenza vaccine is “a very good match” to the strains currently circulating and it’s not too late to get it. She also encouraged everyone to receive the new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, which she said is safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19.
  2. Take everyday actions to prevent the spread of illness. This includes covering your coughs and sneezes, staying away from people who are sick, staying home if you’re sick, washing your hands often, and improving ventilation in your home and workplaces. Dr. Walensky also recommended wearing a mask if you have symptoms of respiratory illness, if you’re immunocompromised or at increased risk of severe disease, or if you’re in an area where the risk of transmission is high, such as on public transportation. KN-95s are the recommended masks to help prevent the spread of viral illnesses.
  3. If you’re at particular risk of severe illness because of things like age, chronic medical conditions or being immunocompromised, contact your doctor for care early. “There are prescription antivirals to treat both flu and COVID-19, and these treatments are especially important for people who are at higher risk of complications from respiratory disease,” Dr. Walensky said. “Talk to your healthcare provider as soon as you have symptoms so these treatments can be started within the first few days of illness when they’re most effective.”

ALLtech is here to help.

The flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine are both covered with no out-of-pocket cost by most ALLtech plans with medical through Regence BlueShield or Asuris Northwest Health. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting vaccinated.

If you get sick and need care, call your primary care provider or consider virtual care or an urgent care clinic before heading to the emergency room. Emergency rooms are by far the most expensive option and they’re extremely busy right now so wait times will be long. Visit for help finding the right care option.

How to Make Healthy Meal Choices This Holiday Season

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

The holidays are a time when we indulge in rich foods. We bake cookies, roast a turkey, fry latkes, enjoy eggnog and much more. It’s also a time of year when there seem to be no rules or restrictions, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Even during the holidays, we can take control of food choices for better health.

Hillary Lauren, nutrition and wellness expert for Regence, offers some tips for how to find balance in your diet, even during the holidays:

  1. Drink more water: Before a holiday event or sitting down for a meal, drink a full glass of water. This will help your digestion system prepare for food and may also help prevent overeating.
  1. Prepare snacks in advance: When we wait until we’re hungry to prepare food, we’re more likely to make unhealthy choices. Making snacks ahead of time allows you to eat healthy food even when you’re pressed for time. Lauren suggests setting aside one or two days per week to prepare healthy snacks. Wash and cut vegetables like carrots, celery or radishes. Fill zip-top freezer bags with smoothie ingredients to blend. Keep fresh fruit on hand, as well as pickles and olives, for a quick, healthy snack any time.
  1. Try a meatless meal: Pick a lunch or dinner at least once a week to eat a meatless meal. You can make a hearty salad, vegetable soup, stir fry or pasta dish. Think seasonal and incorporate winter vegetables like roasted squash, raw or cooked root vegetables and hearty greens such as kale or cabbage. Enjoy salad or soup with seeded crackers or multigrain toast to round out the meal.
  1. Make side dishes the main event: At holiday gatherings, there are often bountiful spreads of food. Find the vegetable side dish and dig in. If you’re not sure what food options will be available, offer to bring a side dish or two that you know will satisfy your hunger and provide a variety of colorful seasonal produce for all to enjoy.
  1. Ask for support: It can be hard to change your eating habits alone. Ask friends or family to join you in making healthy choices. If they choose not to, ask them to support your decision to make changes. Do your best to respect each other’s choices.

We don’t typically think of the holidays as a time to begin a new diet, but doing so now allows you to get a head start on New Year’s resolutions while also balancing the influx of holiday indulgence. Healthy eating is an important part of overall health and well-being.

ALLtech is here to help

Another important way to take care of yourself all year is to keep up with your preventive care including annual check‑ups, screenings and vaccines. Many diseases can be caught early, and regular visits with your doctor can also reduce the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and other health conditions. For more information, ALLtech members enrolled in medical benefits can sign in to their account at or call the number on the back of their member ID card.