Since January 2000, members who reside outside of areas covered by one of the available HMOs have been able to sign up for Healthnet FlexNet. The premium cost of providing coverage through the FlexNet program was scheduled to almost double on October 1, 2001. After evaluating the options available, the Welfare Plan elected to change those covered with FlexNet to HealthNet's PPO (preferred provider organization) plan. This change was effective on October 1, 2001. Those participants who are involved with this new plan should have already received a letter from the Welfare office explaining this new enrollment. You should be receiving new identification cards, benefit summaries and PPO provider directories for your area from HealthNet. You will not be required to complete new enrollment cards and there was no lapse in your coverage. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Welfare Plan, or you may contact HealthNet directly at member services at 1-800-522-0088.
As winter approaches it is time for annual flu shots. Last winter resulted in severe shortages with the influenza (flu) vaccine delayed because the manufactures could not process it fast enough to meet the demand. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that this winter that there will also be a delay in delivering the vaccines. If you have not done so, you should call your doctor or health provider now and make arrangements to get immunized. Those that are high risks should get immunized as soon as possible. Kaiser Foundation defines high risks as those aged 65 or older and adults with a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, cancer, or alcoholism. Even if you are not at high risk, you should plan to get your flu shot. It is not too late to get your shot during flu season.