September 20, 2017 News

CDPHP Invites Members In-House to ‘Tell Us What You Really Think’

There’s someone I’d like you to meet. Actually, it’s a group of people and they’re part of the CDPHP® Member Advisory Committee, aka MAC. Earlier this year, the committee was formed to give members – and the community at large – a greater voice in health care. The members represent a broad cross-section of people who bring unique experiences to the plan. We meet monthly and discuss a variety of health care topics, ranging from costs and communications to health policy and benefits.

The idea of an insurance company inviting members in-house to “tell us what they really think” is a bit unorthodox. And I have to admit that the first couple of meetings were a little awkward. But over the past nine months, we’ve gotten to know each other, and we’re learning a lot.

Meet Sara …









Sara Carpenter is the president of Qurve Learning LLC, a health literacy organization in Queensbury, NY. She’s never had a problem with her health care coverage, but she recently started paying closer attention to her benefits when her husband was prescribed a very expensive, life-saving oral chemotherapy.

Sara’s husband has a rare form of leukemia and takes Imbruvica, which costs about $10,000 a month. Their plan only requires a modest copay, but Sara estimates that CDPHP has paid about $250,000 for this prescription alone.

Sara is disturbed that the pharmaceutical industry is allowed to charge such high prices for drugs like Imbruvica, and she’s on a mission to change that.

Meet Tara …









Tara Chhabra is the human resources manager for the Saratoga Springs Public Library. A big part of her job is helping employees understand their health benefits. Tara thinks health plans, like CDPHP, could do a better job communicating with members, especially when it comes to benefit changes.

Like CDPHP, Tara is working hard to find the best, most effective, and cost-efficient way to communicate important health plan details and changes to her employees. As an HR professional, she is passionate about finding ways to connect with individuals in a way that allows them to make the most of their benefits.

Meet Alan …









Alan Lobel is a longtime CDPHP member who can’t say enough good things about his health plan. We first met Alan in summer 2016 when he was chosen as a finalist for the Silver Sneakers Richard Swanson Inspirational award. The award honors older Americans for their commitment to health and fitness. Alan has been working out at the Sidney Albert Jewish Community Center in Albany for almost eight years. He gets free access to the gym through his CDPHP Medicare Choices plan and has pedaled more than 16,000 miles and burned nearly 750,000 calories on the Expresso stationary bike. Wow!

Meet Erin …









Erin DeSantis is a lobbyist and assistant state director with the National Federation of Independent Business. In her role at NFIB, DeSantis works alongside NFIB members to ensure that small businesses get a fair shake when it comes to taxes, mandates, and regulations. As you can imagine, health policy is one of the biggest factors impacting small businesses across New York and throughout the country.

Interestingly enough, Erin is no longer a CDPHP member. She gets coverage through her husband’s company, which recently switched to a competing health plan. Erin chose to stay on the committee, as her participation is a benefit to the members of her organization.

Meet Veva …









Veva Bangert is another longtime CDPHP member who came to the committee to talk about non-traditional benefits she wish she had. For example, Veva recalls the VA providing music therapy to veterans, and she wishes insurers – like CDPHP – would consider covering these outside-the-box benefits.

At 88 years old, Veva also wishes CDPHP would go paperless and stop sending so much material in the mail. In fact, Veva is almost always the first person to confirm her participation in upcoming meetings using an app called Doodle Poll. She proves that age is not a barrier to technology!

All and all, there are about 15 active members on the CDPHP Member Advisory Committee, some of who travel 60 or more minutes to attend meetings. They are not paid consultants, but members of the community who want to make a difference. At CDPHP, we are incredibly grateful for their time and their commitment to improving the health of the communities we serve. Thank you!

Ali Skinner
About the Author

Ali Skinner is a communications professional with nearly 20 years of media, marketing, advertising, and public relations experience. She joined CDPHP in November 2011 and currently serves as Vice President, Communications and External Affairs for one of the top health plans in New York and the nation. In this role, Ali oversees all internal and external communications, public relations, and government relations for the plan’s 400,000 members and 1,200 employees. A self-described recovering journalist, Ali spent 10 years writing and delivering news for a number of television and radio stations in the Syracuse and Albany, NY markets. Today, she uses her journalism background to help patients and the public make sense of complex health care topics.

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