Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Returns Money to Customers, Individuals
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is returning more than $100 million to many fully insured customers this year.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted what we consider to be normal life in many ways, it has not left the health care system untouched. People are not receiving medical, dental and vision care at the same pace that they usually do, as non-emergency services have been slowed – and in some cases, halted. As a result, Blue Cross isn’t paying out as many claims and has resources available to help business customers and individuals in numerous ways as they move through the pandemic crisis.
This week, Blue Cross announced a number of premium refunds along with rate stability measures for fully insured customers. This response joins other efforts we’ve made to help customers, including: $37 million back to small group customers for medical plans, $10.5 million shared refund to Blue Dental and Blue Vision employer group customers, $45 million paid directly to individual health plan members from 2019 through rebates and more.
The refunds are in addition to $494 million that BCBSM has invested in expanding the availability of no-cost benefits for members and to support health providers in response to COVID-19 – bringing the BCBSM enterprise’s commitment in response to the crisis to nearly $600 million.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Cross has been working to provide customers with information and solutions to help navigate the health care system during an unprecedented time, taking many steps to remove barriers to healthcare for members and to keep care affordable.
Improving Access to Care
For Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members, Covid-19 treatment is free through Dec. 31, 2020. Diagnostic testing is also covered at no cost as of March 18, 2020.
And we realize that during the pandemic people are seeing their doctors in different ways, so Blue Cross and Blue Care Network are providing free access to telehealth services for medical and behavioral health through June 30. Most Medicare Advantage members also receive these same benefits through Dec. 31. Additionally, Medicare Advantage members will receive free access to all the services provided in their primary care physicians office.
To help members safely social distance and protect their health, Blue Cross is also allowing members to receive more of their prescription medications at once to limit trips to the pharmacy.
Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to severe illness from the coronavirus and may be socially isolated from friends and family as a result. Blue Cross has taken extra steps to help senior members through the pandemic by initiating contact to connect them with resources and community services and targeting high-risk seniors with extra help.
Prioritizing Behavioral Health
By working with behavioral health care providers to bring their services into a telehealth platform, Blue Cross doctors are leading a new era in behavioral health treatment. Many low-risk substance use disorder patients can be treated from the safety of their homes. This even includes group therapy situations. These telehealth efforts have helped improve access to mental health and substance use disorder care for members in rural Michigan.
Reaching Out to Communities
Blue Cross has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to helping communities through the pandemic.
For small business owners, there’s a new special support program. For displaced workers, there are new transition services in place.
The pandemic has also placed a glaring spotlight on the racial disparities and inequities in health care. Blue Cross is taking steps to act now and, in the future, to address health disparities and to work with government officials.
That includes contributing funding to a mobile testing unit to bring COVID-19 testing directly to people where they are through a partnership with Wayne State University.
Empowering Health Care Workers
Blue Cross is supporting health care workers as they tackle COVID-19.
Together with 35 hospitals in Michigan, Blue Cross started a COVID-19 data collection effort to help identify best care practices and possible treatments.
More than 30 of Blue Cross’ employees with medical backgrounds volunteered to help on the front lines. Blue Cross has also accelerated payments to providers to help them better respond to their patients’ needs.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to continuing to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 across the entirety of the business and will keep customers informed as more information becomes available. Stay up to date with the latest news and information at bcbsm.com/coronavirus or mibluesperspectives.com.
More from MIBluesPerspectives.com:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Helps Seniors Through the Pandemic
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Works with Providers to Launch Home-Based Substance Use Disorder Treatments During COVID-19
- More Than 30 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Employees Volunteer for Front-Line Work to Assist in Treating COVID-19 Patients
Photo credit: Steven_Kriemadis