At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we come to work every day passionate about improving our members’ health in Michigan and across the nation. This calling has never been more apparent or urgent in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The needs of people in Michigan and across the country have increased substantially, especially when it comes to mental health and delayed care for chronic conditions. Throughout this past year, we’ve made sure our members had access to the care they needed by funding $860 million in COVID treatment, testing and vaccine administration costs – without passing those costs along in our premiums for 2021 and 2022 fully-insured plans. Beyond caring for our members, we also made strategic investments to support the needs of the communities we serve. And although the need was great in 2021, it’s our mission every year to better the health of all Michiganders, member or not. Here are just some of the ways our mission of better health for all came to life this past year:
We’ve supported our communities.
Together with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Blue Cross is spending $650,000 to help 14 organizations improve health equity by addressing food and nutrition insecurity. And we’re continuing to help children in school gain access to fresh, healthy choices through a partnership with the United Fresh Start Foundation: more than 50,000 students have benefitted from new salad bars since 2015. We partnered with Wayne State University, the Wayne State University Physician Group and ACCESS to expand COVID-19 mobile testing to include free testing directly in Southeast Michigan communities at nursing homes, care facilities, churches and other sites throughout the region. We also partnered with community organizations and businesses to provide free flu shot clinics in underserved neighborhoods throughout Michigan. In 2021, we partnered with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to provide nearly $300,000 to community organizations addressing housing instability and homelessness for underserved populations.
We’ve partnered to help educators focus on mental health.
Since 2009, we’ve helped more than 450,000 children through our Building Healthy Communities program. While a focus on healthy foods and physical activity is always an important part of the program, this year schools were able to implement resources available in virtual, hybrid and/or face-to-face formats to address the mental health and well-being of students and teachers. This school year, 212 schools statewide were awarded the Building Healthy Communities Program – which includes a new prevention resource aimed at addressing the growing issue of adolescent self-harm and suicide.
We’ve continued to improve health care access.
We believe everyone deserves high-quality care. In 2021, we provided $904,500 in grants to 49 safety net clinics, making us Michigan’s largest private donor to clinics that provide free or low-cost medical and dental treatment for uninsured and vulnerable Michigan residents. Together with Dedicated Senior Medical Centers, a subsidiary of ChenMed, Blue Cross opened six new primary care centers across Metro Detroit to provide health care to seniors. And in a partnership with Meijer Pharmacy, Blue Cross helped homebound individuals and people with disabilities gain access to COVID-19 vaccines. Our commitment to Michigan’s safety net is longstanding – since 2005, we’ve awarded more than $17 million in grants, which have enabled volunteer doctors and nurses at these clinics to care for thousands of people every year. Take a look inside one of the clinics we’ve supported.
We’ve continued to partner with providers.
When the pandemic hit Michigan, health systems, physician practices and dental and vision provider offices experienced significant disruption. We provided financial support to Michigan hospitals, donated protective equipment and collaborated with hospitals to share clinical data for COVID-19 treatment. The use of telehealth rose dramatically for primary care and behavioral health providers, enabled in part by Blue Cross support. We’ve expanded our longstanding funding relationship with the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Keystone Center by contributing $5 million to directly support new programs and hospital-led innovations related to women and children’s health, maternal care parameters and the safety of patients and health care workers. This ongoing work – grounded in community and involving partners in care – is having a meaningful, tangible impact on the health care services people receive today. It also is helping lead Michigan to a healthier future. We at Blue Cross are invested in these efforts and the goal behind them — as we have been for nearly 83 years in Michigan. Learn more about our COVID-19 response here. Andrew Hetzel is vice president of corporate communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. More from MIBluesPerspectives:
- Supporting Communities Through the Michigan Health Endowment Fund
- Our Role in Addressing Social Determinants of Health
- The Role of Supportive Housing on Mental Health
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