Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Expands Access to Virtual Mental Health Care, Providing Greater Access to Members
by Brianna Neace
| 4 min read
DETROIT, Sept. 29, 2022 – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is making mental health care more accessible by adding more than 2,300 providers to its nationwide network through a new relationship with AbleTo, a virtual behavioral health provider. Access to AbleTo providers is available at no additional charge for most Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members 18 years of age and older, fully-insured groups and self-funded groups with behavioral health benefits. While a shortage in mental health professionals existed long before the pandemic, individuals experiencing these conditions are now being faced with even more obstacles in finding an available provider in a system that’s understaffed and overcapacity. In fact, more than 150 million people live in federally-designated mental health professional shortage areas and over half of U.S. counties lack a single mental health provider, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. AbleTo offers members an eight-week program based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and depression, the two most common behavioral health conditions. Members will undergo an initial evaluation and work with a dedicated provider to develop a personalized treatment plan, and set their preferences for day, time and format – phone or video – for their weekly sessions. Through the course of treatment, members will have weekly one-on-one sessions with a licensed therapist and on-demand access to digital tools and resources to support weekly program activities based on their care plan. A comprehensive discharge plan is created and discussed at the final session to ensure connection with the appropriate resources. “Though the pandemic was a driving force in the significant surge of virtual care usage, virtual behavioral health visits still account for almost 70 percent of Blue Cross’ overall virtual visits,” said Dr. Amy McKenzie, associate chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “With nearly one in five U.S. adults living with a mental illness, we recognize the need for more mental health providers and making it as convenient as possible for our members to access mental health care. This partnership helps us address those issues by significantly expanding our network for members in Michigan and nationwide, while also providing the ease of access that virtual visits offer.” Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to improve function and quality of life for those with a diagnosis of anxiety or depression. The sessions help individuals identify patterns of thoughts that may be unhealthy and learn new skills to better cope with life’s stressors. Contrary to many therapy styles, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy emphasizes a person’s current life and difficulties rather than past concerns, and focuses on moving forward. Members requiring more intensive treatment or psychiatric evaluation for medication will be referred to an in-network provider. “AbleTo’s mission is to increase access to quality care for all to help people get better and stay better. We’re honored that this collaboration allows us to build on that commitment,” said Stephen Bewley, chief executive officer of AbleTo. “We’ve seen graduates of AbleTo’s program report significant improvement in symptoms, including an average 60% decline in depression and a 57% decline in anxiety. We’re honored to provide Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members with tailored, confidential care from the privacy and comfort of their homes.” Members can schedule an appointment with an AbleTo provider by calling (866) 287-1802 or by going directly to www.ableto.com/bcbsm. About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for more than 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com. About AbleTo A pioneer in telehealth, AbleTo has revolutionized the way people access quality mental healthcare. Delivering over 2 million patient sessions, AbleTo provides structured, high-quality, and high-impact mental health care to people when and where they need help most. The company’s dynamic suite of solutions leverages data and analytics to align each person’s unique needs with a highly personalized program that offers the right blend of human and digital support. A nationwide network of more than 2,300 trusted providers skilled in clinically rigorous treatment delivers this tailored care through a remote platform backed by over a decade of experience. AbleTo’s outcomes-focused approach is proven to improve both behavioral and physical health and lower overall medical costs. For more information, visit AbleTo at www.ableto.com and follow AbleTo on LinkedIn and Twitter.