DETROIT, April 20, 2020 – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is making a concerted effort to help senior citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding meal delivery programs, increasing access to grocery delivery and providing resources and information to Medicare Advantage members. Not only are seniors age 65 and older at risk of more severe illness from COVID-19, their everyday support systems and care plans may also be disrupted. Michigan’s senior citizens are experiencing significant issues accessing food and are expressing that they are more socially isolated. “Blue Cross is proactively reaching out to seniors to help identify and meet their needs,” said Krischa Winright, executive vice president of Senior Health Services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “As we’re all staying home to stay safe, that means older adults may not receive the in-home care management or friendly visitors they’re used to. Our seniors need us now more than ever.” Based on data-driven needs assessments, Blue Cross is:
- Expanding meal delivery programs to seniors in need.
- Providing high-risk members in areas of dense COVID-19 community-level spread with groceries from businesses that are offering delivery services.
- Planning to deliver care packages to more than 700,000 Michigan seniors with Blue Cross medical plans, which may include disposable thermometers and reusable face coverings, along with information on how to access telemedicine and on COVID-19.
- Contacting members who are under care management support and may be socially isolated to coordinate their care and identify gaps, including medication, food assistance, financial resources and clinical care.
- Connecting members to information on COVID-19, telehealth and mental health services and providing tools and advice for managing stress, isolation and loneliness.
These expanded services are possible thanks to the work Blue Cross already does with seniors through Blue Cross® Coordinated Care, a program that’s centered around senior members and connects them with a team that helps them get the right care at the right time. The care management program assigns a registered nurse to work directly with senior members and their families to coordinate the best care to meet seniors’ specific needs. The program is completely confidential and available at no cost. The Blue Cross care management teams include doctors, social workers, dieticians and others, as needed, to help members:
- Better understand their condition, medications and treatment options
- Help find a primary care physician
- Coordinate care with health care providers
- Connect members with support and services in their local community
- Find behavioral health services and care for other special needs
- Set and reach health goals
- Identify health risks and steps senior members can take to improve their health
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network have enacted several measures to increase the safety and convenience of accessing health care to all members during the pandemic. For Medicare Advantage members, these include free COVID-19 diagnostic lab testing and treatment when consistent with CDC guidelines, offering telehealth care at no cost through June 30 for members with existing benefits, mental health online visits, a free 24-hour nurse line and waived refill limits for 30-day and 90-day prescription maintenance medications. More information on the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the company’s blog – www.mibluesperspectives.com – and website – www.bcbsm.com/coronavirus. 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 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.