Blue Cross Complete Helps to Break Through Barriers with Poverty Simulation

Ryan Miller

| 2 min read

women standing at table
What if you had to choose between paying your mortgage or providing food for yourself or your family? How about keeping the electricity on and going to see a doctor when you’re sick? While choices such as these are ones no one should ever have to make, these thoughts are a harsh reality for many Medicaid members. To increase awareness of the difficult decisions its members often face, Blue Cross Complete recently hosted an event to shed light on a dim situation. More than 100 employees from Blue Cross Complete, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and AmeriHealth Caritas recently participated in a poverty simulation event to help better understand the barriers to health care often faced by Medicaid members. The goal of the three-hour simulation was to educate employees about the realities of poverty, cultivate community connection and responsibility and step into real-life situations. “Poverty is a reality in Michigan. 1.5 million residents live at the federal poverty level. That’s $24,000 a year to provide for a family of four,” said Julie Griffith, director of community outreach and quality management at Blue Cross Complete. “It’s our responsibility as member advocates and a community resource to assist them to the best of our ability and we’re better able to do that when we understand the obstacles they face regarding regular health care.” Broken into four-parts, the event simulated one month measured in 30-minute “weeks.” Participants were assigned to a family with a specific scenario, which laid out housing, finances and familial responsibilities. From single parents and truant teenagers to struggling seniors and toddlers, each family had to work together to ensure daily needs were met. While some families and individuals did well the first week, micromanaging costs became a struggle for many. Over the course of the event, several groups began to dismantle as they experienced the simulated, but severe effects of insufficient resources. Inexperience with community resources revealed the immense need to raise awareness of available resources and solutions to the issues faced by those living in poverty every day. “Part of the exercise was recognizing the face of poverty and how circumstances can change in a flash,” said Bridget Hurd, senior director of Diversity and Inclusion for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “While we were all trying to figure out what to do, I realized something. Going to the doctor was the last thing on our minds.” For more information about the event, go to
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association