BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana is in a fourth surge of COVID-19, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus and a below-average statewide vaccination rate. In recent weeks, state health officials have reported record numbers of people hospitalized for COVID-19.
As healthcare providers and hospitals work to treat high volumes of COVID-19 patients, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana encourages telehealth use for routine care needs.
“Telehealth is an effective option to treat non-emergency health issues like seasonal allergies, mild stomach viruses, bladder infections or rashes,” said Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Larry Simon. “You can have online visits without leaving home and going to a healthcare facility. That lets you get the care you need remotely, and it lets healthcare facilities focus on treating COVID-19 patients and other patients with potentially life-threatening, emergency needs.”
Get Care Anywhere With BlueCare
Blue Cross members can sign up for BlueCare, which lets you have online doctor visits 24/7. BlueCare doctors are available in all 50 states. Through BlueCare, doctors can give you a prescription or a refill for medication to treat most health needs. In addition to medical visits, Blue Cross members can use BlueCare to schedule online behavioral health appointments with therapists, counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists.
To sign up for BlueCare, go to www.BlueCareLA.com or get the BlueCare – that’s one word – app for Android and Apple devices. Then, you’ll be ready to click when you’re sick. Other health insurers offer similar telehealth services, so check into what’s covered on your plan.
In-Network Telehealth Providers
During the past year, Blue Cross has increased the number and types of healthcare providers who can treat members through telehealth. Members can have online visits with in-network doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and registered dietitians. Some services from dentists, chiropractors and physical, occupational or speech therapists also can be delivered through telehealth visits. Check the Blue Cross provider directory to find care options in the network for your health plan.
Dr. Simon advised members to check with their regular healthcare providers to see if they offer telehealth visits. “Telehealth use has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more providers do online visits than ever before,” he said. “If you already have a relationship with a provider and you’re not comfortable going into a clinic or hospital for treatment right now, call their office and ask about remote options.”
But, for members having a true health emergency, Dr. Simon said it’s important to call 911 or get to the closest emergency room.
“There have been alarming stories about people putting off care for chest pain, possible stroke, possible appendicitis and even traumatic injuries because of COVID-19 concerns. In those situations, the longer you wait for treatment, the worse the outcome could be. If you feel there is an immediate risk to your health or life, get to a healthcare facility as soon as you can,” he said. “If you’re worried about overcrowding, you can call the nearest emergency room or call 911 to ask where you should go.”
Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine
“The best thing you can do for your health right now is to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already,” Dr. Simon said. “It can’t be done with telehealth, but Louisianians ages 12 and older can get the vaccine at numerous locations across the state. And, it’s covered at $0 on your health plan. Vaccination is our best hope to end the pandemic and prevent overwhelming our healthcare system.”
• You can call the State of Louisiana’s Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 for help scheduling an appointment. The hotline staff can help you find vaccine locations near you or connect you with clinicians who can answer your vaccine questions. Or, visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website to see a list of vaccine locations. You can search by parish to find a vaccine site near you, and you can see which types of vaccine are being given at different locations.
• You can get free rides to and from vaccine appointments. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is sponsoring ride share programs statewide, and many community organizations offer similar programs. If you do not have a vehicle, are unable to drive or need transportation assistance, call 211 to get connected to programs in your area.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube page to see short videos on the COVID-19 vaccines and other health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
For information on what Blue Cross is doing in response to COVID-19, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.