BATON ROUGE, La. – The Biden Administration and America’s Health Insurance Plans announced a new effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations nationwide by using insurers as community connectors. Community connectors will raise awareness and promote the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its affiliates, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, will join this nationwide effort to get as many people as possible vaccinated.
Community outreach will focus on adults 65 and older and residents of minority communities. Data shows that older adults, as well as Black and Hispanic people and members of other minority groups, are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19, dying from it or having severe complications. According to a recent report from The Lancet Commission that looked at COVID-19 death and infection rates over the past year, coronavirus deaths for people of color are 1.2 to 3.6 times higher than for others.
“One of the most important roles those of us in the healthcare industry can play is to be ambassadors for public health, and we’re proud to join our peers around the country in this effort,” said Dr. Stephanie Mills, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana executive vice president and chief medical officer. “Getting as many people as possible vaccinated will be key to curbing the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to more of life as we knew it. Now that vaccine supply is increasing, it’s time to do whatever we can to make sure everyone feels safe, comfortable and prepared to roll up their sleeves.”
Because of the large volume of medical claims they process, health insurance carriers have a great deal of securely stored data and expertise in finding trends. They can identify their customers who are most at risk for COVID-19 and/or those who may have more barriers to accessing the vaccines, and can target outreach to them. And, they can help track progress to see how many customers have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. This will let insurers like Blue Cross, which covers one out of three Louisianians, work with federal, state and local partners to identify areas with lower vaccination rates and direct more vaccine opportunities into those communities. This work is done with patients’ privacy in mind, with data use agreements limiting access to and use of healthcare data.
Health insurers working as community connectors will team up with other stakeholders to educate the public about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. These might include their network provider partners such as hospitals and physicians, community organizations and other groups.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana also joins its fellow Blue plans in committing to slow the spread in the workplace. Face masks and social distancing have been required for employees on-site in the insurer’s office buildings since last year, and will continue to be. As the vaccines become more widely available, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is doing outreach and education to employees so they are aware of the vaccine’s effectiveness and are ready to be vaccinated as soon as they qualify.
Locally, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has joined the Baton Rouge Health District and its member organizations in a COVID Safe outreach campaign. This campaign features Louisiana healthcare providers sharing their COVID-19 vaccination experiences to urge everyone to feel comfortable getting immunized when they can.
And, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is working with the New Orleans and Baton Rouge chapters of 100 Black Men to raise awareness of the vaccine in Black, Hispanic and minority communities. Yesterday, both groups joined Baton Rouge General (BRG) to announce they will host a mass vaccination event in North Baton Rouge Saturday, March 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Gloryland Baptist Church on Greenwell Springs Rd., near Choctaw. BRG will offer 1,000 vaccinations at the event.
About the COVID-19 Vaccine
In Louisiana, timing for getting the COVID-19 vaccine depends on age, occupation, health status and/or risk factors. Visit the Louisiana Department of Health website, ldh.la.gov, very often to see the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and who currently qualifies to get one.
The vaccines are covered for $0 out of pocket by individual and employer health insurance plans, as well as Medicare and Medicaid. The federal government prepaid for U.S. Food & Drug Administration-approved COVID-19 vaccines through 2021. This coverage is included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act also allows uninsured patients to get the vaccine for $0. Blue Cross will cover the vaccine’s administration without any member cost-share (deductible, copay or coinsurance) on most health plans. If you have questions about vaccine coverage on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos with medical directors and other experts discussing COVID-19 prevention and other health topics. Subscribe to the channel to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates on COVID-19 and other health topics.
For more on what Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is doing for customers during 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 were recognized in 2019 and 2020 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.