BATON ROUGE, La. – During February, which is Heart Health Month and Black History Month, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is working to raise awareness of heart disease, particularly for African American communities that may be more at risk. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). But, heart health issues are even more common among African Americans.
African Americans ages 18-49 are two times as likely to die from heart disease than white Americans, according to the CDC. They are also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity and sleep disorders, which can lead to heart disease.
“Through national research and data from our members, we know that heart disease is greater in communities of color, especially Black communities,” said Rod Teamer, Blue Cross director of Diversity Programs and Business Development. “Our mission is to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. So, we are looking at what health disparities are leading to these health outcomes.”
Research shows that social determinants of health such as economic status, education, transportation, availability of community resources and affordable health care are playing a big role in the increase of heart disease in African American communities. Blue Cross is working to provide resources and create partnerships to help address these issues.
“At Blue Cross, we are constantly working to make sure all Louisianians have equitable access to health care,” Teamer said. “Not only are we creating partnerships with organizations to help break down barriers that prevent people from getting the care they need, we are also providing services to our members.”
Get Help for Your Heart Health
As a starting point for reaching your best heart health, Blue Cross encourages everyone to set up their annual wellness visit for 2022. Everyone should have at least one visit a year with a primary care provider to look at your overall health and check your numbers for key indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Most health plans cover a yearly checkup at no or low cost to you.
“Your annual wellness visit is a great time to talk to your doctor about all of your health concerns, including your heart health,” said Dr. Emily Vincent, Blue Cross medical director. “While you can’t change your genetics, you can greatly improve your heart health by keeping up with your healthcare. Your doctor can help you make a lifestyle plan for a healthy heart.”
Dr. Vincent shares more tips to help you lower your risk for heart disease in this video (1:28).
Blue Cross has in-house programs and services to help Louisianians keep their heart beating strong, including:
Care Management Program
Blue Cross members with heart disease can get health coaching, information and support from the insurer’s clinical team. This team is there to help members be STRONGER THAN any disease or diagnosis. Health coaches include nurses, dietitians, social workers and pharmacists who work with members to help them stick to their care plans, adopt healthy habits and make positive changes to improve their health. It does not cost anything to work with a health coach. Visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger for more information about Care Management services and programs.
$0 Drug Copay Program
To Help Louisianians take their medicines as their doctors prescribe and not miss doses, Blue Cross has a $0 Drug Copay program. The program offers some drugs for chronic conditions, including heart disease, for $0. Blue Cross knows that cost can be a barrier when it comes to patients taking the medicine properly. Studies have shown that when the program takes away out-of-pocket costs barriers, there are improved health outcomes for members. Go to www.bcbsla.com/covereddrugs for a list of drugs in the program.
To help address the social and economic challenges that can lead to heart disease, Blue Cross has a free search tool to connect you with a variety of social support services. The free search tool helps people find assistance for needs such as meal delivery, transportation, low-cost medications, counseling services or health education. Most of the services listed are low or no cost. You can search for services locally, or anywhere around the country. Learn more by visiting www.bcbsla.com/programs.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos with the clinical team and others discussing health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA for regular updates.
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.