Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana took steps to assist members, employer groups, providers and all Louisianians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steps taken to support members at the height of the pandemic included:
- Waiving member cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment, COVID-19 tests and for in-network telehealth visits
- Expanding the number and type of in-network providers who could deliver telehealth services and adding behavioral health providers to Blue Cross’ signature telehealth platform, BlueCare (these changes are ongoing)
- Increasing access to prescription medications by waiving early medication refill limits on prescription medications and encouraging members to use their 90-day retail or mail-order benefit
- Extending grace periods for customers who could not pay their premiums because of COVID-19, which was later extended for members experiencing hurricane-related issues
- Expediting care to members, by waiving prior-authorization requirements for facility-based care (e.g. hospitalization) for COVID-19
Beginning on March 6, 2020, Blue Cross implemented emergency rules to ease members’ access to programs and services – before most rules and regulations were mandated at the state or federal level.
For providers, Blue Cross took the following steps in 2020:
- Increased reimbursements to eligible doctors, hospitals and other Louisiana providers
- Offered bridge funding for providers
- Issued early payments to providers in our value-based programs
One of the most visible and publicly recognized aspects of Blue Cross’ COVID-19 response was the work of our Analytics & Data team members. They shared their professional expertise and proprietary Performance Insights (Pi) platform with the State of Louisiana to power the COVID-19 Outbreak Tracker. This technology, which the Blue Cross team developed to drive targeted care interventions for our members, allowed state officials to inform their pandemic response.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards numerous times in 2020 spoke of the state’s partnership with Blue Cross when giving updates on the pandemic response, both nationally and in Louisiana. In July 2020, Gov. Edwards invited Blue Cross Chief Analytics and Data Officer Somesh Nigam to speak alongside him in his statewide COVID-19 press briefing and describe how the tracker was helping state officials determine and enact mitigation measures. National news wire stories quoting the governor included mentions of the state’s partnership with Blue Cross to use the tracker.
Beginning in December 2020, Blue Cross began focusing on how to support COVID-19 vaccination in Louisiana communities. This includes working with provider partners around the state, and key stakeholders such as the All of Us research program, to raise awareness of vaccine safety and build trust, particularly in minority communities.
As a member organization of the Baton Rouge Health District, Blue Cross is joining other leading healthcare organizations in the Capital Area on a widespread COVID-19 vaccine outreach campaign, “COVID Safe.”
This campaign, which the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation made a grant award to, shares stories from front-line health workers who were among the first to get the vaccine and emphasizes $0 coverage to make people feel safe, ready and comfortable getting the vaccine when they can. The campaign formally launched in January 2021 and will continue through mid-to-late 2021 to continue emphasizing vaccine safety to the general public.