Monday, June 15, 2020
Outreach efforts are helping Medicare members through current COVID-19 emergency
PITTSBURGH (June 15, 2020) — At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Highmark launched several new programs designed to help seniors get through the COVID-19 crisis — and to help them be prepared to get back to life and health once the crisis passes.
Throughout the pandemic, Highmark employees have been making proactive phone calls to the most vulnerable Highmark Medicare members who may live alone, have health issues or are homebound and can’t get out for food or medications. Members were also given pertinent information on the virus and ways to stay safe and active.
“Our employees have been making phone calls for a few months now to check on our vulnerable members and, if needed, connect them to community or medical services,” said Alexis Miller, market president, senior markets for Highmark.
On a recent outreach call, a member confided that she was afraid to go out of her home and go to the grocery store. Employees worked with the member to help arrange for a package of essential items including toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizers to be delivered to her home.
Highmark employees have also recognized while making the outreach calls that some Medicare members are facing issues with social isolation during the pandemic. Even though friends and family were stopping by to deliver food and other necessities to the members, they were not able to come inside and visit.
The Highmark Helpers program was launched to match those members with Highmark employee volunteers, who have committed to reach out to the members weekly over the phone to help ensure they are doing OK and have someone to talk to.
“I have heard from employees who have volunteered for this program that it has been very rewarding, and helped them feel more connected while they are being quarantined and working from home,” said Miller.
Another initiative started by Highmark is the Pen Pal Program in collaboration with several senior high rises in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Highmark employees and their children are volunteering to write regular letters back and forth with residents of the high rises to help them feel more connected when family members are not allowed to visit due to social distancing and stay at home orders.
In addition to these direct outreach programs, Highmark has been sending regular information on the virus and ways to stay healthy and access care through telemedicine to all Medicare members through the mail, text messaging and social media since March.
“I am really proud of all of our employees,” said Miller. “Throughout this crisis, they have shown how much they really care about our members.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Highmark Health Plan has taken many proactive measures through coverage expansions, increased options to access to care, support for its communities, providers and customers, and by providing resources to access help and information to ensure that our members, employees and communities are safe and can continue to receive care. Initially, Highmark expanded benefits to cover telehealth and inpatient, in-network COVID-19 treatment with no cost-sharing, and has now extended that until September 30.
To support those affected by the pandemic, Highmark dedicated a web site (highmarkanswers.com) to answer questions and provide insight to the community and launched a stream of podcasts to assist in understanding issues surrounding COVID-19. Through its provider partners such as AHN in western Pennsylvania and health systems in other communities, Highmark has actively supported COVID-19 testing, with a focus on underserved communities through mobile units. Highmark also committed $2 million in grants to food insecurity, safety net providers and COVID-19 relief organizations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware.
About Highmark Inc.
One of America's leading health insurance organizations and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Highmark Inc. (the Health Plan) and its affiliated health plans (collectively, the Health Plans) work passionately to deliver high-quality, accessible, understandable, and affordable experiences, outcomes, and solutions to customers. As the fourth-largest overall Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization, Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates proudly cover the insurance needs of more than 5.2 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance and other related businesses. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
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