Blue KC addresses barriers to health with technology

Published May 15, 2020

Opening access to care. For the Health of America.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is deploying a comprehensive approach to improving access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic, leveraging telehealth technology to meet the needs of its members, uninsured and under-insured populations and frontline medical personnel.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) is extending its reach in the fight against COVID-19 by making sure all segments of the communities it serves have access to healthcare and mental health services via telehealth. In addition to providing its members with free telehealth services, Blue KC has also taken unprecedented steps to provide free telehealth services to at-risk populations. The insurance company is also proactively supporting the mental health of medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing free services on an anonymous basis.

This multi-pronged technology approach is strategically poised to promote wellness and care during a time in which residents have been following stay-at-home orders that span 32 metro counties in Missouri and Kansas. The strategy addresses the social determinants of health that create barriers to good health.

Supporting members

At the onset of the pandemic, Blue KC committed to providing members with greater access expanded coverage to include video (face-to-face) visits using smartphones, tablets or computers. The visits utilize virtual care doctors who have been trained to evaluate for COVID-19. Both Urgent Care Visits and Behavioral Health Therapy visits provided in the Blue KC app are at no cost until June 30, 2020. Members can download the app on the Apple App Store and Google Play or go to BlueKCVirtualCare. In addition, until June 30, 2020 members can also see any in-network provider, at no cost for virtual (face-to-face), telephone, e-mail or text visits for medical services or behavioral health therapy.

Providing resources for the uninsured and under-insured

At a time when unemployment rates are a record high, finances not only cause emotional stress, they create a significant barrier to accessing much needed care. To mitigate that barrier, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) is providing both clinical and behavioral health services to uninsured and under-insured populations in the communities they serve at no cost. These telemedicine visits are available not only for those who think they may have COVID-19, but for non-COVID-19 related medical or behavioral health concerns. The services are being extended to non-Blue Cross Blue Shield members in Kansas City’s 32-county service area through May 31, 2020.

“At Blue KC we care deeply about not only improving the health and well-being of our members, but also of our Kansas City community,” said Erin Stucky, Blue KC’s President and CEO. “That’s why we are offering free access to virtual healthcare during the COVID-19 outbreak. We hope this will help people manage their health while practicing safe social distancing and limiting their risk of exposure as stay at home orders lift across the country and we start to discover our new normal.”

Teletherapy for frontline medical professionals

Studies have shown that stigma can sometimes drive members of the medical community to neglect their own mental health especially during a crisis. That's why Blue KC is partnering with a nonprofit veterans support organization to provide free teletherapy services for those working on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak. Free therapy is provided on an anonymous basis to medical personnel, first responders, and veterans who have been impacted and who are experiencing increased stress, discomfort, or hardship. These services are provided by licensed, private therapists who are skilled at working with individuals who are in the midst of a crisis, or who are experiencing grief, anxiety, stress, or traumatic symptoms. In its first week, nearly 40 medical professionals signed up for the service.

“The emotional well-being of the healthcare professionals and first responders of this country needs to remain a top national priority. While the University of Kansas Health System focuses on taking care of our great community, we are grateful to the Frontline Therapy Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City teams for supporting frontline healthcare workers and first responders,” said Lauren Lucht, executive director, mental and behavioral health, the University of Kansas Health System.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

Google Play ® is a registered trademark owned by Goggle, LLC. Apple® and Apple App Store are trademarks owned by Apple, Inc. The Frontline Therapy Network is a service provided by Battle Within, a nonprofit support organization and not associated or affiliated with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association or Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.