COVID-19 left his household sick and unemployed. One phone call revived hope.

Published June 19, 2020

Checking in. For the Health of America.

People who are older and have chronic medical conditions like diabetes or heart failure seem to be at much higher risk for catching serious cases of COVID-19. And they may face an uphill battle to recover. That’s why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama moved quickly to identify older members with chronic conditions and reach out to them, one phone call at a time, to check in.

Michelle Ingram, RN, is a senior clinical analyst for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBS Alabama). Typically, she works in physician education. But during this pandemic, Ingram and other staff have been working the phones to reach members who may be struggling not only with COVID-19 but other problems that put them at risk of getting sick.

Outreach calls uncovered members in distress

Ingram says some of the health plan members she reached said they felt fine and had everything they needed at home to stay well. But some, who may have been dependent on newly unemployed family members, were struggling to keep food on the table, afford medication or make it to the doctor’s office. 

When Ingram reached one member, he told her three members of his household had COVID-19, all had lost their jobs and his income of $830 a month was all they had. He was rationing his medications for heart failure and diabetes. 

Ingram and the rest of the outreach team quickly connected him with help. A social worker followed up with community resources like meal services, transportation and affordable medication.

A case manager was on hand to help the member reestablish control of his chronic conditions.

“Not everybody has someone checking in on them”

The pandemic has hit some families or seniors living alone harder than others. And, as Ingram says, “not everybody has someone checking in on them.” But BCBS Alabama took it a step further. The outreach team called nearly 3000 at risk members and followed up with more than 200 who needed the help of social workers or case managers. Her division also collaborated with a greeting card company to send personalized cards to more than 70,000 households, letting members know the health plan could be a resource in ways they may not have realized.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is a licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of 36 locally owned, independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

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