Managing risk for international residents and travelers

Published May 1, 2020

COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, is affecting millions of people, whether they've been sickened, asked to stay home or remain under quarantine. For those living or traveling abroad, this situation can be more difficult to manage. But for Blue Cross Blue Shield Global members abroad, from business travelers to corporate expatriates, a sophisticated infrastructure and wealth of international expertise can help navigate the crisis.

Keeping members up-to-date and connected with care

When the coronavirus outbreak first emerged outside the U.S., it was critical that Blue Cross Blue Shield Global members receive information quickly about the evolving situation and resources available to members living and traveling internationally. GeoBlue's CEO, Sheldon Kenton, says, "Our most important jobs are to make sure our members have access to the healthcare they need, to be there as one resource among many for information about the virus and to help members mitigate the risk of contracting or spreading the virus."
To do that, Blue Cross Blue Shield members have been receiving the most up-to-date information about where to find appropriate care. All corporate enrolled members of Blue Cross Blue Shield Global expatriate plans have access to Global TeleMD, an app-based telemedicine service, which provides remote access to a global network of licensed doctors by phone or video. These doctors are briefed on the latest World Health Organization recommendations and prepared to offer remote consultations with patients in and outside their regions. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, access to this service has been expanded to members of Blue Cross Blue Shield Global Traveler plans.

Navigating a foreign healthcare system

Shirley Puccino, VP of Global Assistance and International Alliances, says that while the spread of coronavirus is a concerning and evolving situation, it's just one example of what travelers can encounter while abroad. Navigating a foreign healthcare system can be overwhelming. Puccino says Blue Cross Blue Shield Global members have been able to rely on the health plan’s tools and vast experience in international healthcare, including everything from finding a provider to help identifying which locally available medications are comparable to those taken at home. During this global pandemic, this expertise has been even more vital. The team has been able to assist members with rescheduling surgeries or treatments at different hospitals where access has been affected, as well as share critical information about local providers’ service limitations. Given that testing in most countries is being managed by local public health authorities, members have access to a list of the public health authorities’ COVID-19 hotlines for 151 global destinations to help those seeking testing.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Global members can rely on this team to monitor the global pandemic, provide critical, timely updates and maintain close contact with those living and traveling abroad. Blue Cross Blue Shield Global is a brand is owned by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Blue Cross Blue Shield Global products are provided by the international experts at GeoBlue. 

GeoBlue is the trade name for the international health insurance programs of Worldwide Insurance Services, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Owned and backed by 15 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies and Bupa Global, GeoBlue has helped the globally mobile navigate the complexities of international healthcare for more than 20 years. Global TeleMD is GeoBlue's branded telehealth service offering which is provided directly to members by Advance Medical, part of Teladoc Health.

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