MERIDIAN, Idaho – Today, Blue Cross of Idaho and the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health (the Foundation) joined their sister Blue plans to address health disparities in the United States. Over the next five years, Blue Cross of Idaho and the Foundation will work to gain an even deeper insight on its claims data, member utilization, provider benchmarks and community programs to find measurable clinical objectives and programs that meet the health needs of all Idahoans.
“Idaho is an extraordinary state with a unique population and varying healthy challenges,” said Charlene Maher, President and CEO of Blue Cross of Idaho. “Nearly 230,000 Hispanics and Latinos call Idaho home, we have five Native American tribes, 18 counties with fewer than six people per square mile, and thousands of refugees have resettled in Idaho to escape political or religious persecution. Too many Idahoans from all backgrounds face challenges to accessing healthcare. Blue Cross of Idaho is ready to lead the state through significant healthcare changes and find unique solutions to address existing disparities.”
“The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health supports bringing healthcare options to underserved communities,” said Ralph Woodard, Chairman of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. “A recent report commissioned by the Foundation highlighted that 40% of Idahoans could not afford basic needs such as housing, food, childcare, and healthcare. Further, the report underscored that 38% of rural Idahoans reported their primary care physician was between 25-100 miles from their home. The pandemic amplified these struggles, and now is an ideal time to make an impact in the lives of all Idahoans.”
Blue Cross of Idaho saw a 60% increase in telehealth behavioral health visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the week of January 27, 2020-February 2, 2020, Blue Cross of Idaho processed 108 telehealth claims. That number jumped as high as 14,400 between May 4, 2020-May 8, 2020 – 157 times more than the weekly average for the first three months of 2020.
“Telehealth has changed the landscape of healthcare, especially in the area of behavioral health,” said Maher. “By removing barriers to care and simplifying the journey for our members, telehealth is now a safe, effective option for Idahoans, specifically when someone wants to see a behavioral health specialist hundreds of miles away. Today, telehealth can be a critical step in expanding behavioral health access across the state.”
Blue Cross of Idaho and the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health have a history of expanding health equity in Idaho and will use this opportunity to broaden other projects. These include:
- High-Risk Maternity Management. Blue Cross of Idaho offers a comprehensive program to help pregnant women with acute or chronic health conditions have a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth. A Maternity Coordinator conducts a risk assessment with a member which includes questions about physical and behavioral health. After identifying concerns, the member connects with a case manager to craft a personalized care plan in tandem with the member’s provider.
- A $500,000 scholarship fund to the University of Washington School of Medicine’s WWAMI program to support 10 scholarships over the next five years. These scholarships are for Idaho residents who wish to practice medicine in rural Idaho upon becoming physicians.
- A $50,000 grant to Mariman Health, owned and operated by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, to support the evaluation of a new state-of-the-art community center designed to be a holistic healing center for all tribal members. Mariman Health is a prevention center that will continue to bring positive changes to the rural reservation community, and a safe place for youth to play, learn, for families to heal and be well, and where the community can connect with one another and its Native heritage.
- $30,000 to launch a telehealth pilot program in two rural Idaho counties in partnership with the Idaho Commission for Libraries and two libraries in Orofino and Weippe.
- $5,000-$10,000 per school in technical assistance grants to help implement the Healthy Minds Partnership, an on campus behavioral health program.
“We are committed to continue to support our communities with access to quality healthcare, which also includes addressing health disparities and improving rural healthcare. This is what Blue Cross of Idaho has always stood for, creating sustainable changes that promote health and access to quality healthcare,” said Maher.
About Blue Cross of Idaho
Blue Cross of Idaho Health Service, Inc., a not-for-profit mutual insurance company based in Meridian, Idaho, is a leader in delivering innovative health insurance products, services and information to more than 601,800 members. For 76 years, the company has advocated on behalf of its members to ensure they have access to high-quality healthcare at the lowest possible cost. It also serves the people of Idaho through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross of Idaho Health Service, Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit bcidaho.com.
About the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health
The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health, Inc., is a nonprofit charitable foundation established in 2001 by Blue Cross of Idaho. The Foundation is dedicated to addressing the root causes to some of Idaho’s most pressing health issues. More information is available at www.bcidahofoundation.org.