Washington, D.C. – March 3, 2021 – Health insurance providers today committed to supporting a new effort that will promote health equity by removing barriers to vaccinations for 2 million Americans most at risk of COVID-19. Every American deserves access to safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines. Health insurance providers have been working with federal, state, and local leaders to ensure Americans can get vaccinated as quickly and equitably as possible. Today, members of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) extended that commitment with the announcement of the Vaccine Community Connectors pilot initiative.
The Vaccine Community Connectors pilot initiative aims to enable the vaccination of 2 million seniors age 65+ in America’s most at-risk, vulnerable and underserved communities – such as African American and Hispanic communities. Insurance providers will focus on their members and the communities they serve. They are working to reach this important goal quickly, depending upon the increasing availability of vaccine supply. Members of AHIP and BCBSA invite all health insurance providers to join them in this commitment.
“Improving health equity means setting important goals, removing barriers to better care, and meeting people where they are,” said Tonya Adams, national spokesperson for the Vaccine Community Connectors program and chief customer experience officer at Regence BlueCross BlueShield. “This is a seminal moment in America. We look forward to working with all partners across the public and private sectors to provide millions of seniors with an equal opportunity for protection from this virus.”
How the Initiative Will Work
As vaccine supplies expand and registrations become available, health insurance providers will use our combined expertise, data, and insights to:
- Identify seniors 65+ who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and who live in areas where vaccination rates are most inequitable.
- Work with partners in the community to educate seniors on the safety, efficacy, and value of COVID-19 vaccines.
- Contact those seniors who are eligible to get a vaccine through multiple channels to:
- Facilitate vaccine registration and appointment scheduling.
- Answer their questions about vaccines.
- Help them to understand when, where, and how they can receive vaccines and remind them about any required second doses.
- Coordinate services to help overcome barriers that may stand between them and getting vaccinated, including transportation.
- Work with federal, state, and local leaders to deliver vaccines to underserved communities and closely collaborate with other vaccination partners, for example pharmacies.
- Track progress to ensure that those who need vaccinations most are receiving them.
Health insurance providers will use their enrollee data, analytics, and capabilities, and will rely on a number of methods -- including government resources such as the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), -- to help identify the 25% most vulnerable communities. The SVI is a metric used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that considers 15 social factors across socioeconomic status, household composition and disability, minority status and language, and housing type and transportation.
Social index data will be paired with other data such as vaccination histories and the prevalence of chronic conditions, improving accuracy and efficiency in the effort. By tailoring the outreach approach to each community, health insurance providers will be able to best meet unique community needs.
For example, some communities may best be served by mobile clinics, language assistance or a combination of interventions. Others will benefit from health insurance providers who partner directly with ride share services to provide transportation to vaccine appointments at no cost to the member.
“Vaccines save lives, and health insurance providers have been working hard to break down barriers that stand between Americans and COVID-19 vaccines,” said Matt Eyles, AHIP president and CEO. “We will continue to work on that commitment with all levels of government and every organization that shares our goal until we defeat the COVID-19 crisis together.”
Private-Public Partnerships for Health Equity
The equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines demonstrates the critical importance of strong partnerships between the public sector and private market. Health insurance providers will rely on existing relationships, their ability to build strong networks within communities and among community leaders, and make connections across the health care system to provide access for America’s most vulnerable seniors 65+.
“The most vulnerable people in our country have suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 crisis and we are determined to end this inequity,” said Kim Keck, BCBSA president and CEO. “Through this initiative, we are committing our unique resources—our people, our data, and our enduring community ties—to quickly and equitably bring life-saving vaccines to those who need them most.”
This work and dedication to health equity will continue, and for people under age 65, as health insurance providers work to achieve community immunity for the country.
About COVID-19 Vaccines
For more information and resources related to COVID-19 vaccines, visit:
AHIP is the national association whose members provide coverage for health care and related services to hundreds of millions of Americans every day. Through these offerings, we improve and protect the health and financial security of consumers, families, businesses, communities and the nation. We are committed to market-based solutions and public-private partnerships that improve affordability, value, access, and well-being for consumers. Visit www.ahip.org for more information.