COVID-19: Regence companies support at-risk members

Published April 8, 2020

Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies share lessons learned as one of the first health plans in the country to address coronavirus (COVID-19).

When the coronavirus first appeared in the U.S., it was in Washington state, when a 35-year-old man returned home from a trip to Wuhan, China. He tested positive for COVID-19 on January 20.

Shortly thereafter—nearly two months before the World Health Organization (WHO) would declare the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic—Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies (Regence*) began responding to the COVID-19 health crisis and supporting members in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah, as well as elsewhere.

Protecting at-risk members

The first priority in the early days of the outbreak was to protect the most vulnerable members: older adults and anyone with severe underlying conditions. This was especially important in Washington, one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Using claims data to identify this population, case managers began contacting their high-risk members in late January. In addition to helping screen for symptoms of COVID-19, case managers have been providing education on the best ways to protect members and their families from the virus. They also ensure that members have the care and support they need from a clinical perspective, while addressing the social determinants that can negatively impact an individual’s health, such as food insecurity.

"People are looking for reliable information and advice from sources they trust, which thankfully includes Regence and the outreach we’ve done," says Jamie Halstead, Regence’s director of clinical services. "Our members appreciate that we are proactively addressing their health needs, including COVID-19 pandemic education and safety protocol recommendations through our case managers."

Supporting all members 

As the coronavirus has spread, Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies' case management teams have also supported its members who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Upon learning of a member's positive diagnosis, case managers reach out offering personalized support. They continue to actively monitor the spread of coronavirus across the communities, and are taking actions to support members during this unsettling time, such as covering the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment, and expanding access to prescription medications and virtual care with primary care and behavioral health providers.

*Regence BlueCross BlueShield, Regence Blue Shield and Regence BlueShield of Idaho are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. We refer to them collectively as Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in this article. Learn more about Regence BlueCross BlueShield companies' efforts to support their members through the coronavirus pandemic.