Author: Kim Keck
Since March 2020, it’s been a long, hard journey. We’ve lost nearly 650,000 people to COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, with an unconscionable, disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations and communities of color. The pandemic has tested the healthcare system, the strength of our communities and how we respond in times of crisis and hardship.
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) companies have always been there for the communities we serve, and when the pandemic struck, we took immediate and wide-ranging action to support our members, their loved ones and their neighborhoods. We invested more than $11.5 billion in the fight against COVID-19, including rapidly expanding telehealth, assisting in testing and distributing millions of PPE supplies to essential workers.
Responding to unique local needs
If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that local needs shift and public health resources ebb and flow—and local leaders are best positioned to understand these needs. The Blues’ local connections and deep relationships with community leaders informed how we could meet critical needs at the right time. Whether it was establishing and supporting mass vaccination efforts or helping identify homebound members to make sure they had access to care, we balanced widescale efforts with individualized approaches to ensure people received the help they needed.
It’s not over, and we’re not done
Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen the Delta variant cause a rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths once again. This reinforces our mission to help vaccinate as many Americans as possible so we can reignite our progress and see this pandemic end as soon as possible. To help continue this work, we’ve partnered with Feeding America and its network of 200 food banks to provide trusted information about COVID-19 vaccinations, and we joined forces with AHIP to help vaccinate more than 2 million seniors in under 100 days through the Vaccine Community Connectors program. Our focus is on reaching vulnerable and underserved populations to accelerate vaccinations in an equitable way.
The COVID-19 pandemic has both underscored and exacerbated unacceptable racial health disparities that have gone on for too long, and BCBS companies are committed to changing the trajectory of these disparities for the long term.
Within our Community Investment Report, you will find stories demonstrating our work to advance affordable and accessible healthcare throughout the pandemic. As we continue to fight through this unprecedented public health crisis, we are partnering with our communities to reimagine a more equitable healthcare system for the future. We’ll continue to build on our efforts to create a sustainable impact for generations to come—for the one in three Americans we serve, and for the health of America.