Edith Costanza believes in positivity and helping others, whether through her work or her general outlook on life.
When the BlueAdvantage member found herself in dire need of assistance with affordable prescription medication, she was relieved that BlueCross was there to take as much time as needed to answer her every question and provide her with options.
“It’s so important to be as positive with people as one can, because you want people to treat you as you would want to be treated,” she says. “I’m fortunate in that I’ve had several such experiences with BlueCross.”
Edith, a Texas native and Nashville resident for the past 42 of her 70 years, works as a navigator for Tennessee Reconnect. The statewide program connects people interested in obtaining a certification or associate’s degree with a college advisor.
On the side, she’s a professional actress with an agent and numerous credits – a journey that has required no small degree of patience.
“So many people get discouraged because they are not overnight successes,” Edith says. “I certainly don’t want to discredit those feelings. But I’m one of those people who just loves acting, any kind of acting. Every year I get a few things, and a few things more, and it just adds up.”
She’s appeared in films, commercials, music videos, voiceovers, industrial training videos, even a marketing campaign for BlueCross this past summer – an experience that compelled her to share her positive service experience from months earlier.
Knowing when to ask for help
Edith became a BlueAdvantage member in 2016, but has lived with Crohn’s disease since 2000. The disease went into remission in 2003 thanks to treatment with medication but came back strong earlier this year.
On May 25, 2018 – that date is etched in Edith’s memory – she was in need of help and called BlueCross.
“I was recovering from a colonoscopy, I was tired from the Crohn’s, and I have to admit, I was not in the best head space,” Edith recalls.
After going to pick up her prescription medication, she received news that made her feel much worse.
“One of the medications was $500,” she says. “The other was $75 a month. I was shocked and speechless that the medications cost that much. I said, ‘I’m not doing this. I am not paying what equals an entire paycheck for this medicine. I would just rather just go.’”
Accompanied to the pharmacy by a lifelong friend, Edith says cooler heads prevailed. “We both thought about it for a minute, and decided I should call BlueCross to find out if there were comparable medications in the formulary.”
Tiara to the rescue
Upon calling, Edith was immediately connected to Tiara Simpson, customer service representative in the Senior Care division.
“Tiara was wonderful,” Edith says. “She could tell immediately how upset I was, and that I simply did not feel well on top of that. She listened to my story. She took 30 minutes of complete patience with me to look through the formulary and came up with a list of comparable substitute medications that I could discuss with my doctor.”
“Time, listening and options are the three key things that I got from that experience.”
For Tiara, who joined BlueCross a year and a half ago, her experience with Edith is indicative of her service philosophy: make a connection with someone, take as much time as necessary to meet their needs and make them feel like family.
“Very often I’ll get on the phone with a member, and their instinct is to apologize to me because they think they’re taking up too much of my time,” Tiara says. “I always say, ‘Don’t apologize to me! What are you talking about? Let’s have a conversation. We’re not on a timer.’”
Tiara has a personal connection to the work she does every day. Her mother passed away when she was 7, and she was subsequently raised by her grandmother.
“I love my grandmother – she is literally my best friend,” Tiara says. “She’s 87, and she’s experienced so much. And I look at my members like they’re my grandparents. They’ve experienced so much, and all they want to do is enjoy their lives with no stress, no worry. So my personal process is just to sincerely ask, ‘Hey, how are you doing? How can I help you?’”
“Sometimes you can get emotional with the situations they’re going through, because you treat them like family. It can affect you.”
Edith’s struggles with affordable medications resonated with Tiara.
“A lot of seniors have trouble with their medications,” Tiara says. “I’ve had seniors tell me, ‘I have to choose whether I want to get my medications or eat.’ Whenever you go through those claims and look at those prices, you realize how expensive some of these medications are for people on limited incomes.”
Even with her awareness of those challenges, Tiara still begins each member interaction with the same initial step.
“The best process is to listen, and then really put yourself into the situation,” she says. “You have to shoot straight with the member but fight with the situation, because you want it resolved.”
Fortunately, a resolution to Edith’s situation was achievable.
Removing stress leads to recovery mode
On May 26, the day after her conversation with Tiara, Edith called her doctor to discuss other medication options and landed on a more affordable treatment plan. Today she’s managing her Crohn’s through medication, improved diet and more rest. Her energy levels are improving, and the calls from her agent for acting opportunities are regular.
“I’m grateful as I can be to the doctor, but more so for that experience with BlueCross,” Edith says. “It makes me trust that if I have to have surgery, or if things go wrong, I can turn to my insurer that I know will help me, and that’s important to me.”
Tiara beams when told of Ms. Costanza’s improved condition and kind words.
“I’d just like to thank Ms. Costanza for being awesome,” Tiara says. “Ever since I found out she’s an actress, I’ve been keeping an eye out for her on commercials!”
Edith has some advice for everyone:
“Never underestimate the impact that just one person can have on another,” she says.
“Some of us live by the idea that we want to make a difference. I’m one of those people, and I know Tiara is one of those people, as well. She made a huge difference not just in my day, but in my attitude and my future. ”