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Why primary care combined with insurance advice results in healthier communities

Originally published in The Tennessean, November 2022

When assessing our own health and heath care, or that of a loved one, many of us have likely asked:

  • Should I need urgent care, where will I go?
  • Will they accept my health insurance?
  • Will the care provided be affordable?
  • Am I properly focused on my day-to-day health?

Even with the pandemic waning, those questions linger. At BlueCross, we’ve learned that many of our members are best served and treated in a “one-stop shop” found right in their communities with operating hours convenient to their schedules.

Convenience is key

In 2020, we recognized that many areas across our state lacked convenient access to primary care. People needed options like expanded evening and weekend hours, same-day appointments, and walk-in care. We partnered with Sanitas, a leading multinational health organization, to open medical centers across the state — a new home for health care needs catering to those whose schedules didn’t permit taking time off during standard working hours. Sanitas offers preventive care, chronic condition management, vaccinations, pediatric services, women’s health services, and lab work  and diagnostic imaging services, to name a few.

Some of our members may not have previously associated Sanitas Medical Centers with BlueCross. Now, these eight medical centers in middle and west Tennessee have been renamed Blue of Tennessee with Sanitas Medical Center.

Members know when they walk in they’ll have a quality customer service experience from BlueCross and affordable care options from knowledgeable and compassionate Sanitas clinicians.

During these past two years, these experiences have resonated. From January through October of this year alone, Sanitas has managed more than 55,000 patient visits at Blue of Tennessee centers, directly and positively impacting the health of the communities we serve.

These centers have benefitted members who struggle with chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes,  allergies, diseases like respiratory infections, and access to screenings, wellness checks and vaccination. We’ve listened to feedback from members visiting the centers and learned that many people have questions about their insurance coverage when they’re receiving needed care.

Simplified solutions

Health care — and by extension, health insurance — can be complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. Our Blue of Tennessee locations have brought us closer than ever to our members and bridged that gap by spending more time with them face-to-face. After receiving overwhelming positive reception to the pilot, all Blue of Tennessee locations now have the added resource of an on-site BlueCross insurance advisor — advisors like Makailah Hunt, who says she loves being able to start a conversation with someone who may not know their options or what their plan covers.

Having a Blue of Tennessee insurance advisor onsite puts visitors at ease.  That comfort level only grows once the visitor sees our advisors take the time necessary to answer any questions and review all available options — without keeping one eye on the clock or whoever may be next in line.

It also helps the member know what they’ll be expected to pay, removing one unknown from the equation and helping them focus on the care need at hand. Members typically ask our advisors for a list of participating providers, a copy of their BlueCross ID card or general questions about their coverage.   

These advisors have shared that they felt their presence was most impactful when providing definitive answers.

The relief on our members’ faces is immediate and visible, a perfect example of fulfilling our mission as a not-for-profit health plan of peace of mind through better health.

We want communities to see Blue of Tennessee with Sanitas and know we’re there to help, right there at one site, all at one time. We want our members to know we respect their time — and that it holds the greatest possible value.

About Neda Long, Director of Strategy and Innovation

A photo of the authorNeda is responsible for identifying innovative strategies to support the BlueCross investment portfolio and culture of innovation. She brings high-quality, lower-cost health care solutions to our communities.

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