Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Adds No-Cost Community Health Worker Services to Commercial Plans
Insurer Becomes First in State to Expand Reach of Health Care Liaisons Beyond Public Programs
As part of a continuing effort to improve the health of members by addressing the societal factors that impact health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) announced it will become the first insurer in the state offering no-cost coverage of community health worker benefits to commercial health plan members.
Beginning on January 1, 2022, Blue Cross will cover services delivered by community health workers across all fully insured commercial health plans. These include Individual and Family plans − both on and off MNsure − in addition to small and large fully insured employer groups (plans in which Blue Cross designs the benefit structure and pays for covered health care costs). Commercial plans in which employers design their own health benefits and pay for their own health care costs known as self-insured plans will also have this new benefit available for 2022.
Community health worker programs focus on culturally appropriate assistance and education provided by front-line public health professionals who work in conjunction with primary care providers. Additionally, community health workers serve as trusted liaisons between individuals, the health care system, health insurers and social service agencies. Through community outreach, social support and patient advocacy, community health workers are key to bridging gaps in communication and improving health outcomes in communities with cultural and language barriers.
“Navigating the complexities of the health care ecosystem is even more challenging when facing cultural, language, and other sociodemographic barriers that affect our members’ health,” said Dr. Mark Steffen, chief medical officer at Blue Cross. “Community health workers play a crucial role in advancing health outcomes and reducing inequities that disproportionally affect BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) communities.”
“Community health workers have been instrumental in helping our Medicaid members achieve their optimal health for more than a decade,” said Paul Valley, vice president of commercial sales. “By expanding this benefit to our commercial member population, Blue Cross is taking a significant step toward making health care more equitable, sustainable and affordable for all.”