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CareFirst, Highmark debut labor union health insurance offering

Photo: John Fedele/Getty Images

Two Blues plans, CareFirst of Maryland and Highmark, have combined their efforts on a new health insurance offering designed specifically for labor unions and members.

The offering, dubbed “Union Blue,” has been created to meet union members’ “unique needs,” the companies said in a statement this week, with coverage set to begin in 2022. It features a labor-staffed service center providing coverage and specialized support to the labor market.

On their own, the two companies, which are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, already provide access to care to millions of Americans. CareFirst is a nonprofit and the largest health insurer in Maryland, Washington and Northern Virginia. Pittsburgh-based Highmark provides health insurance administration services across Pennsylvania, Western and Northeastern New York, West Virginia and Delaware.

Powered by data analytics, the goal of the new offering is to pinpoint union members’ needs so they can more proactively manage their care.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT?

The analytics, the companies said, will enable them to generate insights about labor members’ needs and help improve health outcomes.

Dedicated service to meet the needs of labor unions and members are among the health insurance administrative services being touted by the two insurers. They also promise to improve overall customer experience through simplified healthcare benefit products, as well as nationally-recognized services at a local level with access to more than 1.7 million providers.

Union Blue will also feature enhanced member care services, including a team of nationwide service advocates and registered nurses to provide personalized assistance, the companies said.

They added the solution is supported by an integrated data platform for “seamless coordination and management of care.”

THE LARGER TREND

Highmark in particular has seen a flurry of activity in recent months. In late July, the insurer announced the launch of Lumevity, a wholly owned subsidiary that offers consulting services to other businesses to help them achieve large-scale transformation.

Lumevity is a mixture of digital solutions, such as the automation of repetitive tasks and human resource engagement strategies that aim to engage employees towards a community mindset around transformation and the adoption of organizational effectiveness. Lumevity works with companies to link financial results and employee engagement. It is expected to create new revenue opportunities, Highmark said.

Earlier that month, Highmark said it is seeking state regulatory approval to purchase the remaining 50% of Gateway Health. 

In February, Highmark completed its affiliation with HealthNow New York, which is now branded as Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York and Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York.

In April, Highmark and ChristianaCare collaborated to create a data- and technology-led model of value-based care.

In October 2020, CareFirst acquired the University of Maryland’s Health Advantage Medicare dual-eligible special needs health plan and its Medicaid managed care organization, University of Maryland Health Partners. CareFirst acquired the health plans intact, so the 55,000 patients served by them may continue to see their network providers.

ON THE RECORD

“The communities we serve are home to so many labor unions and union members,” said Brian D. Pieninck, president and CEO of CareFirst. “We’ve worked with Highmark to create a best-in-class solution, delivering access to care that addresses their needs and leads to healthier outcomes. Together, our 360° approach and service expertise with the labor population will ensure we meet individuals wherever they are on the health continuum. Union Blue provides simplicity and personalized care backed by the valuable national resources of Blue.”

“We’re excited to work with CareFirst to build a solution that draws on our deep experience and is tailored to the unique needs of this market,” said Deborah L. Rice-Johnson, president of Highmark and chief growth officer.

“We’ve built a robust foundation of service and member experience for Union Blue to identify and manage a range of individual health conditions across a diverse population. As a result, we’re enabling multiple touchpoints for members to help lead to positive health outcomes.”
 

Twitter: @JELagasse
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