posted by Manda Sanders, VP of Medicare Retention & Satisfaction, Highmark
on February 15, 2021
For more than 80 years, Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc. has been dedicated to caring for the most vulnerable populations in the areas we serve, especially seniors. And never has this been more true than during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, 87% of our Medicare members have told us that having personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important or extremely important factor in going to their doctor’s office for non-urgent visits. So to help ensure that our senior members can go to their regular doctor’s visits, early on in the pandemic we sent face coverings to our Medicare members in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as part of our overall 1.3 million face mask donation program.
We also immediately implemented a multi-faceted plan to help our senior members cope with and navigate the crisis. This included making proactive phone calls to check in on the most vulnerable Medicare members who may live alone, have health issues, or be homebound and unable to get out for food or medications.
When we recognized that some Medicare members are facing issues with social isolation due to the pandemic, we launched the Highmark Helpers program to match those members with Highmark employee volunteers, who have committed to reach out to the members weekly over the phone to help ensure they are doing okay and have someone to talk to.
We also started a Pen Pal Program in collaboration with several senior high rises in Pennsylvania and West Virginia where employees and their children are volunteering to write regular letters back and forth with residents to help them feel more connected.
As spring and summer turned to fall, we sent out more than 250,000 “care packages” to current Medicare Advantage members filled with health-related items such as a thermometer, personal protective equipment, a first aid kit, hand sanitizer, and more to help senior members stay healthy during the cold and flu season. We also included a pulse oxygen meter in every kit—an important tool that doctors say can help COVID patients monitor whether they need to go to the hospital.
And during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) this past fall, we implemented extensive safety measures in our Highmark Direct retail stores so that seniors could come in and talk with someone face to face about their Medicare options. We also rolled out teletownhalls and webinars for our members to find information virtually about our Medicare plans, in addition to the options of calling us or finding information on our website.
We also want to make sure that our senior members can receive care when they need it, so all of our Medicare Advantage members will have $0 copays for hospitalizations related to COVID in 2021, and will have no costs for COVID tests or vaccines.
These are just some of the ways we are repaying the trust our senior members have in us to make sure they have access to the care and information they need.