Healthcare News & Stories

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Individual/Family

Why Health Insurance Is Important & What Options You Have

You never plan to get sick or have a medical condition. So when the unexpected happens, having health insurance can give you peace of mind.
Health insurance also helps you maintain good health. People with health insurance are more likely to stick to routine care or check-ups when something seems a little off.
Here are a few stories from members sharing how health insurance has helped them in times of need:
HealthPlans of NC

James LaCorte

2 people shaking hands
Health

Real Men Go To Therapy: Know The Signs Of Depression In Men

Growing up I saw men in my family struggle with real emotions and avoid most deep conversations. I partly blame this on my Italian heritage, where men are expected to work hard, avoid feelings and push through pain. In my family, a man’s role was to provide and protect the family at all costs. If you showed any sign of weakness, that meant you were not in control.
As a kid I straddled two worlds: one trying to be the man that I thought was expected of me, and the other wanting to be able to express my feelings. I was an emotional kid, and I know it was hard for my dad to relate to me.
My emotions were all over the place:
HealthPlans of NC

James LaCorte via Blue Cross NC

Person at the doctor
Health

3 Tips For Coping With Chronic Illness

When I was 26, I got sick, and I never got better.
Several years later, I still haven’t gotten used to living with a chronic illness. I’ve never had a moment of radical acceptance. I’ve never woken up and said, “Ah, yes, I get it now! This is all part of a grand plan! It all makes sense!”
What I have done is learned to live a meaningful life within my limitations. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen.
HealthPlans of NC

Emilie Poplett via Blue Cross NC

Cartoon crowd of people
Health

We Can't Ignore Racism In Healthcare

When we talk about racism, some people say, “You’re an insurance company. What does race have to do with anything?”
It’s a good question, and the answer is: a lot.
Some people may be surprised to find out how much race impacts health. For example:
HealthPlans of NC

Qi Zhou

Blue Cross
Health

Blue Cross NC to Allow Early Prescription Refills for Members Across the State Due to Inclement Weather

DURHAM, N.C. – In response to the winter storm affecting North Carolina, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is allowing early prescription refills to ensure that customers have access to the prescription drugs they need. This action is in effect for the entire state under a state of emergency declared today by Gov. Roy Cooper. Effective immediately, early prescription refills are available to customers in all 100 North Carolina counties until Gov. Cooper ends the state of emergency declaration. This policy also applies to Blue Cross NC members in other states of emergency, outside of North Carolina, connected to this winter storm.
“All North Carolinians should focus on protecting themselves and their families, without added stress,” said Blue Cross NC President and CEO Dr. Tunde Sotunde. “The procedures we have initiated will help our customers get the medications they need during and after the winter storm.”
Members with questions about their coverage may log in to their self-service portal at blueconnectnc.com to send a secure message or contact the customer service number on the back of their Blue Cross NC ID card. As the winter storm impacts the state, Blue Cross NC will continue to update customers through the company’s social media channels.
HealthPlans of NC

Blue Cross NC Media Center

ACA Affordable Care Act
Individual/Family

ACA Opens Special Enrollment Period In Response To COVID-19: What You Need To Know

If you missed open enrollment for Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance, you now have another opportunity to sign up. 
On January 28, President Biden issued an Executive Order on strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act: 
“In light of the exceptional circumstances caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider establishing a Special Enrollment Period for uninsured and under-insured Americans to seek coverage through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace.” 
HealthPlans of NC

Leslie Mckinney via Blue Cross

People's silhouettes
Health

Struggle, Progress & Strength: Recognizing Black History Month At Blue Cross NC

Speaking on the progress of Black women in the late 1800s, Mary Church Terrell said, “And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long.”1 
Progress can be a complicated thing. The non-linear process of it, the perceived need, the actual need, the expectation of it and the experience of it vary. It looks different from person to person, organization to organization and community to community. For some, progress is a scary thing. It can threaten comfort zones and the status quo. For others, progress is as important as air and is needed for survival.  
This concept of progress and the different meanings it holds can apply to almost any aspect of our lives. We seek progress in health and wellbeing, personal relationships, workplaces, and communities and systems in which we live and operate. And champions of progress can seek it for personal aspirations, or for a greater, much larger purpose, “lifting as they climb,” as Mary spoke.  
HealthPlans of NC

Archele Moore via Blue Cross

Vaccine image
Health

Why I Chose To Get The COVID-19 Vaccine: One Army Doctor Speaks Out

I felt fortunate this past month to have the opportunity to virtually sit down with Dr. Michael Minogue (“Mike”) to talk about his decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine. When our conversation began, I had no idea he was readying himself for deployment within the next three weeks. That left just enough time for him to receive his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and then head out.  
Dr. Minogue has been practicing medicine for nearly 30 years. He is a medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. He works part-time in the Durham Veteran Affairs Emergency Department. Dr. Minogue also serves in the Army Reserve as an emergency medicine doctor and a volunteer at Samaritan Health Center, a clinic for the underserved in our community.   
As a health care professional, Dr. Minogue was one of the first North Carolinians vaccinated in December 2020. Here’s what he shared about his decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 
HealthPlans of NC

Charlene Macielag via Blue Cross NC

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion It's who we are
Health

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Our Work Doesn't Stop!

We know racism and discrimination lead to health disparities and impact the health and safety of our employees, members and communities. Health inequity impacts all North Carolinians. North Carolina is consistently in the lower percentile of state health rankings. *Data shows our state’s health system ranked #36 of 50 states and #46 of 50 states for disparities. Think about that – #46 of 50 states. To ensure healthy communities for generations to come, we must work to transition from the bottom quartile to the top quartile.
At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), we cannot fulfill our mission to improve the health and well-being of our customers and communities without explicitly addressing disparities and health inequities. While we’ve laid groundwork as a company on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts for more than a decade, our work does not stop.
Like many companies, this summer we released a message standing against racism. We commissioned an internal task force to think about what Blue Cross NC should and can be doing for:
HealthPlans of NC

Tunde Sotunde

Person wearing a mask getting a vaccine
Health

Get The Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines: 5 Rumors Debunked

Recently the FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Since then, you may have heard rumors about their safety and effectiveness on social media or from people you know.
It’s reasonable to have concerns about a new vaccine.
To help you separate fact from fiction, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Medical Directors are breaking down some of the most common myths.
HealthPlans of NC

Blue Cross NC

We resolve to make total health a priority
Health

How To Manage OCD & Anxiety During The COVID-19 Outbreak

We’ve all heard people joke about their “OCD tendencies.” You might think of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as a mild problem, or even a helpful behavior for “neat freaks.” But the truth is that OCD is a serious behavioral health condition. It impacts nearly 1 in 40 (or 2 to 3 million) adults in the United States at some point in their lives. It can significantly impact a person’s relationships with others, their work or school, and their sense of self.
We talked with Dr. Patrick McGrath, Head of Clinical Services at NOCD to learn more about this behavioral health condition during COVID-19.
Q: What impact has COVID-19 had on people with anxiety and OCD?
HealthPlans of NC

Chelsea Moravek and Susan Foosness

Person wearing a mask looking out a window
Health

Fear Of COVID-19 Vaccines Is Real - Should It Be?

A few days ago, I talked to a relative who has chosen not to get a COVID-19 vaccine. When I asked her why she doesn’t want it, she shared that she’s terrified of what the vaccine would do to her.
When I listened to my relative speak, I could hear the fear in her voice. And it was real.
Of course, there are a lot of other reasons why people aren’t getting vaccinated. They’re making a political statement, they don’t have easy access to the vaccine, or they just don’t like being told what to do. But for millions of people, the number one roadblock is fear. But what’s driving that fear?
HealthPlans of NC

By Emilie Poplett via Blue Cross NC

Person holding a tissue to their nose
Health

Prepare For The Dual Hit Of Flu & COVID-19

The signs are everywhere. If leaves are falling, you’re probably seeing messages to get your flu shot. This year, that recommendation takes on even greater importance. The coming flu season on top of the COVID-19 pandemic could put more people at risk for severe illness and overwhelm doctor offices and hospitals just as COVID-19 infections are expected to start rising again.
It’s especially troubling since people may be postponing their annual physicals or putting off regular vaccinations. But getting your flu shot is one way to protect yourself – and others – this winter.
COVID-19 vs. influenza: What’s the difference?
HealthPlans of NC

Dr. Larry Wu

We resolve to make health care better.
Health

How Blue Cross NC Is Reshaping Behavioral Healthcare In NC

We’re transforming behavioral health treatment for our members and our state.
Even before the onset of COVID-19, our country was struggling to effectively diagnose and treat behavioral health issues, which include mental health and substance use disorders. Suicide rates were on the rise, drug overdose deaths were dramatically increasing, and life expectancies for people with serious mental illness were lower before the pandemic began to impact our lives and well-being.[1]
Now, as 53% of adults report that their mental health has been negatively affected by worry and stress over the coronavirus, it is more important than ever to find innovative solutions to the behavioral health issues facing our state.[2]
HealthPlans of NC

Via Blue Cross NC By Ish Bhalla

Woman covering her eyes beside a window in winter
Health

When Pandemic Blues & Seasonal Depression Collide

The fall season brings cooler temperatures and changing leaves. But the shift from summer to fall also brings an adjustment for our bodies and minds: the end of daylight savings.
For all my non-Americans, or if you live under a rock (in which case you don’t see the sun anyway), daylight savings is when clocks are set an hour ahead in warmer months and set an hour back on colder months.
The end of Daylight Savings (which happens on November 1, 2020) means that it gets darker earlier in the day. This shift can place extra stress on people who are prone to seasonal depression.
HealthPlans of NC

Zachary Newcastle

Thanksgiving family waving at smartphone
Health

7 Creative Ways To Celebrate The Holidays Safely During COVID-19

To keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from COVID-19, many of us are staying home for the holidays this year. The CDC has put out guidelines for planning our winter holidays that typically involve large gatherings of family and friends, like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year’s. And North Carolina remains in Phase 3 of COVID-19 precautions, which limits indoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer. While this year will undoubtedly look different from years past, our holiday celebrations can still be meaningful and enjoyable. We want to help you have a safe, healthy and fun holiday season. So, we asked Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina employees for some creative ideas to enjoy the season, 2020-style. Here’s what they said.
1. Send everyone a “build your own tacky sweater” kit.
You can buy these online or make your own. If making your own, try supplies like felt, buttons, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, stickers and a sewing kit! Then connect with your family or friends on video chat for crafting sessions leading up to the holidays.
HealthPlans of NC

Emilie Poplett

Person looking at a smartphone beside a Christmas tree
Health

Spending The Holidays Alone? 3 Tips To Take Care Of Your Mental Health

QUICK READ
With COVID-19 cases rising, many of us have chosen to stay home for the holidays. This might bring up feelings of sadness or loneliness.
To cope with difficult feelings, make a self-care plan ahead of time.
HealthPlans of NC

Emilie Poplett

People wearing masks at an airport
Health

10 Holiday Traveling Tips To Keep You Safe From COVID-19

I’m tired of COVID-19! If I hear one more person use the term “new normal,” I’m going to cry. I can’t accept this is our “new normal,” and I’m ready for things to go back to the “real normal. ”But for now, COVID-19 has other plans. If you’d told me in February that come the end of the year, we’d be making our holiday plans around COVID-19, I would’ve thought you were crazy. But here we are. During the holidays many of us travel to visit family and friends. In 2019 55 million Americans travelled during Thanksgiving, and at Christmas, 115 million Americans travelled. That is a lot of us travelling! Recently the CDC shared that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19. You can spread COVID-19 to others for 14 days after you are exposed to the virus. And studies are showing that even those without symptoms can have longer-term health complications from COVID-19.My family has decided to stay home for the holidays. While that is the right choice for our situation, yours may be different. Whatever you decide, stay safe and I hope these tips help you during your travels.
IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING TRAVELING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, HERE ARE TEN THINGS TO CONSIDER.
1. Check the number of cases for the last seven days in the state you want to travel to and determine if you are comfortable with the trend.
HealthPlans of NC

James LaCorte

Flu Shot calendar
Health

No Flu For You: 5 Flu Shot Myths Debunked

It’s that time of year; flu season is upon us. That means flu shots.
Maybe you’re ready to go and are rushing to Target because they’re offering discounts to shoppers who get the flu shot as an incentive. Great! You know the importance of getting the flu shot, not just for yourself but for your loved ones, too.
But maybe you’re not so ready. Maybe you’ve heard something that’s swayed your opinion this year. Something that scared you or made you think twice. We get it. Every year rumors circulate about getting vaccinated, from the outlandish to the plausible. And it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not, especially in this age of lightning fast communications.
HealthPlans of NC

Allison Bonner

People wearing masks delivering groceries
Health

Supporting Our Seniors Amid COVID-19

North Carolina seniors are at risk. Here’s how we’re helping support them.
Adjusting to our new routines during COVID-19 looks different for everyone. For some, it’s fewer trips to the mall or more meals at home. But for at-risk individuals, it can mean complete isolation.
As we now know, COVID-19 causes the most severe health issues for adults over 60, with particularly fatal results for those 80 years and older. This is forcing many senior citizens in our communities to stay indoors. While it helps limit coronavirus exposure, it also limits interactions with friends and family.
HealthPlans of NC

Blue Cross NC

Open Enrollment Dates
Individual/Family

Open Enrollment: Are You Ready?

Ready to enroll in a healthcare plan or update your coverage during the 2021 Annual Enrollment Period?
Health Plans of NC Independent Agents provide full service by addressing all of your questions when choosing a healthcare plan at NO COST TO YOU– including applying for financial assistance to reduce your cost. Why spend time searching for answers online when you can speak to someone directly and get quick and concise answers?
Our agents are with you through the entire enrollment process from plan comparison and selection, subsidy applications if applicable and any document uploads required. Our job is to make it as easy as possible for you to choose a plan that fits both your budget and healthcare needs for you and/or your family. We even have multilingual agents (Spanish and Korean) that can make the process go more smoothly.
HealthPlans of NC

Health Plans of NC Staff

We resolve to make health care simpler.
Individual/Family

3 Questions To Ask Before Picking A Health Insurance Plan

Health insurance can be complicated. We’re here to help make it easier. If you’re choosing a plan during this year’s open enrollment period, we can help walk you through the process.
Open enrollment begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through December 15, 2020. With only a month and a half to select a plan that works for you, it’s best to get started early.
As you research plans, here are three questions to ask:
HealthPlans of NC

Blue Cross NC

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Medicare

Turning 65 Soon? Here's What You Need To Know About Medicare

The year was 1953 and Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated as the 34th President of the US.
The world was introduced to “007” as the first James Bond novel was published, and Walt Disney’s animated film Peter Pan premiered in theatres.
In 1953, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II occurred in Westminster Abbey, London, England. That same year, “TV Guide” published its 1st issue, featuring actors Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s newborn son, Desi Arnaz Jr.
HealthPlans of NC

Chris Privett

Pivot Health Coach app
Health

Blue Cross NC Launches No-Cost Virtual Programs For Members To Quit Smoking & Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

DURHAM, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) announced it is teaming up with Carrot Inc. and Virta Health to help address two of the largest ongoing health issues facing Americans today – smoking and type 2 diabetes. These programs will be available at no additional cost to eligible members beginning November 2020. They support Blue Cross NC’s commitment to make health care better, simpler, and more affordable by providing members easy access to care through digital technology.
“We resolve to make whole person care a priority, and that means we have to think beyond treating conditions, and work to prevent and reverse them,” said Von Nguyen, vice president of clinical operations and innovations at Blue Cross NC. “We are excited to team up with Carrot and Virta and bring their innovative, life-changing programs directly to the homes of our members and address some of North Carolina’s most pressing health issues.”
Virta and Carrot’s programs will be available to individual under-65 members and fully insured group members beginning November 2020.
HealthPlans of NC

Blue Cross NC Media Center

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