Healthcare News & Stories

Health

Couple talking to a therapist
Health, Mental Health

How To Find A Therapist If You've Never Had One Before

Mental health professionals are in high demand right now. Given that we’re eighteen months into a deadly global pandemic, this is no surprise. Many of us are grieving the loss of loved ones, jobs, plans, and normalcy. And if that’s not hard enough, the stresses of our everyday lives haven’t stopped.
At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), your total health is our top priority, now more than ever, including your mental and emotional health.
If you’re struggling with your mental health and need some extra support, you’re not alone. Studies show that the rate of anxiety and depression has risen significantly among American adults during the pandemic. And our children’s mental health is suffering, too.
HealthPlans of NC

via Blue Cross NC by Emilie Poplett

Coworkers
Health, Covid 19

Has The Pandemic Made You Consider A Job Change?

Has the pandemic made you rethink your priorities?
Are you considering a job change or possibly working for yourself? Health insurance benefits and your cost share could play a large role in your decision. Here is what you need to know.
How will a job change impact your health insurance coverage?
HealthPlans of NC

Health Plans of NC Staff

Person wearing a mask in a grocery store
Health, Covid 19

Do I Still Need A Mask? Breaking Down The COVID-19 Delta Variant & New Masking Guidelines

With the state slowly reopening, it can be difficult to know where and when to wear a mask. Does it matter if you’re vaccinated? What if you have kids who aren’t? How do the new COVID variants play in?
These are common questions. We’re here to help you make sense of the latest guidelines so you can keep yourself, your family, and your community safe.
The Delta variant is more contagious than previous strains of covid-19.
HealthPlans of NC

via Blue Cross NC by Dr. Von Nguyen

People wearing masks in front of a school bus
Health

A Mom's Perspective On Managing A Pandemic Back-To-School Season

One morning in early April – for the first time in 390 days – I packed two lunches, made sure my kids had on their school uniforms, loaded them in the car and took our place in the morning carline.
I was glad for my face mask to hide my emotions as a teacher checked their temperatures and they headed up the stairs to their school building – my fifth grade son with a protective arm around his kindergartner sister, a purple Post-It note with her name and her teacher’s name on her chest.
She’d never been inside the building as a student before.
HealthPlans of NC

Maggie Brown via Blue Cross NC

Mother and child wearing masks
Health, Mental Health

7 Tips: Helping Children Overcome Anxieties About Returning To School

My eldest son is 11 years old. After months of home learning, he returned to the classroom last fall. The transition back to the classroom came earlier for our family than for most, but it was still marked by tremendous anxiety for my son. Being with peers isn’t always easy.
Many of us eagerly anticipate the moment when we can gather in groups again. We crave that vital sense of connection to our loved ones, to our peers and to our community. But that doesn’t mean reintegrating into social settings will be easy. It can be especially scary for children.
My son’s reluctance is not an isolated tale. Incidents of children refusing to return to group settings are on the rise. In particular, many parents have noted that their children with anxiety disorders were happier and more comfortable at home. While the pandemic has left most children feeling more stressed, we know that some children with social anxiety or OCD have actually been happier in social isolation.
HealthPlans of NC

Blue Cross NC By Nora Dennis

Person looking at their phone
Health, Covid 19

How To Tell Fact From Fiction With COVID-19 Information

KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FACT AND FICTION COULD SAVE LIVES.
The internet has given us access to information faster than ever. Unfortunately, that information is not always accurate. And the spread of misinformation has real consequences on our health care decisions.
In recent years, misinformation has proliferated throughout the internet. It can seem impossible to differentiate what is true and what isn’t. When COVID-19 arrived, public trust in institutions was already dwindling. That created the perfect storm for misinformation to spread, at a time when the difference between fact and fiction could save lives.
HealthPlans of NC

via Blue Cross NC by Zachary Newcastle

Woman with mask giving a thumbs up
Health, Covid 19

What To Expect With Your Child's COVID-19 Vaccine

Parents’ Questions, Answered
By now, you probably know that COVID-19 vaccines are available to kids and teens 12 and up.1 For many of us, the choice to get vaccinated was fairly straightforward. Making that choice for our kids, however, may feel more complicated.We want to help you find the information you need to make that decision. As always, we recommend talking to your child’s pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for kids and teens?
HealthPlans of NC

Kristi Edwards via Blue Cross NC

Canoe on a lake at sunset
Health

If You're Looking For Summer Adventure, Try Paddling With These Beginner-Friendly Tips

It’s too hot to be outdoors?
Not if you’re near water. Or better yet, on it.
Sure, you might think. If you have a boat.
HealthPlans of NC

By Joe Miller via Blue Cross NC

People smiling in business clothes
Health, Medicare

Get More Benefits With Dual Medicaid-Medicare D-SNP Plans

Dual Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs) are specialized Medicare Advantage plans for people with
both Medicare and Medicaid and typically offer many extra benefits and features beyond
Original Medicare.
HealthPlans of NC

Health Plans of NC, Kelly Quinn

Child at the dentist
Health

How To Take Charge Of Your Dental & Vision Health Coverage

We all understand the importance of going to the doctor when we are feeling unwell or for our annual checkup. But what about making sure that our teeth and eyes are healthy too?
If you’re working on your health by getting annual physicals, eating healthier, or exercising, you should consider taking care of your dental health and vision care as well. It makes a difference.
Why Dental Care Matters
HealthPlans of NC

Payden Wilhemson via Blue Cross NC

Person hiking with dog
Health, Wellness, Mental Health

6 Surprising Ways Hiking Can Improve Your Mental Health

It’s curious how well-versed we are in the physical benefits of hiking. The activity can:
Reduce the risk of heart disease
Reduce your risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure. (Hiking regularly has been shown to lower blood pressure by 4 to 10 points.)
HealthPlans of NC

From Blue Cross NC By Joe Miller

People laughing together
Health

Conversations With A Compassion Warrior: A Social Worker On LGBTQ+ Mental Health

In discussing LGBTQ+ behavioral health, centering the voices of LGBTQ+ behavioral health specialists is essential.
We reached out to Hayden Dawes LCSW, LCAS to clarify the role of health plans in supporting whole health for our LGBTQ+ members. Here’s what he had to say.
Helpful terms
HealthPlans of NC

By Nora Dennis via Blue Cross NC

Child being fitted for hearing aids
Health, Medicare

What's The Difference Between Medicare & Medicaid? Find Out If You're Eligible

I admit that I didn’t fully understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid before I started working in health care. I know I’m not alone. It’s confusing, and I’ve come to realize that many people are unfamiliar with how each one works.
It’s important that we understand the options and benefits each program provides, as well as recent changes and enhancements that will offer not only increased access to health care, but better value for North Carolinians.
But first, let’s begin with the basic questions. What is Medicare? What is Medicaid?
HealthPlans of NC

From Blue Cross NC By Brian Edmonds

Family hiking
Health, Wellness

Need Last-Minute Ideas For Celebrating Mother's Day? Take A Hike Your Mother Will Like!

In a tizzy over what to do for mom for Mother’s Day? It’s simple, really: she just wants to be with the family. And what better family activity is there, especially in spring, than taking a hike together!
Here are five hikes across the state that are especially good for a Mother’s Day outing. Included are the miles of trail available and a link for additional information.
1. Flower Hill Nature Preserve, Johnston County
HealthPlans of NC

via Blue Cross NC by Joe Miller

Spring buds on a branch
Health, Wellness

5 Places To Find Spring In North Carolina

The temperature was in the 50s, the sky a blue we haven’t seen much of this year. I was scanning the ground along the Pump Station Trail, eager for signs of spring. It was the third week of February, late by seasonal norms for the first sign of spring’s first responders: the spring beauty, its five rounded pedals scanning the sky for sun like a satellite dish seeking a signal, and the trout lily, with its delicate fingers of crimson and yellow. Alas, the best I could do was one mottled leaf of a trout lily, barely penetrating the leaf litter. Spring was on the cusp.
And that’s OK, because when spring-like weather finally hits — when temperatures reach the 60s for two or three days straight and the sun quits being coy, we’re in for quite the show.
Ah, but where to catch the show that represents the psychological start of spring? Today, we look at five spots with excellent odds for spotting memorable ephemerals.
HealthPlans of NC

Joe Miller via Blue Cross NC

Person taking their temperature
Health, Covid 19

3 Things You Need To Know About Breakthrough COVID-19 Infections

You may have heard in the news recently about “breakthrough cases,” or vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19.
If you’re vaccinated, you might be worrying about whether your vaccine will hold up against the more contagious delta variant.
If you’re not vaccinated, you might be wondering why you should get vaccinated if you could get infected with COVID anyway.
HealthPlans of NC

via Blue Cross NC by Dr. Von Nguyen

2 people shaking hands
Health, Wellness, Mental 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, Blue Cross NC

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, Wellness, Mental 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

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

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, Covid 19

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, Wellness, Mental 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, Covid 19, Wellness

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

Ready to get started?
Get a free quote today.
Get Started