Carbon Health, Firefly Health to offer some Blue Cross MA members free mental health services

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (Blue Cross MA) will allow some of its commercial health plan members to receive free comprehensive virtual care starting in the new year.

The nonprofit health plan announced partnerships Friday with virtual primary care companies Carbon Health and Firefly Health. These partnerships include mental health services alongside other primary care services.

To qualify for no-cost virtual visits through the Virtual Care Team Feature, Blue Cross MA members in HMO plans must designate a Carbon Health or Firefly Health provider as their primary care provider instead of an office-based provider. According to a news release, plan members who qualify for a health savings account must first meet their deductible.

The partnership is something of a departure from Carbon Health’s approach to mental health services. It does not work in-network with health plans and charges $99 for 50-minute telehealth sessions. Firefly Health is in-network with several commercial health plans, according to its website.

“More consumers are using virtual care and enjoying its benefits, including greater convenience and affordability,” Blue Cross MA Chief Commercial Officer Patrick Gilligan said in the release. “We are excited to offer members access to two primary care practices that offer the most comprehensive virtual primary care models we have seen.

“They go beyond traditional primary care to help members take control of their health in a way that’s convenient and fits their lifestyle.”

Patients participating in the virtual integrated care program have access to care and communication 24/7 through a mobile app and website. personalized wellness training. and, in some cases, medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs.

Using our virtual model, we believe patients can have expanded access to their providers for superior care and support while seeing unparalleled satisfaction, better health outcomes and lower costs.

— Firefly Health CEO Fay Rotenberg

The move aims to reduce patient costs, improve the customer experience and increase access to primary care, the release said.

Dr. Ashley Yeats, vice president of medical operations for Blue Cross MA, said virtual primary care is a safe way to reach patients who don’t tend to work with primary care providers. He also said that previous research shows that patients with connections to a primary care provider tend to have better health outcomes and lower costs.

The integration of behavioral health into primary care is a nascent but rapidly accelerating force in the healthcare industry. The US Department of Health and Human Services has released the Biden administration’s roadmap for using behavioral health integration to achieve the president’s mental health strategy first announced in the State of the Union address.

In August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) model led up to 68% of providers to co-locate behavioral health services onsite.

However, the virtual aspect of digital health companies allows providers to coordinate and co-locate all types of providers in the same care environment, regardless of where they or the patient are located.

Categorically, traditional healthcare settings see some of the worst customer satisfaction scores of any industry, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

“Using our virtual first model, we believe patients can have expanded access to their providers for superior care and support, while seeing unparalleled satisfaction, better health outcomes and lower costs,” Fay Rotenberg, CEO of Firefly, said in the release. Health.

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