Carbon Health and Firefly Health will provide select Blue Cross MA members with free mental health services

Carbon Health and Firefly Health will provide select Blue Cross MA members with free mental health services

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

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

To qualify for free virtual visits through the “Virtual Care Team feature”, Blue Cross MA members on HMO plans must designate a provider from Carbon Health or Firefly Health as their primary care provider in place of a in-office provider. Members eligible for the health savings account must first meet their deductible, according to a press release.

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

“More and more consumers are using virtual care and reaping its benefits, including greater convenience and affordability,” Patrick Gilligan, Chief Commercial Officer of Blue Cross MA, said in the release. “We are thrilled to offer members access to two primary care practices offering 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 who opt into the virtual integrated care program have access to 24/7 care and communication through a mobile app and website; personalized wellness coaching; and, in some cases, medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs.

Using our first virtual model, we believe patients can gain 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 Health

The move aims to reduce costs for patients, improve the customer experience and increase access to primary care, the statement 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 engage with primary care providers. She also said 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 U.S. 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 presidential address. state of the union.

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

However, the virtual aspect of digital health businesses allows providers to coordinate and co-locate all types of providers in the same healthcare facility, regardless of their location or that of the patient.

Categorically, traditional healthcare facilities have some of the worst customer satisfaction scores of any industry, according to the US Customer Satisfaction Index.

“Using our first virtual model, we believe patients can gain 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 Health, said in the statement.

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