CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Extends Remote Work Through 2020

Posted on 2020-08-18
Updated on 2020-08-18 09:00:00

Decision part of ongoing Coronavirus response for associates and communities company serves

Baltimore, Md./Washington, D.C. – CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the region’s largest not-for-profit healthcare company, announced it has extended the remote work environment for its workforce through at least the remainder of the year. This most recent decision is part of CareFirst’s rapid response to help individuals, families and communities remain safe and healthy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Additionally, the extension helps CareFirst associates balance the potential impact from changes in school settings as well as child and family caregiving schedules with the ongoing responsibilities of their jobs.

Earlier this year in March, CareFirst first implemented a large-scale remote work policy for its associates. To date, more than 95% of CareFirst associates and contractors are working remotely, with only essential personnel reporting to a CareFirst location where social distancing and enhanced cleaning measures have been implemented. To make this unexpected transition as smooth as possible, CareFirst has continued to identify and provide resources including a stipend, equipment and training for its associates to help support their work in a virtual work environment.

“CareFirst remains committed to supporting the health and safety of the people in the many communities we serve, including our associates,” said CareFirst’s CEO and President, Brian D. Pieninck. “We are fortunate to be able to provide our associates with the flexibility of an alternate work environment, but recognize that other businesses may not be able to take the same measures. We hope our actions will contribute to a safer and healthier community for those at increased risk and for the many people who must go to an office or workplace each day. We encourage other capable businesses to do the same, and join us in providing their workforce with alternate work options.”

COVID-19 is a volatile and evolving disease with no current vaccine. To alleviate this concern, CareFirst will continue to reevaluate remote work decisions beyond Jan. 1, 2021 as necessary.

“The health and safety of our workforce and uninterrupted service to our customers have been two of our top priorities during the pandemic,” said CareFirst’s Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Angela Celestin. “We’ve been working hard to understand the day-to-day concerns, priorities, and immediate needs of our workforce and are committed to making any needed enhancements so we can continue to successfully meet employees where they are.”

To help individuals and employees plan a safe and successful return to work, CareFirst has launched a resources page dedicated to help companies assess, and potentially lower, the health risks of getting back into the office. To date, CareFirst has taken the following actions during the pandemic on behalf of its members and communities:

  • Launched the company’s $5 million “Care, delivered” initiative to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) at no-cost to healthcare and social service organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19 health crisis;
  • Contributed $2 million to community nonprofit organizations working to address complex and emerging health, social and economic needs;
  • Provided premium credits totaling $25 million for fully insured small and large group customers, reflected on their August premium invoice;
  • Provided premium credits totaling over $4 million for small and large group fully insured dental customers, reflected on each group’s August premium invoice;
  • Provided rebates totaling over $80 million for individual members and fully insured small and large group customers who had CareFirst coverage in 2019 due to lower utilization of medical care than anticipated;
  • Provided premium deferrals of $35 million for members and groups experiencing economic hardship; and,
  • Eliminated prior authorizations for tests or treatments that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance for members diagnosed with COVID-19.

CareFirst will continue to work to identify other barriers and solutions for coronavirus care for its members, communities and associates. Visit CareFirst’s website to remain up to date on the latest information.

About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

In its 83rd year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit healthcare company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.4 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2019, CareFirst invested $43 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of healthcare throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at www.carefirst.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.