CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Invests $10.5 Million in Local Communities to Combat Diabetes Epidemic

Data-driven investment addresses social determinants, $0 cost-share for insulin and diabetic supplies

Baltimore, Md./Washington, D.C. – Today, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) announced it will invest over $10.5 million to improve health outcomes for individuals, families, and communities who have a diagnosis or are at higher risk of developing diabetes throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The multi-year initiative will focus on addressing the root causes of diabetes, especially the economic, environmental, and social conditions that shape unequal health outcomes in neighborhoods to improve affordability, accessibility, quality and overall patient care in communities.

“To combat diabetes, CareFirst is engineering a shift in the healthcare landscape, placing greater emphasis on population health outcomes, value-based care, and addressing social determinants of health to achieve health equity by leveraging analytics that drive impact,” said Brian D. Pieninck, President and CEO. “In collaboration with Socially Determined, a D.C. based healthcare analytics firm, a range of social risk factors were analyzed, including economic climate, food insecurity, health literacy, violence exposure, housing instability, transportation barriers, and coronavirus (COVID-19) vulnerability. These findings support CareFirst’s selection of six pilot communities for social risk and clinical interventions.”

CareFirst will launch their efforts in a phased approach, prioritizing better health outcomes and health equity in three communities in 2021 including Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C., Baltimore City and Prince George’s County in Maryland along with three additional communities in 2022. CareFirst will collaborate with anchor institutions and grassroots organizations to enhance upstream, community-driven interventions and preventive care techniques that include a multi-sector, multi-level, and multi-disciplinary approach including, but not limited to:

  • Expanding engagement and relationships with select Local Health Improvement Coalitions, health departments and businesses to promote investments in community wellness and improve health care accessibility.
  • Implementing culturally relevant community-based programs that address health literacy for residents speaking a language other than English in the home to reduce health disparities in historically underserved communities.
  • Developing health literacy training for providers, care managers and community health practitioners to assist with identification of social needs and appropriate interventions like prediabetes screenings, and disease self-management training, and improved access to healthy foods.

“Zip codes are a greater predictor of health than our genetic code,” said Stacia Cohen, R.N., Executive Vice President of Health Services at CareFirst. “Health begins in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. Place and geography matter, but equally important are the grassroots initiatives in those areas. CareFirst is proud to work with organizations on the ground in the communities we serve.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 120 million adults have diabetes or prediabetes, and diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. While this epidemic is alarming, it is also a preventable clinical condition when care addresses a person’s whole health. This is especially important as the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the challenges of managing diabetes effectively. 

“The health and economic challenges of the pandemic are intensified for individuals living with or at risk for diabetes. More than medical intervention is needed to address these significant health inequities,” said Dr. Destiny- Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact at CareFirst. “We must intervene in the social, economic and physical factors that drive health status in the places where our neighbors live, learn, work, and play. Place-based interventions that build on the skills, knowledge, and assets within communities to address complex chronic conditions like diabetes are a promising approach to achieving sustainable health improvements.”

CareFirst will invest in collective impact initiatives that foster cross-sector collaboration and strengthen communities in other areas throughout the organization’s Mid-Atlantic region, including the Eastern Shore, as the program matures. Funds will be available through request for proposals (RFP). For more information about RFP guidelines, please contact

This initiative builds on CareFirst’s ongoing commitment to take a stand against diabetes and focus initiatives on preventative healthcare to improve the overall health of members. To advance its mission to provide affordable access to health coverage, CareFirst began offering preferred brand insulin and diabetic supplies coverage to members on January 1, 2021, at $0 out-of-pocket, before meeting a deductible in 2021. Non-preferred brand insulin will be capped at $50 for a one-month supply. Visit CareFirst’s website and transformation page to learn more about this new benefit.

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 and our transforming healthcare page at, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.