CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Expands its Partnership with CloseKnit to Bring Virtual Primary Care to Maryland Medicaid Beneficiaries
After success bringing virtual primary-care services to commercial insurance members, CareFirst can now bring Medicaid members on board
Baltimore, MD – CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Plan Maryland (CareFirst CHPMD) announced an expanded partnership with CloseKnit, a virtual-first, advanced primary-care practice, to support Medicaid beneficiaries. This partnership will allow CareFirst CHPMD’s nearly 90,000 members to use CloseKnit’s services, which include 24-7 healthcare access, convenient scheduling for video provider visits, care coordination for chronic conditions and navigation assistance when in-person or specialty care is needed.
The members who will be initially invited to participate in this pilot program are CareFirst CHPMD members over the age of 21 who have not seen a primary-care physician in the last 12 months.
“This group will be invited into the program first because their low use of primary-care medical services is a red flag that they are experiencing barriers to care,” said Mike Rapach, President and CEO of CareFirst CHPMD. “One of CareFirst’s priority directives is to improve healthcare access, and this program removes the barriers our members have told us they face when seeking healthcare.”
Transportation is a significant barrier for many CareFirst CHPMD members, especially those who live in rural areas, according to CareFirst member surveys. Also, members told CareFirst they wanted more widely available hours for primary care, such as evening and weekend appointment times.
“While virtual healthcare services like CloseKnit’s have been growing and evolving over the past decade, the pandemic paved the way for the significant increase in acceptance of virtual visits among patients and providers alike,” said CloseKnit CEO Mary Jane Favazza. “Patients and providers have now experienced the convenience of online care and see that it can play an important role in healthcare moving forward. By expanding our partnership with CareFirst to include Medicaid beneficiaries, CloseKnit can reach a population that has particularly struggled with the confines of traditional, 9-5, in-person primary care.”
CareFirst first offered CloseKnit to its commercial insurance members during the pandemic to help meet their primary-care medical needs and found the program was well-received by providers and patients. CloseKnit eliminated deterrents such as long wait times, accessibility and scheduling hurdles. With CloseKnit, members have been able to connect virtually with a provider at their convenience, providing higher-quality, personalized care at a lower cost.
“We’ve been seeing a drop in primary-care usage among the Maryland Medicaid population,” said Rapach. “This means members relied more on expensive urgent-care facilities and emergency rooms for primary-care services. The CloseKnit partnership helps CareFirst take the next step in transforming healthcare for our members in the Maryland region.”
About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
In its 85th 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 3.5 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2022, CareFirst invested $24.1 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 and our transforming healthcare page at www.carefirst.com/transformation, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.