How Big Is the Impact of Health Care Reform on Free Clinics and Other ‘Safety Net’ Providers for Michigan’s Uninsured?

Much of the talk about health care reform has centered on how it will affect Medicare, individuals or private businesses. But how will it affect the organizations that provide care to those who are uninsured or underinsured?

Leaders from free clinics, federally qualified health centers, and FQHC look-alikes gathered for the first time to talk about caring for the uninsured and underinsured at the Healthy Safety Net: A Blues Symposium May 5 in Lansing, Michigan. The Blues hosted this interactive symposium to give safety net providers a chance to talk about the impact of health care reform on Michigan’s efforts to provide health care for everyone.

The symposium provided a forum for administrators, board members and medical directors from the clinics and health centers to discuss the changing health care landscape and share what that may mean to their respective organizations.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will provide coverage to many of the state’s uninsured by 2014, but there will still be an estimated 6 to 9 percent of Michigan’s population without health insurance.

So what happens next? The role of these safety net providers will likely change, but the commitment to making sure everyone who needs health care gets it has not.

“Strategic partnerships are the key to survival and success,” said Dave Law, executive director of the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation. “And the most important partner in all of this is the patient. We need to fully understand their needs and the challenges facing them. Then we can build those key relationships and partnerships that provide overall health benefits to the underserved residents of our communities.”

Since 2005, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has granted more than $6 million to Michigan’s free clinics to secure health and dental care for thousands of uninsured and underinsured patients.

Click here to view a previously recorded live broadcast from the Health Safety Net: A Blues Symposium

Grand Rapids Students Get a Surprise Visit From Detroit Lions QB

A morning that typically would be filled with reading, writing and arithmetic was instead a star-studded, action-packed start of the day for 200 Grand Rapids students on Monday.

Matthew Stafford, starting quarterback for the Detroit Lions, surprised students from four elementary schools involved in Project FIT, a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Michigan State University that aims to improve children’s health. Stafford joined the students in various exercises and talked to them about the importance of eating healthy and staying active.

“I’ve been healthy and I’ve been active my entire life,” Stafford told the students. “It’s a part of my job now.”

Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford teaches Grand Rapids kids the importance of staying healthy and active as part of Project FIT, a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Michigan State University.

Project FIT is also looking to help families in the Buchanan, Campus, Cesar E. Chavez and Dickinson elementary school districts increase their access to nutritional foods through a new FIT Store program that enables the neighborhood stores to offer healthy food selections.

“We’ve got a real problem here. Fifteen to 20 percent of kids are obese today,” Jeff Connolly, president of BCBSM West Michigan operations, told The Grand Rapids Press. “You’ll continue to see Matthew and Blue Cross Blue Shield aligned on the fight against childhood obesity. It’s not a one-and-done deal.”

In 2009, Matthew Stafford and BCBSM announced their partnership to combat childhood obesity in Michigan through the promotion of preventive measures that foster healthy lifestyles.

BCBSM Members: Six New Ways To Save On Purchases That Help You Get In Shape And Enjoy Summer

The Thunderhawk rollercoaster at Michigan's Adventure amusement and water park

It’s springtime, and that means summer is right around the corner. Right now our members can save on purchases to help them shape up for the warm-weather season with our Healthy Blue Xtras program. Members must sign up online to access updates on member-discounts as they become available.

All year long, Healthy Blue Xtras has discounts and special offers for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network members geared toward helping them live a happy and healthy lifestyle. As we head into summer, the theme right now is fun, sun and fitness!

Ways Michigan Blue Cross Members Can Save On Purchases To Help The Entire Family Make The Most of Summer:

  1. Clear your mind and restore your body by challenging yourself to a 26-posture, 105-degree session of vigorous Bikram Yoga
  2. Gear up for the beach and camping season with sleek urban wear and outdoor fittings from Bivouac
  3. Exceed your fitness goals with workout sessions that work for you at Cross Fit Bloomfield
  4. String up your rackets and lace up your tennis shoes for innovative programs from Luv All Tennis
  5. Have fun at Michigan’s largest amusement and water park and save on your general admission to Michigan’s Adventure
  6. Enjoy savory pitas, salads, soups and smoothies, made up fresh and fast at Pita Pit

To unlock details for each of the available member discounts at local and national retailers, sign up or log in at bcbsm.com/xtras.

After You Register For Healthy Blue Xtras, Make The Most of Other Online Services Available For Members at BCBSM.com

While you’re online, take an interactive health assessment and participate in online health coaching programs like Balance™ for weight management and Relax™ for stress management. After logging in at bcbsm.com/xtras, click on the Health and Wellness tab and explore our exclusive members-only interactive programs and services.

Photo Credit: Wayne Silver

A Case Study in Workplace Wellness: Rehmann Group

We all know a healthier workforce is a more productive workforce. The Saginaw-based Rehmann Group agrees. The tax-planning and financial consulting services group believed in supporting changes to help its 600+ employees live a healthy lifestyle. By working with BCBSM wellness consultants, the company is a thriving example for how other companies can incorporate our wellness tools for group customers, including our online health assessment, access to health coaches, and workplace wellness challenges like Win by Losing.

In a recent interview with Accounting Today, Rehmann CEO said his firm’s mantra is “Be better, not bigger.” A commitment to employee wellness is just one way Rehmann is working to be better every day.

In this video, see Lee Ann Maurer, benefits administrator at Rehmann, discussing the various wellness initiatives the company has already implemented, and how they plan to expand their efforts in the future.

Why You Should Care About Wellness in the Workplace

The cost of health care continues to rise at an alarming rate, jumping more than 10 percent each year for the past several years and employers are very concerned about these sharp increases. A substantial amount of the money spent in the health care system goes toward treating chronic conditions and illnesses that can often be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle. It’s estimated that nearly 50-70 percent of all diseases are associated with conditions that may be prevented with healthier behaviors.

As a nation, roughly 95% of the $2 trillion we spend on health care goes directly to medical services, while only 5% of our health care dollars go toward preventing disease and promoting individual health.

Benefits of Workplace Wellness

Many businesses have implemented or are interested in developing health promotion and prevention programs. The benefits of workplace wellness include:

  • Improving employee health
  • Reducing preventable health care utilization and lowering health care costs
  • Enhancing work performance
  • Improving employee satisfaction and retention

While it’s difficult for many employers to benefit in the short-term or directly quantify results of workplace wellness programs, the big-picture benefits are well documented: more than 150 different research studies that have been conducted repeatedly show themes such as improvements in health outcomes coupled with high returns on investment (ROI) for employers.

An employee wellness program can affect productivity, absenteeism, morale, recruitment success, turnover, and medical care costs too.

What are you doing to help build a culture of wellness at your workplace?

Michigan Blue Cross Members: Find a Doctor, View Your Claims and Access Member Discounts on Your Mobile Phone

If you’re part of the 40 percent of adults in the U.S. who use your mobile device to access everything from funny videos to business email and bank statements, you’ll be glad to know you can now access BCBSM.com and MIBCN.com anytime, anywhere.

With Blue MobileSM, you can get the full experience of our website while you’re on the go.

Looking For a Doctor?

Provider search is now available on mobile devices so you can easily locate your doctor’s contact information, or find a new doctor at your convenience.

  1. Click on Find a Doctor on the home screen.
  2. Fill in the search categories so we can find what you’re looking for.
  3. Click Search.
  4. We’ll provide you with a list of detailed information for doctors that match your criteria. You can also click on a map to find the exact location of each physician.

 Take Control of Your Health Care

To access your personal account information, remember to sign up for our Member Secured Services online first.

Signing up is easy, simply visit bcbsm.com or mibcn.com on your desktop or laptop computer and register before attempting to access your personal information via the mobile web.

After registering, you’ll be able to manage your account from your mobile device. This includes viewing benefits and claims, as well as Explanation of Benefits statements.

Access Member Discounts with Healthy Blue XtrasSM

Once you’re registered to log in to Member Secured Services from your phone, you’ll also gain access to a variety of members-only discounts and special offers from Michigan businesses including:

  • Gym memberships

  • Healthy groceries

  • Fitness gear

  • Golf and ski resorts

We’re Listening to You

Our teams are always working to improve the experience of our members and we would love your feedback on how to make the things we do on the web even better.

Have you tried using our mobile website yet? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Brush Up on Tigers Trivia for a Chance to Win Tickets to ‘Ernie,’ the Play by Mitch Albom

Many folks on our team here at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan were very fortunate to work with Ernie Harwell while he was still alive and share very fond memories. Some may not realize this about Ernie, but in addition to being a baseball legend, he was also very passionate about healthy living. He also once shared a blog with our walking advocate, Jodi Davis, a stay-at-home mom from West Michigan who lost 162 pounds by walking every day and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Jodi continues to share her story and tips for success on A Healthier Michigan. She and Ernie shared a love of walking and teaching others how to live better. Championing healthy lifestyles is something we are also very passionate about at BCBSM and Blue Care Network.

In the year since his passing, we chose to honor Ernie in many ways, including a recent mural and walking track dedication at our Detroit headquarters, and by sponsoring the production of ‘Ernie’ the play by Mitch Albom.

Since its opening, many people around the office have been raving about the play’s touching performances and star, Will David Young’s uncanny ability to channel the iconic voice of Ernie.

As part of our sponsorship of the play, we would like to share the experience of the play with you by giving you a chance to win tickets to the performance on our Facebook page.

Over the next few weeks, we will be posting Tigers Baseball and Ernie Harwell trivia questions on our Facebook page to win tickets for the following performances:

  • May 17
  • June 8
  • June 21

The first question will be posted tomorrow, May 11, 2011 for tickets to the performance on the 17th. Additional dates for trivia questions will continue to be announced as we move closer to the other performance dates.

To win tickets you must answer our posted trivia question correctly. The first people to post a correct answer within the trivia discussion on Facebook will win pairs of tickets. Once we run out of tickets for a particular performance, we will update participants on our Facebook page: Facebook.com/BCBSM

Additional Terms and Conditions

No purchase necessary to enter to win. This giveaway is governed exclusively by the laws of Michigan. You are not authorized to participate within the giveaway if you are not located within Michigan.

  • Eligibility. Participation is only open to all legal residents of Michigan, who are 18 years of age or older on the date of entry. Employees of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (“Sponsor”) and respective subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, advertising and promotion agencies and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings, spouses) or members of the same household (whether related or not) are not eligible to enter. Participants must have a valid state-issued photo identification to be able to pick up their tickets.
  • How to Enter. The ticket giveaways will begin on or around April 15, 2011, and end on June 21, 2011.  Specific information regarding how to enter the ticket giveaways will be publicized on the Sponsor’s social media platforms.
  • Prize. Ten (10) winners will receive two (2) tickets to attend the play “Ernie” at the City Theatre in Detroit. The tickets could be for any one (1) of three (3) performance dates: May 17, 2011; June 8, 2011; June 21, 2011. No transportation, hotel or other expenses provided.
  • Drawings. Winners will be selected from all entrants received and be notified on the platform where the ticket giveaway was offered. Winners will be selected by correctly answering a trivia question or engaging on a social media platform through commenting, tweeting or posting in reply to a specific Facebook post, A Healthier Michigan blog post or a specific tweet. Detailed information regarding the specifics for each ticket giveaway will be posted on the relevant social media platform.  Winners have forty eight (48) hours upon being notified by Sponsor to declare acceptance of the prize. If the winner cannot be contacted within this time period the prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner will be selected. The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entrants received. By entering the giveaway the entrants agree to be bound by these rules and the decisions of the judges. The judge’s decisions on winners will be final and binding on all matters relating to the ticket giveaway.  A list of all winners will be made available at the end of the contest on the Sponsor’s social media platform.
  • Conditions. Winners must be able to provide valid state-issued photo identification on the date of the performance to claim tickets from will-call. Participation in this giveaway and acceptance of prize constitutes winner’s permission for Sponsor to use, exploit, adapt, modify, reproduce, distribute and publically display their name, address (city and state), likeness, photograph, picture, portrait, voice, biographical information and/or any statements made by the winner and the winner’s guest regarding the giveaway or Sponsor without notice or additional compensation, except where prohibited by law. By participating, all participants, including all eligible entrants, winners and winners’ guest(s) agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor, its respective advertising and promotion agencies and their respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers directors and shareholders, from any and all claims and liability, for loss, harm, damage, injury, cost or expense whatsoever including without limitation, property damage, personal injury and/or death which may occur in any way in connection with, preparation for, travel to, or participation in giveaway, or possession, acceptance and/or use or misuse of prize or participation in any giveaway or related giveaway activity and for any claims based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy and merchandise delivery. Sponsor is not responsible if performance of “Ernie” cannot take place for any reason or if any prize cannot be awarded including, but not limited to due to travel complications or cancellations, delays or interruptions due to acts of God, acts of war, natural disasters or weather. Sponsor maintains the right to offer a substitute prize of equal value. Entrants who do not comply with these rules or conditions or who attempt to interfere with this giveaway in any way shall be disqualified from any of the ticket giveaways that occur during the previously mentioned time period.

For Young Adults: There Really Are Affordable Alternatives to High-Cost Health Insurance Plans

Commencement photoIf you’re just getting ready for college graduation, there are a lot of things to be excited about, but chances are, health insurance isn’t one of them.

Young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 make up nearly one-fifth of the nation’s uninsured. As most young adults make their way into their mid-to-late 20s, the numbers get worse. For 26-to-34-year-olds the number jumps to 21 percent, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The likelihood of being uninsured varies by state, but one of the most common reasons cited is cost.

Managing Risk

The combination of good health and high debt keeps most young adults from considering health insurance. With mounting bills from student loans, credit cards, cell phone, cable and Internet usage, the last thing on the minds of many young adults is their health.

But having health insurance is important at every age. The Kaiser study cited above found that uninsured adults are “more than twice as likely to delay or forgo needed care as the insured.” Delaying any type of care, including preventive, can be detrimental to your overall health.

And what about accidents? They can happen to anyone at any time. For someone without health insurance the costs of treatment can be catastrophic. For example, if an uninsured patient seeks treatment for a concussion, an X-ray of the brain alone can cost around $1,450.   

We Listened to You: Young Adult Plans For Under $100 a Month

This year we introduced a new product for young adults aged 19 to 30 called Young Adult Blue MaxSM. The product offers medical plus preventive dental and vision coverage for under $100 a month.

Young Adult Blue Max also includes an accidental injury deductible waiver, offering health care coverage that will protect you in the event of an accidental injury.

And for under $100 a month, you can finally have quality health care coverage at a cost that won’t break your budget.

For more information about Young Adult Blue Max, visit bcbsm.com/youngadult.

Photo Credit: NidaIM

The Long Road to Renaissance and the Evolution of Our Commitment to Michigan’s Core Cities

As I witness the completion of newly renovated Renaissance Center offices, the unfurling of banners and months of intensive planning become reality, I realize that I’ve never been more proud of what we’ve accomplished during my five years here as chief executive. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has officially opened its Renaissance Center offices for business, extending our downtown Detroit campus from Lafayette Boulevard to Detroit’s riverfront.

This week marks the beginning of a finale of a long and exciting journey for us here at BCBSM as we move the first of 3,000 employees from Southfield to Detroit. Coupled with the recent move of Accident Fund Holdings into its new Lansing headquarters, the journey feels especially symbolic, speaking both to Michigan’s past and its future.

The author cuts the ribbon on BCBSM's move to the Renaissance Center Monday. Loepp was joined at the event by (from left): Greg Sudderth, chairman of the BCBSM board of directors; Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano; Detroit Mayor Dave Bing; and George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

As a native Detroiter who spent many years in Lansing, I confess that the gratification over developments these past few months has a personal side as well. As I’ve written before, I strongly believe that Detroit is on the path to a new prosperity.

Our plan to centralize operations in downtown Detroit is just the latest focus of a years-long process to consolidate our business enterprise in core cities across Michigan. The process, which includes renovating the vacant Steketees Building in downtown Grand Rapids as office space in 2004, reached a crescendo in March, when Accident Fund, our workers compensation subsidiary, unveiled its impressive 330,000 square-foot headquarters in a renovated, abandoned power plant along the Grand River in downtown Lansing.

While different in nature, the Renaissance Center and the Ottawa Street Power Station both hold powerful symbolism for their respective cities.

True to its name, the Renaissance Center was hailed as a way to revitalize Detroit, a “city within a city,” when it opened in 1977. Yet the complex was sometimes criticized as resembling a fortress, walled off from the greater city at large, and its occupancy dwindled over the years as the city continued its painful economic decline. General Motors, which has owned the RenCen since 1996, was considering pulling its corporate headquarters from the building just two short years ago, a move that would have been devastating to the city of Detroit.

Flash ahead to today, when GM has redoubled its commitment to staying put. Our own consolidation of workers in Towers 500 and 600, once completed, will push the complex’s occupancy rate to around 93 percent. Today’s RenCen benefits from GM’s $500 million renovation in 2004 and the subsequent development of the picturesque Detroit RiverWalk, which opened up the once-neglected riverfront to public access and summer festivals.

Opening up public access to the riverfront is also part of the equation at the Accident Fund’s gleaming new headquarters in downtown Lansing, a city that has also seen its share of hard times.

I can remember when the Ottawa Street Power Station was decommissioned in the early ‘90s and how the Art Deco building cut an impressive, if dispiriting, silhouette on the city’s skyline. The massive building in those years seemed like a symbol of a disappearing industrial era. Its gradual abandonment dovetailed with the steady de-industrialization of Lansing itself, as the iconic Oldsmobile brand that defined the city dissolved.

Today, the power plant is giving rise to a new knowledge-economy era in Michigan’s capital city, having undergone an ambitious renovation. And yes, people can now walk along the riverfront behind it.

Certainly neither Blue Cross nor Accident Fund can take all the credit for these projects or all the subsequent development that we believe they will set in motion. But they speak to the power of conviction and making strategic investment in places. There are examples all around.

GM’s investment in 2004 helped physically re-orient the RenCen to the city, introduced a new retail component to the complex and helped set the stage for the RiverWalk.

Compuware gave the former J.L. Hudson’s department store site its first tenant and brought thousands of workers downtown, which eventually begat Campus Martius, recognized as one of the nation’s finest urban green spaces.

One wonders what’s in store as Quicken Loans prepares plans to move employees into the Chase Tower just across from the park.

You hear a lot of talk nowadays about economic stimulus, and there’s little doubt that Michigan could use a hefty dose of it right about now. We think that stimulus should focus on rebuilding our great cities, and we welcome our friends and business partners to join us.

It promises to be an exciting ride.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Photo by the Detroit Regional News Hub.