This Flu Season, Blues Plans Promote H1N1 Prevention
The week of October 10th saw the release of the first batch of H1N1 (swine flu) vaccines. The release could have been sooner, considering that the CDC is already reporting abnormally high levels of influenza, especially H1N1, for this time of year, according to The AIS Report on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, an independent monthly newsletter on business strategies, products and markets, mergers and alliances, and financing of BC/BS plans (not affiliated with BlueCross BlueShield Association or its member companies).
The report states that in September, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) said that all member plans will cover administration costs for H1N1 vaccine. The cost of the vaccine itself is borne by the federal government, which spent a total of $1.5 billion to pay for 251 million doses of H1N1 vaccine.
The five target groups most at risk will receive the first doses. These include pregnant women, people caring for children under six months of age, health care and emergency medical personnel, persons between six months and 24 years of age, and those between 25 and 64 years old with chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
Various Blue Cross plans have acknowledged a focus on education and prevention. Plans are using their web sites to post H1N1 Advisories, which include information on benefit coverage and basic prevention methods. Some companies also distribute information via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Other plans are using other methods such as postcard reminders, member newsletter articles, and targeted mailings. WellPoint, Inc, which controls a number of Blues Plans, also communicates about the flu and H1N1 with its brokers, consultants and employer groups.