Carbon Health, Firefly Health to Offer Free Mental Health Services to Blue Cross MA Members

Blue Cross Massachusetts Blue Shield (Blue Cross MA) will allow some commercial health plan members to receive free integrated virtual care starting the new year.

The nonprofit health plan announced partnerships with virtual primary care companies Carbon Health and Firefly Health on Friday. These partnerships include mental health services along with other primary health care services.

Blue Cross MA members on HMO plans must designate a Carbon Health or Firefly Health provider as their primary care provider, rather than an in-office provider, to qualify for free virtual visits through the “Virtual Care Team Feature”. Plan members eligible for a health savings account must first meet their deductible, according to a newsletter.

The partnership departs somewhat from Carbon Health’s approach to mental health services. It does not work in-network with health plans and charges $99 for 50-minute telehealth sessions. Firefly Health is in-network with a variety of commercial health plans, according to its website.

“More consumers are using virtual care and experiencing its benefits, including greater convenience and affordability,” said Patrick Gilligan, Blue Cross MA Chief Commercial Officer. “We are excited to offer members access to two primary care apps that offer the most comprehensive virtual primary care models we’ve ever seen.

“They go beyond traditional primary care to help members control their health in an appropriate and lifestyle-appropriate way.”

Patients enrolled in the virtual integrated care program have access to care and 24/7 communication via a mobile app and website; personalized wellness coaching; and, in some cases, medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs.

We believe that by using our virtual model first, patients can see unmatched satisfaction, better health outcomes and lower costs, while gaining expanded access to their providers for superior care and support.

— Fay Rotenberg, CEO of Firefly Health

The move aims to reduce patient costs, improve customer experience and increase access to primary care, according to the statement.

Blue Cross MA vice president of medical operations Dr. Ashley Yeats said virtual primary care is a safe way to reach patients who don’t tend to engage with primary care providers. He also said that previous research has shown that patients with a primary care provider connection tend to have better health outcomes and lower costs.

Integrating behavioral health into primary care is an unborn but rapidly growing force in the healthcare industry. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released the Biden administration’s roadmap for using behavioral health integration to achieve the president’s mental health strategy, first announced in the union’s state.

In August, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus model (CPC+) has led 68% of service providers to co-locate behavioral health services onsite.

However, the virtual aspect of digital healthcare companies allows providers to both coordinate and co-locate all types of providers in the same care setting, regardless of where they or the patient are.

Categorically, traditional healthcare sees some of the worst customer satisfaction scores of any industry, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

“Using our virtual priority model, we believe patients can gain greater access to their providers for superior care and support, while seeing unmatched satisfaction, better health outcomes and lower costs,” said Fay Rotenberg, CEO of Firefly Health. Said.

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