A message from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana CEO I. Steven Udvarhelyi, M.D.
We are all navigating our way through a pandemic and public health crisis of unseen proportions. While Louisiana has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, we do have one distinct advantage—we are a resilient people, strengthened by our experience in coping with disasters such as hurricanes and floods.
We know how to take a hit, get up and get going.
To help with this, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has developed a virtual toolkit that can serve as a resource as you plan for a safe reentry into your workplace. It includes information from our medical directors on prevention and testing, steps to take if employees test positive for infection, FAQs, behavioral health resources, templates for communicating with employees about COVID-19 and more. We hope you find this information useful.
Click here to read the full text.
To learn more about what Blue Cross is doing about COVID-19, please visit bcbsla.com/covid19. You will also find a list of trusted resources to help keep you and your families informed, safe and healthy. If you have questions, please contact your Blue Cross representative.
The two videos below provide important information about COVID-19 and things to consider when returning to the workplace.
In the first video, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Senior Medical Director Dr. Dee Barfield explains that while there is currently no test that will tell you it is safe to return to work, there are steps you can take to protect your health and the health of your coworkers.
In the second video, Dr. Barfield explains how masks can limit the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses, and why it is good for your health and the health of those around you.
While it’s important to be aware of common concerns like depression, stress and anxiety all the time, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds everyone to be especially mindful of how they feel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s completely understandable that we are all feeling more fearful or sad than usual right now,” said Blue Cross medical director Dr. Jeremy Wigginton. “The key is to keep yourself from letting these feelings overwhelm you.”
“Our mental health affects our physical health and overall well-being, and it’s a common concern among people who are struggling with serious health issues, either directly or with a loved one,” Wigginton said. “Be aware of how you feel, and ask for help if you need it. If you are struggling to get through the day, let your healthcare provider know that and ask about treatment recommendations.”
There are a number of resources available to your employees as they navigate both remote work and the potential stress of returning to the workplace.
Be Stronger Than Ever
Blue Cross has an in-house clinical team that includes nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers. The care team works with members who are dealing with long-term health needs, serious illnesses or acute injuries. The team’s job is to help the members be STRONGER THAN any disease or diagnosis. They offer health coaching, personalized education and assistance in setting and reaching wellness goals.
Blue Cross social workers and other health coaches give members support and encouragement and help them find healthcare providers in their network or develop skills to cope with a diagnosis. They also connect members with local support groups and community resources to assist them.
To learn more about Care Management programs and services or to sign up for health coaching, visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger. There is no cost for members to work with a health coach.
Blue Cross social workers also share tips for managing depression and stress on the STRONGER THAN EVER: Care Team Programs playlist, part of the Blue Cross YouTube channel.
Blue Cross social workers and other care team members regularly host live events on Blue Cross’ Facebook page. They offer tips and take questions about various health issues, including mental health concerns.
Behavioral Health Providers Available on BlueCare
Members can use BlueCare, Blue Cross’ telehealth platform, to have online visits with behavioral health providers.
BlueCare behavioral health appointments can be a good service if your employees are feeling stress, anxiety or depression because of COVID-19, or if your team is practicing social distancing and looking for ways of getting care without going somewhere for treatment.
Log in to BlueCare to schedule appointments with available psychology or psychiatry providers who are trained and certified in telehealth care. Behavioral health providers available through BlueCare can help with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, substance abuse, coping with life transitions, couples counseling and more.
BlueCare can also be used 24/7 to treat routine, non-emergency medical conditions like colds, bladder infections, allergies, pink eye, mild stomach bugs or rashes. BlueCare is available in all 50 states and works on any device with internet and a camera, like a smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer.
Members can create a BlueCare account at www.BlueCareLA.com or with the BlueCare (one word) mobile app for Apple and Android devices. Then, simply log in and have a medical visit anytime or schedule a behavioral health appointment.
If a member regularly sees a behavioral health provider for care, they should ask if telehealth visits are an option.
Connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates.
New Directions has opened up a crisis line to anyone who may need to discuss behavioral health issues related to COVID-19. Call 1-833-848-1764 to reach the New Directions Emotional Support Hotline. This is a free and confidential 24/7 helpline staffed by trained and caring professionals.
The HealthWise Coronavirus Resource Center is offered as part of Blue Cross’ wellness services and content available to members. This specific resource center includes additional articles, videos and infographics that employers may post at their worksites or send by email to share messaging about COVID-19.
A good resource to help employees Manage Stress.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
NAMI HELPLINE - 1-800-950-NAMI or TEXT "NAMI" to "741741."
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Disaster Distress Hotline:
During the COVID-19 outbreak the national Disaster Distress Helpline remains open to offer crisis counseling and emotional support related to the current COVID-19 outbreak from trained counselors across the country. The 24/7/365 helpline can be accessed by calling 1-800-985-5990, (para Español, oprima 2) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
How do I keep my workplace safe?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued interim guidance for employers based on what is currently known about COVID-19. The guidance includes strategies and recommendations to employers responding to COVID-19, including those seeking to resume normal or phased business operations.
Below are some decisions Blue Cross made to keep our workplace safe. We are sharing these decisions to help walk you through the steps you may want to consider.
When should employees report exposure?
Are there guidelines for employees diagnosed with COVID-19?
What should management tell employees to do if they think they’re sick?
Should we require employees to wear masks?
Should we require employees to have antibody tests?
How should employees work together back in the workplace?
What if my employees need assistance with childcare while at work?
What supplies do my employees need?
How can my employees find out about changes to our health insurance?
How can I find out about health insurance changes as an employer?
How can I apply for help through the CARES Act relief for small businesses?
How can I maintain health insurance coverage for my employees?
Will there be a coverage waiting period for returning employees after layoffs?
How should I plan for a potential spike in cases?
Questions about health insurance coverage:
These are the guidelines put in place at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. This is an example you may use when discussing your own guidelines with your legal or human resources representative.
What Does It Mean to Self-quarantine?
While we should all be practicing social distancing, additional self-quarantine measures are needed if you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19. If you need to self-quarantine, we strongly suggest you follow these guidelines, which Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana medical directors developed based on CDC guidance:
In addition, there are some other good steps to follow while in self-quarantine:
Ideally you should monitor your temperature twice a day to see if you have a fever of 100.4 degrees or more. If you do, contact your physician.
For Employees Who Are Diagnosed with or Exposed to COVID-19
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana medical directors have established a protocol to help you know what to do if a member of your team is diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. Our medical directors developed this protocol in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
This is the protocol put in place at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. This is an example you may use when discussing your own protocol with your legal or human resources representative.
Here are the different scenarios you may be facing, and what to do for each one:
Your employee is working at your facility and is diagnosed with COVID-19:
COVID-19 & Health Insurance
If you’ve lost healthcare coverage because of unemployment, furlough or life changes like getting married, moving or having a baby, you have affordable options.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Health Economist Mike Bertaut shares tips to look for plans through healthcare.gov, Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance.