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Counties Served: Minnesota - Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, WashingtonHealth Insurance Supplements
Every year, Blue Cross talks to seniors across the state to learn more about their thoughts and feelings about health-related topics. For 2023, our survey found that 71% of Minnesota seniors are prioritizing their health, which is an increase of 4% over last year.Having more seniors feel in control of their overall health is a trend worth celebrating.However, our survey also revealed how the process of enrolling in Medicare can be daunting, with a lot of information to process and options to assess. More than half of Minnesota seniors expressed some level of anxiety when first learning about their Medicare plan options. Words like perplexed and overwhelmed were often used to describe their apprehension.Customer service is key to understandingThe good news is those feelings of uncertainty largely disappear once seniors are enrolled in their Medicare plan and begin to use their coverage in ways that best address their personal health needs. It also makes sense why the importance of strong customer service among Medicare enrollees in Minnesota is nearly universal (98%).Here are a few more stats that show how seniors statewide approach Medicare-specific customer service: More than half (55%) of Minnesota seniors agree that having a local health insurance plan staffed by fellow Minnesotans can increase confidence. 71% of seniors call their Medicare plans customer service line at least once a year. Primary reasons for calling are to ask general questions about plan benefits, coverage and network. Driving factors that make a customer service experience positive include having a positive/respectful interaction with the representative (58%) and receiving clear/helpful explanations from the representative (55%).The value of local supportWe love all things Minnesota, and so do many seniors more than half agree that having a local health insurance plan staffed by fellow Minnesotans gives them more confidence.Backed by a service team of nearly 500 Minnesota-based Member Experience Advocates, Blue Cross retains 95% of its Medicare enrollees from one plan year to the next. The importance of local service is also reflected in the high rate (85%) of Blue Cross Medicare enrollees who use the services of a Minnesota insurance agent or broker.Additionally, Blue Cross Medicare plans are top-rated by its members for customer service, based on 2022 survey results from CAHPS (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), a nationally recognized indicator of member and patient satisfaction. According to Blue Cross data, more than two-thirds (78%) of Medicare member calls are successfully resolved in a single phone call.Blue Cross member John Hines, the long-time Twin Cities radio personality, just aged into Medicare last year. He relates to the complex feelings that come with enrolling in a plan not to mention the value of effective, local customer service.It took a minute, but Ive adjusted to thinking of myself as a senior and Im proud of how Ive kept my health top of mind in my first years of Medicare, said Hines. Like so many of my friends and family over 65, I appreciate having a friendly, knowledgeable voice on the other end of the line when I call Blue Cross with questions about my plan. Theres nothing better than knowing that Im going to get answers from someone who also calls Minnesota 'home'.Taking full advantage of your Medicare plan and resources is an important part of maintaining your overall well-being along with other core activities such as staying active, eating healthy and spending time with loved ones. For more health information and tips tailored to your needs, check out the latest issue of thrive. magazine and visit this blog often.Radio personality and Blue Cross member John Hines is a paid promotional spokesperson for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.
EAGAN, Minn. (November 22, 2023) Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) has expanded its statewide High Value Network for Medicare Advantage to include all locations of Hennepin Healthcare, including the hospital and hospital-based clinics located on the HCMC campus in downtown Minneapolis. The additions, which are part of a new three-year contract between Blue Cross and Hennepin Healthcare, have the High Value Network providing Medicare Advantage members with access to 98 percent of doctors in Minnesota. Hennepin Healthcare is a nationally recognized integrated system of hospital and neighborhood clinics located in Minneapolis and suburban communities across Hennepin County. The HCMC campus is the heart of medical care in downtown Minneapolis. The campus is comprised of a 484-bed hospital, an outpatient Clinic & Specialty Center, and a Level 1 Adult and Pediatric Trauma center that makes up the largest emergency department in Minnesota. In addition to its downtown hub, Hennepin Healthcare operates clinics in the North Loop, Whittier and East Lake Street neighborhoods of Minneapolis and the suburbs of Brooklyn Park, Golden Valley, Richfield and St. Anthony Village. The Blue Cross High Value Network for Medicare Advantage provides broad choice of quality care from providers that Minnesotans know and trust. In the Twin Cities metro area, the High Value Network includes all major care systems, including Allina Health; Childrens Hospitals and Clinics; Entira; M Health Fairview; North Memorial Health; Ridgeview; St. Croix Regional Medical Center; University of Minnesota Physicians; and now, Hennepin Healthcare. Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans are among the top-rated Medicare plans in the nation, earning a total of 4.5 out of a possible five stars from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for 2024. According to December 2022 enrollment data from CMS, Blue Cross is the No. 1 Medicare plan chosen by Minnesotans, with options available in all 87 counties. More information about Blue Cross Medicare plans can be found at bluecrossmn.com/medicare. About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota- For 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com) has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. Our 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Citations for claims made in this announcement are available at bluecrossmn.com/medsources
As people get older, it becomes more common to fall. It also becomes more dangerous. Every second of every day, an older adult falls, making falls the leading cause of injury for people ages 65 and older. Minnesotas death rate from falls for this same age group is among the highest in the nation ranking fourth of all states.One in five falls causes a serious injury like a broken bone or head injury. (source: CDC)Luckily, it is possible to reduce the risk of falling. Friends, family members or loved ones may not be aware of their risk or how to avoid falls, so having a conversation about it is more important than you may realize.We talked to Lori Freit-Hammes, senior program manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, to learn more about how best to talk about the topic with the seniors in your life.What does the data tell us?Blue Cross tracks a variety of data sources, including self-reported health risk assessments and state and national statistics. Unfortunately, the data tells us that falls are a real problem.Since we know 87 percent of broken bones among seniors ages 65 and older are related to a fall, we also watch claims for fractures. And by watching this data, we noticed that fractures amongst one segment of our Medicare members increased significantly in the past few years, which caused us concern. Blue Cross has a unique role as an extension of our members care teams, so we look for ways to help decrease the risk of falling.Why is a first fall so significant?An unintentional fall that causes injury, or even a stumble or near-miss, can have a significant negative impact on a persons physical and psychological well-being. The harsh reality is that many older adults who fall and experience injury simply do not fully recover to their previous level of health and wellness. Having fallen once is the greatest predictor of a future fall.On top of that, fear of falling is actually a risk factor all by itself and a strong predictor of a future fall. Fear can cause people to change certain behaviors thinking they are keeping themselves safer restricting activities and avoiding leaving their homes. However, this self-imposed premature immobility can lead to social isolation, mental health declines, the need for additional medications and more. Each change can lead to poorer health, making them even more susceptible to falling.Why is it important to talk about falling with the seniors in our lives and how do we best approach the conversation?Concerns about losing independence or being a burden can lead to seniors to be less than forthcoming about a past or recent fall. There is no shame in falling, but a stigma still exists.Caregivers, family members and health care professionals can start the conversation to make sure seniors feel seen and their concerns heard. Here are some tips for broaching the conversation:Keep the tone positive and non-judgmentalAvoid skepticism, blame or minimizing their concernsFocus on being a trusted person they can reach out toDo a little homework and be educated before the conversationHeres an example of how an adult might start the conversation with their older parent:Mom, I recently learned that individuals who are worried about falling are more likely to fall. Does this surprise you? If you are worried, its okay to feel nervous or anxious. Its more common than you might believe. I also read that not talking about falls puts people at even greater risk of falling. If youre comfortable, lets talk about what, if any, concerns you have. Im here for you. We can work together to reduce your chances of falling and so you can continue to live independently.What is Blue Cross doing to help members at higher risk of falling?Reducing the risk of falls for our members encompasses screening, awareness, education and also helping our members take appropriate action to make changes.We provide education to our members and caregivers in several ways including thrive. magazine, our Caregiver Corner website and more. We also partner with health care systems to ensure providers are screening for fall risks, recommending fall prevention programs and alerting individuals of the action steps they can take to minimize their risk of falling.Blue Cross Medicare plans offer access to the SilverSneakers fitness program, which has a variety of content and programming for preventing falls including videos, articles and stability classes.Additional benefits are available for SecureBlue members, including fall prevention classes through Juniper as well as a home safety benefit arranged through their care coordinator to provide up to $750 per year for home safety items such as grab bars, a hand-held shower spray, toilet safety rails, a step support for the bed, etc., to improve mobility and safety in the home.Blue Cross members can call the number on the back of their ID card to learn about benefits specific to their health plan.
Seniors enrolling in Medicare often are surprised to discover that most Medicare health and prescription drug plans are measured by a fivestar rating system. Much like a reviewer guide to restaurants or hotels, Medicare plans are ranked from a low of one star to a high of five stars.The overall ratings provide an easy and intuitive way to help people evaluate and compare both the quality of the product being offered and the overall experience of real consumers.For 2024 plans, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage and Platinum BlueSM Cost plan members will be enrolled in a 4.5 out of 5-Star Rated plan. Additionally, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans are top-rated by its members for customer service receiving 5 out of 5-Stars[i].Star Rating categoriesThese ratings are based on the plans performance in five categories:Keeping people healthy: screening tests and vaccines. Includes whether members received appropriate preventative screening tests, vaccines, and other check-ups to help them stay healthyManaging chronic (long-term) conditions: Includes how often members with certain conditions got recommended tests and treatments to help manage their conditionMember experience: Includes actual members ratings of the planMember complaints and changes in the health plans performance: Includes how often Medicare found problems with the plan and how often members had problems with the plan Health plan customer service: Includes how well the plan handles member appealsDeveloped by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Star Rating system is based on member surveys as well as information provided by doctors, health care providers and Medicare's regular monitoring activities. The standards are evaluated on an annual basis and are built to drive continuous improvement in the health care system and better health outcomes for Medicare enrollees.Shopping for a Medicare PlanEvaluating a Medicare plan should take other factors into account as well, such as covered benefits and which doctors, clinics and hospitals are included in the network. Also, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) from October 15 to December 7 is a great time to review your plan selection each year and make sure it's still the best fit for your needs. Related reading: From networks to enrollment periods, get smart on Medicare Advantage plans.Getting help sorting through your options is easy (and free!) with a licensed advisor. Blue Cross Advisors are available in your area for face-to-face meetings, telephone consultations or virtual visits. Appointment scheduling is available online at bluecrossmn.com/advisors.Backed by a service team of nearly 500 Minnesota-based Member Experience Advocates, Blue Cross retains 95% of its Medicare enrollees from one plan year to the next. According to a Blue Cross survey earlier this year, nearly all (98%) of Medicare-enrolled Minnesota seniors consider customer service to be an important factor within their plan. More information about Blue Cross Medicare plans can be found at BlueCrossMN.com/medicare.Editor's note: Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. Blue Cross offers PPO, HMO-POS, Cost and PDP plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in these Blue Cross plans depends on contract renewal.2024 Star Ratings are based on services and care members received in 2022 and are posted at Medicare.gov. Based on 2023 CAHPS results. Star rating information is on medicare.gov/plan-compare.
We all face challenges in this environment that can be difficult to navigate. If the stress of these challenges isnt addressed, it can lead to mood and behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety, or insomnia.A survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association found that more than three-quarters of adults (76%) said they have experienced a negative health impact due to stress in the prior month, including headaches, fatigue, or feelings of nervousness and sadness.Severe stress can be triggered by a wide range of experiences, including: Conflict with others in leadership Caring for children or ailing family members Civil liberties distress An uncertain future Inflation and the economy Concerns over crime and safetyLearning to handle lifes challenges more efficiently and effectively is where resilience comes in. According to the American Psychological Association, psychological resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.Learn to Live, which offers customized online programs based on the proven principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), has created a new educational program centered on resilience to help people do just that.Why is resilience important?Learn to Live, which already provided existing programs for those experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia and other challenges, wanted to create a new program that could help reduce the risk of developing those conditions in the first place.Everyone can benefit from resilience, says Dr. Russ Morfitt, co-founder and chief clinical officer at Learn to Live. Its our first program that provides participants, with or without symptoms of mental health problems, the tools to improve mental fitness. We think thats really important. According to Dr. Morfitt, resilient individuals are more equipped to: Cope with the demands of everyday life Manage adversity Improve emotional well-being Build and keep strong relationships Think optimistically Be able to recover from setbacksLearn to Lives Resilience program includes eight lessons that help members overcome challenges in their work and personal lives and keep moving forward in life.One of the lessons focuses on Present Awareness and learning to be more mindful and less distracted by everyday worries. This can help a person stay focused, making it more likely they will progress towards personal wellbeing goals.We want everyone to learn research-informed strategies that can help us look ahead at the day with confidence, in spite of the uncertain future, the potential for pain and disappointment, and inevitable obstacles ahead of us, says Dr. Morfitt. Its the people who keep bouncing back who are successful and we want to equip more individuals to be those people.Learn moreLearn to Live offers a free resilience assessment to identify which stressors are affecting your life and how well you are equipped to overcome life's setbacks.Get more information about Learn to Live at learntolive.com. To find out if the Resilience program is covered under your Blue Cross MN health plan, call the number on the back of your member ID card or visit bluecrossmnonline.com to review your offerings.