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Blueprint Autumn 2021

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A publication for the policyholders of the Arkansas

Blue Cross and Blue Shield family of companies AUTUMN 2021

Behavioral Health in Arkansas

Funding programs, connecting people to care

PAGES 2, 4-7

Open

enrollment

PAGE 3

Virtual Health

identifies stroke

PAGE 8

COVID -19

updates

PAGE 10


aWordwith Curtis Barnett

Our President and Chief Executive Officer

Why Behavioral Health?

This past July, the Blue & You

Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas

committed $5.29 million in support

of six Arkansas-based partners and

leaders to expand behavioral health

resources across our state.

This is the largest one-time investment

ever made through the Blue & You

Foundation, and it all goes toward

innovative behavioral health programs

led by established and proven

Arkansas-based organizations. You

can read more about these programs

on pages 8 and 9.

Following the announcement, several

people asked me why – in a state

with so many critical health needs –

the Foundation selected behavioral

health as such a high priority. I want

to share what motivated us to focus

on behavioral health.

It is not an exaggeration to say that

Arkansas and the rest of the U.S.

have been experiencing a behavioral

health crisis for quite some time.

Behavioral health is the broader

term used to describe mental health

conditions such as depression,

anxiety and trauma, and substance

use disorders characterized by

overuse of drugs or alcohol.

The National Alliance for Mental

Illness (NAMI) reports that more

than 25 percent of all U.S. adults

experience some type of behavioral

health disorder. For the Millennial

generation, which includes adults

between the ages of 25 and 40, the

rate is even higher, nearly one-third.

Yet, 60 percent of those in need do

not receive care for their condition

each year.

Behavioral health is a significant

health equity issue. While most

minority groups, especially African

Americans and Hispanic Americans,

report lower rates of behavioral

health conditions than White

Americans, this is not a result of

any individual or group behavior.

Instead, it is primarily due to the

under-diagnosis of behavioral health

conditions for these groups driven

principally by access and stigma.

The behavioral health crisis has

been made worse by the COVID-19

pandemic. Research published by

the Kaiser Family Foundation on the

implications of COVID-19 for mental

health and substance abuse showed

dramatic increases in rates of anxiety

and depression for adults during

the pandemic. It also predicted that

“today’s elevated mental health

need will continue well beyond the

coronavirus outbreak.” In Arkansas,

we see rates of depression and

anxiety among adults that exceed the

national averages.

Behavioral health plays a major role in

an individual’s ability to maintain good

physical health, especially for those

with chronic health conditions like

diabetes, asthma, heart disease and

lung disease. A report from the Robert

Wood Johnson Foundation noted

that an estimated 84 percent of total

healthcare costs in the United States

can be attributed to the treatment

of chronic disease. We know that

Arkansas has some of the highest

rates of chronic disease in the nation.

Individuals with chronic disease

are twice as likely to also have

a behavioral health disorder. If

someone is depressed, anxious or

dealing with addiction, it is hard for

them to effectively care for their

chronic health condition. Physical

health and behavioral health are

intimately connected. You will not be

successful in addressing one unless

you address the other.

Impacting these statistics and

improving the quality of life for

Arkansans are part of what motivated

us to make such a significant

investment in behavioral health.

But there is also a very human side

to this crisis that deserves attention

and must be addressed.

For those in need of behavioral

healthcare, the challenges can

be overwhelming. The behavioral

healthcare system has struggled to

keep up with demand.

Too often, patients and their

families face a system that is

hard to understand, navigate and

access. A system marked by stigma,

fragmented care, high costs and

a shortage of clinicians. While we

have behavioral health providers

doing amazing work in our state,

we still have too many undiagnosed

and untreated people falling through

the cracks. Simply put, individuals

and families are suffering, and it is

affecting all aspects of their lives.

Most of us have been touched by a

behavioral health condition, either

personally or through a family

member or close friend. We have

witnessed the struggles and felt

the despair of trying to get help.

We believe every life deserves

hope! That’s the human side of the

behavioral health crisis and the part

that motivated us the most.

Behavioral health must be supported

in all stages of life – from early

childhood, through adolescence, and

into adulthood. (Continued on page 3)

2 AUTUMN 2021


OPEN

Enrollment

for

2022

coverage

November 1 - December 15

Choosing a health plan is an important decision, and Arkansas Blue Cross

and Blue Shield’s friendly experts are here to help. If you need individual or

family health coverage, the open enrollment period (OEP) begins November 1.

You must enroll by December 15 for coverage that begins on January 1. If you

already have health coverage with us, this is the time for you to review your

information and decide if you want to keep your current health plan the way it

is or make changes.

The American Rescue Plan

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) could mean big savings for you and your

family. The ARP changes the size and availability of advance premium tax

credits on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

1. If you make less than 400% of the federal poverty line, you qualify for a

reduced monthly premium on a health plan through the Affordable Care Act.

2. If you make more than 400% of the federal poverty line, you may still be

eligible for advance premium tax credits. The maximum anyone pays for

a benchmark plan is 8.5% of their income. You could save hundreds of

dollars each month.

Updating your coverage

Watch your mail for your annual benefit update letter, which will explain

your options in detail. If you want to discuss a new health plan:

• Call 855-625-0376 to talk with one of our health insurance experts.

• Visit an ArkansasBlue welcome center. To find a location near you, visit arkbluecross.com/locations.

During open enrollment, some welcome center locations will even be open on Saturdays.

• Visit arkbluecross.com/ARP to shop for a new plan.

• Call your local agent.

Whether you keep your current health plan or change to a new one, Arkansas Blue Cross is happy to help

your family get the coverage you need.

(Continued from page 2)

To achieve this, we have focused our

investments on programs that are

designed to do three things:

• Build life-long health, resiliency and

well-being for children and families

by activating early intervention

practices and addressing the drivers

of behavioral health conditions.

• Expand the behavioral healthcare

workforce and better integrate

behavioral health into primary

care, which will improve access.

• Remove barriers to care, like the longstanding

stigma around receiving

behavioral health treatment.

If we are going to help people live

better and healthier lives and impact

the rate at which overall healthcare

costs are growing, we must make

progress on the behavioral health front.

We believe these investments and the

organizations we have partnered with

are going to make a difference. We

hope other organizations will join us

in making behavioral health a priority.

AUTUMN 2021 3


Blue & You Foundation

focuses on BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

ehe past year has been hard

T for us all. The COVID-19

pandemic forced us to physically

distance ourselves from friends and

loved ones and brought financial

hardship and uncertainty. This was

in addition to fears for our own

health and the health of our loved

ones. All of this contributes to

increased levels of stress, anxiety,

loneliness and even depression

– elements that are central to our

behavioral health. An increase in

behavioral health conditions like

this can lead to behaviors like

eating poorly, smoking and drinking

alcohol. These actions worsen our

behavioral health and can have a

direct impact on our physical health.

Behavioral health issues touch

people in all walks of life in

Arkansas. But, many people don’t

get the help they or their children

need to treat these issues. As part

of our commitment to a healthier

Arkansas, we are taking action to

support proven behavioral health

resources for the unique needs of

our community.

health programs focused on our

community. We are giving money

to six organizations across

Arkansas. Each is a proven

expert on addressing behavioral

health needs in children and

adults. Also, they help grow our

state’s network of behavioral

health medical professionals.

Investing in our future

The health and well-being of

our children is something we all

care deeply about. Too often,

behavioral health conditions in

children are not detected until

later in life. Untreated behavioral

health conditions early in life, such

as anxiety, depression or issues

related to childhood trauma,

can lead to significant health

problems as children age. The

Blue & You Foundation is investing

in two programs that will help

address the causes of behavioral

health conditions in children and

support them and their families in

identifying the care they need.

• HealthySteps, a pilot program led

by Arkansas Children’s, places

behavioral health specialists in

pediatric primary care clinics

in Arkansas to help families

better understand and recognize

symptoms of behavioral health

conditions in children and

connect them to care.

• Arkansas Trauma Resource

Initiative for Schools provides

resources to school employees

to recognize signs of childhood

trauma and support children

and their families by connecting

them with local behavioral

healthcare resources. The

program also provides

behavioral health resources to

schools during times of crisis.

In Arkansas the need for childhood behavioral

healthcare is greater than across the country.

Taking action now

Through our Blue & You

Foundation for a Healthier

Arkansas, we are investing

$5.29 million in Arkansas-based

programs to improve access to,

and awareness of, behavioral

4 AUTUMN 2021

Percentage of children who need

behavioral healthcare but do not receive it.

Arkansas

National

65.7 %

58.5 %


‘‘

Even when people feel that they may be

experiencing symptoms of a behavioral health

condition, they often don’t know where to

go to get help. By making these services

available, we’re making it easier for people

to access the care they need right from their

primary care provider’s office.

Strengthening our care

provider network

You can’t access behavioral

healthcare services if there aren’t

enough trained care providers.

Unfortunately, Arkansas faces

a shortage of these providers.

To support a stronger, healthier

future, grants to Arkansas State

University, University of Arkansas

– Fayetteville and University

of Arkansas – Little Rock, will

expand Master of Social Work

programs, training new specialists

and placing them in primary care

settings here in the Natural State.

Breaking down the

stigma associated

with behavioral health

Improving access to behavioral

healthcare is important, but

we know that there are other

things preventing people from

taking that first step to care.

Needing behavioral healthcare

is completely normal, but

‘‘

unfortunately there is often

stigma or shame associated

with these conditions that might

prevent people from seeking care.

The Blue & You Foundation’s

investment in AR-Connect and

our state chapter of the National

Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI

Arkansas) will focus on improving

awareness and acceptance of

behavioral health symptoms

and the care available to all

Arkansans. AR-Connect also

provides access to those in

crisis through a hotline available

24-hours a day, seven days a

week. With programs that help

children and adults, these support

groups can make a difference for

those who may not know where

to start with care, have questions

about the cost of care or have

concerns about seeking care

because of stigma.

Behavioral health is as critical

to a person’s health, wellbeing

and ability to thrive as any

physical health concern. It is

part of what we call our whole

REBECCA PITTILLO

Executive Director

Blue & You Foundation

for a Healthier Arkansas

person approach to healthcare—

our mission to address all the

elements that influence health

and wellness for Arkansans.

We are proud to make this

new investment in support of

Arkansas-based programs that

provide resources to people who

seek behavioral health support,

while also investing in the future

of care in our communities

by supporting the training

and placement of healthcare

professionals.

If you are struggling with

mental health issues like

depression, anxiety and/

or stress, call AR-Connect

at 501-526-3563

or 1-800-482-9921.

AUTUMN 2021 5


“I was a school-based mental

health provider then – BOOM –

the schools were closed.”

Christie was furloughed for

two months with a reduction

in time and a cut in pay. She

did, however, maintain her

caseload of counseling with

approximately 30 students a

week by meeting with them

virtually via Zoom.

“They were so grateful we were

still there for them,” Christie

said. “They were impacted by

deaths in the family, by kids

staying home from school, by

parents becoming teachers

– and I walked through the

transition with them as they

learned to do life from home.”

But, Christie was still struggling

to navigate a work world turned

upside down.

COVID dramatically changed

“Jim’s” job, too. He lost it. A

50-something husband and

father who worked a blue-collar

job, Jim suddenly found himself

at home, largely responsible

for his elementary-school-aged

son’s education and with a lot

of time on his hands. He was

trying to do life from home, too.

But he didn’t have anyone to

talk to or help him identify the

healthcare need he had lived

with for years.

The COVID pandemic – apart

from the virus itself – created a

secondary healthcare crisis that

many may not even be aware of.

AR-Connect:

Helping Arkansans with the unseen costs of COVID-19

When COVID-19 hit, it dramatically changed Christie Kelly’s job

Christie Kelly

“There’s a strong mental health and behavioral

health component to COVID. We need to be aware

that it’s not just a virus that affects the rest of

your body,” said Richard Smith, M.D., the recently

retired director of the Psychiatric Research

Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical

Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock. “There are

multiple psychological and social psychiatric

issues that come into play during this pandemic.”

To address this mental health crisis within the

COVID crisis, UAMS launched AR-Connect, a

treatment program providing mental healthcare to

individuals experiencing any number of issues. A

team of board-certified mental health professionals

offers immediate care and can help callers

recognize warning signs and explore treatment

options in their local area – all through a 24/7 crisis

hotline that doesn’t need referrals or insurance.

“The AR-Connect program was born out of the

pandemic,” said Dr. Smith. “We were up and

running, operating 24/7 within four weeks of the

public health emergency.”

The AR-Connect program turned out to be exactly

what both Christie and Jim needed.

In their search for qualified people to staff AR-

Connect, UAMS identified newly unemployed

school-based mental health providers, like Christie.

“UAMS said, ‘Hey, we have a

whole team of providers who

might be looking for work,’”

Christie said. “I love how UAMS

utilized school therapists to

launch this program. I love that

I get to be a part of this.”

In fact, Christie was one of the

first hires. She was a part of the

team that joined AR-Connect

Program Director Anthony Boaz,

LCSW, in the planning stage. “We

mapped out on a whiteboard

how to do this,” she said.

Christie took on a supervisory

role. As the clinical supervisor for

AR-Connect, she helped build a

staff that now includes eight fulltime

therapists – each one seeing

an average of 30 patients a week.

AR-Connect even gave Christie

the opportunity to work with the

parents of many of the students

she worked with at school.

“Before, I was only treating the

child,” she said. “But, once AR-

Connect launched, I could tell the

parents ‘this is your session.’”

But there were many, many

more parents out there who

needed help, too. Like Jim.

“Jim called AR-Connect

because he had lost his job and

was at home with his son, and

he recognized that he needed

help,” Christie said. “It turns

out Jim had experienced a

childhood trauma that he had

never dealt with. He suppressed

it by going to work early in

life and by self-medicating

with alcohol. He became a

functioning alcoholic.”

6 AUTUMN 2021


But, what really motivated Jim to

call was when he looked at his son

and realized his son was about the

same age he had been when he had

suffered his childhood trauma. Jim

realized his son needed a father to

prevent that from happening to him.

And calling the hotline was simple.

“He loved the fact that our sessions

were virtual,” Christie said. “He could

just pick up the phone for treatment.”

The fact that AR-Connect is virtual

probably contributed to Jim making

contact in the first place.

“If it was an in-person appointment,

he would have had any number of

opportunities to back out,” Christie said.

“He could have found an excuse to not

leave the house, not get in the car. He

could have decided to drive somewhere

else, to the store. Even if he arrived in

our parking lot, he could have found

an excuse to not come inside – there

would have been four or five roadblocks

that could have stopped him.”

But he did call.

“Jim was diagnosed with posttraumatic

stress with delayed onset,”

Christie said. She went back to the

original whiteboard mapping session

to see what kind of treatment was

best for him. It called for an 8-week

protocol. They began sessions.

One of the things Christie prescribed

for Jim was for him to find an activity

that he enjoyed doing and then to

engage in that activity with his son a

couple of times a week – whether he

felt like it or not.

“He did wonderfully with it,” Christie

said. “Before long he started sharing

with me, ‘I haven’t had a drink in two

days, one week, three weeks.’”

And before long Christie and Jim had

reached the end of their 8-week plan.

“We are a short-term program,” Christie

said. “So, when we completed our

Christie Kelly talks with a

fellow UAMS co-worker.

protocol with Jim, we tried to get

him into something more longterm.”

Jim sat in on a session of

AlcohOlics Anonymous.

“That wasn’t his cup of tea,” Christie

said, “but he found a sobriety app

where he could connect to others

sharing his struggle and it has

really worked for him. He has since

replaced drinking with a new hobby

and has poured himself into a

different activity.”

Funding Behavioral Health

It is stories like Jim’s that illustrate the

importance of investing in behavioral

care in Arkansas. That is why the

Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier

Arkansas was compelled to provide

Arkansas-based programs (including

AR-Connect) $5.29 million in grants to

improve access to, and awareness of,

behavioral health programs.

“Arkansans with mental health

conditions should be able to easily

access treatment, but lack of

awareness of behavioral health

conditions and resources, and the

stigma associated with receiving this

care remain significant barriers,” said

Rebecca Pittillo, executive director of

the Blue & You Foundation. “Our goal

is to build these programs and connect

them in such a way that everyone can

easily receive the care they need.”

In addition to quality therapists,

AR-Connect provides access to

vital resources.

“We have a whole team of care

coordinators whose job is to connect

people with the resources they need,”

said Christie. “Food pantries, shelters,

help with rent, medical care and so on.”

A virtual resource center on the AR-

Connect webpage includes a map of

Arkansas divided into regions. “You

just click on your region, and it will

take you to all the resources in your

area,” Christie said. “You can even

break it down by category, like food,

rent, medical, whatever.”

AR-Connect even has a “gap group”

to help patients after they’ve finished

their program while they wait for longterm

care.

What makes these resources even

better is their availability to patients

at no cost.

“What sets us apart is that our patients

don’t have to pay,” said Christie. “This

will never have the power it does, right

now, when people have to start paying.”

The cost of care is yet another

roadblock that can prevent a patient

from reaching out. But that roadblock

was not in the way for Jim.

“Every now and then I’ll get a text

from Jim,” Christie said. “’Back in the

workforce,’ ‘Sober five months and

started my own business.’”

The day Christie agreed to be

interviewed by Blueprint, she received

another text from Jim.

“Nine months sober today.”

AUTUMN 2021 7


Virtual

Health

visit leads

to stroke

treatment

Pat’s crooked smile

was cause for alarm

On March 3, 2021, Pat Francis and her husband took a short walk

to enjoy a beautiful spring evening in Northwest Arkansas. The air

felt great after a dismal February, and they stopped to take a selfie

to post to their walking group’s Facebook page.

After smiling for the camera, Pat looked at the picture and

thought, “That’s weird, my smile is crooked.” She and Mark posed

again, this time turning away from the sun. Again, a crooked smile.

F

A

Act F.A.S.T.

during a stroke

If you think someone may be having

a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the

following simple test:

S

T

FACE: Ask the person to smile.

Does one side of the face droop?

ARMS: Ask the person to raise both

arms. Does one arm drift downward?

SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat

a simple phrase. Is the speech

slurred or strange?

TIME: If you see any of these

signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

8 AUTUMN 2021

“Mark, does my smile look crooked to you?” Pat asked and smiled

for her husband. He looked closely and had to admit, something

seemed off. Pat remembered years ago when she had Bell’s Palsy

and hoped that she wasn’t in for another round.

When they got home, Pat decided to consult with Virtual Health. She

had contacted them about four times previously and loved how fast

and convenient it was to talk directly to a doctor, any time, day or

night. She filled in the online form and received an email notification

that a doctor would call soon. In the meantime, she checked in with

her son Jake, who is a neuroscience nurse in Little Rock.

“Mom, stick out your tongue,” Jake directed after seeing her lopsided

smile. Pat stuck out her tongue and was surprised to see it jut to the

left side of her mouth. “Mom, you need to go straight to the ER,” Jake

insisted. Still, Pat thought maybe Jake was overly concerned for his

mom. About that time the telehealth doctor called.

As soon as the doctor saw Pat’s condition, he quickly agreed with

Jake and urged her to go to the ER immediately. Even though she

was able to speak and think clearly, Pat decided to heed their

advice, but she still took time to change clothes and gather her

study books, thinking she would have a long wait to see anyone at

the hospital.

At the ER, Pat went to the front desk to check in. “The Virtual

Health doctor said I should come in just as a precaution because I

might have signs of a stroke ...” she started to explain.


“STROKE!” yelled the desk clerk toward the back of

the ER, and large group of medical professionals

immediately came running. From there Pat was wheeled

into the CT scan, asked a million questions, had lights

shown in her eyes, blood drawn, IV needles inserted and

finally was placed on a stretcher and told not to move.

In the midst of the chaos, a nurse practitioner came in

close and looked directly into Pat’s eyes.

“We are pretty sure you are having a stroke right now,”

she said. “We’ve talked with your husband, and we want

to give you tPA.” Pat couldn’t believe her ears. Tissue

plasminogen activator (tPA) is a blood thinner that helps

restore blood flow to the brain and can help reverse a

stroke if given to carefully selected patients within a few

hours of the onset of symptoms.

“They don’t just give it to anyone,” Pat said, looking back.

“It’s the best thing they’ve found to help during a stroke,

but it can have side effects.” Since she was still thinking

and talking clearly, Pat said it didn’t seem possible that

she needed tPA.

Since Pat’s son is a neuroscience nurse, he was allowed

to come in and talk with her during her stay. “I was

really lucky. He was able to tell me in detail what was

happening. Even with the tPA, Pat required extensive

physical and occupational therapy and still has

swallowing and mild short-term memory issues.

Still, she thinks about what might have happened

if she hadn’t made that call to Virtual Health.

What is Virtual Health?

With just a click on your smartphone or computer, you

can connect with experienced board-certified physicians

and pediatricians around the clock. Virtual Health

(powered by MDLIVE) gives you peace-of-mind if

you’re a senior, parent, or just busy and on-the-go.

“I was really lucky,” Pat said of her experience. She is

back to work and back to walking with Mark. When friends

ask how she is doing, she shares pictures of her crooked

smile along with her experience with Virtual Health.

The nurse practitioner quickly erased any doubt. “I want

you to lift your right leg.” Pat looked down and willed

her leg to move. Her toes to wiggle. Any movement

at all. Nothing. Then the fear started to creep over her.

The nurse reassured her, “tPA will fix this.”

For the next three days, Pat barely slept as medical

personnel prodded her with questions. “What’s your

name? Where are you? Can you lift your arm? Can you

touch your nose?” In the beginning it was every 20

minutes, but slowly they spread out the checks to every

hour, then every four hours. Pat could lift her right arm,

but she couldn’t get it to stay up, or touch her nose.

Using Virtual Health

1.

Activate your Virtual

Health account

Go to MyVirtualHealth.com

and follow the simple steps to

sign in or register to activate

your account today!

2.

Choose

a doctor

Choose from a large

network of state-licensed,

board-certified doctors

(including pediatricians)

3.

Start your visit

Arkansas law requires your first call to be a

video call. Have your health information handy

(conditions you have and medicine you take). And

be prepared to pay a copayment, coinsurance or

deductible amount, if your health plan requires it.

AUTUMN 2021 9


COVID-19

UPDATE

global pandemic doesn’t end overnight.

Viruses constantly change, and sometimes they

become a stronger variant of the original virus.

Since summer, the United States (especially

Arkansas) has been battling the delta variant of

COVID-19, which is at least twice as contagious

as the original virus. Health experts say it’s

typical for a new virus strain to be more

contagious because it often becomes much

more efficient and easily transmitted. This has

been documented in previous pandemics, like

the 1918 flu pandemic.

Vaccines and boosters

When vaccines arrived in late 2020, they offered

a light at the end of the tunnel. They continue

to be the brightest beacon we have as the

COVID-19 pandemic marches into its second

winter. The vaccines are safe, effective and the

strongest weapon to prevent severe illness and

hospitalization.

The vaccines keep most people from being

hospitalized or dying from COVID-19. But no

vaccine is 100% effective, especially when it

comes to variants.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently

gave approval for people with compromised

immune systems who received a two-dose vaccine

(Pfizer or Moderna) to get a booster shot.

In late September, the FDA also approved Pfizer

boosters for people over age 65 or at high risk

of severe COVID-19 infection who received their

second dose at least six months ago.

Pregnancy and COVID-19

The CDC now recommends pregnant women be

vaccinated against COVID-19. Studies show no

increased risk of miscarriage from the vaccine.

There is a high risk of complications from

COVID-19 if you are pregnant, including preterm

birth, hospitalization and death.

If you have questions about getting vaccinated

or about a booster, please talk to your doctor.

10 AUTUMN 2021


Get Vaccinated!

• Arkansas COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline:

800-803-7847

• healthy.arkansas.gov

Schedule an appointment

at an upcoming vaccination

event or get information on

vaccinations at local

pharmacies. Bring a photo

ID and your health plan

member ID card when

you get vaccinated.

All vaccines are free.

By the Numbers

Since February, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue

Shield has been working with other organizations

to bring vaccinations to underserved Arkansans.

As of September 10, Arkansas Blue Cross has

supported more than 160 vaccination events

and given more than:

Tens of thousands of vaccinations

(1st and 2nd dose)

20,062 publications in English and Spanish

2,344 buttons

49,415 stickers

545 Arkansas Blue Cross employee volunteers

2,041 employee volunteer hours

Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in a lab that

can help a person’s immune system fight the COVID

virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) of

two monoclonal antibodies treatments for COVID-19.

When a person is infected with COVID-19, it takes

their immune system time to produce antibodies to

fight off the virus. That’s true even if a person

is vaccinated. When given early in an infection,

monoclonal antibodies can battle the virus while the

body is training its natural immune forces for the fight.

Who can receive

monoclonal antibodies?

This therapy is for people 12 and older who are not

hospitalized or severely ill. Monoclonal antibodies

are meant to be used at the onset of COVID-19 to

prevent the virus from progressing. This treatment

should begin as soon as possible after a positive test

and within 10 days of symptoms. Studies show

this therapy is highly effective at preventing highrisk

patients from developing severe illness.

How do you receive this therapy?

There are two ways to receive monoclonal antibodies

therapy – either through an IV transfusion or injections

under the skin with a very small needle. The

Arkansas Department of Health has authorized

trained pharmacists to administer it. A qualified

health professional must prescribe the treatment.

An infusion or injection treatment takes about an

hour. Patients must be monitored for side effects

afterward, which are unlikely but possible, as with

any medical treatment. Some symptoms may

worsen after treatment, according to the FDA.

Are antibody treatments a

replacement for vaccines?

No. Vaccines protect people longer and differently.

There is no cost to individuals receiving the vaccine.

AUTUMN 2021 11


Blue is more

Medicare

Annual Enrollment Period

OCTOBER 15 – DECEMBER 7

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is almost here. AEP is

your opportunity to choose a Medicare Advantage plan or return to

original Medicare. During this time, you’ll receive information about

all your plan options. And, Arkansas Blue Medicare and Health

Advantage have some exciting options you won’t want to miss.

The Annual Enrollment Period is October 15 through December 7,

with plans and benefits going into effect on January 1, 2022.

Here’s a little more about our Medicare

Health Advantage plans

HMO and PPO

plans with $0

premiums and

low copays

What’s most important when it

comes to your health coverage?

Whether it’s a plan that delivers real savings, makes it easy to get

needed care, or offers those extra benefits that give you peace of

mind, Arkansas Blue Medicare has you covered!

In 2022, we’re continuing to raise the bar on Medicare Advantage

plan options that provide the healthcare coverage and value our

fellow Arkansans want and need.

Want to learn more about our

Medicare Advantage plans?

Call your local licensed agent or toll-free at 800-392-2583

or visit arkbluemedicare.com to learn more. Make an

appointment at your nearby ArkansasBlue welcome

center. Speak to your local licensed agent today!

12 AUTUMN 2021

Comprehensive

dental, vision,

hearing and

prescription

drug coverage

A large network

of doctors and

hospitals you

know and trust

Our 2022 Medicare Advantage plans

offer more and better choices. And

with better choices, you can get a plan

that delivers what you need most from

your healthcare coverage. Our Medicare

Advantage plan options feature:

• $0 premium HMO and PPO plans

with low copays

• PPO in-network coverage that

travels with you

• Comprehensive dental, vision, hearing

and prescription drug coverage

• Quarterly allowances for Medicareapproved

over-the-counter products

Blue is value

Arkansas Blue Medicare Advantage

plans include valuable extras designed

to help you stay your healthiest:

• $0 copays on many preventive screenings

• Virtual health options at $0 or low copays

• SilverSneakers ® fitness program

membership

• Routine acupuncture and massage

therapy as alternative pain management

You take care of your health, and we take

care of you. It’s our commitment.

Blue is confidence

We’ve served our fellow Arkansans for

more than 70 years. When you choose an

Arkansas Blue Medicare Advantage plan,

you can take comfort in knowing that we’ll

be there when you need us.

Blue is your plan

The Annual Enrollment Period begins

October 15 and runs through December 7. If

you’re about to turn 65 or already a Medicare

Advantage member, now is the time to take

a look at Arkansas Blue Medicare. We’ve

designed our plans to meet your changing

needs. Our Medicare experts will help you

find the right plan for you.


Finding the right coverage

is easy with Arkansas Blue Cross

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue

Shield can help you choose

affordable health, dental and vision

coverage, learn about financial

assistance and get friendly customer

service. You can visit with us on the

phone, online or in one of our eight

ArkansasBlue welcome centers.

Sometimes meeting with someone

face to face is the best way to

understand your health insurance

situation. At our ArkansasBlue

welcome centers, you can speak in

person to licensed experts who can

help you find practical, affordable

solutions that meet your specific

health insurance needs. You can

schedule an appointment or drop

by. (You can see our locations and

contact information on page 15 or

go to arkblue.com/locations.) Please

be aware that we are taking extra

pandemic safety precautions.

Check with the welcome center

you are visiting to learn more.

If you’d rather shop from the

convenience of your own home,

you can call us at 800-392-2583

to discuss your health insurance

needs or shop online at arkblue.com.

Either way, we are happy to help!

Convenient ways to pay

Our welcome center

payment kiosks are

great if you need to

make a payment. If you

want to save yourself

a trip, just use any of

our other convenient

payment options

located on our website.

AUTUMN 2021 13


ANNUAL NOTICE 2022 Summary

of Benefits and Coverage

available November 15 for individual/

family policyholders

As required by the Patient Protection

and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),

the Summary of Benefits and

Coverage (SBC) (OMB Control

Numbers 1545- 2229, 1210-0147 and

0938-1146) provides information

regarding coverage specifications and

limitations that apply to the health

insurance plan you have selected.

Before the end of each year, Arkansas

Blue Cross and Blue Shield provides

members who have individual/family

health insurance policies* (but do not

have Medicare policies) with an SBC.

This official communication includes

information about the coverage

provided by your health insurance plan

in a summary format for the upcoming

year. Beginning November 15, 2021,

you may access this information:

• Online in the “Benefits” section of

the Arkansas Blue Cross secure

member selfservice center, My

Blueprint, at arkbluecross.com

• By calling Arkansas Blue Cross

customer service at 800-800-4298

to receive a printed version

After that date, you also may go to

arkbluecross.com/sbc and enter your

member number (found on your member

ID card) into the SBC locator tool to

review the document online and print it.

If you make changes to your Arkansas

Blue Cross health plan benefits that

differ from your current coverage, a

new summary will be created for you

within seven work days of our receipt

of your change request. It will be

available to you in the same manner

described above.

Arkansas Blue Cross, Health

Advantage and BlueAdvantage

Administrators of Arkansas members

who receive health coverage through

an employer group will get their

SBC from their employer group plan

administrator at the appropriate time.

* These are members who do not have

health insurance through an employer,

a Medicare health plan or short-term,

limited-duration Blue policies.

Women’s Health and

Cancer Rights Act

The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 introduced changes

in insurance coverage for a mastectomy. In accordance with the law, all

group and individual health plans that provide medical and surgical benefits

for mastectomy will cover reconstructive breast surgery, including:

Reconstructive surgery on

the breast on which the

mastectomy was performed

Reconstructive surgery on the

unaffected breast to “produce

a symmetrical appearance”

Prostheses and treatment of complications

of any stage of a mastectomy, including

lymphedema (postsurgical fluid buildup)

These provisions apply to all policies issued by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Health Advantage and

BlueAdvantage Administrators of Arkansas and are subject to the applicable copayments, coinsurance, benefit

limitations, exclusions and benefit maximums. If you have questions about your insurance coverage, contact

your group benefits administrator or a customer service representative.

14 AUTUMN 2021


Customer Service

N U M B E R S

May we help? For customer service, please call toll free:

Arkansas Blue Medicare Advantage

HMO Plans (H6158) 844-463-1088

PPO Plans (H3554) 844-201-4934

PFFS Plans (H4213) 877-233-7022

Arkansas Blue Medicare Prescription

Drug Plans (S5795): 866-390-3369

Health Advantage Medicare Advantage

HMO Plans (H9699): 877-349-9335

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Medicare Supplement Plans 800-238-8379

Arkansas Blue Cross members 800-238-8379

Pharmacy questions 800-863-5561

Specialty Rx pharmacy questions 866-295-2779

Arkansas Blue Cross Metallic members

(Gold, Silver, Bronze, Catastrophic) 800-800-4298

Pharmacy questions 800-969-3983

Health Advantage members 800-843-1329

BlueAdvantage members

Pharmacy questions

888-872-2531

888-293-3748

Federal Employee members 800-482-6655

Arkansas State Employees /

Public School Employees 800-482-8416

Booking for health or dental insurance? We can help!

For individuals, families 800-392-2583

For employer groups * 800-421-1112

Prefer to speak with someone close to home?

Call or visit one of our welcome centers near you:

* Arkansas Blue Cross, Health Advantage and BlueAdvantage Administrators of Arkansas

Visit our websites

for more information:

• arkbluecross.com

• arkbluemedicare.com

• hub.arkansasbluecross.com

• healthadvantage-hmo.com

• blueadvantagearkansas.com

• blueandyoufoundationarkansas.org

Fayetteville

516 East Millsap Rd. – Suite 103 800-299-4109

Fort Smith

3501 Old Greenwood Rd. – Suite 3 800-299-4060

Hot Springs

1635 Higdon Ferry Rd. – Suite J 800-588-5733

Jonesboro

2110 Fair Park Blvd. – Suite I 800-299-4124

Little Rock (MIDTOWN)

416 S. University Ave. – Suite 110 501-396-8675

Pine Bluff

509 Mallard Loop Dr. 800-236-0369

Rogers

4602 W. Walnut St. 479-973-6675

Texarkana

1710 Arkansas Blvd. 800-470-9621

PAYING

YOUR

bill

To pay by phone ** ,

please call

800-354-9904

** Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plan product

members must call Customer Service to discuss available

payment options. Health Advantage conversion plans are not

eligible for online, mobile or pay-by-phone payment options.

AUTUMN 2021

EDITOR

Chip Bayer

Editor@arkbluecross.com

DESIGNER

Ryan Kravitz

PHOTOGRAPHERS

Chip Bayer

David Lewis

CONTRIBUTORS

Roza Bost

Jennifer Bridgeman

Katie Eisenhower

Suzi Parker

Greg Russell

Marie Trotter

VICE PRESIDENT

of CORPORATE

MARKETING

Alison Melson

MEDICAL

REVIEWERS

Mark Jansen, M.D.,

vice president and

chief medical officer

Creshelle Nash, M.D.,

medical director

for Health Equity

and Public Programs

AUTUMN 2021 15


Blue365 is your online destination for deals and exclusive discounts

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is about making positive

choices every day. It’s easy and affordable with our

exclusive member * discount program, Blue365. It’s free to

you, just for being Blue!

Blue365 keeps you healthy and happy every day of the

year. Enjoy discounts from your favorite national brands

and local retailers on fitness gear, gym memberships,

vision care, nutrition programs and more! Save on top

brands like Fitbit ® , Reebok ® , Nutrisystem ® and more!

Blue365

Because Health is a Big Deal ®

How do I join?

Sign in to the My Blueprint online member portal

(arkbluecross.com/myblueprint), go to Menu and select

Blue365 and follow the instructions or

visit blue365deals.com/arkbluecross.

Once you are registered, you can choose your

preferences to receive personalized deals and wellness

tips straight to your inbox.

Take charge of your health today and

take advantage of this exciting program.

* Includes all Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Health Advantage members, as well as health plans utilizing BlueAdvantage Administrators

of Arkansas. Always check with your benefits administrator to ensure coverage and in-network providers.

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