Insurers offer apps, telehealth to aid members affected by Dorian

As Hurricane Dorian bears down on the U.S., some health payers are moving to assist members in the wake of expected storm impact and lack of access to health services.

Capital BlueCross, based in Harrisburg, Penn., is offering free virtual care visits via its Virtual Care App, for the thousands of its members expected to be impacted by Dorian.

The Pennsylvania Blue announced September 3 that its members may use the virtual care service offered in partnership with American Well through September 17 at no charge if they are displaced and unable to reach local healthcare or mental health providers because of Dorian. Fees will be waived in all states that have declared a state of emergency, Capital BlueCross said. These include Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

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The Capital BlueCross Virtual Care App enables members to access healthcare providers via smartphones, computers or tablets. Members can access the iOS or Android mobile app through Apple and Google Play stores, or online at virtualcarecbc.com, according to Capital BlueCross. Visits take approximately 10 minutes, with licensed medical professionals available around the clock.

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health, insuring an estimated 38 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products, on August 30 sent out automated messages to members, encouraging them to pick up prescriptions in advance of the storm.

"As Hurricane Dorian continues to gain strength in the Atlantic, we are working to make it easier for the patients we serve to get the medications they need to endure the storm's impact, or longer," says Larry Merlo, CEO, CVS Health.

Patients who live in areas expected to be affected by the storm and who have opted into CVS Pharmacy's automated notification programs may receive automated phone calls, text messages and mobile app notifications, depending on the status of their current prescriptions.

Aetna members affected by Hurricane Dorian can refill their prescriptions early, if needed, according to CVS Health, which acquired Aetna last November. Members who use Aetna's mail-order pharmacy can either get a prescription at an alternate delivery location or refill a prescription that may have been lost, damaged or destroyed.

Aetna is also offering trauma counseling and its Resources for Living services to those affected by the Hurricane, regardless of whether they are Aetna members or not. Individuals can call 1-833-327-AETNA for assistance with finding available shelters, accessing government resources and seeking referrals or help coping with the emotional impact of Hurricane Dorian.

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