The health plan’s programs aim to equip individuals and communities struggling with food insecurity with equitable access to healthy foods.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) recently announced several new programs to address non-medical drivers of health.
As North Carolina continues to rank as the nation’s 10th hungriest state, with more than 600,000 people struggling to put food on the table, the innovative programs will have a special focus on food insecurity to improve health outcomes.
“We recognize that access to healthy food drives our whole health, so we’re being strategic to help more individuals get better access to nutrition and the other resources they need to achieve their best health,” said Blue Cross NC President and CEO Tunde Sotunde, M.D., in the announcement. “Having served the people of North Carolina for nearly a century, we are ideally equipped to lead this journey. We know that healthier individuals mean healthier communities, and in the end that lowers costs for everyone."
The health plan will offer a variety of programs and services to support members with food insecurity:
- To improve members’ access to healthy foods, the health plan has partnered with the nonprofit organization, Benefits Data Trust, and several food banks to increase enrollment in Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Additionally, the plan will offer a separate prescription-based food purchasing program that will provide eligible members with monthly benefit stipends to purchase fresh, frozen, or canned produce without added sugar or salt.
- There will also be tailored programs for Medicare and Medicaid members. Eligible Medicare Advantage members will have access to a post-discharge meal program offering meal services personalized to their health and nutrition needs after an acute hospital stay. The Medicaid managed care plan will offer additional services for qualifying members, including three months of fresh produce for individuals with diagnosed obesity or diabetes, worth up to a $40 monthly value.
- To better support Medicare and Medicaid members with chronic conditions, Blue Cross NC will offer two program models: a food delivery and health coaching program for eligible Medicare Advantage members with Type 2 diabetes, as well as a virtual care model that offers an online nutrition health coach and on-demand nutritional resources.
More than 2,000 members have enrolled in the new programs so far. Blue Cross NC is measuring the impact of the programs to identify long-term effectiveness to address health disparities, strengthen communities, and develop impactful member products while reducing health care costs for North Carolina residents.