Regence executive part of national team working on COVID-19 vaccines and health equity
Regence's Tonya Adams is among health plan leaders working with the White House on an initiative to vaccinate 2 million seniors
As COVID-19 vaccines roll out nationwide, one area of significant focus is how to reach underserved or disproportionately affected populations.
America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the Blue Cross and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) are part of a team of operational leaders from 13 health plans collaborating with the White House on ways to accelerate vaccination of their member populations with a focus on equity.
On March 3, 2021, the group announced a nationwide initiative by health insurance providers to help enable vaccination of more than 2 million seniors as vaccine supplies increase. The focus is on members age 65+ living in the most-vulnerable communities.
Tonya Adams, Regence’s chief of customer experience and operations, is part of the industry’s collaboration with senior White House advisers working to identify ways to ensure our nation’s most vulnerable populations have barrier-free access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is an example of the industry being united to reach a united goal, and that’s vaccines in arms and health equity for our members,” said Adams, who serves as a national spokeswoman for the effort. “We know health insurance providers have a unique role to play, and this is an important opportunity to show our value and how we can lean in to solve complex problems.”
Health insurance plans will use their own data and analytics as well as rely on government resources such as the Social Vulnerability Index from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help identify members in the target population. Health plans can then reach out to members to help them with registration and appointment scheduling, answer questions about vaccine safety or help coordinate services like transportation that might be barriers to getting vaccinated.
Adams says the industry team working with the administration not only provides the opportunity for a strong public-private partnership on an important cause but also enables shared practices among health plans as all participants work to get shots in the arms of the most vulnerable. In a recent podcast, Adams shares specifics about the initiative and what it's like on the inside of this work group as they strive to be part of the solution.
For its part, Regence is already engaged in some of this work and eager to share. Customer Service professionals are working with Medicare members who have struggled with vaccine registration and scheduling, taking extra time to help members navigate the complexity of the process. And the health plan’s corporate parent is working with community nonprofit partners to provide information about vaccines, such as educational fliers in Spanish, and facilitating webinars with its medical directors to encourage vaccination and overcome hesitancy in underrepresented communities.
“As vaccines are in greater supply—something we’re watching through the CDC’s vaccine finder tool—we want to be in the best position to help our members,” Adams said. “This includes working with federal and state officials and getting on the ground in our communities. We’re all in this together, and we will solve it together.”