We swiftly pivoted beyond our “normal” responsibilities with leadership, agility, and compassion to deliver for those who were counting on us.
Reaching out to vulnerable consumers was a clear priority. As committed and trusted partners in health, Anthem associates made proactive outreach calls to our most vulnerable Medicare and Medicaid members, serving as a calm voice in a time of uncertainty.
“Because people were incredibly isolated, we made them feel cared for. I feel proud to work for a company that has made such a concerted effort to support our members however we could – whether it’s getting prescriptions delivered, navigating virtual care, keeping the utilities on, or just offering a friendly voice to share worries,” explained Gay Stier, an Indianapolis-based Anthem nurse.
Andrea Bennett, an Anthem social worker in West Virginia, worked with parents who had tested positive for COVID-19 and the family was under quarantine. “With two children in the home, the family was out of food and had no one to assist them,” she said. She made a call to a colleague at a local social service organization, and a supply of food was delivered to the family’s home by the next afternoon. “The premise of a phone call is simple – but the impact is profound.”
Beyond outreach, our support was broad reaching, recognizing the uncertainty our consumers were facing, especially when it came to safe and affordable care. For example, we committed $2.6 billion in financial assistance to ease the burden among our consumers, employer customers, care providers, and nonprofit partners.
We also removed barriers to care by waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19, including coverage for testing, treatment, and inpatient hospital stays, as well as prior authorizations for supplies and durable medical equipment to treat COVID-19.
For customers struggling to maintain the health and well-being of their employees, in addition to operational challenges, we partnered to provide affordable and flexible payment terms to help them work through immediate financial challenges, digital capabilities to help them navigate through the crisis, and personal support from our care teams.
One of the challenges that many companies faced amid the pandemic was how to care for employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to ensure they had the support and information to aid in their recovery. For our more than 250,000 Verizon members, we challenged ourselves to think creatively and develop a program the moment required. We pulled together a dedicated group of 14 nurses, who worked around the clock to calm nerves, serve as an information resource, and provide active case management.
Every day, after receiving the names of people self-identifying as being COVID-19 positive or having been in close contact with someone who was confirmed, our team of nurses reached out to determine the employees’ needs, coordinate care, provide education, and continue to monitor their progress toward recovery. Cristyn Hanson, a nurse and Anthem clinical director, and one of the clinicians who headed the Verizon response team, shared one example of the service delivered.
“When a member was discharged from the emergency room, one of our nurses had concerns, noting that he sounded very winded,” Cristyn recalled. While he insisted he was fine, the Anthem nurse didn’t leave it there. She called his primary care doctor to relay her concerns, and he advised the patient to go back to the hospital. The nurse then received a message from the patient’s spouse who said the member had been admitted to the ICU, and she thanked the nurse for being so persistent. “He had a successful outcome, but without that intervention the outcome might not have been as positive,” Cristyn said.
“We wanted our employees to rest assured that Verizon was listening to them and willing to do whatever it would take, and more, to support them during this incredibly challenging time. Anthem quickly and effectively provided support to address and meet the evolving needs they heard directly from our employees.”
Cristyn added, “Whatever was needed, we did – whether it was finding access to testing, getting medications delivered, discussing and obtaining hospital discharge plans or even facilitating the delivery of a phone charger to a hospital room so a patient could talk with his loved ones.”
For care providers on the frontlines of the spreading pandemic, COVID-19 caseloads rose exponentially. But because of the need for social distancing, many providers had to eliminate elective surgeries and close primary care offices and clinics, which threatened their financial security. Because our collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem is fundamental to the health of our consumers and the vitality of our provider partners, we stepped up to support independent health care providers.
“I appreciate the true partnership over the years, especially in times of need. Anthem’s COVID-19 loan program has enabled our physicians to stay independent,” said Michael Guarino, Founder and Executive Director at the IPA of Nassau and Suffolk County in New York, an organization with 2,000 physicians, encompassing one of the most affected COVID-19 regions. “The investment in our organization reflects a deep commitment to protect doctors during a difficult time,” Guarino added.
Beyond financial support and active partnership, Anthem created resources to help with direct patient care. At the onset of the pandemic, for instance, we developed a dashboard that provides a COVID-19 risk score for each patient, so care providers could identify their most vulnerable patients.
During COVID-19, the health system has been tested like never before. Anthem truly met this need with speed and innovation. Our case managers used this dashboard to make sure our most vulnerable patients got the help they needed.
The health and safety of our associates will always be our top priority. At the beginning of the pandemic, we moved quickly to implement business continuity plans and transition nearly all of our in-office associates to work from home – keeping our associates engaged and meeting their evolving needs.
Support included up to 80 hours of additional paid leave to ease the concern of associates caring for children or those who may have fallen ill; providing direct case management support for associates with COVID-19; waiving one month of premium costs for associates enrolled in an Anthem health plan; paying the costs of COVID-19 testing and treatment at 100%; offering online workouts and virtual well-being resources; expanding mental health support; and increasing our Anthem Cares emergency relief fund to help associates manage through the crisis.
“Without the 80 hours of additional paid leave, I don’t know how I would have cared for my two young children when their daycare closed this past spring,” said Maryrose Lombardo, a marketing associate based in Buffalo, New York. “And when they transitioned to virtual school this fall, I was so grateful that I was able to take a few more days to help them get acclimated. This support is critical to me – and to women across our organization who often bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities and are balancing so much.”
Anthem also developed an Associate CARE Community of Service for those who needed help but didn’t know where to begin or how to connect with others for support. Through this online community and 24/7 hotline, with email and chat features, and an array of other benefits, they can access help for food, transportation, childcare, and caregiving services, or just have someone to talk to.
We also helped many of our associates pivot to help address growing needs within our organization. We redeployed over 2,500 associates for the short term into new peak-capacity areas, and permanently redeployed about 350 associates into new roles. Many of these associates performed critical outreach to high-risk members, helping to connect them with needed resources, such as food or prescriptions.
“I had the pleasure of working on a part-time project. Over the course of my experience with the member outreach program, I made close to 200 calls to members. Being there to help them was very rewarding,” says Lesley Jordan, Executive Administrative Assistant.
This unique moment challenged us to do what we didn’t know was possible. With our values as our guide, we know we can – and will – continue to do more for our fellow associates, members, customers, and care providers. All made possible by who deliver with heart and hands every day.
Anthem, Inc. has followed the PPA COVID-19 guidelines for all professional photography conducted for this report.