Supporting and protecting communities during the pandemic
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates (collectively, the Health Plans) rolled out a multifaceted Good Deeds campaign to support and protect first responders, customers, and the broader community.
Early in the spring, as the economic hardships created by the pandemic emerged, the Health Plans provided funds to address food insecurity, financial stability, and safety net health care in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. That support has grown to more than $4 million. The Health Plans also waived members' out-of-pocket costs for telemedicine, COVID-19 testing, and in-network inpatient COVID-19 treatment.
Recognizing the importance of masks against the spread of COVID-19 early in the pandemic, along with the nationwide shortage of PPE, the Health Plans committed to donating over 1.3 million masks. The initiative was planned in phases. The first phase kicked off in May during National EMS Week, with nearly 40,000 masks donated to EMS providers in three states.
The second phase of the initiative focused on creating masks for health plan members, employer groups, and health care professionals. Highmark Inc. worked with Kiya Tomlin, a Pittsburgh fashion designer, to create original designs for the masks, and also recruited three Pittsburgh-based small and diverse businesses to manufacture the masks. Not only were the masks intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but they also allowed members to express their individuality through a fashionable mask.
The final phase included providing masks to the community. At-risk and vulnerable members, including Medicare and Affordable Care Act members, were sent free masks in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware. In the fall, community organizations in need across the Health Plans' footprint also received a donation of face masks. In total, over 100,000 face masks were donated to 145 community organizations.
To give back to school districts preparing to return to class for a year like no other, the Health Plans donated PPE and supplies to school districts in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia in August. Supplies included face masks, face shields, disinfectant wipes, gallon bottles of hand sanitizer with pumps, posters, and printed material featuring best practices. Enough supplies were provided for each student and staff member for over 500 school districts across the Health Plans' footprint. Additionally, a webinar was hosted for school districts in Pennsylvania and Delaware to provide best practices on how to start the new school year amid COVID-19.