I hope you are all doing well out there. I know it’s been a pretty challenging week for everyone. My family and I got to see Ida up close, as the eyewall passed about 10 miles east of us. Hours of hurricane-force winds take the fun out of everything, right? We were blessed to come through safely and without any serious damages. I pray the same is true for all of you. I know the people who were 10 miles on the OTHER side of the eyewall had it much worse.Now that we are moving into the recovery phase of this storm, know that we here at Blue Cross are working very hard to make sure your healthcare continues to get funded, your prescriptions are easier to refill, and that we are doing whatever we can to help get your life back to normal.
Blue Cross’ Hurricane Ida Response
First, we’ve extended the premium payment grace period through Oct. 1, 2021. That means you will not have your insurance coverage canceled for non-payment through that date. Learn more here.
A few other things you should focus upon right now to make sure you stay safe:
Stay on your meds. We have lifted rules about getting refills too early, so if you see a drugstore that’s open and has power, and you’re worried about running out, go ahead and get a refill now. It’s critical as you work to recover that you keep track of your blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, etc. – ESPECIALLY if you are going to be out working in this 100+ degree heat.
Use telehealth to stay on top of your healthcare needs. Blue Cross customers can have 24/7 online doctor visits with BlueCare, our signature telehealth platform. BlueCare works on any device with internet and a camera, like a smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer. It is a good option to treat routine, non-emergency medical conditions like pink eye, mild stomach viruses, bladder infections, rashes and more.
BlueCare is available in all 50 states, and BlueCare providers can write prescriptions to treat many conditions via telehealth – that will also help you stay on top of those meds! What you pay for a BlueCare visit depends on your plan type and benefits. Before your visit begins, you’ll see what it will cost. You will not be charged until your visit is finished. Create your BlueCare account at www.BlueCareLA.com or with the BlueCare (one word) mobile app for Apple and Android devices.
And through Sept. 6 (Labor Day/Monday), Blue Cross members can have 24/7 online medical visits with BlueCare at no cost by using the code IDA. You can also have one online behavioral health appointment for $0 using the code IDA through Sept. 6.
If you can get in touch with your regular healthcare providers, ask if they offer telehealth services, either online or by phone. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve expanded the number and type of network providers who can treat you with telehealth so you have more options than ever before.
Be mindful of your personal safety. It’s going to be a bit harder to access everything for the next few weeks, especially your healthcare services. But, there are things you can do to stay safe. Put these at the top of your list:
- Practice generator safety. Based on the lines I’m seeing at gas stations, tens of thousands of people are operating generators at their homes, many for the first time. A gasoline-burning generator can be a godsend to keep lights on, window A/C units running, and your freezer making ice, but the fumes can kill quietly and rapidly. After Hurricane Laura, more people died from improper generator use than from the storm. Make sure your generator is outside and placed at least 20 feet from your home.
- Avoid new power tools. If you’ve never used a chainsaw before, this is probably NOT the best time to learn because if you hurt yourself, many areas are without 911 or emergency crew access. Be patient and seek professional help immediately if you get injured.
- Practice heat safety. Heat indexes are going to be over 100 degrees all week, and probably for the next couple of weeks. Humidity that high keeps your body from efficiently cooling itself. And, lots of folks are still without AC to come inside and cool off. Your only defense is drinking A LOT of water, wearing loose, light-colored clothing outdoors and limiting your activities during the hottest part of the day. Check out our sun and heat safety tips in this video (1:20).
You can learn more about what we’re doing to help our members dealing with Hurricane Ida recovery at https://www.bcbsla.com/storm. We’re also sharing information there about how you can support or donate to recovery efforts. This is a rapidly changing situation and we’re learning more every day, so stay tuned to that page for our latest news.
I want to emphasize that things are going to be really crazy for many of you for a while. So try to take a breath, slow down and only travel or go out if you have to. The roads are not all that safe right now, and power is out all over southeast Louisiana.
Be safe. Be smart. We’ll chat about your experiences when this is all done. Hurricane survival stories are often the best ones going, and I look forward to hearing about yours.