Women's Health

Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield to launch virtual primary care with Carbon Health, Firefly Health

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will offer a new virtual primary care option next year through partnerships with Carbon Health and Firefly Health.

The insurer said the offer, available from January 1, will be included in the “majority” of its commercial health plans. Members will choose a primary care provider through Carbon or Firefly, and they will be able to access primary care, mental health care, and referrals to in-person providers in their network if needed.

Blue Cross said members can expect $0 cost-sharing for primary and mental health visits with clinicians on their virtual care team, provided they meet the requirements of their plans. For example, members eligible for the Saver/HSA plan must first meet their deductible.

“More and more consumers are using virtual care and reaping its benefits, including greater convenience and affordability,” Blue Cross Chief Commercial Officer Patrick Gilligan said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to offer members access to two primary care practices offering the most comprehensive virtual primary care models we have seen. They go beyond traditional primary care to help members take control of their health in a way that’s convenient and fits their lifestyle. .”

THE GREAT TREND

A number of digital health companies have launched virtual primary care services, arguing that they could be more cost effective and easier for patients to access. Telehealth giant Teladoc Health first launched its primary care program, called Primary360, available to payers last year.

It has since expanded its offer with the delivery of medicines and the collection of samples at home for laboratory tests. The company has also partnered with Trustmark Health Benefits to launch a first-ever virtual health plan.

This spring, CVS Health announced its own virtual primary care service. Amazon could also become a bigger player in the space with its planned $3.9 billion acquisition of hybrid primary care provider One Medical. However, shortly after announcing the deal, Amazon revealed plans to shut down its telehealth service, Amazon Care, at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Firefly Health launched its own virtual health plan for small and medium-sized businesses last year, shortly after a $40 Series B raise.

Carbon Health raised a huge $350 million in 2021. It then acquired remote patient monitoring company Alertive Healthcare, a chain of urgent care clinics in New Jersey, two chains of clinics in Arizona and California, and a group of clinics in Southern California.

The company had a difficult time at the start of the summer, as a number of other digital health and health technology companies. It announced it was laying off 250 employees, or about 8% of the hybrid care provider’s global workforce.

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