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, which will be available starting Jan. 1, will be included in the “majority” of its commercial health insurance plans. Members select a primary care provider through Carbon or Firefly and can access primary care, mental health care and referrals to personal providers in their network as needed.
According to Blue Cross, members can expect $0 cost-sharing for primary and mental health visits to their Virtual Care Team clinicians, provided they meet the requirements of their plans. For example, Saver/HSA-eligible plan members must first meet their deductible.
“More consumers are embracing virtual grooming and experiencing its benefits, including greater convenience and affordability,” said Patrick Gilligan, Blue Cross’s chief commercial officer, in a statement.
“We are pleased to offer our members access to two primary care practices that offer the most comprehensive virtual primary care models we have ever seen. They go beyond traditional primary care to help members take control of their health in a way that is convenient and fits their lifestyle.”
THE BIGGER TREND
A number of digital healthcare companies have launched virtual primary care services, arguing that this could be more cost-effective and more accessible for patients. Telehealth giant Teladoc Health launched its primary care program, called Primary360, which has been available to payers for the last year.
Since then, the offer has expanded to include drug delivery and home sample collection for laboratory testing. The company has also partnered with Trustmark Health Benefits to launch a virtual-first health plan.
This spring, CVS Health announced its own virtual primary care. Amazon could also become a bigger player in this space with its proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of hybrid primary care provider One Medical. But not long after announcing the deal, Amazon announced plans to shut down its Amazon Care telemedicine service by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Firefly Health launched its own virtual primary health insurance plan marketed to small-to-medium-sized employers last year, not long after a $40 Series B raise.
Carbon Health has raised massively $350 million in 2021. The company then acquired remote patient monitoring company Alertive Healthcare, a chain of emergency clinics in New Jersey, two chains of clinics in Arizona and California, and a group of clinics in Southern California.
The company had a bit of a rough patch earlier this summer, as did some others other digital health and health tech companies. It announced it would lay off 250 employees, about 8% of the hybrid care provider’s global workforce.