BCBSNC Promotes Seasonal Flu Shots and Waives Cost to Customers for H1N1 Vaccine

BCBSNC's annual flu shot program runs through March. BCBSNC will waive deductible and coinsurance payments for H1N1 vaccine.

Chapel Hill, N.C. (Vocus) October 5, 2009

Want to stick it to the flu? Get a flu shot. That's the message Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) is sending to promote its Stick it to the Flu Campaign.

As part of the campaign, BCBSNC will cover the seasonal flu vaccine for customers with preventive health benefits. Some customers may be charged a copayment, deductible or coinsurance, depending on their specific benefits. BCBSNC is also encouraging customers to get the separate H1N1 vaccine, and is waiving out-of-pocket costs for eligible customers.

"A flu shot takes just seconds and is the most effective way to prevent the seasonal flu or to keep from passing it on to others," said Dr. Don Bradley, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSNC. "We are making it easy for our customers to get their seasonal and H1N1 flu shots by simply visiting their primary care doctor, worksite clinic or participating pharmacist in the BCBSNC network."

Along with its insured customers, BCBSNC administers health plans for companies and organizations that are self-insured (The employer pays BCBSNC to administer the plan). Employees with those self-insured companies should check with their supervisors or HR Department to determine how the seasonal and H1N1 vaccine will be covered.

BCBSNC's decision to cover the H1N1 vaccine is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which predicts widespread H1N1 outbreaks this fall and winter.

Once the H1N1 vaccine is available, BCBSNC customers may also go to their physician, in-network pharmacist or CVS Minute Clinic to get a covered H1N1 vaccine. Customers are advised to contact their provider to ensure the vaccine is available.

To be fully protected against the seasonal and H1N1 flu, people should get both vaccines. These may be given on the same day. The 2009 H1N1 vaccine will not replace the seasonal flu vaccine.

The (CDC) lists the following priority groups for getting the H1N1 vaccine:

  •     Pregnant women
  •     People who live with or provide care for infants less than 6 months of age
  •     Health care and emergency medical services personnel
  •     Children and young adults ages six months to 24 years
  •     Adults ages 25 to 64 years with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications
The CDC projects more than 100 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine will be available during this flu season. The U.S. government expects to have 6 million to 7 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine available the first week of October and 250 million doses by year end.

Severe flu can result in pneumonia and dehydration, and can cause complications for those with chronic illnesses. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, every year, between 1,000 and 2,000 people die of seasonal influenza and pneumonia in North Carolina. Nationally, the CDC estimates that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with the seasonal flu each year and that it causes 36,000 deaths annually nationwide.

In order to find out whether a worksite will have a seasonal flu shot clinic, BCBSNC customers should contact their employer. Otherwise, customers should contact their physician for an appointment or visit a participating pharmacist or CVS MinuteClinic.

Seasonal flu shots are available at these locations (while supplies last):

  •     Physician's office -- BCBSNC will cover the seasonal flu vaccine for those customers with preventive health benefits. Some customers may be charged a copayment, deductible or coinsurance, depending on their specific benefits. Customers who receive other services in addition to the seasonal flu shot will be required to pay any applicable copayment, coinsurance or deductible amounts.
  •     Worksite clinic -- Some customers may receive a seasonal flu shot where they work. Many employers have chosen to host worksite flu shot clinics this year at no cost to their employees. Customers of a group plan should contact their employer's Human Resources or benefits department for more information.
  •     Participating pharmacists -- BCBSNC will cover the seasonal flu vaccine for those customers with preventive health benefits. Some customers may be charged a copayment, deductible or coinsurance, depending on their specific benefits. Eligible customers (ages 18 and older) may go to a participating, in-network pharmacist or CVS MinuteClinic to receive a seasonal flu shot. A limited number of pharmacists have contracted with BCBSNC to administer the seasonal flu shot. To find in-network pharmacists, visit http://www.bcbsnc.com/flu .
About BCBSNC:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.7 million Customers, including approximately 900,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 76 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at http://www.bcbsnc.com .

Media Contact:
Kimberley Colvin BCBSNC
Media Line: 919-765-3005
Online Newsroom: http://www.bcbsnc.com/inside/newsroom.cfm

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