By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
While residents are reticent to go to medical facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amerigroup DC, has programming in place and added services for their members to access virtual health care and resources.
Amerigroup DC is an Anthem company and one of the three Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) serving Medicare enrollees throughout the District of Columbia.
From physical and mental health consultations and appointments, to resources on how to get diapers, Amerigroup DC offers virtual services that are useful not only in this social distancing era, but will continue as a great option for those that have trouble accessing healthcare facilities even when much of the world isn’t sheltering in place.
Amerigroup uses the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) in order to identify the true needs of their enrollees. SDOHs are generally defined as the social and economic factors that influence individual and group health variations.
According to Amerigroup Director of Medicaid Plan and Marketing Charmekia Martin, in D.C. the SDOHs are “Food disparities, housing and transportation.”
“No matter what community partners we’re talking about, those three things [food disparities, housing and transportation] always come up,” she said.
Virtual access to healthcare and resources was identified as a critical need for Amerigroup enrollees.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amerigroup launched LiveHealth Online, where members can receive advice, treatment options and prescriptions all from their cell phones, tablets or computers.
“By making LiveHealth Online available at no cost we are simplifying the healthcare experience while empowering the individuals and families we have the privilege of serving to improve their health outcomes,” said Amerigroup DC President and CEO Linda Elam, PhD, MPH, according to an AFRO article from March.
Another noteworthy Amerigroup program is Aunt Bertha.
“Everybody has an Aunt Bertha,” joked Martin.
“Aunt Bertha has been a long time partner of Anthem. They are a community resource. Our relationship continues to build and build and build with them,” Martin said in an interview with the AFRO.
Aunt Bertha’s “community resources” are what makes the platform so helpful.
“You can use it to access childcare, to food resources, to job support, education support, all of the above. It offers a plethora of services and opportunities to connect with what’s really available in your community,” Martin said.
Despite the platform having access to so many helpful tools, Martin said Aunt Berth had been “under-utilized until COVID-19.”
“The importance of community resources has just been heightened. Everyone wants to know what’s available to them- where, when, how can they access it? And this paid service that Anthem supports is up-to-date with the best information on the platform,” Martin explained.
As a city with so many helpful organizations, Aunt Bertha is there to offer guidance on how to get what you need.
“D.C. has one of the most abundant communities that offer a ton of resources. But the question is, ‘Well how do I get there? Who do I talk to? What’s available?’ And so because you’re in the District and they’ve already been so generous with their medical benefits, a lot of the questions that we get surround other things, like: ‘I need diapers for my babies and I’m going home from the hospital and I don’t have a place to go home to.’ Or, ‘How do I get my prescriptions? How do I get transportation?’ So a lot of the questions we were receiving were already pertaining to things that weren’t just medically related, they were outside of the scope. And of course, everything ties to our mental health and our physical health. We see the importance of making sure we address those things with our enrollees,” Martin said.
Mental health concerns are particularly concerning during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Yahoo News reporting 4,895 additional moderate-to-severe anxiety screening results in February, March and the first half of April, and an 18-22 percent increase of youth with anxiety and depression screenings.
With mental health as a leading concern, Amerigroup has Psych Hub.
“Psych Hub is our newest platform and it’s really been put in place and has been expanded specifically to address COVID-19,” Martin said. “Anyone in the community, they do not have to be an Amerigroup DC member, it’s no cost mental health visits for the next 90 days. So members can schedule and attend appointments through LiveHealth Online at no cost to them and Psych Hub is how you access those resources.”
For more information on Amerigroup DC’s programming, visit https://www.myamerigroup.com/dc/home.html.