Meeting communities where they are to increase healthcare access

By CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) and Live Chair Health are partnering to bring greater healthcare access to underserved communities in four Maryland counties: Prince George’s, Montgomery and Baltimore counties, as well as Baltimore City.

According to CareFirst, 40 percent of Medicaid recipients in the region have not seen a primary care physician in the last 12 months. And those who do seek preventive care services before experiencing a significant health event can potentially avoid lengthy hospital stays or Emergency Department visits. 

Live Chair Health reaches underserved community members where they are—first in salons and barbershops and now expanding into other community-based organizations, such as churches. This type of on-the-ground engagement significantly impacts the lives of minority communities by empowering them with the knowledge and resources they need to stay well. 

During the 6-month program, Live Chair Health will support barbers in helping members understand their benefits, choose a physician, and get them scheduled with a first appointment. Outreach will be initiated to 400 CareFirst members each month (100 per county), and act as an access point into the healthcare system to help improve health outcomes at a community level. 

“CareFirst’s responsibility to our communities is not just to provide insurance. It’s to better coordinate care and increase access and affordability,” said Sheila Yahyazadeh, MPA, PMP, Chief External Operations Officer, CareFirst Community Health Plan Maryland. “What Live Chair does, especially for minority populations who may lack trust in, or understanding of how to navigate the system, is allow them to access care in a way that makes them feel safe and seen.”

“Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Salons and barbershops are an important piece of the fabric of Hispanic and African American populations. Live Chair Health is an extension of how we build capacity in the community and meet them where they are,” she said.

Concurrent with this pilot, CareFirst and Live Chair Health will also work together to close the gap in lead-based screenings for children. Recognizing some are hesitant about answering phone calls from insurance companies or unknown numbers, Live Chair Health will reach out to residents in the same four counties to discuss the importance of lead-based screenings and assist with scheduling appointments. 

To inquire about the partnership or recommend a barber in your area to help revolutionize healthcare in your community, contact Live Chair Health at:

About the Author: 

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is the largest not-for-profit health plan in the mid-Atlantic, advancing access to affordable, equitable healthcare for 3.6 million people.

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