New York, NY – Nonprofit health insurer EmblemHealth is prepared to help city workers and union members during this COVID-19 crisis, launching new services in the wake of the pandemic, according to its CEO Karen Ignagni.
“We’ve had a decades-long relationship with the labor community and they have been very anxious for us to bring out ASO (administrative services only) products,” said Ignagni. “We’ve done that in the midst of COVID and we are excited about the response to this.”
ASO gives labor unions and trust funds the opportunity to turn to people they trust to help them get economic value out of their insurance plans by securing administrative functions and aid with claims, according to the CEO.
“It’s a win, win from the perspective of a trust fund, union members and what we do as the hometown plan,” said Ignagni. “It offers rank and file significant savings. The number depends on the union and the type of product they want to buy.”
EmblemHealth is also working with the city and the labor community to provide services at a price point that would create wage increases, according to Ignagni.
“In the process, we brought several different additions to the city program,” said Ignagni. “We are calling it our City Gold Plan.”
The City of New York Gold Plan, also known as the HIP HMO Preferred Plan, has concierge service for members, while also providing coaching and support for people who have diabetes, congestive heart disease, weight issues and other chronic conditions impacting both men and women, according to Ignagni.
Individuals in a vulnerable state are more likely to get COVID, but this plan will help to address those problems, according to the CEO.
“One of the things that we can do in helping with these chronic conditions and keeping them under control, is to strengthen their ability to fight off things,” said Ignagni. “[Our clients] ask about COVID and what they can do to strengthen their immunities. They’re the sorts of conversations that really haven’t been happening.”
EmblemHealth is working on making sure its clients stay healthy by making sure they understand what steps they can take nutritionally, and by directing them to the proper health practitioners who are able to address any health concerns they have.
“The second area that we premiered with the city program is the Centers of Excellence,” said Ignagni. “We’ve partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering and with the Hospital for Special Surgery to offer cancer and orthopedic support for our members.”
Rank and file city and union members, as well as leadership, have the opportunity to go to those facilities and get care management, according to Ignagni. There are also wellness features being added to the city program that can be accessed by other union members, too.
“We have a wholly separate company doing wellness,” said Ignagni. “It is a national company.”
WellSpark is used by union members, employers and academic institutions across the country.
Throughout New York, there are also neighborhood care centers, which people can access virtually.
“One of our most popular programs is how to go to a bodega and shop for healthy foods,” said Ignagni. “What we are about now is giving people simple direct information that they can use for their own health.”
EmblemHealth is looking forward to working with President-elect Joe Biden to tackle COVID-19. It has already worked with the city and state to offer help with testing and future vaccines for all demographics. It also has access to a team of physicians, nurses and associates who are embedded in key neighborhoods ready to help.
“We think this is priority number one,” said Ignagni. “Hopefully, they will rebuild and reinvest in the public health infrastructure.”
Having a national mobilization unit ready to deliver a vaccine to the public is key.
“We are going to have situations where people can line up and get a vaccine quickly, no muss, no fuss,” said Ignagni. “Our hospitals are struggling with people who have COVID, it’s unfair to expect that they should be the only ones responsible for that.”
EmblemHealth and LaborPress will again partner on Nov. 19 for the second half of the 2020 Heroes of Labor Awards.
“This is the ninth year to recognize rank and file people who have made a difference,” Ignagni said. “My dad was a firefighter and my mom was a part of OPEIU. So, I have long grown up recognizing what rank and file people do every day. It is such a pleasure every year to work with the union leaders in the union movement to recognize individuals from their ranks to make sure we celebrate what people do.”