On July 13, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) announced via a press release that it is expanding its network of behavioral health providers through a partnership with New York City-based Headway, a mental healthcare company that collaborates with insurers to deliver mental healthcare. The press release says that the two companies will make it easier for Blue Cross NC members to quickly to access in-network therapists and psychiatrists—as soon as 48 hours.
The release states that “The focus of the collaboration is on improving access to care for underserved communities, including rural and socially vulnerable counties, children and adolescents, and individuals across diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. This collaboration will help solve a significant health care challenge in North Carolina—the shortage of behavioral health specialists. North Carolina ranks 38th in access to mental healthcare, and 61 of the state’s 100 counties have no psychiatrists treating children and adolescents.”
That said, “Blue Cross NC and Headway will focus on expanding access to care for:
- Children and adolescents, who often need providers specializing in meeting their clinical needs. Headway will help Blue Cross NC recruit and enable child and adolescent specialists to further meet needs across the state.
- Socially vulnerable communities, including those in rural counties across North Carolina. The two companies will identify, credential, and support clinicians who practice in rural regions of the state.
- Culturally diverse backgrounds, recruiting providers across race, ethnicity, language, and gender to meet member needs.”
In May the two organizations began expanding in-network providers and Headway began recruiting and credentialing mental health providers—40 percent of those providers are non-white. On average, Blue Cross NC members have gone to their first appointment within a 4.5-day window. Additionally, under the partnership, Blue Cross NC and Headway have entered into a value-based arrangement to deliver high-value services and results for not only members, but providers as well. Headway services includes one-click booking for appointments and price transparency on the copay.
“The collaboration comes as Blue Cross NC is investing more than $2 million to support 11 community organizations working to improve access to behavioral health services,” the release concludes. “This initiative is aimed at enhancing access in rural and marginalized communities and in regions of the state designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas.”