Guest column: Elevance Health — staying true to Blue

Published 2:48 pm Sunday, February 4, 2024

As a physician and Elevance Health’s chief health officer, it’s a privilege for me to lead our work to address the social drivers of health that affect our communities. Through this work, my team is focused on making meaningful progress with our partners in helping to improve health outcomes.

Our proposed acquisition of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA) is more than a collaboration, but a commitment to change Louisiana’s health for the better, improve outcomes and provide the affordable care that Louisianians need and deserve.

Eighty percent of what drives and improves a person’s health happens outside of a traditional health care setting. A lack of nutritious food, stable housing, social support, or an inability to access health care are all barriers to the health of a community.

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These are just a few reasons why Elevance Health is addressing a person’s whole health — the physical, behavioral, and social health of all members.

Our more than 100,000 associates take an integrated approach across our portfolio of medical, digital, pharmacy, behavioral, clinical, and complex care solutions, serving more than 115 million people across the entire care journey. We use extensive data to identify what is most likely to drive improvement in each person’s health, including social elements such as reliable transportation, access to nutritious food, or safe and affordable housing.

Today, the stark reality is that Louisiana is being left behind. Louisianians have shorter life spans, higher rates of infant mortality, and higher burdens of obesity and chronic illness than people in other states.

By combining our organizations, members will continue to receive the reliable, local care they have come to know with BCBSLA for 90 years, enhanced by Elevance Health’s unmatched scope, cutting-edge capabilities and technology, and whole-health approach.

It’s an opportunity for Louisiana’s 1.9 million members and policyholders to benefit from a portfolio of solutions and capabilities that include digital-first solutions that empower people to take charge of their care, case management services to help navigate the health care system, behavioral health services, and programs to help address complex and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cancer. We’ve also included access to doulas in our Medicaid programs to alleviate barriers to regular prenatal care and improve birth outcomes.

At the same time, with Elevance Health, BCBSLA members will continue to have the same access to care networks in Louisiana, while also benefiting from new services, no matter which parish or town they call home.

Together with BCBSLA, we will be as focused on the health care needs of people across the state.

From Ruston to Lafayette, we will partner with community-based organizations and providers, to increase access to care and build infrastructure support and resources for all those we are privileged to serve.

I truly believe that an individual’s health is heavily influenced by a community’s health, and this partnership is poised to vastly improve the health of the state and all of the people in it.

Shantanu Agrawal, MD

Elevance Health Chief Health Officer