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Expanding Provider BCBSTX Network Improves Access to Behavioral Health Care

Expanding Provider BCBSTX Network Improves Access to Behavioral Health Care
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By Victoria Bailey

– Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) is improving access to behavioral health care for members with an expanded provider network and additional telehealth offerings.

After Payer expanded its provider network in January, BCBSTX members can now access nearly 4,000 networked behavioral health providers through the Headway organization.

Improved access to behavioral health professionals comes as the nation grapples with a mental health crisis. According to a Gallup poll, one-third of Americans have been diagnosed with depression in their lifetime.

“We always want to improve access to behavioral health care – it’s hugely important. When time is of the essence and someone needs help, making it quick and easy to see a provider for that first appointment is a paramount goal,” Frank Webster, MD, medical director for behavioral health at BCBSTX, said in the press release. “So happy to hear that our efforts to expand our network with Headway have moved the needle on first date times. We owe it to our members.”

Through Headway, BCBSTX members can get help two to three times faster than average, the payer noted. Members can schedule assistance online and receive an appointment within 48 hours. They can also get treatment through a referral.

More than three-quarters of BCBSTX members see an improvement in clinical assessment in the first 30 days, according to Headway.

The network expansion also benefits out-of-state BCBSTX members, who now have access to more than 21,000 networked behavioral health providers in 26 states through Headway. The expansion helps address health equity and promote culturally competent care, as 42 percent of providers identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian, or multiracial, with more than 80 languages ​​spoken among them.

Fully insured group plan members in Illinois and Texas can access the Behavioral Health Network.

BCBSTX’s previous telehealth expansions have also helped facilitate members’ access to behavioral health care. Prior to 2020, telehealth accounted for half of one percent of all members’ behavioral health appointments.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Payer has increased access to virtual appointments as members have reduced in-person assistance. Now, telehealth accounts for up to 50 percent of all members’ behavioral health appointments.

BCBSTX has invested in several community initiatives to improve the mental and behavioral health of members. For example, Payer has granted more than $820,000 to 21 nonprofit organizations across Texas to help fill gaps in behavioral health care.

Additionally, Payer is launching its 13th outdoor fitness camp through a partnership with the National Fitness Campaign. BCBSTX has committed to building nearly 40 camps over the next few years, which offer free full-body workouts for community members.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (Blue Cross) recently took similar steps to improve members’ access to mental health care. Payer has expanded access to Headway to out-of-state members, added another primary mental health provider to its network, and welcomed two specialist mental health organizations.

Blue Cross also offers an online mental health resource center and mental health line to help members connect with providers and understand their care options.

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