JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Blue, the state's leading health insurer, announced today it is more than tripling its COVID-19 community investments to over $7 million. In March, the insurer provided an initial $2 million to organizations across the state to address urgent health and safety needs. Florida Blue will invest an additional $2.5 million to provide access to testing and health care, food security and other essential needs for Floridians. Additionally, the insurer plans to contribute more than $2.6 million to United Way organizations across Florida.
"The lives of Floridians have been upended for months as we grapple with the fallout of the COVID-19 health crisis. As we work toward reopening our communities, Florida Blue is collaborating with business and community leaders to ensure all communities have adequate access to testing and other essential services and resources," said Pat Geraghty, Florida Blue president and CEO.
More than $1 million of the additional funding is dedicated to providing COVID-19 testing and access to health care for underserved Floridians. Florida Blue will work with its partners at organizations such as the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and others to identify opportunities across the state to address areas in need. A three-year grant of $220,000 to UF Health will help provide necessary technology for the development of a model for COVID-19 diagnostic tests called pooled testing. The model allows more people to be tested at a substantially reduced cost and will be exportable to other labs with similar technology.
Over $1.3 million will also address food security for seniors, children and disadvantaged families, support the mental health of those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and provide essential needs to those struggling due to the pandemic.
"This health crisis has left many in our communities struggling to provide basic needs to their families. As a mission-driven organization, supporting the health and well-being of our neighbors is our priority. We continue to expand the resources we offer directly to our members and all Floridians in addition to investing in partners that impact all 67 counties," added Geraghty.
Earlier this year, Florida Blue announced it would provide a $2-for-$1 match for all donations made by its employees during its annual United Way Employee Giving campaign. The company's employees truly stepped up by pledging more than $1.3 million to philanthropic initiatives during the campaign. In response, Florida Blue plans to contribute more than $2.6 million to community investment funds of United Way organizations across the state representing the areas where its employees reside.
Florida Blue continues to offer a 24-hour, toll-free emotional support helpline for all Floridians, even if uninsured or insured by another plan. They can call833-848-1762 to talk with a specially trained behavioral health counselor for help with stress, anxiety, grief or anguish they may be feeling due to COVID-19.
Florida Blue recently announced it was providing $150 million in health care cost relief to its members through programs that allow members to reduce their monthly insurance bills or earn gift cards for out-of-pocket health care expenses and premium reductions to fully insured employer groups. The insurer has also waived cost sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment as well as access to virtual health care through Teladoc for many of its members.
About Florida Blue Florida Blue, Florida's Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, has been providing health insurance to residents of Florida for 75 years. Driven by its mission of helping people and communities achieve better health, the company serves more than 5 million health care members across the state. In total, Florida Blue and its affiliated companies serve 27 million people in 35 states. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., it is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.