Portland, OR. (November 17, 2015) – November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is doing their part to help educate and inform its customers and the community about palliative care. Today the company released a white paper outlining the importance of taking a holistic approach to palliative care and the increasing need for palliative care programs across the country. Findings also highlight that palliative care makes a significant difference in the quality of life for a person who is diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness but is not widely understood in the United States.

Palliative care is often described as an extra layer of support for people who are diagnosed with a serious illness. It is designed to provide emotional, physical and spiritual support for a person who is managing their illness in addition to their loved ones and caregivers. This care and support is provided after an initial diagnosis throughout the care continuum and to a cure if possible, or to the completion of life.

A team of doctors, nurses, social workers, and other specialists work in conjunction with a patient’s medical team to identify and meet the needs of the patient. However, rather than focusing on the illness, palliative care meets the personal needs of the patient, including pain and symptom management, as well as help with the everyday needs associated with a serious illness such as transportation to appointments or emotional support and counseling.

“Employing palliative care can greatly improve the quality of life for a person who has been diagnosed,” said Bruce Smith, MD, FACP, Executive Medical Director for Regence. “It is essential that we collaborate, listen to, and document a person’s goals of care throughout their illness. This approach ensures that palliative care can be that extra layer of support.”

The Journal of Palliative Medicine states that “palliative care is expanding rapidly in the United States.” Specifically, the state of Washington has received an “A” grade in a recent report from the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the National Palliative Care Research Center, which analyzes access to palliative care in hospitals.

In 2014, Regence introduced a new palliative care initiative called Personalized Care Support across its four-state footprint. It is available to all members, totaling more than two million, and their caregivers.

One of the most comprehensive programs in the nation, the program includes benefits such as:

  • A dedicated case manager to educate and guide.
  • Caregiver Support including a 24/7 nurse advice line, counseling services, care management plan and community resources. This is very unique benefit. The caregiver does not need to be a member of the health plan to utilize these benefits.
  • Community resources, behavioral health care and in-home counseling.
  • Concurrent curative care. This sets palliative care apart from hospice services.
  • Home-health benefits to reduce the stress of leaving the home for services.
  • Advance care planning – Since 2014, Regence has been paying doctors to have important conversations about goals of care. On October 30, The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a change to the Physician Fee Schedule, stating that physicians would be compensated for end-of-life conversations. The CMS announcement may open doors for other private payers to compensate doctors for these conversations.

About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, headquartered in Portland, has been serving Oregonians since 1941 and now provides more than 750,000 members with comprehensive health insurance solutions. As a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit regence.comfacebook.com/regencebluecrossblueshield, or twitter.com/regenceoregon