Interview: How Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is Helping Support Those in the Workplace Dealing With Cancer

In October 2023, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) launched its new Cancer Support Program. Although still in infancy, the program has received positive feedback from many users. In an interview with Shakina Russell, Blue Cross’ product manager for Solution Management, Wellness Works learned more about the Cancer Support Program and the value it provides.

According to John Hopkins University, for every 100 employees in the workforce, 5 will have a history of cancer, and 27.1% will be in active treatment for cancer. This is a significant population, but it doesn’t even include survivors of cancer or employees that function as caregivers for those battling cancer. With this in mind, Russell  provided valuable insight in how Blue Cross’ program is working to minimize related challenges.

What inspired your team to develop the Cancer Support program?

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan takes feedback from members and the community into great consideration – and people are struggling. Cancer is a particular challenge as a diagnosis initiates immediate, significant change and profound financial burden.  People have trouble figuring out how to pay for it all and how to make difficult choices. BCBSM wanted something truly dedicated to this specific experience and the navigation. No question too big or too small, they’re here to help.

Tell me more about the program and the resources available for employers.

The program is an educational tool for anyone with a diagnosis. It goes through treatment and survivorship. You can select caregivers and they can have access to the platform —24/7 access to oncology-specific nurses, dieticians, therapists, etc. You can discuss what your goals are and what you need help with. They help you schedule with specialists that you need. The platform is specific to oncology care and all advice is tailored to what your diagnosis needs. However, it is not a replacement for your care. They are there to help you feel empowered, informed, and supported. It helps you process everything, and this platform is available for additional clarification. This platform helps avoid urgent care or the ER and burdening friends and family.

What kind of value does this program give employers?

For employers, you see reduction in emergency department costs, reduction in cancer spend, and reduction in cancer admissions. But support and advocacy through the program are a way to retain employees, reduce absenteeism, and ensure employees are healthier and well cared for.  The program also finds a way to balance cost of care in the oncology space, health disparities, issues with access.  The program is also utilization based; you don’t pay for what you don’t use. It’s as value added as possible — one-to-one ROI and you only pay for members that are actively using it. This helps your employees show up at work without feeling like they can’t live their lives fully.

Who is eligible to add to the program?

BCBSM members 18 years or older with a cancer diagnosis, as well as survivors and caregivers, are eligible to enroll in the program. This program is available for all fully-insured groups and as a buy-up for self-funded customers.


Click here for more information about the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Cancer Support Program.