- Insurer making preparations in the event of flu epidemic
- Customers reminded to take preventive steps
- North Carolinians should be informed, not alarmed
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) is monitoring swine influenza (swine flu) concerns and assures customers it has plans in place to meet customer needs in the event of a public health emergency.
In 2006, BCBSNC created a pandemic subcommittee and prepared detailed plans for responding to the varying levels of intensity of a pandemic.
“Our primary concern is helping our customers stay informed and healthy, and our preparations will ensure that in the event of a pandemic, we will be able to provide the customer service our members want and need,” said BCBSNC Chief Medical Officer Don Bradley, M.D. “A key part of our preparations include making sure our business remains financially solvent and that we are able to cover customers’ medical expenses over an extended period of time during a pandemic. BCBSNC’s financial reserves are there for just such an emergency.”
While no cases of swine flu have been confirmed in North Carolina residents are urged to take the same preventive measures they take during any flu season, including:
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol- based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth since bacteria can live on surfaces you handle.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you become ill with flu symptoms, call your doctor for advice, and stay home from work, school or other public events.
- Try not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Manage your stress through exercise and plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat healthy, nutritious food.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swine flu has not been shown to be transmitted to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs. The virus is killed by cooking temperatures of 160°F/70°C, corresponding to the general guidance for the preparation of pork and other meat.
A variety of reliable resources are available to help answer questions about the Swine Flu:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cdc.gov/swineflu/
- World Health Organization who.int/en
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pandemicflu.gov
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services dhhs.state.nc.us
- BCBSNC customers with the Health Line Blue benefit can talk to a nurse about possible symptoms. Customers should check their benefit book or online account to determine if they have this benefit and for the Health Line Blue telephone number.
“In previous emergencies, such as hurricanes and ice storms, BCBSNC demonstrated flexibility in order to assist our customers and our employees. We would bring that same kind of flexibility and customer focus to a pandemic,” said Bradley.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. It can be transmitted from pigs to humans through contact with live pigs, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.7 million members, including approximately 900,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 76 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at bcbsnc.com.