Crab Cake Row: All that CareFirst does to promote wellness and insure care when you need it

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Destiny-Simone Ramjohn tells Nestor all that CareFirst does to promote wellness for everyone it serves on “A Cup Of Soup Or Bowl Week” at Pappas in Cockeysville for the Maryland Food Bank.


insurance, care, partners, talked, doctor, wife, jobs, maryland, brian, people, food insecurity, partnership, health, food bank, blue cross, car, thinking, environmental factors, transportation, access


Nestor J. Aparicio, Destiny Simone Ramjohn

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:03

Welcome back to Pappas in Cockeysville. We’re here live today. It’s it’s a beautiful Friday. It’s our 30 for kicking off of 40 hours. I got six more hours we are to five o’clock today. Come on by. It’s all brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery. I’m giving away the 10x the cash 10 times the cash. I actually had a gave one out to one of our guests yesterday, Thom Yorke and he text me like three hours later with the Scratchbuilding he actually had the 10 Extra you want 20 bucks was only 20 bucks, but 20 bucks more. We’re doing a cup of Super Bowl. It’s crabcake row, come on out, bring some good stuff for the Maryland Food Bank, we will give you a free cup of soup or bowl of soup, Maryland crab cream crab or the way I’ve been taking it lately, which is a half and a half my friends at window nation 866 90 nation as well as Jiffy Lube. MultiCare putting this thing on. I have reached out folks, and everybody has the same question. They’re like, Why me? Why us? And I’m like, because you’re CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield. And I knew Brian and that was reached out to him and this and that. So I you’re a big company. So I I’m going to reach harder for Brian Next time bring him in. But she’s going to give us everything we need to know Destiny Simone RAM, John is here from CareFirst, Blue Cross Blue Shield, but I’m gonna call it here first. Because I mean, I’ve been seeing Blue Cross Blue Shield for 55 years, right, like from the very beginning. Care first and Blue Cross. Same thing, right? I mean, but just care first is what we call it. That’s


Destiny Simone Ramjohn  01:30

right, NASA Well, first, let me just say thank you for calling us. We’re just happy you did. We’re really proud to support crabcake row. As you noted, Brian pinic. and care for us Blue Cross Blue Shield cared deeply about communities, we care deeply about addressing the most pressing needs, not just of individuals, but of entire zip codes and entire states. And so when we learned about the mission driven approach, you’re taking the crabcake row, we’re like, Sign us up. So well, I don’t

Nestor J. Aparicio  01:58

think anybody does more than I mean, you’re in my wallet, you’re you know, most people’s wallet, you know, for my wife. You know, she gets picks of insurance, and she’s diabetic from the time she was 19. She always picked, you know, better insurance, so that but we saw folks that had insurance needs, my wife spent 155 Nights at Hopkins to bone marrow transplants couple million dollars worth of insurance. And then there’s, you know, job insurance and keeping expenses go, you know, we were, I mean, I have a success story be here to be 10 years next month to be able to tell and people come up every ash and wife Azure, what I mean, it’s just, I get that question more than any other question. She’s great, which is great. Because we had insurance, we had doctors, we had science, we had research, we had charities, like there’s my hero and LLS. But you’re in on all of that because like, you know, if you’re at the you catch cold this weekend, you’re gonna pull out the old the

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  02:52

card, right? It’s literally Well, you know, I’m really grateful that your wife is doing so well. And that’s how we want to approach the health of every single one of the lives that we cover it care for us Blue Cross Blue Shield, our mission boils down to four central components, accessibility, affordability, equity, and quality and equity being one of the most important right, it is important that we love folks that carry our card, in their wallets, in their purses in their back pockets. But we also know that most of what contributes to your health happens outside of your doctor’s office. How many hours do you think you spend with a physician, the average person each year may or the average the average person average person just take a wild guess somewhere

Nestor J. Aparicio  03:35


between me who hasn’t been at a doctor’s office until the last time something really hurt. I didn’t want to go which was two years ago when I went to a surgeon Yeah, I have an L four L three, which is why I’m sitting on I’m a little messed up today. I don’t want to reach for the car though. I’m not going to do it. But but my but my wife because of her diabetes because she’s a woman in her 50s Because she’s a woman who survived. She has if I were to open my phone and just pull the pink color up because I use everything in my calendar, this current doctor’s appointments that are bank, between bone density doctors that she doesn’t have any cancer doctors, people come up and they think cancer cancer cancer, you must be seeing. She hasn’t she’s been set free from that. But she has a lot of issues. You know, we all see I have glasses on so you know, I’m using Interact I’m nice teeth, you know. So I think it’s a lot of things. So if you’re counting my dentist, and if you’re counting as you’re counting my eyes and I gotta go see him for my reading glasses. I am not a lot for me. Okay, I would think people once you get to be my age, my wife’s at the doctor’s once a month for some kind of doctor in some way. So that so that, but she’s more than the average. Bear right?

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  04:48

Yeah, yeah. Okay. So the average person, right so we have folks that need much more care folks that are much more hands off. The average person spends about 90 minutes per year. In their doctor’s office, they’re in their doctor’s office, primary care American specialist and kind of our vast network. Now, certainly, that’s one of the pride moments for care for us is the vastness of our provider and specialty care networks. But if we go to that 90 minutes, the larger point being, if you’ve only spent 90 minutes with your doctor, your health is happening outside of your before. Right, yeah. So that is your health is happening in the places where you live. And the places where you work in the places where you pray, where you seek care. All of those social and environmental factors actually contribute much more to your health than what had been the 20% or so that happens in your doctor’s office. So when you think about care, first, we want you to think about your doctor for sure. We also want you to think more broadly about the social and environmental factors that happen outside your doctor’s office. And that’s where our mission shows up. Our mission, and the core of our business imperatives show up more. So when we think about the kinds of partners that actually produce health, we’re not just thinking about our great and amazing hospitals that we have in Maryland, DC and Virginia. We’re also thinking about our employer partners who provide strong incomes and livelihoods so that people can access health care coverage. We’re also thinking about educational partners who help people access high quality education, that then help them maximize their job potential and learning. And we’re also thinking about the core elements of what makes a neighborhood safe. And transportation, right? It’s important that you are a card carrying member of our product. But if you have to work late and you can’t make it to the doctor’s office, that’s not doing you much good, right. If you if it’s going to take you

Nestor J. Aparicio  06:56

we can’t get an appointment till April, but it hurts now. Yeah, right. Right. Like literally and that’s an issue as well. But you mentioned transportation, yeah, talk so much about that just in regard to you know, food and jobs and different things like that. The transportation if my wife couldn’t get to the doctor, right? When she grabs the car, like a day like today, we were one car family. So I have a car here, you know, she will make a doctor’s but but that’s our little stupid issue is a Thursday, I need the car, I gotta get out of Hopkins or whatever. For a lot of people. It’s like, a whole day, and it’s a whole day off. And sometimes these are the most people the most challenges. Yeah, we certainly saw that being my wife was treated Hopkins to Sheila bustline down there. But we saw people coming in and out. And I often wondered like, it would take me eight minutes to where we lived at the harbor. We were blessed. You know, I was at the hospital three times a day back for transportation. I really did think like, for loved ones for anybody how easy it was for me. But how I could see it was easier for me than anybody else in the bill. Yeah, that piece of it.

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  07:57

You know, I gotta tell you, I know, I’m not Brian Penick. But if he were sitting here, he would give you this data point short, you know, that if you have a car in Baltimore, you can reach 100% of jobs within one hour. If you don’t have a car in Baltimore, you can only reach about 8.5% of jobs within an hour. So what

Nestor J. Aparicio  08:22

vehicles are changing? Talking about? Yeah, just talking about like, what a vehicle means to a family or work and family that could not afford a vehicle, right?

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  08:31

So when you think about being a your access, plummeting to eight and a half percent, what that means to us is if you can’t access a job, if you can’t access your doctor that is going to compromise your quality of life and your length of life. And that’s what care for his Blue Cross Blue Shield cares about. It’s how do we go further upstream, right out of the doctor’s office, in some instances, outside of traditional spaces that people think of when they think of healthcare. So one of our strongest partnerships, is with the Enoch Pratt library.


I had made it on Monday. Did you make it in the theme?

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  09:12


So we

Nestor J. Aparicio  09:12

talked a little Jaden will just a little bit


of that? Well, we will talk about the partnership that we will we’re not doing that with a demo.

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  09:23

I recall there, Pat, that was fantastic. Taylor moment is what it was. So yes. So as far as the care first moment with Enoch bread, we have a great partnership, which is bringing behavioral health counselors, peer navigators, social workers and related behavioral health providers to the library, a site that ordinarily one wouldn’t think of to seek for health care, right. But what we’ve said is what are those trusted spaces, those trusted partners like Enoch, Pratt and others, that already have spaces and sites of, of service and how can we expand That to think more broadly about health and wellness,


Nestor J. Aparicio  10:02

for everybody, right? I mean, during COVID, we were just doing things that were unprecedented. Somebody who and I talked about food insecurity and, you know, handing out bags of food, you know, for people during COVID. Because grocery stores were the overwhelming overburden onerous part of this fell on the medical community. I mean, just front, the back, insurance, jobs, all of that. You were tested, right? I mean, as as a system, I think every hospital, the whole thing was tested.

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  10:35

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I think Brian would say the same. That was a challenge not just for payers and providers. But for our planet, right. This was a major disruption that was unprecedented, unanticipated. What I do appreciate about our empathetic and executive leadership, including Brian, including Lester Davis and our entire executive leadership team, is that they were compelled to act. This was an all hands on deck moment from our care managers who were contacting individuals that were vulnerable, that may needed an extra layer of support to our physician partners who may need it, who may have needed accelerated payments because patients weren’t going in the door to our federally qualified health center partners who didn’t have PPE and we set up a $5 million personal protective equipment initiative to ensure that they were able to deliver care at the frontlines in ways that disrupted the supply chain because they couldn’t access the PPE and care for us. Was their partner kind of hand holding to say no, we want you to still be able to be on the frontlines, safely protectively, and certainly able to meet the needs of the population. So yes, COVID tested the system. But I think COVID also shed light on those social factors, right? Sure, young people who were not able to go to school now having to access learning on their devices at home, but may not have had laptops or fi or Wi Fi. Exactly. Presenting digital equity issues. We also know as you pointed out, food insecurity was a major issue. So we partnered with Tierra with Under Armour with John was a leader in that people are they’re gonna get sick. You got that? Right. Yeah, right. Have you ever tried to learn or or come on the radio on an empty stomach?

Nestor J. Aparicio  12:19

On Tuesday, I think it was Christie, but I’m not sure from St. Francis had a young boy that was you know, real behavioral problem tested AD D, all of that the kid was starving. I mean, the kid was starving. And at that point, they’re going to be in your system, right? And they’re going to be using their car and they’re if they have insurance, that point, Destiny Simone RAM John’s I was worried about the pronunciation of RAM, John, but you’re like, none of my people from Trinidad. It’s just they just were old school sort of British pronunciation. So what is your title at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  12:51


I am proud to serve as Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact. There

Nestor J. Aparicio  12:56

you go. All right. You’re gonna say that because I don’t even have that written down here. Here’s my question for you. Cuz my wife, we have CareFirst. And I put my little card out and I don’t know my little number, whatever. I always have it with you when I’m traveling. Because I’m always like, you know, what’s goes couple weeks ago, you want to have insurance, you want to feel good about it. I don’t think about it, right? Like I had my finger cut off when I was three years old that there was a lot of insurance in that. I had my appendix they burst. I actually had two kinds of insurance then my parents and a work insurance. And then they fought for a year and a half as to who was going to pay for but that was 1986. I had a little thing on my head. I had I had a back thing three, four years ago at a shot was awful. But I don’t use that little card much. You know what I mean? I really don’t know. Meanwhile, my wife has burned it up for the family. She’s used it enough for all of us, right? And my wife is it turned out was a first responder for 911. My wife was to attack to put Wall Street together and she breathed in the air. The 11 years later, she’s got leukemia and people and we didn’t find out that it was 911 based until 2018. So she burned a hole in her insurance card for everything. And I remember being at the hospital, the lady in the next room needed patches for her nausea, and the insurance on the copay for her prescriptions. She could afford it. I mean, these patches were $500. My wife had a bag of them, because we had better insurance. I want to ask you this. And this was sort of random question, but like my wife selects our insurance. It’s her employer. She takes whatever the platinum atom atom thinks she’s scared to death about her. I mean, she gets medications in boxes. And back when she was checking her own sugar she now has the little nephew. She has the same thing. Mark Andrews I’m trying to get the corporate name for it. It’s a monitor that her phone tells her her sugar. It’s not a pump, if she still injects herself, but she has all of these drugs that I don’t really even understand. I’ve been married 21 years. I know how to like resuscitate her. She gave me that drug the other day. It’s a new drug. So I have all of this stuff. But she picks the insurance. She has a great job. She’s had the same job for 32 years at the same people, she works with Verizon, and they have the gold plan with care for like, so. But she checks that, but I haven’t looked at an insurance plan in my adult and like, literally, so I am independently, you know, doing that. Do you give help if I had to pick because I would be lost if I had to pick it? And I know, it’s probably the most important thing you can do. I mean, really, it is if I learned that when things went bad to say, is this covered is this is not covered. When I think of care. First, I think about a thing like this and utter confusion as to all right. If I break a nail, it’s a $20 copay. If I get cancer, it’s a bad if I get in a car accident, what happens to me, and I think that’s I talked to Linda Raschke. And we give him a feel really bad for him. He’s up. He’s in wilayah. Right now he’s on the beach in Maui. Oh, it’s terrible. He’ll be back tomorrow. But let her tries to straighten me out on insurance and different things to make sure that if there is something catastrophic that happens that you have the right insurance, and I think you want the people to have the right insurance, completely

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  16:10

wellness here, you know, a few things come to mind. One, just thank you for your wife service. I’m a native New Yorker. And my mom was at the sight of 911 on the day. And so it’s it’s something that we think about a lot. And we know that having exceptional coverage ensures that you can manage the health conditions that you’re presented with. It is my job to ensure that when I leave here that you and your listeners, don’t just think of care for us as your as the folks that are in your back pocket, we are your partner in creating health with care. That means before you ever need to see a doctor, you shouldn’t be in deep relationship with CareFirst. For example, we offer Noom, which is a product, a digital product that helps manage food, nutrition, and ensure that you achieve your healthy eating and weight goals. Yes, called neum and o n o and many of our members, a product that has nothing to do with your doctor’s office, we also offer closeness.

Nestor J. Aparicio  17:14

I don’t wait, I’m right on it, I want to learn we


Destiny Simone Ramjohn  17:16

also offer close knit, which is a digital front door for healthcare providers for folks that are on the go, and may not always have time to go into a doctor’s office. You mentioned needing some support in interpreting your benefits, we have an entire community engagement center, located right in Canton would love to bring you down and talk to our professionals. Let’s read that explanation of benefits. Let’s learn more about what is covered. But most importantly, you are probably not maximizing your benefits. There are so many opportunities that we afford. And we in addition to wanting to make sure that when you need care, you can get it without any barriers. We want to make sure that we’re doing all of the preventive components so that you don’t get sick in the first place. That kind of adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your prior amazing guest talked about the importance of screenings. So a part of the role of our care management and our utilization management team is to make sure that you’ve gotten those screenings. Well, heinous, we see that you haven’t gotten your belt at age, you haven’t gotten your prostate, colorectal. You haven’t gotten your you haven’t gotten your eyes checked in 12 months silicone radio, we are your partner in health, not just in insurance, right? What does it take to be healthy? My

Nestor J. Aparicio  18:35

pocket has a whole lot more than maybe I know about your darn

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  18:38

tootin. All right. And what I’m also saying is to you and your audience, come on down to our care for his Community Engagement Center in Canton, right on the waterfront park. And it’s great parking, so Oh, and public transit. Right, Buddy Lee, right there, exactly off of Boston and Clinton streets. And what we do there we have vision offered available, right? So we have some spare spectacles and more. But most importantly, what we have is a compassionate team that is there to walk you through all of your all of your benefits, answer every question that you have, and then help you make the right decisions for where you are in your phase of life. Right? What you needed 20 years ago may not be what you need today. And we’re there to expand and make you aware of those most fully. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, however, we know that not everyone has access to good jobs, right, like a part of why employment is so important is because we want you to be able to access good and high quality health care. So we’ve also thought about ourselves as a leading employer and an anchor institution, in in the city in the region and across the Mid Atlantic states. So one example right of care for showing up as an exceptional partner, not just the payer is with our new West Baltimore workforce collaborative where Are we’ve expanded the number of jobs available in zip codes in West Baltimore is 212151617. You know how we were talking about that transportation issue earlier? Well, one approach would have been to buy everyone a car, not exactly a sustainable approach. What we said was, if folks can’t get to our jobs, Brian and Lester have said, well, let’s bring our jobs to them. And so we’ve stood up in partnership with Coppin State University, the SAR partner,



flagship for COPPA, and we’ve been Dr. Jenkins and judge.

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  20:33

We’ve also partnered with the Center for Urban families, as well as Mondawmin Mall to bring Madonna

Nestor J. Aparicio  20:39

back to life. We talked about that yesterday, we just big investment over there. huge investment,

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  20:43

initiated by Tim Regan and the whiting Turner family. And Brian saw that commitment and said, I want to I want to be a part of that. I want to shape it in ways that are true to care for his mission. And so we’ll be expanding our footprint in Mondawmin. mall this year in 2024. And we’re going to bring additional jobs, but also support and social services with partners, like the American Heart Association, like the Maryland Food Bank, like parody homes, and others who address those social and environmental factors, as well as the clinical ones. We’ve been talking about a


Nestor J. Aparicio  21:15

couple of buzzwords or compensate and I came up earlier the MME and and Tebow mannequin that came up earlier. And you just said the Maryland Food Bank and I’ll let you end on this just about food insecurity. We talked about it all week, I had Carmen here for about an hour yesterday, which they fair just talking about. I think COVID shed light on that part of that. And thinking it goes away. It’s it’s always here. thing I’ve been heartened about all week is the concept of pantries, the concept of sort of a marketplace where there’s no shaming. And just the fact that I’ve been heartened this week by meet so many good people who are feet on the street doing this work and need more light shed on it and more support from everybody from a care first in Maryland Food Bank, and all these people that are bringing this stuff together, but but you see it every day. Yeah,

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  22:06

that’s I gotta say our I’ve noted the strength of our external partners. But you do see I have on my CareFirst blue today, how you do we, if you don’t know, or if your listeners don’t know, we call ourselves difference makers. Because the mission is so important to us, it’s important for us to show up for one another as a workforce. And it’s important for us to collaborate with external partners like the Maryland Food Bank, and others in service, and I am really proud to tell you, I’m really proud to tell you listeners in 2023, care for us difference makers, volunteered 75,000 hours of skills base and service based volunteers, to 400 organizations across the Mid Atlantic states. So what I would say is, it’s not just me, but I get to represent the other 7500 Plus members of our workforce, who are showing up each and every day to address educational outcomes to address food insecurity, and to do so with partners that are on the ground. And doing this meaningful mission driven work partners like you that help us amplify the message. Because that’s another role we want to play. Like we have a fairly well known brand. But there are other smaller nonprofit organizations that are doing the work each and every day that we want to use our platform to lift up. So each year during our week of equity and action, we partner with 30 organizations parody homes in Baltimore, smile in DC, and other organizations that do it as much as we do. So I guess I would end on care for one of care for his mantras. If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far go together and care for his contribution and commitment is to partnership by going together with organizations to help address the most significant social and environmental factors in our region.

Nestor J. Aparicio  23:57

Destiny smell RAM John from Kerr first here, get Brahma bestill a fist bump there. And, you know, I appreciate you all the work you do. And I think the first thing you said is Why do you think of foster called, well, you know, sort of a couple million dollars worth of insurance and different needs that my wife said, and my wife is, you know, you’re a central part of the mail that comes to the house and you know, things that happen that to keep her alive and well. We’re appreciative of that.

Destiny Simone Ramjohn  24:26

That’s what we’re proud to do for 3.6 plus million members and we’ll keep doing it. All right.

Nestor J. Aparicio  24:31

Well, you are I feel like Oprah you get a lottery ticket 10 times the cash. We did have a 10 times winner yesterday it was 10 times two which is still 20 bucks. I’ll take that we’re out here Pappus we are doing a couple of Super Bowl it is crabcake row you bring us stuff for the Maryland Food Bank. I put it on the table over here where I’m drinking all the water I didn’t do too well on this live radio is gonna make my lips chat. I’m gonna need my care first car for chapped lips. Do you have something for that? Yes, I don’t know it’s I have Vaseline but I but my lips hurt real bad. We’re gonna make it to five o’clock today we have lots of guests coming by friends coming by Mike Rosenfeld’s gonna be here from web connection to co host me and he’s the internet guru he’s gonna like you like my little light bright I didn’t get a light bright when I was a kid very retro


really expensive

Nestor J. Aparicio  25:16

I don’t even know how to jokey i don’t know I’m scarred from knocking on the radio. It’s been a week we



can check into your behavioral health.

Nestor J. Aparicio  25:26

My mental health is gonna be way better with five o’clock especially because there’s a bar right here. Back for more live from Pappas. We really live stay with us.

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