Insurance Haus: Sharp Leaders Discuss COVID19, Access to Care & What’s Next

YouTube video

We’re pleased to announce the launch of The Insurance Segment with Mike and Ray, a new educational video series focused on dispelling myths and providing information related to wellness and insurance decisions. During our first segment, we had the honor of hosting Sharp, a not-for-profit health organization that delivers patient care and health insurance within San Diego and Riverside Counties.

Here’s an outline of our discussion, which you can reference while you watch the video. We certainly hope this helps you understand how to choose and utilize the best health plan for your business.

The panelists included:

Sharp Rees Stealy Medical Group:

Dr. Abisola Olulade, MD – Sharp Rees-Stealy Downtown

Frances Schnall – Director of Marketing and Communications

Marlene Mead – Occupational Health Account Manager

Sharp Community Medical Group:

Joann Siudara – Marketing and Medicare Specialist

Dr. Gregg Garner, DO, SCMG Regional Medical Director

Sharp Health Plan:

Cheryl Cote – Sales Executive

Judy Schaller – Senior Sales Executive

During the one-hour conversation, Sharp representatives dispelled misconceptions about COVID-19 and shared what they are doing to innovate and build upon the Sharp Experience.

First, what is the Sharp Experience?

It’s an atmosphere and culture of support and positivity that extends beyond patient care to employees. The Sharp Experience starts at enrollment and extends to patient care.

As noted on the Sharp website, “The Sharp Experience is not one thing we do, it’s everything we do. It’s our care philosophy — treating people, not patients, and transforming the health care experience for our entire community.”

As you move through the video discussion above, you’ll uncover how the Sharp Experience is being applied to patient care during this unusual time.

OK, let’s discuss COVID-19.

Dr. Gregg Garner shared that consistency is key.

“What I think would be most helpful to the public at large is to keep the message short and consistent with what we’re hearing from experts in the field…frequent hand washing or hand sanitizer, wearing a mask when you’re out in public among other people, and physical distancing. If you do those three things and keep that message consistent then I think that helps the public at large.”

Dr. Abisola Olulade emphasized the three Ws:

“Wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands,” she said.

OK, now let’s look at COVID-19 myths:

Myth: I’m not at risk of getting infected.

“Everyone is at risk and everyone has to continue to follow these measures consistently,” said Dr. Olulade.

Myth: I can get COVID-19 from my Amazon package that was shipped from China.

“There is really no concern about receiving boxes from Amazon that have come from China. Just the trip alone…there’s no way the virus would stay viable during that kind of trip,” said Dr. Garner.

Myth: The virus was manufactured

“As far as the origin of the virus, people that have sequenced the virus and looked at the arrangement of the individual parts that make up the DNA or RNA of the virus…they’ve determined that this is something that occurred naturally. This wasn’t a manufactured virus,” said Dr. Garner.

Myth: COVID-19 is just like the flu or a cold-like illness

Even if you or someone you know got over COVID-19 quickly, you must consider how COVID-19 can affect someone that is high-risk, like grandparents or someone who is immune-suppressed. We are living in an era of multigenerational families.

“This virus is much more infectious and spreadable than say seasonal flu, but probably at least ten-fold, in fact, so it’s much easier to get than the flu,” added Dr. Garner. “It’s also a novel virus, it’s new, we don’t know what the long-term ramifications are yet.”

If you consider a 1% fatality rate spread amongst millions of people, that 1% is a significant number.

Myth: There are lots of ways to treat COVID-19

On the outpatient side, there isn’t a specific treatment for COVID-19 other than isolation at home, fluids, and plenty of rest. Once a person gets sick enough to be in the hospital and they have a drop in their oxygen level, then they institute steroids, etc. There are still studies going on, around the world, to find ways to treat COVID.

Myth: It’s totally safe to travel now

Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19 and contracting COVID-19. If you must travel, here are a few things to consider:

  • Pay attention to state and local guidelines
  • Look at the COVID rates in the place you’re traveling to
  • Find out if you must quarantine when you arrive
  • When you are traveling, take all the same precautions you would at home (3 Ws noted above)
  • Many airplanes now have HEPA filters installed, so being on the plane itself might be less risky than the actual contact you make in the airport

Now that we’ve dispelled a few myths, let’s talk about what Sharp is doing every day to help its members.

If you are visiting a Sharp facility during the pandemic, what can you expect?

  • At the clinics, thorough screenings of staff and patients are performed before entry
  • When COVID-19 hit, Sharp Health Care moved about 70% of its visits to virtual
  • In the patient care areas, all staff members wear masks
  • In the spaces where there are aerosol procedures, extra precautions are taken
    • One of the primary ways healthcare workers get exposed is when they take off their protective equipment, so Sharp has observers watching to make sure staff members are taking off their gear in the proper sequence
  • Cashless payments are available
  • Sharp’s Highly Infectious Disease committee is activated during times like this
  • House calls are being rolled out

What is Sharp doing to stay on the leading edge?

As noted by Dr. Olulade and shared in a recent news release, Sharp Healthcare is the first to deploy Amazon’s new wearable health monitoring product, the Amazon Halo Band

When it comes to health plan innovation, Sharp Health Plan is committed to utilizing technology for good. Sharp Health Plan is integrated with Sharp Healthcare and partners with Sharp Rees-Stealy and Sharp Community Medical Group. No matter which option a member has (Sharp Rees-Stealy or Sharp Community Medical Group), they will gain access to technological advancements like telehealth, which has become increasingly important during the pandemic, as well as top-notch member portals.

Sharp Rees Steely offers telehealth appointments for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19-related calls. There is a $0 copay for members.

Sharp Community Medical Group also offers telehealth appointments for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19-related calls for a $0 and $20 copay, respectively. Sharp Community Medical Group, an independent provider organization, has 120+ primary care sites. “I don’t think any of the other health plans can match us with access,” said Dr. Garner.

Further, Sharp Health Plan recognizes that mental health is more important than ever, which is why it has expanded its mental health network.

Other services include a partnership with, the Nurse Connection Line offered in multiple languages, CVS Minute Clinic access in San Diego County, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the people who answer members’ calls are also San Diegans who live and work here.

Why else should you consider Sharp Health Plan?

  • For the employer, whether it be a large group employer or small group employer, it’s really all about affordable cost without skimping on care.
  • Sharp Health Plan has an award-winning network to choose from.
  • Sharp Health Plan is a not-for-profit.
  • Sharp Health Plan has medical employee benefits for large group or small group employers, and an individual line and a Medicare line.
  • Sharp Health Plan is committed to affordable, sustainable and predictable pricing with exceptional care.
  • Home visits are on the horizon, but the staff also wants members to know it’s safe to come in for care. During a home doctor call, the physician can still order x-rays, prescriptions, etc. An LVN may accompany the doctor for a home visit to meet the patient’s comfort level.
  • Sharp is a local organization, so everybody is in-house, which means they can make a difference when enrolling a member.

“We have a vested interest in the community, being a regional carrier,” said Judy Schaller, Senior Sales Executive at Sharp Health Plan.

If you’d like to know more about how Sharp Health Plan can be customized for your company’s employee needs, please contact Ray on our team at (858) 384-1506. Ray has years of experience in employee benefits and can help you determine if Sharp – or another plan – is best for your business. You can also get started right now by requesting an employee benefits quote here. Or, scroll down to book time on Ray’s calendar!






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