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Improving Kidney Health with the Independence Blue Cross Kidney Care Program

A worried senior woman with short gray hair is talking on the phone

For most of my career, I’ve focused on improving kidney health and bringing awareness to chronic kidney disease (CKD). With CKD, your kidneys become damaged and can’t filter your blood as well.

How Common Is Chronic Kidney Disease?

CKD is quite common among U.S. adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • More than 1 in 7 adults in the U.S. have CKD (approximately 37 million people).
  • As many as 9 out of 10 people who have CKD don’t know they have it.

Diabetes and hypertension are common causes of CKD. That means diet and exercise are critical to improving kidney health and preventing chronic kidney disease. Unfortunately, there often aren’t many signs or symptoms of chronic kidney disease until it is more advanced — this is known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The CDC estimates that nearly 786,000 adults in the U.S. are living with ESRD.

ESRD patients need regular dialysis and are often on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, which can take years. The quality of life can be very low for those with end-stage renal disease.

The Independence Blue Cross Kidney Care Program

The Independence Blue Cross Kidney Care program launched in 2021. The mission of the program is to improve the quality of care for our members with CKD and find new ways to address the rising numbers of those who have it.

One way we are trying to accomplish this is by working directly with doctors who treat CKD (called nephrologists) to make sure our members get consistent, high-quality care. Our comprehensive Kidney Care program offers incentives for doctors in our network who get better outcomes for our CKD and ESRD members.

We also reach out to some network doctors who treat our members who have diabetes but haven’t completed a screening for kidney disease. We get authorization from the doctor to mail the member a urine albumin sample kit.

Extra Support for Members Living with Chronic Kidney Disease

Medicare Advantage members who have advanced chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease may have more complex care needs. To help these members, we’ve contracted with Strive Health to offer them access to a local team specialized in CKD, including nurse practitioners, registered nurse care managers, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, and care coordinators.

Some of the ways Strive Health helps members include:

  • Answering questions and coordinating care
  • Providing diet education
  • Getting medication refills
  • Finding resources to help members who may not have access to necessities such as healthy food, safe housing, or nearby care
  • Communicating with their nephrologist about their care plan and needs

If you hear from one of Strive Health’s “Kidney Heroes” (kidney coaches), I hope you’ll take the call. They are very good at helping our members navigate the demands of kidney care. 

Kidney Awareness Is Ongoing

March is Kidney Awareness Month, but kidney health should be a high priority all the time. I am proud to lead the Independence Blue Cross Kidney Care program, as we work toward the mission of finding effective, new ways for our members with CKD to get the best quality care.

Independence Blue Cross members can call 1-800-ASK-BLUE (1-800-275-2583) (TTY/TDD: 711) to talk to a Registered Nurse Health Coach if they have concerns about their health or to learn more about our case management programs.

Website last updated: 03/22/2022
Strive Health, LLC is an independent company that administers kidney care management to select members of Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans.
Independence Blue Cross offers Medicare Advantage plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Independence Medicare Advantage plans depends on contract renewal.
Independence Blue Cross offers products through its subsidiaries Independence Hospital Indemnity Plan, Keystone Health Plan East and QCC Insurance Company — independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Joanne Seader, RN, BSN, CDN

I have been a Registered Nurse for more than 30 years and have spent more than a decade in kidney care leadership. I spent my early career as a staff nurse in ICUs and dialysis centers. Later, I moved into education and leadership roles. Within minutes of talking with me, you will detect my relentless passion for improving all areas of kidney health. I also play the guitar, dabble in art, and love corny jokes.