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Florida Blue Takes Action to Improve Services for Customers With Disabilities

2017 Employer of the Year designs system to educate its health care providers

Meagan Mauney headshot

Meagan Mauney

Rockville, Md., Oct. 17 – “They snatch you. They push you. They’ll grab you around the shoulders and push you along.”

So says Meagan Mauney, who is legally blind, of how people who are blind are often treated by the uniformed.

Mauney, Accessibility Consultant for Florida Blue, is working to change this through education and Florida Blue’s Distinction Program, which offers its customers a way to choose more mindful and educated practitioners.

“Leverage the resources around you,” Mauney says.

Florida Blue has done exactly that in developing its Distinction Program for providers.

“We developed a curriculum for these healthcare professionals to improve their interactions with customers with disabilities,” explained Mauney. “Throughout this training we offer strategies for being inclusive and accessible. From there, providers earn a special distinction on Florida Blue’s online provider director [sic]. Customers will be able to search for providers who have taken part in this extra training.”

Due to the recent changes in health insurance regulations and plans, there has been a boom in the individual insurance market. This led Florida Blue to take a special interest in all of their customers, including those with disabilities. Florida Blue received valuable feedback regarding customer satisfaction with healthcare providers, customer service agents and overall healthcare.

As a result of this information, Florida Blue provided professional training and created a resource where none existed before.

“We covered the basics like ‘talk directly to the patient, not her sign language interpreter,’” explained Mauney, “and explored tougher topics like health disparities for specific disabilities.”

And these trainings benefit all customers, not just those with disabilities.

“Florida Blue knows that when you solve for some of the barriers that people with disabilities experience, you will almost always be improving the experience for everyone,” Mauney said.

Mauney is responsible for both the customer and employee experience for people with disabilities. Her work is easier to do because Florida Blue’s Chairman & CEO, Patrick J. Geraghty, believes it is important.

“We recognize the unique needs of people with disabilities and strive to foster inclusiveness in the workplace,” Geraghty said. “We believe this is a critical component of becoming a great place to work.”

Recruiting Students with Disabilities

Florida Blue has teamed up with the University of North Florida (UNF) to recruit students with disabilities to work part time while they are in school. The intention of this partnership is to create a springboard for permanent employment with Florida Blue.

“The first group of student employees will learn claims entry and then continue to grow their skills once each task is mastered,” Greg Swift, a Senior Director at Florida Blue, explained. “The goal is for these employees to transition quickly into other roles in the organization and for us to leverage this opportunity as a recruiting tool.”

Ten positions in the Federal Employee Program (FEP) claims’ unit are dedicated for UNF students with disabilities, who are recruited by the school’s Disability Resource Center. These students may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, deafness, blindness, traumatic brain injuries, or physical and psychological disorders.

The program was started by FEP leaders and representatives of Florida Blue’s possAbilities employee resource group. In addition to this program, Florida Blue offers ongoing training, networking opportunities and improved access to health in an effort to break down barriers for people with disabilities.

Awarding Efforts

These initiatives are why Florida Blue is among the top businesses to receive a perfect score on the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities’ Disability Equality Index (DEI) in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The DEI is a national, transparent benchmarking tool that enables businesses to receive an objective score, on a scale of zero to 100, on their disability inclusion policies and practices.

Additionally, it was named 2017 Employer of the Year by the USBLN, a national nonprofit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace.

“We firmly believe that a diverse, inclusive workforce increases our understanding of each other and our customers,” said Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty. “It strengthens our ability to learn from one another and ultimately enables us to deliver on our mission to help people and communities achieve better health. This recognition of our commitment to be inclusive of people with disabilities is very meaningful to us at Florida Blue.”

RespectAbility’s campaign #RespectTheAbility features companies like Florida Blue that prove its commitment to the full inclusion of people with disabilities.

“I show up to work every day here knowing that I am valued as an employee because of my unique skills, many of which I have acquired because I have a disability,” Mauny said.

About RespectAbility

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities. We understand we are a stronger community when we live up to our values – when we are welcoming, diverse, moral and respect one another. We work with entertainment, policy makers, educators, self-advocates, nonprofits, employers, faith-based organizations, philanthropists, journalists and online media to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Led by people with disabilities and those who love them, we know that people with disabilities and their families have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else, even if they face different challenges. We do not lobby; we educate. Our free tools and factual resources inform so people with disabilities can achieve the education, training, jobs, security and good health that everyone needs and deserves. Learn more: https://www.respectability.org.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email LaurenA@RespectAbility.org.

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