Empire BlueCross BlueShield Insurance
This is the first in a series of articles providing an explanation of insurance benefits (medical, dental, vision, and prescription drugs) available to members of Local 479.
Members of IATSE Local 479 receive a variety of benefits under the IATSE National Health & Welfare Fund, Plan C. These benefits include hospital and medical coverage through Empire BlueCross BlueShield (referred to more simply as “Empire”). If you are a member with insurance through Empire you are strongly encouraged to complete your online registration and to log in to the Empire website today to take charge of your healthcare.
To login, simply go to: https://www.empireblue.com/
Note that online registration requires that you enter your personal identification number, which can be found on your Empire BlueCross BlueShield ID card.
Once you’ve logged into the website you will be able to:
- review your active coverage
- request an ID card or print a temporary ID card
- choose a primary care physician
- find and rate doctors
- find an Urgent Care facility near you
- manage additional family members on your account
- view recent claims
- sign up for Live Health Online
- update your profile
- receive messages directly from Empire BlueCross BlueShield
- find discounts
A. Reviewing Your Active Coverage
It’s easy to forget the details of your level of medical coverage. Fortunately, you can log in at any time to review the details of your selected plan, everything from the cost of in-network doctor’s visits to the cost of out-of-network diagnostic procedures. See your benefits, how much of your in-network deductible you’ve already paid, your in-network out-of-pocket limits paid, your applied claims, your pharmacy coverage, and more.
B. Requesting an ID Card
Your Empire Member ID card provides all the necessary information required by healthcare providers. If you have lost your card you can request a new one via the website. You may also print a temporary ID card from the website or log into the Empire website and show it to them on your phone. As an alternative you can download the Empire Anywhere app, which allows you to administer your account from your mobile device.
C. Choosing a Primary Care Physician
Your coverage does not require you to maintain a “regular” doctor, referred to as a Primary Care Physician (“PCP”). This means that you can directly schedule a visit with specialists as necessary, without penalty. However, if you would like to have a traditional “MD” you can shop for one near you, using the search tool provided on the Empire website.
D. Finding and Rating Doctors
Empire’s “Find a Doc” Provider Search allows you to search for potential providers (often specialists) within Empire’s local area medical network. Be aware that using an out-of-network doctor will result in higher costs, and specialists require a higher co-pay than a primary care phsyician.
E. Finding an Urgent Care Facility Near You
Urgent care is an important resource when you need immediate care but your primary care physician is unable to schedule you within a reasonable timeframe. It’s a good idea to locate the in-network urgent care facilities near you well before you ever need to use one, to eliminate any delay in receiving care when you do need help.
F. Managing Additional Family Members on Your Account
Family members who are carried on your insurance are also listed in your Empire account and you can administer their settings the same way you do your own.
G. Viewing Recent Insurance Claims
A list of your most recent claims is provided on the main page of your account. This list will include the claim number, the date of service, the covered member who received care, the type of care, the type of service provided (doctor / facility), the total cost of care for each encounter, the portion of the cost the member is responsible for paying, the status of the claim, and an Explanation of Benefits (“EOB”) statement, if available.
H. Signing Up For Live Health Online
Live Health Online is like having a doctor in your pocket, for those times you’re not feeling your best but not bad enough to attempt scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician. Think of it as a quick alternative to a doc-in-a-box service like the CVS Minute Clinic.
Simply sign up for Live Health then download the Live Health app. The next time you’re feeling sick just open up the app and request a video chat with one of their doctors. The consulting doctor will determine if you need immediate medical care or just a prescription.
It’s a great solution for busy film crews!
Note that this service is not meant to be a replacement for detailed medical care and is used most often for coughs, colds, minor rashes, allergies, diarrhea, ear pain, fever, flu, headaches, pinkeye, and other non life-threatening health concerns.
I. Updating Your Profile
If any of your contact information changes be sure to log in and update your profile with Empire. It’s especially important that you keep your email address current, as Empire will send you security alerts, password change alerts, new Explanation of Benefits alerts, account updates, and other paper communications.
J. Messages from Empire BlueCross BlueShield
Empire will occasionally correspond with you via the message center. These communications typically concern some type of action required on your part.
K. Finding Discounts
Empire members are offered a range of discounts on services like DNA testing, grocery coupons, beauty and fitness good, baby care goods, infertility services, pet insurance, and senior care. Be aware that all of these discounts are trial services offered by third party service providers, which will result in additional costs to you beyond any limited trial period they may offer.
IMPORTANT: Please do not lose your username or password for the Empire website, as Local 479 does not and cannot retrieve that information for our members. It can take several days for Empire to reset that information for you, which may pose an inconvenience if you have immediate medical needs.