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CareFirst Options (Alternative Therapies) Frequently Asked Questions

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Approvals and Referrals

Do I need a referral from my doctor to use Options?

Answer: No. However, you should tell your doctor when you use alternative therapies, especially if you are taking medication or being treated for a particular health problem.
Similarly, you should tell your alternative therapy practitioner if you are under the care of a physician, taking medication or have any health problems.

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Do I need to submit a claim form or any other paperwork to CareFirst or CareFirst BlueChoice?

Answer: No. All payments are handled between you and the Options practitioner. You are responsible for all incurred charges and for abiding by the payment and appointment policies of Options practitioners, including their policies for cancelled or missed appointments.

CareFirst and CareFirst BlueChoice are not responsible for any portion of the costs associated with services accessed through Options.

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General Information

What is Options?

Answer: Options is an innovative program that provides discounts on a wide variety of alternative therapies and wellness services, including discounts on acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, eldercare services, hearing services, laser eye surgery, mail-order contacts, fitness memberships, and weight management.
As a member of any CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield or CareFirst BlueChoice plan, you are entitled to discounts on alternative therapies and services at a number of participating providers.

Check your ID card for the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield or CareFirst BlueChoice logo. It means you are eligible.

What discounted services are included?

Answer: Through Options you can receive the following discounts: Through Options you can receive the following discounts:

Acupunture 25%
Massage 25%
Chiropractic care 25%
Laser vision correction $895/eye*
Mail-order contact lenses Up to 50%
Hearing screening Free
Hearing aids 25%
Fitness memberships Up to 40%
Weight management $10 off 3-month subscription
Eldercare services Up to 20%

*Price is for MD, DC and VA, only. Prices may vary in other states.

Does the Options discount apply to services covered under a health plan?

Answer: No. The Options discount does not apply to services covered under a health plan or an optional rider. However, if you exhaust any alternative service benefits covered under your plan, such as chiropractic services, you may access Options practitioners for the discount.

How do I use the discount program?

Answer: Select a service and practitioner by visiting the online directory and then call the practitioner to make an appointment. Present your CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield or CareFirst BlueChoice membership card at the time of your appointment.

  • Any insurance plan bearing a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield or CareFirst BlueChoice logo on the ID card will be accepted.
  • You must have your card to receive the discount each time you visit.
  • Pay the discounted fee at the time of your service.

Does Options affect my premium rates?

Answer: No. There is no additional enrollment fee. By simply being a member of a CareFirst or CareFirst BlueChoice plan, you receive this value-added discount program.

How do I obtain a copy of my Certificate of Coverage?

Answer: You can:

  • a) Contact the plan administrator if you are in a group plan; or
  • b) Call Member Services if you have individual coverage.

Does the money I spend on services accessed through Options count toward my calendar year deductible or copayment maximum?

Answer: No. The money you spend does not count because services accessed through Options are not covered benefits. Therefore, the cost of these services does not count toward the calendar year deductible or copayment maximum.

How is Options different from benefits and services covered under my health insurance plan?

Answer: The Options discount program is not a covered benefit or service such as a physician office visit or hospital stay. CareFirst and CareFirst BlueChoice do not reimburse members or pay practitioners for the costs associated with services accessed through the Options program. Members are responsible for the cost of all services they receive from participating practitioners. The terms and conditions of your CareFirst or CareFirst BlueChoice health insurance plan do not apply to services available through the Options program.

Is there a limit to the number of times I can use Options?

Answer: No. You can use it as often as you like.

Can I purchase Options and give it to a friend as a gift?

Answer: No. This program is exclusively for CareFirst and CareFirst BlueChoice members. Also note that the Options services are not covered benefits, so you do not pay extra for this program. These services are an enhancement to the benefits you already receive.

If I'm not a CareFirst or CareFirst BlueChoice member, who can I contact for more information about the Options discount program and becoming a CareFirst member?

Answer: If you receive health insurance coverage through your employer, please contact your group benefits administrator and tell them about your interest in CareFirst and CareFirst BlueChoice and the Options program.
If you buy insurance directly for yourself or your family, please call (410) 356-8000 or (800) 544-8703 for more information about CareFirst products including the Options program. 

Who is American Specialty Health Networks (ASHN)?

Answer: American Specialty Health Networks is the nation's leader in managed complementary health care. Its network of providers offer a variety of complementary health care services including acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage therapy. For more information, visit their Web site: http://www.ashnetworks.com.

Who is Beltone?

Answer: Beltone Electronics Corporation is committed to developing advanced technology to enhance the hearing care experience. Beltone is one of the largest manufacturers of hearing instruments with a network of over 1,800 locations throughout North America. For more information, visit their Web site at www.beltone.com.

Who is National Fitness Network (NFN)?

Answer: National Fitness Network is an organization of independent health clubs located throughout the CareFirst and CareFirst BlueChoice region, offering access to health clubs at rates up to 40% lower than their published rates. With a single membership, the program provides access to a large group of health clubs. For more information, visit their Web site at www.nationalfitnessnetwork.com.

Who is TruVision?

Answer: TruVision enables health plans to offer laser vision correction and contact lenses to their members at significant discounts. For more information you may visit their Web site at www.truvision.com.

Who is GlobalFit?

Answer: GlobalFit is a discount fitness membership provider that has a network of more than 1,500 gyms nationwide, offering up to 60% off monthly dues. Health and fitness centers in the network include Bally Total Fitness, Gold's Gym and selected Curves locations. For more information, visit their Web site at www.globalfit.com or call 1-800-294-1500.

What is Weight Watchers?

Answer: Weight Watchers started in the early 1960s in Queens, NY as a casual meeting among friends who discussed how best to lose weight. Since then, Weight Watchers has become one of the world’s best-known weight management services. Approximately 46,000 weekly meetings are held in 30 countries. To learn more about Weight Watchers services, products and publications, visit http://www.weightwatchers.com/cs/cfbcbs.

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ID Cards

What if I forget my ID card? Can I ask for the discount retroactively?

Answer: No. You must have your ID card with you at the time of service to receive the discount.

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Physicians and Other Providers

Am I limited to practitioners near me or in my service area?

Answer: No. You can use any participating Options program practitioner, regardless of their location.

How can I tell which practitioners offer discounts?

Answer: A directory of participating practitioners is available by visiting the online directory.

The practitioner I want to go to does not participate in Options. Can I ask to have the practitioner added? If so, how long will it take?

Answer: If there is a particular practitioner you would like to see added, ask the practitioner to refer to the Options section of www.carefirst.com and call the appropriate vendor directly.
Practitioners are not automatically added to Options. If there is an opening, practitioners must go through a quality review process and agree to follow program guidelines and requirements.

This process can take from three to six months. Geographic restrictions may apply.

What qualifications do Options' participating practitioners have?

Answer: Because all Options services are managed through outside companies, CareFirst does no independent credentialing or quality evaluation of any provider participating in the Options program, but instead relies on the vendors who are responsible for screening and certifying practitioners. Following a rigorous application process, a committee of peer practitioners who participates in each program reviews practitioners. Acceptance into the program is based on meeting training, licensure and experience requirements.

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