Insured Hit with Pandemic are receiving Discounts from Insurance Carriers
The U.S. several leading for-profit health carriers have decided to financially help policyholders by giving back money to them and also by cutting upfront cost for medical care and drug cost. This initiative was started after they realized that people are not receiving healthcare services like before and are delaying normal medical services during the pandemic.
UnitedHealth Group Inc., the U.S. leading and largest health insurers are offering a $1.5 billion pandemic assistance under which they will offer discounts on premiums for some insured and waive cost-sharing for Medicare members. Cigna Corp., another prominent health insurer of the nation, has announced that its pharmacy unit will cap some drug costs for insured who lost their health insurance. Humana Inc. has also announced that for Medicare members it would waive cost-sharing for the rest of the year, which they are required to pay while visiting primary care doctors.
Millions of people in the country have lost their jobs and health insurance, due to the pandemic and social distancing. Due to this, income has been reduced for many families and they are delaying healthcare. Even hospitals were cleared to make room for Covid-19 patients, due to which medical procedures and visits were canceled. Thus, health insurance carriers have been experiencing a sudden increase in profits.
David Wichmann, Chief Executive Officer of UnitedHealth Group said to reporters, “This is the right thing to do,” while discussing health plan he said, “Many people we serve have been deferring routine or planned care, reducing our anticipated medical costs.”
United Health Care has announced to credit between 5% and 20% of June premium cost and this discount will be applicable for the company’s fully insured employer and individual health plans covering around 8 million people. However, this does not apply to around 19 million people enrolled in self-insured health plans common among large employers, where the company is like an administrator but it does not bear the financial risk. The company has reported around $1.5 billion as the first-quarter net income.
April has been the worst month in terms of job losses in the U.S., as per the economists, and this has further resulted in the loss of health insurance because a majority of Americans under 65 receive health insurance through their employers. The unemployment rate in America is expected to rise to 16% from 4.4% in March.
Cost-sharing for primary care and specialist visits for insured getting Medicare coverage through the company at least through September are waived off by the insurance carriers. The United Health Care is also motivating the insured to seek medical care as quickly as possible and the company is expanding food and housing benefits in its Medicaid plans that are designed for lower-income people. The company is also assisting seniors with Medicare supplement premiums.
Cost-sharing of Covid-19 testing and care have been waived off by most of the insurance carriers. However, the health insurance industry is pressurized to do more in this pandemic, which is severely affecting the economy.
Cigna’s Express Scripts unit has announced a program named “Parachute Rx” for people who have lost health insurance due to Covid-19. This program has a capped price of 30-day of generic medications at $25 and $75 for about 40 branded drugs. Express Scripts is also coming up with plans that will be available for the rest of the year and will cover a range of medications like insulin, contraceptive pills, heart disease medications, and migraine drugs. The program has been created by the Express Script in collaboration with drug manufacturers and retail pharmacies.
A pharmaceutical company like Eli Lilly & Co. has come out with a plan in April for patients with commercial insurance or who are uninsured to get the most preferred insulins, Humalog, for $35 a month. This step was taken to make this insulin available to everyone. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., a renowned drug maker of the U.S., said that they are expanding patient support program for people who have lost health insurance due to pandemic by offering them brand-name drugs for free.
Leading health insurance companies such as Cigna and UnitedHealth have profit outlooks for the year, with economic damage grows all around them. The revenue has vanished for the health-care providers with whom they have a contract and most of the customers of employers are facing uncertain businesses.
Health insurance carriers are expected to offer a discount on premiums to their customers if their claims are short of their expectations, based on the average medical cost of three-year. David Wichmann, Chief Executive Officer of UnitedHealth Group, said that the company is doing more than what it was supposed to do. According to him only a small fraction of discount will be required in June under the ACA. The rest according to him is an economic imbalance and will persist.