In the light of coronavirus pandemic, the health insurance companies have made some vital changes in their plans and offerings. Some of these changes include waiving copays and out-of-pocket costs for the testing and treatment of coronavirus. Besides offering relaxation in price, health insurers have also made healthcare easily accessible for residents by offering them coverage for telehealth appointments. People can make telehealth appointments through Skype or FaceTime to allow them to deal with the stress associated with the crisis. America’s Health Insurance Plans or AHIP is collecting information on how health insurers are responding to this pandemic. AHIP has shared how some of the largest health insurance companies of the U.S. is handling the situation.
Aetna – Owned by CVS Health, Aetna is a leading health insurer of America. To help people out in this crisis, the health insurer has waived co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to the virus and is also providing zero co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason. In addition to it, the health insurer till June 1 has waived member cost-sharing for inpatient admissions to in-network facilities for people who get admitted due to coronavirus. The company revealed that it will provide a care package to COVID-19 patients and will also offer programs to help them deal with stress and anxiety.
Anthem – Anthem is a health insurer offering health plans of Blue Cross in the 14 states. This health insurer is also not charging out-of-pocket costs for the testing or treatment of coronavirus. Besides, the company is also waiving before authorization for diagnostic services associated with the testing of COVID-19. Prior authorization is used by the health insurers as a way to limit care, which is unnecessary according to them. However, that practice has been stopped by Anthem for coronavirus testing and the company is also waiving cost-sharing for telehealth visits that also include their visits to mental health providers. The health insurance carrier is also relaxing early prescription refills on most of the maintenance medications.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) – The BCBSA is the parent organization of 36 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies operating in the U.S. The company waived off cost-sharing for coronavirus treatment till May 31. The health insurer will also waive prior authorizations for diagnostic tests and covered treatment for the coronavirus, and no out-of-pocket costs for those services will be charged from the patients. Besides, the company is also waiving prescription refill limits on maintenance medications and has expanded telehealth and healthcare provider hotlines.
Blue Shield of California – Blue Shield of California in response toward coronavirus is waiving cost-sharing for urgent care, hospital, emergency room, and outpatient services along with prior authorization related to coronavirus testing. Out-of-pocket costs to use Teladoc Health virtual services for most of the members were eliminated till May 31. Additionally, the company has expanded telehealth services and has waived out-of-pocket costs for most of the members.
Cigna – Cigna health insurer like all the leading health carriers of the U.S. also provides coverage for the testing and treatment of coronavirus, and has waived co-pays and cost-sharing at in-network providers or telehealth through May 31. The health insurer is waiving before authorization for the transfer of COVID-19 patients from acute inpatient hospitals to in-network long term acute care hospitals to handles demand of high volumes of COVID-19 patients. The insurer is also coming up with free home delivery of up to 90-day supplies of prescription maintenance drugs under its Express Scripts Pharmacy.
Humana – The out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus testing and treatment have been waived by the Humana health insurer. The health insurer has waived telemedicine cost for urgent care, which allow members to get early refills for regular medication.
United Healthcare – The largest health insurer of the nation has waived off COVID-19 testing costs at approved locations. The company had waived-off cost-sharing for Medicare, Medicaid, individual, and many group insurances till May 31. Members are allowed to request for early prescription refills. Besides, the insurer has also expanded telehealth access and has waived cost-sharing for in-network telehealth visits for Medicare, Medicaid, individual, and many group plans till June 18. The company also plans to come out with self-administer coronavirus tests, which will lessen the burden of healthcare facilities.
How Public Insurers are Handling the Coronavirus Pandemic
Not just the private health insurers who are making changes in their plans and policies but even public health insurers are also making changes to handle this pandemic. Medicare is expanding telehealth services and even the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced that it will cover more telehealth services. This step has been taken to prevent vulnerable people from going to doctors’ offices and hospitals, as they can get more care remotely. Besides, federal government officials are working on eliminating cost barriers for the insured. Even the Trump administration is examining all avenues so that uninsured can get tested and treated for coronavirus.