For generations, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies have been providing security and compassion to millions of Americans. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield System is supporting our members so they don’t need to worry about the cost of care should they or their loved ones become ill.
BCBS companies across the country and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Federal Employee Program® (FEP®) are waiving cost-sharing — for example, copayments and deductibles — for treatment of COVID-19 for at least as long as there’s a public health emergency. This includes coverage for testing and treatment, including inpatient hospital stays. In fact, BCBS companies collectively have committed nearly $3 billion in support of members, health care workers and local communities to aid in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
Here are some details on how we are enhancing access to care:
Waiving member cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment
The waiving of members’ costs includes coverage for testing and treatment, including inpatient hospital stays. Participating BCBS companies will reimburse health care providers at in-network or Medicare rates as applicable and consistent with relevant state regulations.
Members should check with their local BCBS company for a full understanding of benefits, services and network coverage, which may vary.
Coverage for diagnostic tests and care related to COVID-19
BCBS companies are waiving prior authorization for diagnostic tests and medically necessary covered services. The companies will cover, with no cost-sharing, diagnostic testing related to COVID-19 where it is not covered as part of the Public Health Service response. Once there is a diagnosis of COVID-19, any treatment needed will be covered without patient cost-sharing.
Access to needed prescriptions
While no one knows for sure how the disease will continue to spread or how disruption from the outbreak might impact the medication supply, BCBS companies are removing restrictions on prescription refills by waiving early refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications and encouraging people to use the 90-day mail order benefit. If shortages or other access issues occur, patients will not be responsible for any additional charges that may result from substituting a non-preferred drug from the preferred list.
Virtual care to reduce everyone’s exposure
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends if you are sick to isolate yourself in your home, except to receive medical care. To better assist members and to help protect health care workers and communities at large, BCBS companies are enhancing access to telehealth and nurse/clinician hotlines to encourage virtual care, as many are reporting a spike in telehealth usage. Seeing this, several BCBS companies are taking telehealth a step further, from creating a virtual primary care plan to covering in-network telehealth services permanently, and more.
Action to support federal workers
Besides these measures, FEP is taking additional steps to support its members, including eliminating cost-sharing for prescriptions up to a 14-day supply and waiving copays for telehealth services related to COVID-19.
Similar to previous international disease outbreaks including SARS and the Swine Flu, BCBS companies are working closely with federal, state and local governments not only to ensure people receive appropriate care, but also to help public health officials track and mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.
See BCBSA’s Justine Handelman and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield CEO Gail Boudreaux as they met with President Trump, Vice President Pence and other health insurance executives at the White House on March 10, 2020 to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak.