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 BCBS System is taking swift action to make certain our members have the care they need.
BCBS companies across the country and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program® (FEP®) have decided to waive cost-sharing—for example, copayments and deductibles—for treatment of COVID-19 through May 31. This includes coverage for testing and treatment, including inpatient hospital stays.
The decision to waive out-of-pocket costs for members builds on a series of comprehensive steps the 36 independent, locally operated BCBS companies announced on March 6, enhancing access to a range of services from coronavirus diagnostics to routine prescription refills. Here are some details:
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 will waive 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 care needed will be covered consistent with the member's health benefits.
Access to needed prescriptions
While no one knows for sure how the disease will continue to spread or how the disruption from the outbreak might impact the medication supply, BCBS companies are removing restrictions on prescription refills by waiving early medication 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 healthcare workers and communities at large, BCBS companies are enhancing access to telehealth and nurse/clinician hotlines to encourage virtual care.
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, Blue Cross and Blue Shield 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 to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak.