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Caring when it counts the most

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 $5.5 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

Since early March, BCBS companies have been waiving prior authorization for diagnostic tests and medically covered services, as well as covering, with no cost-sharing, diagnostic tests and treatment related to COVID-19. 

With respect to testing, BCBS companies are following guidance from three federal agencies—the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of the Treasury—and covering diagnostic testing costs for tests deemed medically necessary by a medical provider, both for individuals who are experiencing symptoms and for asymptomatic individuals with known or suspected recent exposure to the coronavirus.

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 health care workers and communities at large, BCBS companies are enhancing access to telehealth and nurse/clinician hotlines to encourage virtual care. 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.

Premium relief to consumers and employers

During the pandemic, many patients have deferred routine care and postponed medical procedures that are not urgent. In light of the temporary reduction in medical claims, BCBS companies are providing millions in premium relief to consumers and employers in the form of rebates and credits.

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.  

Additional Resources: 

  • Read how companies are protecting the health and safety of members, health care workers and communities.
  • Read how the BCBS Federal Employee Program® is supporting federal workers and their families. 
  • See how BCBS companies are encouraging members to get the care they need without leaving home.
  • Read how to keep Americans covered and cared for during the economic downturn. 
  • Read joint legislative recommendations from BCBSA and AHIP on ensuring Americans can count on their coverage and health care professionals have the resources they need during this outbreak.
  • Read our letter to Vice President Pence and Congressional leaders on ensuring clinicians, hospitals and all other vital health care systems have the support and resources they need. 
  • Hear Justine Handelman, BCCSA Sr. VP share with NPR’s Here & Now how BCBS companies are working to make certain members have the information, testing and care they need during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
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