By Will Whatley, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, continues to waive cost-sharing, including co-pays, for those who need treatment for COVID-19.
“We want our members to be assured that we are here for them as we navigate through this unprecedented time,” said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama’s President and CEO, Tim Vines, in a press release. “For our members diagnosed with COVID-19, we want them to have peace of mind knowing they have access to the care they need.”
On March 1, Blue Cross started waiving all member cost-sharing for coronavirus diagnostic testing, treatments and any in-person medical facility visit for its members with fully-insured individual, employer-based, Federal Employee Program and Medicare Advantage plans.
Additionally, in-patient deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance for its fully insured employer clients are being waived if a member is admitted to an in-network hospital with a diagnosis related to the coronavirus. Self-funded employer customers also have the option to implement these coronavirus-related benefits.
As of Tuesday morning, 457 people in Alabama had been hospitalized due to COVID-19 since mid-March, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The decision to waive cost-sharing for treatment is in addition to steps taken by BCBS to support the essential needs of both members and providers, the BCBS statement said. Additional steps include:
- Waiving prior authorizations for diagnostic tests and covered services deemed medically necessary and consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for members if diagnosed with coronavirus.
- Increasing access to prescription medications by waiving early medication refill limits on prescriptions and encouraging members to use their 90-day retail or mail-order benefit.
- Expanding access to telehealth for in-network providers with no member cost-sharing.
- Dedicating staff to be specifically available to address inquiries related to medical services, ensuring timely responses related to COVID-19.
Similar actions are being taken in other states by Blue Cross licensees.