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Health Insurers Waive COVID-19 Out-of-Pocket Treatment Costs

Blue Cross and Blue Shield latest insurer to suspend deductibles or copays for coronavirus-related medical services

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Medical equipment sits in a hospital in New York City.
John Minchillo/Associated Press

Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced Thursday that its network of locally-operated BCBS plans across the country will be waiving cost-sharing for the treatment of COVID-19 through May 31. This includes coverage for testing and coronavirus treatment, including inpatient hospital stays.

The plans join a growing number of insurers that are cutting out-of-pocket costs for members. These decisions generally apply to commercial plans and individuals with Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplemental or Medigap policies, and Medicaid.

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In a Rose Garden briefing last Sunday, President Trump announced that Humana and Cigna would be waiving treatment-related charges such as copays and deductibles. These two national insurers join seven other large and small insurers who have taken such actions in recent days.

Aetna, a division of CVS Health, was the first health insurer to waive such charges. Insurers had already waived cost-sharing for coronavirus testing.

"We know we're uniquely positioned to help our members during this unprecedented health crisis,” Bruce Broussard, president and CEO of Humana, said in a statement on Monday. “It's why we're taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus."

Humana says its waiver applies to all out-of-pocket medical costs related to the treatment of COVID-19 as well as FDA-approved medications or vaccines when they become available. The waiver is open-ended.

Cigna is waiving out-of-pocket costs for all COVID-19 treatment through May 31, including Medicare and commercial enrollees, according to an announcement on its website.

According to the Association of Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the following plans have so far waived out-of-pocket charges for their members.

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Here are the announcements from other insurers.

Aetna is waiving cost-sharing for inpatient admissions at all in-network facilities for treatment of COVID-19 or health complications associated with the pandemic. This policy applies to all Aetna-insured commercial plans and is effective through June 1, 2020.

AllWays Health Partners, headquartered in Massachusetts, is removing copays, deductibles, or coinsurance for testing and copays for treatment at in-network facilities; ensuring access to out-of-network providers for the initial COVID-19 test or treatment when no in-network providers are available; and removing all cost-sharing for telemedicine services, including virtual visits with primary care providers and specialists.

CareFirst, with offices in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, is waiving copays, coinsurance and deductibles for in-network or out-of-network visits to a provider's office, as well as for telehealth, lab fees or treatments related to COVID-19 “for the duration of this public health emergency.” It is also eliminating prior authorization requirements for medically necessary diagnostic tests and covered services related to COVID-19 diagnosis.

Fallon Health, headquartered in Massachusetts, is waiving copays for coronavirus treatment as well as relaxing administrative procedures, such as prior authorizations and out-of-network requirements, for medically necessary care.

L.A. Care in California is waiving all costs associated with screening, testing and medically necessary treatment for COVID-19.

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