Increasing Coverage, Access to At-Home Care with Telehealth

Published April 16, 2020

Opening new doors to care. For the Health of America.

In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans are currently under orders to stay home and “flatten the curve.” Given the nature of the COVID-19 epidemic, seeking in-person medical care may lead to spread of the virus. Further issues exist regarding the availability of appointments as some healthcare facilities have closed or drastically reduced office hours for seeking care.

To address these issues, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) companies have committed to expanding coverage and access to virtual care solutions. On March 19, all 36 locally based, independently operated BCBS companies and the BCBS Federal Employee Program® announced expanded coverage for telehealth services for the next 90 days. Collectively, the BCBS system is waiving telehealth copays and cost-sharing for telehealth services. Some health plans are offering additional telehealth resources to meet specific needs in their regions. These initiatives are helping members stay home and mitigate the risks of infection, enabling doctors to monitor patients remotely, and easing the burden on emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and urgent care clinics.

Removing barriers to telemental health

  • The need for mental and emotional well-being is now more apparent than ever. To help people coping with the emotional impact of isolation and crisis—regardless of insurance status—Florida Blue   is currently offering free telemental health for their members and the community at large.

Expanding benefits for self-insured employers

Training virtual doctors for COVID-19

  • In Kansas City, Missouri, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is ensuring all of their virtual care doctors have undergone coronavirus-specific training. This allows them to appropriately screen for COVID-19 symptoms and advise on needed follow-up care.

Offering a broader array of services

  • In waiving copays, coinsurance and deductibles for members to use their virtual care app, CareFirst Video Visit, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield is providing their full array of virtual services at no cost to their members. This includes lactation support, nutritional counseling and urgent care services.
  • Independence Blue Cross expanded their covered telemedicine services to make it possible for more members to get the care they need from home. These expanded services include specialist visits, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, urgent care, nutritionist visits and behavioral health visits for members with autism spectrum disorder.

Calling on clinicians to offer telehealth

  • Telehealth isn’t just a new way of doing things for members. It can also be new for healthcare workers, who may have never practiced virtual care. To allay these uncertainties and meet the growing need for virtual visits, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is calling on available clinicians to offer telehealth services, making the transfer easy and paying them at parity to in-person visits.

Broadening community access to care

  • Now more than ever, being uninsured can cause fear or anxiety. To help its community navigate these uncertainties, regardless of insurance status, Capital BlueCross is offering discounted telehealth access to the general public—including a growing number of uninsured individuals.

Covering the cost of specialist phone triage

  • To support the Rhode Island community in getting access to high-quality care while following stay-at-home orders, BlueCross & BlueShield of Rhode Island is covering the cost of specialist phone triage. As the state’s largest health insurer, this move will help Rhode Islanders determine the level of care they may need without overburdening the health system at this precarious time.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.