CHICAGO – Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies are working closely with state and local governments, as well as partners within the health care system, to address local needs from the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) announced that independent and locally-operated BCBS companies across the country and the BCBS Federal Employee Program® (FEP®) have decided to waive cost-sharing for treatment of COVID-19 through May 31. This includes coverage for testing and treatment administered, including for 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.
“It is important that our members feel safe and secure during these unprecedented times, which is why we are committed to ensuring our members who are dealing with a diagnosis of COVID-19 can easily access the care they need,” said Scott Serota, BCBSA president and CEO.
Local BCBS companies’ decisions to waive cost-sharing for treatment is in addition to steps all BCBS companies committed to on March 6 in order to support the essential needs of both their members and the medical communities that serve them:
- Waiving prior authorizations for diagnostic tests and related covered services that are medically necessary and consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for members if diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Covering, with no cost to members, the appropriate medically necessary diagnostic tests for COVID-19, where it is not covered as a part of the Public Health Services response, and covering any subsequently needed care once COVID-19 diagnosis occurs, consistent with the standard provisions of the member’s health benefits.
- Increasing access to prescription medications by waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications (consistent with members’ benefit plans) and/or encouraging members to use their 90-day mail order benefit.
- Expanding access to telehealth and nurse/provider hotlines.
This announcement also builds on broader, more comprehensive efforts that independent BCBS companies already have underway, and which are based on working closely with public officials to meet the greatest needs in their local communities. Examples include sharing data and expertise with local public health departments; working directly with communities to donate funds and resources to relief efforts; and partnering with local nonprofit organizations, providers, businesses and government agencies to meet the broader, social needs of local communities through in-kind donations, including Personal Protective Equipment to support local frontline providers, funding local food banks to address growing food insecurity and maintaining support for community nonprofits who are also serving on the frontlines.
These actions will apply to fully-insured, individual, and Medicare members. BCBS companies are committed to working with state Medicaid and CHIP agencies to ensure that beneficiaries have access to needed testing and services.
Members should check with their local BCBS company for a full understanding of benefits, services and network coverage, which may vary.