Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, also known as Blue Cross NC, announced this week that it will put sweeping measures in place to combat costs associated with COVID-19. The state’s predominant insurer with 3.81 million members said it will waive cost-sharing for treatment related to the illness also known as coronavirus, effective immediately through June 1, 2020.
In recognition of what’s become a sweeping public health crisis, Blue Cross NC’s waiving of fees will include deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance related to treatment for both in-network and out-of-network providers. The waivers apply to all fully insured, State Health Plan, and Medicare members.
In a press release announcing the changes, Blue Cross NC chief operating officer and interim CEO, Gerald Petkau, made it clear that the insurer wanted to do what it could to help in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
“Blue Cross NC is doing all we can to make sure costs are not a barrier to care,” Petkau said. “We want our members to focus on getting well knowing that they are covered. This is a public health emergency that is requiring everyone in the healthcare community to do their part, and we’ll continue to respond and determine how to best serve our members in the face of COVID-19.”
As part of that commitment to members, Blue Cross NC will also work with providers to ensure adequate access to affordable care and attempt to protect members from balance bills — charges that occur when an out-of-network provider is practicing in a facility that is in-network for the patient — during the crisis.
In addition to the waiver on fees, Blue Cross NC has put other plans in place to aid members in the throes of COVID-19.
- Virtual doctor visits will now fall under the same coverage as face-to-face appointments. Blue Cross NC encourages members to pursue virtual care whenever possible to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Virtual visits include appointments with primary care providers, specialists, behavioral health providers, and any state-licensed provider who can accommodate a visit over secure video or telephone. All members are eligible to participate.
- For necessary COVID-19 testing or screening, there will be no member cost-share for virtual care visits, outpatient office visits, urgent care visits, and ER visits. That benefit applies to fully-insured, State Health Plan, and Medicare Advantage plans offered or administered by Blue Cross NC, including Experience Health.
- Blue Cross NC will also waive early medication refill limits in an effort to help members access and keep medications on hand that they need.
The insurer has created a page on its site that it updates regularly with the latest updates on COVID-19. The Coalition is also committed to sharing information about the virus as it comes to light, so check back here often.
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