Blue Cross to Cover the Cost of Telemedicine During COVID-19 Pandemic
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network will be waiving the cost of telehealth medical visits to their members and customers that have that benefit included in their health care plans as a part of the company’s response to the new coronavirus pandemic.
The no-cost telemedicine medical visits will be offered through June 30.
The new coronavirus can cause a severe respiratory illness called COVID-19 with symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. COVID-19 is spreading across the U.S. and Michigan – and in response schools have been closed, bars and restaurants are only allowed to provide carryout, large gatherings have been banned and workers are being strongly encouraged to work from home.
The goal of promoting telehealth medical visits is to encourage patients with manageable flu-like symptoms to initiate their doctor’s visits from home from their computers, smartphones or tablets, as doctor’s offices and emergency rooms will likely become strained by people seeking treatment for severe cases of COVID-19.
For patients with mild symptoms including headaches, stomachaches and vomiting, painful urination, cold and flu symptoms, eye irritations and mild rashes and injuries, virtual care provides a convenient way to access health care professionals.
Also available at no cost to the member is a 24-Hour Nurse Line, where registered nurses can answer questions about when and how to seek care.
- Blue Cross members
- Blue Care Network members
This action by Blue Cross is in addition to the measures the company has already enacted to help health care workers and patients navigate the pandemic.
All medically necessary laboratory tests to diagnose COVID-19 infection consistent with CDC guidance will be fully covered by Blue Cross at no cost to the member as of March 18.
Blue Cross is waiving prior authorization processes for covered services related to COVID-19 — unless prior authorization is required to assure the availability of the treatment for persons in need consistent with CDC recommendations.
Blue Cross has also dedicated clinical staff to address medical service questions related to COVID-19 and has expanded access to prescription medications to ensure patients don’t experience shortages or problems filling prescriptions.
Early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications will be waived (consistent with a member’s benefit plan). Any additional charges that may stem from obtaining a non-preferred medication for COVID-19 treatment will not be billed to the patient.
Anyone can contract COVID-19 but older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are at a higher risk of complications. The virus is spread through person-to-person contact, contaminated surfaces and respiratory droplets, produced by a cough or sneeze. Vulnerable individuals are encouraged to stay home and stock up on supplies in case of a potential outbreak.
More from MIBluesPerspectives.com:
- Blue Cross Takes Action to Help Members During the Coronavirus Outbreak
- Coronavirus Supply List: How to Prepare for a Quarantine
- How to Self-Quarantine During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Photo credit: Courtney Hale