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Cigna, Humana, other insurers waive costs for COVID-19 treatment

Humana joins Aetna in covering in-patient hospital admissions for COVID-19 related treatment.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Cigna and Humana are joining other insurers in waiving costs for COVID-19 treatment.

Cigna is waiving cost-sharing and co-payments through May 31.

Humana is waiving costs for treatment related to COVID-19 and is now covering subsequent treatment, including inpatient hospital admissions. Humana will cover the member responsibility under the plan benefits for COVID-19-related services, whether treatment is delivered by in-network or out-of-network providers.

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The waiver applies to all medical costs related to the treatment of COVID-19 as well as FDA-approved medications or vaccines when they become available. There is no current end date. Humana will reassess as circumstances change.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has announced it is waiving member cost-sharing related to treatment for COVID-19. The waiver applies to medical costs associated with COVID-19 treatment at in-network facilities and out-of-network emergencies.

Insurers are also ramping up telehealth services.

Cigna is increasing its telehealth capabilities by deploying hundreds of on-staff clinicians, including physicians and nurse practitioners, to join the team of healthcare professionals at MDLIVE, a telehealth company and Cigna partner.

Humana is waiving member cost-share for all telehealth services delivered by participating/in-network providers and accepting audio-only telephone visits for reimbursement.

In other initiatives, Cigna is partnering with Buoy Health, an artificial-intelligence navigation platform, to provide a free, web-based interactive triage tool that assesses COVID-19 risk.

Humana is also lifting administrative requirements to allow for movement from inpatient hospitals to post-acute-care settings. And it is allowing early prescription refills for an extra 30- or 90-day supply.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Insurers are partly mandated for coverage under the recently-passed CURES Act, and under an earlier Families First bill, effective starting March 18, that has its own coverage requirements.

Aetna and Humana are now covering inpatient hospital stays, which is not mandated. And Humana's initiative to move patients more quickly from hospital to post-acute care clears needed bed space.
 

THE LARGER TREND

Insurers are covering testing for COVID-19 and treatment for doctor visits.

Aetna recently announced that it is waiving cost-sharing and co-pays for inpatient hospital admissions related to COVID-19.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which President Trump signed into law on Friday, mandates insurers to cover preventive services related to coronavirus without cost sharing.

The CARES Act builds on coverage provisions in the Families First bill, in which all comprehensive private health insurance plans must cover the FDA-approved testing needed to detect or diagnose coronavirus without cost-sharing or prior-authorization barriers.

Coverage extends to any services or items provided during a medical visit, including an in-person or telehealth visit to a doctor's office, an urgent care center, or an emergency room, that results in coronavirus testing or screening. This coverage requirement began on March 18.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com