Access to Care – and COVID-19

Access to Care 

Social distancing, unemployment and current or anticipated financial difficulties for millions of Americans are affecting access to care and access to medications. PQA members are taking steps to overcome and eliminate the barriers that reduce patient access to care during the COVID crisis. Those efforts include:

  • Waiving costs related to COVID testing and covering the associated treatment
  • Waiving prior authorizations for COVID testing and treatment
  • Expanding telehealth capabilities
  • Strengthening provider capacity
  • Delivering support to vulnerable populations

PQA Members in Action

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has documented the ways health insurance providers are taking action. Here's how PQA member health plans are responding to access challenges:

  • Aetna is waiving co-pays for diagnostic testing and offering zero co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason.
  • Alignment Healthcare has launched a COVID-19 risk assessment tool and a crisis meal delivery program.
  • Anthem is providing resources, covering the costs of diagnostic testing, waiving prior authorization for testing, recommending telehealth, and altering 30-day supplies of medications to 90-day supplies.
  • BlueCross BlueShield of NC is covering the costs of testing, waiving prior authorization, expanding and covering virtual doctor access, and waiving early medication refill limits.
  • BlueCross BlueShield of TN is covering virtual visits with in-network providers
  • Blue Shield of CA: waiving all cost-sharing and prior authorization for testing, as well as encouraging the use of telehealth services.
  • Cigna is covering the cost of coronavirus testing, as well as waiving all co-payments or cost-shares.
  • Florida Blue is waiving all co-pays and deductibles for medical testing for COVID-19, waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescriptions, adding a free-to-member virtual care partner for seniors and others, and offering mental health support from COVID-related stress.
  • Healthfirst is waiving co-pays for all diagnostic testing.
  • Highmark is covering coronavirus testing when recommended and expanding coverage for telehealth services.
  • Humana is waiving out-of-pocket costs for testing and telemedicine costs, as well as allowing early refills on medications.
  • Kaiser Permanente is waiving testing costs, contributing to public health organizations, and collaborating with the CDC to stop the virus’ spread.
  • Magellan Health is providing free access to digital cognitive behavioral therapy for patients experiencing sleep difficulty related to COVID, as well as expanding telehealth services.
  • SCAN Health Plan is shifting many in-person services to telephonic, as well as contributing emergency funding for non-profits.
  • UnitedHealthcare is waiving testing costs, co-pays, and deductibles, while also expanding telehealth access, and suspending prior authorization requirements.
  • UPMC is waiving any applicable deductibles and co-pays for testing, improving their telehealth capabilities, while also creating a COVID test that will be available to hundreds of patients per week in the coming days.
  • Walgreens is activating 15 drive-thru testing sites in seven different states thought to be hot spots for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is covering diagnostic testing at no cost-share to members, allowing virtual health care visits, offering in-network providers for patients without a provider, and permitting early refills of prescription medications. 

Other PQA members have taken steps to make healthcare more accessible, including:

  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services waived the requirement of the patient signature for prescriptions to reduce face-to-face interactions.
  • CVS is offering a delivery service for prescriptions and other necessities.
  • National Association of Chain Drug Stores is supporting community pharmacy organizations by providing recommendations to ensure the continuity of patient operations, such as expanding business efficiencies and access to testing, as well as reimbursement of certain co-pays.
  • National Quality Forum has showcased the experience and different methods of the Department of Veteran Affairs in their leveraging of telehealth technology to increase clinician capacity.

This list is far from exhaustive and will be updated periodically. We welcome additional online and publicly available resources that our members would like to share. You can email suggested links to us at [email protected].

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