US Health Insurers Activate COVID-19 Policy Changes

Health insurers across the country have committed to emergency measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that patients have access to COVID-19 prevention, testing, and treatment. America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has posted measures that several insurers are taking to meet the urgent needs of covered individuals. Steps taken by some -- but not all -- insurers include the following.

  • Waive cost-sharing for COVID-19-related diagnostic screening and testing
  • Eliminate cost sharing for telemedicine services for any reason
  • Relax administrative procedures, such as prior authorizations and out-of-network requirements
  • Allow for early prescription drug refill
  • Waive prescription refill limits
  • Work with self-insured clients on their approaches

It’s unclear whether high-deductible health plans that pay first-dollar coverage for telehealth unrelated to COVID-19 would disqualify a covered individual’s health savings account (HSA) contribution. We’re hoping for guidance on that issue. However, the IRS has posted Notice 2020-15 allowing no-cost-sharing testing and treatment directly related to COVID-19.

The AHIP notice also includes an announcement that Oscar, a tech-driven health insurance company, has also launched the first testing center locator for COVID-19 in the United States. It’s accessible to the general public and being refreshed daily. The tool builds on the company’s at-home risk assessment survey.

Cathy Stamm
by Cathy Stamm

Principal, Mercer's Law & Policy Group

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