Blue Cross Blue Shield among plans extending out-of-pocket waivers through crisis Voluntary nature of waivers draws criticism from consumer advocacy group Health insurance companies are extending practices that ensure beneficiaries can receive free Covid-19 testing and treatment during the pandemic.
At least five insurers, including Aetna and Cigna, have decided to lengthen the period for which they would waive out-of-pocket costs related to the coronavirus past the initial June 1 end date, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.
Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers will extend their cost-sharing waiver for Covid-19 testing and care “for at least as long as the public health emergency is in place,” Tess Thomson, spokeswoman for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, said in an email.
And UnitedHealthcare posted on its website Friday that it would waive cost-sharing for Medicare Advantage plan members for specified services for primary care providers and specialists at least until Sept. 30. Insurers’ decisions on whether to continue to waive patient costs come as the nation begins to emerge from a months-long lockdown.
Public health officials see widespread testing, as well as contact tracing, as critical to states being able to contain outbreaks. The respiratory ailment has claimed more than 100,000 lives in the U.S. In most health insurance policies, enrollees must make out-of-pocket payments such as for annual deductibles and copays.
Insurers initially moved to waive many of those cost-sharing payments after lawmakers and public health officials expressed fears that the costs could prevent people from getting tested or treatment for the coronavirus.