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Independence Blue Cross: Keeping you informed about COVID‑19

  • On March 20, 2020
  • COVID-19

We understand that your clients have questions regarding their health care options and safety as COVID‑19 continues to impact our communities. Our top priority is to ensure members have access to the care they need and that our shared communities are safe.

Independence is closely monitoring the situation and working to keep key stakeholders updated with the latest information. We know there are many questions during this challenging time, and we want you to know we are here for you and your customers. We will keep you informed about any benefits and policy updates we make in response to the changing conditions.

Even though our buildings are closed, Independence is open for business

Given the spread of COVID‑19 in our region and our commitment to protecting our workforce, the Independence Blue Cross Family of Companies has decided to close all company offices in the Philadelphia area, New Jersey, and Minnesota effective March 18, until further notice.

However, we remain “open for business” with associates working remotely and all key business functions operational. This means that we are conducting business as usual by continuing to process claims, handle member and broker calls, provide support from nurses and health coaches, maintain our systems, and provide all of our partners and constituents with timely updates and information moving forward.

Coverage of the COVID‑19 test and treatment

Independence will cover and reimburse member cost‑sharing (such as co‑pays, deductibles, and coinsurance) for the COVID‑19 test and the administration of the test when performed at a physician’s office, urgent care center, or an emergency room. For members in HMO, POS, and DPOS plans, lab capitation requirements are being waived for COVID‑19 testing.

Independence continues to cover medically necessary health care costs to treat infectious diseases, including COVID‑19, based on the terms of the member’s insurance plan.

Treatment for COVID‑19 is subject to the specific out‑of‑pocket cost‑sharing for each member’s health plan, including applicable out‑of‑pocket cost‑sharing under their benefit plan.

For self‑funded groups, the COVID‑19 test costs under $100 each, plus the fee to administer the test.

At this time, there is no specific antiviral treatment or vaccine for COVID‑19. Members should receive care from their doctors to help relieve symptoms as they would other viral respiratory infections.

Independence expands telemedicine to behavioral health

Because health scares can cause additional stress and anxiety, Independence is offering telemedicine access to ensure members have access to behavioral health care. Members can talk to an in‑network mental health counselor over the phone or through a video conference.

To find an in‑network provider, members can call the Mental Health number on the back of their ID card. Applicable member cost sharing will apply.

Members can save time and stay safe using telemedicine through MDLive

For customers with our MDLive benefit, using telemedicine keeps members out of waiting rooms and is more convenient than leaving home to wait in an Urgent Care Center or ER. And, it helps to limit the spread of germs and illness in doctors’ offices, while helping protect our members from exposing themselves. Customers can use a new COVID‑19 MDLive flyer to share this important information with their employees.

The MDLive experience is designed to make getting care in this setting as efficient as possible. MDLive uses an intake questionnaire prior to the appointment that helps them direct calls, so the provider is prepared to assist the member at the beginning of the appointment.

Currently, the “time to next appointment” communicated to members is up to two hours, which will vary based on call volume. However, this indicates the wait time to the next available same-day appointment. Once members have their appointment request in the queue and finish the initial scheduling call, they can hang up as they wait for a call back.

Please note that MDLive is working to get more providers licensed to practice in PA to help cover the needs of our members, as well as expediting their new provider onboarding process.

Extending authorizations on elective procedures

Independence is extending authorizations on all elective procedures to six months. These procedures may still occur as scheduled, but it’s also possible that a health care provider, hospital, or ambulatory surgical center may decide it’s in the best interest of the patients to postpone elective procedures during the next few weeks.

We want to make things easier for all, and extending the authorization period will allow the flexibility our providers need to make the best possible care decisions for patients.

Dan Hilferty reminds community, “We’re in this together”

Independence leadership stands in strong support of public officials and health experts as we navigate the challenges presented by COVID‑19. See Dan Hilferty’s message of solidarity and encouragement: VIDEO: Independence reminds our community, “We’re in this together”

Please visit ibx.com regularly for the latest news and updates.