Mar 20, 2020
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island expands coverage for members during COVID-19 pandemic
Removing member cost sharing for all telehealth services supports social distancing; encourages members to seek appropriate care by phone or virtually with no member cost sharing
PROVIDENCE, RI (March 20, 2020) – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) today announced additional steps the insurer is taking to expand coverage for its members and eliminate out-of-pocket costs for care delivered by phone or virtually, such as through telehealth. These changes, applicable to commercial (fully insured) and Medicare Advantage members, place an increased emphasis on care delivered by telephone and through audio visual platforms, such as Doctors Online, allowing members to get care in their own homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We recognize the enormous toll this public health crisis is having on our members, our customers, the provider community and all Rhode Islanders,” said Kim Keck, BCBSRI president and CEO. “Our priority is to ensure our members have safe, uninterrupted access to high-quality healthcare during this pandemic. By encouraging members to seek care by phone or virtually, we hope that those most at risk can get the medical support they need in their own homes.”
BCBSRI has taken the following steps, which will be in place during the duration of this public health emergency:
- Expanded coverage for clinically appropriate telehealth services that are provided by any in-network provider through permitted means, including telephone and audiovisual technologies.
- Permitted audiovisual capabilities include nonpublic video conferencing such as Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime.
- Waived all member cost sharing (copays and deductibles) for telehealth whether provided by an in-network provider or through the Doctors Online telehealth platform.
- Waived member copays and cost sharing for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19 consistent with CDC guidelines.
- Removed administrative barriers by waiving prior authorization and referral requirements for testing and medically appropriate treatment of COVID-19.
- Allowing members to fill prescriptions earlier than the standard 30 days.
BCBSRI has also developed a resource center that is being updated regularly, as well as an employer frequently asked questions section of the company’s website. Providers can access information specific to them once they have signed on to the provider portal. The company is also sharing information regularly through its social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Earlier in the week, BCBSRI also made the decision to close its four Your Blue Store locations in Cranston, East Providence, Lincoln and Warwick, as a way to further support social distancing. Members needing assistance should call the number on the back of their ID card. For anyone needing to purchase a plan, please call 1-800-505-2583.
To support the community during these challenging times, BCBSRI has made a significant contribution to a new COVID-19 Response Fund established by United Way of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Foundation to help Rhode Island’s nonprofit organizations manage to meet community needs through this turbulent period. BCBSRI has also distributed excess hand sanitizer to emergency responders in our capital city of Providence, as well as to community organizations such as Crossroads Rhode Island and Family Service of Rhode Island who are meeting the increased needs of our most vulnerable residents. BCBSRI is encouraging employees to utilize their 12 hours of paid volunteer time (Time to Give) to assist community organizations, such as donating blood at the Rhode Island Blood Center and delivering meals to homebound older adults in support of Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island.
To find tips and resources for protecting yourself from COVID-19, flu and other viruses, please visit bcbsri.com/coronavirus. Providers can learn more about the BCBSRI policy changes by visiting the provider portal at bcbsri.com.