Aug 11, 2020

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island expands no-cost Medicare Advantage benefits through December 31, 2020

Includes $0 copays for a number of services and prescription drugs; $0 telehealth visits

PROVIDENCE, RI (August 11, 2020) – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), the leading choice for Medicare eligible adults in Rhode Island, has taken additional steps to help Medicare Advantage members access the care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has temporarily expanded a number of benefits across most Medicare Advantage plans offered, including $0 copays for additional healthcare providers and services, as well as for many prescription drugs such as most insulin, most inhalers, dementia drugs, Part B infusion and injection drugs, and all Tier 1 drugs.

“For more than 20 years, BCBSRI has had the privilege of serving Rhode Island Medicare-eligible adults who choose a Medicare Advantage plan,” said Corey McCarty, BCBSRI consumer segment vice president. “Now more than ever, helping our members access the care they need as easily as possible is paramount. We are proud to be the only local insurer to offer the opportunity for Rhode Islanders to save money and continue to address their health and well-being needs.”

BCBSRI Medicare Advantage members can expect to see expanded benefits from August 17 through December 31, 2020. They include:

  • $0 primary care provider copays – now across all plans
  • $0 mental health/substance use disorder copays
  • $0 inpatient hospital, mental health, and observation stays
  • $0 diagnostic labs, X-rays, and imaging – now across all plans
  • $0 physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
  • $0 pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation
  • $0 Tier 1 prescription copays
  • $0 most insulin drugs, most inhalers, and dementia drugs (Please ask your pharmacy or provider if your drug qualifies)
  • $0 Part B infusion and injection drugs
  • An additional $100 over-the-counter (OTC) benefit for the 4th Quarter (October through December)

BCBSRI is also making it easier for Medicare Advantage members to access care virtually. With Doctors Online, members were already able to access 24/7 care for common, non-emergency health issues such as colds, allergies or migraines. Members can also schedule video visits with a therapist or psychiatrist for behavioral health issues such as stress, anxiety or depression. Now, in addition to Doctors Online, members can temporarily receive treatment for $0 over the phone or through video from providers typically seen in person, when clinically appropriate.

Today’s announcement follows a number of others BCBSRI has made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They include:

  • Providing a 10 percent medical premium credit for two months for fully insured large group and small group employers, as well as individuals who purchase insurance through BCBSRI or HealthSource RI.
  • Providing a 25 percent dental premium credit for fully insured customers and extending teledentistry services with in-network dentists through December 31, 2020.
  • Extending coverage, through September 2, 2020, of medically appropriate telehealth services for primary care, behavioral healthcare or specialist care with no member cost share. (For commercial members.)
  • Waiving member cost sharing for doctors’ visits, emergency room visits or inpatient care related to COVID-19.
  • Waiving member copays and cost sharing for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19 consistent with CDC guidelines.
  • 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.

For information about the temporary Medicare Advantage benefits, please visit For more information about COVID-19-related coverage/policy changes, general resources and what BCBSRI is doing in the community, please visit BCBSRI’s COVID-19 resource center.