Like a lot of things in our lives over the past few weeks, the health insurance world has encountered numerous changes. With such a high number of patients being treated in hospitals, health insurance companies have had to quickly implement changes to better serve patients who are being treated.
Many providers have begun offering “telehealth” visits, or video sessions, to patients who are unable to come into medical offices as they typically would have done in the past. This change in normal medical care routine has necessitated that insurance companies update their policies to cover new types of services.
Blue Cross Blue Shield released a media statement in March that declared it is waiving copays for telehealth visits for “fully-insured members.” This statement also discussed coverage for COVID diagnostics and better access to prescription medications. BCBS suggests checking with your local company to get more details about what services specifically are being covered in your area.
Aetna is also offering some new benefits for its members. Some of these updated perks include prescription delivery to your home for no extra cost and free COVID testing. Aetna has also compiled a list of behavioral health resources for people who are feeling especially burdened by their anxiety over the virus.
Medicaid is also seeing some changes. Health insurance that is typically only available to pregnant women, people with young children, people over 65, or people who are blind or disabled. Medicaid also has income restrictions, but many of these requirements have broadened in light of the recent events. To begin your Medicaid application, you will need to contact the appropriate office in your state. You can find a listing here.
If you do not currently have insurance, you may be eligible to apply for it through the Marketplace. The Marketplace is a government site that contains many different low-cost insurance plans. While you are usually only able to enroll in a plan during the open enrollment period, you may be able to enroll now due to an extenuating circumstance.
For example, if you lost a job-based health plan, you could be eligible for this “Special Enrollment Period.” You may also qualify if you are currently furloughed with your employer. If you already have a Marketplace and have either lost your job or had a reduction in your income, you should update your application because you probably qualify for a lower-cost plan.
While health insurance can be costly, and it may be tempting to go without insurance due to lack of income, you can save much more money down the road by enrolling in an affordable health insurance plan. There are many options out there and paying a premium each month is most likely significantly less than any hospital bills incurred while you are without insurance. Don’t risk incurring steep medical bills especially at this time, and explore all the healthcare options available to you.