UPDATED May 12, 2020
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At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our customers. We continue to follow the developing guidance of local and federal health officials regarding the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Please be assured that we have an action plan in place to enable us to continue to provide quality service to our customers while protecting the health of our employees.
We know many of you have questions about your coverage related to coronavirus testing and treatment. Here is some important information for you.
Coverage for coronavirus testing and treatment
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is waiving member cost-sharing for in-network treatment of COVID-19 from March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020. This means that members with medical plan coverage will pay nothing for in-network testing and treatment administered at a doctor’s office, urgent care facility and emergency room, as well as inpatient hospital stays.
This applies to all fully insured group and individual health plan members, along with those who receive their insurance through Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans.
Coverage for prescription medications
We have increased access to prescription medications by waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications (according to the terms of your plan). We also encourage members to use their plan’s 90-day mail order benefit.
We are also extending expiring pharmacy preauthorizations for members with BCBSNE prescription drug coverage. Pharmacy preauthorizations that were to expire prior to May 31, 2020, will be extended 90 days from the original expiration date. BCBSNE will continue to require preauthorization review for members who are newly prescribed a medication that requires preauthorization.
Patients will not be liable for additional charges that stem from obtaining a non-preferred medication if the preferred medication is not available due to shortage or access issues.
Coverage for telehealth
Starting Monday, March 16, 2020, all telehealth visits from in-network providers will be paid with no member cost share for all members covered under a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska medical plan until further notice.
We believe making telehealth available free of charge is in the best interests of our members during an emerging public health crisis.
We encourage you to reach out to your primary care provider to learn about their telehealth capabilities. You can also register to use services provided by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s preferred telehealth provider, AmWell. To do so, please follow the instructions found on NebraskaBlue.com/Telehealth.
Information for members with high deductible health plans
Recent federal legislation allows high deductible health plans linked to an HSA to waive member cost shares for the following without tax penalty:
- COVID-19 testing, including the office/urgent care/emergency room visit
- Telehealth (for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19-related services)
In addition, the legislation allows individuals to use HSA/FSA funds for the purchase of over-the-counter medical products without requiring a doctor’s prescription.
Medical care for members who travel outside the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers COVID-19 a very serious public health threat, and it continues to take proactive preparedness precautions.
Members can visit CDC.gov/Coronavirus to find information about the disease as well as a risk assessment. As the situation continues to evolve, we recommend that members visit the CDC.gov/Travel for the most updated information about travel.
If you plan to travel internationally, you should consider applying for travel medical insurance, such as GeoBlue®, which would connect you to a doctor and help cover the cost of care should you need it while abroad.
While all plans offer some international coverage through Blue Cross and Blue Shield Global Core®, GeoBlue provides streamlined services and claims processing.
Currently, a vaccine is not available for COVID-19. CDC recommends the following preventive actions:
- Maintain proper hygiene:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it away. Disinfect surfaces that are touched often.
- Limit exposure:
Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with people who are ill.
- Tips for businesses, schools and event organizers:
The CDC has specific preparation tips to help employers, schools and event organizers prepare and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Resources and information from our local provider partners
Bryan Memorial Hospital: bryanhealth.com/coronavirus
CHI Health: chihealth.com/coronavirus
Children’s Hospital and Medical Center: childrensomaha.org/COVID
Methodist Hospital: bestcare.org/covid-19
Nebraska Medicine: nebraskamed.com/COVID
Frequently asked questions
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a coronavirus first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. While other coronavirus strains have sickened people before, this is the first time this strain has been seen in humans.
How does the virus spread?
The first infections of COVID-19 were linked to a live animal market, according to the CDC. The virus now spreads from person-to-person through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. If the droplets are inhaled or land in the mouth or nose of another person, they may become infected.
What are the symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the CDC.
What should I do if I think I have the virus?
Don’t panic. Call your doctor or use telehealth services if you have symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live or have recently traveled to an area with COVID-19 cases.
If you need to go to your doctor’s office, urgent care or the emergency room, it’s important to call ahead, so health care staff can prepare for your arrival and prevent you from accidentally exposing other patients to the virus should you have the disease.
In the event of an emergency, call 911 and tell emergency services that you might have COVID-19.
What should I do to prepare?
You should prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in Nebraska just like you would for any other emergency. Make a backup plan for work and childcare and keep extra staples, including food and medical supplies, on hand.
Where can I find the most up-to-date information?
For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit the CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is keeping track of COVID-19’s impact on Nebraska. Visit DHHS.NE.gov.