“The health and safety of Minnesotans are the highest priorities of the nonprofit plans we represent,” said Lucas Nesse, president and CEO of the Council. “Uniform access to appropriate and affordable treatment is critical to controlling the scope of the pandemic, particularly for those with underlying medical conditions.”
Member organizations of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans have taken the following collective actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Testing. Health plans do not want cost barriers to prevent Minnesotans from receiving appropriate testing for COVID-19. Accordingly, health plans previously announced that they are waiving cost sharing for COVID-19 testing per the guidelines issued through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health and applicable state and federal legislation. This decision applies to all fully insured group, self-funded and individual plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.
- Treatment. To the extent permitted by law, health plans are now waiving cost sharing for in-network COVID-19 hospitalization on fully insured, individual and group health plans through May 31, 2020. Health plans are continuously assessing all aspects of care from diagnosis to hospitalization, as well as any other requirements, such as prior authorization or pre-certification requirements to ensure timely access to appropriate care. Presently, there are no prescription drug treatments available for COVID-19 that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Health plans are following developments closely and monitoring rapid changes in testing protocol, possible treatments in clinical trials and the emerging development of several possible vaccines. Some plans may also provide their self-insured clients flexibility and information on how to apply a similar cost-waiving structure.
- Network Adequacy and Out-of-Network Utilization. Minnesota health plans are working closely with the Walz administration to consistently verify that their provider networks are up to date and are adequate to handle an increase in utilization, and that relevant processes are in place when requests for out-of-network utilization are received.
- Telemedicine. Minnesota’s health plans encourage anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or who has potentially been exposed to the virus, to seek health care in a manner that minimizes the potential exposure of others, which might include first calling a provider or utilizing telehealth services. Telemedicine is an effective care-delivery method that allows patients to visit providers without exposure to potential risk of infection.
Minnesota’s nonprofit health plans that have committed to this framework:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield/Blue Plus of Minnesota
- Hennepin Health
Health plans are partnering with state and federal officials to share information and mitigate risks. The situation is evolving rapidly, and health plans are making supportive changes to the scope of their coverage outside of this framework. The best way for customers to get the most up-to-date information on their health plan coverage is to call the number on the back of their member ID card or visit their health plan’s website.