Bruce Japsen Senior Contributor
Health insurers Cigna and Humana are waiving customer cost-sharing and co-payments for all treatments related to the Coronavirus strain COVID-19, President Trump announced Sunday at the White House.
“That’s a lot of money they are waiving,” Trump said of Cigna and Humana in a press conference after the announcement.
The coverage moves unveiled Sunday are significant and take effect Monday and run through May 31 for all Cigna customers while there is yet “no end date” from Humana health plans. The waiver of co-payments include both in-network and out-of-network medical care providers treating patients with the Coronavirus strain COVID-19.
“Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” Cigna president and chief executive officer David Cordani said Sunday in a statement accompanying the disclosure by Trump. “While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.”
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The decisions by Cigna and Humana are the latest by health insurance companies that are expanding coverage and eliminating plan member cost-sharing for everything from in- person doctor office visits for Coronavirus tests to telehealth consultations for screening of the disease.
But the efforts by Cigna and Humana are likely more significant to customer finances and access to care because co-payments for hospitalizations and related cost-sharing for all treatment beyond a diagnostic screening or office visit are likely more expensive for the health plan. The expansion of coverage also comes as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus hurtled toward 140,00 on Sunday.
“We know we’re uniquely positioned to help our members during this unprecedented health crisis,” Humana president and CEO Bruce Broussard said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “It’s why we’re taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus.”
The treatments that Cigna is covering are those “covered under Medicare or other applicable state regulations” such as hospital admissions, home oxygen, albuterol nebulizers and all of the prescription drugs Medicare covers. “The company will reimburse health care providers at Cigna's in-network rates or Medicare rates, as applicable,” Cigna said.
In Cigna’s case, the new policy applies to its entire book of U.S. customers who are covered under the insurer’s “employer/union sponsored insured group health plans, insured plans for US based globally mobile individuals, Medicare Advantage and Individual and Family Plans (IFP).” Cigna said it is also administering a “waiver to self-insured group health plans” and encouraging employers to participation though these plans “will have an opportunity to opt-out of the waiver option.”
Humana’s said costs related to subsequent treatment for COVID-19, including including inpatient hospital admissions, will be waived for enrollees of “Medicare Advantage plans, fully insured commercial members, Medicare Supplement and Medicaid.”
Last week, CVS Health said it will waive co-payments and related out-of-pocket cost-sharing of commercially insured Aetna members’ inpatient admissions related to the Coronavirus strain COVID-19.
Across the country, health insurance companies are expanding coverage and making efforts to reduce barriers to gaining access to care amid the Coronavirus outbreak. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), which represents most U.S. health insurers including CVS, Anthem, Centene, Cigna and many Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, has a running tally of health plan efforts here.