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Why Is Blue Cross and Blue Shield Waiving Cost-Sharing Fees ?

June 12, 2020
David Parker, Esq.
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David Parker, White Plains and New City NY Estate Planning Attorney
David Parker, Esq.
David Parker is an attorney who specializes in Estate Planning and Elder Law and has been practicing law for 30 years. Be it Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, or Medicaid Planning, David provides comprehensive and caring counsel for seniors and their families. A large portion of David’s practice is asset protection strategies so that families do not lose their hard earned savings to nursing home care costs. He also handles probate administration for the settlement of estates.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota said Monday it will waive fees on doctors' visits for its Medicare Advantage customers for the rest of the year, joining a growing number of health insurers to offer discounts in response to COVID-19.

Blue Cross announced that it is waiving cost-sharing fees for in-network primary care, mental health, and substance-use office visits.

Star Tribune’s recent article entitled “Blue Cross waives more fees for Medicare Advantage customers” reports this change will impact roughly 100,000 Minnesotans who access Medicare through the company’s Medicare Advantage products. Blue Cross is Minnesota's largest health insurer and a leading provider of Medicare services in the state.

The elderly are especially at risk to the worst effects of COVID-19. Of the more than 700 deaths from the virus in Minnesota, about 80% have been residents of long-term care facilities, mostly nursing homes and senior apartments. These numbers are similar in other states.

"In the midst of this crisis, seniors have been greatly impacted and are at disproportionate risk," Dr. Craig Samitt, chief executive of Blue Cross, said in a statement. "With our hope to keep our senior members safe and assure that they receive the preventive care they need, Blue Cross is both expanding coverage and proactively reaching out to help them navigate options to get the care they need."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that it will begin calling its Medicare Advantage customers next month to make them aware of new benefits and to ask about other medical needs.

Blue Cross previously said it was waiving cost-sharing fees such as all in-network fees to customers who were checking on COVID-19 symptoms or seeking treatment for the illness.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield also waived limits on early refills of medications.

The insurance company also bolstered its coverage for telemedicine services, including the use of video chat apps for patients to interact with doctors.

Medical offices have experienced a big decrease in patient visits of all kinds. In response, many are promoting more telemedicine to continue providing care and treatment.

Two weeks ago, Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth waived copays and other fees through September for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. This change was partially to recognize that many seniors are delaying certain treatments and procedures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Reference: Star Tribune (May 18, 2020) “Blue Cross waives more fees for Medicare Advantage customers”

Suggested Key Terms: Elder Law Attorney, Medicare, Long-Term Care

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