COVID-19 is all anyone can talk about and your health system is on the front lines responding to this pandemic. Your clinical teams are the heroes that will (literally) save the day. While most patients will make a full recovery, many are concerned about the financial impact of the virus. Here’s how you can help your revenue cycle teams be heroes, too.
Better Patient Billing During a Pandemic
Make sure your team is familiar with payer policy exceptions for COVID-19.
Many health insurers are waiving out-of-pocket costs for testing and treatment of COVID-19. This includes Aetna, Anthem, Cigna and more. In fact, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association announced that its network will waive prior authorizations for diagnostic tests and covered services for COVID-19. They will also cover those tests at no cost share to members and waive prescription refill limits on maintenance medications.
Some health systems are holding off on sending patients bills for testing and treatment of COVID-19. “This gives us the necessary time to align with insurers, testing and lab partners, and our state and federal governments involved in providing various elements of COVID-19 health care,” Providence, a 51-hospital system based in Renton, WA told one media outlet last week.
Additionally, lots of insurers are expanding access to telehealth services to limit the spread of coronavirus. For example, Humana and Optima Health, among others are offering free telehealth visits to members for the next 90 days. To see what other insurers are doing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, check out this list from America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Consider expanding your financial assistance policies.
To prevent the spread of disease, patients cannot avoid care. Patients often avoid care due to concerns about costs. Communicate and make financially supportive policies available to the community. This is one of HFMA’s best practices for patient financial communication, but it’s especially important in times like these.
Also, keep in mind that many patients are losing work hours. Some patients have even lost their jobs because of the pandemic. That means paying a medical bill just isn’t possible right now, even if it wouldn’t have been a problem a few months ago. While many health plans are waiving costs for COVID-19 testing and treatment, if a patient comes in for something else, like appendicitis, they will still have financial obligations for their care. If your health system doesn’t support flexible payment options, like payment plans already, now is a good time to start. If you do already, consider expanding your payment plan options and allow patients to push their plans out to later dates. These are unprecedented times, but a little flexibility can go a long way.