Insurers Should Extend Offers Through End of Pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seven major private health insurers’ offers to waive copays and deductibles for coronavirus care are set to end by June 1, but all health care insurers should extend the fee waivers until the end of the pandemic, Public Citizen said today.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, most major insurers announced they would waive some or all fees for coronavirus treatment. In a report earlier this month, Public Citizen found that while 23 of the 25 insurers said they would waive some or all fees for coronavirus treatment, most had set end dates for such waivers – dates long before the pandemic reasonably can be expected to end.
While five of the 11 insurers whose benefits were set to end by June 1 have extended their deadlines to later in the summer, six of these insurers’ offers still will expire by early next week. Additionally, one insurer that had not previously included an end date has now set an end date of June 1. These offers will expire for patients covered under United Health, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation, Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.
“There’s no question now how serious the COVID-19 pandemic is and will continue to be for many months to come,” said Eagan Kemp, health care advocate at Public Citizen. “I guess these private insurers with rapidly approaching deadlines for their fee waivers are saying to their consumers: ‘If you are going to contract COVID-19, you’d better hurry up or you’re out of luck!”
With public health officials making clear that the end of this pandemic is nowhere in sight, ending these offers will discourage Americans from seeking treatment or leave patients with heavy medical bills.
Five additional insurers, Centene, Independence Health Group, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and UPMC Health System, have set deadlines at the end of June.
While tens of millions of people have lost their jobs and must figure out how to pay their bills, insurers’ profit are increasing because the pandemic is inhibiting people from seeking care for non-COVID-19 conditions.