BlueCross Expands Benefits for Virtual Visits
BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina is taking steps to increase access to care in response to the coronavirus. Beginning immediately BlueCross and BlueChoice® HealthPlan are waiving costs for virtual doctor visits using Blue CareOnDemandSM for all members.
Telehealth visits provide convenience for people to access care using a smartphone, computer or tablet device.
“Telehealth will play a critical role in helping South Carolinians access care from the convenience and safety of their own home. This will help slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting exposure, mitigating the surge of demand on our health care system and helping protect health professionals on the front lines of this outbreak,” says Matthew Bartels, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
This expansion will allow all members to access Blue CareOnDemand from anywhere for urgent care, behavioral health and lactation consulting.
It is important to know that this service cannot diagnosis someone with COVID-19. Doctors can triage and help route people to the best local site that can assist with potential COVID-19 testing. The service is best for those who have non-COVID-19 symptoms and prefer to avoid in-person contact in a waiting room.
In addition to expanding virtual access to health care providers, BlueCross has taken the following steps to help our members:
- Waive Prior Authorizations. BlueCross will waive prior authorizations for diagnostic tests and for covered services that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance for members if diagnosed with COVID-19. We will make dedicated clinical staff available to address inquiries related to medical services, ensuring timeliness of responses related to COVID-19.
- 100 Percent Coverage on Testing. BlueCross will cover medically necessary diagnostic tests that are consistent with CDC guidance related to COVID-19 at no cost share to the member where such testing is not covered as part of the Public Health Service response. We will ensure patient testing and any subsequently needed care are done in close coordination with federal, state and public health authorities. There are not limitations on the number of times a member can get the test.
- Increase Access to Medications. BlueCross will increase access to prescription medications by encouraging members to use their 90-day mail order benefit. We will also ensure formulary flexibility if there are shortages or access issues. Patients will not be liable for additional charges that stem from obtaining a non-preferred medication if the preferred medication is not available due to shortage or access issues.
It is important to understand that the waiver or all cost sharing is solely for the COVID-19 test and not the associated physician office visit and other services. These services will still be subject to office copay, deductible and coinsurance.
Start using Blue CareOnDemand by setting up an account online at BlueCareOnDemandSC.com or download the free mobile app.
Because telehealth services are playing such an important role in reducing demand of in-person health care services, wait times for virtual visits are longer than usual. Users can avoid longer wait times by using the service during non-peak hours in the middle of the day.
For the latest information, visit bcbs.sc/covid-19.
Telehealth Visits With In-Network Providers
If you need follow-up care from an in-network provider and would prefer a virtual visit instead of in-person care, you may have the option to arrange telephone or video appointments with the provider. You would pay your normal cost share as you would for an in-person visit.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have adjusted rules for telehealth services, which can be provided using Skype, FaceTime and similar applications. No formal approval process is needed.
Find more information here.
March 23, 2020
Updated May 29, 2020
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