Philadelphia, PA — April 24, 2020 — Independence Blue Cross’s (Independence) extensive efforts to assist members, hospitals and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic are included in an announcement by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) this week summarizing the collective work of BCBSA’s 36 independent and locally-operated plans across the United States. BCBSA reports that companies in the Association have committed a total of nearly $3 billion to date to aid in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
“We have never encountered a situation like this before, but Blue Cross Blue Shield companies are adapting quickly to support our members and the professionals who provide their health care. The bottom line is that we are all in this together. And we are proud to work with our Blue colleagues in this battle,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, Independence CEO.
Independence has been a national leader among Blues, implementing a range of clinical and business initiatives since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to support efforts to beat the virus, totaling more than $200 million in value.
Many of Independence’s decisions align with the efforts BCBSA plans across the nation are making, including:
- Ensuring that members have access to COVID-19 testing and treatment;
- Supporting public health tracking and sharing expertise with decision makers — health systems, elected officials, public health organizations, and others — who are protecting the health and well-being of people in the communities we serve;
- Providing a range of assistance for health care providers on the front lines, including building out testing infrastructure; and
- Supporting regional organizations that are helping vulnerable populations.
Independence’s primary focus continues to be the health and safety of its members and the communities it serves.
From a clinical perspective, Independence has updated its policies to streamline care and ensure that members have access to COVID-19 testing and treatment. These new policies include:
- Waiving member costs for COVID-19 testing and inpatient, acute care treatment.
- Extending authorizations on all elective procedures for six months.
- Relaxing prior authorization rules for acute inpatient admissions from an emergency department as well as transfers to post-acute facilities.
- Waiving member costs for primary care telemedicine visits with members’ existing primary care doctor and expanding telemedicine services for specialty and ancillary services.
Independence has also offered members enhanced emotional support resources. These include access to mental health services like telebehavioral health, cognitive behavioral therapy, access to a COVID-19 preparedness tool from Quil (the digital health company formed by Independence and Comcast), and a free, premium membership to an online mindfulness app, Stop, Breathe & Think.
Provider and Public Health Support
Independence continues to be in close contact with health system leadership. It has enhanced its efforts to assist the health care community and enable them to focus on necessary patient care.
Additional efforts include working with lab vendors to enhance regional access for providers to testing kits and lab testing reagents to enable rapid in-hospital testing; supporting the set-up of the field hospital at Temple University’s Liacouras Center; and participating in a coalition of regional home care providers to develop common COVID-19 protocols and a shared capacity database.
Independence’s efforts have continued the organization’s longstanding and strong commitment to the community. Most recently, Independence supported important regional efforts by the American Red Cross and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation provided a $500,000 grant to the PHL COVID-19 Fund. Independence also created a comprehensive Independence COVID-19 website to provide a one-stop source for information and launched a public awareness campaign to educate the community about important COVID-19 public health topics.
Independence also introduced virtual and remote volunteer opportunities to allow members of the Blue Crew employee volunteer group to continue to engage with community partners and allow employees and their families to continue to serve our regional nonprofits from home.
For more information about Independence’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit ibx.com/covid19.