Have a question about COVID-19? We’re here to help.
Will Independence cover testing for COVID-19?
Independence Blue Cross (Independence) will cover and reimburse member cost-sharing (such as co-pays, deductibles, and coinsurance) for the COVID-19 test and the administration of the test when performed at a physician’s office, urgent care center, or an emergency room. Treatment for COVID-19 is subject to the specific out-of-pocket cost-sharing for each member’s health plan. For services not related to COVID-19, we will continue to apply the appropriate member cost-sharing. This includes members enrolled in our fully insured plans, employer-sponsored plans, Medicare Advantage and the individual and family plans available through the Affordable Care Act. In addition, IRS guidance, released March 11, allows for testing and treatment services before the deductible is met for members with high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).
Given that the test is new and specific billing codes for commercially available tests were only recently designated, members should report any concerns about claim payment to our customer service staff at the number on their member card. At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state labs currently performing the testing are not billing for COVID-19 testing, so members should not incur costs when tested by these labs.
If members have any questions about whether they should be tested, they should contact a health care professional who will work with the state public health department in the member’s state and the CDC to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19.
What about treatment?
At this time, there is no specific antiviral treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. Members should receive care from their doctor to help relieve symptoms as they would other viral respiratory infections. Independence continues to cover medically necessary health care costs to treat infectious diseases, including COVID-19, based on the terms of the member’s insurance plan.
If our members would like information about specific symptoms they are experiencing or have questions about their personal health, we recommend that they contact their doctor. For reliable information about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we suggest visiting the CDC website at cdc.gov/coronavirus.
How can members find a testing location?
If you suspect that you may have COVID-19, your first step should be to contact your primary doctor. Your primary doctor will screen you for testing based on CDC guidelines. If you meet the testing criteria, your doctor will discuss your testing options with you. If you don’t have a primary doctor, members with telemedicine benefits can utilize MDLive services for free until June 4. A MDLive physician can perform the screening and determine your next steps. You can register for MDLive at ibx.com. If your benefits program does not include telemedicine benefits, you can contact your state health department for information on testing. Pennsylvania residents can call 1-877-PA-HEALTH. New Jersey residents can contact the NJ Department of Health for more information at 1-800-962-1253 or 1-800-222-1222.
Should members be using telemedicine?
To help reduce potential exposure, Independence encourages members to utilize telemedicine services if they are available as part of a member’s plan.
Independence announced on March 6 that it would waive copays for primary care telemedicine services for eligible members through June 4, 2020. On March 20, Independence expanded telemedicine services for specialty and ancillary services subject to applicable member cost sharing. This expansion includes:
- Specialist visits (via video or telephone)
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy visits (via video)
- Urgent care visits (via video or telephone)
- Nutritionist visits (via video or telephone)
- Behavioral health visits to include members with autism spectrum disorder so that they can receive Applied Behavior Analysis support while they are at home.
As noted, regular cost-sharing will apply to telemedicine visits with specialists and ancillary providers that are not related to COVID-19 testing. Cost-sharing will be waived for COVID-19 testing and primary care telemedicine visits for high-deductible health plan members and will be covered before the deductible.
All changes will be in effect through June 4, 2020. To access telemedicine options, Independence members should log in to the member website at ibx.com.
Will Independence waive prescription drug refill limits?
Independence has lifted prescription refill restrictions, such as the “refill too soon” limit, for all commercial, individual, CHIP, and Medicare Advantage members with Independence pharmacy benefits. We also encourage members to use their 90-day mail order benefit. Members who don’t have a 90-day prescription are encouraged to talk with their doctor to see if that option makes sense for them. In the case of medication shortages or access issues, Independence members will not be responsible for additional charges that stem from obtaining a non-preferred medication if the preferred medication is not available.
We are carefully monitoring COVID-19 developments and will make adjustments to policies as appropriate. We recommend that members call the Pharmacy Services number on their ID cards as needed if they require additional medication refills due to a potential quarantine situation.
Will Independence cover hospital quarantine stays for members returning from travel to affected countries?
Members who are in a healthcare facility and or quarantined in their home will have medically necessary services covered under the terms of their insurance plan.
How is Independence communicating with its employees about COVID-19? How is Independence working to keep its workforce safe?
Independence remains steadfast in the aim to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our workforce, our members, our customers, and our business. We communicate regularly with our associates and have taken several steps to safeguard their health.
On Tuesday, March 17, Independence announced that that the company will close all offices in the Philadelphia area, New Jersey, and Minnesota, effective March 18, until further notice. All employees in all offices will be required to work remotely during that time to reduce the risk of illness through person-to-person contact. Prior to this, Independence “stress-tested” technology by asking certain departments to work from home on March 2, and then offering the option company-wide on March 10.
How is Independence working with, and communicating with, providers related to COVID-19?
Independence is fortunate to have strong relationships with the providers, hospitals and health systems that provide care for our members. Our executives are staying in close contact with leaders within the provider community to monitor this rapidly changing situation and make the most appropriate decisions to help maintain the health and wellness of people in the communities we serve.
We have also been communicating the latest news and information about COVID-19 to providers through our existing communication channels.
How is Independence working with elected officials related to COVID-19 planning and prevention?
Independence is collaborating with public health organizations and elected officials at the regional, state and federal levels. Our executives are staying in close contact with leaders at all levels to monitor this rapidly changing situation and make the most appropriate decisions to help maintain the health and wellness of people in the communities we serve.
If members or employers want more information about COVID-19, where should they go?
If our members or employers would like information about specific symptoms they are experiencing or have questions about their personal health, we recommend that they contact their doctor.
For reliable information about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we suggest visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at cdc.gov/coronavirus. The City of Philadelphia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have also established websites with information about COVID-19.
We will continue to update our Newsroom and our social media channels with the latest information about COVID-19, and we will continue to proactively communicate with our key stakeholders through our existing channels, as needed.
Additional resources include:
- City of Philadelphia Information and Recommendations
- How to prepare: Managing anxiety and stress
- Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline 1-800-722-7112 (launched by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and supported by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
- Feeling stressed about COVID-19? Tips from Magellan Health