Removing member cost sharing for all telehealth services
supports social distancing; encourages members to seek appropriate care by
phone or virtually with no member cost sharing
PROVIDENCE, RI (March 20, 2020) – Blue Cross & Blue
Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) today announced additional steps the insurer is
taking to expand coverage for its members and eliminate out-of-pocket costs for
care delivered by phone or virtually, such as through telehealth. These
changes, applicable to commercial (fully insured) and Medicare Advantage
members, place an increased emphasis on care delivered by telephone and through
audio visual platforms, such as Doctors Online, allowing members to get care in
their own homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We recognize the enormous toll this public health crisis is
having on our members, our customers, the provider community and all Rhode
Islanders,” said Kim Keck, BCBSRI president and CEO. “Our priority is to ensure
our members have safe, uninterrupted access to high-quality healthcare during
this pandemic. By encouraging members to seek care by phone or virtually, we
hope that those most at risk can get the medical support they need in their own
BCBSRI has taken the following steps, which will be in place
during the duration of this public health emergency:
Permitted audiovisual capabilities include nonpublic video conferencing such as
Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime.
· Waived all
member cost sharing (copays and deductibles) for telehealth whether provided by
an in-network provider or through the Doctors Online telehealth platform.
member copays and cost sharing for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19
consistent with CDC guidelines.
administrative barriers by waiving prior authorization and referral
requirements for testing and medically appropriate treatment of COVID-19.
members to fill prescriptions earlier than the standard 30 days.
BCBSRI has also developed a resource
center that is being updated regularly, as well as an employer frequently
asked questions section of the company’s website. Providers can
access information specific to them once they have signed on to the provider
portal. The company is also sharing information regularly through
its social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn and Instagram.
Earlier in the week, BCBSRI also made the decision to close
its four Your Blue Store locations in Cranston, East Providence, Lincoln and
Warwick, as a way to further support social distancing. Members needing
assistance should call the number on the back of their ID card. For anyone
needing to purchase a plan, please call 1-800-505-2583.
To support the community during these challenging times,
BCBSRI has made a significant contribution to a new COVID-19 Response Fund
established by United Way of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Foundation to
help Rhode Island’s nonprofit organizations manage to meet community needs
through this turbulent period. BCBSRI has also distributed excess hand
sanitizer to emergency responders in our capital city of Providence, as well as
to community organizations such as Crossroads Rhode Island and Family Service
of Rhode Island who are meeting the increased needs of our most vulnerable
residents. BCBSRI is encouraging employees to utilize their 12 hours of paid
volunteer time (Time to Give) to assist community organizations, such as
donating blood at the Rhode Island Blood Center and delivering meals to
homebound older adults in support of Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island.
To find tips and resources for protecting yourself from
COVID-19, flu and other viruses, please visit bcbsri.com/coronavirus. Providers
can learn more about the BCBSRI policy changes by visiting the provider portal
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (bcbsri.com) is a
non-profit, community-focused health plan established in 1939 to help Rhode
Islanders finance their healthcare needs. Today, that purpose is still
foundational to our work. We have a vision to passionately lead a state of
health and well-being across Rhode Island. And we are committed to improving
the health and peace of mind of our more than 400,000 members by facilitating
their access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. We are an independent
licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Listen to BCBSRI’s podcast, The Rhode to Health, at