SAINT PAUL, Minn., July 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of its ongoing effort to help prevent the spread and impact of COVID-19 and improve the long-term sustainability of health care in Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is extending eligibility for certain expanded benefits through the end of the year.
In March, Blue Cross temporarily expanded telehealth coverage to include many additional services that have traditionally been provided in a clinic setting. These changes were made in an effort to ensure members could receive care from their usual providers without the need for in-person visits. As a result of a sustained increase in usage of telehealth by Blue Cross members, all temporary telehealth coverage changes currently in effect will be extended through December 31, 2020. This includes coverage for behavioral health services, in addition to physical, speech and occupational therapy, and medication management.
Additionally, Blue Cross is extending its cost-share waiver for COVID-19 testing, related office visits and in-network treatment through the end of the year, ensuring members will not need to pay any out-of-pocket expenses for COVID-19 related care.
"Our members and provider partners continue to tell us how these policies are helping to address ongoing health issues in a safe and efficient way," said Dr. Craig Samitt, president and chief executive officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. "The rapid adoption of virtual care has been highly encouraging. In addition to the health and safety benefits, telehealth has the potential to reduce certain health inequities by eliminating travel time and transportation expenses associated with in-person health care visits."
In an effort to help bring about more continuity and financial predictability for providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, all telehealth services for Blue Cross members will continue to be covered at the same reimbursement rate as in-person visits through the rest of 2020.
"We're continuously monitoring and evaluating the cost and quality of telehealth services with a focus on making this a useful and sustainable transformation for our members," Dr. Samitt added. "For certain services, virtual care isn't a viable option. But for others, it has the potential to deliver equal or better quality at a lower cost, while improving patient experiences."
To learn more about how Blue Cross is working to address the immediate and long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.bluecrossmn.com/coronavirus.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® of Minnesota and Blue Plus® is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.