Humana, Cigna waive out-of-pocket costs for members treated for COVID-19

Two more major health insurance companies have committed to waiving out-of-pocket costs for members when it comes to treatment and services related to COVID-19. Humana and Cigna both announced March 30 that consumers would not have to pay for treatment related to COVID-19-covered services.

While the health insurers have already committed to waiving costs related to testing, it took longer to commit to cutting costs to patients for treatment of the disease should they need care. Treatment for COVID-19 has been reported to cost more than $34,000 for an uninsured person.

Aetna, owned by CVS Health, announced last week it would waive treatment costs for its members with COVID-19.

Waiving costs for covered services may help lower the barrier of care for members in those networks with cases of suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Some cases of the virus have required considerable, intensive care at inpatient hospitals.

For Humana, the waived costs include all medical costs related to COVID-19 treatment, such as inpatient hospital admissions, as well as FDA-approved medications or vaccines when they are available for members in its Medicare Advantage, commercial, Medicare Supplement and Medicaid plans.  The policy extends to in-network and out-of-network treatment for COIVD-19.

"We know we’re uniquely positioned to help our members during this unprecedented health crisis,” Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard said in a statement. “It’s why we’re taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus.”

Humana has not set an end date for the policy, and will “reassess” as the pandemic situation changes. In addition, the company has waived costs for telehealth services for in-network providers and audio-only telephone visits; lifted administrative requirements for those with COVID-19; allowed early prescription refills for extended supply needs; and opened up a call line for member support.

Cigna announced similar actions, waiving customer cost-sharing and co-payments for COVID-19 treatment.

"Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread," David M. Cordani, president and CEO of Cigna, said in a statement. "While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs. Our teams of experts are working around the clock to support front line heath care workers, increase flexibility for hospitals, and deliver greater peace of mind to those we serve."

Cigna did set an end date for its policy, May 31, 2020. Cigna will cover treatment for COVID-19 covered under Medicare and will reimburse healthcare providers at in-network or Medicare rates. The policy is extended for members in its employer/union sponsored health plans, MA plans and Individual and Family Plans.

Cigna will also deploy “hundreds” of clinicians to join other healthcare professionals at MDLIVE, a telehealth company that also partners with Cigna, in order to increase capacity.

Like Humana, Cigna already committed to other policy changes related to COVID–19, including waiving cost-sharing for telehealth; free shipping for extended supply of prescription medications; opening a toll-free help line; giving employees 80 hours of emergency time off; and more.