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Answering your questions about COVID-19 coverage

With concerns over the coronavirus, we know our members have questions.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Health Advantage are committed to maintaining your trust and helping you access insurance benefits to prevent illness when possible and pay for covered treatment when necessary.

We are closely monitoring this situation and are working closely with state and federal officials, making temporary coverage changes as necessary.

If you read further, you will find a list of questions and answers about the coronavirus outbreak and your coverage.

The temporary coverage changes discussed here apply exclusively to members of Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage fully insured health plans. They will be in effect through at least May 15, 2020, and could be extended after that, if circumstances warrant.

Please note: Decisions about coverage changes for members of self-funded health plans served by BlueAdvantage Administrators of Arkansas or Health Advantage are made by the employers or plan sponsors who fund those self-funded programs.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to call the Customer Service number on the back of your insurance card. Thank you for trusting Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage with your healthcare coverage.

Getting care or medicine

From your home

In light of the role social distancing can play in stemming the spread of COVID-19, Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage are expanding access to remotely delivered care.

  1. Will Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage cover video and telephone-based (phone call) doctor’s visits?

    Yes. Our fully insured members already have access to telemedicine (also called virtual health), and that benefit remains in effect. During the pandemic, we are waiving copays, coinsurance and deductibles for all telemedicine services for any in-network physician (M.D. or D.O., Advance Practice Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants) to visit by video or telephone with patients who are seeking advice or counsel on either physical or mental health needs. MDLIVE, a service that has been accessible to our fully insured members for some time, also offers members the ability to talk to a physician or Advance Practice Nurse Practitioner for their physical health for a $0 copay. At this time, there is not a $0 copay for behavioral health on MDLIVE for all our fully insured members.

  2. Will you waive copays, coinsurance and deductibles for all video or telephone-based doctor’s visits?

    Yes. We will temporarily waive all copays, coinsurance and deductibles for all doctor’s visits, either by video chat or phone call.

  3. How do I make an appointment with my physician for telemedicine?

    Call your provider to see if he/she is taking appointments for telemedicine. If they are not, go to myblueprint.com to check out other providers in the area, or ask your provider if he/she can make a referral. Our fully insured members also can go to myblueprint.arkansasbluecross.com to sign up for our virtual health option, MDLIVE.

  4. How do I sign up for MDLIVE?

    The first step is to go to myvirtualhealth.com. Register for My Blueprint if you haven't already, and from there you can access our virtual health option, MDLIVE.

For behavioral/mental health needs

  1. Will Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage cover telemedicine behavioral/mental health visits?

    Yes. We are extending this new, temporary type of insurance benefit for counseling by in-network behavioral health professionals. Specifically, we will pay for telemedicine counseling to our fully insured members by any in-network psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, advance practice nurse practitioner, licensed clinical social worker or licensed professional counselor. This can be done by video or telephone during this time.

  2. Will you temporarily waive copays, coinsurance and deductibles for telemedicine behavioral/mental health visits?

    Yes. All copays, coinsurance and deductibles will be temporarily waived for telemedicine behavioral/mental health visits.

At the doctor’s office/pharmacy

  1. Will Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage waive prior authorization requirements for the treatment of COVID-19?

    Yes. On a temporary basis, we will waive prior authorizations for COVID-19 diagnostic tests and for covered services that meet primary coverage criteria and are consistent with CDC guidance.

  2. Will you cover the cost of laboratory test kits to diagnose COVID-19?

    Yes. We will cover, with no cost to our members, diagnostic testing services that meet our insurance policies’ primary coverage criteria for COVID-19 as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and determined by the enrollee’s healthcare provider, where it is not covered as part of the Public Health Service response. Currently, the only recommended screening test for COVID-19 is the RT-PCR test (which involves swabbing the nose and/or mouth). Any care needed once a diagnosis of COVID-19 has occurred will be handled like any other covered treatment for a medical condition.

  3. Will you cover testing for members who have no symptoms but have traveled or were in areas of possible exposure?

    Yes, as long as a doctor orders it. Any member can be tested for the virus, subject to a doctor’s orders. We will cover (at no cost to our members) in-network COVID-19 diagnostic tests that meet our insurance policies’ primary coverage criteria, consistent with CDC guidance.

  4. Will Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage cover treatment for COVID-19?

    Yes. We will cover medical services necessary to treat infectious diseases of our members, including COVID-19, provided the services meet the terms of a member’s insurance policy, including the policy’s primary coverage criteria.

  5. Will you waive copays, coinsurance and deductibles for members related to COVID-19 testing or treatment?

    We will waive copays, coinsurance and deductibles for COVID-19 in-network diagnostic tests that meet primary coverage criteria consistent with CDC guidance. Any illness related to the coronavirus that results in a need for standard covered medical treatment would be a covered benefit, and members who need specific information about their coverage should call the number on the back of the member ID card.

  6. Will you cover hospital stays for members diagnosed with COVID-19 if admitted?

    Yes. We will cover hospitalization that is necessary to treat a member for COVID-19, provided the hospitalization meets the terms of the member’s insurance policy, including the policy’s primary coverage criteria.

  7. Will you cover the cost of a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available?

    At this time, a vaccine for COVID-19 is not available, but we routinely cover vaccines that are recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

  8. Will you cover medical supplies like masks, gloves and disinfectant?

    Most of these supplies are not covered under our insurance policies unless they are built into home care costs for certain medical conditions currently under treatment, like wound care.

  9. Will you cover emergency transport for members with COVID-19 to designated quarantine or treatment centers?

    If emergency/ambulance services are needed for a COVID-19 patient, we will cover such services in accordance with and subject to the limitations of a member’s insurance policy. Transportation solely for quarantine purposes (rather than treatment) would not be covered, and most insurance policies limit the amount of benefits available for both ground and air ambulance services.

  10. Will you waive prescription quantity/supply limits or allow for early refills to enable members to stock up on prescription medication due to shortages caused by COVID-19?

    Yes. We are temporarily enhancing access to maintenance prescription medications and extending prior authorizations on many medications for 90-days. We will also work to implement prescription drug formulary flexibility if there are medication shortages or access issues.

  11. Do I have to call Arkansas Blue Cross or Health Advantage to get a waiver on prescription quantity/supply limits or early refills?

    No. Your local pharmacist has been engaged to assist with the process. Just get your prescription filled as usual. However, if you experience a problem getting a prescription filled, simply call the Caremark pharmacy benefit phone number on the back of your member ID card for help or to explore mail-order options.

For Dental Emergencies (For members with fully insured Blue Cross and Blue Shield Dental Plans)

  1. What if I have a dental emergency during the coronavirus outbreak?

    As always, if you have a dental emergency, contact your dentist. Participating dentists provide emergency services to patients, so you will be able to get dental care if you have an urgent need.

    If you are covered by a fully insured Blue Cross Dental Plan, you have access to teledentistry during this time. This is at no cost to the member until at least May 15, 2020. This means if you have a dental problem but aren’t sure if it is something that needs fixing right away, you can have a phone call or video chat with your dentist to assess your condition and develop a plan to manage or treat it. Be aware, though, that email and text messaging are not considered teledentistry and are not covered.

Getting service from your health plan

  1. Do you have a plan for continuing to pay healthcare claims and safely serve customers during the COVID-19 outbreak?

    Yes. We have activated our pandemic preparedness plan and have asked many employees to work from home as a precaution.

    Here are some highlights from that plan:

    • Service and sales –
      • We have moved sales and service exclusively online and by telephone. People needing assistance can call the number on the back of their member ID card, call 1-800-392-2583 or go to their health plan’s website.

        Most members can also get self-service information through the My Blueprint member portal and smartphone app. It’s easy to register and provides access to claims history, policy information and even virtual health.

      • We have temporarily closed eight ArkansasBlue and regional office locations within the state (in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Lowell, Pine Bluff and Texarkana). This change took effect Friday, March 20, 2020. Customers still may contact personnel at these local sales and service locations by phone or email, but the locations will remain closed to in-person visits until it is deemed safe for our usual business operations to resume.
    • Claims processing – Our claims processing teams are working almost exclusively from home during this time to ensure that we are best positioned to continue to process the claims we receive. We remain flexible and vigilant to ensure accurate, timely payment for health services rendered on behalf of our members.
    • Information technology and security – Our information systems/technology team is working around the clock to ensure that our staff remains connected and that your information remains secure.
  2. What if I want to speak to someone face-to-face?

    We are following the guidance of local, state and federal officials to better protect customers and employees.

    Accordingly, we have moved sales and service exclusively online and by telephone and have temporarily closed their eight ArkansasBlue and regional office locations within the state. This change took effect Friday, March 20, 2020.

    Our sales and service locations are in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Lowell, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.

    Please visit your health plan’s website regularly for updates on temporary policy changes during the COVID-19 outbreak.

  3. What else are you doing to address COVID-19?

    We are working with the Arkansas Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health experts in our state and throughout the nation to share information, mitigate health risks and keep you informed. We are:

    • Directing members to the CDC for information.
    • Tracking symptoms and patterns that may become apparent through data from electronic medical records, phone calls to nurse call centers and clinic visits.
    • Collaborating with federal agencies and local public health officials to help contain any outbreak.
    • Supporting infection-control efforts, including those already in place for hospitals, healthcare facilities and other sites of care.
    • Continuously monitoring COVID-19 developments and assessing whether additional modifications to our practices need to be implemented.