Coronavirus Update Center


Surveillance, Public Health and/or Return-to-Work Testing

Updated: August 10, 2020

On June 23, 2020, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor jointly issued COVID-19 guidance holding that employers and insurers are not required to pay for COVID-19 tests that are not used for diagnostic purposes, such as testing conducted to screen for COVID-19 for workplace health and safety, public health surveillance, or for any other purpose not primarily intended for individualized diagnosis or treatment.

Blue Cross will not cover Surveillance, Public Health and/or Return-to-Work testing for any Underwritten group. If an Underwritten group chooses to screen their employees, the group is responsible for arranging payment and/or a contractual agreement directly with a lab of their choosing.

If a Self-Funded group chooses to pay for this type of testing, an Amendment to the Enrollment Agreement (AEA) is required in order to document the update to their benefits. Blue Cross can assist a Self-Funded group with the setup or avenue of administration of testing.

Upon request, Blue Cross can provide a list of potential labs to any Underwritten or Self-Funded group.

If your group has questions about surveillance screening for COVID-19, please contact your Blue Cross representative.

 


Information on preparations for the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated: August 11, 2020

As the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to spread, many are concerned about the possible impacts to themselves and their families.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is closely monitoring the situation and has prepared contingency plans to ensure business operations continue to run smoothly in the event of a widespread outbreak.

These plans include:

  • Continuing to process claims electronically. (Please note that 99% of claims are processed electronically, so we do not anticipate any disruption to claims processing.)
  • Heavily utilizing telework to maintain staffing of critical business areas. We expanded our telework capabilities, and currently have almost 100% of the workforce working from home.

Effective March 1, 2020:

  • Families First Act, as amended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
    • As a result of the Families First Act, as amended by the CARES Act, both in-network and out-of-network diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and the related in-person or telehealth visit, emergency room visit, or urgent care visit must be covered at 100% with no member cost sharing. The benefits provided in the Families First Act/CARES Act are effective during the declared public national emergency.
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama “Standard” COVID-19 Related Benefit Changes Not Required by the Families First Act/CARES Act
    • Telehealth is available to all members to allow in-network PPO providers to provide medically necessary services to members that can be appropriately delivered via telephone consultation. Effective through December 31, 2020, telehealth also includes physical, speech, and occupational therapy (subject to provider capability), and behavioral health. This is applicable for members who wish to receive their care remotely and wish to limit their exposure. It can also serve as an initial screening for members who need to be tested for COVID-19.

      For plans that are not an HSA-qualified High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP):

      • Telehealth services provided by in-network PPO providers and filed with a COVID-19 related diagnosis code as outlined by the CDC and American Medical Association will be covered at 100% with no member cost sharing. This benefit is effective during the declared public national emergency.
      • Telehealth services provided by in-network PPO providers and filed with a non-COVID-19 related diagnosis code will continue to be covered, but member cost sharing will apply. This benefit is effective through December 31, 2020.
      • Telehealth services provided by out-of-network non-PPO providers will be covered at the out-of-network benefit level.

      For plans that are an HSA-qualified HDHP:

      • Telehealth services provided by in-network PPO providers must be filed with a COVID-19 related diagnosis code as outlined by the CDC and American Medical Association in order to process at 100% with no member cost sharing. This benefit is effective during the declared public national emergency.
      • Telehealth services provided by in-network PPO providers and filed with a non-COVID-19 related diagnosis code will be covered at the in-network benefit level and will be subject to applicable member cost sharing.
      • Telehealth services provided by out-of-network non-PPO providers will be covered at the out-of-network benefit level.
    • Excluding services not required by the Families First Act/CARES Act, if an in-network office visit, urgent care visit, emergency room visit, behavioral health visit, or telehealth service results in a claim being filed by the in-network PPO provider for a service or supply rendered with a COVID-19 related diagnosis as outlined by the CDC and American Medical Association, that office visit, urgent care visit, emergency room visit, behavioral health visit, or telehealth service will be covered at 100% with no member cost sharing. This benefit is effective during the declared public national emergency. Out-of-network services will be covered at the out-of-network benefit level.
    • Excluding services not required by the Families First Act/CARES Act, more than one in-network office visit, urgent care visit, emergency room visit, behavioral health visit, or telehealth service for the same member incurred on the same day will be covered if the urgent care visit, emergency room visit, behavioral health visit, or telehealth service is rendered by in-network PPO providers and the claims are filed with a COVID-19 related diagnosis as outlined by the CDC and American Medical Association. This benefit is effective during the declared public national emergency.

Please be assured that Blue Cross will continue to meet the needs of groups, members and providers even in the case of sustained spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. For additional Blue Cross information, please visit AlabamaBlue.com/Coronavirus. If you have questions, please contact your Account Executive, Sales Representative or Enrollment Services Representative.

 


Small business owner? Here’s what you need to know about the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP):

Updated: April 3, 2020

  • The CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides relief for businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. PPP authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses (with fewer than 500 employees) to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • All loan terms will be the same for every small business and loan amounts will be forgiven as long as:
    • The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the eight week period after the loan is made; and
    • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.
  • Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs. Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months.
  • When can small businesses apply?
    • Starting 4/3/2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders.
    • Starting 4/10/2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
    • Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans as soon as they are approved and enrolled in the program.
  • The program is administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA). If you would like to learn more about the program, we encourage you to contact your banker to help you through the process.