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Independence Blue Cross | Important COVID-19 UPDATES: Member Benefits

April 17, 2020

In this Issue:

  • Updates to your members’ health plans
  • BMRC extended hours
  • Mail for Customers

Independence is committed to helping our members access the care they need

Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) is closely monitoring the situation with the respiratory illness caused by the new COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus). We are working with key stakeholders  — elected officials, public health organizations, health systems, and others — to respond to this rapidly changing health concern. We are committed to helping our members access the care they need.

Below are updates to your members’ health plans:

Testing will be covered. If your members’ doctor decides that they should be tested for COVID-19, there will be no coinsurance or copay for the test. Their doctor will determine if they believe they should receive testing.  To help our members find a location nearest to them, please visit https://www.ibx.com/htdocs/custom/covid19/pdfs/covid-19-testing-locations-ibx.pdf.  Test locations are updated daily.

COVID-19 inpatient treatment is covered.  Independence will waive cost-sharing for acute inpatient treatment of COVID-19 received between March 30 and May 31, 2020.  Cost-sharing will continue to be applied to all post-acute care (e.g., skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and long-term acute care facilities), outpatient treatment, prescription drugs, and ambulance transportation to a post-acute setting.

  • Independence has lifted prescription refill restrictions, such as the “refill too soon” limit, for Medicare Advantage members with Independence pharmacy benefits. We also encourage members to use their 90-day mail order benefit. Members who don’t have a 90-day prescription are encouraged to talk with their doctor to see if that option makes sense for them. We are carefully monitoring COVID-19 developments and will make adjustments to policies as appropriate. We recommend that members call the Pharmacy Services number on their ID cards as needed if they require additional medication refills due to a potential quarantine situation. Please visit https://www.ibx.com/htdocs/custom/covid19/pdfs/pharmacies-ibx.pdf  for a list of additional pharmacies offering home delivery for prescriptions at no additional cost in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The list will be updated as new information becomes available.

Extending authorizations on elective procedures. Independence is extending authorizations on all elective procedures to six months. These procedures may still occur as scheduled, but it’s also possible that a health care provider, hospital, or ambulatory surgical center may decide it’s in the best interest of the patients to postpone elective procedures during the next few weeks.

We want to make things easier for all and extending the authorization period will allow the flexibility our providers need to make the best possible care decisions for patients.

Effective immediately, below are services your members can use from the comfort of their own home from now until June 4, 2020.

  • Doctor visits from home: Members can schedule a telemedicine visit with their primary care physician (PCP) if the PCP has the capability at no cost to them. Independence will waive the copay for virtual PCP visits. They should ask if their PCP can conduct a visit over the phone or via video. ​
  • Specialist visits from home: To protect our members and reduce the spread of COVID-19, Independence is expanding telemedicine benefits to include the following services when the specialist has their own telemedicine capabilities:
    • Specialists
    • Urgent care
    • Nutrition counseling
    • Behavioral health (through Magellan)
    • Physical therapy (video only)
    • Occupational therapy (video only)
    • Speech therapy visits (video only)

Members will pay the specialist cost-sharing based on the terms of their health plan.

  • Talk to a doctor 24/7. While contacting their personal doctor is preferred, Medicare Advantage members also have access to a board-certified primary care physician remotely by phone or video available 24/7 with MDLIVE®. If they have symptoms of the virus, MDLIVE doctors can assess their condition and help determine the necessary next steps, all from the comfort of their home. Independence will waive copays for telemedicine visits for the next 90 days (through June 4). To log in or register, visitibxmedicare.com/MDLIVE or call 1-888-961-4188 (TTY: 1-800-770-5531)
  • Get emotional support: Health outbreaks, like COVID-19, may cause feelings of stress and nervousness. If these emotions become overwhelming, we encourage your members to talk to an in-network mental health counselor over the phone or via video for the cost of an outpatient mental health care visit based on the terms of their health plan. To find an in-network provider, they should call the Mental Health number on the back of their ID card.

Stay Connected!

Visit ibx.com/COVID19 regularly for the latest news and updates. We will continue to evaluate the needs of our members as the situation changes.

Dan Hilferty reminds community, “We’re in this together”

Independence leadership stands in strong support of public officials and health experts as we navigate the challenges presented by COVID‑19. 

Even though our buildings are closed, Independence is open for business

Given the spread of COVID‑19 in our region and our commitment to protecting our workforce, the Independence Blue Cross Family of Companies decided to close all company offices in the Philadelphia area, New Jersey, and Minnesota effective March 18, until further notice.

However, we remain “open for business” with associates working remotely and all key business functions operational. This means that we are conducting business as usual by continuing to process claims, handle member and broker calls, provide support from nurses and health coaches, maintain our systems, and provide all of our partners and constituents with timely updates and information moving forward.

For questions or additional information, please contact the Independence Broker Medicare Resource Center (BMRC) at 1-888-234-3313 or ibxmedicarebroker@ibx.com. The hours of operation for the BMRC are 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.

¹Note: For employers who are self-insured, coverages may vary. If you have coverage through your employer, please check with them about how these programs apply.

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Independence Broker Medicare Resource Center
If you have questions, please contact us by calling 1-888-234-3313 Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. or at ibxmedicarebroker@ibx.com.

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