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While COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the nation and much of the world, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is keeping the health and safety of our members and employees as our top priority. The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic and President Trump has declared a national emergency for our country.

At this time, there are no approved treatments or vaccines. To reduce or slow the spread of infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, and covering coughs and sneezes. Another emerging preventive measure – social distancing.

This measure aims to reduce the frequency of contact and increase physical distance between persons, thereby reducing the risks of person-to-person transmission. This proactive step is critical to slow the rapid spread of the COVID-19 and avoid overburdening the health care system. Based on early indications and testing availability, we anticipate the number of affected North Carolinians to suddenly increase in the coming weeks.

Simply stated, a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases will stress the health care system by reducing the number of available hospital beds for critical care and potentially increasing health care provider illness and professional burnout. The graphic below is a representation of how ‘flattening the curve’ is a critical early measure to lower the rate of infection and spread of this epidemic.

Blue Cross NC’s Pandemic Team is working closely with national, state and local leaders to quickly respond to this rising issue. We are:

  1. Expanding virtual access to health care providers. Visits to doctors that previously required a face-to-face encounter can now be performed virtually. These virtual visits must be medically necessary and meet the qualifying criteria.
  2. Waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription medications. This way members can have a one-month supply on hand. Doctors can also order a 90-day prescription.
  3. Testing for COVID-19 will not need prior approval. If you believe you need COVID-19 testing, call your doctor.
  4. Members will have zero out-of-pocket expenses for the COVID-19 test. We will cover the cost of the COVID-19 test whether or not you have met your deductible. We are covering doctor visits to screen for COVID-19 and any required care the same as any other doctor visit or care, based on your health plan.
  5. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, Blue Cross NC will not require prior approval for medically necessary services.

These five steps took effect on March 6, 2020. They will remain in effect for 30 days and then be re-evaluated. We are committed to carrying out these actions for as long as necessary.

Together, we can flatten the curve of this rapidly spreading virus.

To learn more about the steps we’re taking to provide members the care they need, please visit the Blue Cross NC page dedicated to COVID-19 updates.

For the latest information about COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gerald Petkau

About Gerald Petkau

Gerald Petkau is SVP, Chief Operating Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.