Humana Waives Payments on Medicare Advantage Doctor Visits

Humana announced on March 24 that they will be waiving all copayments, deductibles, and even other out-of-pocket costs for the rest of the year for all Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. The only requirement is your primary care doctor or behavioral health specialist must be inside Humana’s network of doctors and therapists.

Cost share waivers for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will be expanded effective May 1, 2020 through the end of 2020.

“We serve many older adults and people with multiple chronic conditions who are at greater risk from the new virus. We also recognize that social distancing can be an effective strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19, and some states have ordered residents to shelter in place. For these reasons, we’re encouraging our members to take advantage of telehealth whenever possible, and we’ve updated our policies to make telehealth services easily accessible and affordable,” said William Shrank, M.D., chief medical officer of Humana. 

Note: Humana’s waiver does not apply to things like X-rays or hospital stays, unless the care is COVID-19 related.

Who is Humana?

“Health is at the core of everything we do. We are proud to lead healthcare innovations and community wellness,” Humana.

Humana is a healthcare provider that covers nearly 4.5 million people as the nation’s second-largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans, privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program. 

Humana, along with other insurers, have already waived costs for COVID-related care and telemedicine visits, but this new waiver is unique in the fact that it applies to all primary care and behavioral health visits.

Elderly and low-income earners affected

Older customers are being treated as priority during this pandemic since many have chronic health problems on top of a high risk of contracting COVID-19. 

Coronavirus has meant the cancelling or postponing of many routine, and even urgent, doctor visits. Humana’s said research shows that the costs, like copayments, can force Medicare Advantage beneficiaries to put off care in general, including telemedicine visits. 

Health insurers have also seen a drop in claims for elective surgeries over the past several weeks due to the pandemic.

Tricia Neuman, senior vice president of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) said any move to waive costs would provide a “huge relief” to people with limited incomes. 

Bruce Broussard, CEO of Humana, agreeing with Humana’s incentive said, “These individuals are on fixed incomes, a lot of them are living on less than $20,000 a year, so $35 or a 20 percent copay is meaningful to them.”

Other aids from Humana

  • Safety kits for visits to healthcare providers. The company is proactively sending  safety kits to members’ homes over the next several weeks, including masks and health advice information, to protect them in public, such as at doctor visits. 
  • Preauthorizations for care have been removed. For members who test positive for COVID-19, preauthorization will not be needed to begin treatment immediately.
  • Beginning March 10, 2020, early prescription refills allowed through July 25, 2020. Humana is allowing early refills on prescription medicines so members can prepare for extended supply needs with even an extra 30 or 90 day supply, for members with prescription drug coverage.
  • Prescriptions home delivery. Humana Pharmacy is offering mail delivery for all prescriptions submitted by prescribing physicians. Members should verify their plan’s network or pharmacies to see if they offer delivery for elderly patients currently socially isolating due to COVID-19.
  • A support line is now available. Members have access to Humana’s toll-free customer support line, which can be found on the back of your Humana member ID card, to be connected to a healthcare professional.

“We hope these steps not only improve safety for patients and health care providers alike, but also simplify the healthcare experience for our members during these challenging times,” said Humana CMO William Shrank. “We continue to coordinate closely with public health authorities and regulatory agencies on coronavirus response, and we will make further adjustments to our policies, procedures and guidelines as needed and appropriate in this rapidly changing environment.”

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