Aetna to waive commercial members' cost-sharing for inpatient COVID-19 admissions

Aetna sign
Aetna has announced additional support for its members amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Wonderlane, CC BY 2.0)

Aetna will waive copayments and cost-sharing for inpatient admissions related to COVID-19 for its commercial members, the insurer announced Wednesday. 

The insurer said this new program targeting the virus outbreak would be available to commercial members admitted to any of its in-network hospitals through June 1. The waivers are immediately available. 

In addition, Aetna announced that it would be among the health plans to work more closely with hospitals to ease patient transfers to other sites of care and that, in the hardest-hit states, hospitals would not need to seek permission from Aetna to hospitalize patients confirmed to have COVID-19. 

“The additional steps we’re announcing today are consistent with our commitment to delivering timely and seamless access to care as we navigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Karen Lynch, CVS Health executive vice president and Aetna president, in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to make sure our members have simple and affordable access to the treatment they need as we face the pandemic together.” 

RELATED: CVS eyes adding drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites, waiving early prescription refill limits 

Aetna’s sister company under CVS Health, Caremark, also announced new initiatives targeting the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday morning. The pharmacy benefit manager said it is taking steps to balance growing member interest in trying medications to treat COVID-19. 

Caremark will work with clients to set limits on the use of medications such as hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and albuterol inhalers for the novel coronavirus. Members who take these medications for their approved conditions will be able to skirt these requirements. 

“We continue to proactively study the latest clinical literature and consider what additional measures may be needed to help facilitate access to any other newly identified treatments as they emerge during this extraordinary health situation,” Sree Chaguturu, M.D., Caremark chief medical officer, said in a statement. 

Caremark said it would also extend previously approved prior authorizations for medications issued before June 30. For example, an authorization set to expire on May 15 will now be applicable through Aug. 15. 

As members may not be able to make routine visits to their doctor amid the pandemic, this will ensure continued access to their needed medications in the near term, Caremark said.