UnitedHealthcare, Anthem to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment

UnitedHealthcare is the latest big-name insurer to waive members’ cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments. 

UHC said it would waive the associated costs for members in its fully insured commercial, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans. The insurer added that it’s working with interested self-funded employer plans to offer the same waivers. 

The waivers will be available through May 31. 

UHC also announced that it will waive cost-sharing for in-network telehealth visits that are not for COVID-19-related needs through June 18. This is in addition to existing waivers for telehealth visits for COVID-19 testing and for virtual visits with the insurers’ preferred partners.

RELATED: As COVID-19 isolates patients, telehealth becomes lifeline for behavioral health 

Anthem announced similar steps late Wednesday, saying it would cover the cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment through May 31 for its Medicare, Medicaid, individual market and fully insured employer plans. 

The insurer also said it was "strongly encouraging" its self-funded employers to adopt the waivers.

“During these challenging times, Anthem stands by our legacy and commitment to living our values and supporting those we serve,” said Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux in a statement. “By applying our approach for innovation, compassion and inclusion, we are focused on the issues needed most in this time of crisis, including affordability and access to care for those dealing with treatment related to COVID-19."

Anthem has also taken other steps similar to its peers in the industry, such as waiving the cost-sharing for testing and telehealth, and easing prescription limits.

AetnaCigna and Humana have all previously announced that they would waive members’ cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment. These insurers also waived copayments and other cost-sharing for testing and telehealth visits.

Regional health plans are taking similar steps. Florida Blue announced Tuesday that it would waive cost-sharing for treatment, as did Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan. 

Harvard Pilgrim is offering the waivers to its Medicare, Medicaid and fully insured plans, while self-insured employers can opt out if they wish. The waivers will be available through June 1. 

“This action, in addition to previously announced removal of barriers to COVID-19 testing and general telemedicine visits, will ease the burden on our members and allow them to focus on what really matters—getting healthy,” said CEO Michael Carson.