DURHAM, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) announced that its current telehealth policy will remain in place through the end of 2021 to best serve its members throughout the course of the pandemic. After expanding virtual coverage last year, Blue Cross NC saw its members’ telehealth usage increase by more than 7,500 percent in 2020.
“Telehealth has been an important option for members. It offers peace of mind as uncertainty continues with the pandemic, including new variants and fluctuating case numbers,” said Von Nguyen, chief medical officer at Blue Cross NC. “Blue Cross NC is committed to making sure its members have access to the care they need, when they need it.”
The extended telehealth policy covers doctor visits by video or phone the same as face-to-face visits, and providers will be paid the same as they would for in-person visits. The policy applies to all Blue Cross NC commercial plans and Medicare Advantage plans offered and administered by Blue Cross NC. Members of the Federal Employee Program have telehealth covered at parity with in-person visits until further notice. The extended policy does not apply to Blue Cross NC members getting care from out of state providers, or members of other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans receiving care in North Carolina.
Blue Cross NC has been covering telehealth for more than 20 years and will continue to do so after the pandemic. COVID-19 is driving long-term changes in how doctors and patients use and value telehealth. Blue Cross NC will use data and insights gained from this period of increased virtual visits to update its telehealth policy in the future to best serve its members. This review period will ensure that telehealth remains a tool that improves health, increases access to health care and lowers costs for members.
In addition to telehealth, Blue Cross NC has put multiple benefit provisions in place to assist members during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including continuing to waive member-cost sharing (copays, deductibles and coinsurance) for COVID-related treatment through June 30, 2021. This applies to all commercial, individual and fully insured group health plans, plus self-funded health plans that opted to include the coverage.
Blue Cross NC also provided $800 million of direct and indirect financial support to North Carolinians during the pandemic, including:
- $600 million used to help members, employers and providers in a number of ways, including to gain coverage and access to care, improve cash flow and help improve food security in communities.
- After a favorable outcome related to the Risk Corridor lawsuit, the company issued $200 million in health and wellness retails cards. These retail cards, ranging in amounts from $100 to $500, were sent to more than 600,000 eligible members.
Blue Cross NC will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and re-evaluate policies, as necessary. More information is available at BlueCrossNC.com/Coronavirus.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is committed to making health care better, simpler and more affordable. We have been driving better health in North Carolina since 1933, working to tackle our communities’ greatest health challenges. Blue Cross NC serves its customers and communities of more than 3.9 million members, including approximately 1.1 million on behalf of other Blue Plans. Blue Cross NC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross NC online at www.bluecrossnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.