News: Quick Takes

State Health Plan will cover costs associated with COVID-19

North Carolina teachers and other state employees won’t pay out-of-pocket for coronavirus treatments through June 1. 

State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced Thursday, April 2, the State Health Plan will cover treatments for diagnosed COVID-19 cases, including deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance through June 1. 

The plan already covered the cost of COVID-19 testing for members. The plan’s third-party administrator, Blue Cross N.C., promised to waive members’ costs for coronavirus-related care Wednesday, following insurers Cigna and Humana, as well as Aetna, which will waive costs only from hospital admissions.

The plan previously expanded access to telemedicine in its United Medicare Advantage plan. Virtual doctor visits are temporarily free for senior members, while virtual behavioral visits will cost them a $20 co-payment. 

Medicare reforms expanded seniors’ access to telemedicine, and many major private insurers have imitated Medicare’s reforms. Before the coronavirus outbreak, most private and public insurers only offered telemedicine to seniors who lived in rural areas and drove to special clinical sites. 

But experts worry the coronavirus could send premiums soaring next year. North Carolina had 1,857 confirmed cases and 184 hospitalizations, as of Thursday. 

Editor’s note. This story was corrected to report that State Health Plan coverage starts immediately. We regret the error.