COVID-19 and Health Insurance pandemic has had a serious impact on almost every business, and the healthcare insurance industry hasn’t been immune. Many have had to make adjustments in their terms and costs, among other things.
Detrimental Impact on the Health Insurance Industry
Since the start of this massive pandemic, millions have lost their jobs and employer-sponsored insurance coverage. Many families have found themselves struggling to afford health care. This is especially detrimental to families with members who work at jobs with a high risk of infection but no provided healthcare.
However, there has been an upside to all of this. Medicaid enrollment has increased due to the rise in unemployment. Many families have also been turning to private coverage in the health insurance marketplaces.
But health insurance coverage must be protected for all families. Congress must work harder in doing this. Without adequate health insurance, it will be an uphill battle for this country in the fight against COVID-19.
Strengthening Medicaid and the Insurance Market
For many years, when people lost their employer-provided health insurance, they turned to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). This alternative continuation of coverage plan has provided a substantial interim safety net. But some people aren’t eligible for COBRA.
Other sources of coverage are available, including Medicaid programs and private coverage within the marketplace. This country needs a robust individual market and strong Medicaid programs that will be able to give full coverage to the unemployed and underemployed.
To utilize these resources, our government must strengthen them. Insurers also need easier access to these resources to make sure their clients are covered.
The Alliance to Fight for Health Care (AFHC)has urged Congress to:
- Protect insurance for out-of-work individuals
- Provide increased financial support for the Health Insurance Marketplace and Medicaid
- Preserve access to care and protect jobs by guaranteeing continued insurance reimbursement.
Medicaid programs could also be strengthened and made more accessible to low-income families. Federal matching funds for the states are needed until the economy recovered from its COVID-19 slump.
How Insurance Providers have been Responding to the Virus
Some of the ways that health insurance providers have been responding include:
- Adding in temporary benefits
- Reducing costs
- Launching relief campaigns.
Many insurance providers have been providing helpful resources for their customers on how to manage routine healthcare during this difficult time.
For example, Aetna has recently launched a campaign about the importance of taking care of your health under these current conditions. The campaign is called Time for Care.
The purpose of their campaign is to provide their customers with all the proper resources they need to continue their normal care schedule. Aetna also has a question checklist of how you can prepare for your office visit during this pandemic.
Some providers have been providing temporary benefits changes for their insurers.
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Health Advantage is one provider that has added temporary benefits including the covering of COVID-19 tests ordered by healthcare providers at no cost to members.
These tests are administered in close coordination with federal, state, and public health authorities.
Resources for Substance Abuse Treatment
Because this pandemic has caused people to be at home more often, this has led to a rise in mental health issues—depression, anxiety. stress—and co-occurring substance use disorder, especially alcohol. Since mental health and substance abuse are now deemed essential health services, they are covered for most people who have health insurance and many who don’t.
Alcohol addiction programs that provide support for those struggling with addiction while in quarantine have multiple options for support.
For those dealing with alcoholism, medication-assisted treatment—the use of prescription drugs in conjunction with therapy to prevent relapse—may be necessary. This treatment may have been disrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing, but it can be the difference between rehab success and failure.
Therapy also can continue via telehealth Skype or Zoom sessions. Peer support groups also can meet through telehealth or by creating social-distanced meetings that maintain a six-foot separation.
Much Needed Support for Health Care Workers
Another group of people who need better health insurance is our first responders.
Because people are using fewer routine healthcare services during the pandemic, revenue is down 29% for hospitals and other health care providers in the second quarter. Projections suggest this could lead to the elimination of between 1.5 million and 2.5 million jobs in health care.
Healthcare workers, like most people, could lose their health care insurance along with their jobs despite their being exposed to a higher risk of COVID-19 infection.
Employer-sponsored health care must be preserved within health institutions. A strong insurance reimbursement within hospitals and other health care facilities will help sustain employment for our first responders.
Most importantly, lives will also be saved in providing the insured and uninsured access to quality health care.
COVID-19 and Health Insurance Thriving during the Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of changes within health insurance companies today. It has caused many unemployed people to lose access to their health insurance.
Some current carriers have made some adjustments to accommodate their customers' changed circumstances. Some have been providing support for those struggling with substance abuse.
But there is more work that needs to be done. Our government must strengthen our Medicaid programs and private insurance programs so that more people can have access to them.
With health care providing one in seven U.S. jobs, health insurance must be preserved within health care institutions. These changes are necessary for the health insurance industry to adjust to this new normal.