Health Insurance Carriers have an opportunity to become Heroes
COVID-19 on one side is devastating the healthcare system and on the other hand, is slowing down healthcare spending by a whopping 18%. It is mainly due to a decline in the optional surgical procedures and limited use of other healthcare services. In this time of the pandemic, hospitals and doctors are financially suffering, whereas Americans are suffering physically. Perhaps not the entire health care industry is suffering.
Health insurance carriers are performing well, as their revenues collected through premiums are stable and these carriers are reporting high profits in first-quarter. This is mainly because there are more overall drop-in covered healthcare services than the additional cost incurred on the care for Covid-19 patients. Even their profits for the remaining 2020 are protected to be as healthy as the last year, so their stock prices are close to five-year highs.
The reason due to which Americans and health care providers are suffering, health insurance carriers are prospering for the same reason. Thus, they need to effectively play their part in this crisis to become heroes along with healthcare providers like doctors, nurses, and therapists. Thinking of health insurers as heroes might appear as jokes, but insurers can act effectively to help people in this crisis and help them make a better future.
Steps that can make Insurance Carrier Heroes
Health insurers should offer financial relief to the Americas just like the taxpayers who are providing trillions in financial relief to businesses and hospitals. Some health insurance carriers have provided 60 or 90-day premium holidays to small businesses. Health insurance companies need to reduce the premium for 2020 and should provide larger premium relief or suspension of premium collection for the next three months for low and middle-income Americans. In five weeks, more than 30 million people in America have filed for unemployment benefits, many of them will need health coverage, especially in states that have not expanded Medicaid. Insurance companies need to be lenient on coverage extension for people who have lost their job and health insurance. This is being already done by nonprofit insurers.
Many people are avoiding needed health care and prescription drugs because they cannot afford basic care. This is extremely serious, especially in a pandemic if infected people avoid getting tested and treated, then they will spread the virus to others. Thus, health insurance carriers should make healthcare cheaper for people who do not have coverage. Besides, waiving out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing and treatment, insurers should also eliminate co-payments and deductibles for primary, preventive care, and generic drugs for everyone. This should be specially done for people having high-deductible plans, and co-payments should be removed for medications that are used to treat chronic disease. Insurers should provide grace periods on out-of-pocket costs and should be providing their members with masks and gloves free of cost, by covering it as preventive care.
Insurers should financially help primary care and smaller hospitals, who have a shortage of cash reserves, especially with the decline in-office visits and increased use of telemedicine, many are losing money and are going bankrupt. Though they have advanced billions to hospitals and doctors, more help is required. Instead of paying doctors for the rendered services the insurers need to pay them a fixed fee per patient they care for.
Lastly, health insurers should help doctors to understand why only a few people are receiving medical care for conditions other than Covid-19. They should ensure that members obtain the healthcare they need because a lack of treatment can lead to adverse situations. Besides, insurers know which of their members suffer from chronic conditions, so they should reach out to those members and convince them to not delay their visits or miss prescriptions.
No doubt health insurers are profiting from this pandemic, now they need to stand up and show their commitment towards the nation’s health. They should reach out to help healthcare providers, public health officials, and patients and with their selfless act and deed can become heroes just like nurses and doctors.