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Health Insurers’ Response to COVID-19: Supporting Mental and Behavioral Health

Health Insurers Responding to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered every facet of our lives, including our healthcare. The virus has overwhelmed hospitals, required new protocols for physicians, and changed the way that ordinary citizens access healthcare.

As the pandemic continues, we are all required to adjust our expectations and our behaviors around the healthcare industry. Insurance companies have been no exception.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, insurers have had to pivot to keep up with the changing healthcare landscape. Here are some of the ways that health insurers have responded to COVID-19.

Telehealth Services

One of the most significant ways that insurers have responded to the pandemic is through the expansion of telehealth services. Telehealth refers to the delivery of healthcare services virtually or over the phone, rather than in person.

Telehealth has been a critical tool in reducing the spread of COVID-19, as physical distancing reduces the risk of exposure. Insurers have recognized the importance of telehealth services and have begun to make strides in covering virtual healthcare across the board.

In many cases, insurers are now offering telehealth services at in-network rates, which makes these services more affordable and accessible to patients.

Behavioral and Mental Health

The pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone. As we continue to adapt to changes in our routines, jobs, and family life, we can experience feelings of anxiety, depression, and other issues related to mental health.

Insurers have responded by expanding their coverage for behavioral and mental health support. This includes talk therapy, group counseling, and psychiatric care.

The idea is to make these essential services more readily available for people experiencing mental stresses related to the pandemic.

Financial Assistance and Contributions

Insurers have also responded to the economic impacts of the pandemic. Many insurance companies have provided financial assistance to their policyholders who are experiencing financial hardship due to job loss or illness.

This assistance can range from waiving co-payments and co-insurance fees to providing premium relief for customers who are struggling to afford their health insurance. Companies like

Anthem, United Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group,

Aetna, Cigna, Premera Blue Cross, Humana, Florida Blue, and

Blue Cross Blue Shield have all provided some form of financial assistance to their policyholders.

Insurance Advocate Leads the Way

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)

AHIP is a national organization that represents insurers. The organization has been a vital advocate for the insurance industry during the pandemic.

AHIP has worked to provide education and resources to insurers so that they can adapt to the changing healthcare environment. The organization has also provided public policy recommendations to lawmakers across the country.

Their goal is to ensure that individuals and families have the coverage they need during this uncertain time. Insurance Companies’ Responses to COVID-19

Insurance companies have stepped up to serve policyholders during the pandemic.

Companies have developed initiatives to provide essential services to their customers. For example, some companies have provided meal delivery to members who are in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.

Other companies have staffed hotlines to help customers navigate the challenges of the pandemic. Some insurance companies have even worked to provide COVID-19 testing and support for frontline workers who are at risk of contracting the virus.

The Bottom Line

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. However, insurers have responded quickly to the changing healthcare landscape.

Insurance companies have expanded their coverage for telehealth services, behavioral, and mental health support, and have provided financial assistance to policyholders. America’s Health Insurance Plans has worked to advocate for policyholders and insurers alike during this time.

With these responses, insurance companies are making important strides to ensure that policyholders have the coverage and support they need during this time of uncertainty.

Mental and Behavioral Health Efforts in the Forefront

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, the healthcare industry has had to adjust to meet the changing needs of patients. One area that has come to the forefront is mental and behavioral health.

With people facing sudden job losses, isolation from loved ones, and a growing sense of uncertainty, the need for these services has become more urgent than ever. Here are some of the ways that health insurers and foundations have responded to this growing need.

Opioid Use Disorder

The opioid crisis has been an issue for the United States for several years. As the pandemic took hold, the crisis became even more urgent.

Highmark, a health insurance provider in the Northeastern United States, recognized the growing need for support for people with opioid use disorder. The company launched a new initiative that uses technology to improve treatment access for people with this disorder.

This includes an online platform that connects those seeking treatment with qualified care providers. Additionally, the company has worked to expand recovery programs to reduce the risk of relapse for individuals on the road to recovery.

Humana Foundation

Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana insurance, has been instrumental in responding to the growing behavioral health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the crisis,

Humana Foundation dedicated $50 million to critical needs, including medical workers, food security efforts, and healthcare services.

Among its contributions to the healthcare industry, the Foundation has specifically focused on behavioral and mental health. The Foundation has worked to increase access to virtual behavioral health services, recognizing that many people struggle to receive care in person during the pandemic.

Additionally, the Foundation has partnered with organizations to provide resources to groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including people struggling with mental health issues.

Blue Cross Blue Shield

Several

Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates have taken a state-level approach to tackling the growing mental health crisis. In Massachusetts,

Blue Cross Blue Shield has partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital to launch an initiative that provides patients with choice and better care for mental health and addiction services close to home.

Elsewhere, in Minnesota,

Blue Cross Blue Shield worked with MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, to ensure that insurance policies covered mental and behavioral health services. The company also partnered with Minnesotas Department of Human Services to provide behavioral health services, including suicide prevention support, to individuals in the state.

How the Industry Is Responding to COVID-19

As the pandemic continues to impact the United States, the healthcare industry has had to take drastic measures to ensure that Americans receive the care and support they need. Here are some of the ways that insurers and foundations are responding to the pandemic.

Anthem

Anthem, one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States, has dedicated $2.5 billion to COVID-19 response efforts. The company has provided financial assistance to its members, including premium continuation and waiving of co-pays for virus testing.

Additionally, the company has provided support to food banks and other community resources that are struggling during the pandemic.

Anthem has worked to provide protective equipment (PPE) to frontline healthcare workers, recognizing the critical role that healthcare workers play in keeping people healthy and safe.

Finally,

Anthem is offering loan assistance to its providers, recognizing the strain that many small healthcare providers are facing during the pandemic.

United Healthcare and Optum

United Healthcare and Optum, two healthcare companies owned by UnitedHealth Group, have committed over $2 billion to provide additional support to their members and healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among its initiatives, the companies are working to provide resources to healthcare providers to support virtual care.

Additionally, the companies have launched initiatives to support behavioral health and related services, recognizing that the pandemic has increased the need for these kinds of services in the United States. Finally, the companies have pledged to offer small business loans so that healthcare providers can access the resources they need to manage through difficult times.

Aetna

Finally,

Aetna has responded to the crisis by offering cost-sharing and co-pay waivers for COVID-19 testing and related treatment. Additionally,

Aetna has worked to expand its telehealth offerings, recognizing that many patients may not be able to safely seek care in person during the pandemic.

To support mental and behavioral health needs as well,

Aetna has partnered with the

Aetna Foundation and the Americares COVID-19 Mental Health and Psychosocial Support project, which aims to help support people struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic.

Aetna has also committed to supporting the Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit mental health service that provides crisis counseling over text message.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the healthcare industry with some of its most significant challenges in recent memory. By responding with empathy, resilience, and resourcefulness, the healthcare industry has demonstrated its commitment to supporting its patients and providers during this difficult time.

As the healthcare industry continues to navigate the impact of the pandemic, mental and behavioral health support will remain a critical component of its response efforts. By working together and committing to innovation, the industry will be better equipped to respond to the needs of Americans during this challenging time.

Multifaceted Commitments

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense stress and uncertainty for individuals across the globe. As a result, the healthcare industry has had to pivot to better support those who are struggling with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

In this article, well discuss some of the ways that health insurers have made multifaceted commitments to better serve their policyholders.

Stress Management and Mindfulness

Cigna has long been at the forefront of making mental and behavioral health resources more accessible to their customers. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cigna launched a new initiative to help people manage stress and build resiliency.

The initiative includes a new stress management program that offers guidance and resources to support people as they navigate uncertain times. Additionally, the program offers mindfulness resources that can help individuals learn to stay calm in the face of adversity.

Cignas new stress management program includes a free webinar series specifically designed to help people access these resources.

Telehealth by Premera Blue Cross

Premera Blue Cross has taken significant steps to expand virtual mental health care and substance use disorder treatment through telehealth. With Doctor On Demand, Premera Blue Cross expanded access to virtual care for members of their plan, making it easier for people to receive care from the safety and comfort of their own homes.

In addition, Premera Blue Cross has partnered with other telehealth providers, such as Boulder Care and Workit Health, to make it easier for individuals to access substance use disorder treatment through telehealth services. These steps have helped to ensure that people across the United States have the resources they need to manage their mental and behavioral health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Access to Learn to Live

In Massachusetts,

Blue Cross Blue Shield recognized the importance of making mental and behavioral health resources more accessible to its policyholders during the pandemic, and they took action to provide access to Learn to Live. Learn to Live is an online program that offers resources and tools to individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, substance use, and other emotional issues.

Through this program, individuals can access online resources, including online lessons and activities designed to help them manage their conditions. This innovative program is an example of how health insurers are increasingly using technology to make mental and behavioral health resources more accessible to the people who need them the most.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for the healthcare industry. Despite this, health insurers have stepped up to provide critical resources and support to policyholders facing stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Through innovative initiatives such as Cignas stress management program, Premera Blue Cross telehealth resources, and access to Learn to Live through

Blue Cross Blue Shield, insurers are working to make mental and behavioral health care more accessible and less stigmatized in our society. By continuing to invest in innovative solutions, health insurers can ensure that policyholders have the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

In summary, the healthcare industry has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding its telehealth services, providing financial assistance, and supporting mental and behavioral health initiatives. Health insurers have made multifaceted commitments to better serve policyholders by providing access to stress management resources and Learn to Live, expanding telehealth, and partnering with telehealth providers.

It is crucial to invest in innovative solutions to ensure that people have the support they need during uncertain times. Here are some FAQs to help understand this complex topic further:

1.

What is telehealth, and how has it helped during the pandemic? Telehealth is the delivery of healthcare services virtually or over the phone.

Telehealth has helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 and has made medical consultation more accessible to patients. 2.

How have health insurers committed to mental and behavioral health? Health insurers have made significant commitments to expand telehealth, provide access to stress management programs, and online resources for emotional issues.

3. What financial assistance have insurance companies offered policyholders during the pandemic?

Insurance companies have provided financial assistance to policyholders who are experiencing financial hardship due to job loss or illness and waived co-payments and co-insurance fees. 4.

What are some of the initiatives that health insurers have taken to support COVID-19 relief efforts? Health insurers have launched initiatives to provide essential services to their customers, such as providing meal delivery to members who are in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.

5. What is Learn to Live?

Learn to Live is an online program that offers resources and tools to individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other emotional issues.

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