Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City has announced it will cover COVID-19 testing and 24-7 access to virtual care for its members, according to a spokesman.
According to a news release, Blue KC will cover the COVID-19 test with no cost share to the member. The COVID-19 diagnostic test will be covered consistent with CDC guidance related to COVID-19, with no cost share to the member, according to the announcement.
In addition, Blue KC will eliminate prior authorizations for COVID-19 services. Prior authorization will be waived for diagnostic tests and covered services that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance if diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the news release. Blue KC also will make dedicated clinical staff available to address inquiries related to medical services, ensuring timelienss of responses related to COVID-19, according to the announcement.
Also, Blue KC will waive early medication refill limits, according to the news release. Early medication refill limits will be waived on 30-day prescription maintenance medications (excluding opioids and controlled substances). This is consistent with the CDC recommendation to have a one-month supply of medication on hand. Member cost sharing will apply as normal, according to the announcement.
In addition, Blue KC Virtual Care will waive fees for 24/7 access to doctors, according to the announcement.
Blue KC is waiving fees for virtual care for members, according to the news release. Virtual visits allow doctors to monitor members at home, minimizing the spread of infection and easing the burden on emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and urgent care clinics, according to a spokesman.
Blue KC’s virtual care doctors have undergone additional training for COVID-19, according to the news release. The Blue KC Virtual Care app is currently available on the Apple App Store and Google Play or at www.bluekcvirtualcare.com.
In addition to sick visits, Blue KC Virtual Care offers same- or next-day therapy appointments to help ease anxiety about coronavirus, according to the news release. With increased use of virtual care, the wait time may be longer.
“At Blue KC, we are focused on doing everything we can to protect our members and our community,” said Dr. Greg Sweat, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Blue KC. “It’s important to remember most people will not get COVID-19. Those who do will most likely have mild symptoms. We should all be aware of the symptoms and practice good health habits including staying home if we feel sick. This will help prevent the spread of disease to those who are more at risk for serious health complications including the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.”
The measures announced today will remain in effect until May 15, 2020. At that time, Blue KC will re-evaluate based on COVID-19 developments.
Health officials today said that a COVID-19 patient has been admitted at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, and they urged residents not to panic but to take steps to be responsible for themselves.
“To stay safe, the best thing we can do is what we do ourselves,” said Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System.
And that included fairly simple things, he said: Wash your hands really well, cough into your elbow, clean off surfaces, and if you are ill, stay home. Face masks are not recommended unless the patient is sick.
“You own your own preparedness,” Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary, said.
Dr. Stites said the COVID-19 patient was isolated and has been placed in a special unit at KU Hospital designed for emerging infections, to protect the patient and all staff, patients and visitors.
The family members of the patient at KU Hospital are under voluntary quarantine, according to health officials.
Over the weekend, there was an announcement from state officials that one Johnson County person had tested positive for COVID-19.
While health officials today did not talk about personal information about the patient at KU Hospital, Dr. Norman said there was currently only one patient diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state of Kansas.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of inpatient critical care, infectious diseases, at KU Health Services, said those who are at home and showing symptoms of the coronavirus-19, if they need a higher level of care, should call their primary care provider first. Some of the symptoms could be a cough, fever and shortness of breath.
A telephone call gives the provider the opportunity to be prepared for the patient’s visit, and also, the primary care provider can tell the patient what step to take next. If the patient needs emergency care, the patient may call 911.
Dr. Norman said patients also could call their county health department to help expedite matters.
Dr. Stites also said any hospital should be equipped to handle infectious disease cases such as COVID-19.
Dr. Norman said there is no community spread of the COVID-19 in Kansas at this time, but it probably would get worse in Kansas in the next few weeks, and that the state is prepared.
Dr. Hawkinson said KU Hospital has had procedures and protocols in place for years to handle infectious diseases. The health officials added that KU Hospital handles other infectious diseases every day.
He said some of the people who get the COVID-19 virus do not have any symptoms, some are mildly ill, while a small number become severely ill.
Older patients 50 and older, especially 70 and older, and patients who have underlying health conditions are more at risk of progressive disease, he said.
The KDHE is testing from four to six Kansas cases a day for COVID-19, Dr. Norman said. About 80 people in Kansas are currently being monitored on voluntary isolation or voluntary quarantine, according to Dr. Norman, but they are not confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Testing is not yet available at local labs or in doctors’ offices, but Dr. Norman said he expected that tests for COVID-19 would become commercially available in the next week or two.
Dr. Norman said he had been in communication with the vice president, and learned that development of vaccines and antivirals are in process, and probably will not be available for six to 12 months.
More information about COVID-19 is at the KDHE website at http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/index.htm.
The Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html.
To see a video of today’s news conference at KU Hospital, visit https://twitter.com/KUHospitalNews.
For more information from KU Health Systems, see https://www.medicalnewsnetwork.org/NewsNetwork/DocTalk/C/Patient%20with%20COVID-19%20Admitted%20to%20The%20University%20of%20Kansas%20Hospital
A COVID-19 patient has been admitted at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, according to a statement from the hospital.
The patient is in an area that has been specially equipped to keep the virus from spreading to other patients, personnel and staff, according to the statement.
KU Hospital will be updating information on the coronavirus later today.