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Analysis

Most Payers Waiving COVID-19 Costs, Don't Expect Premiums to Rise Next Year

By Jack O'Brien  
   April 10, 2020

Sixty percent of insurers are also offering a premium deferral program for patients infected by COVID-19, according to a recent survey.

Nearly all health insurers are waiving out-of-pocket costs for testing related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to an eHealth survey released Thursday.

Looking ahead to the post-pandemic healthcare landscape, few insurers anticipate premiums to rise in 2021 due to the spread of the virus.

Almost 90% of insurers offering plans on the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act reported that it is unlikely they will leave due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Additionally, 60% of insurers are also offering a premium deferral program for patients infected by COVID-19, according to the survey.

Related: National Health Spending Growth Projected at 5.4% Annually through 2028

Scott Flanders, CEO of eHealth, said in a statement that the survey results indicate that the majority of insurers "are taking big steps to allay member concerns" during the pandemic.

"It's interesting to note that, contrary to recent reports, most of the insurers we surveyed do not believe coronavirus will drive them to raise rates in 2021," Flanders said. "Almost all say they're seeing increased utilization of telemedicine services, a trend which many believe will continue beyond the coronavirus era."

Insurers are also paying attention to industry trends emerging from the pandemic, namely the popularization of telehealth and the downstream effects from temporarily eliminating elective medical procedures.

Health plans were almost unanimous is reporting that there has been an increased demand for telemedicine since the outbreak began and 85% believe this will drive demand in the future.

Meanwhile, four-in-five respondents expect a spike in medical claims for elective procedures that were delayed due to the crisis, with nearly 75% anticipating it will occur in the next six to 12 months.

Related: More than 60% of Medicare Enrollees Concerned With Surprise Medical Bills

Last month, another eHealth survey found that almost two-thirds of healthcare consumers would struggle to pay their insurance deductible if they contracted COVID-19.

Nearly 70% of consumers reported that they "don't have a basic understanding of how their insurance coverage works" for coronavirus. Over half of respondents stated that they have not heard from their provider or insurer about healthcare coverage related to the outbreak. 

Related: Almost 66% of Consumers Would Struggle to Pay Deductible if They Contracted COVID-19

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


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