Helping Our Health Care Community on the Front Lines of COVID-19

Independence has launched a range of clinical and business initiatives since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to address the key needs of the health care community on the frontlines of fighting the coronavirus. Refer to this page for important updates as we navigate this unprecedented situation together.

Delivering care

Providing greater access. To ensure you can continue to deliver high-quality care to your patients, we are:

  • Offering COVID-19 vaccine coverage and reimbursement. The federal government is currently covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Independence will waive commercial members’ cost-sharing (such as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance) for its administration. Providers will be reimbursed for the vaccine administration cost. For Medicare Advantage members, the cost of the vaccine and its administration will be covered by Medicare so long as the health care provider administering the vaccine participates in the Medicare program (claims for the vaccine and its administration should be billed to Medicare).
  • Expanding members’ access to primary care and specialists through telemedicine for COVID-19 related diagnoses through March 31, 2021. These visits, when they meet the established criteria, are eligible for reimbursement at in-office rates. Access to primary care and specialists through telemedicine is also available for non-COVID related diagnoses; however, member cost sharing will apply starting January 1, 2021. Telemedicine services for Medicare Advantage members will be effective for the duration of the public health emergency.
  • Supporting preventive well visits for commercial members via telemedicine through March 31, 2020. These visits, when they meet the established criteria, are eligible for reimbursement. Annual wellness visits are always covered for members enrolled in Medicare Advantage. For the duration of the public health emergency¹, these wellness visits can be done via telemedicine. Please note that in order to be eligible for any of the Independence incentive programs the Medicare Advantage telemedicine visits must be conducted by synchronous audio and visual means.
  • Covering COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing for commercial and Medicare Advantage members at physician offices, urgent care centers, emergency rooms, drive-thru testing sites, pharmacies, and by home health agencies in accordance with all federal and state mandates during the public health emergency¹.
  • Waiving commercial members’ cost-sharing for in-network, acute in-patient treatment of COVID-19 through March 31, 2021². Cost-sharing will be applied to post-acute care (e.g. skilled nursing, rehabilitation and long-term acute care facilities), outpatient treatment, prescription drugs, ambulance transportation to a post-acute setting, and out of network care.
  • Waiving Medicare Advantage members’ cost-sharing for in-network and out-of-network acute in-patient treatment of COVID 19 for the duration of the public health emergency¹. This waiver of cost-sharing for Medicare members will also be applied to the post-acute care settings. Please note that starting January 1, these existing waivers will be covered for Medicare Advantage members through their new 2021 plans regardless of the duration of the public health emergency.
  • Waiving requirements that commercial and Medicare Advantage members must be homebound to receive COVID-19 testing at home by a visiting nurse through the public health emergency.
  • Providing coverage for in-network consumer grade pulse oximetry devices for use in the home setting through the public health emergency¹. March 31, 2020.

Provider News Center is continually updated to provide reliable information on COVID-19 care and coverage. Visit the site.

Support for your business

Helping with administrative processes. To make it easier for you to care for your patients, we are:

  • Waiving the need for providers to call Independence prior to transferring members without a COVID-19 diagnosis from acute in-network inpatient facilities to in-network post-acute facilities (long-term acute care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing facilities) and other in-network inpatient facilities through January 31, 2021. This also applies to in-network ambulance transfers.
  • Temporarily suspending prior authorization for acute inpatient admissions for any COVID-19 diagnosis from the emergency room for commercial members until March 31, 2021. This includes transfers from acute in-network, in-patient facilities to in-network long-term ambulatory care, rehabilitation, or skilled nursing facilities; transfers from acute in-network inpatient facilities to other in-network in-patient facilities, transportation between facilities. This also applies to in-network ambulance transfers. This is effective for Medicare Advantage members during the public health emergency¹ and includes out-of-network providers. Facilities are still required to notify Independence.
  • Having individual and group conversations with many provider offices in our network to understand their challenges, communicate our ongoing efforts around COVID-19, and answer questions.

Working together

Working with the health care community and public health officials. Throughout the pandemic, we have been collaborating on several efforts.

  • Working with lab vendors to enhance regional access to testing
  • Launching a coalition of regional home care providers to develop common COVID-19 protocols and a shared capacity database.

Staying informed

Check back often. As we continue to make changes to our normal business practices, we will keep you informed through this site and the Provider News Center.

Have a question about COVID-19? Ask us.

1 Please note: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act mandate that member cost sharing (deductible, co-pays and coinsurance) is waived both in and out-of-network for the testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 through the public health emergency. The waiver of member cost sharing for both in and out of network will continue through the public emergency, which has been extended through January 21, 2021, unless otherwise modified by the federal government. For High Deductible Health Plans, in-network cost sharing waivers detailed above will remain in effect through December 31, 2020 unless prohibited by law.

2 If a member has coverage through an employer, benefits and coverages may vary.