In a flurry of activity between March 26 and March 30, the commissioner of insurance has issued five bulletins concerning issues arising out of the Coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic. The bulletins cover medical malpractice coverage, prescription drug access including prescriptions for chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine, extending the special enrollment period for the uninsured to obtain health insurance on the Connector, limiting prior authorizations for Coronavirus testing in-network, and health carriers covering out-of-network testing if in-network is unavailable.
The following headlines are links to the full text of the bulletins. The statement under each link is from the preamble from the bulletin explaining its guidance, at least, in part.
Bulletin 2020-06; Administration of Prescription Drug Benefits During COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Public Health Crisis; Issued 03/26/2020
Bulletin 2020-06 (3 pages) provides information to all Commercial Health Insurers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc., and Health Maintenance Organizations about the Division’s expectations regarding steps Carriers are to take to help address concerns about protecting Massachusetts pharmacists and the public during the Coronavirus and COVID-19 public health crisis.
Note: Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. This bulletin addresses in one section, the Division’s awareness of concerns arising in the market about the prescribing of the two prescription drugs, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine, now in Coronavirus clinical trials, and sets out some guidelines for carriers about prescriptions for these drugs.
Bulletin 2020-07; Making Consumer Information Available During the COVID-19 Crisis; Issued 03/26/2020
Bulletin 2020-07 (2 pages) provides information to all Commercial Health Insurers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc., and Health Maintenance Organizations (“Carriers”) about the Division’s expectations regarding steps Carriers are to take to educate consumers about how to use Carriers’ systems to obtain covered services for COVID-19 testing, diagnosis, and treatment, and how to process claims in the most efficient manner.
Bulletin 2020-08; Flexibility in the Issuance and Administration of Medical Malpractice Insurance during COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Public Health Crisis; Issued 03/27/2020
Bulletin 2020-08 (2 pages) provides information to all Medical Malpractice Carriers of every type operating in the Commonwealth about the Division’s expectations regarding steps they are to take to help address concerns about medical professional liability/medical malpractice coverage during the Coronavirus and COVID-19 public health crisis. The Division asks that all Medical Malpractice Carriers review their existing coverage and/or coverage forms to ensure that such coverage provides flexibility where needed and/or to file or add endorsements to their existing policies to ensure that existing coverage will apply to health care professionals who are acting within the scope of their professional license when they respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis, whether within Massachusetts or in another state.
Bulletin 2020-09; Special Open Enrollment Period Effective Immediately Until May 25; Issued 03/30/2020
Bulletin 2020-09 (1 page) advises that the Division in collaboration with the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority (the “Connector”) is announcing that the special enrollment period described in Bulletin 2020-03 for eligible individuals in the Commonwealth who are not currently enrolled in an insurance plan will have a special-enrollment period lasting until May 25, 2020.
Note: The special enrollment period under Bulletin 2020-03 lasts until April 25, 2020. Bulletin 2020-09 announces the extension of the special enrollment for any uninsured person for an additional month.
Bulletin 2020-10; Credentialing and Prior Authorization during COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Health Crisis; Issued 03/30/2020
Bulletin 2020-10 (4 pages) provides information to all Commercial Health Insurers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc., and Health Maintenance Organizations (“Carriers”) about the Division’s expectations regarding steps Carriers are to take to help address concerns about obtaining medically necessary treatment during the COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus) public health crisis.
Note: This bulletin also has a section advising about Prior Authorization Systems and COVID-19, with the statements about Coronavirus testing including:
- “If a patient is screened for symptoms either in a face-to-face or telehealth encounter and the patient’s symptoms are consistent with guidance put out by the Department of Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Carriers are not to require prior approval for the patient being tested for COVID-19 by any practitioner within the Carrier’s network of providers.”
- “If an in-network provider is unable to be available for testing as needed, the Carrier is expected to pay for necessary testing when provided by an out-of-network provider.”