Minnesota health plans waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 in-network hospitalizations

After three weeks of battling coronavirus, agreement reached to remove burden

Sloane Martin
April 02, 2020 - 5:52 pm
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The Minnesota Department of Health announced Thursday 742 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. One more person has died bringing the total to 18, a 69-year-old Hennepin County resident not living in a long-term care facility. 

Seventy-five people are hospitalized currently including 38 in intensive care. Three weeks since Minnesota has been actively battling coronavirus cases, some financial relief for those who are or will become infected and need treatment.

“Today I’m happy to announce that the Minnesota health plans will be waiving cost-sharing for treatment for COVID-19,” Giv. Tim Walz said.

Minnesota’s six non-profit health plans -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Hennepin Health, Medica, PreferredOne and UCare -- have agreed to eliminate cost-sharing for COVID-19 hospitalizations through at least May 31. Walz says it will allow people to focus on recovering.

“What that means for Minnesotans on these commercial plans is you're not going to have a bill should you happen to have to get care,” he said. “They’re going to waive that cost-sharing so you’re not going to have to choose between rent and food around this.”

The Department of Health and Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelly were behind the weeks-long push to make treatment more accessible.  

RELATEDThe Minnesota Department of Health releases the latest COVID-19 numbers for the state (Thursday)

“I think the plans have been assessing the risks of this pandemic all the way along and I think it took them a while to arrive at the point where they felt comfortable from a financial point of view recognizing that they could waive the cost-sharing for in-network hospitalizations,” Kelly said.

Kelly says it could be problematic down the road if the situation arises where patients need care at out-of-network hospitals because the companies did not commit to that at this time. He said the agency will continue to work with the providers to stress that “it’s not a patient’s choice, but a necessity as a result of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Minnesota is requesting a major disaster declaration, which is different from a federal emergency declaration which is already established. It would open the door for 100 percent reimbursement to bolster existing community-based counseling services. 

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Kelly says it can’t be overlooked right now.

“Clearly this incident is causing a great deal of stress and anxiety among Minnesotans,” Kelly said. “People fear for their health, they’re worried about their job and how they’re going to make ends meet. Relationships can get stressed by spending so much time together, and just the simple disruption to our regular routine is hard for us all. We need to meet that increased need for counseling services.”

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