Centene to Waive Primary Care, Behavioral Health, and Telehealth Costs for Medicare Advantage Members for Remainder of 2020
Company Also Offers Expanded Benefits and Free Help Line to Address Social Determinants of Health
ST. LOUIS, May 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC), which offers Medicare Advantage plans nationally through the WellCare and Allwell brands and locally through the Health Net brand, announced new efforts to help support its nearly 1 million Medicare Advantage members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond COVID-19-related testing and treatment, the company is waiving all cost sharing for in-network primary care, behavioral health, and telehealth visits for the remainder of the calendar year. WellCare is also offering its Community Connections Help Line, available to anyone in need of help beyond medical care, as well as expanded benefits including extended meal program benefits, over-the-counter (OTC) allowances, and annual wellness visit incentives to help members in need of extra support.
"We believe the last thing people should be worried about during this pandemic is their healthcare," said Michael Polen, Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Medicare Solutions. "We want our senior members and other vulnerable populations to know they're covered."
Eliminating Out-of-Pocket Costs, Increasing Access to Care
In March, Centene announced it would waive pre-authorizations, co-pays, and other costs related to COVID-19 testing and medically necessary treatment through the end of 2020. The company also announced it was waiving prescription refill limits, and members would be able to refill prescriptions prior to their refill date.
The company will now waive in-network primary care costs for all primary care visits, as well as the costs for outpatient, non-facility-based behavioral health visits. It is also extending telehealth cost share waivers for all telehealth visits—PCP and specialty—including behavioral health, for in-network providers through 2020. Medicare members with state benefits will continue to receive support through coordination with their states.
"These actions are the latest in a series of efforts we are taking to help our members manage their conditions and access needed care during the pandemic," said Polen. "As many states begin to lift shelter-in-place orders and reopen the healthcare system, we want to help our members stay safe while removing any unneeded financial burdens to accessing care."
Addressing Social Determinants of Health
As seniors face increased social and economic barriers to care amid the pandemic, the company is also offering a number of expanded benefits to help seniors address issues such as food insecurity, out-of-pocket medical costs, and medication assistance.
WellCare's Community Connections Help Line – a toll-free line available to anyone in need – is staffed by peer coaches and support specialists who can refer individuals and caregivers in need to a database of more than half a million social services in local communities across the country.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, WellCare's Help Line has fielded nearly 3,000 calls from individuals with Medicare. Between March 8 and May 8, WellCare found the most requested services from these callers included food assistance (29%), medication assistance (19%), utilities assistance (11%), housing (10%) and transportation (7%).
More specifically, many seniors report they are worried about paying their medical bills and affording food during the pandemic. Nearly half (40%) report it is difficult to pay their current medical bills, while 60% report they are worried about running out of food before having enough money to buy more.
"It's difficult to prioritize your health and healthcare when you don't have access to healthy food or the ability to pay your bills," said Polen. "We want to do everything we can to eliminate those social determinants of health – social and economic factors that can have a major impact on overall health and wellbeing – especially during this challenging time."
To help further remove any financial or food-related barriers to care, Medicare Advantage members may be eligible for the following expanded benefits for the remainder of 2020:
- Extended Meal Benefits – Members eligible for meal benefits due to a chronic condition or recent discharge may receive an additional 14 meals delivered to their home at no cost.
- Annual Wellness Visit Incentives – Members will be eligible for an increased incentive for completing their Annual Wellness Visits, a benefit offered at no cost to the member.
- Additional Over-The-Counter (OTC) Benefits – Plans with an OTC benefit may now receive additional allowance dollars in monthly or quarterly increments, adding up to as much as $150 for the remainder of 2020, depending on plan.
Centene and WellCare are committed to ensuring continuity of care and services for members and local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more, visit www.WellCareCares.com.
About Centene Corporation
Centene Corporation, a Fortune 100 company, is a leading multi-national healthcare enterprise that is committed to helping people live healthier lives. The company takes a local approach – with local brands and local teams - to provide fully integrated, high-quality, and cost-effective services to government-sponsored and commercial healthcare programs, focusing on under-insured and uninsured individuals. Centene offers affordable and high-quality products to nearly 1 in 15 individuals across the nation, including Medicaid and Medicare members (including Medicare Prescription Drug Plans) as well as individuals and families served by the Health Insurance Marketplace, the TRICARE program, and individuals in correctional facilities. The Company also serves several international markets, and contracts with other healthcare and commercial organizations to provide a variety of specialty services focused on treating the whole person. Centene focuses on long-term growth and the development of its people, systems and capabilities so that it can better serve its members, providers, local communities, and government partners.
Centene uses its investor relations website to publish important information about the company, including information that may be deemed material to investors. Financial and other information about Centene is routinely posted and is accessible on Centene's investor relations website, http://www.centene.com/investors.
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This list of important factors is not intended to be exhaustive. We discuss certain of these matters more fully, as well as certain other factors that may affect our business operations, financial condition and results of operations, in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K. Due to these important factors and risks, we cannot give assurances with respect to our future performance, including without limitation our ability to maintain adequate premium levels or our ability to control our future medical and selling, general and administrative costs.
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SOURCE Centene Corporation
Company Codes: NYSE:CNC