Aetna & COVID-19
Since winter of 2020, Aetna has continued to publish updates when needed regarding its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the benefits it's providing to help its members weather this storm.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Employers
We know that 2020 has been one of the most difficult years for businesses in decades, in part because rules, regulations, and exceptions to rules surrounding COVID are constantly changing. Aetna is here for employers. They can answer questions about:
Resources for Employees
This link offers tools to help answer your employees' questions about:
- Testing and treatment options
- Virtual care
- Staying mentally strong during COVID
- And other needs they may have at this time
Here's a link to a general Member FAQs if none of their questions concern the above.
--Update from Aetna on 3/23/2020--
--For groups of less than 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees--
1. Furlough versus Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Employers are under the strain of two important issues. Do they lay off employees due to the disruption caused in the economy by the virus? How do they work with employees who contract the virus; who care for others with it; or who have to stay home to care for children displaced by daycare or school closings?
There are two big items that came down on March 18 in response to this.
The first was guidance from the State of Michigan on how to furlough employees. To furlough means to put someone on temporary leave. You can read all about it here: email from State. Governor Whitmer just passed an executive order stating that employees who go on temporary leave are still eligible for unemployment and the groups won't have to pay an increase in unemployment charges. This is a good thing because it ensures employees can still receive some sort of paycheck (but as some of you well know, it's nothing like the real deal).
Temporary leave is a better move for employees than a full termination because it allows them to remain on benefits. Of course the provisions of each of our carriers' contract have to allow this. This is a very fluid situation and we are awaiting guidance from many of our carriers on how they'll handle this. In the section below I outline what we know so far.
Option two is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which President Trump signed into law yesterday. This protects employees who go on leave as a result of government mandating quarantine for the following reasons:
- is subject to a government quarantine or isolation order for COVID-19;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine for COVID-19;
- is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation order; or
- is caring for their child because the child's school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider for the child is unavailable, due to COVID-19 reasons.
This is a good option because employers don't have to place an employee on leave. They can still pay wages and even get a tax break because of it. You can read all about it here. In addition, all the money employers pay for health benefits qualifies for the tax refund.
Aetna has extended their employee assistance program to friends of families of their health plan members. You can access it 1-833-327-AETNA (1-833-327-2386). This is a confidential line whereby you can talk to a licensed professional who might be able to suggest some next steps for finding comfort.
2. Our Carrier Response Right Now
Aetna's policy allows for employees on temporary leave to remain on the plan for an extra month following the current month they go on leave. So in our instance, they can remain on the plan til the end of April. Aetna is still working to determine if they will allow thsi to go longer. Aetna's rehire date allows for members to start back on the plan the day they come back to work. For more information on Aetna's resources for COVID including how they cover claims, $0 Teladoc and EAP extended to pretty much anyone who wants to access it, click here.
--Update from Aetna on 3/11/2020--
CVS Health announces COVID-19 resources for Aetna members
In response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, CVS Health announced a series of steps designed to support the health and well-being of Aetna members, ensure patient access to medication, and remove barriers to care.
- Aetna will waive co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy will cover the cost of physician-ordered testing for patients who meet CDC guidelines, which can be done in any approved laboratory location. Aetna will waive the member costs associated with diagnostic testing for all Commercial Plans,
- For the next 90 days, Aetna will offer zero co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason. Aetna members should use telemedicine as their first line of defense in order to limit potential exposure in physician offices. Cost sharing will be waived for all virtual visits through Aetna-covered Teladoc® offerings and in-network providers delivering synchronous virtual care (live videoconferencing) for all Commercial plan designs.
- CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging people at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay at home as much as possible, this is a convenient option to avoid coming to the pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.
- Aetna will now offer 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions for Commercial members.
- Aetna will waive early refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications for all members with pharmacy benefits administered through CVS Caremark.
- Through Aetna's Healing Better program, members who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive a care package containing CVS over-the-counter medications to help relieve symptoms. The package will also include personal and household cleaning supplies to help keep others in the home protected from potential exposure.
- Through existing care management programs, Aetna will proactively reach out to members most at-risk for COVID-19. Care managers will walk members through what they can do to protect themselves, where to get information on the virus, and where to go to get tested.
CVS Health is also implementing the following programs to educate members about COVID-19 and help address any associated anxiety and stress:
- Opening Crisis Response Lines for all Aetna (Commercial, Medicare, Medicaid) and Caremark members who may be experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19.
- Expanding 24x7 access to the Aetna Nurse Medical Line for all Aetna and Caremark members.
- Providing Aetna plan sponsors with a Resources for Living toolkit with materials specifically developed for members experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19.
Containing the spread of this epidemic and equipping members with the information they need is a top priority we all share. Aetna has taken these actions in support of this objective, recognizing the need to act quickly. At the same time, it is important to us to work closely with you as a partner to bring the right solutions to our mutual customers as this very fluid situation evolves.
Please contact your Aetna representative with any questions.
To follow CVS Health and Aetna news, visit the Newsroom and the frequently-updated COVID-19 resource center.
Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).
This message is for informational purposes only, is not medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change. For more information about Aetna® plans, refer to aetna.com.
©2020 Aetna Inc.
Click this link https://www.uhc.com/health-and-wellness/health-topics/covid-19 to be taken directly to Aetna's COVID response page. Click here https://www.aetna.com/individuals-families/member-rights-resources/need-to-know-coronavirus.html to view a developing list of FAQs and the latest updates.