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Coverage and Eligibility

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) health plans cover medically necessary health benefits, including physician services, hospitalization and emergency services.

In addition, we have put in place working solutions to help our members get the care they need during these uncertain times.

With a BCBSIL health plan, our members have access to care for COVID-19 related health issues. Members can use the doctors, labs and facilities in their BCBSIL health plan’s provider network for:

  • Tests to diagnose COVID-19
  • COVID-19 testing-related doctor’s visits
  • COVID-19 treatment

In response to the pandemic, BCBSIL made some temporary changes impacting coverage for various services. Some of these changes will end with the end of the public health emergency. Some may end sooner, depending on the member’s plan. To understand what is currently in effect, please view effective coverage dates.

COVID-19 Vaccines

With a BCBSIL health plan, members have access to COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to them. Members should talk with their doctors about when they should get vaccinated once available and discuss any questions they have about the vaccines.

While most plans cover COVID-19 vaccines at no cost, some self-funded groups do not cover preventive services, including COVID-19 vaccines. Members who are unsure what their plan covers should contact their company’s benefits administrator or call BCBSIL Customer Service at the number listed on their member ID card.

Cost-Sharing Waived

To make it easier for our members to get the care and treatment they need amid the COVID-19 outbreak, we are temporarily waiving member cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles and coinsurance, related to testing for COVID-19.

  • For testing: Members will not pay copay, deductible or coinsurance for medically necessary lab tests to diagnose for COVID-19 until the end of the federal public health emergency (as required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act).
  • For testing-related visits: Out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary care are covered when using network providers in any setting until the end of the federal public health emergency (as required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act).
  • For treatment: Costs are covered for treatment received April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, at network facilities and for out-of-network emergencies. As of Jan. 1, 2021, members will be responsible for the out-of-pocket costs associated with claims for treatment. The policy applies to BCBSIL members of these plans:
    • Fully insured group
    • Individual and family
    • Medicare (excluding Part D)
    • Medicare Supplement
    • Medicaid
    • HSA qualified high-deductible health
    • Self-insured and split-funded groups that have opted in

Telehealth Expanded

We are offering additional options for telehealth services to give fully insured members improved access to care while reducing their risk of exposure.

Effective March 10, 2020, we began covering telehealth "virtual" visits with in-network and out-of-network Illinois providers for eligible BCBSIL PPO and Blue Choice®​ members, consistent with the terms of members' benefit plans. Coverage for this site-of-care option remains the same under the current Illinois COVID-19 Telehealth Services Executive Order – including the telehealth cost-sharing waiver for fully insured groups.

For Medicare (not Part D) and Medicare Supplement plans, the cost-share waiver ends Dec. 31, 2020.

Telemedicine services may be available for members with plans that include MDLIVE®, our telemedicine service provider, or any in-network provider who offers the service through two-way, live interactive telephone and/or digital video consultations.

Telehealth benefits may differ based on the plan.

Self-funded customers have some choices about how we administer COVID-19 treatment coverage for their employees. Benefits for members of self-funded plans may vary. They should call BCBSIL Customer Service at the number listed on their member ID card for more information.

Prescription Coverage

Members with pharmacy benefits through Prime Therapeutics®** can get an early refill on many current prescriptions. They can also sign up for mail-order delivery (up to a 90-day supply of covered non-specialty medications) with AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, or by calling the Customer Service number on their BCBSIL member ID card.

Members with these Medicare and Medicaid plans can get 90-day fills through mail order:

Prior Authorizations

For Transfers. Prior authorization from an inpatient hospital to an in-network medically appropriate, post-acute site of care such as long-term acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities will not be required through Feb. 28, 2021. This will help promote availability of acute care capacity for COVID-19 patients during this public health emergency. It also allows our members to continue to access medically necessary care. Transfers to a behavioral health facility will still require prior authorization.

On Previously Approved Elective Surgeries, Procedures and Therapies.  We are temporarily extending approvals on existing prior authorizations for non-emergent elective surgeries, procedures, therapies and home visits, if the service is provided by Dec. 31, 2020. This applies to services that were originally approved or scheduled between Jan. 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020.

Relaxed Eligibility Requirements

Groups can maintain employees who were enrolled as of March 20, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2020, regardless of the eligibility definition stated in their plan or the BPA. This includes reduced work hours, furlough, leave of absence or layoffs. This flexibility does not apply to those who are newly electing coverage via a special enrollment period.

See what is being communicated to our members about these coverage changes.

*Virtual Visits may not be available on all plans. Virtual Visits are subject to the terms and conditions of your benefit plan, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Non-emergency medical service in Arkansas and Idaho is limited to interactive audio/video (video only) for initial consultation. Service availability depends on location at the time of consultation.

MDLIVE®, a separate company, operates and administers the virtual visit program for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and is solely responsible for its operations and that of its contracted providers.

MDLIVE® and the MDLIVE logo are registered trademarks of MDLIVE, Inc., and may not be used without written permission.