With Hurricane Florence bearing down on North Carolina, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has suspended deadlines for paying bills, filing claims and submitting other time-sensitive information.
The state’s largest health insurer, with 3.8 million customers in North Carolina, said Friday that some customers will be given a 30-day extension on filing bills, submitting claims, filing appeals, requesting authorization for payment, and adding a newborn or adopted child to the customer’s policy.
The Durham-insurer is also lifting a restriction on getting emergency prescription drug refills. Blue Cross is offering this benefit for customers who lost, forgot or damaged their medications during the hurricane.
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The extension ends Oct. 13, or whenever federal authorities lift a federal area disaster declaration.
But the extension doesn’t automatically apply to about 1.8 million Blue Cross customers in North Carolina.
For example, the extension doesn’t automatically apply to 1.3 million people covered by “self-funded” large employer plans that Blue Cross administers but where the employer is taking the financial risk for cost overruns from employee medical claims. However, these large employers can decide to offer the extension to their workers, too.
The State Health Plan, which is self-funded, has opted to offer the extension, said Blue Cross spokesman Austin Vevurka. However, the pharmacy waiver doesn’t apply, because Blue Cross doesn’t administer pharmacy benefits for the State Health Plan, Vevurka said. The State Health Plan covers 727,000 employees, teachers and retirees.
Blue Cross customers who are not sure if they qualify for the extension can call the customer service number on the back of their membership card to find out if they’re employer is self-funded.
The extension also doesn’t apply to 160,000 Blue Cross customers on a Medicare supplement.
The extension does apply to individual Blue Cross policies, including those purchased on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. It also applies to Blue Cross’s 73,000 Medicare Advantage members.
And it applies to Blue Cross small business customers and large business customers that are “fully insured.”
“Fully insured” means that Blue Cross, as the insurer, is on the hook financially if medical expenses incurred by a company’s employees in a given year exceed total monthly premiums the employees paid for their health insurance.