Health Insurance Providers Working With CDC and Experts on Coronavirus

By Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya reports on wide range of issues. Her area of expertise is in Indian and South Asian geopolitics. She has reported from the very volatile India-Pakistan border and has contributed to mainstream print media in India for about a decade. Community media, sustainable development, and leadership remain her key areas of interest.
February 28, 2020Updated: February 28, 2020

American health care providers are working with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and health experts in preparation for further spread of the coronavirus inside the country.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a national association for health care insurance providers, said in a statement on Feb. 26 that the health care community is working “across the nation to share information, mitigate health risks to Americans, and keep Americans informed.”

AHIP said the health insurance providers are carefully monitoring the situation across the country and are following their “emergency preparedness plans, which are always in place to address situations that include global pandemics.”

“Those plans include determinations about whether policy changes are needed to ensure that people get essential care. That may include easing network requirements, prescription drug coverage, referral requirements, and/or cost sharing,” it added.

On Tuesday, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex M. Azar said that the general risk to the American public from coronavirus is low, but there’s a risk it could change quickly.

“There is now community transmission in a number of countries, including outside of Asia. That is deeply concerning, and community spread in other countries will make successful containment at our borders harder and harder,” said Azar.

“That is why we have already been working closely with state, local, and private sector partners to prepare for mitigating the virus’s potential spread in the United States, because we will likely see more cases here,” he added.

The HHS secretary said the White House requested Congress on Monday for $ 2.5 billion for preparedness and response.

Drug Affordability

The Epoch Times contacted AHIP, but it remained unavailable for detailed comments when this report was filed. However, a Boston based health expert told The Epoch Times that the drug affordability concerning the coronavirus is “hard to gauge.”

“Given the level of economic and clinical concern, political concern is likely to follow. Should that happen, I think we can expect that any vaccine will be heavily subsidized publicly in the U.S.

“As with most other viruses, pharmaceutical treatments are unlikely soon. So medical costs should not be a big factor,” said Alan Sager, Professor and Director of the Health Reform Program at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Sager, however, said that the cost of testing and in-patient hospital care of pneumonia and other complications is likely to be high.

“Patients facing high OOPs [out-of-pocket] for deductibles and co-insurance could be very hard-hit financially,” he said.

Sager raised concerns about the preparedness of state, county, and city health departments and called them “chronically under-financed.”

“Some are professionally competent and others less so. If an influx of money arrived from Washington, how many would be institutionally (organizationally) and professionally prepared to use that money effectively?” he said.