Insurer expands free telehealth, home medication delivery

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Neurocore Brain Performance Center is offering free telehealth counseling services to medical personnel and first responders until May 1. Photo by iStock

A locally based health plan is expanding free telehealth to all its members in March and April in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Priority Health, based in Grand Rapids, said Friday that it is expanding its existing $0 copay telehealth, also known as virtual care, to include all lines of business through April 30.

This means essentially all of the company’s nearly 1 million members across commercial, individual, Medicaid and Medicare plans will have virtual access to medical professionals for nonemergency care at no additional cost.

The insurer is encouraging members to use this new benefit amid the COVID-19 outbreak to mitigate further spread of the illness and to avoid overwhelming Michigan health care facilities.

The new policy includes eligible HSA high-deductible health plans and self-funded employer groups unless they contact Priority Health to make other arrangements.

The change applies to any primary care virtual visit for ailments such as cough, cold and flu, back pain, sprains and strains, and more.

“In times of crisis, we have a responsibility not only to our members but to the larger communities we serve,” said Joan Budden, president and CEO of Priority Health.

“Expanding our virtual care services to all members allows us to ensure people are getting the right care when they need it and that we are also doing our part to help support our health care partners and reduce traffic to these over-burdened facilities.”

Priority Health also recently announced it will fully cover the cost of physician-ordered COVID-19 testing and labs for all members. At this time, patients can only be tested for COVID-19 if a physician deems a test medically necessary. The insurer also has implemented a work-from-home policy for all eligible employees and is working with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s team in Lansing to ensure alignment on action steps.

To access virtual care, members can download the Priority Health app, available on the App Store or Google Play, and log in to their member account.

They also can access their online member account on a desktop, laptop or other devices.

Home medication delivery

Priority Health also announced it expanded access to home medication deliveries for all its members through April 17. Members now can take advantage of free home delivery options offered by CVS, as well as their own local pharmacies that offer this service.

Members also can continue to use the company’s existing free mail order option offered through Express Scripts, which provides 90-day prescriptions. Delivery is free, but a copay still applies for the cost of medications.

“We know how crucial it is for people to continue receiving and taking the medications they need,” said Christina Barrington, vice president of pharmacy programs at Priority Health. “These measures will allow us to continue serving our members while enabling them to continue practicing social distancing.”

The average time for CVS to deliver medication to patients is 1-2 days through either UPS or FedEx. Priority Health members who would like to use this delivery service should contact CVS through CVS.com, the CVS mobile application or by contacting their local CVS pharmacy directly.

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