Are Health Insurers Easing Restrictions on Medical Supply and In-network Status for Harvey Victims?

Texans enrolled in Medicare that had medical supplies that were lost or damaged due to Hurricane Harvey will have access to an altered set of rules for a short time.Medicare will pay to replace products like home oxygen equipment, breathing devices, diabetes testing supplies, artificial limbs, canes and wheelchairs, the federal agency that oversees the program said in announcement Thursday.Rules that require patients to see a physician face-to-face and obtain documents showing new medical necessity are also being waived.The temporary rules apply to those living in Houston, Port Arthur and Beaumont in Texas, as well as Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not state how long the altered rules would be in effect. The effort is one of several underway to ease the health insurance burdens for individuals impacted by the storm.For example, earlier this week the Texas Association of Health Plans, a statewide trade association representing commercial and public health plans, released a list of resources its members are offering. Several came at no cost to patients, including free counseling, telemedicine visits and nursing helplines.The Texas Department of Insurance is also "encouraging insurers to be as flexible as possible with their policy holders," by waiving certain restrictions that impact access for those in the disaster region. These includes allowing individuals to go out-of-network without penalty, authorizing payment for up to a 90-day supply of covered prescriptions, and paying for necessary medical supplies regardless when the service was most recently provided to the patient.  Continue reading...

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