Health insurance has always been a highly valued employee benefit, and now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more true. Access to healthcare, including access to health insurance coverage, is more important than ever, though coverage does not come without a price. Healthcare premiums have risen annually, a trend that will continue in 2021, even though insurers have expressed extreme uncertainty about what utilization and enrollment will look like. As “elective” procedures are being canceled and more routine care is delayed, it is hard to say how many people will be able to access needed care if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on into 2021. This is where (we think) insurers should step in. It is no secret that a large number of people delay major procedures until the end of the year when they have met their deductibles. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely throw a wrench in this plan as hospitals must endure another round of elective procedure cancellations. What if insurers allowed deductible limits to extend into even just the first quarter of 2021? This would give members an additional window of time to receive the care they have continually had to delay, without having to pay for major procedures out of pocket. We dive more into this idea here, but in our opinion, this is the first step insurers could take to demonstrably put their members’ health first. After all, it is time for consumers to be able to see their health insurer as a benefit, rather than a roadblock. Will insurers step up? We will wait and see.
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