CMS/HHS Issues FAQs on Essential Health Benefits and COVID-19
As the President issues a state of emergency in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) on COVID – 19 and essential health benefits (EHB) coverage through the individual and small group insurance markets.
These FAQs state first that EHB generally include coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. However, the exact coverage details and cost-sharing will depend upon the individual’s plan, and some plans may require preauthorization before these services are covered. Under current regulations, each state and the District of Columbia generally determines the EHB that plans in their locality must cover. Moreover, many states are encouraging, and some are requiring, insurance carriers to cover a variety of COVID-19 services, including testing and treatment, without cost-sharing or preauthorization.
The FAQs went on to say that medically necessary isolation and quarantine required by and under the supervision of a medical provider during hospital admission is generally covered as EHB. However, quarantine outside of a hospital setting, such as a home, is not a medical benefit, nor is it required as EHB.
Finally, the FAQs addressed the possibility of a future COVID-19 vaccine. Although not yet available, all vaccines are analyzed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who will recommend whether the vaccine should be included as EHB without cost sharing and before any applicable deductible. Current guidance indicates that the process of evaluation and final implementation as an EHB can take over a year, but plans may voluntarily choose to cover a vaccine before that time. The FAQs also note that participants may use the plan’s drug exemptions process to request the vaccine be covered.