Are you aware of your health insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic? Hardware Retailing spoke with Bob Chiesa, president and CEO of Custom Benefits Insurance Group, Inc. to gain answers to some frequently asked questions regarding insurance benefits during this crisis.
Please note: This is a rapidly evolving situation with changes and updates every day. The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and Hardware Retailing are committed to bringing you relevant, timely information as it becomes available.
How are insurance companies managing insurance claims and benefits during COVID-19, especially in relation to reduced hours?
Bob Chiesa (BC): One of the key phrases of any insurance policy is to say, “You have to be actively at work.” To be covered by your group plan, such as medical, dental, vision and life or disability insurance, you need to be a full-time employee. And if you are quarantined, you are not working, and a lot of companies are cutting back on hours. So, until this situation settles down, insurance companies are making that hourly requirement very lenient, if they are even enforcing it all.
Are COVID-19 tests covered by insurance?
BC: This is a positive development. A majority of medical insurance carriers are waiving the copays for COVID-19 testing. Typically, any time you have a test done, you would be subject to the deductible, coinsurance or copay, but currently they are waiving the copays.
What other health insurance benefits are available during this time?
BC: The health insurance industry is encouraging people to seek initial treatment virtually. Nearly every major health insurance plan provides for virtual care—which allows you to see a doctor without having to leave your home—as an alternative to urgent care or the ER. This virtual visit would typically be subject to an office visit copay, but during these unprecedented times, insurance companies are waiving the copay. This doesn’t apply just to COVID-19 cases. Classic examples for virtual care, also known as telehealth visits, include evaluations for colds, flu, severe headaches, sprains or strains, rashes, sinus infections, pinkeye, minor conditions or to answer questions about medications. In these cases, you can simply pick up the phone or log in through your computer for care.
Does disability insurance offer any coverage during the pandemic?
BC: Some bigger hardware stores may carry disability insurance, which offers coverage if you are severely sick and unable to work. A sickness benefit doesn’t pay until typically a week or two weeks out, which would cover something more serious, such as if you were diagnosed with COVID-19. However, it should be noted that quarantine itself does not count as a medical illness.
How can retailers learn more about their coverage during COVID-19?
BC: The most reliable source for information will always be your health insurance agent. These are unprecedented times that no one has seen or experienced. We just all need to work together, and we will all get through it together.