LifeWise Assurance Company Student Insurance Response to COVID-19

  • LifeWise Assurance Company Student Insurance stands ready to support members, employers, and healthcare providers to keep our communities locally and nationwide safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our customer service, provider network team, medical case management, and account management teams are available to help.

    Coverage updates

    • We’re waiving INN copays and deductibles for any member requiring FDA-authorized coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) testing. This applies to both the test and the related provider visit for the test if medically necessary.
    • We won’t require pre-authorization for medically necessary and FDA-authorized coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) testing. If a member requires testing and treatment for COVID-19 and there isn’t an in-network provider within a reasonable distance to perform those services, the claims will be paid as in-network. We’ll continue to provide updates as additional guidance is available.
    • All Student Insurance plans are covered.
    • Beginning Monday, March 9, Student Insurance will require all Washington employees to work from home until March 24. We don’t anticipate any disruption to our core business and expect that all business process will continue to function normally.

    If you have health plan questions not covered in these resources, call Student Insurance’s customer service team at the number on the back of the member ID card, or your provider network team. Every question will be answered as soon as possible.

    We’ll be updating the FAQ as additional information is available.

    Student Insurance frequently asked questions about COVID-19 health plan coverage

    What is Student Insurance doing to communicate about COVID-19?

    We urge all our members to take common-sense precautions to protect themselves and avoid spreading disease to others. Additionally, we urge members to stay informed on the most up-to-date information available from public health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state Departments of Health in Washington and Alaska, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

    For general questions about COVID-19, we recommend these websites:
    Washington State Department of Health
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    How is Student Insurance prepared to continue serving members?

    Student Insurance is actively monitoring the situation and preparing necessary responses. We’re already working with our own employees to ensure they’re taking appropriate preventive steps to stay healthy so we can continue providing quality service to our members.

    We’re also prepared to work with our providers, producers, employer groups, and members to address the situation as events warrant. In the meantime, we continue to be focused on providing our members peace of mind about their healthcare coverage.

    If the COVID-19 virus hits Student Insurance, will customer service and claims processing continue to function as usual?

    In an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and in alignment with recommendations from the public health departments of King and Snohomish counties, Student Insurance will require all Washington employees to work from home. The office closures will run until at least Tuesday, March 24. The decision to return to our Mountlake Terrace and North Creek campuses will depend on the status of the virus and the safety of our employees. We have also suspended all business travel for employees during this time.

    Fortunately, Student Insurance is ready to continue supporting members, employers and healthcare providers. All employees have the equipment and technology to work remotely. We don’t anticipate any disruption to our core business and expect that all business processes will continue to function normally.

    By taking these strong measures, we can both protect and continue to serve you and our region.

    If the situation changes, we’ll be in direct contact to let you know what options are available.

    How will Student Insurance issue service status updates to provider offices?

    We have plans in place to ensure we can continue providing quality service to our members through any outbreak. We’ll post updated information on all of our websites as more information is available.

    Are Student Insurance partners, (NurseLine, Teladoc etc.) prepared to continue business as usual in periods of increased volume?

    Student Insurance has identified strategic business partners that are critical to our service. We’re communicating with these vendors to make sure they have plans in place to provide critical services during this time.

    When should I go to the doctor? Should I go to the emergency room?

    We’re encouraging our members to call their providers if they suspect they have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus or if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms. If you do go to your doctor’s office, make sure you call first so that they know you’re coming and can prepare for your arrival. Nurseline or other telehealth services may be included in your health plan and are also excellent resources if you’re concerned about your symptoms.

    Who can get tested for COVID-19? What’s medical necessity?

    People with flu-like symptoms are not being tested for COVID-19 unless they meet certain criteria set by the CDC. The criteria are set by the CDC as a condition of the FDA-approved emergency use authorization, which allows new tests to be used in an emergency situation on high-risk people only. That criteria has widened in the last week to include people who are hospitalized with symptoms that are otherwise unexplained. That is in addition to testing people with travel history, and people with contacts to a known case. These criteria may evolve to include more people over time, as this situation is evolving rapidly.

    Who will this apply to?

    All Student Insurance plans.

    What about high deductible plans?

    Student Insurance is taking the position that HDHP members are eligible for cost share waivers for the COVID-19 test and related provider visit. Self-funded plans may want to consult with their tax professionals regarding this coverage for high deductible health plans.

    What is Student Insurance doing to make sure that I’ll be paid for my services?

    We’ll continue to operate as normally as possible. If there’s an issue where we aren’t able to process claims, we’ll notify you immediately.

    Is there anything I need to know about limitations on payment to me in the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19 related care?

    Normal plan benefits apply in this situation for our members. For Student Insurance members, you can check eligibility and benefits on our website.

    Can I offer telehealth services to my patients?

    Yes, you can offer telehealth services for your patients. Virtual care is covered under the scope of your current contract with Student Insurance, as long as the care provided is appropriate within the scope of the provider’s licensure.

    Can my patients refill prescriptions early if needed?

    Yes. We’ve adjusted our “refill too soon” (Emergency Access to Benefits) policy for medications to ensure customers have needed medications on hand. This allows our pharmacies to override refill too soon edits during a declared emergency at the pharmacy counter.

    We’re also reviewing rejected claims to see if members are getting the access they need to their medications. Also, if we see any drug shortages, we’ll seek other options for use to meet member needs. We’ll continue to monitor the situation with our pharmacy partners, so members won’t run out of needed medications during this time.

    How is Student Insurance responding to reports the FDA is warning of potential drug shortages?

    • We see drug shortages in the United States frequently based on manufacturer issues, raw product issues, etc.
    • It is likely that we may see in the upcoming days and weeks new shortages reported based on the virus outbreak impact to manufacturers in China.
    • Student Insurance will respond to these shortages the same way we do today (albeit there may be more of them) by ensuring the following:
      • The Pharmacy team will check public and industry resources each day to identify new shortages that may impact our members
      • We will then review our medical policies to determine if adjustments are needed to ensure access to needed alternative medications (i.e. should we change our preferred drugs or update PA criteria to account for shortages both short and long term)
      • Our review processes today already account for drug shortage situations. If a drug we require as first line therapy is in short supply, we will waive this requirement based on market realities and approve coverage where appropriate where preferred formulary alternatives are in short supply.

    Are there specific coes I should be using for the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak?

    The CDC has released new ICD-10-CM Interim Coding Guidance for COVID-19. As we receive more information, we’ll continue to update you.

    What is Student Insurance’s corporate approach?

    Within our own operations, we’re following the recommended precautions of the state Departments of Health in Washington and Alaska, as well as the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our corporate guidelines include:

    • Maintaining core business process and functions while our Western Washington campuses are closed. Our Spokane and Alaska offices remain open at this time. Encouraging employees to regularly wash their hands and follow other hygiene precautions
    • Encouraging employees to stay home if they’re not feeling well
    • Restricting business travel unless exceptional situations arise
    • Postponing large, in-person employee meetings or training sessions
    • Increasing the use of Microsoft Teams and other remote collaboration tools to reduce in-person meetings