Insurers Work To Ensure Access to Care for Displaced Californians
California insurers are taking steps to ensure that policyholders who have been evacuated from their homes in the wake of two large wildfires will have uninterrupted access to health care and prescription medications, Payers & Providers reports (Payers & Providers, 9/16).
Background on Fires
More than 23,000 Californians have been displaced by the wildfires burning south of Sacramento and north of San Francisco. As of Tuesday, about 138,660 acres were consumed by the two fires.
Mark Bove, senior research meteorologist at reinsurance firm Munich Reinsurance America, said the fire near San Francisco is on track to be the most destructive in the state -- when measured by insurance costs -- since 1991 (California Healthline, 9/16).
Details of Insurers' Responses
Several California insurers have taken action to assist their members who have been affected by the two fires (Payers & Providers, 9/16).
For instance, Anthem Blue Cross has announced it will:
- Extend its deadlines for filing claims;
- Reimburse out-of-network emergency and urgent care services in several counties at in-network rates;
- Suspend early refill limits for prescription drugs and allow policyholders to have their prescriptions refilled at any pharmacy; and
- Waive fees associated with utilization management reviews (Anthem release, 9/16).
- Extend the availability of mental health care; and
- Replace medications that were lost in the fires.
In addition, Blue Shield and Health Net said additional rule changes for members affected by the fires could be forthcoming (Payers & Providers, 9/16).
Health Problems Could Worsen
Meanwhile, experts say that smoke from the wildfires could cause respiratory problems for millions of Californians.
Particulates from the smoke can cause:
- Coughing; and
- Chronic lung disease.
Sylvia Vanderspek, chief air quality planner at the California Air Resources Board, said, "If you can smell smoke, then basically you're breathing it" (Stockton, Wired, 9/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.