Health Plans Assist Victims of California Wildfires

Jose Santana by on Jan 02, 2018

In the wake of the recent natural disasters, many affected individuals are facing challenges in accessing healthcare services. With health issues and hardships arising from the devastation caused by the recent southern California and Los Angeles wildfires and preceding extreme weather, healthcare companies are filling the void by offering free services or setting up medical and mental health hotlines. Telehealth companies have extended their services to individuals in disaster-afflicted areas with free physician video visits to help treat and triage medical and mental health issues from skin burns to stress, anxiety, grief, and depression. Health plans have also reacted in support of members and non-members alike by implementing temporary coverage and benefits policies, donating money to relief efforts or offering helpful safety tips.

Cigna added multiple alerts to the public and member site homepages that lead to a page with information for those affected by the wildfires. Specifically, the firm is eliminating the need for members to obtain prior authorization for acute medical and behavioral healthcare through January 7, 2018; the firm is authorizing out-of-network services as in-network for members who cannot access in-network non-emergency services; for members whose medication was lost or damaged, the firm is authorizing emergency refills at local pharmacies in Santa Barbara, San Fernando and Ventura counties.

Cigna Public Site Homepage Alert

Similarly, Humana added public and private site alerts expressing support for members, employees and communities affected by the California wildfires. The firm also included information on support services, including waiving requirements for primary care provider referrals and prior authorizations, authorizing out-of-network services as in-network, suspending restrictions on refills for members with a pharmacy benefit and opening up a toll-free crisis hotline and counseling services for any individual. Humana also provides safety tips for those in the wildfire’s path.

Humana Public Site Homepage Alert

Kaiser Permanente added public and member site homepage alerts, regarding the fires in southern California, that link to a page with prescription assistance information and safety tips for residents and Kaiser Permanente patients, members and staff. The firm also included a public site press release pledging $350,000 to the United Way of Ventura County Thomas Fire Disaster Relief Fund and $250,000 to the American Red Cross to provide support for relief and recovery efforts in impacted communities.

Kaiser Permanente Public Site Homepage Alert

UnitedHealthcare issued a press release that outlined the steps that it, in conjunction with Optum, is taking to help members impacted by the wildfires. Support includes assisting members who may need help finding an in-network care provider and obtaining early prescription refills as well as offering a free 24/7 emotional-support line to help people manage their stress and anxiety.

About The Author

Jose Santana

Jose is an Analyst for Healthcare Monitor at Corporate Insight. Read more