Blue Cross of Idaho assists physicians with advanced pay program during COVID-19 pandemic

Blue Cross of Idaho assists physicians with advanced pay program during COVID-19 pandemic
Posted at 4:18 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 21:17:36-04

BOISE — Even as the community adapts their jobs, social interactions, and cleaning habits because of the coronavirus, some things remain the same and essential. One is the need for specialized doctors.

"It would be really almost catastrophic for the healthcare system if a lot of those critical doctors would no longer stay in business," said Drew Hobby, Senior Vice President for Healthcare Economics for Blue Cross of Idaho.

Even before the Governor's state of emergency declaration, Blue Cross of Idaho says it saw the number of appointments for some of its health providers starting to drop.

"We were worried about independent physicians their ability to weather the storm financially," said Hobby.

To help alleviate the financial burden, Blue Cross of Idaho now offers a cash advanced payment system that pays independent physicians what they would normally be making for this time of the year by comparing it to the number of patients they saw at this time last year.

"If we see a reduction of payments by at least a third, then what we'll do is the physician would qualify for a monthly cash advanced payment, and we would advance them April, May, and June," said Hobby.

Hobby says they only have plans until June, but could expand if needed. Even in times where it seems the world is changing rapidly, people still need to see doctors for their specific health needs, which would be hard to do if they can't afford to keep their doors open.

"We are looking at independent physicians that are seeing really major drops in volume, and you know we're worried about primary care physicians, OBGYNs, behavioral health physicians," listed Hobby.

It's an opt-in program, so no one is required to sign up, but it helps those hit hardest.

"If you are a single practitioner in a rural area, it's going to be harder for you to weather this storm," said Hobby.

Blue Cross says it made the announcement Friday evening, and by Monday morning, many physicians had already applied.

Blue Cross says it's an interest-free program, and later in the year, when things return to more normal numbers, either the physicians pay back the money, or they can reduce the amount of money they would normally pay in claims.