Call to Action: Federally Insured BCBS
March 20th, 2020 | Kindred Voices
Let’s start by establishing that your Kindred Psychology clinician will not abandon you during the COVID-19 crisis due to any ridiculousness from insurance companies. Now that we are clear about that fact, we need your help!
We have recently learned that in response to the COVID-19 crisis, BCBS, Medicaid and Medicare are caring for the mental health of their insured clients by allowing providers to use our HIPAA-compliant Tele-Health platforms for conducting therapy.
However, Federal BCBS is not. Federal BCBS is requiring all clients seeking therapy via tele-health services to use their online platform, called Amwell. Using Amwell, a third party company subcontracted by Federal BCBS, clients meet virtually with a mental health clinician unknown to them. Although this may be a useful service for people seeking help for the first time, it does NOT meet the needs of those with established therapeutic relationships. To be clear: Federal BCBS will not cover mental health therapy services conducted with your current provider via HIPAA-compliant Tele-Health platforms at this time.
This restrictive structure is not in the best interest of clients currently receiving mental health services, especially during this unprecedented time of crisis. We are also concerned that specializations needed by our clients are not represented among the list of difficulties treated by Amwell (for example, grief, gender dysphoria, sexuality concerns).
In addition, it is highly unlikely that the Amwell platform and personnel are prepared to adequately meet the needs of the volume of therapeutically displaced clients who will be seeking services. This message appears on the top of the Amwell request for services:
“Please know we’re experiencing longer than usual wait times. Amwell is increasing physician availability to handle the increase in patients while maintaining reasonable wait times.”
Nebraska mental health providers, including those at Kindred Psychology, have attempted to register with Amwell, but receive an automated response indicating they are not accepting applications in our specialty area (mental health, psychology) or state. The American Psychological Association and Nebraska Psychological Association are advocating against this harmful policy decision but have not yet been successful.
This is where we need your help!
As providers, our collective voices carry a measured amount of weight. Hearing from consumers for whom this service does not meet their needs has a much stronger impact. This is the time where we demand that the insurance we pay for actually meets our needs!
Please reach out to Federal BCBS about AmWell in any (or all!) of the following ways:
Federal BCBS Customer service:
Federal BCBS Mental Health Pre-Certification:
If you have different contact numbers on your card, call those too! It’s time to put those self-advocacy skills into action!
And as a closing reminder, your Kindred Psychology clinician will not abandon you during the COVID-19 crisis.