Sandra Clarke, chief financial officer at Blue Shield of California, told The Wall Street Journal that claims at the nonprofit health insurer have dropped 20 percent as providers have seen a steep drop in patients due to COVID-19.
With fewer claims to pay out, some health insurers are using their improved balance sheets to help struggling providers secure loans, pay claims earlier and, in some cases, underwrite patients’ outstanding bills.
Many doctors, clinics and hospitals have suffered financially during the coronavirus pandemic because lucrative elective surgeries have been delayed and demand for nonemergency care has declined. The scenario has been particularly difficult for health-care providers that spent more to ramp up capabilities to treat Covid-19 but haven’t seen a surge in patients.
About 30 U.S. states have stopped or restricted elective surgeries since March 15, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The American Hospital Association has asked insurers to help provide financial support through advanced or accelerated payments.
The number of claims filed in March declined 20% at Blue Shield of California, according to finance chief Sandra Clarke. The Oakland, Calif.-based insurer has set aside $200 million to act as a guarantor on loans for hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics and to purchase expected insurance claims in advance, she said.
Clarke also said Blue Shield is helping certain fee-based providers switch to fixed monthly payments to ensure a steadier stream of income, and it is underwriting some patients’ financial obligations to improve cash flow
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