COVID-19 Insurance Updates

The Department of Insurance has issued an emergency rule and two bulletins in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. They apply to health plans regulated in Texas.

Effective March 17, 2020, the Department of Insurance issued emergency rule 28 TAC §35.1 requiring insurers to pay the same amount for telemedicine services, including covered mental health services, as they do for in-person services. The rule applies to in-network services for state-regulated health plans.

On March 19, 2020, Insurance Commissioner Sullivan updated Bulletin B-0005-20. This bulletin encourages insurers to waive costs relating to the testing, prevention, and treatment of COVID-19.

On March 23, 2020, Insurance Commissioner Sullivan issued Bulletin B-0007-20. As a result of Gov. Abbott’s March 20, 2020, order to suspend claim-handling deadlines imposed by Texas law, as well as the commissioner’s determination that the COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster under Texas law, the bulletin announces that the agency is extending claim-handling deadlines imposed by the state’s prompt payment laws for an additional 15 days to help carriers respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This extension will be in effect until the governor’s suspension and commissioner’s declaration are lifted.

The bulletin also encourages carriers to use grace periods for payments, temporary suspension of premium payments, payment plans, and other actions to allow continuing insurance coverage as appropriate.

Employers with policies regulated by Texas should be aware of these developments.

Emergency Rule 28 TAC §35.1 »
Bulletin B-0005-20 »
Bulletin B-0007-20 »