Bloomberg Law
April 2, 2020, 4:40 PM

Hospitals Press Insurers for Faster Payments in Covid-19 Crunch

Tony Pugh
Tony Pugh

The hospital industry is asking major health insurers to follow Medicare’s lead and allow providers to receive their payments faster or more frequently during the Covid-19 emergency.

Doing so would “make a significant difference in whether a hospital or health system keeps their doors open during this critical time,” said Richard Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, in an letter Wednesday to insurance industry executives.

But Kristine Grow, a spokesperson with America’s Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement that decisions about payments should be made on a case-by-case basis. “Not every hospital is in need of advance payments, and not every plan is able to make them,” Grow said.

Pollack called on insurers to adequately cover Covid-19-related services delivered in hospitals and at other care sites. Hospitals also want major private health insurers to cut administrative processes that can delay payments, such as requiring prior authorization or pre-approval for certain medical services.

“In addition, we urge insurers to expedite processing of outstanding claims that have resulted in billions of dollars” in yet-unpaid bills, Pollack said in the letter to officials at CVS Health, Aetna Inc., Anthem Inc., UnitedHealthcare Services Inc., Cigna, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Grow, in the statement, said many private insurers have already “eliminated prior authorization requirements during this pandemic to ensure swift treatment of those who have COVID-19, and to ensure swift movement to alternative sites of care for patients who don’t.”

She also said hospitals “do not need to worry about patient reimbursement, collection, or bad debt.”

While insurers are providing additional resources and enhanced coverage during the pandemic, “Those resources are not infinite,” Grow said. Private insurers could pay up to $251 billion for COVID-19 testing, treatment and care, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Pugh in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at; Brent Bierman at