Last Week’s Topic: The Coronavirus

Our new site is being launched on March 17th, 2020 – St. Patrick’s Day. Normally, this is a time of celebration, but we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, so our topic of discussion for this week is the Coronavirus, which causes Covid-19. Below are a number of resources that are worth taking a look at. If you have any suggestions that should be added to the list, please email Eric.

The Coronavirus: Is it really that bad?

Here’s my video update for the week. The first one at least – there may be more, so be sure to check back often. -Eric

Friday the 13th Coronavirus Webinar

We recorded this one-hour CE webinar on Friday, March 13. A lot has changed since then… Note: you cannot receive CE credit for watching the recorded session

Coronavirus Calculator

Here’s a calculator I designed to help predict how many cases we could see in the weeks to come. It all depends on how quickly it’s spreading, but what you’ll find is the numbers get really big really quickly. You can play around with it by entering the daily increase % and mortality rate in the yellow boxes.

This site is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and contains some really good info about symptoms and treatment. It includes resources related to travel, schools & childcare, businesses & employers, and community & faith-based organizations.  You can also find the latest federal recommendations and guidance.

CDC announcement about mass gatherings

On March 15, the CDC is recommended that, “for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.” Since then, the recommendation has been to “cancel gatherings of more than 10 people for organizations that serve higher-risk populations.”

The latest numbers from worldometer

This site reports the latest coronavirus cases and deaths by country. This site is more up-to-date than (above) or the Kaiser Family Foundation Cornavirus Tracker (below).

NYT United States Coronavirus Tracker

Here’s another tracker from the New York Times, specific to cases in the United States.

KFF Cornavirus Tracker

This site reports coronavirus cases and deaths by country, but it appears that there’s a reporting lag since it relies on the official numbers released by the CDC.

How the coronavirus compares to SARS, swine flu, Zika, and other epidemics

I keep hearing that the coronavirus isn’t as bad as the flu. Yes it is – it appears it’s at least ten times as deadly. Others compare it to SARS or the swine flu, which is fair, but this is different. SARS and MERS were more deadly but more contained; the coronavirus is more widespread and more people are being infected. H1N1, or swine flu, was more widespread, but the mortality rate was far lower than the coronavirus. For those who think we’re overreacting, this is worth a read.

EMTALA: Hospitals Must Treat All Patients Regardless of Ability to Pay

With the coronavirus, a lot of people will show up at the emergency room. As the federal government struggles to figure out who will pay not only for testing and treatment, a federal law does require hospitals to treat the sick patients. From Dr. Eric Bricker with AHealthcareZ: “The EMTALA law requires hospitals to treat all patients regardless of their ability to pay. EMTALA is an unfunded mandate by the federal government and EMPLOYER health plans pay for it.”

Texas Senate Bill 1264: Protecting consumers from surprise medical bills

When Texans show up at the emergency room with coronavirus symptoms, those with state-regulated (fully-insured) health plans will have some protection against surprise medical bills thanks to a new state law that went into effect January 1, 2020. This is the TDI resource page about Senate Bill 1264.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas notice about Senate Bill 1264

In Texas, a large percentage of those with state regulated plans in the individual and small group markets are covered through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. This is a notice that BCBSTX released on February 28, 2020 about suprprise medical bills and the new law. Brokers who want to share information with their clients about the coronavirus should consider forwarding this notice.

IRS Notice 2020-15 about HSA plans that provide up-front coverage for coronavirus costs

On March 11, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service advised that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can pay for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status. This also means that an individual with an HDHP that covers these costs may continue to contribute to a health savings account (HSA).

Medicare & Cornavirus

This page provides important information for people with Medicare about how testing and treatment will be covered. It also has a number of tips. Good info worth sharing with your clients.

Health Insurance Providers Respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Great list from AHIP of the different insurance carriers and how they are covering the costs of the coronavirus.

Analysis: Months of social distancing may be needed

This NPR report summarizes an analysis by the Imperial College London about how bad this could get and how long it could last. Scary but definitely worth a read. There’s a short 2 minute recording on the page that summarizes the analysis. You should also read this Twitter thread by Professor Jeremy C. Young about the analysis. If you want to read the Imperial College analysis, here it is.