Today Regence health plans announced they will cover the administration of a third COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at no cost to members who have received two previous mRNA vaccines, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This policy update follows last week’s announcement from the White House and top medical and public health experts and the Department of Health and Human Services that provides new guidance encouraging adult Americans to seek a third COVID-19 booster vaccine beginning eight months after full vaccination with either the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine. Additional details are expected in the coming days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended, and the FDA approved, a third mRNA dose for all immunocompromised people to improve their immune response and boost protection from COVID-19 variants; FDA approval of a third shot for additional eligible adults is still pending, with additional guidance for individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

To help support provider partners who are facing full emergency rooms and ICU beds, Regence this week removed pre-authorization requirements to move members to post-acute in-network care settings such as skilled nursing facilities, long-term acute care hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. This allows hospitals to quickly move patients to alternate facilities when needed.

“In the face of surging cases fueled by the Delta variant, we will continue to remove barriers so our members can seek COVID-19 vaccines and care at no out-of-pocket costs,” said Dr. Marion Couch, senior vice president of Health Care Services and chief medical officer for Regence. “The science is clear: Vaccinations save lives and help avoid additional strains on our emergency rooms and ICUs. We strongly encourage all who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Regence members can continue to access the COVID-19 vaccines free of charge until the end of the Public Health Emergency period. Fully insured and Medicare members can access COVID-19 treatment at no out-of-pocket costs through Dec. 31, 2021.

Regence is supporting its members, business partners and local communities through the following actions:

  • Expanded access through virtual care 
    ‚ÄčMembers can reach providers – including primary care and behavioral health -- through telephone, video, text and in-person options to help them get the care they need for routine preventive services and COVID-19-related concerns.
  • Helping doctors, specialists and other providers care for patients
    In addition to increasing member access to virtual visits to help alleviate pressure on in-person providers, Regence is supporting discharge needs to accommodate care for critical patients and expediting credentialing to help meet emerging demands.
  • Partnering with community organizations to promote vaccine equity
    Regence, together with its employees and corporate foundation, has committed $20 million in philanthropic investments to care for people affected by COVID-19 and support the rapid deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine to communities in need. Regional efforts have to-date enabled over 500,000 shots in arms through vaccine clinics and transportation assistance, and our participation in the Vaccine Community Connectors program has accelerated vaccine equity efforts nationwide.   

Regence’s website, regence.com/go/covid-19, is regularly updated with the latest information, including how to prevent the spread of disease, including a page of self-care resources for members. Regence has been highly engaged with provider partners and local, state and federal public health officials to offer help and resources in responding to community needs and ensure out-of-pocket costs are not a barrier to people seeking testing for, and treatment of, COVID-19.

About Regence
Regence serves approximately 3.3 million people through its health plans in Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Each Regence health plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit regence.com.