According to a new survey of health insurance companies recently released by eHealth Inc., nearly all the insurers surveyed said they are making changes to help consumers affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus. A strong majority (97%) say they are waiving out-of-pocket costs associated with testing. Sixty percent of insurer respondents say they are currently offering some form of premium deferral program for those affected by the coronavirus.

The survey also found that the majority of health insurers — 83% — do not anticipate raising rates for 2021 in response to the crisis, while 17% say they anticipate raising rates no more than 5% due to coronavirus. Additionally, 87% of insurers offering Affordable Care Act plans say it is unlikely they will leave the ACA market due to coronavirus.

Insurers were invited to participate in the survey conducted between March 30 and April 2. The participating companies serve individual, family and group health insurance markets and collectively insure millions of Americans nationwide. A total of 33 companies, more than half that were invited, participated. 

Regarding demand for telemedicine services, 96% said they are seeing increased demand for telemedicine services. Eighty-five percent think the coronavirus crisis will drive increased demand for telemedicine services into the future.

Most health insurers also expect a spike in medical claims for elective or non-emergency services put off due to the crisis. Eighty percent said they expect a spike in such claims when the coronavirus crisis is over, with the majority — 73% — of those anticipating the spike within the next six to 12 months. 

“Our survey results show that most health insurance companies are taking big steps to allay member concerns in the midst of this unprecedented crisis,” said eHealth CEO Scott Flanders. “It’s interesting to note that, contrary to recent reports, most of the insurers we surveyed do not believe coronavirus will drive them to raise rates in 2021. Almost all say they’re seeing increased utilization of telemedicine services, a trend which many believe will continue beyond the coronavirus era.”