The move will try to ease the financial stress that the coronavirus has stricken upon the U.S. economy, particularly to stop the furloughing of some health professionals over the past few weeks amid a “cash crunch” for hospitals and similar entities.
Hospitals have seen a huge imbalance recently as they anticipate the worst of the virus’ impacts, clearing out their space to make room for coronavirus patients. They’ve had to cancel procedures and have seen a drop in usual services, visits and emergency room trips as the virus has people mostly hunkering down.
However, large swathes of the country’s hospitals not yet seeing a surge in coronavirus cases now see holes in their pocketbooks, with empty operating rooms, staff waiting around, and only a trickle of appointments done through telework means.
UnitedHealth said it would try to speed up payments to those entities as long as the pandemic goes on. The move could ease tensions from the long waits some providers have had to get paid for a service, which usually takes around 30 days under normal conditions.
This move is in line with American Hospital Association’s request that insurers begin to help out with speedier payments.
Hospitals will also see aid from the recently-passed $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will funnel money into almost every sector of the U.S. economy currently hurting because of the virus.
Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana are also looking at ways to help during the pandemic. But America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group representing insurers, didn’t promise aid due to an expected shortfall of its own, with insurers possibly looking at falling membership and tightening wallets.