Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a unit of WellPoint Inc., has responded to the tornado that swept over Joplin, Mo., Sunday by donating $50,000 to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund.

Anthem Blue, St. Louis, says it also will be providing free counseling and referral services for residents of the affected area for 30 days through its employee assistance program (EAP).

Members of Anthem group, senior and individual plans who lost their homes will have their premiums waived for 60 days, and Anthem is providing a 60-day grace period on premium payments for all members in the area.

Anthem also is:

  • Allowing for early prescription refills.
  • Waiving the usual preauthorization and precertification approval requirements.
  • Allowing for free replacement of durable medical equipment and supplies.
  • Allowing for access to in-network benefits at nearby hospitals and physician offices that are not part of the Anthem provider networks.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow Missourians who lost loved ones, homes and businesses in these deadly storms,” Dennis Matheis, president of the Anthem operation in Missouri, says in a statement.

The Leawood, Kan., office of Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) says Aetna says it Aetna will cover non-emergency out-of-network care at an in-network benefit level for affected members from May 22 to May 31.

All affected Aetna enrollees can use the EAP service, whether or not they are EAP customers, the company says.

Aetna also is giving affected customers extra time to make premium payments and file appeals.

“We’re saddened to see the toll inflicted by the tornado in Joplin,” Aetna Chairman Mark Bertolini says. “Our thoughts are with the affected people in the region.”

- Allison Bell

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