Prioritizing the Health of Rhode Islanders During the Pandemic

COVID-19 Vaccine Image

Continuing to ensure that Rhode Islanders receive adequate coverage for COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccinations

The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) is the most critical issue facing Rhode Islanders today and OHIC will continue to prioritize efforts to support access to adequate coverage for COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination. In addition to creating and supporting policies that maintain safe access to health care and lowering premium increases, OHIC is dedicated to improving the health care system in Rhode Island to meet the needs of those who have been affected by the economic and social stresses caused by COVID-19.

Ensuring that primary care and behavioral health care services can continue in the state is OHIC's key priority during this public health crisis. At the start of the pandemic, OHIC issued subregulatory guidance ensuring that all services that are typically covered under a health insurance plan that are deemed clinically appropriate and medically necessary must be covered.

Today, COVID-19 vaccinations continue to be provided by commercial health insurers with no cost-sharing in conformance with federal and state requirements and OHIC is conducting regular oversight related to this. The office is also working to ensure that Rhode Islanders have access to no-cost over-the counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests. OHIC issued a bulletin to insurers providing guidance on the new federal regulations regarding coverage of OTC COVID-19 tests earlier this year. Beginning on January 15, 2022, OTC COVID-19 tests purchased by all commercial health insurance members shall be covered by insurers without imposing any cost sharing requirements or prior authorization for consumers

In response to the spread of COVID-19, OHIC and the State of Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services issued instructions to insurers requiring a new set of emergency coverage policies designed to guarantee access, affordability, and continuity of care for all Rhode Islanders while also reducing the spread of the virus. These instructions:

  • Guaranteed COVID-19 testing and vaccinations without cost-sharing

  • Increased access to COVID-19 treatment without cost-sharing

  • Expanded access to telemedicine services

  • Ensured early refills for necessary prescriptions and medical supplies