Kaiser Permanente will extend a waiver through year-end for most member out-of-pocket costs for inpatient and outpatient services related to COVID-19, the health care company announced Friday.

Kaiser’s CEO said he hopes the waiver, in force April 1 and originally set to expire Sunday, will help relieve financial stress for patients so that they can focus on their recovery.

“Kaiser Permanente understands the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on our members and the communities we serve and is committed to ensuring they have access to the care they need during this time of crisis,” Chairman and CEO Greg Adams said.

“This move aims to alleviate any stress about paying for care, as well as any hesitancy to seek needed care,” he said. “The path forward through this pandemic must include identifying, treating and tracing as many cases of COVID-19 as possible as we work to suppress this virus.”

Kaiser has roughly 2.1 million members in Los Angeles County and 4.6 million members across Southern California.

The elimination of member out-of-pocket costs applies to all fully insured benefit plans, in all markets, unless prohibited or modified by law or regulation and will apply for all dates of service from April 1 through Dec. 31, unless superseded by government action or extended by Kaiser Permanente.

The waiver does not automatically apply to self-funded customers who directly administer health benefits to their employees. Kaiser Permanente has encouraged self-funded customers to adopt this change.

Kaiser Permanente has also suspended all terminations for non-payment of premiums or out-of-pocket expenses from March 15 through May 31. That suspension has been extended through June 30 for Kaiser Permanente Individuals and Family and small group members.

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