CMS issued guidance stipulating employer-sponsored health plans can’t deny benefits to customers who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. However, self-funded plans can offer premium discounts to customers who have been inoculated, according to the FAQ, which was released Oct. 4. Delta Air Lines Inc. made headlines this summer by announcing it would require unvaccinated employees to pay a premium surcharge.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) said it saved $112 million in lab test costs through its contract with Avalon Healthcare Solutions, a lab benefit management company. Blue Cross NC uses Avalon’s software to review lab test claims, meaning “the use of labs within the Blue Cross NC provider network now stands at 99% of all lab services, up from 86% before the company’s agreement with Avalon,” according to a press release. The insurer also said its use of Avalon’s technology “improved health outcomes through the reduction of inappropriate lab testing and better adherence to clinical guidelines.”

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