The Hill

COVID-19 Screening: Will Your Health Insurance Cover The Cost?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that private lab testing for the novel coronavirus is now available in all 50 states. The agency said the private sector is likely to manage a majority of testing in the U.S. amid the outbreak. 

The industry would provide most of the testing in the country because of the higher number of available testing kits at private labs. But the government plans to increase testing kits for public facilities to help speed up the diagnosis, according to Nancy Messonnier, director of  CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

With the growing need for coronavirus testing, many people wonder who will pay for the cost. The good news is that the Trump administration marked COVID-19 tests as an essential health benefit.

The government said Medicaid and Medicare plans would cover the cost of the screening. State governments, including New York and Washington, also announced directed state-regulated health insurers to waive copayments or deductibles when people seek tests for coronavirus, CNBC reported Monday.

Some health insurers already agreed with the order. Both Cigna and Aetna said it will waive copays or cost-shares for coronavirus testing on many plans.

UnitedHealthGroup will also remove member cost sharing, including copays, coinsurance and deductibles for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. It covers members at locations approved under CDC guidelines.

However, some consumers may still have to cover for some of the costs to manage the disease. For example, members would pay for experimental or alternative treatments for COVID-19 since they are not considered as standard care, according to Anthony Lopez, senior director of eHealth, an online health insurance marketplace.

Covered costs may also change depending on the type of plan, coverage and insurance carrier. Some insurers such as UnitedHealthcare said that they will also work with self-insured plans, or those who use insurance companies to administer plans but pay the costs themselves.

“Understanding what your benefits are regardless of what your friend or family member’s benefits may be with the same health insurance company is very important,” Lopez said. “Your friend may have a $20 co-pay and your doctor visits may be a $10 co-pay, so understanding your own benefits is very important.”

Coronavirus testing The Trump administration marked COVID-19 tests as an essential health benefit, which allows Medicaid and Medicare plans to cover the cost of the screening. Pixabay

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