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April 7, 2020

While the test for the Coronavirus is free, the costs for treatment and the hospital trip could cost you thousands.

Athos Health Team
|
5 Min

Until recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was the only resource with the means to test for COVID-19, however this rapidly changing as more labs can process testing.  

Vice President Mike Pence announced in the coming days that more than 2,000 labs will be able to process testing.  This will effort and expansion will hopefully remove some of the bottleneck around testing which has been an issue to date.  In addition, in the coming days and weeks many communities are setting up “drive thru” testing stations easing the strain on hospitals and clinics. 

The number of known coronavirus cases in the United States continues to surge according to The New York Times. As of March 16th, at least 3,823 people in 49 states, plus Washington, D.C. and three U.S. territories, have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database, and at least 67 patients with the virus have died. 

Almost every major insurer in the country has waived the copays associated with testing, but do your research especially if you work for a large employer.

You should check with your plan, but almost all major insurers are waiving the copays for testing.  However, this does not necessary apply if you receive your insurance through an employer who is self-funded.  Almost all employer plans for companies larger than 300 employees are self-funded.  The large plan administrators for these plans, Aetna, BCBS, Cigna, and UHC have all stated that while recommending waiving of copays, self-insured employers have the option to cover Coronavirus testing.  Don’t assume the test will be free.  If you an unsure, call your insurance company to see if testing will be 100% covered.  

While testing for the virus is free, the hospital visits are not and could set you back.  

Realize you may still face potentially large out-of-pocket expenses related to testing and treatment.  While Coronavirus testing copays have been waived, other tests such as for influenza or strep will still have out-of-pocket costs based upon your benefits.  In addition, if you see a doctor, go to an emergency room, or are hospitalized, you may still have to pay your deductible, coinsurance, or copay.  The situation is very fluid and influx with considerable political pressure to expand coverage by the administration and state governors.  However as of today, most of us will have to pay at least for some portion out-of-pocket for medical treatment if necessary.  

Don’t be fooled by the fact that the test for the virus is free. Choosing a clinic or hospital that is in-network will save you money. 

It is important to understand your insurance plan regarding out-of-network coverage and if seeking in-network care is possible. This can and will save you money. Remember, your costs will depend on your plan’s deductible, out-of-pocket max and copay amount.  We recommend doing some financial preparation by: 

Although there is no vaccine currently, there are plenty of preventative measures that should be considered according to the CDC. 

•    Avoid close contact with those who are sick. 
•    Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
•    Stay home when you are sick. 
•    Cover your cough or sneeze and disinfect frequently touched objects.  
•    The CDC does not recommend the use of a facemask to prevent contracting the virus. 
•    Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds. 

Here is a link to the CDC’s information and response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 

Athos understands that health insurance is extremely complex and confusing and we are here to help our members navigate the system to save you money, time and stress.  

Receiving proper tests and care for Coronavirus is important and we don’t want the healthcare system to prevent you from receiving care. Athos is a personal guide throughout the healthcare journey. We are here to help you and your employees with unexpected medical expenses by protecting your members from overpaying through personalized advocacy programs and solutions.  

 

References:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/16/coronavirus-what-expect-when-you-get-tested-covid-19/5061120002/ 

Kapnick,I. (2020, March 3). What to Do If You Think You Have Coronavirus in Miami.Retrieved from https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/coronavirus-treatment-in-miami-where-to-go-if-you-have-covid-19-11576450

Ramsey, L.(2020, March 2). New Yorks governor is forcing health insurers to cut patientscosts for coronavirus testing. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-governor-cuomo-health-insurers-waive-costs-coronavirus-care-2020-3

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