Covid Lab-Test Prices Can Reach 10 Times Medicare’s Rate, Causing Outcry
USA Today reports the fixed Medicare rate for a covid lab test is $51, but some labs are charging that rate times 10 or more, driving outrage in insurers and consumers. Meanwhile, a study shows pre-flight testing for covid can reduce the number of infections among passengers.
'Hog Wild': Insurers, Consumers Decry Coronavirus Test Costs As Labs Charge Up To $14,750
When Congress passed emergency legislation last year to get people quick and free access to COVID tests amid a nationwide shortage, lawmakers mandated key stipulations. Health insurance companies had to cover the test with no financial obligation to consumers and pay the list price for labs outside the insurers' networks. But some insurers and cost-conscious consumers are fighting what they consider high-priced tests from labs that charge 10 times or more than Medicare’s rate of $51 per test. The insurers allege in lawsuits that some labs are profiteering in the midst of a pandemic, but labs contend insurers are withholding payments for legitimate services desperately needed to protect patients and help public health track the virus. (Alltucker, 9/20)
The Washington Post:
Pre-Flight Testing Can Reduce The Number Of Covid-Infected Passengers, Study Shows
A study of Italy-bound Delta Air Lines passengers found that a mandatory PCR coronavirus test taken within three days of flying weeded out the vast majority of covid-infected travelers. The study examined data from the airline’s program that allowed travelers to avoid quarantine in Italy if they provided proof of a negative molecular test within 72 hours and got a rapid test at the airport in Atlanta or New York before departing. Passengers had to undergo another rapid test after landing in Italy. (Sampson, 9/17)
In other travel news —
White House Debates Vaccines For Air Travel
The Biden administration is facing an internal debate over whether to impose vaccine mandates for air travel, with President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, saying he would support a mandate but the White House claiming a new policy isn’t forthcoming. The potential of a mandate for domestic air travel would be fiercely opposed by Republicans and the travel industry and could add to the pushback Biden has received over his mandate on COVID-19 vaccines and testing for companies with at least 100 employees. (Gangitano, 9/19)
Ask KHN-PolitiFact: Is My Cloth Mask Good Enough To Face The Delta Variant?
In recent months, some European airlines have banned the use of cloth face coverings to control the spread of the coronavirus during air travel, instead favoring surgical masks — sometimes referred to as medical or disposable — and N95 respirators. It’s another salvo in the debate over the effectiveness of the ubiquitous cloth mask, which sprang into fashion when surgical masks and N95s were harder to find in the pandemic’s early days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still promotes cloth face coverings in its guidance about masks. (Gomez, 9/20)
The Washington Post:
American Samoa, One Of The Last Places Without Coronavirus, Has First Infection
American Samoa reported its first coronavirus case, 18 months into the pandemic, after a traveler tested positive after flying to the U.S. territory from Hawaii. The positive case was discovered during a quarantine period required upon arrival in American Samoa. The traveler was fully vaccinated, according to a news release published Friday by American Samoa’s Department of Homeland Security, and the positive result was confirmed by the Health Department Thursday. Officials say the individual tested negative before traveling. The traveler was asymptomatic when tested, according to the news release, and will continue to be monitored. (Firozi and Shammas, 9/19)