Insurance Regulators Stepping In To Protect Patients From Eye-Popping Bills For Virus Tests
Although coronavirus tests are supposed to be free, lawmakers didn't limit charges if the testing is done out of network — or prohibit labs or hospitals from billing patients if insurers refuse to pay their posted charges. In other news: a testing location directory, testing in the workplace and the need for a contact tracing army.
The $7,000 Covid Test: Why States Are Stepping In To Shield Consumers
Insurance regulators from Tennessee to Washington state have stepped up efforts to protect patients from unexpected bills for coronavirus tests, concerned the federal government has failed to shield people from thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses. Washington's insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, this week issued an emergency order banning labs for billing insured patients for doctor-ordered Covid-19 diagnostic tests. That followed moves in Tennessee, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Georgia to cap costs or more narrowly define what insurers should pay for as the number of tests processed daily surges to 465,000 as of June 4. (Luthi, 6/8)
The New York Times:
The Idea: Build It, And They Can Find Coronavirus Tests
For the past two months, the nine-to-five jobs at their recruiting software company were just the start of a busy work day for Joe Essenfeld, Boris Kozak and Matt Geffken. After a short break for dinner and a little family time, the three friends would jump on an 8:30 p.m. Zoom call with a dozen other volunteers to work on AllClear, a website to help people find information about testing locations for Covid-19, and stay at it until 2 or 3 a.m. AllClear now has a directory of more than 10,000 locations in the United States where people can be tested for Covid-19 or for antibodies to the coronavirus. (Wakabayashi, 6/8)
As Businesses Reopen, Workplace Testing Is The 'Wild West'
In April, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission told businesses they could test employees for COVID-19, an exemption from the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many companies, such as Amazon and Ford Motor Co., already are providing some testing for some workers. But given the lack of a coordinated system, that may only exacerbate the problem. (Brown, 6/8)
Contact Tracing: A Springboard To Population Health
Contact tracing bears a strong resemblance to programs aimed at improving community health. With states hiring temporary contact tracers, lawmakers should consider expanding the program to carry out both tasks. Contact tracing involves interviewing every new COVID-19 patient and reaching out to everyone they’ve recently contacted so those people can be tested and possibly quarantined. To be successful, tracing programs also need to provide food and social service support for the people asked to stay isolated indoors. All this must be done in a supportive—not coercive—manner. (Goozner, 6/5)
Urgency Mounts For A Contact Tracing Army
Health experts are signaling increased urgency over the need to build an army of people to trace the spread of coronavirus, as states try to put together a patchwork network in an effort to contain the disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield warned Thursday that the country needs between 30,000 and 100,000 people to do contact tracing by September to try to stop a major resurgence of the virus in the fall and winter. Other estimates have put the need even higher, with former CDC Director Tom Frieden calling for up to 300,000 contact tracers. (Sullivan, 6/7)