Federal government says all COVID-19 testing, treatment will be free

April 13, 2020

The move makes testing and other services free for those with private insurance, according to CMS.

The federal government is issuing guidance aimed at expanding private insurance to cover COVID-19 coronavirus testing and other related services at no cost, according to a news release.

The release says that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the US Labor Department, and the Treasury Department issued the guidance in an effort to slow the spread of the virus by expanding testing and encourage antibody testing, a move the Trump administration believes will allow Americans to get back to work sooner.

“It is critical that Americans have peace of mind knowing that cost won’t be a barrier to testing during this national public health emergency,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma says in the release.

The guidance follows a March meeting between President Donald J. Trump and representatives of major health insurance companies in which the representatives committed to covering COVID-19 testing without cost sharing. It implements the Family First Coronavirus Act and the CARES Act which codifies this commitment into law, the release says.

Group health plans and group and individual health insurance are now required to cover both diagnostic testing as well as certain related items and services provided during a medical visit without any cost sharing. These include:

·      Urgent care visits

·      Emergency department visits

·      In-person or telehealth doctor’s office visits that result in an order or administration of a COVID-19 test

Covered testing includes all FDA-approved COVID-19 tests, tests where the developer has requested authorization on an emergency basis, and tests developed and authorized by states. Antibody testing will also be covered, the release says.

According to the World Health Organization, as of April 12 there were more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of the disease across the globe and 111,652 people have died. There have been more than 20,000 deaths attributed to the disease in America.

As much of the world adopts social distancing policies, the spread of the disease seems to be slowing causing many governments to consider relaxing the practices. Experts say the move could result in a resurgence, according to reporting from The New York Times.