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The Essentials on COVID-19 and Health Insurance

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(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A nurse at a drive up COVID-19 coronavirus testing station, set up by the University of Washington Medical Center, holds a swab used to take a sample from the nose of a person in their car, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Seattle

State and federal agencies are doing a lot — on several fronts — to help make sure that people’s insurance covers testing and treatment for the new coronavirus/COVID-19. A list of links to current actions, organized by type of plan, follows.

Coronavirus: What You Need To Know

  • People with most types of insurance (private, employer-provided, Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, military, veteran, and tribal plans) will get free COVID-19 testing, according to a provision in the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law March 18.
    • Read the details here

 

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  • If you have Medicare Part B (medical services coverage), tests for coronavirus done after February 4, 2020, are covered at no cost.  Medicare also covers preventive tests and screenings. Here’s the information on that: https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/coronavirus-test
    • In addition, the federal government loosened restrictions on Medicare so that it now allows providers nationwide to be reimbursed for telehealth appointments. The related FAQ is here.

 

  • If you have Medicaid, it’s more complicated. Testing will be covered, under the federal legislation that became law on March 18. However, when it comes to treatment, states administer their own Medicaid plans and some benefits are optional for them to include. Cody Phinney, deputy administrator in the office of health care financing and policy of Nevada's Department of Health and Human Services, says care for COVID-19 and secondary infectionswill be covered like any other illnesses. She adds that her office is working with the federal government on loosening some restrictions, such as covering telemedicine appointments done from home instead of a doctor's office, and helping providers with paperwork.

 

If you’re aware of something we haven’t included or have questions, please comment on this story or e-mail heidi@desertcompanion.com.

 

Note: This story was updated March 19 to reflect new federal legislation.

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