COVID Tests Are Free, Except When They’re Not

April 29, 2020, Kaiser Health News, Carmen Heredia Rodriguez - Experts recommend that insured patients educate themselves about their health care plan. Seek care at an in-network provider whenever possible. Call the insurer to find out exactly what COVID-19 care it covers. Several insurance companies have pledged to waive cost sharing for treatment. Uninsured consumers may be able to get a free COVID-19 test several ways, Pollitz said. One way is to visit an outpatient testing area at a facility that received relief funding — the law bars the provider from balance-billing patients for care related to the coronavirus. Another option is through Medicaid. States may now use the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled to cover the cost of testing uninsured residents who qualify. A third way consumers could receive a free COVID-19 test is through the National Disaster Medical System. That network of health care providers — generally activated in response to an emergency — treats patients and then charges the federal government for their services, said Pollitz. However, she acknowledged, it may be difficult to find a provider who participates in the program.“The problem right now is the supply of them,” Sara Collins, vice president for health care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, said about COVID-19 tests. “But once that changes, people need to be confident that they’re not going to be stuck with a big bill.”

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