Texas officials ask insurers to waive coronavirus test, diagnosis costs

Texas officials Tuesday asked insurers to waive costs associated with testing and telemedicine visits for diagnosis of the new coronavirus. (File)
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Insurance Tuesday asked insurers to waive costs associated with testing and telemedicine visits for diagnosis of the new coronavirus.

"We must ensure no Texan is denied access to testing resources relating to coronavirus," said Governor Abbott.

"Texans who are concerned that they may have coronavirus should seek medical attention in the most appropriate setting, and telemedicine is a good first medical encounter for anyone experiencing mild symptoms,” he said.

“Consulting a physician from home is a practical way to avoid getting sick, prevent the spread of the virus, and help ensure that emergency rooms are available for those who truly need them."

The department of insurance is asking that insurers report actions related to consumer cost-shaving and access to services to ensure consumers are aware of available benefits.

It’s also asking insurers to:

- Waive co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles for testing that is consistent with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

- Waive consumer cost-sharing and facilitate expanded use of telemedicine.

- Cover necessary medical equipment, supplies, and services.

- Waive penalties, restrictions, and claims denials for necessary out-of-network services.

- Waive requirements for pre-authorization, referrals, notification of hospital admission, or medical necessity reviews for care consistent with CDC guidance.

- Allow extra time for health providers and facilities to file claims.

- Authorize payment to pharmacies for up to a 90-day supply of any prescription medication for individuals, regardless of when the prescription was filled.

Some insurers and health maintenance organizations are already waiting cost-sharing for medically-necessary testing of COVID-19 officials said, including Aetna (CVS); Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; Cigna Health of Texas, Inc.; Community Health Choice, Inc.; Golden Rule Insurance (UHC); Humana Health Plan of Texas, Inc.; Molina Healthcare Insurance Company of Texas; Oscar Insurance Company; Scott & White Health Plan; Superior Health Plan (Centene) and United Healthcare Insurance Company.