Health insurance companies are extending practices that ensure beneficiaries can receive free Covid-19 testing and treatment during the pandemic.
At least five insurers, including Aetna and Cigna, have decided to lengthen the period for which they would waive out-of-pocket costs related to the coronavirus past the initial June 1 end date.
Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers will extend their cost-sharing waiver for Covid-19 testing and care “for at least as long as the public health emergency is in place,” Tess Thomson, spokeswoman for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, said in an email.
Insurers’ decisions on whether to continue to waive patient costs come as the nation begins to emerge from a months-long lockdown. Public health officials see widespread testing, as well as contact tracing, as critical to states being able to contain outbreaks.
In most health insurance policies, enrollees must make out-of-pocket payments such as for annual deductibles and copays. Insurers initially moved to waive many of those cost-sharing payments after lawmakers and public health officials expressed fears that the costs could prevent people from getting tested or treatment for the coronavirus.
The public health emergency is set to expire July 25 but may be stopped or extended by the Department of Health and Human Services, Thomson said.
“Once there is no longer a public health emergency, we will evaluate the appropriate timeframe” for deciding when to end the cost-sharing policies, she said.