Minnesota Health Insurance Providers Waive COVID-19 Test Copays
Following the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Minnesota on Friday, the state’s insurance providers are waiving diagnostic test fees and urging telehealth to minimize unnecessary contact.
All members in all UCare, a nonprofit health plan provider in Minnesota and Wisconsin, plans will have copays, coinsurance, and deductibles waived for the foreseeable future doctor-ordered COVID-19 tests meeting CDC guidelines, the company announced.
“UCare is committed to doing the right thing for our members and the community to combat the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19. Our first step is to remove financial barriers,” spokesperson Wendy Wicks said. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and will make coverage adjustments as needed.”
To minimize exposure, UCare is also encouraging using online and telehealth services, Wicks said.
UnitedHealthcare said it will cover diagnostic tests for the spreading virus, and that it will waive the costs to those who are commercially insured, Medicare Advantage members, and Medicaid members. The company is also working with those who are self-insured.
“Our top priority is the health and well-being of our members and patients – and the safety of those who deliver care,” Dr. Richard Migliori, chief medical officer of UnitedHealth Group, said in the press release. “While the situation is dynamic, we are committed to adapting and supporting those we serve.”
The insurer is also providing an Emotional Support Help Line, through Optum, to provide assistance to those who have anxiety, stress, or fear about COVID-19. The line is free, open to all, and staffed by professionally trained mental health workers.
“The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and change, and so we will continue to evaluate the need for new policies or procedures for COVID-19 to support our members,” the United Healthcare website stated. To minimize risk, UnitedHealthcare is advising members to use its Virtual Visit programs, especially for general questions.
Similarly, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota said it will cover the full cost of tests related to COVID-19. Members on fully insured employer, individual, and Medicare plans will be covered when they meet CDC guidelines for testing, Blue Cross said.
“Given the nature of this epidemic, seeking in-person medical care may lead to further spreading of the virus. We will encourage the use of virtual care,” Blue Cross said on its website. It is also facilitating access to nurse and provider hotlines.
Health insurance plans often have restrictions on medical coverage outside of the United States, and Blue Cross recommends obtaining a short-term travel insurance policy if you’re planning on travelling internationally.
Headquartered in Bloomington, HealthPartners is also making testing more accessible to plan members.
“To ensure that out-of-pocket costs are not a barrier to people seeking testing, we are waiving cost sharing for administration of the COVID-19 laboratory test––regardless of where the test is performed. We are also waiving the cost sharing related to an office visit or urgent care visit associated with the test,” said HealthPartners spokesperson David Martinson.
Medica, headquarterd in Minnesota, announced Monday that it too will cover diagnostic testing for COVID-19 for full insured, individual, and Medicare members effective immediately, while encouraging the use of telethealth services and virtual care.