FARGO — At least some insurance companies are announcing they will waive cost-sharing requirements such as copayments and deductibles for coronavirus testing so cost does not become a barrier to diagnosing the infectious disease.
Medica, which has members in states including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, announced Tuesday that it will waive copays, co-insurance and deductibles related to COVID-19 testing "for all fully insured group, individual and Medicare members."
Self-insured employers will have the option to waive fees related to testing for COVID-19.
"This change applies to all members throughout the Medica service area and is effective immediately," the company said in a statement.
Also Wednesday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, the state's largest private health insurer, announced that it will waive any cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles and co-insurance for testing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Jon Godfread, North Dakota insurance commissioner, announced Wednesday, March 11, that he is urging all North Dakota health and travel insurance companies to waive cost-sharing for testing for the virus that causes COVID-19.
"Today, we asked our health insurers to waive any cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles and co-insurance for COVID-19 laboratory testing so that cost sharing does not serve as a barrier to accessing this important health testing," he said in a statement. "As the situation continues to evolve, North Dakotans should be assured that their health insurers are ready and able to handle this public health challenge."
The North Dakota Blues also will waive cost-sharing for an in-network provider office visit, urgent care center and emergency room visit when testing for COVID-19. The waiving of costs can be done retroactively on a case-by-case basis, the insurer said.
Because COVID-19 is a communicable disease, the North Dakota Blues encourage the use of online doctor visits to "reduce the strain on our health care system and limit unnecessary spread of disease."
Members can use online doctor visits available through their health care provider or go online to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's www.amwell.com and enter the service code BCBSND. Coverage for an online doctor visit is included in many North Dakota Blues plans; contact employers or the number on the back of an insurance card for details on coverage.
Also, effective March 10, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota is increasing access to prescriptions by allowing pharmacies to refill prescriptions earlier than typically allowed. In addition, most plans allow members to fill maintenance medications for up to a 90-day supply through local or mail-order pharmacies.
Those steps also were recommended in a bulletin Godfread sent out to insurers.
"We are committed to serving our members and all North Dakotans by ensuring our coverage and access for services are available without barriers and members get the care they need when they need it," said Dr. Greg Glassner, the North Dakota Blues medical director.
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