Many individuals have faced uncertainty about the future of their health insurance in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. On March 12th, 2020, the WHO officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic, and as a result, swift social distancing protocols were enacted.
Many non-essential businesses were forced to close all across the country. Some people were just temporarily furloughed; others lost their jobs permanently.
A record number of Americans, over 17 million, have filed for unemployment in the past few months. Unfortunately, for many people, their health insurance is directly tied to their job. And during a global health crisis such as this, being left without a job and health insurance can be a terrifying reality.
At Crest Insurance, we wanted to keep you informed on this everchanging topic. As more coronavirus infections arise in the United States, families are increasingly concerned about their healthcare coverage, and rightfully so.
Recently, the CARES Act mandated that all coronavirus testing be free of charge. The same goes for any visit to the Doctor’s Office, Emergency Room, or Urgent Care. This legislation applies to all U.S. health care consumers, regardless of what type of insurance they have, and whether or not they have insurance at all.
For example, people will not get billed if they visit an in-network doctor or facility, and the test is either administered, or the need for it confirmed.
Individuals may still get billed if:
- They were tested before March 18th, 2020.
- Their healthcare visit does not result in a COVID-19 test (the doctor doesn’t deem it necessary based on symptoms).
- They get tested by a doctor or at a facility that’s not in-network for their insurance plan.
- They receive any type of treatment at all, both related and unrelated to COVID-19.
Currently, coronavirus treatment is not free of charge. If you have insurance, you’ll be subject to the usual charges, fees, and copays associated with your healthcare plan.
The final cost of coronavirus treatment will vary depending on the individual’s level of treatment needed.
There is currently no official vaccine for the coronavirus. Once one becomes available, it will fall under preventative care. This is mandatory within 15 business days after it receives either an ‘A’ or ‘B’ rating from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) or a recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Balance Billing (Surprise Billing)
The federal government recently announced that hospitals that accept stimulus funding have been forbidden from conducting balance billing, also known as charging out-of-network patients the difference between the provider’s usual charge, and what the insurer will pay. Yet it still remains unclear exactly how this will be tracked and monitored accordingly by the federal government.
Using Your Insurance Effectively
If you still have insurance and fall sick, then you’ll want to make sure that the care and treatment you receive is from doctors and hospitals that are in your network, so they’ll be covered by your insurance provider. Always check what is and isn’t covered first. From there, you can adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
Will Coverage End if a Person Loses Their Job From COVID-19?
That depends on a variety of factors. It’s possible for employers to negotiate with providers for a temporary extension in coverage. Also, if you’ve been furloughed, you’ve essentially just been put on an unpaid leave of absence. But your coverage may cease at the end of the month you were initially furloughed. Your employer’s H.R. department would be an excellent place to follow up on this.