Many health insurance companies no longer waiving fees for COVID-19 patients

Early in the pandemic, many health insurance companies waived fees associated with COVID treatments, but those copay's and deductibles are making a comeback.
COVID bills

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Nebraska health insurance companies stepped up when the pandemic started. If you had to be tested or treated for COVID-19, your insurance covered those costs. And they even took it a step further, covering deductibles and copay’s – resulting in zero out of pocket expenses for any COVID treatment in 2020.

But times have changed.

Many insurance companies are no longer waiving those fees and now treating COVID like they would any other illness under your policy because they say we now have enough knowledge and treatment for the coronavirus.

“If you go to a doctor’s office and you have a copay, you’ll pay the copay. If you have to be hospitalized or get additional testing than it’s going to be subject to the normal rules of your health insurance policy. So you may have to cover the deductible and things like that,” Christine McPike, the location manager of Compensation Programs, a health insurance agency in Lincoln, said.

When COVID testing sites first opened last year, testing was almost always free. But that’s no longer the case.

Several places around Lincoln are now asking for an insurance card when getting tested, so they can bill your insurance.

And if you walk into your doctor’s office or an urgent care and want to be tested, whether or not that testing is going to be paid for by your insurance, will depend on the guidelines of your policy.

If you have symptoms or have had significant exposure, than typically yes, insurance would cover. But if you’re getting tested just because, chances are that will not be covered by your health insurance, generally speaking.

Now, all of this comes as a new rule was issued by President Biden. Businesses with over 100 employees will need to either get the COVID vaccine or submit to regular testing.

For those who would test weekly, that could potentially come at a very high cost depending on who’s paying for it.

“If you Google that, you’ll get a lot of different pieces of information and some of it says, depending on the employer, it may be covered by the employer, sometimes it could be at the employee’s expense,” McPike said.

Across the country, people are seeing their COVID medical bills for the first time and taking on the financial responsibilities. But that’s causing some harsh realities for those who not only survived COVID-19, but potentially lost their income during the pandemic.

McPike says there are resources available in our community to help those who need financial assistance for medical bills. She says call the company that sent you the bill and let them know you need help.

“Please address it; please talk to them; and let them know what your situation is, as opposed to the other option of ‘I’m going to ignore it, if I ignore it, it’s going to go away’,” McPike said. “You’re not the first person who has run into this situation. And it’s not anybody’s intent to cause your financial ruin. Let’s work out a solution.”

Insurance companies have been operating under Federal Emergency Measures, which is set to end on October 17th.

Time will only tell if that will be extended or not.

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