During this new surge of infections, Americans will almost certainly pay much more for Covid medical care, whether it’s a basic coronavirus test or a lengthy hospitalization.

Earlier in the pandemic, most major health insurance voluntarily canceled Covid treatment expenses. For emergency room visits or hospital stays, patients did not have to pay their usual co-payments or deductibles.

The majority of Covid tests were also free.

As the pandemic enters its second year, the environment has shifted. When there is a medical cause for seeking care, such as exposure to the disease or a presentation of symptoms, federal law still compels insurance to cover testing at no cost to the patient. However, additional tests are now being requested that do not fulfill the concept of “medical reason” and are instead for monitoring.

Insurers are now treating Covid more like any other sickness, with no longer entirely covering care costs. Some companies, including Delta Air Lines, are planning to charge unvaccinated employees extra insurance rates, citing, in part, the high hospitalization costs associated with Covid cases.

“Insurers are grappling with the question of whether the expenses of Covid treatment should be borne by everyone or just those who have decided not to receive a vaccine,” said Cynthia Cox, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation who has studied how insurers handle Covid treatment.

The federal laws that make coronavirus testing free include exemptions for the routine workplace and school testing, which is becoming more common as youngsters return to school and employers need regular testing for unvaccinated personnel.

Due to the fact that insurers are not required to pay standard testing, some patients have already received testing bills as high as $200 for routine screenings, according to records supplied by patients to a New York Times project tracking the expenses of Covid testing and treatment. You can submit a bill here if you’ve received one.

However, some of the largest expenses will very certainly involve Covid patients who require intensive hospital treatment since that most insurers no longer completely pay those costs. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation research, 72 percent of large insurance insurers no longer provide free Covid therapy to patients.

This includes Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, the largest health plan in a state dealing with one of the worst epidemics in the country. Florida Blue began forcing patients to pay their usual deductibles and co-payments for Covid therapy on Wednesday. A spokesperson, Toni Woods, said the plan was now centered on encouraging immunizations.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic started last year, we created many emergency provisions to help our members temporarily,” she stated in a statement. “Medical diagnostic testing for Covid-19, as well as immunizations, are still available at no cost to members.”

Oscar Health, which provides coverage in 14 states, likewise discontinued free Covid treatment this week. The vaccine’s widespread availability was identified as a crucial reason.

“We began waiving cost-sharing for Covid-19 treatment at the height of the pandemic in 2020 when there were limited options available for patients infected with the virus,” said Jackie Khan, an Oscar spokesman.

The new laws typically apply to all patients, including those who have been vaccinated, those who become ill with a new infection, and children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Surprise expenses for routine Covid testing may be modest but more prevalent, as schools and workplaces increasingly rely on annual screening to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Unvaccinated workers must be monitored at least weekly in many workplaces. Some businesses, including the federal government, want to fund the entire cost of these examinations. Others, such as some hotels and institutions, will require unvaccinated employees to pay for some or all of the testing costs.

Rebecca Riley just received a $200 bill from an unknown laboratory. When she contacted to enquire about the charge, she discovered it was a Covid test fee.


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